CBS Cancels ‘BrainDead’ and ‘American Gothic’ After First Seasons

Braindead cancelled CBS
Courtesy of CBS

CBS summer series “BrainDead” and “American Gothic” will not be returning to the network’s schedule for second seasons, Variety has learned.

News of the cancellation for both shows comes after the freshman series wrapped low-rated seasons, which ended this September.


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“BrainDead” debuted in June to over 4.5 million viewers for its first episode, but sank throughout the season with the final episode bringing in just over 2 million viewers. “American Gothic” also struggled to find an audience with its highest-rated episode bringing in just under 3.6 million viewers.

Both series come from A-list producing teams and kicked off with high hopes from CBS, with the two shows each originally landing straight-to-series 13-episode orders.

“American Gothic” hails from Spielberg’s Amblin Television, and creator Corinne Brinkerhoff. The drama is about a prominent Boston family reeling in the wake of the chilling discovery that someone in their midst is linked to an infamous string of murders. Juliet Rylance, Anthony Starr, Virginia Madsen, Justin Chatwin, Megan Ketch, Elliot Knight, Stephanie Leonidas and Gabriel Bateman starred in the first season.

“BrainDead” hails from some of CBS’s most trusted partners, “The Good Wife’s” Robert and Michelle King. The comic-thriller set in the world of Washington, D.C., politics starred Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Danny Pino, Aaron Tveit, Tony Shalhoub, Nikki M. James and Johnny Ray Gill.

Though the cancellations were just made official today, the fate of both “American Gothic” and “BrainDead” were pretty much spelled out with the low numbers this summer. “BrainDead’s” cancellation became imminent, as the Kings moved to “The Good Wife” spinoff at CBS All Access and Winstead was cast in “Fargo” Season 3, signaling her being let loose from her commitment to the CBS series.

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  1. Suzanna says:

    so very upset that American gothic isn’t having another season. We loved it and couldn’t wait for the next season. please please make another season

  2. William Ruh says:

    I enjoyed Washington, D.C. political satire “Braindead”, but after Trump was elected and chose his cabinet, it became superfluous and was cancelled. It’s dangerous for art to too closely imitate political reality.

  3. L zwick says:

    Brain dead is so appropriate for the current Braindead politicians running our government.

  4. Both of the shows were favorites that my family looked forward to watching every week that they were on. I was very much looking forward to them coming back. I think summer ratings are probably inaccurate because folks are on the road or out at night; we often watched episodes in demand in the summer to catch up.
    Why do really good shows like these get dropped and sophmoric shows get to stay around?!

    • K says:

      My family loved them both, too! I’m super disappointed to realize they’re not coming back, particularly Braindead. I personally feel we need that type of comic relief more than ever, given our current political climate. My thoughts echo yours on sophomoric shows and summer ratings…or should I say bummer ratings?! What are we gonna watch now? The show that is our sophomoric presidency, I guess.

  5. I watched the first 5-6 episodes of American Gothic, it seemed like an okay show. Not sure if it gets much worse in the second half or not. Hope it got a satisfying ending.

  6. Vilma says:

    Well. I liked Braindead. It was different, unique and funny. Sometimes working people need this type of show – not serious, no need to try to figure out twists and turns that most shows have nowadays, funny, silly, relaxing, and did I say.. different and unique. I hate to see it go.

  7. DORTHY says:


  8. David C says:

    Mercy killing.

  9. Chicago860 says:

    Are the producers and the network smart enough to run a minute-by-minute? Then correlate it to political comments? In the pilot, Brain Dead had 3 pretty clear attacks on the right in the first 8 minutes…sure – alienate half your potential audience in the first 8 minutes.

    • Mak says:

      I just thought it was fresh and funny. Political satires are funny to me no matter which party they seem to poke fun at. Can often be interchangeable as far as I am concerned. It’s just a show; not a real political statement against one party. Same with the Alpha House

  10. The Truth says:

    BrainDead was stillborn from the log line, and American Gothic didn’t have a single likable character. Did CBS really expect to attract and maintain audiences for a comedy that isn’t funny and a drama with no one to root for? Probably not. These weak summer shows were bones thrown to the Kings and Brinkerhoff to keep them financially happy while they worked on developing more promising properties for the CBS All Access subscription service and the CW, which CBS co-owns.

  11. Dunstan says:

    The trailers for these shows both looked atrocious. How they wound up as series is beyond me.

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  12. cadavra says:

    Not a surprise about BRAINDEAD, but still a shame. All the elements were there, but somehow they just didn’t jell the way they should have.

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