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On the Bubble: What Shows Are Coming Back, What’s Not

With upfronts right around the corner, the usual flurry of renewals and cancellations at the broadcast networks will be coming soon.

Hit shows like “The Good Doctor” and “This Is Us” have already picked up early renewals, while other series like “Lethal Weapon,” “Kevin Can Wait,” “Station 19,” and “AP Bio” are still awaiting word on potential new seasons.

And while a few shows have already been pulled off the schedule, all but signalling their cancellation, the broadcast networks still need to make some room for their current crop of pilots. Seventy-seven projects have been ordered this pilot season, including 32 comedies and 45 dramas, up slightly from the 74 projects ordered in 2017. Though clearly not all 77 of those will make the cut, that number still includes the straight-to-series orders for dramas “The Rookie” and “Take Two” and the comedy spinoff of “The Goldbergs” at ABC, as well as the revival of “Murphy Brown” and Dick Wolf’s “FBI” at CBS. NBC also gave a series order to the drama “The Gilded Age” from “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes. Along with those orders and other buzzy pilots this season, something has to give in the current lineup.

Below is a breakdown of which shows are most likely to return and which are likely not, based on their ratings and buzz factor.


Grey's Anatomy Sam Bello

Already Renewed

-“The Good Doctor”
-“Grey’s Anatomy”

-“The Goldbergs”
-“Modern Family”

“The Good Doctor” was the undisputed freshman hit of this season, averaging an impressive 1.8 rating in adults 18-49 and 9.8 million viewers per episode in Live+Same Day. The revival of “Roseanne” was a no-brainer for a second season pickup when it pulled in a staggering 5.2 rating and 18.4 million viewers when it debuted in late March. “Grey’s Anatomy” was picked up for a 15th season on April 20, making it the longest-running primetime drama in ABC history. Both “The Goldbergs” and “Modern Family” scored two-season renewals last year.

Expect Another Season

-“Agents of SHIELD”
-“How to Get Away with Murder”
-“Station 19”

-“American Housewife”
-“Fresh Off the Boat”
-“Splitting Up Together”

Returning comedies “American Housewife,” “Black-ish,” “Fresh Off the Boat,” and “Speechless” have all been stable performers for the network. with “Black-ish” also an Emmy favorite. Freshman comedy “Splitting Up Together” is still early in its run, but is currently averaging a 1.4 rating thanks in no small part to the boost it got from the premiere of “Roseanne.”

“Agents of SHIELD” has taken a ratings hit in its move to Fridays this season, but ABC will likely keep one of its Marvel shows on the air and “SHIELD” has proven more popular than “Inhumans.””How to Get Away With Murder” remains a critical favorite, and the “Grey’s Anatomy” spinoff “Station 19” has performed well enough to earn some room to grow in Season 2.

On the Chopping Block

-“The Crossing”
-“Designated Survivor”
-“For the People”
-“Kevin Probably Saves the World”

-“Alex, Inc.”

The much-hyped Marvel series “Inhumans” could not overcome overwhelmingly negative reviews and finished its freshman run with a per episode average of a 0.6 rating back in November. “Kevin Probably Saves the World” received an order for just three additional episodes beyond its initial 13. It wrapped up its first season averaging just a 0.7. “Designated Survivor” is more of a question mark, as the show has seen a steep drop off to just a 0.7 average in its second season, but the show often sees significant lift in delayed viewing.

It is still early for dramas “The Crossing,” “Deception,” and “For the People,” the first of which bowed in April and the latter two in March. However, all three shows have struggled to find an audience, with “The Crossing” and “Deception” both averaging just a 0.8 and “For the People” averaging a 0.7. The same applies to “Alex Inc,” the Zach Braff-led comedy that launched in late March. The show received a momentary boost when it aired a special Tuesday episode to take advantage of the “Roseanne” bump, but subsequently fell off again. It is currently averaging a 0.9, making it ABC’s lowest-rated comedy.


-“Scandal” (last season)
-“Once Upon a Time” (last season)
-“Ten Days in the Valley”

-“The Mayor”
-“The Middle” (last season)

Despite a creative reboot in Season 7, ABC announced in February that “Once Upon a Time” would end this year. The network had previously announced back in August that the ninth season of “The Middle” would be that show’s last. “Scandal” aired its series finale on April 19 after seven seasons.

Freshman comedy “The Mayor” received a big push from ABC going into the fall, but the show never gained much traction. ABC pulled it from the schedule after nine episodes back in January. Likewise for “Ten Days in the Valley,” which was moved from Sunday nights to Saturdays after four episodes, ending with an average of just a 0.4 after 10 episodes.


Already Renewed

-“Blue Bloods”
-“Hawaii Five-0”
-“Madam Secretary”
-“NCIS: Los Angeles”
-“NCIS: New Orleans”
-“SEAL Team”

“The Big Bang Theory”
“Young Sheldon”

CBS has renewed its entire Tuesday and Friday night lineups, along with freshman dramas “SEAL Team” and “SWAT,” which scored early renewals. In fact, “SEAL Team” looks to be the only one of the three military dramas that launched on broadcast this season that will live to fight another day. “The Big Bang Theory” was renewed for two seasons last year, with the prequel to that series, “Young Sheldon,” also picking up an early renewal.

Expect Another Season

-“Criminal Minds”

-“Kevin Can Wait”
-“Man With a Plan”
-“Life in Pieces”

“Criminal Minds” remains solid for CBS in its 13th season, with the procedural averaging a 1.0. “Ransom” was a surprise pick up last season, and is currently down in the ratings four episodes into its second season airing on Saturdays. However, the show is a Canadian-Hungarian co-production, making it a low-cost acquisition for CBS.

“Life in Pieces” has remained a stable performer for CBS on Thursday nights, currently averaging a 1.1 rating. The network’s Monday comedy lineup is the biggest question mark. “Kevin Can Wait” and “Man With a Plan” are owned by CBS, but have also seen ratings declines this season. “Kevin Can Wait” and “Man With a Plan” are averaging a 1.2 and 1.0 respectively at this point, both down double digits from their first seasons. They will also not have the benefit of a “Big Bang Theory” lead in for part of the season next fall as CBS will not be airing “Thursday Night Football.” However, with other Monday shows likely to get the ax, it’s possible the network could keep the two shows together and attempt to build up a new Monday comedy block that includes them.

On the Chopping Block


-“Superior Donuts”

It is still early into “Instinct’s” first season, but the signs do not point to a second outing. The show did well early on thanks largely to airing after NCAA basketball — and once March Madness was over, the show saw big declines. It is currently averaging a 0.8, lower than the 0.9 fellow freshman Sunday drama “Wisdom of the Crowd” averaged. As for “Scorpion,” it has sunk to new lows in its fourth season and could become the victim of CBS retooling Monday nights now that “Thursday Night Football” is off the table.

Freshman comedy “9JKL” never gained much steam, with CBS ordering just three additional episodes on top of its 13-episode order. It closed out its first season with a 1.0 rating average. “Superior Donuts,” in its second season, is down around 20% from Season 1 and is one of CBS’ lower-rated originals.


-“Wisdom of the Crowd”


-“Living Biblically”
-“Me, Myself & I”

“Wisdom of the Crowd” did not receive a back order from CBS and ended its 13-episode first season with a 0.9 rating average. Both freshman comedies “Living Biblically” and “Me, Myself, & I” were pulled from the CBS schedule with no plans currently for them to return.

The CW

The Originals
CREDIT: Courtesy of CW


-“Black Lightning”
-“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”
-“Legends of Tomorrow”
-“The Flash”
-“Jane the Virgin”

The CW will expand to six nights of programming next season, giving it the latitude to renew almost its entire lineup. The network surprised few when it renewed its entire “Arrow-verse” slate, as well as freshman superhero show “Black Lightning.” “Supernatural” will live on to haunt television until Sam and Dean are old and gray. Critical darlings “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “Jane the Virgin” and the much-beloved “Riverdale” were also no-brainers. The reboot of “Dynasty” was something of a surprise renewal, given it has only averaged a 0.2 thus far in its first season.

Expect Another Season


“iZombie” has never been a ratings breakout for CW, averaging a 0.3 in its fourth season. But with the network’s Sunday night expansion, they will likely have enough space to give the series another shot.

On the Chopping Block

-“Life Sentence”

The Lucy Hale-led “Life Sentence” was all but dead on arrival, opening to just a 0.2 and sliding from there. The CW decided to move the series from Wednesday nights to Fridays after just five episodes, all but signalling its cancellation.


-“The Originals” (last season)

“The Vampire Diaries” spinoff “The Originals” will end after its current season, but there is a potential spinoff of the spinoff that could be picked up to series for next fall. “Valor,” the military drama that was a passion project for network head Mark Pedowitz, failed to find an audience and was not picked up beyond its initial 13 episode order.


9-1-1: Angela Bassett in the series premiere episode of 9-1-1 airing Wednesday, Jan 3 (9:00-10:00PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: FOX. © 2018 FOX Broadcasting.
CREDIT: Michael Becker

Already Renewed

-“The Gifted”
-“The Orville”

“The Simpsons”

Fox’s 2018-2019 lineup remains something of a mystery given the pending merger between 20th Century Fox and Disney, as well as the fact that Fox has struck a five-year deal for “Thursday Night Football.” Nevertheless, the Ryan Murphy-produced “911” proved to be an instant hit for Fox, scoring an early renewal after only two episodes. “Empire” remains Fox’s highest-rated series, currently averaging a 1.9 rating. The Marvel series “The Gifted” was also renewed early ahead of its first season finale, as was Seth Macfarlane’s “The Orville.” And of course, “The Simpsons” will go on as long as Matt Groening wants.

Expect Another Season

-“Lethal Weapon”
-“The Resident”

-“Bob’s Burgers”
-“Family Guy”
-“The Last Man on Earth”
-“The Mick”

The “Empire” companion series “Star” has performed well paired with the show on Wednesdays, making its renewal likely. Freshman medical drama “The Resident” has done respectably well on Monday nights, averaging a 1.1. “Lethal Weapon’s” chances for renewal are somewhat in limbo given recent claims of behavioral issues against series co-star Clayne Crawford. But Crawford has issued an apology and the show remains one of Fox’s higher-rated dramas with a 1.0 average thus far this season.

Sunday comedies “Bob’s Burgers” and “Family Guy” are all but locks for renewals. Fellow Sunday comedy “The Last Man on Earth” has seen its ratings slip somewhat this season, but it is still holding up well in its fourth year on the air. “The Mick” continues to perform well also.

On the Chopping Block

-“The Exorcist”
-“The X-Files”

-“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”
-“LA to Vegas”

Fox’s second revival season of “The X-Files” lost much of the novelty factor that powered the first, with the show down a hard 70% in the second season for an average of a 1.0. Series co-lead Gillian Anderson also made it clear the second revival season would be her last. “The Exorcist” is currently Fox’s lowest rated series with 0.4 average in its second season, airing on Friday nights. “Gotham” has also fallen hard in its fourth season, currently averaging just a 0.8 on Thursday nights, the same as “Lucifer.”

“Ghosted” performed decently well with a 1.2 average after nine episodes on Sundays. But the show was pulled from the schedule in January to undergo retooling with a new showrunner. Nearly four months later and there’s still no sign of it returning to close out its 16-episode first season. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” now in its fifth season, is one of Fox’s lowest-rated shows and is currently averaging just a 0.7. “LA to Vegas” is not doing much better at a 0.8, with the freshman comedy never doing better than a 0.9 following its premiere.


-“New Girl” (last season)

The Liz Meriwether comedy series was brought back for an abbreviated, seven-episode final season this spring.



-“This Is Us”

-“The Good Place”
-“Will & Grace”

“This Is Us” scored a two-season renewal before the first season had even concluded and remains NBC’s highest-rated show by a wide margin. Likewise for “Will & Grace,” with the revival of the classic sitcom scoring a Season 2 renewal before it premiered and a Season 3 renewal midway through its first. “The Good Place” and “Superstore” also got early renewals for third and fourth seasons respectively.

Expect Another Season

-“Law & Order: SVU”
-“Chicago Fire”
-“Chicago Med”
-“Chicago PD”
-“Good Girls”
-“The Blacklist”

Dick Wolf continues to be the heart of the NBC machine. “Law & Order: SVU” remains one of the network’s highest-rated shows even in its 19th season. All three of the “Chicago” shows also remain solid performers. Freshman drama “Good Girls” has been respectable on Mondays with a 1.0 average, the same number that “The Blacklist” has averaged in its fifth season.

On the Chopping Block

-“The Brave”
-“Law & Order True Crime”

-“AP Bio”
-“Great News”

“Law & Order True Crime” is Dick Wolf’s fourth show on NBC and also his lowest-rated. The first season, which explored the Menendez brothers murders, averaged just a 1.0 despite a strong push by the network. Freshman military drama “The Brave” averaged just a 0.9 and was not picked up beyond its original 13-episode order, while fellow freshman show “Rise” is at the same average. “Blindspot” fell off hard in its move to Fridays for its third season, averaging just a 0.6. And despite the fan campaign to revive “Timeless” for a second season, the show has fallen off by more than 40% from Season 1, currently ranking as one of NBC’s lowest-rated shows.

On the comedy side, freshman shows “AP Bio” and “Champions” have both failed to find an audience. “Champions” is currently averaging a 0.5 and “AP Bio” a 0.7, though the latter show is executive produced by “SNL” maestro Lorne Michaels, which could give it a boost. “Great News” was given a chance to grow despite a lackluster first season, but has slipped even further in Season 2.



NBC announced they were pulling “Taken” Season 2 off their schedule, with a plan to move the show to Saturday nights beginning on May 26 to burn off the remainder of its episodes.

Decisions on summer shows including “Code Black” (CBS), “Elementary” (CBS), “Trial & Error” (NBC), “Quantico” (ABC), and “The 100” (CW) are still too early to predict. 

Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that “Lucifer” aired Thursdays on Fox. The error has been corrected. 


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