1:44pm PT by Lesley Goldberg, Michael O'Connell, Kate Stanhope
Fox Cancels 'The Following,' 'Backstrom'
With three new dramas — and likely at least one more to come — Fox has cleared some shelf space by cancelling The Following after three seasons.
A breakout hit when it premiered midseason 2013, The Following has steadily lost its audience (a post-NFL ratings pop last year, excluded) since the premiere, and the third season seemed to solidify that its viewership would not be bouncing back. With timeshifting, it still pulls 5.5 million viewers and a 1.9 rating among adults 18-49, but same-day showings have dwindled — even with a lead-in from Gotham.
The series, which (finally) lost second-billed Big Bad played by James Purefoy in a recent episode, also has the distinction of being one of the non-20th Century Fox TV shows on the broadcast network. It hails from Warner Bros. Television, where creator and executive producer Kevin Williamson has a deal. The Following was quite the big deal when it premiered. In addition to the series' graphic violence and gore nabbing headlines and prompting debate among critics, the star power of Kevin Bacon helped usher in the current age of shorter-order dramas toplined by cinema-caliber names (see Viola Davis on ABC's 15-episode How to Get Away With Murder).
Despite rumors of WBTV shopping The Following to Hulu, the streaming service is not expected to engage.
Backstrom, for its part, certainly did not seem poised for a renewal, but never underestimate the sway of Hart Hanson. The series' creator, also behind aging network MVP Bones, is of great value to both the network and studio 20th Century Fox TV. Still, the freshman season of the crime dramedy starring Rainn Wilson and picked up to series after CBS passed a year ago averaged a middling 1.5 rating in the key demo and 5.6 million viewers. But, for a network that's slipped to No. 4, it also hasn't been a disaster. The series was a consistent performer over the course of its 13-episode run. Wilson responded to the news, seemingly in character, via Twitter.
Keep up with all the renewals, cancelations and new series orders with THR's handy Scorecard.