The Killing, a dark detective thriller, has just been cancelled—but you can’t say it producers didn’t try.
The show, adapted from a popular Danish series, premiered on AMC in 2011. Its first season, with the grabby tagline “Who Killed Rosie Larsen?” won fans who were desperate to find out the answer—and then alienated those same fans with a bait-and-switch; by the time the mystery was solved in the second season, many viewers had already changed the channel, so it wasn’t all that surprising when the network cancelled the show in advance of a third season.
But the story wasn’t over (yet): just a few months after the cancellation notice, a deal came through to bring the show back. Season 3 aired this summer but didn’t manage to regain the excitement (and ratings) of the first season, so that’ll be that. There will be no Season 4 of The Killing.
But The Killing isn’t the first show to be reincarnated only to die a second death. (And no, that doesn’t count shows like Friday Night Lights and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which were saved from premature cancellation and eventually ended at the time chosen by their creators.) It’s a path well-worn by shows like:
The first mention of the word “nuts” on post-nuclear-attack drama Jericho wasn’t meant to be a game-changer, but when the show was cancelled it turned into a rallying cry. Fans sent CBS thousands of pounds of nuts, demonstrating their devotion to such a point that, in 2007, the network decided to give the show another go. But viewership on the second try were mere peanuts, and it was cancelled again after seven episodes.
At first, it may seem like Futurama had a good long run. It started in 1999, after all. But measured against show co-creator Matt Groening’s other big enterprise—The Simpsons, still going after more than two decades—its seven seasons were a drop in a 31st-century bucket. That’s seven seasons between 1999 and now: the show ended its five-season run on Fox five in 2003, and started up again in 2010 on Comedy Central. The series finale aired just this month, but Groening has indicated that he feels the show has not run its course: “In our hearts, Futurama lives.”
Back in 2006, when The WB and UPN merged to become The CW, fans of the minister-with-a-big-family show 7th Heaven lucked out: even though it had previously been announced that its tenth WB season would be its last—and that the network was losing millions of dollars on that season—the show got another life on the new channel. Just one season later, after being moved around from its long-running Monday slot to a Sunday time, the show was cancelled for good.
The Los Angeles cop drama Southland premiered in 2008 — it was well-received by critics and renewed by NBC. But, in 2009, early in the show’s second season, the network pulled the plug. The timing was particularly strange, considering the network had already produced a good chunk of the season set to air that fall. Just about a month later, however, TNT announced that they’d grabbed the show and would bring it back. On TNT, Southland lasted for four years. This summer, about a month after the Season 5 finale aired and despite chatter about a possible movie, TNT execs announced they’d made “the difficult decision” to cancel the show before Season 6.