Just a few days ago, Brooklyn Nine-Nine set a new record for the shortest cancellation of a TV series EVER. After airing five years with Fox, the studio announced on Friday 11th May that the comedy cop show had run its course. Within minutes, the internet exploded with irate fans (including Yours Truly) voicing their displeasure at the cancellation.
And they were heard. Fast. By the end of the day, NBC stepped in and made the announcement that they would be picking up the show for its sixth season; continuing its legacy of diversity and inclusion wrapped in fast-paced comedy banter. This may not be the first fan campaign to save a show, but it’s certainly the shortest.
Fans of the Nine-Nine, we salute you!
Fan campaigns may seem like a fairly recent phenomenon, but they have been going a lot longer than you might think. Let’s be honest, in a Roman Gladiatorial Arena, crowd appreciation could literally save a man’s life. If that’s not fan power, I don’t know what it!
But with the prominence of Social Media these days, fan campaigns seem to be gaining more attention and inspiring other fan groups to follow suit. And we all know that dedicated fans can come up with some truly creative and inspired methods for getting their opinions noticed.
Here are a few honourable mentions:
Firefly is frequently listed as a show that was cancelled too soon. After just 14 episodes, Fox pulled the plug. Given that it had played with the show’s running order and scheduling, this maybe wasn’t as big a shock as it could have been. Nevertheless, the fans were devastated, especially when the DVD release meant they could view the show in the correct order. Thus, the Browncoats were born. Letters were written to the studio, and to Joss Whedon to show their support. They even paid for whole-page ads in magazines. In the end, the show was not renewed, but the fans’ support inspired Whedon to go on his own campaign to find a studio willing to fund and produce a movie to enable him and the fans to say a proper goodbye to the franchise. And so, Serenity flew one last time.
Product placement is rife in just about any film or TV series you can think of, but no product has ever been more welcome on screen as Subway was in Chuck. After just two seasons, Chuck looked like it was for the cutting room floor when fans (together with the show’s star, Zachary Levi) took it upon themselves to partner with Subway to save the show. Hundreds of fans flocked to Subway stores in the hopes that the bosses would sign a sponsorship deal with the show. And it worked! Chuck went on for three more seasons thanks to the investment from Subway, and their sandwiches featured prominently on screen as a result.
Star Trek (Original Series)
Fans have always been passionate about ensuring that the Star Trek franchise lives long and prospers, never more so than when the original series was under the axe in 1968 after just two years on the air. The fans launched a letter-writing campaign that set the benchmark for future campaigns. They even picketed the NBC offices and studios to get their point across. When Star Trek was renewed for a third season, the Executives cited the fans as the reason for giving it the green light. Well done, nerdmigos!
When CW cancelled Veronica Mars in 2007, the studio was inundated by fans sending in over 10,000 Mars bars. This isn’t the first time that fans have sent show-centric items to studios in the hopes of renewing their favourite shows (it was bottles of Tabasco Sauce for Roswell and boxes of tissues for Stargate SG-1). Ultimately, in this instance, the studio was not moved by the gesture. So, fans got together with the goal of raising $2 million to help fund a film. They ended up raising $5.7 million and the Veronica Mars movie came out in 2014 with its original cast intact.
Of course, for every successful campaign, there are at least five that end in tragedy. Series such as Pushing Daisies, The 4400, and Angel will never see another episode, much to the disappointment of their dedicated fans. But that doesn’t mean that fans should just give up and keep their silence.
With more and more fans connecting through Social Media and showing their solidarity, studios are being forced to take notice. As Melissa Fumero tweeted this week following NBC’s announcement regarding Brooklyn Nine-Nine,
“You [the fans] got loud and you were heard and you saved the show!”
It’s a happy ending that more of our favourite shows deserve and I do hope that more studios follow suit in taking the views of their fans into consideration.
Thank you NBC for saving the Nine-Nine!