NBC Cancels, Then Renews, Timeless

Fans of NBC’s freshman sci-fi series Timeless are celebrating. Yesterday, the network shockingly reversed its decision to cancel the series, renewing it for a short second season. Timeless stars Abigail Spencer, Matt Lanter, and Malcolm Barrett as a trio of time travelers attempting to combat a mysterious organization. It premiered on October 3rd, 2016 and aired its season finale on February 20th, 2017.

The first season consisted of 16 episodes–six fewer than the standard 22. The second season will run for just 10 episodes.

NBC announced the cancellation on Wednesday (May 10th). Co-creator Eric Kripke used Twitter yesterday (May 13th) to announce NBC’s unexpected change of heart :



It didn’t take long for word of NBC’s reversal to spread.

Other Network TV Un-Cancellations

Timeless is not the first network TV series to have its cancellation notice rescinded by the same network. The quick reversal, however, may be a record. Cagney & Lacey is one of the most famous examples of a TV show being cancelled but later brought back. CBS actually cancelled Cagney & Lacey twice–after its brief first season and again after its second season. After bringing it back for a second time, CBS stuck with the series for five more seasons.

More recent “un-cancellations” haven’t fared as well. CBS revived Jericho thanks to a fan campaign. The network cancelled the series in May 2007 after its first season and announced its return roughly a month later. It returned in February 2008 to even lower ratings. CBS cancelled it again in March 2008.

In May 2012, CBS cancelled its new drama Unforgettable. The following month, the network changed its mind. CBS cancelled Unforgettable for a second time in October 2014 after its third season. Cable channel A&E then picked it up for a fourth season before cancelling it for a third and final time in February 2016.

FOX cancelled its new sitcom Breaking In in May 2011. It took three months before the network officially announced it had renewed the series for a second season. Five episodes into Season 2, FOX pulled Breaking In from its schedule and cancelled it for good in May 2012.

Hopefully, Timeless will be more like Unforgettable and perform well enough to return for a third season rather than suffer the same fate as Jericho or Breaking In.


Hit the comments with your reaction to NBC’s decision to bring back Timeless. Are you excited? Do you think Season 2 will be successful?


7 Comments

  • Gail Gauthier says:

    This history geek is delighted. They should focus more on history and less on that mysterious group that I don’t understand.

    • Patrick McNamara says:

      They aren’t even providing an accurate history. It’s historical fiction which often features historical characters playing part in ways they never did.

      The Rittenhouse (?) thing is just one of your stock conspiracy theory plots. If the series has only 10 episodes chances are they’ll be focusing more on that aspect of it. That was the more interesting part of the show.

      The time travel aspect showed early on that it was working as a dues ex machina for changing the story as they wanted. So what happens in the future is irrelevant. And if changing the past is suppose to change the future, then how are the future characters suppose to be aware of anything going on? As far as the future people would believe, nothing has changed so the time travel experiment is a failure.

      I also don’t like how they plan to make the show more “family friendly” next season. That usually involves adding some kids to the show which would completely ruin it.

      • Gail Gauthier says:

        I don’t mind historical fiction. What I enjoyed was recognizing historical figures or situations. “That’s Judith Exner!” I shouted at my husband. And I was aware that there was, indeed, a serial killed connected with the Chicago World’s Fair, so I liked getting ahead of that for a few seconds.

        Hmm. Yes, I like shallow history.

  • Patrick McNamara says:

    Quantico was close to cancellation but got a last minute renewal, although it won’t be showing up until at least mid-season.

  • Bob says:

    FOX canceled “Family Guy” after it’s brief first season to bring it back later after the sales of their DVDs went thru the roof.

    In the old days some canceled series like “Taxi “were able to jump networks to survive.

  • Joseph says:

    “Trial And Error” has also been renewed by NBC, for a ten-episode second season.

    It will likely run from March through May of 2018, after the Winter Olympics.

  • Joe says:

    STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE was cancelled by UPN after its first season then after its 2nd season.

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