After NBC initially cancelled its time travel series Timeless, the network delighted cast, crew and fans by announcing on Saturday morning that it was reversing its decision, bringing the show back for a second season in spring or summer 2018.
The decision appeared to happen quickly, leading many to speculate over what could have caused NBC to backtrack so fast. While some thought it could have been a PR stunt, or a deal between NBC and #Timeless production company, Sony Pictures TV, that lead to the change (Timeless was originally cancelled over financial reasons, not due to ratings), it turns out it was much cooler than that — it was all down to the fandom and a network willing to admit they'd made a mistake.
Following the decision to renew the previously cancelled series, NBC Chairman Bob Greenblatt described at NBC's upfront press call exactly how the call was made:
"And then we woke up the next morning, heard the outcry (from fans). We went back to the drawing board, with our partners at Sony, and we found a way to bring it back. It's extraordinarily well produced and deserved to come back."
The fan outcry was certainly something that would have been hard to ignore, with fans — including actor and comedian Leslie Jones — erupting on social media, making it clear to the network that they had made a mistake in cancelling the show, and were willing to fight for their favorite TV series:
After realizing that more needed to be done to save Timeless, the NBC team — including Greenblatt, NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke and head of current programming Vernon Sanders — went back to the drawing board to figure out an alternative plan for the show. Salke revealed:
"We love the show, we just said, let’s figure out a way to bring it back. We proposed something, they accepted and 40 minutes later Shawn and Eric were tweeting about it."
And, despite the team having to think of a new way to bring the show back, it will not come at a cost to quality. According to Deadline, Timeless will return for a 10 episode second season as the exact same show and at the same budget in either spring or summer 2018, proving that sometimes networks are totally willing to listen to fans and learn when they've made mistakes.
Both Timeless fans and crew are over the moon with the result, with creators Shawn Ryan and Eric Kripke tweeting to fans and people celebrating the news worldwide.
The fan effort that was key in Timeless receiving a second season was certainly a beautiful thing to behold, but it's not the first time people power has resulted in a show being renewed or at least given the means to wrap up its story. Take a look at just a few other high profile TV shows that were brought back from the brink of cancellation thanks to the power of the fans:
'Star Trek: The Original Series'
The very first show to ever be saved by fans was Star Trek: The Original Series, way back in 1968! After NBC had apparently planned to ax the show, husband and wife duo, Bjo and John Trimble, began a letter-writing blitz. The pair mailed letters to other Star Trek fans asking them to write into NBC, and to also get 10 other Star Trek fans to do the same. The result was more than 116,000 letters delivered to the network in a four month period, and the show received a third season, which allowed the series to be syndicated. The campaign also laid the ground work for the first Star Trek film in 1979.
Star Trek: The Original Series star William Shatner even shared in the joy of Timeless fans when he messaged creator Eric Kripke upon the news of NBC decision to give the series another season:
While a TV series about a computer geek who accidentally downloads government secrets into his brain might sound amazing, unfortunately declining ratings meant that NBC planned to can the show following Season 2. However, Chuck fans launched a rather ingenious campaign to save the series in a three-pronged attack.
First, the fans campaigned using Facebook, Twitter and letter writing, before starting the "Have A Heart, Renew Chuck" aspect of the campaign, asking fans to donate to the American Heart Association on behalf of NBC. Over $17,000 was donated to the charity, but the "Save Chuck" campaign wasn't quite finished yet, with fans also targeting show sponsor, Subway. Thousands of people — including cast members — bought Subway sandwiches on the day of the season 2 finale, proving the company's financial investment in the series was worth it. Following this, Subway company revealed it would become an even bigger sponsor of the series if it were renewed, and that cash injection obviously proved too good to resist, with NBC giving the go ahead for a third season of the show. Chuck would go onto run for five seasons before being cancelled.
'Friday Night Lights'
After Friday Night Lights — a series about a high school football team in the football-mad town of Dillon, Texas — looked likely to be cancelled, fans launched a series of campaigns to ensure the show was renewed. Facebook groups and online petitions were created, emails were sent and the fans found meaning in lightbulbs and eyedrops, sending them in their thousands to NBC as a symbol of the series. The lightbulbs were a reference to the show title, and the eyedrops a reference to an oft-used phrase in the series, "clear eyes, full heart, can't lose." Similar to the Chuck campaign, fans also raised money for a charity on behalf of NBC, fundraising enough money to send over 20,000 footballs and Friday Night Lights DVDs to troops stationed overseas.
In the end, NBC was able to strike a deal with DirecTV to share the costs of further seasons of the show, which would air for a total of five seasons. Although Friday Night Lights never received massive ratings, it was lauded by the critics and won a Peabody Award, Humanitas Prize and Televisions Critics Association Award, as well as two Emmy Awards over its run.
Joss Whedon's 2002 space western series Firefly continues to have a massive fan following even today, and when the cancellation of the series was announced after just 11 episodes had aired, the fans — who call themselves "Browncoats" — rallied to have the decision reversed. The Browncoats bombarded Fox with online petitions, forums, emails and letters to either have the show renewed or to release the DVD of the first season as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, Fox remained unmoved on their decision to cancel the series, though instead Universal Pictures offered Whedon the opportunity to make Serenity, a feature film intended to give the series the wrap up it deserved. While the film wasn't as successful as fans would have liked, the DVD release remained popular and allowed the story to be completed.
Post-apocalyptic CBS series Jericho told the story of a fictional city in Kansas, coping with the fallout from a series of nuclear attacks on 23 cities across the United States. When the show was cancelled after one season due to low ratings, fans of the series began an impassioned campaign to have it brought back.
Taking inspiration from Skeet Ulrich's character, Jake Green, who utters the word "nuts" when asked to surrender (which was in itself a reference to a WW2 U.S. Army General), fans began ordering nuts to be sent to network executives at CBS. After literally tons of peanuts were sent to CBS offices, it spurred the network to take another look at the series' ratings. As it turned out, Jericho was more popular than the network had thought, initially failing to account for viewers who streamed online or watched at a later date using DVRs. The fans received a second season before Jericho was cancelled again, though a six-part comic book series acted as Season 3, and a five-part story was created as a sort of Season 4.
What are your thoughts on Timeless being saved from cancellation and renewed for a second season?