I see a lot of fans complaining about the fact that networks don’t really give shows a chance to find their audience. If a series doesn’t perform well out of the gate, it’s usually curtains for that production. Some will argue it’s only fair. After all, television is a business and if a show can’t succeed, then why waste the time and effort?
Well, the following shows premiered to lacklustre ratings but, for whatever reasons, were kept on the air. And – whaddya know – they ended up not only finding an audience, but flourished.
Submitted for your personal: 9 shows that survived terrible early ratings to become legends of television!
Although CBS was planning to cancel the show after its first season, Proctor & Gamble threatened to withdraw its advertising from the network’s daytime programming and won it a reprieve. In the second season, it became a top ten show after following the popular Beverly Hillbillies.
Run: 5 season, 158 episodes and one reunion special, 15 Emmy Awards, ranked as one of TV Guide’s Top 50 Greatest T.V. Shows of All Time.
It premiered to “lukewarm” ratings and poor reviews but the gang at WJM stuck it out and, by its second season, it was a top ten show.
Run: 7 seasons, 168 episodes, 29 Emmy Awards, ranked #6 on the WGA’s 101 Best-Written T.V. Series of All Time.
Despite its highly controversial premiere, the ratings for its first season were so low that it flirted with cancellation. But, after building an audience with its summer reruns, it captured #1 spot in the Nielsen ratings on its return, a top ranking it would hold for six consecutive years.
Run: 9 seasons, 208 episodes, 21 Emmy Awards, and ranked #4 on T.V. Guide’s Top 50 Greatest T.V. Shows of All Time.
It’s first season saw it pull in ratings so abysmally low that CBS almost cancelled it. Almost. Instead, the show came back for a second season and, following its new lead-in, All in the Family, became a top ten show.
Run: 11 seasons, 256 episodes, 14 Emmy Awards,#25 on T.V. Guide’s Top 50 Greatest T.V. Shows of All Time, it’s finale was watched by 125 million viewers.
After a couple of middling seasons in the ratings, the show finally hit its stride in its third season.
Run: 7 season, 176 episodes, 5 Emmy Awards.
This ground-breaking police drama had the distinction of being the lowest-rated show ever renewed for a second season. While its ratings were never gangbusters, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences took notice, nominating the show for 98 Emmy Awards.
Run: 7 seasons, 147 episodes, 26 Emmy Awards, ranked #14 in T.V. Guide’s Greatest T.V. Shows of All Time.
With a premiere ranking 74th out of the 77 shows aired that season, Cheers seemed doomed to failure but, by some miracle, it survive the axe. The rest, as they say, is history.
Run: 11 season, 270 episodes, 28 Emmy Awards, was a top ten show for 8 of its 11 seasons, ranked #18 on T.V. Guide’s Top 50 Greatest T.V. Shows of All Time.
Another show that got off to a slow start, and an extended one at that. After two low-rated seasons (the first comprised of a mere 5 episodes), it bounced back – sort of – in its third season by climbing up to become the #42 ranked premiere on television. But NBC stuck with it – and it finally found its audience.
Run: 9 seasons, 180 episodes, 10 Emmy Awards, ranked as the #1 Show of All Time by T.V. Guide.
The ratings for its first year were so low that it would have certainly been cancelled – if not for the two Emmy Awards it won in its fledgeling season. Though never a ratings juggernaut, it remained a critical darling throughout its run.
Run: 7 seasons, 122 episodes, 4 Emmy Awards, 3 Peabody Awards.