NBC Cancels ‘Timeless’ Again

timeless season 2

After the reverse cancellation that gave NBC’s Timeless a deserved second season, the network has officially axed the popular time travel series. It’s yet another painful and baffling cancellation in a year that has seen the big networks obliterating a lot of genre shows. While Timeless’ fan outcry has been loud—the fans’ vocal complaints to NBC’s decision last season is what lead to the surprise reversal in the first place—the series switched time slots, was shoved onto a Sunday night, and had the bare minimum of promotion.

For a family-oriented show popular with a wide demographic, the 10PM Sunday slot didn’t exactly give the series the visibility and ratings it needed. However, Timeless’ second season ended with fantastic critical reviews…and it now leaves brokenhearted fans with an awful cliffhanger and no proper resolution. Even worse, the decision comes after the hordes of Clockblockers have kept up an exhausting social media campaign for over a month while waiting for news.

But fans aren’t giving up—not yet. NBC has expressed interest in letting Timeless come to a proper resolution with a movie to wrap the series in a satisfying way. The chances of the show getting picked up by another network are slim (the producers have shopped Timeless around to other outlets, including streaming services, with no luck…which is hard to believe with a series this good), but the president of Sony TV recently expressed his enthusiasm in working to give the show a new home.

If NBC can come to some sort of agreement and give Timeless a movie, at the very least it would offer a conclusion, which is an option that not every cancelled series gets. It seems like it would be a Herculean task to wrap up all of the complex threads of this beloved show—the most important being, of course, to save Rufus—but it’s something.

With its passionate, creative fan base, inclusive storytelling, and educational trips through time that helped inspire many history buffs in its audience, it’s a real shame to see this one go. Timeless’ approach to the time travel genre and focus on marginalized people often forgotten by history is what made it a unique, enjoyable and intelligent show every week. Now more than ever, we needed this sort of storytelling and these characters, whose on screen chemistry and dynamics were some of the best that network television had to offer. It’s rare to see a show that resonates so deeply with fans of all ages and makes such an impact that historical societies (including the Smithsonian) praise its educational importance and mourn its loss.

But Timeless’ cancellation hints at a larger issue. This year in particular has been rife with fan activism. Some social media campaigns have been successful, some not. This cancellation/renewal season has led to many inclusive, diverse genre shows getting wiped out; cerebral shows traded for generic procedurals. Most are shows with very vocal fan bases, well received by their loyal fandoms but not necessarily making a dent in ratings. (For whatever reason, mostly due to later viewing and streaming platforms and services like DVR.) When series like this are no longer kept around for more than a few seasons (always carrying a feeling of uncertainty) and end without a proper resolution, will people continue to become invested in these shows? There’s a point where the amount of fan activism to keep a show on the air takes away from the overall enjoyment of the show itself.

Will networks eventually weigh their decisions based more on social media than an obsolete ratings system? Will major networks realize that intelligent, thought-provoking genre shows have a place in their primetime programming? One can only hope.

As more news about Timeless’ uncertain future is hopefully revealed in the coming weeks, we’ll keep you updated.