For whatever reason, television networks, both broadcast and cable, will occasionally greenlight shows and then cancel them before they ever air. There are a variety of reasons this happens - and as the cost of making TV increases, it's happening more and more.
Sometimes a show is cancelled without airing simply because it's not very good, or at least the executives at that particular network don't think it's coming together well. Or maybe it's because someone higher up the corporate ladder had second thoughts about the show. In a few cases, outside issues that have nothing to do with the show's quality intervene, such as a writer's strike, the death of talent, or contractual disputes.
Here are the many canceled TV shows that were bought, written, and in most cases shot and announced as coming out soon - but never actually made it on the air.
The Robert Taylor Show (1963)
NBC filmed four episodes of this drama based on stories from the official files of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. However, the network soon realized that the show's producers hadn’t actually gotten permission from the government to use the department's files, and it was dumped without ever airing.
Bill and Martha (1964)
A sitcom starring veteran actor William Bendix, Bill and Martha was scheduled to air on CBS, but Bendix was in poor health and the network canceled the show before it aired. Bendix subsequently sued the network for $2.5 million, claiming the cancellation hurt his career and that he was in excellent health. The case was soon settled out of court – and Bendix died a few months later.
A new show from the guy who created Chico and the Man and Welcome Back, Kotter seems like a slam dunk for success. But despite a full write up in TV Guide and extensive promotion from NBC, the hairdresser sitcom Snip was canceled before ever airing. Star David Brenner believed the cancellation was related to one of the supporting characters being openly gay.
Coastocoast (1978)An hour-long sitcom about two airline stewardesses, (one of whom would be played by Melanie Griffith) Coastocoast was announced for NBC's Thursday night schedule in fall 1978. But when new NBC president Fred Silverman took over the network in June, he pulled the show from the schedule for “retooling.” Due to conflicts over the show’s concept and tone, it was quietly canceled without ever shooting a pilot.