Franchise Failure: Remembering the Franchise Shows That Just Didn't Work

Before I get started, note that this article can be seen as a sequel of sorts to "The Hits and Misses of Famous Creators and Franchises", which can be found here. Turns out, ABC's recent failure Conviction isn't the only show named Conviction that didn't make it past the first 13 episodes.

Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders
While the CSI and NCIS franchises are far more well-known, CBS has also made two spin-offs for popular, yet only partially-owned, Criminal Minds. The first spin off, Suspect Behavior, came in Criminal Minds' sixth season. As mentioned in the other article, its second episode got a 2.4 A18-49 Live + Same Day rating out of a 3.2 for Criminal Minds.  Not terrible, just a little bit below league average. The season finale, however, hit a 1.8 rating airing after a rerun of the mother show, just 70% of the league average that season. It never saw a second season.

CBS was a little bit more patient on Beyond Borders, which premiered last season. Its 1.25 average out of a 1.6 average lead-in wasn't terrible, and it was remarkable how it received an ugly 1.1 out of a 2.1, but a much more stellar 1.0 out of a 1.0. The second season is where it fell apart. The fact that an episode received a 0.8 rating out of a 1.6 for the mother show is simply not acceptable, that's rejection at its finest. If anyone was to accept Beyond Borders it should be the fans of the mother show, yet the show only had half the audience.

Whether CBS looks for a third Criminal Minds spin-off or not is a big question-mark, though it wouldn't be surprising to see one come during the find season of the mother show.

Law & Order: LA and Law & Order: Trial By Jury
If you turn on your TV right now, I'm guessing you'll find at least two or three Dick Wolf shows airing. Law & Order and Law & Order: SVU are airing in syndication seemingly all the time, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent also made it 10 seasons. Both peaked as monster hits, and while Law & Order didn't exactly have a glamorous goodbye, it's still arguably one of the most remembered shows of all time. Law & Order: LA and Law & Order: Trial By Jury didn't exactly live up to that standard. In 2010, NBC canceled both the original show and LA, something that they probably wouldn't be able to get away with today given Dick Wolf has even more of a presence there now. While Law & Order: LA was a failure, only getting to air 22 episodes, Trial By Jury was even worse, with only 13 episodes and even then, only 12 aired on NBC (the final aired on Court TV). Airing on Fridays at 10pm, the final episodes went below 10 million viewers, which was considered poor in 2005. Compare that to the over 15 million viewers SVU was receiving, and the 12 million that the original show was getting a decade and a half after it premiered. And remember that 1.8 that Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior received that sealed its fate negatively? Law & Order: LA got a 1.3 that same night.

CSI: Cyber
At one point, CBS had the original CSI alongside CSI: New York and CSI: Miami all doing very well for them. However, eventually the two spin-offs were canceled and CSI was declining fast as well in its new Sunday time slot. The plan was to end the original CSI show and carry on with the franchise with CSI: Cyber. The short first season didn't exactly do all that great in the ratings, but being part of the CSI franchise both meant international sales, network support, and Ted Danson signing on to do Season 2. It didn't work, and CBS realized that the glory days of the CSI franchise had come to an end. It wouldn't be too surprising if they eventually either rebooted the original CSI or made yet another spin-off, but Cyber showed that not all CSI spin-offs are surefire hits.

If you don't remember this one, don't beat yourself up. NCIS: Red never made it past the pilot stage. While NCIS and NCIS: LA were big hits, this NCIS: LA spin-off clearly was not liked by CBS brass and/or focus groups. There was speculation that this spin-off would lead to CBS creating an all-NCIS Tuesday, and it would be one of the most obvious pick-ups of the season. Something about the show had to have been off; probably it was just plain bad, whether that be because they couldn't find the right off-screen talent or if the acting was sub-par. It almost certainly wasn't because they were afraid of over-saturation, as NCIS: New Orleans was ordered to series just a year after this forgotten failure.

Chicago Justice
This article wouldn't be complete without discussing the cancelation of Chicago Justice. As part of the Chicago franchise, it was expected that the show wouldn't really be a big hit, but nonetheless a solid player that helps out NBC's schedule. While it did decently on Sundays, much better than the comedy block that had aired there the season before, NBC realized that airing Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Chicago Med, Chicago Justice, Law & Order: SVU, and Law & Order: True Crime in one season was probably a bit much. It's tough to say whether or not Chicago Justice would have been a solid player on Friday and eventually syndication, but since none of the Chicago shows are syndicated it seems NBC is moving on to supporting just the ones that are actually doing well in the ratings: Fire and PD. The lower-rated Med, while renewed, has been benched.

Of all the shows discussed here, there has only been one other time where four shows in the same franchise were airing at once. In the 2004-05 season, NBC aired not only the original Law & Order, but also SVU, Trial By Jury, and Criminal Intent. As already discussed, Trial By Jury didn't do well. Justice is to the Chicago franchise what Trial By Jury was to the Law & Order franchise.

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