Speculative Fiction Has Screen Endurance

By Carl Slaughter: Supernatural is still on the air after 12 seasons.

  • Smallville and the original Stargate both lasted 10 seasons.

  • X-Files and Touched by an Angel lasted 9 seasons.
  • Vampire Diaries and Charmed, 8 seasons each.

  • Game of Thrones and Walking Dead, still going at 7 seasons.

  • Outer Limits, Buffy, Sabrina, Medium, and Crypt, 7 seasons.

  • Star Trek spinoffs: Next Generation, Deep Space 9, Voyager, 7 seasons each.

  • Lost, True Blood, Highlander, and Xena, 6 seasons.

  • Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, Fringe, Heroes, 4400, Angel, Ghost Whisperer, Sanctuary, Being Human, Stargate: Atlantis, Lois & Clark, Warehouse 13, Lost Girl, Star Trek Enterprise, 4/5 seasons.

  • Even shows for hard core sci fi fans — Quantum Leap, Sliders, Farscape, Andromeda, Lexx, Kyle, Eureka —  have lasted at least 5 seasons.

  • UK science fiction shows:  Doctor Who, 36 seasons and counting.  Red Dwarf, 12 seasons and counting.  Misfits, Sarah Jane Adventures, Primeval, Being Human, Merlin, 5 seasons each; Blake’s 7 and Torchwood, 4 seasons each.

8 thoughts on “Speculative Fiction Has Screen Endurance

  1. Why is it that it seems Scrolls get all the comments and not things like this? (Trying to wash a bad thread out of my head, so here goes.)

    This list is great and seems pretty comprehensive but misses the five (four and a half) season Person of Interest.

    Not a fan of the longest-running shows and most of the others ran too long, but The X-Files was great for at least a few seasons. Buffy‘s first five (three, especially) made it the best show ever. DS9 was also one of the very best and, except for losing Jadzia, actually made it to the finish line. (Eagerly awaiting my DVDs.) For some strange reason, I really like Stargate: Atlantis (I’m currently in season 4 with season 5 ready to go), despite, as I say, not caring for the parent series (and the movie was okay, but no great shakes, either). Farscape is a rare backwards show in that it should have gone a season longer. The miniseries/movie thing was quite rushed and packed but was something.

    And this all raises the counter-post – while SFF shows can last a long time and all the network suits should learn from this, what about all the greats cut down in their prime (or in the crib) like Firefly, Space: Above and Beyond, ST:TOS, TZ, etc. Those special three-and-unders. I was even kind of enjoying that cop show FOX cut down somewhat recently (as they almost always do). Almost Human? Something like that.

  2. Yeah, Almost Human. Explored the premise of near future science being beyond the ability of the government to control.

    Also liked Intelligence, Minority Report, Agent Carter, Alphas, and Extant.

    Still watching The Strain, Orphan Black, and Agents of Shield.

    Stranger Things was flawless.

    Lost interest in Dark Matter, Killjoys, The Last Ship, Humans, and The Expanse after one season.

    Gave up on 12 Monkeys, 11/22/63, Limitless, Wayward Pines, Defiance, Revolution, Under the Dome, Falling Skies, The Event, Flash Forward, and Continuum after a few/several episodes.

    Gave up on Legends of Tomorrow, Caprica, Misfits, Primeval, Hunters, Star Crossed, The 100, Travelers, Believe, Being Human, The Tomorrow People, Touch, Paradox, Sense8 after one episode.

  3. Jason: I’m happy for discussion to pop up anywhere, so your comment is welcome.

    Thought I would explain, however, that the Scrolls are designed as a hangout. We wanted a way to keep the community going which had coalesced around the Puppy/Hugo roundups I did in 2014, but fueled by an unlimited variety of sf/f, science, and pop culture topics. Pixel Scrolls were the solution.

  4. When Syfy canceled Eureka, it was there top rated show. In a sane world, it would have had many more seasons. I’m too lazy to Google it right now, but this was reported at the time. They said the large cast was too expensive so they replaced it with new shows with large casts that they could pay less money to. Unless, of course, those shows become too popular and the casts want raises. I have no faith now in any Syfy show now.

  5. – Seeing ‘X-Files’ and That Other Show in the same sentence made me a little nauseous. And I bet if you told the people behind That Other Show you consider it to be “speculative fiction”, they would clobber you with their Bible.

    – Another series that only got 1 season but deserved more: ‘Invasion’. imdb.com/title/tt0460651

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  7. Thanks, Mike. And thanks for the info. 🙂

    Cable is just so expensive – costs several books a month 😉 – but, looking at your list, Carl, it begins to seem worth it. All I know is that I loved the Agent Carter premiere but quickly began losing interest. I made it through the first season but can’t even remember if I watched the second or not. Think that’s all it lasted. It was never bad to me, but just didn’t maintain my initial level of interest. Shield was kind of weird and almost opposite for awhile. I was lukewarm at first but then it really grew on me and I thought I was becoming a major fan. Then it kind of lost me again. Especially (spoilers? I’ll keep it vague and this was awhile ago) the episode where they wrote off a couple of characters to prep for a spinoff (that I don’t think is ever happening). Think that was the last one I watched as a regular thing.

    But, yeah, cable and internet (and movies of course) seems to be where the visual genre action is and has been for a long time.

  8. Of course these are the survivors. On the other hand, you have things like:
    Firefly (1/2 season)
    Space Above and Beyond (1 season)
    Dark Skies ( 1 season)
    Awake (1/2 season)
    Almost Human (1 season)
    The Middlemen (1season)
    666 Park Avenue (1 season)
    The Adventures Of Brisco County Jr. (1 season)
    Outcasts (1/2 season)
    The Tick (1 season)
    The Event (1 season)
    Surface (1 season)
    Threshold (1 season)
    Invasion (1 season)
    The Gates (1 season)

    Capricia (1 season)

    So basically, the best you can say is that a lot of the stgma has fallen from SF shows, and they’re subject to the same “Majority of shows fail” that other TV genres are.

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