Remember When ABC Canceled ‘Nashville’?
Nashville's ratings had been falling when ABC announced that it was canceling the TV drama, but the response to the news left no question about fans' passion for the series. Lucky for them, their calls to save the show were answered within a month.
Created by Callie Khouri, Nashville aired on ABC for four seasons after debuting on Oct. 10, 2012, balancing behind-the-scenes realism and an insider's view of the Music City music scene with enough over-the-top drama between Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton), Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere), Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten) and its other characters to keep viewers hooked. Throughout its run, the show spawned a series of successful soundtracks, concert tours and solo albums from some of its cast members, and heightened Nashville's reputation as a tourist destination.
However, on May 12, 2016 — five years ago today — ABC canceled Nashville, even though Emmy-winning producers Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick had recently been hired and had begun working on Season 5 storylines. At the time, reports cited both declining ratings — although many fans DVR'd the show to watch later — and the departure of ABC President Paul Lee, an advocate for Nashville at the network, as reasons for the show's cancellation.
"You have to kind of weigh and measure a lot of different things," new ABC President Channing Dungey said at the time. "And at the end of the day, it didn't feel that — even though [the also-canceled] Castle and Nashville were wonderful shows for us and good performers for a long time — that the future for us did not necessarily lie in those shows."
The decision caught the show's cast off-guard; in fact, they learned of the show's demise via text from Khouri at the same time the news broke widely. Then-Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, meanwhile, called Nashville's cancellation "incredibly disappoint[ing]," noting that the decision was "a loss for ABC and for the millions of fans across the world who have grown to love this show."
Fans quickly began a petition to save the show, while Nashville's producers worked to keep it on the air by shopping it to different networks. Prominent rumors about the matter cited both Hulu and Netflix as possible new homes for the show, but in the end, it found a spot on cable TV.
On June 10, 2016, CMT announced that the network had struck a deal with Nashville's production company, Lionsgate, to carry the show's fifth season. A sixth and final season, also on CMT, concluded the series in 2018.