ABC's Tuesday 'Death Slot': A Brief History of Its Put-Upon Occupants

No amount of Inhuman powers could have helped Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. evade its Season 4 ratings erosion, seeing as it now calls ABC’s most problematic time slot home.

For while CBS’ Sundays-at-10 (or 10:30-ish!) time slot is no picnic, and any number of dramas have capped NBC’s Thursday line-up over the years, ABC’s Tuesdays-at-10 “death slot” has earned a notorious nickname that even the casual viewer likely knows.

All told, S.H.I.E.L.D. is the ninth drama to claim that spot since September 2011, when it could be argued ABC’s Tuesday sinkhole first started forming. And five of those ill-fated shows didn’t even last into the double digits! Check out the chart below, tracking each occupant’s average demo rating, and then read on for our season-by-season post mortem.

deathslotratings

2011-12
It could be arguedbody-of-proof-season-2 that this is when ABC’s woes began. Coming off a solid freshman run in the time slot, where it had averaged a 2.2 rating with 10.9 million viewers, Body of Proof‘s second go-round fell more than 20 percent, to a 1.7 with 8.6 million viewers — though its 20-episode run went uninterrupted. Private Practice then moved to finish up Season 5 in the time slot with a 1.8 rating (and 6.9 million viewers), down 24 percent in the demo from what it had been doing on Thursdays.

2012-13
Private Practice returned PRIVATE PRACTICEin September with a shortened, final season (1.4 rating, 4.7 million viewers) that slipped 22 percent from its previous Tuesday numbers. Body of Proof took over in February with what would be its final, 13-episode run, matching the Shondaland drama’s rating while building on its audience by 70 percent. Still, Body of Proof was ABC’s lowest rated drama, and thus was cancelled weeks before its season wrapped. (Just last August, current ABC chief Channing Dungey said network execs “oft lamented” that decision, adding: “I’m not going to lie. That was a good show for us.”)

2013-14
Things quickly get bleak.LUCKY 7 With Body hastily buried, ABC first gambles on the lottery winner drama Lucky 7, which lasts just two episodes (averaging a 1.0 with 3.5 million viewers). Come January, Killer Women (“From Producer Sofia Vergara”) took over, airing six episodes (0.7 rating, 3.4 million viewers) before running afoul of the reaper. Mind Games, starring Steve Zahn and Christian Slater, wouldn’t fare any better, lasting just five episodes (0.8, 2.6 mil). Serving as “scheduling spackle” amid that whole aforementioned mishegas were episodes of Celebrity Wife Swap and What Would You Do?, which averaged a 0.9 with 3 million viewers.

2014-15
Bolstered Forever Finale Spoilers Season 1by a Monday sneak peek, Forever opened solidly, with a 1.7 demo rating. Within weeks, it would settle around 1.1, averaging 4.8 million weekly viewers and completing its 22-episode run. Days after its finale, however, the freshman — being ABC’s lowest rated drama — got the hook. Despite being shopped elsewhere, the Warner Bros. TV production would not come back to life à la its hero.

2015-16
Suddenly, the Lucky, KillerWicked City Final Episodes Hulu Women Who Play Minds Games are looking pretty good. Wicked City, about serial killing lovebirds, got snuffed after three airings (averaging 0.7 with 2.5 million viewers). The biblical drama Of Kings and Prophets fared even worse, crucified after just two March episodes (0.7, 2.9 mil). Episodes of What Would You Do? and Beyond the Tank would help fill gaps, averaging no higher than a 0.7 rating.

2016-17
All of which brings us to Coulson & Co., who surely must be tempted to seed the Nielsen audience sample with LMDs. ABC was perhaps wise to address its “death slot” problem with an existing, known quantity such as Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. And maybe the series is “bulletproof,” as part of a larger, corporate synergy thing. But to date, S.H.I.E.L.D. — with a 0.8 rating and 2.6 million weekly viewers — is down 33 and 23 percent from Season 3, where it aired an hour earlier. And despite the recently launched LMD storyline appearing to be better received than 4A’s Ghost Rider arc, the drama’s Jan. 17 outing fell to series lows, mustering barely 2 million total viewers with a 0.6 demo rating.

Which ABC Tuesday drama do you think suffered the most ignanimous fate?

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89 Comments
  1. Katherine215 says:

    I still have the Forever finale on my DVR. And I really enjoyed Killer Women…

    • Crystal says:

      I loved Forever. They never give these shows a chance. Or they end up moving the shows all around and you never know where to locate it at. That is one of the downfalls of having new shows.

  2. AB says:

    SHIELD is not bulletproof just because it’s Marvel. Ask Agent Carter.

    • Lauren says:

      Agent Carter had what 70 years seperating it from MCU continuity? Not really the same.

      • Adam says:

        I think that the MCU film executives dismissing Agents of SHIELD as non-canon, despite the TV series having the films as their canon, has hurt the show.

        • Izzy says:

          Marvel at the beginning insisted that TV and movies are all related hoping for synergy cross promotion; then Kevin Feige and Isaac Perlmutter power struggles came ahead and Disney has to legally separating the Marvel’s movie and comics/TV operation in different entities so now they hardly work together anymore. However you feel about DC Comics, they use multiverses for their TV shows on different TV networks and movies universe, and actually meet every week with showrunners to discuss everyone’s storylines/ideas, so they can test characters and ensure they don’t conflict each other. c’est la vie

  3. Nicole Walker says:

    They never, ever, ever should’ve cancelled Forever. Was perfect for their brand, the cast led by Gruffudd was stellar, and it was a compelling story with heart and humor.

    And now here we are years later and ABC is trying to push a new time travel/cross time periods show called ‘Time After Time’ when they should’ve kept the one they had that was solidly rated.

    With all the revival mania happening, I’d rather have the cancelled/gone too soon shows brought back instead of multi-season shows that had their time.

    • Steven says:

      I agree. They replaced with Wicked City of all things! They should have given it at least 1 more season.

    • Jon Willis says:

      Part of the decision to cancel Forever came from the fact that ABC didn’t own the series.

    • Iris says:

      I agree. I loved this show and looking at the ratings of its successor, they should have kept it.

    • grazelled says:

      While I understand why ABC cancelled Forever since it was non-owned, it still remains my most missed cancelled show within the last few years.

      • L. says:

        Funnily enough however, I’m betting they spent a lot more money making, and then revamping, Of Kings and Prophets than they would have paying WB to license Forever. There was also a large number of viewers who came out saying that they didn’t even know about Forever until after the fact and then mourned the cancellation with the regular viewers. ABC screwed up royally with that property.

      • Thing with Forever is that it was really popular here in Australia but not enough people watched in America

    • Crystal says:

      Amen. I totally agree with you on this. Forever was one of those shows that had comedy, suspense, and just down right enjoyable with the characters. I loved this show.

  4. Sam says:

    Body of Proof. That was a solid show that ABC would have even grown elsewhere. They tampered with it and ‘revamped’ it and that made it even worse. That was a simple little procedural.

  5. Gerald says:

    No comments on the new normal which is streaming and DVRs. I am still assuming Shield still gets huge bumps.
    I also really enjoyed Forever. But that is about it from this list.

  6. joe says:

    Body of Proof, the former network president was an idiot to cancel that one, that was the first ,and only show I watched in that time slot since NYPD Blue

    • Izzy says:

      Think the logic being the show’s audience were not young and sexy enough for ABC. While Forever is sexier but still not young enough (hence ads money) and ABC don’t get any international money. S.H.I.E.L.D. is younger and ABC can sell internationally even with lower rating.

  7. Jennifer says:

    I still miss Forever and Body of Proof. Can’t we PLEASE bring either (or both) of them back? Pretty Please???

    • Crystal says:

      Loved both of these shows. They were my two favorites of all of the shows that were on in this timeframe.

  8. bre says:

    Or it could be that the show is trash and was tanking in ratings consistently since 2×01 which is why it got moved to death slot?

  9. Rachel says:

    Forever. Such an interesting and different show. Now we get reboots upon reboots :-(

  10. ScottJ says:

    ABC may have put Agents of SHIELD there either because they’ve decided to cancel it already, or they won’t cancel it no matter how far the ratings fall. While I don’t think the show is bulletproof it has the potential to be advertising for the wider Marvel Universe movies. So it comes down to whether or not costs and income are looked at for each product separately or if its the overall total that matters.

  11. Lauren says:

    Body of Proof should never have been cancelled. It gives me a little bit of comfort to know the network still laments it.

  12. T.W.S.S. says:

    I’ll be satisfied even if Shield ends on a cliffhanger, as long as they air all of the episodes.

    • ndixit says:

      I don’t think there is any worry of all the eps not airing. Even if it gets pulled out of the timeslot, they will still air it sometime, even if it’s just a burn off.

  13. Luis Roman says:

    SHIELD has one particular advantage over the rest of that sad history: synergy. As ABC’s primary connection to the ultra lucrative MCU, “AoS” serves as a weekly promotional billboard, reminding people that some, new, exciting Marvel movie is never far away. As big as production and promotional costs might be for “AoS,” Disney’ABC can well afford to keep it in place.

    P.S. I still miss “Forever”

  14. Kevin says:

    Really missed Body of Proof. People were so dumb since they gave up watching the show and it should’ve been a huge hit in the 10 pm Tuesday night time slot.

  15. Katie says:

    I don’t know if it’s entirely the time slot’s fault. I have been an avid fan of Agents of Shield for years but honestly this season has been terrible. I think they killed too many people off last season. They added way too many new people this season. The ghost rider storyline worked about as well as Once Upon a Time’s Neverland storyline. This is by far the weakest season and I went from being obsessed with it to not wanting to watch anymore. The time slot may be a problem but the storyline is definitely at fault here.

    • Dee says:

      I completely agree. The writing is the problem. It’s never been able to decide what kind of show it is. It didn’t seem like the writers had an arc planned for Season 3, and just sort of jammed stuff together when the ideas struck. This caused some real consistency issues. And this season has just been awful, honestly. And, for the record, I, too, am a fan.

    • Lauren says:

      Maybe so but the point is ABC can’t launch a new show there and anything they put there tends to die. Not specific to Shield, just a funny black “cursed” hole.

  16. TvLover says:

    Wow, that’s crazy how poorly ABC shows have done on Tuesday night.
    I still feel like Body of Proof and Forever should have stayed on the air.
    I wonder how ABC could fix the problem or even if they ever plan to do so.

  17. Kenbud says:

    I wish they would do a Body of Proof movie or like a “5-day event” with a big murder mystery. Fox is bringing back their series for limited runs. Why can’t ABC try it?

  18. btm says:

    SHIELD is tanking because they stopped cross-pollinating the show with the events taking place in the MCU as tent pole events. Since the Winter Soldier’s aftermath, the movie tie-ins have disappeared. All that is left are Inhumans and androids, and they are both dreadfully boring.

    The arcs of one-two months each that they are playing up are not working, and none of the plots have been particularly successful. The show is altogether too independent of what is happening in the MCU, with too little cross promotion, and too few reverberations from movie events to shake up the setting. The show is dying and it’s deserved.

  19. AMG says:

    Forever has the most ignominious cancellation.

    Forever was not ABC’s lowest-rated show during the 2014-15 TV season. Live+Same-Day, Forever had 4.93 million viewers and a 1.12 demo. In terms of the Live+7-Day audience, Forever had 7.034 million viewers and a 1.7 demo. The lowest-rated shows in the Live+Same-Day ratings were Galavant (4.83 million viewers), Resurrection (4.67 million viewers), Revenge (4.51 million viewers), SHIELD (4.47 million viewers). American Crime had only 50,000 more viewers than Forever did. Revenge was the lowest-rated show in the Live+Same-Day demo (1.1). The lowest rated shows in the Live+7-Day ratings were Fresh Off the Boat (6.990 million viewers), Resurrection (6.934 million viewers), Revenge (6.742 million viewers), American Crime (6.697 million viewers), Galavant (6.522 million viewers), AFV (6.109 million viewers), and Cristela (5.187 million viewers). American Crime had a lower Live+7-Day rating than Forever, it was rounded up to 1.7. Yet, neither show had the network’s lowest demo. AFV (1.3), Repeat After Me (1.3), Cristela (1.2), and The Taste (1.0) all had lower ratings than Forever.

    When ABC began renewals, they kept Galavant, SHIELD, Fresh Off the Boat, American Crime, and AFV. The reason: They are all ABC in-house productions. Forever may have done better than them in the ratings, but, since it’s produced by Warner Bros., it was cancelled. Now, we fans are still asking WB to shop it again and the networks to produce more episodes of Forever.

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      A couple things….

      “Total viewers” do not equal ratings. (I include total audience in my stories just because I know a few people here like to see those numbers.)

      Forever and Revenge both had a 1.1 demo rating that season, and both got cancelled. But yes, the fact that Forever was WBTV-produced probably eliminated any “edge” that “1.11” gave it.

      Networks pay little mind to Live+7 numbers when making renewal decisions, since that is not a number they can “sell” to advertisers.

      • AMG says:

        But I thought they’re moving away from the Live+Same-Day demo to C3 and C7 demos (analogous to Live+Same-Day and Live+7-Day demos) because time-shifting produces inaccurate ratings.

        • AMG says:

          Live+3-Day ratings are analogous to C3 demos. Sorry!

        • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

          Advertisers primarily look at C3 (commercial minutes viewed within 3 days), but that rating is typically close to Live+SD — and certainly nowhere near the fantasy number that is Live+7.

          • herman1959 says:

            Matt, thank you for including total viewer numbers and please continue (if only for myself and Boiler). Forever was a jewel, but ABC couldn’t see it.

      • L. says:

        And yet after cancelling Forever, a show that all social media signs said was still growing, they sank probably more money than the WB licensing would have cost into revamping Of Kings and Prophets, which tanked all the way back in first looks. Personally, I’m thinking ABC isn’t the brightest bulb in the box.

  20. Brigid says:

    I have no idea what other shows are on Tuesday at 10pm. I hate CBS, don’t know whats on NBC and The CW doesn’t have anything on at 10. I watched Forever which was a great show and I watch SHIELD, but I’m sure I haven’t watched anything at 10pm on Tuesdays on any other Network than ABC.

  21. fiberlicious says:

    Forever will always be my most-missed show.

  22. Rita says:

    I loved Forever and we watched it weekly. We were furious when it was not renewed.

  23. Iakovos says:

    ABC needs to build the night. Not sure what else is stealing viewers at 10 Tuesdays. Cook up a buzzy relevant family drama a la THIS IS US with some loved stars and you may be saved, Alphabet. Tuesdays at 10 once was the best slot for ABC. THIRTYSOMETHING anyone? 10 PM is just too late for SHIELD, I think. A show like that would do better at 7 or 8 PM Sundays, grabbing onto the family adventure hook. ABC development seems weak or it looks to brand itself off Shondaland-style dramas.

  24. Nick DiMarko says:

    Forever forever.

  25. Sapa says:

    Still feel that cancelling Forever was a stupid move on ABCs part. Yes, it was young but it didn’t seem to be given the opportunity (or time) it needed to grow. IMHO, it had all the hallmarks of a series that could have potentially filled in that void we all felt was coming from Castle’s impending demise (read: implosion). I know there are those who would argue we didn’t need another Castle-esque knockoff, but, at least to me, it had all the potential to retain those viewers with an original take on a character-driven police procedural. Would have liked it to have gotten another season, at maybe a different time slot to see if it fared better. Just my two cents, for what little they’re worth.

    • Georgia Madman says:

      I made the same argument. Cancel Castle and move Forever into its time spot. At least I have my Forever DVD’s.

  26. SharonP says:

    I still miss the too early cancellations of both Body of Proof and my real love Forever. I wish I dvred them both and pressed KEEP.

    • Crystal says:

      Join the crowd SharonP. I have never had a DVR, so that was not an option for me. I will have to find them elsewhere, now.

  27. Jimpy says:

    It was kind of CBS’s death slot too, at least after the Good wife left it and before NCIS NO took over. Intelligence, Person of Interest and Limitless died in that spot.

    • Another Poster says:

      Person of Interest was cancelled because it was not owned by CBS, and it’s rating were far better than CBS owned, renewed Elementary. Person of Interest was killed by CBS because they did not own it and did not make enough money for the network to renew it.

      • Jimpy says:

        Intelligence wasn’t owned by CBS either, it was kind of funny seeing the ABC studios logo at the end of the show, but they still sent it to Tuesday at 10 to die.

  28. ninergrl6 says:

    I’m still bitter about Forever.

  29. Jared says:

    I tweeted this out to the cast of Body of Proof, Dana Delaney retweeted, Geoffrey Arend said the show never got the love or support it deserved from ABC (so true), Jeri Ryan replied as well. If Will & Grace can come back, and Jericho…there is a 1/1000th chance. (Btw, the tweet has 4300 impressions in just a few hours)

  30. Curt says:

    My middle school daughter and I loved watching shield together but with new slot there went that time with her…thanks abc 😠

  31. Abby says:

    Marvel shows? Bulletproof? How about you talk with Peggy Carter about that.

  32. Linds says:

    Oh I miss Body of Proof and Forever… :(

  33. Jared says:

    Not for nothing but Shield was never considered a hit even when it launched..well atleast not to me. Moving it to 10pm was a bad decision.

  34. ChrisGa says:

    Never understood why they axed Body of Proof; solid show with a great cast (although the Season Three revamp should never have happened). Miss that one.

  35. Rebecca says:

    I loved Body of Proof and haven’t watched ABC shows ever since,aside from the Middle which will go away soon…..kiss of death

  36. Lynn says:

    I am so tired of these doom and gloom articles. You aren’t even mentioning streaming, DVR ratings, and social media. The same-day Neilsens aren’t even valid any longer. SHIELD always goes way up in the +3 and +7 ratings, most of the time posting over 100% jumps. So, stop it already.

    • KLS says:

      Same-day Neilson ratings & demos are still valid even though they don’t include delayed viewing or on mobile devices. The industry uses them as a PART of their scheduling and advertising models, therefor, they are still news.

  37. Wayne Webb says:

    This tells me they should have kept Body of Proof and Forever despite the low ratings…they’d love those now

  38. Lisa Echerd says:

    Forever should have never been cancelled.
    CBS should only run 2 dramas on Sunday night at least through January. They are almost always running late.

  39. Max says:

    Body of Proof definitely.

  40. Rachel Heck says:

    I liked Mind Games, even though it was quirky. And I LOVED Forever. I really think they should have given that another chance.

  41. einat162 says:

    Forever was cancelled on May 2015 & I still miss it and want it back.
    Its sad the studio (ABC) chose to boot it because it didn’t own the rights (WB) & prefer to replace it with more “ShondaLand” shows… Though Forever was a using all the “police-drama-oneOTP” cliche, it had a little extra value you don’t see on TV anymore: a little poetry, and a lot of optimism.

  42. Tahoe Mike says:

    Still bummed about Forever.
    I am an AOS fan, but it seems like it’s becoming a parody of itself lately. I liked the team better when they were a team. Now it seems everybody has their own agenda, paranoia, or secret, and everyone is lying to everyone else.

  43. Cat says:

    Why do they insist on putting programming on in time slots they know they can’t win. Loved “Killer Women”, “Body of Proof”, “Forever”, and “Agent Carter”…but Tuesday night for me is ALL CBS. Nobody puts ANY programming on Saturday Night. Not EVERYBODY goes out on Saturday night…some of us would LOVE some new programming to watch on Saturdays.

  44. Dan the critic says:

    Shield and Forever are the 2 best shows.

  45. Xyz says:

    The timeslot killed person of interest ratings too!

    • Another Poster says:

      Person of Interest was cancelled by CBS, because they did not own it, and it’s ratings were far better than CBS owned, renewed Elementary, one of the least watched CBS programs.

      CBS Killed off Person of Interest, burning off the last 13 episodes, (final season), from May to June 2016, with the critically praised series finale being shown on June 21, the first day of summer, because “they did not own it and only broke even when they aired it”, to quote Les Moonves. He was asked by a lot of people why POI was cancelled and Elementary was renewed, and that was his response.

      The 18 – 49 demo ratings of Person of Interest 2014 – 2015, (following NCIS, and NCIS: New Orleans), were very good. For a CBS program to air after two NCIS programs is a dream time slot.
      CBS also got rid of Mike and Molly which they did not own. CBS prefers programs they own to ones they don’t, unless they get awesome ratings like the Big Bang Theory.

      Airing Tuesday night at 10 PM had nothing to do with CBS cancellation of Person of Interest.