"Deserve's got nothin' to do with it."
That line is uttered by Clint Eastwood's character in the Oscar-winning 1992 film Unforgiven. He says it just before he shoots Gene Hackman's character, who is lying prone on the ground and has just protested, "I don't deserve this."
I think of that exchange every spring when I start to evaluate which U.S. network scripted TV shows may be returning for subsequent seasons, and which shows are lying prone on the ground, waiting to be put out of their misery.
Often, whether it comes to shows being renewed or shows being cancelled, it truly is the case that, "Deserve's got nothin' to do with it." It can have little to do with the quality of the show. TV series live or die for a wide variety of reasons.
On the renewal side, sometimes shows come back merely because a particular network can't cancel everything. Nobody has a dozen great new shows waiting in the wings for a complete schedule makeover.
On the cancellation side, sometimes decent shows just never connect with audiences, or they're getting creamed by whatever the particular competition is, or they're really expensive to make, or the actors are all up for new contracts, or the showrunner is a jackass and got a little too drunk and obnoxious at a network party.
So considering all of that stuff, I'll wipe the snow off my crystal ball (it has been a lousy winter) and see what I can see. Please note that announcements have been coming fast and furious in the past few days, and they often come without warning at this time of year, so this list is as accurate as I can make it at the moment it is being compiled:
The Big Bang Theory, Blue Bloods, Criminal Minds, CSI, Elementary, The Good Wife, Hawaii Five-0, Mike & Molly, The Millers, Mom, NCIS, NCIS: LA, Person of Interest, Two and a Half Men, 2 Broke Girls (CBS).
Arrow, The Originals, Reign, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries (CW).
Bob's Burgers, Bones, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Family Guy, The Following, Glee, The Mindy Project, New Girl, The Simpsons, Sleepy Hollow (Fox).
The Blacklist (NBC).
There's a wide array of stuff here, merit-wise. The first-year shows on this list that are worthy of coming back in terms of ratings and audience response are Sleepy Hollow and The Blacklist. The success of the latter, which stars James Spader, was somewhat predictable, while the success of the former was a bit of a pleasant surprise. Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) in modern times? Sounds goofy, yes, but people liked it. Fox is hoping the ratings for Brooklyn Nine-Nine at least can rise into the vicinity of the show's critical acclaim. And Glee, by the way, officially is wrapping up at the end of next season.
Castle, The Goldbergs, Grey's Anatomy, Last Man Standing, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Middle, Modern Family, Once Upon a Time, Revenge, Scandal (ABC).
Hart of Dixie (CW).
Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Community, Grimm, Law & Order: SVU, Parenthood, Parks & Recreation (NBC).
Obviously some of these are locks, but networks renew things at different times for different reasons, so it isn't a race in that regard. Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, said in January that Parks & Recreation will be getting another season and that Community is a good bet to return, but neither pronouncement is official yet. One might be surprised to see fading shows such as Once Upon a Time and Revenge in this category, but again, networks can't cancel everything.
BOUNCING ON THE BUBBLE
Nashville, The Neighbors, Resurrection (ABC).
The Crazy Ones, The Mentalist (CBS).
Beauty & the Beast (CW).
About a Boy, Believe, Growing Up Fisher, Trophy Wife (NBC).
There are some significant veterans here as well as some rookies. The Crazy Ones and The Mentalist were notably absent when CBS announced a slew of renewals over the past few days. Recent entries About a Boy, Believe, Growing Up Fisher and Resurrection are here primarily because it's too early to tell, but all four of them got a healthy early sample from audiences.
Betrayal, Killer Women, Mind Games, Mixology, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Suburgatory, Super Fun Night (ABC).
Hostages, Intelligence (CBS).
The Carrie Dairies, Star-Crossed, The Tomorrow People (CW).
Almost Human, Enlisted, Rake (Fox).
Dracula, Hannibal, The Michael J. Fox Show, Revolution (NBC).
Would I miss any of these if they disappeared? Hmmm, not really. I liked Revolution for a while, but I've seen enough. I like Suburgatory, but it has kind of run its course. And I still say they had something with the cast of Super Fun Night, but it got focus-grouped to death and lost its spark. Hannibal actually is an exquisitely put-together show, but the ratings suggest viewers just haven't been in the mood for another take on Hannibal Lecter. The Michael J. Fox Show in particular was a significant disappointment. Fox put the heat on NBC this week, speaking up in a last-ditch effort to try to save his series, which still has unaired episodes in the can. I can't think of a show that garnered so much press and so much goodwill prior to its launch. But then it launched.
GONE BUT ONGOING
How I Met Your Mother, final episode March 31 (CBS).
American Dad, moving to TBS next season; Raising Hope, final episode April 4 (Fox).
The Monday comedy block on CBS ain't what it used to be, so even though How I Met Your Mother never blew the roof off ratings-wise, it has been a steady performer and will be missed.
Back in the Game, Lucky 7 (ABC).
We Are Men (CBS).
Ironside, Sean Saves The World, Welcome to the Family (NBC).
In a show of respect and to offer closure to fans, Nikita got a shortened fourth season to wrap up its story. That is a good thing. Sean Saves the World had one of the worst pilots I've ever seen, so I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did (13 episodes). The rest of these were first-year shows that got pulled so quickly, I barely can remember them. That also is a good thing.