The CW renewed the bulk of its current lineup Monday, ordering additional seasons of 10 shows, including freshman dramas Black Lightning and Dynasty. But what does this news mean for the four shows left on the bubble? What does this mean for the nine pilots in development? More importantly, what does this mean for the young-skewing network when it expands to six nights of original programming next fall?
Let's break it down.
iZombie and The 100 weren't part of the renewal. Should I be worried?
In short, no. Even though fan-favorite series iZombie and The 100 were not among the shows renewed Monday, there is no reason for the shows' fans to panic just yet. The former is not even halfway through its 13-episode season and the latter won't debut its fifth season until Tuesday, April 24. Although having to wait to find out if a show is returning is frustrating, it's important to remember this is nothing new; The CW rarely renews series that either haven't debuted or debuted only recently. Last season the network announced early renewals for many shows in January, but waited until March and May, respectively, to announce renewals for The 100 and iZombie because the shows hadn't premiered yet.
It's likely we won't find out either show's fate until May's Upfronts, when the network unveils its schedule for next season. But if we had to guess, we'd wager both shows will return for another season, likely at midseason again. Unlike the rest of the broadcast networks, The CW has slowly moved away from abruptly canceling established series without warning. The last show unceremoniously canceled by the network was The Carrie Diaries, in 2014, but even then the writing was on the wall, and the writers crafted a finale that worked as a season finale and a series finale. Since then, The CW — which places significant importance on streaming numbers — has adopted a history of renewing programs and announcing final seasons rather than canceling shows outright. The Vampire Diaries, Reign, Hart of Dixie, Beauty and the Beast and The Originals have all benefited from knowing they were ending prior to the ends of their final seasons.
Although iZombie's fourth season is averaging less than a million viewers and just a 0.24 rating in the coveted 18-to-49 demographic (both of which trail its Season 3 numbers), it and The 100 have something going for them. Both are fan favorite shows with traditionally short seasons and loyal audiences; this makes them easy to plug into the network's schedule anywhere, anytime.
If you still need more evidence though, The CW renewed the low-rated Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on Monday for a fourth season. Although the musical comedy earned the network a Golden Globe and is one of two prestige programs on The CW (the other being Jane the Virgin), it's hard to argue against renewing a beloved show that has higher ratings than Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Makes sense, but do you know if this is really the final season of Jane the Virgin?
Although star Gina Rodriguez recently let it slip that Jane the Virgin's upcoming fifth season will be the show's last, The CW has not confirmed this to be true. But if we had to guess, we'd say Rodriguez is probably right on the money, not just because she is also a producer on the series, but because the story of Jane Villanueva seems to naturally be coming to a close. The show's seasons are also getting progressively shorter, which could mean there's less story to tell as the show ages.
If the show does end next season, it will go out alongside fellow Golden Globe-winning comedy Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Star and co-creator Rachel Bloom confirmed Monday that the show's upcoming fourth season will be its last. This is hardly surprising news though; Bloom and co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna have always said they had a four-season plan for the show.
OK, but what does all of this mean for the future of Valor and Life Sentence?
Let's start with Valor first, since it's the easier of the two shows to break down. Unlike fellow freshman drama Dynasty, the military-themed Valor never received an order for additional episodes. Ordinarily, when a series fails to receive more episodes beyond its initial order, it's a nice way of saying the show has been canceled without actually having to say the words. Last season No Tomorrow and Frequency both averaged a 0.3 rating among adults 18 to 49, and both shows failed to receive back orders and were canceled by the network. Valor actually averaged less than that — a 0.2 in the demographic — and without the back nine, things look bad. Also pointing to the show's demise is the fact Matt Barr is starring in a new pilot for The CW. Now, he could easily be replaced in the pilot if Valor were renewed, but let's be brutally honest here: Valor is canceled.
Now, the future of Life Sentence is a bit more complicated. The Lucy Hale dramedy has aired just four episodes this season, which means it isn't all that surprising The CW has not yet made a decision regarding the show's future. But the network did recently move the show to Fridays, which is not exactly a vote of confidence in its future at the network. Although airing on Fridays is no longer considered to be the death knell it once was, especially on The CW — the network just renewed Dynasty after it was moved to Fridays at midseason — this still doesn't look good for Life Sentence.
Working against the show is the fact that it is a freshman series and The CW feels no loyalty toward freshman shows that aren't performing when it comes to handing out cancellations (see: Frequency and No Tomorrow). Since 2014, the network has also canceled midseason shows Containment, The Messengers, and Star-Crossed after single seasons. Life Sentence is averaging a little more than 500,000 viewers each week and a shockingly low 0.17 live plus same day rating among adults 18 to 49. Basically: the prognosis isn't good.
So, where do the returning shows fit on the schedule next season?
Here is what we do know: It's safe to say four of the network's five superhero series will find their way onto the fall schedule; CW President Mark Pedowitz has said numerous times the network will never have more than four superhero programs airing at any one time. It is probably safe to assume Supergirl will remain on Mondays at 8 p.m. and The Flash will continue to lead things on Tuesdays, just like it has done since its debut in 2014, but the placement of Arrow is where things get tricky. The show, which is heading into its seventh season, could stay on Thursdays or possibly make the move to Fridays (the veteran series' ratings aren't what they used to be).
That would leave either Black Lightning or DC's Legends of Tomorrow to slide into one of the other slots. The former is currently averaging 1.8 million viewers and a 0.6 rating, making it The CW's third highest-rated series this season. It would make sense The CW would want to capitalize on that momentum, so don't be surprised if the Cress Williams-led series — which debuted at midseason this year — makes it onto the fall lineup over Legends of Tomorrow.
With four of the network's 12 possible programming slots filled, we can likely add in the soapy teen drama Riverdale on Wednesdays and the long-running Supernatural, the network's second-highest rated show this season (yes, really), as the lead-in on Thursdays. That then leaves Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend — likely to be paired, potentially on Sundays — and Dynasty as the only other shows we know for sure will air on The CW next season. But given Dynasty's low ratings (724,000 viewers, 0.2 rating), the fact that it was renewed at all is actually surprising, and we wouldn't be shocked if The CW used it in much the same way it once used Beauty and the Beast: summer programming. Of course, it's also possible the network will keep it on Fridays, but if Arrow makes the jump, that's a tonally mismatched pairing. (It's unlikely the network would launch a new series on Fridays.) Either scenario for Dynasty is possible, but this still leaves a number of holes in the network's schedule.
OK, what about all these new pilots? Where do they fit?
Ultimately, until we know which pilots The CW picks up to series — and until we know for sure if iZombie and The 100 are definitely returning — it's difficult to tell what the network's schedule might look like next season beyond everything laid out above.
Last season The CW picked up four pilots to series. This season, with the expansion to Sundays, a move toward more and more shorter seasons, and the end of The Originals looming, we wouldn't be surprised to see at least six new shows make it onto the schedule. It's very likely we'll see the Supernatural spinoff Wayward Sisters — it has a built-in fan base and is The CW's best option of turning the long-running series into a franchise — but whether or not it receives a full season or is a midseason replacement remains unclear. Still, for what it's worth, the series would fit tonally with Supergirl on Mondays.
We also wouldn't be terribly surprised to find the network's Roswell reboot on the fall schedule; it's a familiar property and is produced by Julie Plec (The Vampire Diaries, The Originals) which makes it an easy choice for a series pickup. It could slip in nicely behind Supernatural on Thursdays, presuming the space isn't filled by one of the superhero series. But from there, it's truly anyone's guess as to what's next. We'll know more when the network announces its pilot pickups.
(Full disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS, one of The CW's parent companies.)
Correction: An earlier version of this story said The 100 was renewed in May last year. It was March.