Friday night death slot

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The "Friday night death slot" or "Friday evening death slot" is a perceived graveyard slot in American television. It implies a television program in the United States scheduled on Friday evenings (typically, between 8:00 and 11:00 p.m. ET) is likely to be canceled.

The term possibly began as a reflection of certain programs' dominance of Friday night in the 1980s and 1990s, which resulted in decreased ratings for those scheduled opposite their competitors.[1][2][3] By the 2000s, it was used in reference to the belief that young, single Americans rarely watch television on Friday or Saturday nights, thereby removing from the household what is considered the most lucrative demographic for advertisers.[4][5] With the collapse of the traditional network viewing model where viewers had to be in front of the TV to watch shows (and then the evolution from VCR or DVR capabilities to almost all shows being viewed increasingly through on-demand streaming media), the stigma of Friday night scheduling is much less evident or considered today than in the past.

Programs affected by the "death slot"[edit]


One of the earliest and most famous examples of the "Friday Night Death Slot" phenomenon was the original Star Trek on NBC.[6]

The second season of Star Trek aired on Fridays from 8:30–9:30 p.m. (Eastern Time). Although NBC discussed plans to move it to a 7:30–8:30 p.m. slot on Mondays for mid-season, that never occurred. The poor ratings in the time slot affected the show after it, Jerry Van Dyke's sitcom Accidental Family, leading to its failure after less than a season[7] and angering Van Dyke, who was desperate for a hit and openly (but unsuccessfully) campaigned for NBC to give the show a better time slot.[8] After Star Trek fans deluged NBC with a mail-in protest, producer Gene Roddenberry stated that he was promised the same 8:30–9:30 time slot for Season 3, but airing on Monday instead of Friday. However, that would have meant Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In had to start a half-hour later (moving from 9:00 to 9:30). Laugh-In producer George Schlatter saw no reason why his show, which was a ratings smash at the time, had to yield its slot to the poorly rated Star Trek, and he made no secret of his displeasure.[9] Star Trek instead remained on Fridays, moving to the even less desirable 10:00 p.m. timeslot (one that had been used mainly for filler and throwaway documentaries the previous season). Lamented Roddenberry, "If the network wants to kill us, it couldn't make a better move."[6]

The following are examples of NBC shows that started on Friday nights and lasted for a few episodes, or were moved to Friday nights, lost the battle for television ratings, and were eventually canceled:

Years aired Series Seasons lasted before cancellation
1940–1968 The Bell Telephone Hour Last season, after 28 years on air. Already one of the last highbrow Golden Age of Television shows on the air, this final season consisted mostly of documentaries and not the concert performances seen and heard in the 27 prior seasons. The series moved back to radio at the end of the season, airing only in reruns.
1965–1974 The Dean Martin Show Ninth and final season. (Martin would continue hosting Man of the Week Celebrity Roasts for NBC irregularly for the next decade.)
1965–1967 Laredo Second and final season.
1966–1969 Star Trek Last season, after 2 years on air at 8:30pm timeslot, third and final season moved to the 10:00pm timeslot.
1967-1968 Accidental Family Cancelled midway through its only season.
1974 Lotsa Luck Moved to Friday midway through its only season.
1976–1977 Serpico First and only season.
1977 Sanford Arms First and only season. Cancelled after only 4 weeks.
1979–1980 Eischied First and only season.
1979–1980 Hello, Larry First and part of the second season. Last 18 episodes were moved to Wednesdays in a failed attempt to boost ratings.
1979–1980 Shirley First and only season.
1980 Pink Lady Moved to Friday after its first episode, canceled four weeks after the move with one episode unaired. Widely considered one of the worst TV shows of all time.
1981 Sanford Second and final season. Its predecessor Sanford & Son had aired, with greater success, on Fridays throughout much of its run.
1982 Cassie & Co. First and only season.
1982 Jokebook First and only season. Cancelled after three episodes.
1982–1986 Knight Rider Fourth and final season.
1983 Manimal First and only season.
1983–1987 The A-Team Fifth and final season
1984–1986 Riptide Third and final season
1984–1989 Highway to Heaven Fifth and final season; last episodes burned off in summer 1989
1991–1993 I'll Fly Away Moved to Friday during its first season, in February 1992; cancelled in the middle of its second, with last episode airing February 5, 1993.
1987–1993 A Different World Moved to Friday for last episode to air on NBC of its sixth and final season, air date July 9, 1993
1987–1997 Unsolved Mysteries Moved to Friday for its seventh season in the fall of 1994. The ninth season was the last one to air on NBC; the show moved to CBS for its tenth season in 1997, where it continued to air until its original run ended in 1999 after 11 seasons. Lifetime and Spike later revived the show on two different occasions.
1988–1991 Midnight Caller Third and final season
1988–1992 Dear John Fourth and final season
1999–2005 Third Watch Moved from Mondays to Fridays starting with the fifth episode of its fifth season, and ended its run after its sixth season
2002–2003 Boomtown Moved from Sundays to Fridays for second season, and then cancelled after two episodes; remaining episodes burned off after Christmas
2003 Miss Match Cancelled during its first and only season, airing only 11 of its 18 episodes in the U.S.
2003 Mister Sterling First and only season
2004–2005 Medical Investigation First and only season
2005 Law & Order: Trial by Jury First and only season
2006 The Book of Daniel First and only season
2006 Conviction First and only season
2006–2008 1 vs. 100 Second season; last one to air on NBC. The show would be revived for GSN with a half-hour format in 2010, but was ultimately canceled in late 2011.
2007–2012 Chuck Fifth and final season
2008–2009 Lipstick Jungle Second and final season
2010 Outlaw First and only season
2011–2012 Rock Center with Brian Williams Moved to Fridays (the fourth time slot for the series) partway through its second and final season.
2013–2014 Dracula First and only season
2014–2016 Undateable Third and final season
2014–2015 Constantine First and only season
2015 Truth Be Told First and only season
2018 Midnight, Texas Second season
2020 Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector First and only season


CBS was the most successful network on Friday nights in the 1980s due to their hit shows Dallas and Falcon Crest, but both shows were struggling by the end of the decade and were cancelled in the early 1990s. In an effort to revive Friday night television in the 1990s, and to compete with ABC's successful TGIF block of family comedies airing opposite it, CBS first attempted to compete with ABC launching a comedy night in the fall of 1992 with The Golden Palace (a spin-off/continuation of NBC's The Golden Girls), Major Dad and Designing Women, along with a new sitcom from Bob Newhart, Bob.[citation needed] The Golden Girls had been a top-10 hit on Saturday nights for NBC (though it had fallen to 30th in its final season), while Major Dad and Designing Women had also been top-10 hits on Monday nights, and Newhart's previous sitcom, Newhart, had spent most of its run in the top 30. Nevertheless, this effort failed, and only Bob was renewed for the 1993–1994 season, only to end in December 1993.[10] A later effort to counterprogram TGIF, the CBS Block Party (which included former TGIF series Family Matters and Step by Step, both of which were hits for several years while on ABC before both shows were canceled in 1997), met a similar fate in the fall of 1997.[11]

In 2013, CBS moved Vegas to Friday nights to make room for Golden Boy, another police drama. Both shows were eventually cancelled during their first year.

In general, however, CBS has found ways, particularly in the years following the cancellation of the Block Party, to be at least somewhat more successful in the Friday night time slots than its broadcast competitors.[12][13]

The following are all examples of CBS shows that either started on Friday nights and lasted a few episodes, or moved to Friday nights, lost the battle for television ratings, and were eventually cancelled:

Years aired Series Seasons lasted before cancellation
1958-1959 The Phil Silvers Show Fourth and final season.[14]
1958–1960 The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour Last thirteen episodes. An hour-long continuation of I Love Lucy that aired sporadically as part of Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, dwindling ratings and the disintegrating marriage between Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz led to the show's end.
1966–1973 Mission: Impossible Moved to Friday midway through its seventh and final season.
1968–1970 The Good Guys Cancelled midway through its second and final season.
1970 Headmaster Only season. Lasted 14 episodes.
1971 The New Andy Griffith Show Only season. Last-minute replacement for Headmaster; lasted 10 episodes. One of many shows caught in the rural purge.
The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour Third season. The program would be moved off Friday nights midway through the season, which contributed to a major spike in viewership. Moved back to Friday nights during its sixth and final season in 1977, when ratings again fell.
1973–1974 Calucci's Department First and only season.
1973–1974 Roll Out! First and only season.
1974 Dirty Sally First and only season.
1974 Planet of the Apes First and only season.
1975 Big Eddie First and only season.
1975–1978 Switch! Moved to Friday and cancelled midway through its third and final season. Remaining episodes were burned off during the summer of 1978.
1976 Sara First and only season.
1976 Spencer's Pilots First and only season.
1976–1977 Code R First and only season.
1977 Hunter First and only season.
1977 Nashville 99 First and only season.
1977–1978 Logan's Run First and only season.
1986–1993 Designing Women Seventh and final season.
1987 The Popcorn Kid First and only season. Lasted only 6 episodes.
1989–1993 Major Dad Fourth and final season.
1990 Max Monroe: Loose Cannon First and only season.
1990 The Bradys First and only season. Dramatic sequel to The Brady Bunch, a sitcom that aired to more success in the 1970s on Fridays.
1990–91 Uncle Buck Moved to Friday midway through its first and only season.
1992–1993 Bob Second and final season.
1992–1993 The Golden Palace First and only season; eighth and final season (only one on CBS) in the continuity of The Golden Girls storyline.
1993 The Boys First and only season.
1993 The Building First and only season.
1993–1997 Dave's World Fourth and final season.
1994–1995 Under Suspicion First and only season.
1995 Dweebs First and only season.
1996–2000 Cosby Moved to Friday midway through its fourth and final season.
1997–1998 Family Matters Ninth and final season. Only season to air on CBS. In fairness, the show had been hugely successful as part of ABC's TGIF lineup on Friday nights for years, and its demise had more to do with the show having reached a natural stopping point by 1998.
1997–1998 Step by Step Seventh and final season. Only season to air on CBS after declining ratings in seasons five and six; like "Family Matters", it was a hit for years on Friday nights for ABC.
1997–1998 The Gregory Hines Show First and only season; only 15 episodes were aired out of 22 produced.
1997 Meego First and only season. Only 6 episodes were aired out of 13 produced.
1997–1999 Unsolved Mysteries Last two seasons of the original series' run; only two seasons to air on CBS. The show was later revived by Lifetime and Spike on two different occasions.
1997–2005 JAG Tenth and final season (2004). The series ran on CBS since the second season and moved to Fridays at the beginning of the ninth season.
1999–2005 60 Minutes II Last three months of the series' run, which had otherwise run on Wednesdays. The series was already heavily damaged by the Killian documents controversy by the time it moved to a burn-off slot on Fridays.[15]
2000–2002 That's Life Second and final season.
2001–2002 The Ellen Show Canceled during its first and only season; only 13 episodes were aired out of 18 produced.
2002–2003 Robbery Homicide Division Canceled during its first and only season; only 10 episodes were aired out of 13 produced.
2003–2005 Joan of Arcadia Second and final season.
2005–2007 Close to Home Second and final season.
2007–2008 Moonlight First and only season.
2008 The Ex List Canceled during its first and only season; only four episodes were aired out of 13 produced.
2005–2011 Medium Seventh and final season. Two seasons aired on CBS after suffered declining ratings in season five on NBC.
2010–2011 The Defenders Moved to Friday nights midway through its first and only season.
2011–2012 A Gifted Man Canceled at the end of its first and only season despite high ratings in its timeslot.
2012 Made in Jersey First and only season; canceled after two episodes. The remaining six episodes were aired on Saturdays.
2012–2013 Vegas Moved to Friday nights midway through its first and only season.
2013 The Job First and only season. Canceled after two episodes due to extremely low ratings.

CBS has aired MacGyver, Hawaii Five-0 and Blue Bloods in that order on Friday night between 2016 and 2020.


TGIF was a successful block for ABC, which ran from 1989 to 2000 (although the network had been running a sitcom block on Fridays beginning in 1987); it focused primarily on family-friendly sitcoms. The network had also had success with a block featuring The Partridge Family and The Brady Bunch in the same time slots during the early 1970s. Following the slow collapse of TGIF in the late 1990s, Friday night has fallen into a lower priority for the network. The following are examples of ABC network shows that started on Friday nights and lasted a few episodes, or were moved to Friday nights, lost the battle for television ratings, and were eventually canceled:

Years aired Series Seasons lasted before cancellation
1960–1966 The Flintstones Sixth and final season. The first three seasons aired in the same time slot to much greater success before moving to Thursdays, then back to Fridays at the end of its run.
1966–1969 The Felony Squad Third and final season
1966–1967 The Green Hornet First and only season
1967–1970 The Flying Nun It moved from Wednesday nights partway through its third and final season.
1968–1970 The Ghost and Mrs. Muir Second and final season. The first season aired on NBC on Saturdays but the show moved to ABC after NBC decided to drop the series from their schedule. The first half of its second season aired on Thursdays, before moving to Fridays.
1968–1970 Here Come the Brides Second and final season. This series struggled due to lack of support from affiliates.
1973–1974 Adam's Rib First and only season
1974 Kodiak First and only season. Cancelled after four episodes.
1981–1982 Darkroom First and only season
1981–1982 Strike Force First and only season. The show provoked controversy over its level of violence.
1982 The Phoenix First and only season
1984 Masquerade Cancelled midway through its first and only season.
1986 Sidekicks First and only season
1998–1999 Two of a Kind First and only season
1998–2001 Two Guys and a Girl Fourth and final season.
1999–2000 Odd Man Out[original research?] First and only season.
1999–2001 The Norm Show[16] Third and final season (2001). Although initially subject to stellar ratings, the second season saw ratings fluctuate due to timeslot changes.
1999–2002 Once and Again Third and final season
2002–2005 8 Simple Rules Third and final season. The series moved to this timeslot when ratings declined following the death of star John Ritter early in the previous season.
2002–2004 Life with Bonnie Second and final season
2004–2005 Complete Savages First and only season
2005 Hot Properties First and only season
2006–2010 Ugly Betty[17][18] Fourth and final season (2009). The series moved to this timeslot due to disappointing ratings during season three in its previous Thursday timeslot. It moved to Wednesday nights partway through the season.
2006 In Justice First and only season
2007–2008 Women's Murder Club First and only season; remaining three episodes aired on Tuesday nights during the May 2008 sweeps period.
Duel Last 10 episodes of the show's run, which served as a replacement program due to the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike (the program was renewed as a weekly series after initially airing six episodes over the course of a single week in December 2007, but was cancelled after five episodes were aired under this format due to extremely low ratings). The remaining five episodes were aired during the summer.
2009 Surviving Suburbia Moved to Friday midway through its first and only season.
2009 The Goode Family Moved to Friday midway through its first and only season.
2011–2013 Happy Endings[19] Third and final season. The final 10 episodes of the series moved to this timeslot in March 2013, due to disappointing ratings on Tuesdays when it was paired with Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, having previously lost Modern Family as its season two lead-in.
2011–2018 Once Upon a Time Seventh and final season.
2012–2013 Malibu Country First and only season.
2012–2014 The Neighbors[20] Second and final season, although its lead-in, Last Man Standing, was renewed for its fourth season.
2014–2015 Cristela First and only season.
2015–2018 Quantico Moved to Friday midway through its third and final season.
2015–2020 Fresh Off the Boat Moved to Friday nights for its fifth season; renewed for a sixth and final season in 2019; concluded in February 2020.
2016–2019 Speechless Third and final season.

In September 2018, ABC cleared the 9:00 p.m. Eastern time slot on Friday nights to make room for the expansion of 20/20 to two hours as a result of ABC News changing the program's format to include true crime stories in an attempt to address the program's declining viewership.


Perhaps the network which has received the most attention and has become the most well known for the "Friday Night Death Slot" has been Fox.[21]

The following are all examples of Fox shows that either started on Friday nights and lasted only a few episodes, or were moved to Friday nights, suffered from dismal ratings, and were eventually canceled.

Years aired Series Seasons lasted before cancellation
1993–1994 The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.[22] First and only season. Music from the show was later utilized for coverage of the Olympic Games.
1994 M.A.N.T.I.S.[23][verification needed]
1995 VR.5[24][verification needed]
1995-1996 Strange Luck
1999–2000 Harsh Realm First and only season; cancelled after three episodes were aired with the remaining six airing on FX.
2000 FreakyLinks[original research?] Cancelled midway through its first and only season.
2000–2002 Dark Angel Second and final season.
2000–2004 Boston Public[25] Moved to Friday at the beginning of its fourth and final season. Two episodes remained unaired until they were broadcast in off-network syndication in 2005.
2001–2006 The Bernie Mac Show Fifth and final season.
2002–2003 Firefly[26] Canceled during its first and only season, leaving three of its fourteen episodes unaired.
2002–2003 Fastlane Moved to Friday midway through its first and only season.
2002–2003 John Doe First and only season.
2003 Wanda at Large Second and final season.
2003 Luis Cancelled during its first and only season, airing only 5 of its 10 episodes in the U.S.
2004 Wonderfalls[26][27]
2005 Jonny Zero First and only season; remaining episodes aired in Australia in 2007.
2005 Killer Instinct First and only season
2005–2009 Prison Break Moved to Friday midway through its fourth season. Revived in 2017 for a fifth season in a non-Friday slot.
2006 Vanished[28] Moved to Friday midway through its first and only season.
2006 Justice Moved to Friday midway through its first and only season.
2006–2007 Standoff Moved to Friday midway through its first and only season.
2007 The Wedding Bells[29]
2008 The Return of Jezebel James
2008 Canterbury's Law Moved to Friday midway through its first and only season
2007–2009 Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Third season, last one to air on Fox. The fourth and fifth seasons were broadcast on MyNetworkTV and syndication outlets with a different format starting in September 2009; the show was cancelled following its second season in syndication. The show was later revived by Fox and Nickelodeon on two different occasions.
2007–2009 Don't Forget the Lyrics Third season, last one to air on Fox. The show was revived for MyNetworkTV and syndication outlets with a new format in 2010, but the syndicated version was cancelled after only one season.
2008–2009 Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Moved to Friday midway through its second and final season.
2009 Brothers
2009–2010 'Til Death Received a fourth season order primarily to gain enough episodes for syndication, and was moved to Fridays for the early part of the season.
2009–2010 Dollhouse
2010 The Good Guys Moved to Friday midway through its first and only season.
2010–2014 Raising Hope Fourth and final season
2012 The Finder[30] Moved to Friday midway through its first and only season.
2012–2013 Touch Second and final season.
2013–2017 Sleepy Hollow Fourth and final season.
2014 Rake Moved to Friday midway through its first and only season.[31]
2014 Utopia Moved to Fridays less than a month into its first and only season; canceled one month later after 12 episodes due to extremely low ratings.[32]
2015–2017 Rosewood Moved to Friday midway through its second and final season.
2016 Second Chance Moved to Friday midway through its first and only season.
2018–2019 The Cool Kids First and only season
2019 Proven Innocent First and only season

In January 2011, the sci-fi drama Fringe, then in its third season, was moved into this slot from Thursdays. According to Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly, nearly half of Fringe's viewership time shifts the show to watch at their convenience, and that "if it does anywhere near what it did on Thursdays, we can glue that show to the schedule because it can be a big win for us".[33] The Fox network created a promotional advertisement for Fringe that lampooned its reputation of the Friday night death slot prior to Fringe's move.[34][35] Despite encountering lower ratings after its move, Fringe was renewed for a fourth season,[36] and later for a shortened final fifth season to allow the creators to complete the story arc they had set out at the start of the program as well as to reach 100 episodes, allowing the show to be resold in syndication. Critics praised Fox for taking the risk and profit lost on the show to satisfy the creators' desires and fans' requests to complete the show's primary story.[37] The series finale aired on January 18, 2013.

After 20 years of unsuccessfully trying to find programming to fill the Friday night death slot, Fox gave up, leaving a one-hour empty hole on that night in the 9:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) hour for the 2013–14 schedule. Encores of Fox programming from the previous week originally aired in that timeslot. However, in November 2012, in the hopes of revitalizing Fox's Friday ratings, the sitcom Raising Hope moved from Tuesdays to Fridays for its fourth season, airing in the 9 p.m. half-hour; the freshman sitcom, Enlisted premiered in the 9:30 p.m. slot before both series swapped timeslots in late January. This "encore slot" was made a permanent part of the schedule for the 2014–15 season. Fox did not include such a slot in 2015–16, but the show chosen to fill the 9:00 p.m. time slot was the low-budget panel game World's Funniest Fails.

In October 2019, Fox cleared its Friday night time slots to make way for WWE SmackDown, which was expected to air on the network until 2024.[38]

The WB[edit]

Years aired Series Seasons lasted before cancellation
2000–2001 Popular Second and final season.
2001–2002 Maybe It's Me First and only season.
2001–2002 Raising Dad First and only season.
2002–2003 Greetings from Tucson First and only season.
2005–2006 Twins First and only season. Used before the holdover to The CW.

Other networks[edit]

WWF SmackDown! was first broadcast on UPN on Thursdays to compete with WCW Thunder (eventually forcing Thunder to Wednesdays because of high ratings for SmackDown!, before a majority of the assets belonging to WCW were ultimately purchased by Vince McMahon in 2001). UPN moved the show to Friday nights in the United States on September 9, 2005, because of low ratings in its original Thursday night slot, and the show retained its Friday night time slot after moving to The CW in September 2006. Upon its move to the "death slot," UPN/The CW Friday nights saw a substantial increase in ratings over UPN's movies and most of The WB's sitcoms. SmackDown! had also initially garnered even better ratings in the death slot than the ratings on its former Thursday night airings (after WCW was bought by the WWF in 2001). Despite this, The CW chose not to renew SmackDown's contract in 2008 due to the change of the demographic of the network's viewers (shifting more towards women 12–34 years of age), and the show moved to MyNetworkTV that fall,[39] eventually leaving network television altogether with a move to Syfy in 2010. SmackDown then moved to the USA Network in 2016, thus sharing the same network as WWE's flagship show, Raw. As previously noted, the show moved to Fox and return to Friday nights in 2019.

UPN also moved Star Trek: Enterprise to Friday nights[17] at the start of its fourth and final season in 2004. UPN was subject to heavy sports pre-emptions by local affiliates on Friday nights in the Major League Baseball, high school football, and NHL/NBA seasons, pushing it to late night. A good number of viewers thus chose to watch the show's weekend repeat whenever it was offered by their UPN affiliate, though the network and the show's Internet fanbase heavily discouraged watching it, as it was an unrated airing by Nielsen.

In recent years on The CW, Cedric's Barber Battle fell victim to the Friday night death slot, only airing 8 episodes out of the 10 produced before being pulled off the scheduled completely.


Despite its reputation, Friday night prime time has also seen numerous successful series run for multiple years. The aforementioned Dallas rated in the Top 10 of the Nielsen ratings for seven consecutive seasons and was the top-rated series for three of those seasons. It had also aired the all-time most watched non-series finale single U.S. television episode (in the 1980 resolution episode of the internationally prominent Who Shot J.R. cliffhanger). The Dukes of Hazzard, which preceded Dallas on Friday nights from 1979 to 1985, was rated in the Top 20 in the Nielsen ratings during its first four seasons before falling in the ratings in its fifth (the season in which series stars John Schneider and Tom Wopat left due to their salaries and merchandising royalties), sixth, and seventh seasons. The Incredible Hulk, which aired on Friday nights during most of its run, went for five seasons to decent success in the ratings before being abruptly and controversially cancelled midway through its fifth season.[citation needed] In the 1990s, two shows that found a lot of success on Friday nights were Fox's The X-Files and NBC's Homicide: Life on the Street. The former show did so well on Fridays that it became an attractive option for the network to try and move past an all-comedy Sunday night lineup when it made the move to 9PM EST in 1996 (and did well for several years afterwards), while the latter was mainly placed on Friday nights because NBC's dominant 1990s lineup simply had no place for the show on any other prime one-hour spot (it was considered for the Thursday 10PM EST spot heading into the 1994–95 season, but the network decided to go with ER there instead).

Falcon Crest, which aired after Dallas from 1981 to 1990, went for nine seasons with successful ratings, reaching the Top 25 in the Nielsen ratings in its first six seasons before dropping in the ratings in its final three seasons. In the 1970s, NBC's Sanford and Son managed to crack the Top 10 throughout its run except in its final season, despite airing its entire run on Friday nights. The Rockford Files, which only cracked the Top 30 in its first season, ran for six seasons on NBC on Friday nights and received critical acclaim by being nominated for eighteen Emmys, winning five. During the 1980s, NBC aired the popular police drama Miami Vice on Friday nights for five seasons. Its popularity was due to the show's fashions, pastel colors, expensive cars, and incorporation of various popular songs of that era in the show, which resonated with younger fans who were really into images that they had seen on MTV at the time. Annual telecasts of the movie The Wizard of Oz were aired by CBS on Friday nights beginning in 1979 with success after many years of Sunday evening airings.

ABC branded the evening TGIF and, for many years, scheduled a number of long-running sitcoms that evening, such as Perfect Strangers, Full House, Family Matters, Boy Meets World and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Prior to TGIF in 1989, ABC had sitcoms that were successful on Friday nights such as Benson, Webster, and Mr. Belvedere. During the early 1970s, ABC had a successful Friday-night comedy lineup with The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, Room 222, Love, American Style and The Odd Couple. More recently, Last Man Standing enjoyed a six-season run on ABC with the last five seasons airing on Friday nights. The show remained on Friday nights in 2018 after switching networks to Fox. Law and Order: Special Victims Unit developed a large and loyal audience on NBC on Friday nights when it was moved there from Mondays in the middle of the first season in January 2000. SVU remained on Fridays through the second, third and fourth seasons before moving to Tuesdays in season five in September 2003. Now airing on Thursdays, SVU is in its 23rd season as of September 2021. Following SVU on NBC, another wildly successful show, The Blacklist, took up the death slot for nearly 8 full seasons before being moved to a Wednesday 10/9c schedule in the middle of 2021.

More recently, the CBS fantasy series Ghost Whisperer enjoyed a successful five-season run on Friday nights, as did the light crime thriller Numb3rs, which ran for six, and The Unit, which ran for four. Currently airing shows Hawaii Five-0, Magnum P.I. and Blue Bloods are also faring well, though they admittedly appeal to older audiences who are more likely to stay home on Friday nights (CBS in and of itself typically targets a slightly older key demographic than its competitors). From 2014 to 2016, the long-running reality TV series The Amazing Race moved from Sunday to Friday nights. The Amazing Race moved out of its Friday schedule for the 29th season and now aired on Thursdays, as of March 2017.[40]

The CW show Supernatural was moved to Friday for its sixth and seventh seasons, allegedly to test its true drawing power compared to the station's glitzier drama shows. Many fans, knowing about the 'death slot', feared that this meant it was on its way to being cancelled, but it actually increased in viewership. This led to the network moving it back into mid-week scheduling, eventually back to its original WB slot, Tuesdays. In 2015, midseason, the show was moved to Wednesday evenings, where it had also aired. For a majority of the show's run, the program was scheduled on Thursdays, Mondays being the only weekday it was not aired on, and it has maintained its audience in all time slots. The network's own iterations of Whose Line is it Anyway? and Penn & Teller: Fool Us have survived the Friday slot for multiple years.

A general exception to the "death slot" is in regards to children's television. Disney Channel and Cartoon Network have long experienced success on Friday nights with their respective children's program blocks. Cartoon Network's original programming success on this night began in 1999 with the launch of Cartoon Cartoon Fridays (later known as simply Fridays), a two-hour block of original animated series during primetime that included series such as Dexter's Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls, Cow & Chicken, Johnny Bravo, Samurai Jack, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, and Camp Lazlo. After the block was discontinued in 2007, Cartoon Network shifted its programming towards more action-oriented series such as Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Ben 10 in the Friday primetime slot. Disney Channel did not begin airing original programming on Friday evenings until 2001; premieres of its made-for-cable films moved to that night from Saturdays that year. This was followed by its original series in 2007 (which had aired during the two hours preceding the designated "death slot" period); since then, Disney Channel has been successful with its original programming on that night (which have included popular series such as Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place, Jessie, Girl Meets World and The Suite Life on Deck – the latter of which was the number one series among children between the ages of 6 and 12 years in 2008[41]). Its original movies have also generally performed well on Friday nights; in particular, the August 17, 2007 premiere of High School Musical 2 was the channel's highest-rated made-for-cable film to date, and holds the Nielsen record for the highest-rated made-for-cable movie premiere and the highest-rated non-sports program in the history of basic cable, watched by 17.2 million viewers.[42]

See also[edit]

  • Dump months, the equivalent of the Friday night death slot in the annual North American movie calendar


  1. ^ Katherine Phillips. "Witty sitcoms scheduled in Friday night death slot," Richmond Times-Dispatch, March 28, 1986, page 46: "ABC is sending two of this season's brightest new sitcoms to certain death at the hands of J.R. Ewing and his Dallas clan."
  2. ^ John Voorhees. "ABC reshuffles schedule for ratings but deals only two new shows," The Seattle Times, December 13, 1985, page C5: "Also being dropped is Our Family Honor, the ABC series that has had the distinction of being the lowest-rated Nielsen show almost every week since its debut. It is in the Friday night death slot of 10 pm, against Miami Vice and Falcon Crest.'
  3. ^ Knight-Ridder News Service. 'Family Honor' ditched for 'Spenser', Lexington Herald-Leader (KY), October 19, 1985, page C6: "Spenser: For Hire, the above-par detective series starring Robert Urich, is being moved out of the Friday-night death slot opposite Miami Vice and Falcon Crest. ... To make room for "Spenser," ABC is taking "Our Family Honor" off the air [Tuesdays], at least for a while and perhaps permanently.
  4. ^ News: Election 2006, The Austin Chronicle
  5. ^ Goodman, Tim (October 10, 2007). "Saturday night is dead, yes, but Friday, too?". San Francisco Chronicle. pp. E1. Retrieved February 7, 2012.
  6. ^ a b Page, Don (August 15, 1968). "'Star Trek' Lives Despite Taboos". Toledo Blade. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
  7. ^ Dern, Marian (November 19, 1967). "Accidental Family: Cancellation Was No Accident". Pasadena Star-News. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  8. ^ Humphrey, Hal (October 13, 1967). "Lady Luck Snubs Jerry Van Dyke: Hardly Anybody Sees His Shows". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  9. ^ "A Look At Star Trek – Television Obscurities". Television Obscurities. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  10. ^ Brooks, Tim and Marsh, Earle. The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable Shows 1946–present, 7th edition.
  11. ^ Lowry, Brian (April 14, 2000). "'TGIF' Well, ABC's Not So Sure Anymore". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 31, 2008.
  12. ^ CBS Casts a Spell Over Friday Night.[verification needed] Zap2It: November 3, 2007
  13. ^ Friday Night 'Numb3rs' Favor CBS.[verification needed] Zap2It: November 10, 2007
  14. ^ Gomery, Douglas."Phil Silvers"The Museum of Broadcast Communications (, accessed November 25, 2011
  15. ^ "'60 Minutes' Wednesday Canceled". May 18, 2005. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  16. ^ "Looking Back on Christmas Past with Norm MacDonald". Splitsider. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  17. ^ a b "'Grimm' and other shows that have escaped the Friday Night Death Slot". Entertainment Weekly's Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  18. ^ "ABC cancels Ugly Betty; killed by Friday night death slot". Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  19. ^ "'Happy Endings' Returns to Low Ratings". Splitsider. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  20. ^ "INTO THE NEXT STAGE: The New Fall Season — Three Shows Starring Asians ... All on ABC". Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  21. ^ The 20 Greatest Shows Cancelled by Fox Before their Time. Topless Robot: August 14, 2009
  22. ^ Weiner, Allison Hope (January 12, 2001). "Silence of the Lam". Entertainment Weekly (577). Archived from the original on April 21, 2009.
  23. ^ Muir, John Kenneth (August 21, 2008). The Encyclopedia of Superheroes on Film and Television, 2d ed. ISBN 9780786437559. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  24. ^ Garcia, Frank; Phillips, Mark (September 27, 2013). Science Fiction Television Series, 1990–2004. ISBN 9780786491834. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  25. ^ "Breaking News - 'Bernie,' 'Boston' Make Friday Switch on Fox -". Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  26. ^ a b Emily Nussbaum. "Same Night, Same Channel, Same Giant Bummer" (interview with Tim Minear on the demise of Angel, Firefly, and Wonderfalls, The New York Times, April 18, 2004, page 25, column 1.
  27. ^ Minear, Tim (March 16, 2004). "An Open Letter from Tim Minear". Retrieved November 3, 2007.
  28. ^ Ryan, Maureen. 'Smith' is gone, 'Heroes' gets a full season: TV news you can use Archived October 26, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. Chicago Tribune: October 6, 2006.
  29. ^ Wedding Bells in Jump The Shark Archived October 24, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ Derschowitz, Jessica. Fox renews "Touch," cancels "The Finder," "Alcatraz" – Celebrity Circuit – CBS News. CBS News: May 10, 2012.
  31. ^ Pergament, Alan (March 4, 2014). Ellen, Milbury, ex-Ch.2 reporter all take shots. The Buffalo News. Retrieved March 4, 2014.
  32. ^ Raftery, Liz. "Fox Pulls Utopia from Tuesday Nights". TV Guide. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
  33. ^ Rice, Lynette (November 22, 2010). "Fox execs on 'American Idol,' 'Fringe' moves: 'It's the right moment'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
  34. ^ Buchaan, Kyle (December 14, 2010). "Fox Markets Fringe With New 'Friday Death Slot' Ad". New York Magazine. Retrieved December 16, 2010.
  35. ^ Jensen, Jeff (December 16, 2010). "'Fringe' exclusive: Fox execs on its 'deathslot'-spoofing promo and plans to attract new viewers". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 16, 2010.
  36. ^ Rice, Lynette (March 24, 2011). "'Fringe' renewed for a fourth season". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 24, 2011.
  37. ^ Poniewozik, James (April 27, 2012). "Best of Both Worlds: Fringe Gets One More (Final) Season". Time. Retrieved April 27, 2012.
  38. ^ Rovell, Darren. Fox reaches agreement to air WWE's 'SmackDown Live'. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  39. ^ "Zap2It". Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  40. ^ Steinberg, Brian (May 14, 2014). CBS To Launch 'NCIS,' 'CSI' Spinoffs, Start 'Big Bang' On Monday. Variety. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  41. ^ "Disney Channel/ Highlights For 2008". Retrieved January 19, 2009.
  42. ^ Kissell, Rick; Schneider, Michael (August 18, 2007). "'High School Musical 2' huge hit". Variety. Retrieved August 18, 2007.

Further reading[edit]