Black Summer, TV Shows, Z Nation

Emotional Rollercoaster: Why Was Z Nation Cancelled & What Is the Black Summer Prequel?

It’s a crazy Christmas emotional roller coaster for Z Nation fans. The beloved TV series was canceled on Syfy, and fans really want to know why. But while they’re mourning the show’s end, they’re also looking forward to a Z Nation prequel on Netflix called Black Summer. Yes, just as the show was canceled on Syfy, the prequel was confirmed. It does indeed look like the prequel is still happening. So just what’s going on? Here’s a quick rundown. (Editor’s note: join our email list here to stay updated as we follow this story.)

Why was #ZNation canceled just as the prequel #BlackSummer was confirmed? #confused Click to Tweet

Z Nation’s Season 5 finale will unexpectedly end up being its series finale. The last episode will air on Friday, December 28. 🙁

The show stuck around because of a dedicated fan base, but sadly, the cancelation isn’t a huge shock to some. According to quite a few media sources, the ratings just haven’t been great, with under half a million viewers every week, Den of Geek noted. However, the show also didn’t cost much to make, which attributed to its sticking around. But is the ratings story really that accurate? Let’s compare Z Nation’s ratings to other Syfy shows, according to numbers shared by TVSeriesFinale.com. This season, Z Nation started out at .545 million viewers and ended at around .428 million. It ranged from .18 to .10 in the 18-49 demographic. These weren’t the best numbers, but were actually better than some other shows that Syfy renewed. Here’s how Z Nation compares to other series:

  • Z Nation: .545 to .428 million viewers; .18 to .10 in the 18-49 demo
  • 12 Monkeys Season 4: .336 to .243 million viewers; .03 to .07 in the 18-49 demo (canceled)
  • The Purge: 1.389 to .986 million viewers; .55 to .36 in the 18-49 demo (renewed)
  • Van Helsing Season 3: .467 to .390 million viewers; .11 to .06 in the 18-49 demo (renewed)
  • Nightflyers: .623 to .274 million viewers (ended at .420); .15 to .05 in the 18-49 demo
  • Killjoys Season 4: .45 to .48 million viewers (lowest was .369); .1 to .07 in the 18-49 demo (renewed)
  • The Expanse Season 3: .653 to .500 million viewers (highest was .730); .21 to .14 in the 18-49 demo (canceled)

Looking at these comparisons, the bottom line is that unless a series is getting numbers at the level of The Purge, it’s pretty much impossible to predict if it will be renewed. Z Nation was doing better than Killjoys and Van Helsing, both of which were renewed while Z Nation was canceled. Meanwhile, The Expanse was actually doing better than EVERYONE but The Purge, but it was canceled. 🙁 (We’re so grateful it was picked up by Amazon.) So don’t go looking for too much logic when trying to figure out why Z Nation was canceled.

#ZNation had higher ratings than #Killjoys and #VanHelsing, which Syfy renewed. We'll miss #ZNation. Click to Tweet

Z Nation producers also didn’t see it coming. They just found out themselves:

Meanwhile, Z Nation is living on in the form of a prequel called Black Summer that’s coming to Netflix. Now that isn’t confusing at all, isn’t it? Netflix ordered eight episodes. The series’ synopsis reads: “A mother, torn from her daughter embarks upon a harrowing journey, stopping at nothing to find her. Thrust alongside a small group of American refugees, she must brave a hostile new world and make brutal decisions during the most deadly summer of a zombie apocalypse.” This series will star Jamie King, who has not appeared in Z Nation. It’s actually not that strange to have a prequel include a star who is NOT in the original series. Fear the Walking Dead, a prequel for The Walking Dead, had no characters from the original series when it first debuted. Morgan from TWD joined much later.

#BlackSummer currently does not have any characters from #ZNation. Will that change with Z Nation's cancelation? Click to Tweet

Others slated so far to appear in Black Summer include Kash Hill, David Haysom, Bud Klasky, Jayson Therrien, Justin Chu Cary, Kelsey Flower, Christine Lee, Sal Velez Jr., Gwynyth Walsh, ERika Hau, Edsson Morales, Tom Carey, Nathaniel Arcand, Zoe MArlett, Ty Lsson, and Brad Pajot, according to IMDB. None are Z Nation characters. Will that change now that Z Nation is canceled? Only time will tell.

It will be interesting to see if Netflix continues with the campy feel of Z Nation, or if they go for something more serious. So far, it sounds like it’ll be more serious, perhapst to the point of feeling like a completely different show. Schaefer said at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con that Black Summer is “before the apocalypse got weird and was just scary.” It’s more of an “old school” take on the zombie lore. Jodi Binstock also said that it’s “not tongue in cheek, it’s very very serious.”

#BlackSummer will be very different from #ZNation - serious, not campy. Click to Tweet

This isn’t the first time Netflix has run a spinoff from another network. Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a hit, and it’s a spinoff of Riverdale on The CW.

So how are fans reacting? Here are some tweets about the Z Nation cancelation:

But fans are optimistic about Black Summer.

Post Apocalyptic Media has been writing about Z Nation since it premiered. If you want to look back a bit in history, check out our story about a woman who was an extra during the first season. If you haven’t seen Z Nation’s Season 5 yet, you can watch it on Amazon here.

Want to stay updated on all things post-apocalyptic? Join our email list here.

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Stephanie Dwilson started Post Apocalyptic Media with her husband Derek. Her favorite shows of all-time are Battlestar Galactica and Lost, and she's always happy to talk about her cats. :) She sometimes posts stuff on her personal blog too.

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