TV is a brutal business; shows get cancelled more often than not. It is not uncommon for actors to be on several unsuccessful shows before they get one that actually survives for more than two seasons.  However, there are some actors that seem to have worse luck than others with their show selection, almost like they have a show-killing curse. [Just to clarify and avoid any attacks from readers I don’t think these actors were the actual cause of the cancellations, they just happen to have bad luck for picking shows].

I started thinking of some actors who have a knack for picking quickly cancelled shows, therefore gaining the status of “show-killers”:

Jason O’Mara

Jason O'Mara
Victims: Vegas, Terra Nova, Life on Mars, In Justice

I love Jason O’Mara. I think he is handsome, interesting, approachable yet tough; he has all the ingredients for the perfect leading man, yet his shows keep getting cancelled! I didn’t realize how bad his show-killer status was until I looked it up on IMDB. The most recent victim was Vegas and only last year we had to see Terra Nova go. Before that, there were a couple other shows: The American adaptation of Life on Mars and ABC’s In Justice. Granted, Life on Mars (*) died because it wasn’t the best adaptation and Terra Nova had major budget issues. But I am really hoping Jason doesn’t give up on TV because I want him on my screen … Maybe he needs to stay away from period dramas and/or high concept Sci-Fi…

Joanna Garcia

Joanna Garcia

Victims: Animal Practice, Better with You, Privileged

So… she wasn’t always a show-killer. She was on Reba, which I actually think went on for too long, but since then she hasn’t been on a show that lasted longer than a season. And I think, in this case, it is her fault. She’s been picking REALLY BAD shows which get justly cancelled. Privileged wasn’t the worst thing ever but it wasn’t anything remarkable either, Better with you was an underwhelming boring show and Animal Practice (**) was simply the worst train wreck of this season! I actually think she is a likable actress [although I understand some people may find her annoying], but if she doesn’t get it together and starts picking better shows, her show-killer status could become permanent until she doesn’t have more shows to kill.

Billy Lush

Billy Lush - The Black Donnellys
Victims: The Chicago Code, The Black Donnellys, Trauma

Unlike Joanna Garcia I don’t think Billy Lush’s show-killer status has anything to do with poor show selection. On the contrary, he has been on two of my favorite cancelled shows: The Chicago Code and The Black Donnellys.(***) Both shows were incredible quality dramas that lasted for only one season. I think Billy Lush is one of those great young actors that haven’t been noticed by enough people yet. To make things even worse last year he had guest spots on 3 shows that were also cancelled: Vegas, Awake and CSI:NY. So successful TV and Billy Lush don’t go hand in hand lately. Maybe he should start focusing on movies [he could re-team with Paul Haggis]… Either way I am hoping to see more of him in the future.
Summer Glau

Summer Glau

Victims: Firefly, Terminator the Sarah Connor Chronicles, The Cape

You know you are geek if you know and love Summer Glau. I totally do. This former ballerina has had guest roles on successful shows like Grey’s Anatomy and The Big Bang Theory; but she hasn’t been so lucky with her regular roles. Her latest victim was the comic book show The Cape, and OK that one was awful, but her two previous shows Terminator the Sarah Connor Chronicles and the Sci-fi classic Firefly were amazing. We know that Firefly will be a cult-hit classic until the end of days and she will be our favorite terminator (sorry Arnold) forever, but seriously… give her a new show and please don’t cancel it!

Everyone on The Secret Circle

Victims: Terminator the Sarah Connor Chronicles, Life Unexpected, The Mob Doctor, Eli Stone, Commander in Chief, She Spies and more…             

Thomas Dekker & Britt Robertson - TSC
No wonder that show was doomed with so much bad luck going around the cast! Thomas Dekker played John Connor opposite Summer Glau on Terminator the Sarah Connor Chronicles, while Britt Robertson was on the short-lived Life Unexpected. After The Secret Circle, Adam Harrington moved on to The Mob Doctor so he hasn’t escaped the cancellation curse yet and even Natasha Henstridge had her share of quickly deceased shows, remember Eli Stone? How about Commander in Chief and She Spies? Let’s hope everyone has better luck with their next projects.

Redeemed Show-killers

However, not everything is lost. After a series of failed shows, some actors finally get it right. Apparently the trick is to be on a hit CBS drama: Alex O’loughlin is having a lot of success on Hawaii Five-0, but only after Moonlight and Three Rivers were cancelled. On the other hand Owain Yeoman and Amanda Righetti seem well placed on The Mentalist but some of their combined past casualties include: Kitchen Confidential, Terminator the Sarah Connor Chronicles, The Nine, Reunion and more.  Sarah Connor herself (Lena Headey) escaped the terminator curse and is now playing Queen Cersei on Game of Thrones, but you know… her character could get killed at any given moment.

If you can’t get a leading role on a CBS/cable show, guest starring or a small role on an already established show seems to be the way to go. That is what James Wolk is doing on Mad Men after he got his show-killer badge from the great but cancelled Political Animals and Lone Star, a show famous for been axed after only 2 episodes.


Matthew Davis
For each redeemed show-killer there seems to be a new one emerging. Two come to mind. First one is Matthew Davis… and yes he was on The Vampire Diaries, but after he left he went on to star on Cult, and we all know how that ended up. Plus he was previously on some other cancelled shows (What About Brian), so he better watch it. If they don’t find a way to bring Alaric back from the dead I want Matthew on a new, preferably good, show soon!  Second emerging show-killer is Scott Michael Foster. He had a good run on ABCFamily’s Greek, but then he joined the cast of The River and Zero Hour. So he is not making the best career choices lately.

These are only a few examples of some actors that seem to be suffering from the show-killing curse. Everything may change next season; hopefully a couple of them will find more stable gigs.

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The TV Empress is a Media Management graduate, screenwriter in the making (and financial engineer in the meantime). She has serious plans to take over global television. You can follow the TVEmpress on twitter @TVRepublik

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