NBC has canceled Ellen’s Game of Games after just four seasons. The unscripted series launched with an eight-episode order in 2017. Its fourth season, which debuted in October 2020 and ran through May 2021, featured 20 episodes. Although the network didn’t give a reason for the cancellation, the decision may have been prompted by poor ratings – particularly after it was moved to Sunday nights late in the season.
The NBC cancellation comes as the comedian wraps the final season of her daytime series, The Ellen DeGeneres Show. DeGeneres announced that she would end the talk show after 19 seasons in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter last year. “When you’re a creative person, you constantly need to be challenged. And as great as this show is, and as fun, as it is, it’s just not a challenge anymore,” she told the publication. Before NBC canceled Ellen’s Game of Games, DeGeneres had already been having a hard time in the realm of daytime television. In 2020 she faced allegations of overseeing a toxic workplace environment after employees anonymously spoke about their plight in a Buzzfeed News investigation. The revelation led to an internal investigation by WarnerMedia and the dismissal of several executives on the show.
Ellen DeGeneres issued a written apology to her staff, saying that she wanted her show to be a place where no one ever raised their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect. The Emmy Award winner said she was disappointed to learn that this had not been the case. DeGeneres also apologized again during the opening monologue of the show’s 18th season, promising to change the culture. While Ellen’s Game of Games was not part of the original complaint, the controversy may have contributed to what got NBC’s star canceled.
DeGeneres served as host and executive producer of NBC’s Ellen’s Game of Games. The now NBC canceled show featured supersized versions of the most popular, action-packed games from the talk series. It also included some that were designed specifically for the primetime show. In each episode, contestants were selected to play in one of four preliminary games where they maneuvered massive obstacles, answered questions under crushing time pressure, and faced gigantic plunges into the unknown – all in a quest to win a big cash prize.
Controversy aside, it isn’t surprising that NBC canceled the fun spinoff series, since DeGeneres’ contract ends this year. The popular TV personality launched her groundbreaking daytime show in 2003 – five years after she did a coming-out interview with Time Magazine. She also became the top name in daytime chat syndication after Oprah Winfrey retired from the television scene in 2011.
Ellen’s Game of Games is produced by Warner Horizon Unscripted and Alternative Television in association with Telepictures and A Very Good Production. Kevin A. Leman II, Mary Connelly, Ed Glavin, Andy Lassner, Derek Westervelt, Daniel Norris, Noah Bonnett, and Jeff Kleeman are executive producers on NBC’s now-defunct show. News of the cancellation was first reported by Deadline.
Away from the NBC canceled series, Ellen DeGeneres has written four books and started her own production company. She also launched a lifestyle brand called ED Ellen DeGeneres, which sells a collection of apparel, accessories, home, baby, and pet items. Adding to her impressive list of accolades, DeGeneres received the Carol Burnett Award at the 2020 Golden Globes for her work on television, becoming the first recipient after its inaugural namesake Carol Burnett.