One of the grimmest TV trends right now involves platforms not just canceling shows, but summarily removing them from streaming. Star Trek: Prodigy is about to suffer that fate, as Paramount+ follows in the footsteps of HBO Max and Disney by canceling and removing four shows.
Infuriating to audiences and TV creators alike, this practice is a cost-cutting tactic. It allows streaming services to take a tax write-off and cease making residual payments to the show’s creators—which is, of course, one of the many reasons why screenwriters are currently on strike.
Streamers typically target unpopular content for deletion, so canceling Prodigy may well backfire. Star Trek is Paramount+’s headline franchise, and the fandom is famously dedicated. In fact, Star Trek only exists in its current form because fans in the 1960s launched a renewal campaign. Now, fans are campaigning to find Prodigy a new home.
As an animated spinoff aimed at kids, Prodigy is less high-profile than the live-action shows. However it definitely has fanbase—and on top of the backlash against streamers removing any shows for tax reasons, canceling Prodigy is arguably an act of self-sabotage by Paramount.
Unlike previous eras of the franchise, Star Trek‘s current live-action shows are unsuitable for younger viewers. They’re often too dark and violent for adult Trekkies to watch with their kids, and they lean heavily into fandom nostalgia.
But if you want to attract a new generation of fans, you need to get them watching when they’re young. That’s where Prodigy comes in, featuring a youthful tone like Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and a main cast of teens. Without it, Paramount is abandoning younger audiences.
The good news is that Prodigy may well find a new home elsewhere. According to the show’s creators, a 20-episode second season is almost complete and “prospects are good.” The plan is to shop it around to other platforms, with the showrunners lending their support to the #SaveProdigy campaign.
The other shows slated for removal at Paramount+—Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies, The Game, and Queen of the Universe—probably won’t be so lucky. Without a vocal fanbase to campaign for a show’s return, there’s no obvious recourse against this kind of cancellation.