25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (2024)

The recent announcement that the Writers Guild of America will strike sent shock waves through Hollywood. Both fans and studio executives no doubt have very good memories of the impact the last such strike, which occurred in 2007 and 2008, had on the industry and its various productions. Various series in various genres faced significant reductions in the number of episodes produced, which, in turn, affected the types of stories they could tell. As this newest strike continues to exert pressure on the studios and streamers, it’s important to look back to appreciate the value writers bring to the world of screen entertainment.

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'Grey’s Anatomy'

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (1)

ABC via MovieStillsDB

By this point in its history, Grey’s Anatomyhas become something of an American TV institution due to its longevity and ongoing ability to wring pathos from its medical and interpersonal storylines. However, things weren’t always so smooth for the series. Even though it had already achieved major success by its fourth season, which was the one most affected by the strike, it was composed of only 17 episodes as opposed to many of the others, which typically had anywhere between 20 and 25. To the show’s credit, it has managed to continue its dominance of the cultural landscape.

2 of 25

'Bones'

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (2)

Fox via MovieStillsDB

There’s undeniable chemistry between Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz, the co-stars of Bones.A skilled combination of procedural and comedy, the series was already a success by the time it had its third season when the WGA declared its strike. It experienced a not-insignificant reduction in episodes, with only 15 ultimately being produced (as opposed to the standard 22). In addition to going on hiatus, several of the episodes that were eventually produced for this season were moved to different seasons. Unlike some other shows of the period, Bonesovercame the impacts of the strike and ran for a total of twelve seasons.

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'The Daily Show'

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (3)

PA Images/Sipa USA

Like many other talk shows, The Daily Show continued to air (after a brief hiatus) even though its entire staff of writers participated in the strike. To make matters even more complicated, then-host Jon Stewart, a union member, was not allowed to write any new material. Stewart and the other producers of the show proved particularly skilled at navigating the various restrictions of the strike, which included ad-libbing many of the performances, airing already-recorded segments, and engaging in a fake feud with several other hosts, including, notably, Stephen Colbert.

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'Men in Trees'

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (4)

ABC via MovieStillsDB

Men in Trees was a strange but fun series that emerged steadily in the mid-2000s. It was something like a combination ofSex and the City andNorthern Exposurefocusing as it did on a writer’s romantic adventures in a fish-out-of-water atmosphere. It was one of those series most severely impacted by the strike. It had a shortened second season (augmented by the remaining ones from the first season), but, unfortunately, it could never quite seem to find its feet. Despite its intriguing and promising premise, it was ultimately canceled by the network, one of the casualties of the strike.

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'Late Night with Conan O’Brien'

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (5)

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY

Conan O’Brien has always had a quirky sensibility, which made him immensely popular on late-night television. Like many of his fellow late-night hosts, his show went briefly on hiatus before resuming without writers. O’Brien found various ways to show his support for the striking writers, most notably by growing out a beard. In addition, he found ways of killing time during the taping of his show, and viewers of the time no doubt remember the many times that he would spend several seconds simply spinning his wedding ring on his desk.

6 of 25

'30 Rock'

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (6)

30 Rock via MovieStillsDB

Tina Fey hit comedy gold with 30 Rock,the hit comedy series about the beleaguered Liz Lemon, the head writer of a sketch comedy show. Thanks to Fey’s creative talent and the extremely talented ensemble cast, the series was one of the best comedies of the late 2000s and early 2010s. However, like many other series, it was significantly impacted by the concurrent strike. Most notably, the second season, originally supposed to consist of the usual 22 episodes, only had 15. This, in turn, impacted some of the existing storylines explored in the show.

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'Pushing Daisies'

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (7)

ABC via MovieStillsDB

For many people, Pushing Daisiesis an example of a sitcom that never really got the chance to flourish. Focusing on Lee Pace’s Ned, a pie-maker with resurrecting abilities, it was one of the most unusual and boundary-pushing network comedies of the late 2000s, with a production design that still marks it as unique. The strike meant that the first season had significantly fewer episodes than initially intended — only nine instead of the intended season — and the second season was also truncated. Unsurprisingly, it failed to find an audience, leading to its cancellation.

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'Heroes'

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (8)

NBC via MovieStillsDB

At around the same time Marvel began encroaching on the pop culture consciousness, TV saw its own batch of superheroes with Heroes. As its title suggests, it followed a group of unexpected heroes. From the beginning, it was a series characterized by multiple stories and characters, which caused significant problems when the WGA strike interrupted the second season's production. Instead of 24 episodes, this season saw only 11. As a result, the series couldn’t adapt as much of the source material as initially intended (with consequences for subsequent seasons as well).

9 of 25

'House'

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (9)

Fox via MovieStillsDB

With House, Hugh Laurie cemented his legacy with his portrayal of the irascible Dr. House in the series that bears his name, a brilliant but deeply misanthropic (and flawed) physician. Housewas famous for its complex storylines and sometimes outlandish medical problems, which provided the core of each episode. Like many other complex TV series of the mid-aughts, it was significantly impacted by the strike. Its fourth season saw a reduced number of episodes (from 24 to 16), which unsurprisingly had a significant impact on how coherently its storylines were concluded by the end of the season.

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'Friday Night Lights'

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (10)

NBC via MovieStillsDB

Friday Night Lightsskillfully wove drama and social commentary as it examined the role of athletics in a small town in Texas. As with many other series airing during this time, the strike impacted its second season. While it didn’t endure as much of an abridgment as many of its contemporaries (being reduced from 19 to 15), it still seems likely that this impacted its success. It subsequently struggled with ratings, but it managed to hang on for a total of five, with over 70 episodes airing.

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'Breaking Bad'

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (11)

AMC via MovieStillsDB

Breaking Bad looms large in the history of television in the 21st century. It was one of the many series that focused on brooding male antiheroes, men who managed to gain audience sympathy despite their obviously terrible actions. The strike significantly impacted its first season. The original plan was to have either Hank or Jesse die as a means of bringing the first season to a searing conclusion. Given how important the two characters would become — both in their own right and roles in Walter White’s life — it is good that they weren’t.

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'Samantha Who?'

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (12)

ABC via MovieStillsDB

Christina Applegate is one of those stars who has had decidedly mixed fortunes when it comes to her television adventures. Samantha Who?seemed to provide a career resurgence for her. She portrayed Sam Newly, a woman who experiences amnesia due to an accident and slowly realizes that she wasn’t very likable before the incident in question. The series experienced fewer episodes in its first season, which may help to explain why it started to lose its steam during its sophom*ore outing. Unfortunately, despite its potential, it never really regained its momentum and was ultimately canceled by ABC.

13 of 25

'Chuck'

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (13)

NBC via MovieStillsDB

Long before he gained renewed fame for appearing as the character Shazam in the DCEU film of the same name, Zachary Levi starred in the sitcom Chuck,a computer wiz who gets involved more than he would like with the CIA. It received quite a few positive reviews for its first season. Even so, its ratings faced a number of challenges. Some of these were from other network productions, but it was also hamstrung by a reduced order for its first season, which the strike reduced from a normal order to a mere 13 (which was too small a number for it to have the strong start it desired).

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'Rescue Me'

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (14)

FX via MovieStillsDB

Denis Leary’s Rescue Mewas a hit for its network, FX, because of its skilled mix of comedy and drama and the undeniable charisma of Denis Leary, who co-created and starred in it. As its title suggests, the series revolves around the lives and loves of a group of NYC firefighters. It was one of those series that experienced a significant production delay as a result of the WGA strike. The fifth season wasn’t aired until 2009 (the fourth season aired in 2007). However, it did not see a reduction in the number of produced episodes.

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'Nip/Tuck'

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (15)

FX via MovieStillsDB

Ryan Murphy has always had a keen eye for how to create some of the most provocative and exciting dramas on television. Nip/Tuck,which focuses on a pair of plastic surgeons whose lives become ever more complicated, was a strange mix of melodrama, medical drama, and, even at times, dark comedy. By the time the strike began, it was well into its run, but its fifth season experienced significant changes. It was split into two halves, with the first 14 episodes airing in 2007 and the remaining eight in 2009.

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'The Colbert Report'

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (16)

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY

During its run, The Colbert Reportwas one of the funniest television shows. Much of that was due to Stephen Colbert’s ability to ruthlessly satirize contemporary conservative policies and politicians and the undeniable charm of its host, who, even today, continues to show that he is one of the must-see talk show hosts. His show continued on the air during the strike, with a notable change. Rather than eliding the pronunciation of the “t” in “Colbert” and “Report,” he pronounced both. Though subtle, it was his way of showing solidarity with the striking writers.

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'The Big Bang Theory'

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (17)

CBS via MovieStillsDB

Like many of the other series produced and created by Chuck Lorre, The Big Bang Theorywas a massive success, ultimately lasting twelve seasons and racking up nearly 300 total episodes. This is quite an accomplishment, particularly since its first season was cut short by the strike, only producing 17 of the proposed 22 episodes. Unlike so many of the other series whose beginnings were hampered by the halt of production, it managed to overcome those challenges, with each season building on the success of the former, slowly establishing a sitcom world in which viewers could fully lose themselves.

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'Family Guy'

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (18)

Fox via MovieStillsDB

Seth MacFarlane’s hit animated comedy Family Guyis one of those rare shows that managed to return to the air after an initial cancellation. Like many others, however, it was significantly impacted by the Writers Strike. In addition to having its sixth season severely curtailed — with roughly half of its intended number of episodes being produced — Fox went so far as to produce episodes without MacFarlane’s final approval. It was an unfortunate and aggressive move on the network’s part and an illustration of how the strike highlighted the fault lines in the entertainment industry and its power structures.

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'The Office'

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (19)

NBC via MovieStillsDB

Even today, The Officeremains a beloved sitcom in the minds of many, endlessly memorialized in memes and references. It was at the height of its popularity in its fourth season, which is when the strike was called, impacting its production. It was originally supposed to have a full 30 episodes for this particular season, but due to the strike, only 19 were produced and broadcast (split between half-hour and hour-long episodes).The Office’s popularity was symbolic of the issues raised by the strike, as its creators often received far fewer residuals than they should have.

20 of 25

'Scrubs'

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (20)

NBC via MovieStillsDB

With its blend of surrealism and traditional workplace sitcom conventions, Scrubswas very much a product of its time. It also became one of those series caught square in the middle of the WGA strike since its seventh season, which had begun production before the strike started, was supposed to be its final one (and its creator refused to cross the picket line). Ultimately, only a fraction of the season’s intended episodes were produced. To make matters even more complicated (and ugly), the series changed network homes, moving from NBC to ABC for its eighth season.

21 of 25

'Supernatural'

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (21)

The WB via MovieStillsDB

The CW series Supernaturalhelped catapult its stars, Jared Padalecki, Jensen Eckles, and Misha Collins, into the realm of true TV stars. It grew from a monster-of-the-week series to something far more complex, taking on issues relating to religion, mythology, and immortality. The series was in its third season when the WGA strike happened. It was initially supposed to have an entire season of 22 episodes, but the strike meant it was shortened to 16 (the shortest of any season). Though there were still many important storylines in this season, some of those originally supposed to be part of it were set aside.

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'24'

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (22)

Fox via MovieStillsDB

If there was a single show that encapsulated the fears and desires of a post-9/11 America, it was 24. Kiefer Sutherland became an icon thanks to his portrayal of Jack Bauer, an anti-terrorist agent willing to do almost anything in the service of preventing terrorist attacks. The series’ tremendous popularity didn’t insulate it from the strike, however, and its seventh season was actually delayed as a result of the strike. It wouldn’t air until 2009 (the sixth season concluded in 2007). To help lessen the impact of the delay, Fox produced a television film, 24: Redemption.

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'Battlestar Galactica'

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (23)

SyFY via MovieStillsDB

Battlestar Galactica, like many of the shows produced during the golden age of television, received significant praise for the complexity and richness of its writing and its engagement with sci-fi issues, with a story about a group of humans struggling to survive after their home worlds are attacked by a group known as the Cylons. The series was meant to conclude with its fourth season; however, the WGA disrupted these plans. In this case, it dealt with the delay by splitting the season in half since only slightly more than half of the episodes had been written before the strike.

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'Damages'

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (24)

FX via MovieStillsDB

Throughout its run, the FX series Damages proved to be a formidable showcase for the acting talents of Glenn Close, who plays the powerful and ruthless lawyer Patty Hughes. The series ultimately ran for five total seasons. It did face some problems during the strike, which was called immediately after the series had been renewed for its second season. As a result, there was a significant delay between the first and second seasons (the former aired in 2007, the latter not until 2009). Fortunately for fans of the show, it was able to overcome these limitations and go on to achieve significant success.

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'Private Practice'

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (25)

ABC via MovieStillsDB

The 21st century has been a golden age for medical dramas, and Private Practice,like its parent series Grey’s Anatomy,focuses on doctors and other medical professionals as their professional and personal lives intersect. This series experienced a fairly severe impact from the strike. It was intended to have 22 episodes in its first season, but it was cut to a mere nine. While this might have spelled doom for another series, it was still given a full second season due, no doubt, to the enormous success of Grey’s Anatomy.It would go on to run for six altogether.

Thomas J. West III earned a PhD in film and screen studies from Syracuse University in 2018. His writing on film and TV has appeared at Screen Rant, Screenology, FanFare, Primetimer, Cinemania, and in a number of scholarly journals and edited collections. He co-hosts the Queens of the B's podcast and writes a regular newsletter, Omnivorous, on Substack. He is also an active member of GALECA, the Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics.

25 shows impacted by the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike (2024)
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