Z Nation enjoyed five seasons before it was axed in 2018, after making its premiere on the SyFy channel back in 2014.
Z Nation was one of the shows from the mid-2010s which stemmed from the resurgence in popularity of post-apocalyptic drama series and films. The show debuted after the popular and still running post-apocalyptic hit show, The Walking Dead. Unlike The Walking Dead, Z Nation meshed comedic elements within the narrative. According to IMDb, the premise of the show is, “Three years after the zombie virus has gutted the United States of America a team of everyday heroes must transport the only known survivor of the plague from New York to California, where the last functioning viral lab waits for his blood.”
Premiering on the SyFy channel in 2014, the show enjoyed five seasons before it was announced that it would not be returning for a sixth season. No reason was given for the cancellation of the show, which has left room for speculation as to why it was cancelled. The speculated reasons have not been denied by the channel or production, which leads the public to believe that there is some truth to the speculations.
The show was co-created by Karl Schaefer and Craig Engler, and was produced by The Asylum. Therefore, it was only fitting that word of the cancellation of the show was shared from within the internal structures. Producer, David Michael Latt shared the announcement via a Twitter Periscope live session in December 2018, ahead of the airing of the series finale episode. Latt began with, “We wanted to tell you face to face … That we were not renewed for season six.”
He added, “We’re stopping at season five. We’re very sad, but we’re also really grateful with the opportunities that we had on the show.” While the news was sad, he did infuse some sense of hope of a revival or continuation of the story by adding, “This is not the end of anything. This is just the beginning of a lot of things.”
Speculation on reasons for the end
While the ending of the show was sad news, it was not unexpected. Firstly, the biggest of those reasons was the move away from post-apocalyptic-driven narratives. While The Walking Dead is still a popular show which has been consistent in its viewing numbers, the hunger or interest in stories of this narrative has again ebbed, more so considering that the world has had to deal with its own version of an “apocalypse” with the pandemic.
Second to the fact was the matter of the show not being a ratings winner. This is not to say that Z Nation was not consistent in terms of the number of viewers the show brought. However, the numbers did not start off high in the first place. This was also attributed to the fact that it did not have the same budget or placement as The Walking Dead. Therefore, the show had only the series as its drive, unlike The Walking Dead which was adapted from comic books and already had games and merchandising.
Lastly, the most viable reason for SyFy not renewing the show is believed to be that it was in line with the format of the channel. All shows on the channel have a five-season cap. Therefore, seeing as the last season to air was the fifth one, it is believed that the channel remained consistent and ended the show on its fifth season.
Life after cancellation
Following the announcement of the cancellation of the show, fans were relieved to find out that the show would receive new life with a spin off. Netflix had picked up and greenlit the origin story of the Z Nation with Black Summer. According to Netflix, the premise of the prequel is, “In the dark, early days of a zombie apocalypse, complete strangers band together to find the strength they need to survive and get back to loved ones.”
This story is women-focused and inclusive, in line with the then innovation of having women-centred stories being at the forefront of storytelling, hence, the focus is the mother-daughter relationship. The show debuted in 2019 and has since had two seasons in total, with the possibility of a third.