By Alexandra Burlacu | Apr 23, 2013 10:08 AM EDT
The popular animated comedy TV show Futurama will be canceled again, as Comedy Central has decided not to renew the adventures of the Planet Express crew.
Futurama will end its seven-season run on Sept. 4, putting an end to the 31st-century adventure. The final 13 episodes that comprise the second half of season seven will start airing on June 19.
This is the second time the Planet Express ship has hit a rocky patch. The series aired from 1999 to 2003, when Fox wrote off Fry and company. Futurama re-launched five years later, in 2007, with four-direct-to-DVD movies. Comedy Central ran half-hour episodes of the fifth season in 2008 - 2009, totaling 16 episodes. Comedy Central later ordered a 26-episode season six, which aired in 2010 - 2011, and a 26-episode season seven, which debuted in 2012.
Creator Matt Groening and executive producer David X. Cohen, the masterminds behind Futurama, were little surprised by the news of cancellation. The duo thought their space adventures would fold on three previous occasions: after Fox, after the four movies and after Comedy Central's season six order.
"I felt like we were already in the bonus round on these last couple of seasons, so I can't say I was devastated by the news," Cohen tells Entertainment Weekly. "It was what I had expected two years earlier. At this point I keep a suitcase by my office door so I can be cancelled at a moment's notice."
Although the Futurama series is quite popular and won the Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program not once, but twice, the series saw a gradual decline in ratings. In 2010 Futurama averaged 2.6 million viewers, which dropped to 2.3 million in 2011 and 1.7 million in 2012. According to Dave Bernath, Comedy Central's executive vice president of programming, the network's decision is "the natural end" to the futuristic show.
"That's a helluva run that few shows achieve, and especially given the fact that it came back to life, it's really an amazing story," explains Bernath. "I'm more thankful and feel a sense of gratitude toward the whole process — and that we found a way to keep going for 52 more episodes — than I really am even thinking about the ending. It's a blessing that it came back and lasted so long."
While the producers say they are considering finding a new home for the show, no serious talks are in place at this point.
"We've been in this situation before and it's tempting when you're doing episodes that are as good or better than anything you've ever done to continue doing it. We're catching our breath and seeing what the fans have to say," Groening tells Entertainment Weekly. "The experience of this show has been so much fun from the very beginning to now — everybody is so happy to work on this show — that it'd be a shame if we all went our separate ways ... We would love to continue. We have many more stories to tell. But if we don't, this is a really great way to go out ... I think these episodes are the best ones we've ever done."
The final season will feature guests such as George Takei, Larry Bird, Sarah Silverman, Adam West, Burt Ward and Dan Castellaneta, and Groening says it offers an epic, satisfying ending, if it is indeed the last run.
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