After 31 years and 33 seasons, Cops is officially canceled
Amid widespread protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer and countless other incidents of police brutality, Cops was pulled from the air. Now, its network has announced that the show is permanently canceled after 31 years.
“Cops is not on the Paramount Network and we don’t have any current or future plans for it to return,” a network spokesperson told Entertainment Weekly.
Cops began airing in 1989. It was in its 33rd season and had filmed more than 1,100 episodes. The show originally aired on Fox, but in 2013, it moved to Spike TV, which was later rebranded as Paramount Network. It’s been airing there ever since, until it was pulled from the air after Floyd’s death on May 25.
The show has long been controversial. A 1994 study found that Cops viewers were far more likely to associate black and brown people with violent crime than white people. And two separate studies in 2004 found that the show was racially skewed and overwhelmingly portrayed policing as a battle between white cops and non-white criminals. Co-creators John and Morgan Langley always denied this, saying they purposefully included a diverse mix of both officers and perpetrators on the show.
Civil rights advocacy organization Color of Change, which has been a longtime critic of Cops, released a statement on the news that the show was canceled.
“For more than 30 years, Cops has miseducated the public and normalized injustice,” Color of Change Vice President Arisha Hatch said. “Crime television encourages the public to accept the norms of over-policing and excessive force and reject reform, while supporting the exact behavior that destroys the lives of Black people. Cops led the way, pushing troubling implications for generations of viewers.”
Hatch also called for similar shows to be canceled as well, focusing particularly on A&E’s Live PD, which has a similar format to Cops and has been airing on Friday and Saturday nights on the network since 2016. Just last month, A&E renewed the series for 160 more episodes, but last week’s episodes were pulled from the air amid protests and increasing calls for police reform and defunding.
“Now it’s time for other networks to cancel similarly harmful shows,” Hatch said. “We call on A&E to cancel Live PD next. In a moment when everyone wants to proclaim that Black Lives Matter, we must hold these companies accountable to put actions to words with a complete industry overhaul.”