With the 2023 writers’ strike in full swing, many comparisons are being made to the writers’ strike of 2007-2008, so here are 10 TV shows that were severely affected by that major strike. As of the writing of this article, the Writers Guild of America is striking for the first time since 2007, with the strike being launched after negotiations between the WGA and AMPTP failed. The strike officially started on May 2, 2023, with it already affecting many major TV shows and movies. The 2007 Writers Guild strike had a similar effect, with these 10 TV shows being significantly impacted by the strike.
Although there are some differences in the TV landscape, with the 2023 strike focusing more on streaming than cable, there are a lot of parallels between the Writers Guild strikes of 2007 and 2023. One of the biggest parallels is the number of TV shows that have been delayed. Beginning on November 5, 2007, WGA members went on strike in an attempt to increase their wages in comparison to the massive profits of the studios they worked for. The strike carried on until February 12, 2008, with the months-long campaign causing loads of TV shows to be affected, with these 10 series being impacted the most.
The 2007 Writers Guild strike began during production on season 4 of LOST, which was originally intended to have 16 episodes. Eight episodes had been shot before the strike was announced, but with production delayed on the remaining episodes, it was decided to start airing season 4 in early 2008. After the strike, additional episodes of LOST season 4 were filmed, bringing the total episode count of the show’s shortest season up to 14 (via Vanity Fair). Many viewers cite the ending of season 4 and season 5 as when LOST started to go downhill, and it’s possible that the strike’s effects had something to do with this.
9 Breaking Bad
Breaking Bad was also affected by the Writers Guild strike of 2007, but it was actually for the better. According to Variety, two episodes were cut from Breaking Bad season 1 due to the strike. Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan originally intended for Dean Norris’ Hank Schrader to be killed off in one of these cut episodes, but this didn’t happen due to the strike. Instead, Hank went on to be a main character throughout almost the entirety of the show, with him being part of many of Breaking Bad‘s most iconic moments.
8 Family Guy
The long-running animated comedy Family Guy was also affected by the 2007 strike, with Fox’s actions in response to Seth MacFarlane’s involvement in the strike being the subject of controversy. According to an archived IGN interview, when the strike was called, series creator MacFarlane announced that he would not be finishing the Family Guy season 6 episodes that had already begun production. However, Fox went ahead and finished the episodes without MacFarlane, a move that the series creator was not a fan of.
7 General Hospital
General Hospital is one of the longest-running shows of all time, with the series being affected by the 2007 Writers Guild strike. However, General Hospital responded to the potential delays in a unique yet controversial way. According to IGN, General Hospital (as well as many other daily soap operas) resorted to hiring non-union writers in order to keep production going throughout the 2007 strike. After the strike, the usual writing team returned to General Hospital, with the transition between writers going fairly smoothly.
6 Friday Night Lights
Friday Night Lights season 2 was affected by the 2007 Writers Guild strike, with it affecting both the episode count and the show’s quality. Friday Night Lights season 2 cut its planned 22-episode run down to only 15 episodes, with season 2 airing before the writers’ strike ended in early 2008 (via The Washington Post). The cut episode count led to Friday Night Lights‘ famously disliked Landry storyline, in which he kills someone at a store. Friday Night Lights eventually recovered, but season 2 has remained a stain on the popular show’s otherwise well-received run.
5 The Big Bang Theory
Popular sitcom The Big Bang Theory season 1 actually aired during the Writers Guild strike of 2007, with it nearly ending in the show’s cancelation. After episode 8 aired on November 12, 2007, the show went on a months-long hiatus. Viewers as well as the cast and crew were worried that the show wouldn’t return, as it barely had time to get off the ground. However, the team instantly began making new episodes with the strike began, with episode 9 airing on March 17, 2008. Due to the show’s quick turnaround after the strike, it quickly bloomed into the popular sitcom it is known as today (via TV Series Finale).
4 30 Rock
30 Rock is another sitcom that was significantly affected by the 2007 Writers Guild strike, with the strike occurring during the production of season 2, which was intended to have 22 episodes. Many of 30 Rock‘s cast and crew, including Tina Fey, were heavily involved in the strike, leading to production shutting down after season 2, episode 10 aired on January 10, 2008. The show then went on a three-month hiatus, returning for a shortened 15-episode season on April 10, 2008. Season 2 is often considered to be 30 Rock in its prime, with the strike’s effects only making season 2 even more impressive (via IndieWire).
3 Prison Break
The effects of the Writers Guild strike on Prison Break season 3 were pretty severe, forever altering the direction of the franchise. Like many of the other shows on this list, Prison Break season 3 was shortened, with it only having 13 episodes when it concluded on February 18, 2008. These cut episodes were originally planned to set up the events of the spin-off series Prison Break: Cherry Hill, with season 3 featuring some of the spin-off’s characters. However, these characters never had a chance to appear in the main show, causing Prison Break: Cherry Hill to be scrapped entirely (via /Film).
24 season 7 had a notoriously difficult production, with it already being delayed several times leading up to the Writers Guild strike of 2007. The strike only caused it to be delayed again, with production being postponed until April 2008. Fox decided to hold the eight completed episodes until the entire season had been completed, allowing season 7 to air uninterrupted (via TV Guide). A TV movie named 24: Redemption was later made to fill in the large time gap between 24 seasons 6 and 7, with the film probably not happening without the effects of the writers’ strike.
Heroes is the show that is most frequently thrown around when talking about writers’ strikes, as it really went downhill due to the 2007 Writers Guild strike. Heroes season 2 was completely broken by the writers’ strike, causing the series’ quality to severely decline. Heroes lost a huge part of its fanbase due to season 2’s quality, with the TV show being a lesson in the importance of TV and movie writers.