Effect of the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike on television

Striking writers and supporters rally in Los Angeles

The 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, which began on November 5, 2007, was a labor conflict that affected a large number of television shows that were due to be broadcast in the United States during the 2007–08 television season. Negotiators for the striking writers reached a tentative agreement on February 8, 2008, and the boards of both guilds unanimously approved the deal on February 10, 2008.[1] Striking writers voted on February 12, 2008, to end the strike immediately,[2] and on February 26, the WGA announced that the contract had been ratified with a 93.6% approval among WGA members.[3]

Effect on shows

Shows with increased number of episodes

Some shows, especially unscripted or reality shows, benefitted from the strike by providing the networks with new material.

Show Network: Notes
The Amazing Race CBS Originally only one season (The Amazing Race 12) was planned for the 2007-2008 season. A second season of the show (The Amazing Race 13) was greenlit shortly after the start of the strike, with the premiere aired on September 28, 2008. The season finale aired on December 7, 2008.
Big Brother CBS Originally only one season was planned for the summer of 2008. Due to the writer's strike a second season for 2008 was ordered. The ninth season premiered Tuesday, February 12, 2008 with three episodes per week.[4] Big Brother 10 premiered Sunday, July 13, 2008 with three episodes per week, in place of Big Brother 9.[5]
Good News Week Network Ten
Meant to be a one-off special, new episodes made for the first time in 7 years to fill gap left by lack of US product.[6] The new run lasted until 2011, with a final special in 2012.[7][8]
The Price Is Right CBS Six episodes of the prime-time version were taped February 11–13, 2008 to help fill programming due to strike. Programs aired on Fridays until the start of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. After the shows aired, a second set of four episodes were ordered to air during the May sweeps. The regular daytime version was not affected, but the strike was the subject of the November 30, 2007 taping (airing December 25, 2007), where the Showcase script at the end of a showcase featuring elves on strike against Santa Claus was a parody of the WGA strike. The primetime series also debuted the show's switchover to 1080i high definition, as all ten episodes aired in high-definition; by the end of the season, the show switched entirely to high-definition.

Unaffected shows

Some shows were not affected by the strike, being unscripted, not using union writers, or completing their production before the strike began. Some shows made in Canada use mainly or solely Canadian writers and were thus unaffected by the US strike.

Show Network Notes
Eureka Sci Fi All 13 episodes of season 2 were shown. Season 3 was produced over a longer period due to the strike.
Jericho CBS All 7 episodes for season 2 were completed before the strike
All My Children ABC Scripts were completed through January 2008.
Duel ABC Only Big Three network game show to premiere whole series during the strike. Second season as weekly series premiered on April 4, 2008 and ended on July 25, 2008 for 10 episodes.
The Bold and the Beautiful CBS Scripts were completed through January 2008.
Days of Our Lives NBC Scripts were completed through January 2008.
Guiding Light CBS Scripts were completed through February 2008.
One Life to Live ABC Scripts were completed through January 2008.
Passions The 101 Network Scripts were completed through February 2008[9][10]
The View ABC Continued, with a statement by the network that "contingency plans have been made in the event of a strike."[11]
Carpoolers ABC All 13 ordered episodes were completed.[12]
The Closer TNT All 15 episodes of season 3 made
Curb Your Enthusiasm HBO Had not been renewed for a seventh season until after the strike
Dexter Showtime All episodes completed of Season 2 before strike. Production started early in anticipation.[13] Season 1 re-purposed on CBS due to lack of new content.[14]
Eli Stone ABC All 13 ordered episodes were completed. Premiered January 31, 2008.[12]
Everybody Hates Chris The CW All 22 episodes completed,[15] returned on March 3.[16]
Kyle XY ABC Family All 23 episodes completed. New episodes began January 14, 2008.[17] 10 more episodes ordered in October, before the strike.[18]
Lincoln Heights ABC Family Was not renewed for a third season until after the strike
Mad Men AMC Lionsgate side deal made, production resumed on scripts for summer airing.[19]
Monk USA All 16 episodes completed.[12]
New Amsterdam FOX All 8 episodes completed. Premiered March 4, 2008.[20]
October Road ABC All 13 ordered episodes for season 2 were completed.[21]
Psych USA All 16 episodes completed.[12]
The Shield FX All 13 ordered episodes were completed.[22]
South Park Comedy Central Show creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone were not members of the union, and continued writing and producing the show during the strike. The Show was on a scheduled hiatus for most of the strike's duration.
Stargate Atlantis Sci Fi All of Season 4 was completed. Most writers are members of the Writers Guild of Canada. It was reported that the broadcast schedule would potentially be affected because of the broader effects of the strike.[23]
The Wire HBO All 10 episodes were completed for the final season.[24]

Unscripted shows

Show Network Notes
Poker After Dark NBC Still in production airing original episodes; unaffected by the strike.[25]

Shows with writing completed before strike

Show Network Notes
10 Items or Less TBS All 8 ordered episodes were completed.[20]
About a Girl The N All 13 episodes were completed.
American Dad! FOX All 22 ordered episodes had been written.[20]
Cane CBS All 13 ordered episodes were completed.[26]
Jericho CBS All 7 ordered episodes were completed.[26][27]

Shows that switched to non-union writers

Show Network Notes
All My Children ABC On January 15, 2008 the soap was written by Julie Hanan Carruthers and Brian Frons replacing James Harmon Brown and Barbara Esensten who returned on January 31
As the World Turns CBS Entire writing staff was on strike. Material written by non-union writers airing as of January 25, 2008 until the end of the strike.
General Hospital ABC Using financial core and strikebreaker material as of January 4, 2008. Writing led by non-striking guild member Garin Wolf. Head writer Robert Guza Jr. and his staff returned after the strike.
One Life to Live ABC As of February 15, 2008, Gary Tomlin took over as head writer for the soap replacing Ron Carlivati who returned on May 2.
Power Rangers ABC/Toon Disney Much of the remainder of Power Rangers: Jungle Fury was written by strikebreakers working under pseudonyms. The final three episodes (plus a fourth episode, written out of order) were written by longtime series writer Jackie Marchand and John Tellegen upon the strike's end. A fifth episode, "Maryl and the Monkeys," was originally credited in released synopses to a writer named Sal N. Mitchell but when it aired, the episode was credited to executive producer Bruce Kalish.[28]
The Young and the Restless CBS Writing taken over by non-striking guild members Josh Griffith and Maria Arena Bell (the daughter-in-law of the show's creator William J. Bell), among others. Griffith/Bell material aired starting December 26, 207. Lynn Marie Latham and three of her writers were terminated as of February 13, 2008.

Shows airing off-season

Show Network Notes
Burn Notice USA Season 2 premiered unaffected. The full season of 16 episodes were aired.
Miss Guided ABC Writing was halted, but all 7 planned episodes aired.
Weeds Showtime Weeds was not scheduled to start filming until April 2008 for a summer debut,[29] however, Lionsgate made a side deal to avert a stop in production. The show was unaffected, and aired as planned in August.[19]
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia FX Renewed for a fourth season[30] was composed of 13 episodes that aired in fall 2008.[31]
Canterbury's Law Fox All 6 ordered episodes were completed. Premiered on March 10, 2008.

Shows delayed or interrupted by the strike

Some shows ran out of episodes, but caught up to their ordered amount after the strike. Some other shows, such as talk shows, were interrupted, but made arrangements to return to screens early.

Show Network Date stopped Date restarted Episodes made before strike Episodes made after strike Notes
According to Jim ABC March 11, 2008 11 of 18[32] 7[32] Most of the actors in this show, including James Belushi, struck with the writers.
South of Nowhere The N September 8, 2008. September 2008. 16 of 16 Initially set to air final episodes starting in February. The April 2008 airing of the remaining episodes from the third season were pushed back to September.
Women's Murder Club ABC January 4, 2008 April 2008 10 of 13[20] 3
Scrubs NBC December 6, 2007 April 10, 2008 12 of 18[20] 6 The season's final episodes were produced.[33][34]
The Colbert Report Comedy Central Reruns began on November 5, 2007.[35] January 7, 2008 (without writers).[36] N/A N/A Pronunciation of show title changed for the length of the strike.
February 13, 2008 (with writers)
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Comedy Central Reruns began on November 5, 2007.[35] January 7, 2008 (without writers)[36] N/A N/A The show was briefly renamed A Daily Show with Jon Stewart in honor of the strike.
February 13, 2008 (with writers)
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson CBS Reruns began on November 5, 2007.[35] New episodes began on January 2, 2008. N/A N/A David Letterman's production company, Worldwide Pants, successfully negotiated a new collective bargaining agreement, so the show returned with its full complement of writing staff.[37]
Late Night with Conan O'Brien NBC Reruns began on November 5, 2007.[35] New episodes began without writers on January 2, 2008.[38] N/A N/A
February 15, 2008 with writers.
Late Show with David Letterman CBS Reruns began on November 5, 2007.[35] New shows began on January 2, 2008. N/A N/A Letterman's production company, Worldwide Pants, successfully negotiated a new collective bargaining agreement, so the show returned with its full complement of writing staff.[37]
Real Time with Bill Maher HBO Reruns began on November 9, 2007.[39] The sixth season premiered without writers on January 11, 2008. N/A N/A
February 15, 2008 with writers.
Greek ABC Family September 10, 2007 March 24, 2008 18 of 20[40]
Saturday Night Live NBC Reruns began November 10, 2007. February 23, 2008.[41] N/A N/A In mid-November, most of the production staff was laid off.[35][42]
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno NBC Reruns began on November 5, 2007.[35] January 2, 2008 (no writers).[43] N/A N/A
February 15, 2008 with writers.

Shows with shortened seasons

Even though production began again on some shows, they were unable to complete the full season originally ordered.

Show Season Network Date stopped Restart Episodes made before strike Episodes made after strike Notes
30 Rock 2 NBC January 10, 2008 April 10, 2008.[44] 10 of 22[45] 5[44] The cast performed a live show at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater in New York City which later resulted in the airing of a live broadcast episode entitled "Live Show" in 2010.[46]
Back to You 1 FOX February 27, 2008 April 16, 2008.[47] 9 of 24[20] 5
The Big Bang Theory 1 CBS November 12, 2007 March 17, 2008 8 of 22[48] 9
Bones 3 Fox December 11, 2007 April 14, 2008 13 of 23[49] 2
Boston Legal 4 ABC February 19, 2008 April 8, 2008 14 of 22 6[50]
Breaking Bad 1 AMC 7 of 9 0
Brothers & Sisters 2 ABC February 17, 2008 April 20, 2008[12] 12 of 23 4[12] [51]
Cold Case 5 CBS February 17, 2008 March 30, 2008 13 of 24[20] 5
Criminal Minds 3 CBS January 23, 2008 April 2, 2008. 13 of 25[52] 7
CSI 8 CBS January 10, 2008 April 3, 2008 11 of 24 6[53]
CSI: Miami 6 CBS January 14, 2008 March 24, 2008 13 of 24[20] 8
CSI: NY 4 CBS February 6, 2008 April 2, 2008 14 of 24[20] 7
Desperate Housewives 4 ABC January 6, 2008 April 13, 2008 10 of 23 7
Dirt 2 FX 7 of 13 2
ER 14 NBC January 17, 2008 April 10, 2008 13 of 22[20][54] 6
Family Guy 6 Fox February 17, 2008 April 27, 2008 9 of 22 3 Show runner Seth MacFarlane said (Lois Kills Stewie) was the last episode produced under his watch and no more new episodes were ready after that.[55] However, Fox completed the three episodes written, voiced and animated for the production cycle without MacFarlane's final approval.
Frank TV 1 TBS December 18, 2007 5 of 8 0
Friday Night Lights 2 NBC February 8, 2008 15 of 22[15] 0
The Game 2 The CW February 4, 2008 March 23, 2008[16] 11 of 22[12] 9[56]
Ghost Whisperer 3 CBS January 18, 2008 April 4, 2008 12 of 22[20] 6
Gossip Girl 1 The CW January 9, 2008 April 21, 2008[16] 13 of 22[20] 5
Grey's Anatomy 4 ABC January 10, 2008 April 24, 2008 11 of 23 5[12]
Heroes 2 NBC December 3, 2007 September 22, 2008 11 of 24 0
House 4 Fox February 5, 2008 April 28, 2008[57] 12 of 24 4[57]
How I Met Your Mother 3 CBS December 10, 2007 March 17, 2008 11 of 22[12] 9
King of the Hill 12 Fox 21 of 22[20]
Las Vegas 5 NBC February 15, 2008 19 of 22 0[58] Fan campaign underway to get a proper resolution.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit 9 NBC January 22, 2008 April 15, 2008 14 of 22[20] 5
Lipstick Jungle 1 NBC March 20, 2008 7 of 13[20] 0
Lost 4 ABC March 20, 2008 April 24, 2008 8 of 16[59] 6 Two episodes lost to the strike added to season 5 and 6 respectively.[60]
Medium 4 NBC 9 of 22[26]
NCIS 5 CBS January 15, 2008 April 8, 2008 11 of 24[20] 7[53]
The New Adventures of Old Christine 3 CBS March 17, 2008 March 24, 2008 8 of 13[12] 2
Nip/Tuck 5 FX 14 of 22[61]
Numb3rs 4 CBS January 18, 2008 April 4, 2008. 12 of 24[26] 6
The Office (US) 4 NBC November 15, 2007 April 10, 2008 8 of 25[62] 6[63]
One Tree Hill 5 The CW March 18, 2008 April 14, 2008 12 of 22 6[64]
Prison Break 3 FOX February 18, 2008 13 of 22[20] 0 Returned for the fourth season.[65]
Reaper 1 The CW December 4, 2007 March 13, 2008 13 of 22 5.
The Riches 2 FX 7 of 13 4
Rules of Engagement 2 CBS November 19, 2007 April 24, 2008 9 of 22[12] 4
Samantha Who? 1 ABC December 10, 2007 April 7, 2008 12 of 22[20] 3
Shark 2 CBS January 22, 2007 April 29, 2008 12 of 22[20] 4
The Simpsons 19 Fox 22 of 23[66]
Smallville 7 The CW March 27, 2008 April 17, 2008[57] 15 of 22[67] 5[57]
Supernatural 3 The CW February 21, 2008 April 24, 2008[16] 12 of 22[20] 4
'Til Death 1 FOX November 28, 2007 March 25, 2008.[47] 12 of 22[20] 3
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles 1 Fox March 3, 2008 Fall 2008 9 of 13[20] 0 The second season was announced on April 22 and is due to be shown in the Fall.
Two and a Half Men 5 CBS November 26, 2008 March 17, 2008 10 of 24[20] 9
Ugly Betty 2 ABC January 24, 2008 April 24, 2008 13 of 23[20] 5
The Unit 3 CBS December 18, 2007 11 of 22[20] 0
Without a Trace 6 CBS January 17, 2008 April 3, 2008 12 of 24[20] 6

Shows postponed

The production on some shows was halted completely, to be restarted, most likely in the 2008-2009 season.

Show Network Date stopped Expected restart Episodes made and ordered Notes
24 FOX N/A January 2009.[68] 8 of 24[69] Delayed until January 2009. FOX announced a two-hour movie, 24: Redemption, that was shown on November 23, 2008 to bridge the year and a half gap between season 6 and season 7.
Battlestar Galactica Sci-Fi N/A 11 of 20 Only the front half (first ten) were planned to be aired in Spring 2008 season with an indefinite time (now more so) for the back half.[70][71]
Chuck NBC January 24, 2008 Fall of 2008. 13 of 22[72] The season was cut short.
Damages FX October 23, 2007 January 2009. 13 of 13 No episodes were written because the show was renewed the day after the strike began.
Dirty Sexy Money ABC December 5, 2007 Fall of 2008 13 of 22[20] It was renewed for 2008-09 season with no new episodes set to air until then. The last three episodes were pushed to the beginning of the next season.
Start delayed from June to Sept 2008.[73]
Hannah Montana Disney/ABC Season 2: 5 episodes remained. .[74]
Season 3: 4(Unknown how many remain to be produced)
Law & Order: Criminal Intent USA December 13, 2007 Summer of 2008 10 of 24 Currently repurposed on NBC. Originally scheduled for April, second half (12 episodes) delayed until summer.
Life NBC December 5, 2007 Fall of 2008. 11 of 22[20] The season was cut short.
Prison Break: Cherry Hill FOX N/A N/A No status reports for the spin-off were ever announced, and the project quietly ended before production began.
Private Practice ABC December 5, 2007 Fall of 2008 9 of 22[12] The season was cut short.
Pushing Daisies ABC December 12, 2007 Fall of 2008. 9 of 22[76] The season was cut short.
Rescue Me FX July 1, 2008 No episodes were written because the show was renewed the day after the strike began.

Shows cancelled during strike

Some shows cancelled during the strike were under threat of cancellation anyway. In other cases, shows were cancelled, or had their seasons shortened, because of the financial damage of the strike. Several television shows, including Journeyman, K-Ville, Big Shots, and Cavemen, were "quietly" cancelled, in part due to the writer's strike, and in part due to low ratings.[77]

Show Network Unaired Episodes Left Episodes made and ordered
Men in Trees ABC
19 of 27 ordered episodes were completed (5 leftover from Season 1 and 14 from Season 2).[12]
Big Shots[78] ABC 11 of 13.[12] First cancelled in December 2007, the series was later announced on the mid-season schedule, but was ultimately cancelled for good on May 13, 2008.[79]
Bionic Woman[78] NBC 8 of 13[20] Although rumored to have been cancelled following its eighth episode, media reports suggested that NBC-Universal intended to produce the remaining episodes of the 13-episode order. In March 2008, producer David Eick announced the series had been cancelled.[80]
Cavemen[78] ABC 13 of 13 Only 6 episodes aired;[12] the show was then cancelled.
Girlfriends The CW 13 of 22[81] Season 8 was announced as final before strike, no proper final episode to be produced.
Journeyman[78] NBC All 13 episodes completed.[20] The series was not renewed by NBC.[82]
K-Ville Fox[78] 11 out of 13[26] Production shut down and not present on Fox's spring schedule.[83]
Life is Wild The CW 13 of 13 The CW did not renew it; production was filmed in South Africa so it was not under WGA purview.[12][84]
The Return of Jezebel James Fox 7 of 13 Due to low ratings, cancelled after 3 episodes
The Suite Life of Zack & Cody Disney/ABC writing halted[85] The most likely answer to the show's cancellation is due to the creation of its direct sequel, The Suite Life on Deck.[86]
Welcome to The Captain CBS 6 of 6 Only 5 episodes aired.[20]
Notes From the Underbelly ABC
5 episodes (from the first season) were shot, only 10 of the planned 13 new episodes were made. Only 2 of the 10 were shown.
The 4400 USA Network
Cancelled despite the fourth season's cliff-hanger.[87]

Unknown post-strike effects

There is still not enough known information about the following shows to categorize the effects on them.

Network Show Unaired Episodes Left Notes
Disney Channel Wizards of Waverly Place
Writing halted.
Cartoon Network Out of Jimmy's Head
Writing halted.
Disney Channel Cory in the House
Writing halted.
HBO Big Love
Writing halted.
Tell Me You Love Me
Season one complete, DVD releasing February 12, 2008, second season renewed, but renewal was after strike began.
True Blood
Started airing first season on September 7, 2008
Lifetime Army Wives
Writing halted.
Blood Ties
Writing halted.
Cheerleader Nation
Status is currently unknown.
Side Order of Life
Writing halted.
State of Mind
Writing halted.
The N The Best Years
Season one completed its run during the summer. No word on season two.
Beyond the Break
Season 3 eventually aired in 2009.
Nickelodeon Just Jordan
Writing halted.
SpongeBob SquarePants
Several writers fired. Speed of scripting slowed.[88]
TBS The Bill Engvall Show
10 episodes are to be produced, unknown how many are written.[20]
My Boys
8 episodes are to be produced, unknown how many are written.[20]

Strike effect by type of show

Prime-time series

Talk shows

Late night comedy shows such as The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Late Show with David Letterman, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and Saturday Night Live began airing reruns immediately.[94] Last Call resumed airing on December 3, with host Carson Daly explaining that if he did not do so, his staff would have been fired. On January 2, 2008, the Tonight Show and Late Night returned on NBC with new episodes.[95] Conan O'Brien stated, "An unwritten version of 'Late Night,' though not desirable, is possible -- and no one has to be fired."[96]

2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike
Effects on Television
Related groups

On November 12, 2007, instead of a recent episode, NBC aired an episode of The Tonight Show from November 17, 2003.[97][98] Beginning the week of November 26, The Tonight Show began continuously airing "vintage" episodes.[99][100] The Tonight Show was reportedly planning to air new episodes beginning November 19, having guest hosts to fill in for Jay Leno.[101] This did not occur, however.

Several talk show hosts who refused to do their shows announced that they would pay non-striking staff members out of their own pockets through the end of the year, including David Letterman[102] and Conan O'Brien. Jay Leno was chided when NBC fired his non-striking staff, after he promised them they would not have to worry about their jobs. Leno later announced that he would also pay his staff for the next 2 weeks starting December 2, 2007.

David Letterman and his Worldwide Pants, Inc. production company broke ranks with the networks and negotiated its own independent contract with the WGA in late 2007. The deal was independent and only between the production company and the union, and allowed the company to start new shows in 2008.[103]


Although many animated series employ union writers, there is no requirement to do so. For instance, the writers of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, were not union members, and the show remained in production during the strike.[104] The episode "Canada on Strike" was written as a parody of the WGA strike.

Movies, such as High School Musical 3: Senior Year, were directly affected by the strike, including those filmed on location. However, the strike did not affect reality shows such as American Idol, whose episodes are unscripted, or news programs, whose writers belong to a different guild.[105] Nevertheless, newswriters at CBS News and at local CBS owned-and-operated television stations (as well as CBS Radio news entities) were subject to the threat of a different strike action by the WGA. CBS News writers under the WGA had been without a contract with the network since April 2005[106] until a contract was agreed to on January 9, 2008.[107]

Similarly, some game shows, such as Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? and The Price Is Right, were not affected because they are unscripted, other than the questions and the prize descriptions (and in Price's case, Showcase skits); by contrast, Sony Pictures' Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, and Disney's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire had their quiz questions researched and written by WGA writers under deals with their producers. The first season of the game show Duel premiered on December 17, 2007 and ended on December 23, 2007; the first season of the show was the only game show, and thus the only strike-replacement program, that was affected by the strike. The second season premiered on April 4, 2008 and ended on July 25, 2008, with an 8-week break between May 2 and June 27.[108] A revival of American Gladiators was launched sooner than originally scheduled, with taping in November 2007 that aired in January 2008. Other game, contest and reality shows launched sooner than originally scheduled in order to minimize the amount of scripted-program reruns, and CBS commissioned an order of six episodes of The Price Is Right $1,000,000 Spectacular, the first in the primetime series with new host Drew Carey (who took over hosting duties that season), which later resulted in four additional episodes later in the season. This resulted in drastic mid-season set changes that allowed the show to switch to high-definition television, initially with these episodes, and the daytime show switched for the start of the next season.[109]

While the strike had no effect on sporting events (which are unscripted), the strike also did not affect scripted professional wrestling, as both World Wrestling Entertainment and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling had in-house ununionized writers. WWE, which had a contract with NBC Universal and aired the biennial WWE Saturday Night's Main Event on the parent network, offered up additional wrestling shows for NBC if needed.[110]

Nightline was the only late-night network program to benefit in the Nielsen ratings from the writers strike. As well, many ABC, and some Fox, affiliates won their late news timeslots as a result of the strike, with most ending winning streaks of the local CBS or NBC affiliates. Among these ABC and Fox affiliates were KABC-TV in Los Angeles, WCVB in Boston, WFAA in Dallas, WTTG in Washington, KSTU in Salt Lake City, KMSP in Minneapolis, KTVI in St. Louis, KOMO-TV in Seattle and WXYZ-TV in Detroit.

See also


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