Annie “Rebel” Bello’s fight to save what she believes in is over. Despite fans’ efforts to keep it alive, Rebel will not be returning on a new platform after ABC canceled the show. Rebel creator Kistra Vernoff, who also serves as showrunner on Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19, confirmed efforts to revive the show have failed. The series, which starred Katey Sagal as an activist inspired by Erin Brockovich, was canceled in May before the show’s first and only season finished airing.
“THANK YOU to the fans behind the #SaveRebel campaign. Your passion was incredible,” Vernoff tweeted on Monday. “We have learned there won’t be a Season 2, but we truly hope Rebel & the extraordinary [Brockovich] will continue to inspire you to fight the good fight in your communities and in your lives.”
THANK YOU to the fans behind the #SaveRebel campaign. Your passion was incredible. We have learned there won’t be a Season 2, but we truly hope Rebel & the extraordinary @ErinBrockovich will continue to inspire you to fight the good fight in your communities and in your lives.
— Krista Vernoff (@KristaVernoff) August 16, 2021
Rebel debuted in April and was canceled after only five episodes aired. Although the show started off with low ratings, Vernoff’s involvement and its strong cast led some to think the show could survive low ratings and earn a second season. After all, Vernoff plays a key role in two of ABC’s most important shows and Segal is a beloved television star. Segal also stars on ABC’s The Conners as the girlfriend of John Goodman’s Dan Conner.
A few days after the show was canceled, ABC chief Craig Erwich defended the decision in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. He praised Vernoff as “brilliant” and noted they gave the show a “really big launch,” but the show didn’t find the large audience at the speed ABC hoped. “We tried to give the decision and the show every benefit of the doubt, but ultimately we just couldn’t find a path forward,” he said.
Erwich also defended ABC’s choice to cancel the show before the first season even finished. He suggested that five episodes gave the network enough of a sample size to decide its future. “Part of the process was examining the behavior in terms of on-demand viewing and catch up,” he said. “How is it performing days after its performance on multiplatform viewing? And there was just not a trend there toward continuing to build the audience. Ultimately that’s what led to a very difficult decision.”
Once it became clear that Disney was not going to move Rebel to Hulu, the studio behind the show, ABC Signature, sought other venues. In July, Deadline reported that IMDb TV might be interested in a second season after the platform became the home of the show’s first season. IMDb TV’s deal with ABC included the option to pick it up for a second season, and there was still an option to pick up Sagal’s contract at that point. Based on Vernoff’s tweet though, it looks like IMDb TV chose not to order a second season.