One season later, is Chicago Justice the one NBC let get away?

CHICAGO JUSTICE -- Episode Pilot -- Pictured: (l-r) Philip Winchester as Peter Stone, Carl Weathers as Mark Jeffries -- (Photo by: Matt Dinerstein/NBC)
CHICAGO JUSTICE -- Episode Pilot -- Pictured: (l-r) Philip Winchester as Peter Stone, Carl Weathers as Mark Jeffries -- (Photo by: Matt Dinerstein/NBC) /

Chicago Justice lost out when NBC filled its primetime schedule. One season later, how did those bubble shows that beat it fare in comparison?

When NBC canceled Chicago Justice last May, the explanation network executives gave was that there just wasn’t room on the network’s schedule.

NBC was in a forgiving mood last spring as it handed out additional seasons to several shows that were struggling in the ratings, which had the side effect of taking away places for Justice to come back for a second season.

Now that the subsequent TV season is over, we’ve decided to test that theory by checking how those other shows did this season.

We’ll compare their ratings, as well as the ratings of Chicago Justice‘s replacement and the other One Chicago shows, to what Justice earned in its first season to see if our favorite legal drama was short-changed—or just came up short.

More from One Chicago Center

Here are the shows that NBC renewed over Chicago Justice, in alphabetical order, with their current fate and ratings info:


Status: Renewed for a fourth season

How it fared: Blindspot continued to struggle in its third season, but earned another fairly surprising renewal last month. Stuck on Friday nights, the show’s highest rated episode was its season 3 premiere with 4.13 million live viewers. The season finale pulled in just 2.98 million.

For comparison, the lowest-rated episode of Chicago Justice had 4.88 million live viewers.

Justice‘s average live audience (6.05 million eyeballs) was bigger than the combined live plus DVR audience of all but one Blindspot season 3 episode.

Law & Order: SVU

Status: Renewed for a 20th season

How it fared: Dick Wolf‘s last remaining Law & Order series made a solid companion to Chicago PD on Wednesday nights, with the SVU season 19 ratings generally between 5-6 million viewers per episode. In a head-to-head comparison between the 13 episodes of Justice and the first 13 installments of SVU this fall, nine of SVU‘s episodes were higher-rated than the equivalent Justice episode.

However, 12 of the 24 episodes of SVU had audiences smaller than Justice’s average audience, so we can probably call this one a push. Plus, the show picked up Philip Winchester to reprise his role as Peter Stone, and we’re very glad that it did.

Shades of Blue

Status: Ending after the current third season; has yet to air its third season

How it fared: This one’s a bit frustrating, because NBC renewed the Jennifer Lopez-led cop drama only to decide to end it after this season. So Shades of Blue took away a potential spot for Justice that it’s giving up anyway. The series hasn’t yet started its final season—it starts on June 17—so we can’t do a numbers comparison yet.

But looking at the ratings for its second season, all but one episode of Shades of Blue brought in less viewers than the lowest-rated episode of Chicago Justice. Its season 2 premiere had 5.25 million watchers, and no other episode passed 4.84 million.

According to NBC’s renewal announcement, Shades of Blue passes 7 million viewers once DVR viewing is factored in—but that would still only put it about a million eyeballs over Justice‘s 6.07 million live viewing average.


Status: Cancelled

How it fared: Many TV viewers wondered why NBC didn’t cancel Taken a year ago, because it completely overhauled the series for its second season, changing most of the main cast in a near-total revamp. It didn’t help; the show eventually lost its Friday at 9 p.m. time slot and got sent to Saturdays, before it was quietly cancelled last month.

There are still three episodes of Taken season 2 to air, so ratings data is incomplete. However, of the episodes that have aired, it’s no surprise to say that they have all been lower-rated than the episodes of Chicago Justice. The latest episode on May 2 had just 2.06 million live viewers. It was sixth out of the eight broadcast TV programs that aired Saturday night.


Status: Fate to be determined

How it fared: TV fans campaigned hard to resurrect Timeless, as the sci-fi show was actually canceled by NBC before the network reversed its decision and ordered a second season. But the fans didn’t entirely show up for the new episodes.

Timeless was also on Sunday nights, taking the 10 p.m. spot that was occupied by Shades of Blue when Justice was on. Its highest-rated episode was its season premiere bringing in 2.97 million live eyeballs.

Its two-hour May 13 season finale, which started in Chicago Justice‘s 9 p.m. slot, only had 2.54 million live viewers for the first part and 2.28 million for the second hour. They were ranked tenth and 11th out of 17 broadcast TV programs on the night. NBC hasn’t made a decision on Timeless yet, but it doesn’t look good.

Trial & Error

Status: Fate to be determined; has yet to air its second season

How it fared: The comedy’s second season won’t start until July 19. But for comparison, only two of its first-season episodes scored higher than the lowest episode of Justice. The entire second half of its season (episodes 6-12) were all under 4 million live viewers.

Based on this information, NBC’s decision not to renew Chicago Justice looks like it didn’t pan out. Of the six bubble shows that the network picked up instead, four have aired new seasons this fall and three had significantly worse ratings than Justice.

Only one series that’s aired compared favorably, and that’s the other Dick Wolf show with a 19-season long audience! Plus, two of the bubble shows (or one-third of the group) are either ended or ending.

But wait—that’s not where the comparisons end. Let’s see how Justice stacks up compared to the show it was replaced by, and the surviving three One Chicago shows which were renewed for next season.

Chicago Justice‘s time slot on NBC’s schedule was taken by the reality TV series Genius Junior, in which Neil Patrick Harris tests child geniuses in a variety of games. In its 10 episodes from March 10 to May 13, nine of them had less than 5 million viewers. Its last four were all under 3 million.

Among the One Chicago shows, Justice would have come in third based on live average. Its 6.03 million is less than Med (6.59 million) and PD (6.32 million) and more than Fire (5.91 million).

Watch One Chicago on fuboTV: Watch over 67 live sports and entertainment channels with a 7-day FREE trial!

That’s not great, but it’s not terrible either. Chicago Fire was renewed with that lower average, and Justice is still within the same 6 million range of the other two shows—albeit the very low end. It would have needed to step it up in a second season, but it wasn’t a totally lost cause.

Next: Where are the Chicago Justice stars now?

Looking at the TV ratings data with the benefit of hindsight, the case is there to say that Chicago Justice deserved a second season and even if its numbers did not improve, it would have been a stronger performer for NBC than the other bubble series and the show that took its place.

The silver lining is that three of the main cast members are on other shows now, and all of them are working; click the link above to see what they’re up to now and file this one under “shows that got away.”