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Why Was Fox’s Sleepy Hollow Canceled?

Why Was Fox’s Sleepy Hollow Canceled?

The Once Brilliant Show Was Axed After Four Seasons

In 2013, former television network Fox released a brilliant series for horror and history fans: Sleepy Hollow. Though many already know the legend of the Headless Horseman and Ichabod Crane, the series came with a twist—Crane wakes up 250 years into the future and must hunt down the belligerent horsemen in a completely new century. Unfortunately for the fans, a.k.a. “Sleepyheads,” the show was canceled after four years. Now that the series is available to stream on Hulu, OG viewers can’t help but wonder why this fan-favorite show was taken off the air. 

A Strong Beginning 

The story of Crane (Tom Mison) and Lieutenant Abigail “Abbie” Mills (Nicola Beharie) immediately gripped viewers. After going down on the battlefield during the American Revolution, Ichabod wakes up buried in a mysterious cave on the outskirts of the town of Sleepy Hollow in New York. He then meets Abbie, and they eventually join forces to catch the Headless Horseman. 

Throughout their quest to hunt down the horsemen, Ichabod and Abbie encounter multiple monsters along the way, and they later discover that they are the two witnesses of Revelation. Ichabod’s wife, Katrina (Katia Winter), unveils herself to be a witch, whose powers can help him and Abbie defeat the demon Moloch later in the show. Meanwhile, Abbie’s sister, Jenny (Lydie Greenwood), also participates in helping the group fight off evil. 

Season 1 received high ratings and positive reviews from critics and audiences alike. So, its season 2 renewal came as no surprise to fans. However, Beharie eventually shocked audiences when she announced her departure after season 3. 

The Real Reason for This Cast Member’s Exit

Beharie handed in her lieutenant badge and gun after season 3 ended, shocking Sleepyheads. Though she left the series, Fox decided that the show must go on by replacing her character, which ultimately affected ratings. 

In 2020, Beharie spoke out about her departure and pointed out that she witnessed racial bias on the set. The 42 actress recalled an incident when she and Mison were both ill, but she had to shoot an episode while he was allowed to recover at home for a month. 

“My co-star and I were both sick at the same time but I don’t believe that we were treated equally,” Beharie explained. “He was allowed to go back to England for a month [to recover while] I was given episode 9 to shoot on my own. So I pushed through it and then by the end of that episode, I was in urgent care. And all the doctors, including the doctors that the studio was sending, were all confirming, ‘Hey, she can’t work right now.’”

Why Was Fox’s Sleepy Hollow Canceled?

Without mentioning any names, Beharie claimed that “some people [she] was working with didn’t like that [she] was unwell but loved by the audience.” The actress then dropped a major bombshell that sent fans into a spiral. 

“But everyone of color on that show was seen as expendable and eventually let go,” Beharie said at the time. 

It was unbelievable for the loyal Sleepyheads fanbase to learn that the series star experienced racism as the show’s strong, witty, tough and overall lovable Black female lead. However, a 2023 book by Maureen Ryan titled Burn It Down doubled down on Beharie’s story and detailed multiple conversations with ex-Sleepy Hollow production staff, some of whom claimed that the set was “miserable” and “hellish.” A few even noted that despite Mison and Beharie’s strong on-screen chemistry, the duo had quite the cold working relationship in reality. 

Not only that, but some former employees even claimed that several powerful people from the production accused Beharie of being difficult to work with. 

“Beharie’s behavior was weaponized against her in a way that Mison’s was not,” a former crew member said in the book. 

Why Sleepy Hollow Got Canceled

Although the cast and crew never cited Beharie’s exit as the reason behind the show’s cancellation, season 4 definitely fell into the abyss and suffered from low ratings and poor reviews. The series’ viewership tanked from its 10 million views in its debut to 2 million by the end of its fourth season. 

Since multiple crew members left the show over its four-year course, there’s no wonder why the viewership suffered—creative differences were noticeable in the writing, direction, and the storyline in general. Some believed that the show’s diversity decreased, while others blamed its writing and overall character changes. In the end though, most fans didn’t want to settle for a replacement of their favorite lieutenant. The show’s rapid changes, therefore, ultimately dragged it down.

Why Was Fox’s Sleepy Hollow Canceled?

Sleepy Hollow Official Fox Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Elisabeth joined Dead Talk News in 2022 and loves movies and TV! After working for various sites, including Screen Rant and Showbiz Cheat Sheet, Elisabeth joined DTN to critique and review various movies, from horror flicks to Disney live-actions.

Cailen Fienemann is a current student at Le Moyne College pursuing her BA in English and Communications with a film studies minor and a creative writing concentration.  Though uncertain about her career end-goals, any job that allows her to write is a cherished one indeed.