Cops, the longest-running reality show in TV history, finally came to an end this week when Paramount Network revealed that they had no plans to return the series to the airwaves. Now, local TV stations are pulling Cops re-runs from their schedules amid global civil unrest kicked off by the killing of a Black man at the hands of four police officers in Minneapolis earlier this month. Disney Media Networks, who distribute the series as a result of their 2019 buyout of Twentieth Television, is reportedly working with local affiliates to find suitable replacement programming given the sudden nature of the decision to leave a long-running show behind.
While Live PD, which was also cancelled this week, has been a huge ratings hit for A+E, Cops's best ratings days are behind it, making its cancellation something of a symbolic gesture. It is likely that is part of what is driving local affiliates to abandon the series.
With more than 1,000 episodes of programming, Cops is often used to fill time in smaller markets that don't create a lot of original content. Deadline, who broke the news, report that WGN America, which runs Cops re-runs overnight and on the weekends, will not renew their license for the series when it expires at the end of the month. One possible replacement Disney is offering is Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?.
Cops ran on Fox for 25 years, before being moved from the Fox schedule in 2013 and heading to Spike TV, which later became Paramount Network in 2018. Cops's time at Spike and Paramount has been controversial; this is not the first time the series has drawn the ire of culture critics following a high profile police brutality case. In 2014, police in Omaha, Nebraska opened fire on a suspect in the robbery of a Wendy's restaurant. They hit the suspect several times but also shot and killed an audio technician who worked on Cops. A wrongful death suit filed by the technician's brother in 2016 is still ongoing.
In 2019, Dan Tabersky -- a former Daily Show producer and documentary filmmaker -- released a six-part investigative podcast called Running From Cops, which explored various criticisms (moral and legal) leveled at the show.
For the time being, the series remains on in many markets. The Cops-branded portal on Pluto TV (owned by ViacomCBS, owners of Paramount Network) is still open, airing Cops on a loop, as of this writing.
Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.