The Mole
Source: ABC

Why Did ABC Cancel 'The Mole'? Find Out Why The Series Was Axed

Brittany Frederick - Author
By

Oct. 17 2022, Published 9:26 p.m. ET

Netflix viewers are enjoying The Mole Season 6, which is the first season of the mystery competition series in 14 years. That's naturally prompting many of them to ask the question of why the series went off the air in the first place.

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The Mole was a phenomenon when it debuted on ABC in 2001, keeping audiences on the edge of their seats. Between Anderson Cooper (yes, that Anderson Cooper) hosting in awesomely dramatic fashion and viewers guessing at which of the show's contestants was undermining their fellow players, the series was something special. Yet it had a rocky time on broadcast TV before resurfacing on Netflix.

Why was The Mole's history as wild as the series itself? Read on to find out.

Anderson Cooper
Source: Getty Images

Anderson Cooper

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How long did 'The Mole' air on ABC?

The Mole premiered on ABC in January 2001, with Cooper presiding over a group of civilian contestants. Their job was to earn as much money as possible while also identifying which one of them was sabotaging their efforts. The second season premiered in September 2001, capitalizing on the show's popularity with a quick turnaround and by expanding the field from 10 to 14 players.

However, after that whirlwind run, ABC seemed to slow down on its promotion of the show. Season 3 didn't premiere until 2003, and the show was revamped at that point. Cooper was replaced by NFL veteran Ahmad Rashad and the series was reimagined as Celebrity Mole. As that title indicates, the cast members were now celebrities playing for charity.

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When the two celebrity seasons didn't garner a huge audience either, another hiatus followed. ABC brought The Mole back one last time in 2008 and returned to the show's original format. Jon Kelley took over as the third host. However, the series didn't recapture its former glory, though having inconsistent premiere dates over its ultimately seven-year run didn't help!

Ahmad Rashad
Source: Getty Images

Ahmad Rashad

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Why did 'The Mole' get canceled on ABC?

The Mole suffered the same fate as many other TV series, unscripted or not — it was canceled due to low ratings. Season 5's premiere drew a respectable 4.73 million live viewers, but by the season finale, that number had petered out to under 3 million. Even with DVR viewing added in, that number only went up to 3.09 million, according to TV Series Finale.

With little growth from the DVR audience, and already having tried to revamp the series once by turning it into Celebrity Mole, ABC likely didn't see a future for The Mole. It's a shame, because as the Netflix revival has proven, there's interest in the format, even 20 years since that first episode.

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Source: Netflix

But with the seasons not airing consistently and the changing of format and hosts, The Mole never really had a chance to find its legs. If it had, it could have been a reality TV powerhouse like Survivor or The Amazing Race. Hopefully the Netflix reboot will hang on for more than one season.

The Mole Season 6 streaming now on Netflix. Seasons 1 and 2 are also available on Netflix.

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