Some things in TV are certain: NCIS and Glee will return next season; Lone Star will not. Such certainty of fate is rare in TV land, however. The norm is perpetual doubt — particularly for so-called “bubble” shows, whose borderline ratings are neither strong enough to merit early renewal nor weak enough to result in a quick exit. So what does the future hold for the Big Four networks’ crop of shows currently in limbo? Vulture has crunched the numbers and analyzed the schedule grids to judge the fates of nearly 30 broadcast series, and then, to be sure, ran them through our patented Bubble Meter to officially rate their likelihood of survival, from Jimmy Smits’s Outlaw (definite cancellation) to Sofia Vergara’s Modern Family (a renewal gimme).
Procedural note: Not on our list are series already renewed or canceled; veteran hits whose renewals are formalities (CSI) or subject to contract negotiations (Desperate Housewives, House); reality shows (which can quickly be revived and are thus rarely 100 percent dead); and animated Fox series (which are commissioned so far in advance that their cancellations are often delayed). We’ve also skipped anything on the CW — its relatively tiny viewership and complicated ownership structure make renewal forecasts tricky, though we’ll tell you right now that Gossip Girl, 90210, and The Vampire Diaries will all be back.)
We’ll update this slideshow between now and May, when the networks will make their final decisions on who lives, who dies, and who ends up on DirecTV.