Can ‘The Goldbergs’ Survive Jeff Garlin’s Ouster – and Sinking Ratings?

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Recently fired star didn’t think ABC sitcom would make Season 10 with or without him


“The Goldbergs” is down a Goldberg following this week’s firing of TV dad Jeff Garlin, which leaves the future of ABC’s long-running comedy in perilous shape.

Garlin had been part of the show’s main cast from its 2013 premiere through its ongoing ninth season, playing Murray Goldberg, father of the Goldberg family. It’s not currently known how the show will deal with the actor’s sudden absence. The cast and crew were informed of the decision to part ways with Garlin on Wednesday afternoon.

Sony did not respond to TheWrap’s questions regarding the show’s production status — including how many episodes are left to shoot this season. ABC declined to comment for this story.

Like many broadcast shows, “The Goldbergs” is taking its usual holiday hiatus and is expected to return to production sometime early next year. Most broadcast shows wrap their seasons in late March or early April, so that leaves only a handful of episodes left to shoot. A source with knowledge of the production told TheWrap that the show has a few more episodes filmed with Garlin in the can, so he’ll appear on the next few when “The Goldbergs” returns in early January, which will give the writing staff time to figure out how to end his character’s storyline.

Much like “Mom” was for CBS, “The Goldbergs” has been a reliable performer for ABC, kicking off the network’s comedy lineup on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. The show hit its high point in both total viewers and ratings in the key adults 18-49 demo in Season 2, averaging 9.3 million viewers and a 3.1 rating (all including 7 days of delayed viewing, which is Nielsen’s standard metric these days).

Like pretty much all other shows that air on linear television, “The Goldbergs” has seen its Nielsen-counted viewership decline by more than 50% since that high point in the 2014-15 TV season. Its demo rating has sunk by two-thirds. “The Goldbergs” currently ranks 61st (out of 118 shows) across all of broadcast television in total viewers. It’s tied for 41st in the key demo ratings.

The sitcom’s last full season averaged 4.4 million viewers and a 0.9 rating. Through Dec. 5, the current ninth season is averaging a series-worst 4.04 million viewers and an 0.8 rating. Those numbers looks bad on paper — and they’re not great — but this is pretty much how linear television has gone in recent years.

But while “The Goldbergs” has held up relatively well, Garlin himself did not seem confident that the show would be renewed for a 10th season. “My gut feeling is we won’t be back next year,” the actor told Vanity Fair earlier this month in an interview in which he acknowledged that “there has been an HR investigation on me the past three years. HR has come to me three years in a row for my behavior on set.”

There is precedent for a show to continue without one of its main stars. Anna Faris left CBS’ “Mom” ahead of its eight season, with the network rejiggering the show around co-star Allison Janney. But the retooled show lasted only one more season.

While the specific reason for Garlin’s exit has not been made public, Vanity Fair cited unnamed former employees of the show who alleged that Garlin “engaged in a pattern of verbal and physical conduct on set that made people uncomfortable.” (In the story, the actor, who also appears on HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” admitted that he had said “inappropriate, silly things on set” and to hugging people occasionally but added, “HR has never said a word to me about hugs.”)

ABC has not made a decision on any of its series for next season, but “Black-ish,” which has often been paired with “The Goldbergs” over the years, is ending after the upcoming eighth season.

See the full season-by-season ratings track for “The Goldbergs” below.

Season 1: 6.921 million total viewers/2.6 rating
Season 2: 9.270 million total viewers/3.1 rating
Season 3: 8.691 million total viewers/3.0 rating
Season 4: 7.752 million total viewers/2.5 rating
Season 5: 7.197 million total viewers/2.1 rating
Season 6: 6.375 million total viewers/1.7 rating
Season 7: 5.305 million total viewers/1.3 rating
Season 8: 4.367 million total viewers/0.9 rating
Season 9 (through Dec. 5, 2021): 4.038 million total viewers/0.8 rating