Revisionist history happens. With everything. So it’s no surprise that it happens with TV show renewals, too. Some have suggested that NBC might give Awake the Chuck treatment because that’s just how NBC rolls. But that isn’t how NBC rolls.
For most of it’s run, Chuck’s ratings were neither awful nor great relative to the rest of NBC’s scripted shows. By its fourth season things were worse, but things were worse for NBC too, and Chuck still managed to perform at about 83% of NBC’s scripted average. More importantly, at the end of its fourth season Chuck was a mere 10 episodes away from 88 episodes which is what is considered the minimum “magic number” these days for stripped syndication (where show’s can be aired every day, Monday-Friday).
At the end of its first season Awake will be 75 episodes away from syndication which is to say, a long, long, long way from syndication.
Some will say “but Awake is performing at 85% of NBC’s scripted average!” That was true through last week, but it’ll be closer to 80% than 85% after last night’s episode (which drew another preliminary 0.9 adults 18–49) and is misleading since Awake hasn’t aired many episodes. The first week performed above average and the next two weeks were about average. Since then it’s been well below average so that 85% of NBC’s scripted original average will go lower very rapidly and without a remarkable ratings turnaround, there’s not much chance it will end the season at even 80% of NBC’s scripted average. For a first season show, far, far from syndication, that equals canceled.