It’s not a big surprise to anyone to know that Star Trek: Enterprise struggled to find a fanbase during its four years on the air. With the ratings sagging, network executives thought it was time for a change in the series’ third season and came up with the plan to have Scott Bakula’s character, Captain Jonathan Archer, sacrifice himself to save Earth at the end of season three. It was their opinion that a younger captain would inflate the ratings and possibly even save the show.
During season three, Captain Archer did come close to losing his life while attempting to save Earth from the Xindi weapon, but fans were unaware that there was a danger of losing Scott Bakula. Fortunately, the showrunners fought against the idea, feeling that eliminating Bakula would basically be admitting defeat and saying the show was terrible and needed fixing with a fresh face.
While some fans will tell you that Enterprise was the worst of the series, using its early cancelation as proof, others have declared the series to be one of their favorites. They point out that you can’t go strictly by cancelation as ratings don’t always matter. Plenty of television shows have been canceled even though they were drawing in a decent amount of viewers. Terra Nova, the sci-fi drama set back in prehistoric times, comes to mind. The show brought in 10.1 million viewers but was still canceled after its first season due to the cost of production.
And while there will always be debate as to whether or not Enterprise deserved to be canceled, there is no doubt that it has found more fans now than it did while it was on air from 2001-2005, thanks to streaming. And I doubt if any fan of the series would have liked it as much if Captain Archer had been killed at the end of season three.