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The Real Reason Why Hatfields & McCoys Was Canceled

The Real Reason Why Hatfields & McCoys Was Canceled

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Hatfields & McCoys premiered in 2012 as a History Channel original series. The acclaimed show received positive feedback for its top-notch performances and riveting story, taking home multiple awards.

Hatfields & McCoys tells the story of the real-life feud of the Hatfield and McCoy families in the years after the Civil War. The series featured a star-studded cast, including Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton, and Tom Berenger.

The action-packed series generated a large interest in the epic feud of the real Hatfield and McCoy families. But if the series was so successful, why didn’t it continue? Could there be a spin-off to the series?

We answer these questions and more in the below guide to Hatfields & McCoys.

Why Was Hatfields & McCoys Canceled?

Hatfields & McCoys wasn’t canceled because it was only ever intended to last one season as a mini-series.

Hatfields & McCoys premiered in 2012 as a three-part special event, with each episode premiering on a separate day. Part one is 103 minutes, part two is 99 minutes, and part three is 89 minutes.

The show was very successful as a single miniseries. It received 16 Emmy Award nominations, the most for a History Channel show at the time. It won five, including two for the performances of Kevin Costner and Tom Berenger.

Main cast and characters from the Hatfields & McCoys TV show

The show also drew the largest-ever ratings for a History Channel program as well as being one of the biggest mini-series in cable TV history.

But as a mini-series, the History Channel likely never intended Hatfield & McCoys to receive a second season. The writers intended the story to last just three episodes, spanning a total of 290 minutes.

In addition, because it’s a true story, it doesn’t end with a cliffhanger or mystery. Instead, it finishes with the final bloody battle between the two families. It also includes a brief epilogue explaining how the families officially ended the feud in 2003.

In short, the History Channel didn’t cancel Hatfields & McCoys at all, but instead it finished its story as intended.

Will There Be A New Hatfields & McCoys Series?

There is no sequel or spin-off to the History Channel’s Hatfields & McCoys. It was a stand-alone miniseries that told the history of the famous “family feud.”

According to Deadline, NBC was looking to develop a modern-day version of the Hatfield-McCoy story. John Glenn, writer of 2008’s Eagle Eye, created the project and Charlize Theron was reportedly attached as a producer.

Unfortunately, NBC passed over the project for 2013, and nothing else has come of it since.

Kevin Costner in the Hatfields and McCoys TV series

In 2012, Lionsgate released Hatfield & McCoys: Bad Blood straight to DVD. It starred Jeff Fahey, Christian Slater, and Perry King. Despite the name and premise, it had nothing to do with the HBO miniseries.

In 2019, PBS aired an episode of American Experience about the Hatfield and McCoys. The episode, titled “The Feud,” was a documentary-like account of the history rather than a fictionalized version.

Earlier in 2023, Fox Nation released The Real Hatfields and McCoys: Forever Feuding.” This is a reality show that follows the real descendants of the original families. The network describes it as a “classic, light-hearted reality show” with a “unique twist.”

The show features the oldest living descendant of Devil Anse Hatfield, Nancy Justus. It also features relatives of the McCoy family named “Big Jim,” Courtney Quick, and Derek DeProspero.

The Real Hatfields and McCoys: Forever Feuding is the newest mainstream media surrounding the Hatfield-McCoy feud, albeit loosely.

Was The Hatfields & McCoys Series Accurate?

Hatfields & McCoys received praise for its realistic style but did take some liberties with the real history of the feud.

In the Los Angeles Times, Mary Macnamara described the sets and costumes as “so vivid you can smell the blue wood smoke and the stink of moonshine sweat.”

However, Macnamara also said, “When faced with a choice between historic detail and story, Hatfields & McCoys errs on the side of detail, which is both the series’ greatest strength and weakness.”

Characters aiming and firing shotguns in Hatfields and McCoys

She wasn’t the only one to feel that the miniseries may have over-dramatized history. The Wall Street Journal asked a history professor named Altina Waller about the show’s accuracy.

“In some ways the portrayal of mountain people in the post Civil War era is realistic,” Waller said, “in that it was a rural culture where everyone knew each other on a face to face [sic] basis.”

Waller is an expert on the Hatfield-McCoy conflict at the University of Connecticut, and even wrote a book on the subject.

“The film perpetuates the myth that the Hatfields and McCoys were two different entities, very clearly defined. In reality, there was a LOT of intermarriage.”

She does say that the miniseries accurately portrays Randall McCoy’s “obsession with Anse Hatfield’s success and his willingness to reject his daughter for her involvement with a Hatfield.”

Waller also praised Kevin Costner’s performance, saying he captured both the “arrogance and reasonableness of Devil Anse.”