Hollywood writers are picking up their pencils.
After almost five months, the writers strike has come to an end after the Writers Guild of America reached a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for a new contract. Union members still have to ratify the deal, but that's widely expected to happen, and pending the ratification vote, the WGA officially lifted the strike effective Sept. 27.
When the strike began, some shows quickly went dark, while others that were in the writing process halted. So now that the strike is wrapping up, which shows can viewers expect to see back on the air first, and which will take longer?
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
When will late-night shows return?
The major late-night shows are all set to return shortly.
"The Late Show With Stephen Colbert," "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," "Late Night With Seth Meyers," and "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" have each announced they will be back with a new episode on Monday, Oct. 2. Meanwhile, HBO's "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" will return on Sunday, Oct. 1.
Additionally, HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" will be back with a new episode on Sept. 29. Maher was already planning to return without his writers before delaying the premiere when it appeared an agreement to end the strike might be imminent.
"The Daily Show" will also return to Comedy Central on Oct. 16 and use guest hosts for the rest of 2023 before naming a new permanent host in 2024, according to Deadline.
When will daytime talk shows return?
Numerous daytime talk shows are also expected to be back almost immediately, including "The Drew Barrymore Show." Some of these programs were already eying returns without WGA writers until those plans were delayed due to backlash.
With the strike ending, "The Talk," "The Drew Barrymore Show," "The Jennifer Hudson Show" and "The Kelly Clarkson Show" are eying October returns, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which reports some will likely "be back on the air before the late-night shows." However, because the actors strike remains ongoing, none of these shows will be able to have guests on to promote film or TV projects unless those productions have received a SAG-AFTRA waiver.
When will 'Saturday Night Live' return?
The return of "Saturday Night Live" is more complicated. As Variety explains, "SNL" is covered under a contract that isn’t affected by the actors strike, meaning its cast may return after the WGA strike's end. But Deadline notes some "SNL" stars, not to mention potential hosts, might not want to participate in solidarity with their fellow performers still on strike. Despite this, Deadline reports the sketch show will likely return on Oct. 7 or Oct. 14 and could utilize non-actors as hosts.
When will scripted dramas and comedies return?
Scripted dramas and comedies that were in the writing phase of production pre-strike could get up and running immediately. For some, it may not initially be an issue that the actors strike is ongoing, as filming wasn't imminent anyway.
One of these programs is "The Last of Us," as the second season was being written when the strike began, and co-creator Craig Mazin has said only one episode was submitted before the deadline. "The strike has not yet been officially lifted, but the second it is, we will spring into action," Mazin said earlier this week. "Abbott Elementary" and "Yellowjackets" were also both just getting started with writing pre-strike.
Then there are the shows that were about to start filming when the writers strike started. Except for any writing that was left to finish, those will remain shut down, as cameras can't start rolling until the actor's strike is also over. The most prominent example is "Stranger Things," which was believed to be gearing up to start shooting over the summer before the strikes. "Hacks" is among the series that also halted filming.
But in terms of broadcast shows, executives who spoke with Deadline estimated procedurals like "NCIS" that don't require as much post-production as an HBO series could "be back on air early to mid-March." However, this depends on actors being ready to work by the middle of November. If actors have an agreement with the studios by the end of October, a "13-episode network season could still be saved," former "Law & Order: SVU" showrunner Warren Leight said on X, formerly Twitter.
Negotiations between the AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA haven't yet resumed, though given the writers and actors unions shared some of the same concerns, experts believe the actors’ strike could be resolved relatively quickly.
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.