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Is Shades of Blue coming back?

Is Shades of Blue coming back?

Fans of the police drama Shades of Blue have been eagerly awaiting news about whether the show will return for a fourth season. The series starred Jennifer Lopez as Detective Harlee Santos, the leader of an elite unit of NYPD officers who also happened to be involved in corruption. Over the course of three seasons, Harlee tries to take down her unit’s illegitimate activities while also protecting herself and her crew. The show balanced tense police action with intricate personal drama, earning a loyal following. However, season 3 ended on a cliffhanger in 2018, leaving many questions unanswered. Since then, fans have been speculating about the show’s future.

Background on Shades of Blue

Shades of Blue first premiered on NBC in 2016. The network positioned it as a prestige project, with screen and music star Jennifer Lopez as the lead. Lopez portrayed Harlee Santos, a single mother who leads an anti-corruption task force within the NYPD. However, Harlee and her crew are not as clean as they seem. The FBI gets evidence of their involvement in bribery and other illegal activities. Agent Robert Stahl (Warren Kole) uses the evidence to turn Harlee into an informant against her own unit. This sets up an intricate web of secrets and divided loyalties within the show.

The cast also included Ray Liotta as Harlee’s boss and mentor Lieutenant Matt Wozniak, Drea de Matteo as Detective Tess Nazario, and Dayo Okeniyi as rookie cop Michael Loman. Over three seasons, the show balanced tense police action with complex personal storylines involving Harlee’s daughter, her romance with Stahl, and the breakdown of trust within her unit. Critical response was somewhat mixed but overall positive, while viewership remained modest. The season 3 finale aired on August 19, 2018, concluding with uncertainty about whether the corrupt cops would find redemption or face consequences.

Speculation on Season 4 Renewal

Despite the lack of official word on the show’s renewal, there are some reasons for fans to be hopeful:

Jennifer Lopez’s commitment to the role – In interviews, Lopez has indicated her strong connection to playing Harlee Santos. This makes it likely she would return if NBC greenlights another season.

Cliffhanger ending – Season 3 concluded without wrapping up major storylines. A new season could provide closure for loyal viewers.

NBC’s flexibility – Unlike other networks, NBC has shown a willingness to revive shows after long hiatuses. For example, Will & Grace returned 11 years after its supposed series finale.

However, there are also challenges to overcome:

Declining ratings – Over its 3 season run, viewership for Shades of Blue fell over 50%. The season 3 finale had an audience of only 3.4 million live viewers. In the current TV climate, these numbers are quite low and unlikely to justify the expense of another season.

Shift away from scripted dramas – NBC’s lineup has shifted more towards unscripted shows and comedies rather than prestige dramas like Shades of Blue. Bringing the show back may no longer align with their programming strategy.

Jennifer Lopez’s busy schedule – While Lopez seems committed to the role, her thriving music career and movie projects limit her availability. Coordinating schedules may prove too difficult.

Status of Season 4 Renewal

As of now, NBC has not officially cancelled or renewed Shades of Blue for another season. Fans anxiously awaited announcement at the annual upfronts in May 2019, where networks unveil their fall lineups to media buyers. However, NBC only presented their schedule through midseason 2020, with no mention of Shades of Blue.

Lopez and showrunner Jack Orman have indicated the desire to do a shortened final season to wrap up the story. Lopez told Variety, “We want to do it right for the fans to really have closure.” However, Orman stressed that NBC would need to initiate discussions to make it happen.

Over a year later, there has still been no update from the network. At this point, the long delay likely signifies NBC has decided not to continue with another season. But until official cancellation notice, a glimmer of hope remains.

Options for Closure

If NBC ultimately passes on season 4, there are some alternative options to provide the show’s loyal fans with a satisfying conclusion:

TV movie finale – Networks sometimes revisit old series for a standalone TV movie finale. For example, Showtime’s Dexter and History’s Hatfields & McCoys both received this treatment after several years off the air.

Partnership with streaming service – Netflix or Hulu could potentially work out a deal with NBC to produce a final limited season exclusively for their platform.

Revival on new network – In rare cases, a show can get revived on a different network than it originally aired on. For example, ABC’s Designated Survivor moved to Netflix.

Books or comics – The show’s creators could choose to continue the story through novels, comic books, or graphic novels.

While none of these options are guaranteed, they do provide some hope of tying up loose ends for dedicated Shades of Blue fans. The creators clearly seemed to have more story to tell before the show’s abrupt end.

Should Shades of Blue Be Renewed?

Looking at the factors for and against another season of Shades of Blue:

Arguments For Renewal Arguments Against Renewal
– Loyal fan base eager for closure – Declining viewership over 3 seasons
– Jennifer Lopez interested in return – Shift away from scripted dramas at NBC
– Cliffhanger ending needs resolution – Lopez’s busy schedule a challenge
– Acclaim and awards recognition – Long delay indicates cancellation likely

On balance, the case for renewal faces significant obstacles. The show’s ratings were quite modest by the end of season 3, making it a business challenge for NBC. Other networks have demonstrated a willingness to bring back long-gone series, but NBC has not shown the same interest in reviving “bubble” shows.

However, television economics are unpredictable. With Lopez’s star power and goodwill generated by the cliffhanger, a limited final season or TV movie could still draw plenty of buzz. The ideal outcome for loyal fans would be a 6-10 episode order to wrap up the major story arcs before closing the book on Shades of Blue. But unless Netflix or another suitor emerges, NBC would need to change course from their apparent decision to let the show go.

Predictions for Season 4 Storylines

If Shades of Blue did make an unexpected return, fans would be immediately curious to see how key storylines get resolved. Based on where season 3 left off, some likely plot points for season 4 include:

Harlee testifying against the crew – Having turned evidence on her corrupt unit, Harlee will have to publicly expose their misdeeds in court. How will she handle sending her friends to jail?

Wozniak evading arrest – Wozniak somehowmanaged to erase the evidence against him. He would continue trying to protect himself and his criminal enterprises.

Stahl’s relationship with Harlee – The romantic connection between Harlee and Stahl ended season 3 in uncertainty. A new season could force them to reexamine their bond.

Loman seeking justice – Loman was determined to bring down his crooked colleages after being framed. His crusade against them could drive major drama.

Cristina’s trauma – Harlee’s daughter Cristina was kidnapped last season. Exploring the aftermath of her trauma could provide emotional depth.

New antagonist – With Stahl redeemed, the show would need to introduce a new big bad to disrupt the team and challenge Harlee.

While purely hypothetical, these represent the kinds of plot angles that would satisfy Shades of Blue fans in a season 4. However, the odds remain low that viewers will ever get to see these storylines. Barring an unexpected reversal from NBC, season 3 will likely remain the dramatic conclusion.


The chances of Shades of Blue returning for a fourth season grow more remote as time passes. Though stars like Jennifer Lopez seem interested, NBC appears to have made the business decision to end the show after declining ratings. Still, fans maintain a sliver of hope that network executives could change course. While unusual, other TV series have been revived from cancellation years later.

At this point however, barring surprise renewal news, viewers should shift expectations toward alternative ways to get closure, like a TV movie or streaming special. That would provide a reasonable compromise to tie-up unresolved story arcs. After captivating audiences for 3 seasons, the flawed but compelling cops of Shades of Blue deserve one last case before fading into TV history. Regardless of format, the show’s passionate fanbase will likely embrace any opportunity to reunite with Detective Harlee Santos and see her complicated journey come to an end.