ABC cancels Life on Mars, but will let it wrap up its season

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

ABC is canceling its time-travel cop series Life on Mars after a single year—but in an unusual move, the network will keep the show on the air through the end of its full run, Variety reported.

That will give the series a rare opportunity to sign off with a proper finale, wrapping up the series' core mystery: Why 21st-century New York cop Sam Tyler (Jason O'Mara) found himself transported back to the 1970s.

Network insiders told the trade paper that they were fans of the show and pleased with its creative chops—but that the ratings ultimately didn't warrant a second season. The most recent episode of Life on Mars averaged just a 2.0 rating/5 share among adults 18-49, as well as 5.5 million viewers.

Five more episodes remain out of the series' 17-episode order. As previously announced, the show's Wednesday 10 p.m. slot will go to the new series The Unusuals in April.

The BBC series of the same name, on which the ABC show is based, ran for two short seasons by design.