The Historic 2023 Writers' Strike Is Over — Here's What It Means For the Future

After nearly five months, the historic Hollywood writers' strike is officially over. On Sept. 24, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) announced that the union reached a tentative three-year contract agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Two days later, the WGA's board and council voted to recommend the agreement and ended the strike at approximately 12:01 a.m. PT/3:01 a.m. ET on Sept. 27.

"What we have won in this contract — most particularly, everything we have gained since May 2nd — is due to the willingness of this membership to exercise its power, to demonstrate its solidarity, to walk side-by-side, to endure the pain and uncertainty of the past 146 days," the union wrote in a bulletin shared with its members on Sept. 24. "It is the leverage generated by your strike, in concert with the extraordinary support of our union siblings, that finally brought the companies back to the table to make a deal."

Earlier this year, failed negotiations between the WGA and the AMPTP led the former to vote yes to authorize a strike on May 1 (by a historic margin of 97.85 percent), which immediately went into effect the following day. According to Variety, the call for a strike was the result of the WGA seeking changes to writer compensation and working conditions in Hollywood — including a "sizable increase in minimums, better formula for residuals on streaming platforms, and a minimum staffing requirement for all TV shows."

On May 2, the Writers Guild of America West's Twitter account announced that their strike commenced after six weeks of negotiating with Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, NBC Universal, Paramount+, and Sony under AMPTP's umbrella. "Though our Negotiating Committee began this process intent on making a fair deal, the studios' responses have been wholly insufficient given the existential crisis writers are facing," the labor union wrote in another tweet.

Previously, several writers told POPSUGAR that the "existential fight" of their Hollywood strike largely revolved around the lucrative streaming boom. "We're on food stamps. We're on unemployment, moving back in with our parents. Sh*t is not sweet right now," TV writer Kyra Jones — who has credits on Hulu's "Woke" and ABC's "Queens" — said back in June.

During the writers' strike, writers who are members of the WGA — including their agents or anyone acting on their behalf — were prohibited from writing, pitching, or negotiating for work. The purpose, according to the labor union, was to ensure the best possible contract for writers going forward, which they've seemingly earned now.

Actors who are part of the Screen Actors Guild — American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) are still striking until they, too, reach a deal with the AMPTP. The actors' union, like the writers, are seeking better pay and residuals for their contract; they officially went on strike on July 14 after negotiations failed with the AMPTP, per Deadline. The SAG-AFTRA strike, which bans actors from promoting projects in interviews or conventions in addition to stopping work on all current projects, has already had visible consequences. On July 13, per CNN, "Oppenheimer" actors exited the movie during its London premiere, and director Christopher Nolan told reporters that they were "off to write their picket signs." Since then, several other stars have pulled back on participating in and promoting projects even with SAG-AFTRA interim agreements — which allow members to work on non-WGA-covered projects.

Compared to previous strikes, the 2023 writers' and actors' strikes are largely fueled by the entertainment industry's major shift to streaming content. While TV shows and movies have adjusted to the ever-growing tech era, one thing that hasn't evolved is how studios pay creators, but that seems to be changing soon. So, what do these strikes and the WGA's new deal mean for the future of entertainment? Ahead, find answers to your biggest questions, including when some since-paused TV shows can be expected to return to your screens.

What Is a Writers' Strike?

According to Vox, a writers' strike occurs when members of the WGA, the labor union that most employed writers in Hollywood belong to, stop working until the organization reaches an agreement with the AMPTP, which negotiates on behalf of all major studios and hundreds of production companies. Meaning, no members are allowed to write or sell new scripts for TV shows or movies until the WGA votes to end the strike. And in most cases, this also means writers go without pay for the duration of the strike.

A writers' strike doesn't just affect those who creatively contribute to TV shows or films, it also touches those who work in other sectors of the entertainment industry when production halts — including caterers, set dressers, directors, and background actors, who then have to find other work in the interim. And it also hits those at home, as TV shows are delayed or get shortened seasons abruptly.

When Was the Last Writers' Strike?

The last time a writers' strike of this magnitude happened was in late 2007 — which resulted in many scripted shows having their seasons shortened, some late-night programs being forced off the air, and a few reality shows getting longer or new seasons, per Vox. According to The Hollywood Reporter, that strike lasted 100 days, concluding on Feb. 12, 2008, and took a $2.1 billion toll on the Los Angeles economy. A new three-year contract was eventually approved by the WGA at the time, but streaming wasn't a big part of that conversation.

How Long Did the 2023 Writers' Strike Last?

Prior to the WGA's tentative deal with the AMPTP, writers picketed on the East and West coasts for 146 consecutive days before the strike finally ended two days later. It's the second-longest writers' strike following the 1988 labor action, which lasted 153 days. Per the WGA, the concluded strike "allows writers to return to work during the ratification process, but does not affect the membership's right to make a final determination on contract approval." Since the WGA's agreement is tentative for now, it won't become official until a ratification vote is held with eligible members. The voting process will take place from Oct. 2-9.

Why Did a Writers' Strike Happen in 2023?

This year's writers' strike was up in the air for months, with the Los Angeles Times reporting on its potential to happen back in February. According to The New York Times, writers fought for raises, while studios argued that a new compensation structure ignores economic realities. Other big issues that have factored into the strike include the usage of AI in Hollywood, with some concerned about how that would impact writing duties and jobs that could be cut as a result.

What Did the Writers Guild of America Demand?

The main issue that writers picketed over is compensation, which — according to the WGA — had been negatively impacted by the shift to streaming in recent years. Writers' demands also revolved around pay equity, residuals for theatrical and streaming features, better preproduction writers' rooms, increased contributions to the WGA's pension plans and health funds, and more measures to combat discrimination and harassment. For the full list of demands, visit the WGA's 2023 contract website, where you can also find a summary of their tentative agreement.

Which TV Shows Have Been Affected by the 2023 Writers' Strike?

After the strike went into effect, all shows that produced immediate work were halted. That means late-night talk shows like "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert," "Late Night With Seth Meyers," and "The Daily Show" shut down filming new episodes on May 2, according to Deadline, and have been airing reruns since. However, on Sept. 27, Kimmel, Fallon, Colbert, and Meyers jointly announced via Instagram that their shows will return to network television on Oct. 2. John Oliver's "Last Week Tonight," meanwhile, will return to its Sunday slot on HBO one day prior.

"Saturday Night Live" was similarly affected after NBC issued an official statement on May 2 that read, "The previously announced 'Saturday Night Live' hosted by Pete Davidson and musical guest Lil Uzi Vert is cancelled due to the writers' strike. 'SNL' will air repeats until further notice starting Saturday, May 6." The late-night show could also potentially return in October, per Variety.

Additionally, broadcast TV shows that were scheduled to return in the fall are delayed until further notice as they typically start writing in the summer. So that means network darlings like "Abbott Elementary" will, unfortunately, have their upcoming seasons pushed back likely until sometime next year. Unscripted programming like reality shows, game shows, news, and sports have been largely unaffected, with reality television having significantly increased on fall primetime TV lineups for networks like ABC and The CW. Streaming content has been fairly safe as well, as its production model runs longer (i.e., most of those projects are produced far before they're distributed on platforms, so they were likely completed before the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes even began). Streamers also have huge libraries of content at their disposal, so viewers have had other means of entertainment amid the strikes.

Some highly anticipated movie projects, like "Dune: Part Two," have been delayed amid the actors' strike, though others such as "The Marvels," "Aquaman 2," and "The Color Purple" movie musical remain on the late 2023 calendar.

Why Is an Actors' Strike Happening?

SAG-AFTRA commenced their strike at midnight on July 14. Around a month prior, the union announced that its members had voted 97.91 percent in favor of a strike authorization ahead of its contract negotiations with the AMPTP, which were originally set to expire at midnight on June 30 before the two organizations agreed to extend until July 12. Now with the strike well underway, actors have ceased work on and promotion of any productions they're a part of.

In a June statement sent to Deadline, SAG-AFTRA explained, "There's no promotion of struck work during a strike. Promotional activities in relation to a signatory production is covered work under the Basic Agreement, and thus, is struck work during a strike."

On June 24, Drescher shared an update on the union's negotiations with the AMPTP, saying in a video, "I want to assure you, we are having an extremely productive negotiations that are laser-focused on all of the crucial issues you told us are most important to you. And we're standing strong and we're going to achieve a seminal deal." But in a letter obtained by Deadline and addressed to the SAG-AFTRA leadership and negotiating committee, more than 300 actors — including Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Quinta Brunson, Rami Malek, Amy Schumer, and Ben Stiller — signed a statement that expressed concerns over the type of deal that may be reached with studios.

"We are concerned by the idea that SAG-AFTRA members may be ready to make sacrifices that leadership is not," the letter states. "We hope you've heard the message from us. This is an unprecedented inflection point in our industry, and what might be considered a good deal in any other years is simply not enough. We feel that our wages, our craft, our creative freedom, and the power of our union have all been undermined in the last decade. We need to reverse those trajectories."

What Is SAG-AFTRA Demanding?

Like the WGA, SAG-AFTRA is demanding better protections from AI in their contracts, as well as more lucrative residual payments from streaming services.

When Was the Last Actors' Strike?

The last time both the writers' and actors' unions in Hollywood went on strike was in 1960, per Forbes, when Ronald Reagan led SAG-AFTRA. The strike concerned residual payments for film rights being shown on TV and it lasted around one month.

How Has the Actors' Strike Affected the Entertainment Industry?

Production and promotion for most new projects involving SAG-AFTRA members have been halted. According to Deadline, movies that were released in July weren't hugely affected by the strike because millions were spent on long-lead marketing campaigns before it commenced. That goes for highly anticipated titles like Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling's "Barbie," Nolan's "Oppenheimer," and Tom Cruise's "Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part 1."

Conventions like San Diego Comic-Con, fall film festivals, award shows, and Christmas releases have taken a hit, with many stars absent from these events. On Aug. 10, Fox and the Television Academy announced that the 2023 Emmy Awards have been moved to Jan. 15, 2024. Now, only time will tell what happens next and how long it'll be until SAG-AFTRA gets their deal with the AMPTP as well.