The television graveyard is full of shows that were buried in their prime. And for fans, no matter how few, it’s always devastating to lose a great show before its time.
In most cases, cancellations come down to low ratings. And while many networks would kill for the numbers shows generated while they were airing in the pre-streaming, pre-DVR world, we can’t turn back time (although networks are definitely trying with a host of reboots and remakes over the past several years).
Regardless, there are so many good shows that were ripped from existence way too abruptly for their fans.
Here are 14 great shows that were canceled too soon.
“Caprica” ended in 2010 after one season.
For those of us who absolutely devoured every episode of “Battlestar Galactica,” this prequel spin-off explaining just how robots came to rule was everything. With a mix of dueling family drama, teen angst, and gamer nerdiness, “Caprica” fits the bill for many of us.
But for Syfy, the bill was too expensive. The ambitious drama was too expensive to justify continuing with the show with its low ratings — arguably a problem Syfy brought upon itself.
“Caprica” was pulled from the schedule with five unaired episodes left in its first season in 2010.
“Kyle XY” ended in 2009 after three seasons.
ABC Family’s sci-fi drama centered on Kyle, a teen boy who wakes up in the forest with no memory of his life and no belly button. It’s clear he didn’t come into this world like other humans.
The answer to his existence, which included clones, began to unravel but the show was canceled after its third season without wrapping up so much of the story of Kyle’s origins and with many of the relationship questions unresolved.
“My So-Called Life” ended in 1995 after one season.
Many of us still fondly remember the angst-ridden travails of Claire Danes as Angela Chase, the allure of Jared Leto’s bad boy Jordan Catalano, the crazy of A.J. Langer’s Rayanne Graff, and the pity induced by Devon Gummersal’s Brian Krakow from the short-lived and now much-beloved coming of age series, “My So-Called Life.”
It only lasted one season on ABC, then it enjoyed a revival in reruns on MTV in 1995. But that will still never make up for the fact that we’ll never know if Angela chose Jordan or the consummate friend Brian.
“Firefly” ended in 2003 after one season.
It’s hard to believe that Joss Whedon had a failed show between hits “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel,” but there was “Firefly.”
The Fox show was Whedon’s attempt at a space Western. It followed a group of outlaws who rally around protecting a young woman — played by Whedon ingenue Summer Glau — with special abilities from the government that experimented on her.
It was pulled from the schedule with three episodes unaired and deserves to be on every “canceled too soon” list.
“The Newsroom” ended in 2014 after three seasons.
HBO’s “The Newsroom” was the subject of much debate. Actual TV reporters nitpicked the show for not being realistic. Others understood they were watching a drama and not a documentary.
It took big news moments and re-cast them to make us really think about what we considered right and wrong. At the same time, the staff of a struggling cable news channel were confronting their own moral questions and journalistic integrity.
In the end, no matter how the situation was resolved, no one had clean hands. That’s a great show for you.
While HBO gave the show a tidy ending, it really had way more seasons in it.
“Jericho” ended in 2008 after two seasons.
Skeet Ulrich starred on CBS’ sci-fi series set in Jericho, Kansas, after a nuclear bomb hits the US. The town must then continue surviving as threats, both internal and external, hit them one after another.
Fans were so enamoured by the show that when threat of cancellation hit after its first season, they were inspired by a line uttered on the season one finale by Ulrich’s character when a nearby community wanted Jericho to surrender: “Nuts.” So fans sent about 40,000 pounds of nuts to network executives in New York and Los Angeles.
Source: ABC News
Viewers got their second season, but that’s as far as the show went.
“Veronica Mars” ended in 2007 after three seasons.
This UPN-turned-CW show starring Kristen Bell as a teen private investigator not only had all the trappings of a high school drama, but also a mystery of the week and a season-long case.
The show was a pleasure to behold from Veronica’s witty turn of phrases to to the raging war between men for her attention, and the continued side investigations into her own classmates.
Since the CW didn’t plan for a series finale, there were a few loose ends that weren’t tied up.
Source: The Guardian
Seven years later in 2014, the show’s creators launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $US2 million to fund a feature film sequel. They reached their goal in under 10 hours, and the film premiered to rave reviews.
“Party Down” ended in 2010 after two seasons.
Starz’s comedy about catering workers had so much going for it. It was hilarious and had an incredible cast that included Adam Scott, Ken Marino, Lizzy Caplan, and Jane Lynch.
The problem was it never found an audience and Starz wasn’t big enough yet to get it out there.
“Freaks and Geeks” ended in 2000 after one season.
Again a victim to low ratings, the NBC show followed Linda Cardellini’s character’s motley crew — the freaks — and her younger brother’s nerdy cluster — the geeks — as they tackled the travails of high school.
Aside from deftly balancing the comedy and drama of it all, the show featured actors who would later become major Hollywood players, including James Franco, Seth Rogen, and Jason Segel.
“Arrested Development” ended in 2013 after three seasons.
“Arrested Development” was a critical darling for its comedic take on the formerly wealthy and highly dysfunctional Bluth family.
It starred Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, Portia de Rossi, Jeffrey Tambor, Tony Hale, Will Arnett, David Cross, Jessica Walter, and Alia Shawkat.
Before Netflix revived it, the show met its death over at Fox due to low ratings. As the streaming service’s fourth season proved, it’s tough to get a cast of this calibre together. Fox should have held onto them.
Source: The New York Times
“V” ended in 1985 after one season.
To look back at it now, NBC’s “V” looks like a corny ’80s alien takeover show. But at the time it was airing, there was nothing like it on TV.
The series centered on Earth’s first contact with aliens and they weren’t that different from us. But these reptilian beings in human costumes, known as the Visitors, were not friends.
It was cheesy, trippy, and kind of random, but that had us glued to our screens every week. It really could’ve developed stories for years, but low ratings would be its undoing.
Despite its original ratings, ABC aired a reboot series in 2009, but still couldn’t find an audience to justify an expensive alien drama and it was canceled after two seasons.
“Roswell” ended in 2002 after three seasons.
The WB-turned-UPN drama followed a group of teens trying to make sense of the strange occurrences in their hometown of Roswell, New Mexico — a city famous for its UFO lore. The show made balancing drama, humour, and suspenseful mystery look easy.
Created by Jason Katims, who would go on to do “Parenthood” and “Friday Night Lights,” “Roswell” starred young Katherine Heigel, Shiri Appleby, and Colin Hanks.
Though it was well-received by critics and had a very vocal fanbase, the show could never muster the ratings numbers to keep it afloat.
With alien supernatural shows like “Stranger Things” making waves and the fond memory fans have of “Roswell,” the CW has a reboot in development. But how can it live up the original?
Source: The Mercury News
“Ugly Betty” ended in 2010 after four seasons.
Before America Ferrera got political, exchanged jeans with her besties on “The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants,” or stacked boxes on “Superstore,” she was the fish-out-of-water fashion magazine assistant on “Ugly Betty.”
In dealing with aspects of beauty bias, sexual identity, and the immigrant experience, the show was way ahead of its time. Funny, heartbreaking, and eye-opening all at the same time, “Ugly Betty” had a loyal fan base but not enough to save it from being canceled for low ratings.
“Being Erica” ended in 2011 after four seasons.
“Being Erica” was a sci-fi show revolving around Erica, who was played by Erin Karpluk, who’s suddenly given the ability to travel back in time to fix mistakes she’s made over her life. That’s of course easier said than done and can lead to a host of changes to her future.
There isn’t a lot known about the demise of “Being Erica” after its fourth season — though it’s episode count decreased with every season. There was no official announcement that Canada’s CBC Television had canceled it, but it was clear that its chances for renewal seemed lower each year.
Near the end of the series, the creator of the show confirmed fans would get the closure they were looking for. Later, ABC in the US announced planned remakes of the show, but they ultimately chose not to move forward.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.