Top 10 TV Shows Cancelled Too Soon

A lot of television shows that were once at peak popularity ended terribly and disappointed fans, cough, Dexter, cough. Some of them drag on through random cast changes, and get more convoluted as they go on to try and keep people hooked, like Criminal Minds.

Bad things happen to good shows all the time, but this list has to be the absolute worst. The emptiness you felt when you finished the first season of Stranger Things, or the latest Orange is the New Black doesn’t have to last forever. Fans of the shows below face a very different reality. These television shows were cut short, many of them left off at agonizing cliffhangers and some —number one on the list— were wrapped up in a very crude and disappointing way. Here’s to hoping for a reboot.

10: Jericho (2006)

Jericho

Jericho told the story of how a small town’s inhabitants handled the aftermath of a mysterious nuclear attack on the United States. Set in the fictional town of Jericho, Kansas, the series follows the pivotal character — Jake Green — and his redemption story of being a screw-up to being the effective leader of the town.

The show was not only a post-apocalyptic drama but also featured many intriguing mysteries, as it slowly explored the themes of who perpetrated the nuclear attacks, the extent of the damage that occurred, and why the attacks took place.

Sadly, Jericho was canceled after only two short seasons. Jericho did not rate higher on this list because although the series finale had an ending, the themes of the show felt incomplete and could have been fleshed out better if the show had been given a longer run.

No amount of protesting was successful at bringing Jericho back to life, although angry mobs of online fans gave it a very notable shot.

Number of Seasons: 2
Number of Episodes: 29
Original Run: September 20, 2006 – March 25, 2008

9: Pushing Daisies

Pushing Daisies

A pie-maker that can bring back the dead by touching them. I’m not sure I need to say more than that to prove to you why Pushing Daisies was unfairly canceled too soon. Moving on to the next show!

Okay, but, no really. Pushing Daisies had a great premise. Ned, the aforementioned pie-maker with the zombie Midas Touch (Zombidas Touch?), was able to bring people and animals back from the dead, but some stipulations went along with this power. If the person or animal were brought back for more than a minute, then a life with a similar “value” in the vicinity would drop dead, as a form of natural balance.

Additionally, if he touches the revived person or thing a second time, it dies again–but this time more, you know, permanently. Despite having a relatively substantial viewership, Pushing Daisies was canceled after only two seasons.

Number of Seasons: 2
Number of Episodes: 22
Original Run: October 3, 2007 – June 13, 2009

8: Freaks and Geeks

Freaks and Geeks

One of the reasons claimed for Freaks and Geeks early cancellation was the shows inability to gain an audience due to its erratic scheduling and less than ideal time slots (which competed with the very highly-rated show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire).

Despite not achieving the viewership that network NBC desired during its original run, Freaks and Geeks would later reach cult status among fans. This is likely due to the show’s quirky, yet powerful and highly insightful, portrayal of niche high school cliques — what the average high school student would dub the “freaks” and the “geeks.”

Sadly Freaks and Geeks only lasted for a single season of eighteen episodes–only twelve of which were initially aired before fan outcry — before it was ultimately canceled, and the show wasn’t able to fully explore the themes of struggling to survive through high school as a social outcast.

Number of Seasons: 1
Number of Episodes: 18
Original Run: September 25, 1999 – July 8, 2000

7: Dead Like Me

Dead Like Me

Georgia Lass, after meeting an untimely death on her first day of work at a new job, is informed that she will become a grim reaper in the External Influence Division and that it will be her job to collect the souls of people who die in accidents and homicides. Each reaper has a secret quota of souls, and once the quota is met, the reaper moves on to another realm and the last soul reaped then takes his or her job collecting souls, so Georgia must keep acting as a grim reaper if she wishes to be able to move on to the “Great Beyond”. The show also centers on other grim reapers, each with their own hilarious personalities and quirks.

Dead Like Me, despite having a fun and fresh storyline, was canceled after only two short seasons consisting of a total 29 episodes. The ratings for the series premiere of Dead Like Me were 1.11 million, which was a record for a Showtime series premiere that was not beaten until the premiere of Shameless seven years later.

Number of Seasons: 2
Number of Episodes: 29
Original Run: June 27, 2003 – October 31, 2004

6: Deadwood

Deadwood

Deadwood is regarded by many critics and fans to be one of the greatest tv dramas of all time. Unfortunately, Deadwood was unable to garner the viewership that was desired during its initial short three season run which led to the show being ultimately canceled by HBO.

Deadwood’s plot lines involved a wide cast of characters and included many historical truths as well as substantial fictional elements to keep the show entertaining and yet close to its source material. Producer and show writer David Milch used actual diaries and newspapers from 1870s Deadwood residents as reference points for the various characters, events and the overall look and feel of the show. Milch’s dedication to keeping the show in line with the actual town of Deadwood, South Dakota’s history along with the excellent writing and acting that occurred in the series is likely the reason that Deadwood invariably finds its way onto everyone’s list of television shows that were cancelled way too soon, including ours!

Thirty-six episodes of Deadwood is not nearly enough to satisfy fans of western dramas, which is why many of them are still holding out for HBO to continue the show, as they have the show’s final scripts in their possession. Sadly, it’s not looking too good for the show to make a comeback these days.

Number of Seasons: 3
Number of Episodes: 36
Original Run: March 21, 2004 – August 27, 2006

5: Eureka

Eureka centers on titular character Deputy United States Marshal Jack Carter who accidentally stumbles on the small town of Eureka, Oregon while transporting his delinquent daughter. Fortunately or unfortunately for Jack Carter (depending on what’s happening that day in Eureka–which is usually a whole lot!)

Eureka, Oregon is a town that is operated by a corporation called Global Dynamics (GD) and which is overseen by the United States Department of Defense. The inhabitants of Eureka are all super geniuses dedicated to furthering the various fields of science, health, and mathematics. These circumstances all lead to the town being prone to… accidents. Fortunately for the townspeople, Jack Carter takes on the role of the town’s new sheriff and works towards keeping things running smoothly. Super genius problems being solved by a not-super genius is the perfect equation for comedic gold, however, which is why it is saddening that Eureka was only around for five seasons in total, despite receiving critical acclaim.

Number of Seasons: 5
Number of Episodes: 77
Original Run: July 18, 2006 – July 16, 2012

4: The Oblongs

The Oblongs

The Oblongs is a cartoon that features the quirky hijinx of the Oblong family. The Oblongs are a family that lives in a poor valley community, and–as a result of pollution and radiation exposure–are all disabled or deformed in various ways. The pollution that has turned them into what they are is the direct consequence of the opulent lifestyle of the affluent community known as “The Hills,” whose residents exploit and actively harm and ridicule the valley residents with absolutely no regard for their personal safety or well-being.

Despite being a hilarious tv show, The Oblongs also speaks volumes about class warfare without ever consciously shoving the message down the viewer’s throats. These reasons, among many others, are likely why fans of the series sorely missed it after the show was ultimately canceled after only two very short seasons. The show has reached almost cult status after its untimely cancellation.

Number of Seasons: 2
Number of Episodes: 13
Original Run: April 1, 2001 –
May 20, 2001; August 25, 2002 – October 20, 2002

3: Terra Nova

Terra Nova

Dinosaurs. Dinosaurs everywhere! Terra Nova is set in an alternate, prehistoric world where a group of qualified individuals and lottery winners struggles to survive in a harsh and wild world. But it’s better than the alternative; a world that has been poisoned and destroyed by the ravages of human industrialization.

Scientists in the year 2149 find a temporal rift in time and space which allows one-way travel to a parallel world that is set in a Cretaceous-era style period.

The people that are sent back not only have to contend with this strange and dangerous new world’s natural dangers (Dinosaurs! Seriously, those things are everywhere!) but also with a group of insurgents that were sent back by a mysterious group for an equally mysterious objective. This group of antagonists actively fight against the show’s main protagonists, Jim Shannon and Commander Nathaniel Taylor. Terra Nova was sadly canceled after only one season, ending on a massive cliffhanger.

Number of Seasons: 1
Number of Episodes: 13
Original Run: September 26 – December 19, 2011

2: Futurama

Futurama

Despite having more seasons than any other show on this list, many people feel that Matt Groening’s futuristic comedic cartoon was canceled entirely too soon — twice!

Futurama‘s writing appeals to a wide audience on multiple levels through the expert use of nerdy high-brow comedy and sight gags which is delightfully blended with crasser “potty” humor. Futurama even had some heart-tugging, tear-inducing episodes throughout its airing (I, for one, still well up anytime I hear Walking on Sunshine).

Futurama is one of the shows that many people were sad to see go, and due to this, the show still has a strong following to this very day, with reruns being watched by millions of fans weekly. You don’t need to be a college dropout of Coney Island Community College (Go Whitefish!) or even a dropout of Mars University to see why Futurama was so popular and why many think that the series was canceled before its time.

Number of Seasons: 7
Number of Episodes: 140
Original Run: March 28, 1999 – September 4, 2013 (1999 – 2003; 2008 – 2013)

1: Firefly

Firefly

If you weren’t expecting Firefly to take the top spot, then I am more surprised than I would be if I ran into a ship full of ruttin’ Reavers.

Firefly is a western-stylized Space Opera that follows the adventures of a crew of misfit space outlaws. Due to the character’s varying backgrounds, personal history and differences in morals, the show can effectively play up the drama aspect without coming off as cheesy or forced. Each of the characters is interesting in their own way, and the actors and actresses that play the characters are truly able to convey a sense of sincerity in their respective portrayals.

The story that was told in the series’ short one season was incredibly entertaining and action-packed. It really is a tragedy that Firefly was canceled so shortly after its initial airing, but fans were at least treated to a full feature-length video that attempted to tie up the show’s loose ends.

Number of Seasons: 1
Number of Episodes: 14
Original Run: September 20 – December 20, 2002

About The Author
Terri Black