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Television Shows Canceled Way Too Soon

These series were gone much too soon

Amanda Bell
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1 of 22

21 Shows That Should Have Never Been Canceled

Sometimes, the networks' decisions about what shows to keep and cancel can seem a little arbitrary. A series' early ratings and/or audience reactions don't always foretell whether it'll flop or flourish, so sometimes promising shows are given a chance to come into their own (see also: Parks and Recreation), while others get ousted unceremoniously. When it comes to these TV shows, they got the ax despite being pretty solid properties that should've been given more time to satisfy fans.

2 of 22 Netflix

American Vandal

Canceled in: 2018 after two seasons

Despite a well-received run, Netflix announced its surprising decision to cancel American Vandal after its second season as part of its plan to reduce programs produced by outside networks. The show began as a true-crime-style mockumentary series investigating a scourge of phallic graffiti at a local high school, and it followed the same formula into hilarious new territory in Season 2 -- namely, the case of the spiked lemonade that made students poop their pants. Despite the many running gags about penises and poop, the smartly-written show had a lot of heart and fans were deeply disappointed the joke show wouldn't go on.

3 of 22 Chris Haston/Getty Images

Freaks and Geeks

Canceled in: 2000 after one season

NBC dismissed this quirky high school dramedy Freaks and Geeks after just one season due to low ratings, but the show has since achieved cult status thanks in part to the all-star status many of its cast members (Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Busy Phillips, Martin Starr, James Franco, and Linda Cardellini among them) and behind-the-scenes talent (Paul Feig and Judd Apatow). In addition to showcasing so many familiar stars ahead of their breakouts, though, the series offered an honest and often frustrating look at some of the lesser-explored members of teen society, and even the NBC exec who shuttered the series has come to regret the decision to let such a well-written show go.

4 of 22 ABC/Getty Images

My So-Called Life

Canceled in: 1995 after one season

For a certain generation, Claire Danes' most iconic TV portrayal is not that of Carrie Mathison on Homeland, but rather, her all-too-brief turn as Angela Chase for My So-Called Life. The teen drama presented the character right on the precipice of some big changes, as she began to explore her interest in boys -- one in particular, Jared Leto's similarly-etched role as the terrible dreamboat Jordan Catalano -- and some exciting new friendships and style changes. Despite massive critical acclaim, including a Golden Globe for Danes, ABC decided not to continue on with the show, and its faithful audience would forever be changed by its compelling character arc and disappointed by it ending on a gnawingly personal cliffhanger.

5 of 22 Fox

Firefly

Canceled in: 2002 after one season

Coming off of the successes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, Joss Whedon decided to explore another realm of the sci-fi/fantasy universe altogether with Firefly, a futuristic space series that followed the eclectic nine-person crew of the Serenity as familiar political and cultural rifts continued to affect people, even light-years away from Earth. The series was heralded by critics and ultimately earned a 2005 follow-up film called Serenity, but for many, the show is still very much missed.

6 of 22 Starz

Party Down

Canceled in: 2010 after two seasons

Another show that earned its cult-classic status in the aftermath of its cancellation was Starz' Party Down, a series about a group of quirky caterers who really want to make it in Hollywood. Not only was its cast stacked with hilarious actors -- Jane Lynch, Adam Scott, Lizzy Caplan, Ken Marino, Megan Mullally, and Martin Starr -- but the dry wit of its sharp dialogue was very effective at elevating the simple storyline, even if too few tuned in during its run on the pay-cable network.

7 of 22 HBO

Tell Me You Love Me

Canceled in: 2008 after one season

Long before HBO's Divorce breathed some comedy into the devastating realities of a marital dismantlement, its short-lived series Tell Me You Love Me offered a more searing look at the slow-burn breakdown of romances. The show centered on three separate couples who have turned to a couple's counselor for help restoring the love that's being lost between them -- as she, too, struggles to understand her own increasingly unhappy home. Despite its promising premise and the strong acting of its cast, HBO decided to cancel the series after just a few episodes over creative differences, and the network's break-up with the series was just as disappointing as the characters' many upsetting decisions.

8 of 22 MTV

Sweet/Vicious

Canceled in: 2017 after one season

MTV's decision to end Sweet/Vicious couldn't have come at a worse time. The series centered on two women -- played by Eliza Bennett and Taylor Dearden -- who took matters into their own hands to deliver justice to accused rapists at their school when justice failed their victims, and it was a narrative some audiences desperately needed in the wake of Donald Trump's many careless comments about sexual assault. Although even its cast has since been holding out hope for some kind of revival, a spin-off comic series will have to do the trick for now.

9 of 22 FX

Terriers

Canceled in: 2010 after one season

What happens when you get two guys who don't exactly have their own lives all figured out running a private investigation unit? Terriers, that's what. The pseudo-buddy cop series was a critical darling, celebrated for its subtle humor, but it also failed to find an audience during its live run, which led FX to say goodbye to the series after a single season. Once the series did catch a few more eyes on Netflix, the disappointment over its loss really sunk in, leaving certain castmembers hopeful that it could become part of the Hollywood Revival Project, but so far, no such luck.

10 of 22 Scott Patrick Green/Netflix

Everything Sucks!

Canceled in: 2017 after one season

The title said it all after Netflix decided not to give its buzzy teen dramedy Everything Sucks! another chance. Sure, the series had some trouble ironing out a tone and experienced some slight pacing problems, but the self-discovery journey of Kate Messner (Peyton Kennedy) was downright inspiring to many who binged the sensitive story about a young AV Club member in the mid-'90s who's exploring her homosexuality. The fact that the show ended before she could finally come out to her father was pretty tragic.

11 of 22 Fox

Pitch

Canceled in: 2017 after one season

When NBC decided to throw in the towel on Pitch, its touching drama about the MLB's first female pro player Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury), many fans cried foul. Sure, the series was expensive to produce and enjoyed only moderate returns on that investment in terms of audience size, but the strength of its premise and cast, and the open-ended series finale, left many fans booing the network's decision not to take this one into overtime.

12 of 22 Jordin Althaus/Getty Images

Awake

Canceled in: 2012 after one season

NBC's daring psychological drama Awake centered on a man (Jason Isaacs) living in two planes of reality after a tragic car accident -- one in which his wife survived but his son did not, and the other in which his son walked away from the wreck but his wife perished as a result of it. Declining viewership cost the show its life in this plane of TV existence, but in keeping with the theme of it, we sometimes like to imagine there's another realm in which Awake got live on in lieu of one of its less compelling contemporaries.

13 of 22 Adam Taylor/Getty Images

Bunheads

Canceled in: 2013 after one season

You'd think any show with Amy Sherman-Palladino in a credits line would be a roaring success, but despite being beloved, Bunheads' low ratings led ABC Family to say goodbye to the series, which reunited the showrunner with Gilmore Girls alum Kelly Bishop and starred Tony winner Sutton Foster as a former Vegas showgirl who teaches dance to teens after her husband's death. The upshot is that the show's cancellation gave way to Sherman-Palladino reviving Gilmore Girls for A Year in the Life and, of course, introducing The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. But fans of the series still miss its sharp dialogue and slick dancing.

14 of 22 Fox

Wonderfalls

Canceled in: 2004 after one season

The little show that could have been, Wonderfalls centered on a Niagara Falls gift shop employee who's told to do things for people by ... inanimate objects. If that sounds ridiculous, well, it kinda was. But the show was still promising and unique and got shuttered way too soon to see how it all might've turned out for the Tylers with Jane (Caroline Dhavernas)'s newfound gifts.

15 of 22 Chris Helcermanas-Benge/Getty Images

Harper's Island

Canceled in: 2009 after one season

People being stranded on an island might be well-tread territory, but the way Harper's Island handled it was something else altogether. The murder-mystery series managed to make its episodic death stories fun while still finding innovative new ways to kill people off in spectacular fashion and deserved to last longer than the single season it got on CBS, especially since Season 2 would've taken us all on a sick slasher safari next. Imagine that!

16 of 22 Scott Garfield/Getty Images

Pushing Daisies

Canceled in: 2008 after two seasons

Despite some massive critical acclaim and loyal fanfare, Pushing Daisies was laid to rest way too soon by ABC after a series of disappointing ratings returns. But it continues to be high atop many critics' must-revive lists nearly a decade after its end because the quirky comedy, about a pie-maker (Lee Pace) who can revive the dead with a single touch and helps solve murders, was charming, unique, and filled with whip-smart dialogue. Creator Bryan Fuller has certainly shown an interest in baking up a new batch of episodes for fans, but no order has been put in just yet.

17 of 22 HBO

Enlightened

Canceled in: 2013 after two seasons

Before "sadcom" would become a more regularly accepted sub genre of television, HBO's Enlightened featured Laura Dern as a woman trying to reshape her life and reclaim her job status after seeking treatment for a humiliating public breakdown. The series was highly acclaimed, and even earned Dern a Golden Globe, but the show was canceled for lack of viewership. Those who did tune in recognized it for the gem that it was and haven't given up hope that it could find new life on the small screen.

18 of 22 Murray Close/Netflix

Sense8

Canceled in: 2017 after two seasons

Netflix made a mistake when it expected to to be able to cancel the Wachowski's passion project Sense8 without much backlash from the show's ultra-connected fanbase. Not only would that have meant the show closed on a major cliffhanger, but the loss of such an LGBTQ-representative program was painful. Fans petitioned en masse for the show to be renewed, and while the streaming service did not decide to go forward with another season, it did offer fans some closure with a two-hour special to conclude the story.

19 of 22 Ron P. Jaffe/Getty Images

Veronica Mars

Canceled in: 2007 after three seasons

We've got about 5 million reasons why Veronica Mars shouldn't have been canceled. That's how much money fans of the UPN/The CW series coughed up in crowdfunding cash to fund a movie based on the eponymous private eye (Kristen Bell). And even though the film didn't do much in the way of blockbuster business, interest in returning to Neptune was still high enough that Hulu saw fit to revive the series for an eight-episode limited series.

20 of 22 Brooke Palmer/Getty Images

Hannibal

Canceled in: 2015 after three seasons

Even though NBC gave Bryan Fuller's Hannibal three seasons, that was nowhere near enough for those faithful fans who'd watched Mads Mikkelsen own the formidable title role with some sizable support from co-star Hugh Dancy as FBI profiler Will Graham -- even if it did end on an arguably conclusive note, the showrunner had plenty more ideas for a fourth season and is still hopeful it might happen.

21 of 22 John Fleenor/Getty Images

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Canceled in: 2018 after five seasons

Fox's trash became NBC's treasure after the latter network picked up the cast-off comedy series less than two days after Brooklyn Nine-Nine was let go by its parent network after five seasons. The experience taught the series' showrunner a lesson about ending his seasons on a cliffhanger, just in case the series' end arrives unexpectedly again, and at least one of its stars is on the way out. But the fan enthusiasm over the saved sixth season proves it probably shouldn't have been ousted in the first place. Yerrrr.

22 of 22 Justin Lubin/Getty Images

Community

Canceled in: 2014 after five seasons, then again in 2016 after a sixth

R.I.P. Yahoo Screen. The fledgling streaming service was pretty much one and done after it tried to revive NBC's Community for a sixth season and lost millions in the process, but if the peacock network had just stuck with it a little longer, this never would've happened. Despite its slack viewership numbers, the community college-centered comedy still enjoyed a devoted following that deserved a fitting end to the story of its student body. Whether that long-gestating movie follow-up ever happens remains to be seen.