25 Of The Best TV Shows That Were Canceled Too Early

Posted by , Updated on May 23, 2024

Can you name a TV show that was canceled way too early? Some TV shows are immediately embraced by the masses for the magic that they are and run for five seasons or more, being allowed to complete their story arcs (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural, How I Met Your Mother, etc). And then there are shows that are well-made, clever, and yet get pulled from the air prematurely. Sometimes it’s due to a lack of ratings; sometimes a network sets them up to fail (Fox, we’re looking at you). Here’s a list of 25 Of The Best TV Shows That Were Canceled Too Early.



Firefly (2002)

Firefly_logotypeSource: (my heart &) www.imdb.com

Firefly was a pretty clever show about cowboys in space. With nifty one-liners and good character development, Firefly could have been the next Buffy, but it fell prey to Fox changing its schedule around sports and airing episodes out of order. Not sure what you thought would happen there, Fox.


Pushing Daisies (2007-2009)

pushingdaisiesSource: www.businessinsider.com

Pushing Daisies was a show about a Ned (played be Lee Pace), who made pies, and also could bring dead things back to life by touching them. If he touched them again, they would die and stay dead. He brought back a girl, and fell in love with her. Oops. It was heartwarming, clever, and quaint and super-saturated with dream like color, so of course it was canceled. Worth watching, if only for Lee Pace’s eyebrows and Kristin Chenoweth’s…everything. What killed this amazing show? Basically, the writer’s strike. Thanks guys!

Oh and IT WON SEVEN EMMYS. Argh! It’s so good…*snif*


My So-Called Life (1994-1995)

myso-calledlifeSource: http://www.imdb.com/

This was a show about a 15-year-old girl dealing with being 15. Young Claire Danes and Jared Leto are amazing, and if you’ve ever missed the 90’s, a few episodes will satisfy that nostalgic craving.


About a Boy (2014-2015)

About a boy tv seriesSource: http://tvline.com/

About a Boy was a show based on the movie starring Hugh Grant which was based on a book of the same name (which was a reference to a Nirvana song). The show starred David Walton as a songwritter/playboy and Minnie Driver as the single mother who moves in next door with her son.


Dead Like Me (2003-2004)

dead-like-meSource: http://www.businessinsider.com

Dead Like Me was about a girl who died and became a reaper. The show dealt with death via comedy, and did it so well that five years after cancellation, there was a direct to DVD movie made for fans to tie up loose ends.


Veronica Mars (2004-2007)

veronica_mars_2004_logoSource: https://en.wikipedia.org

This TV show was so popular among fans that a kickstarter was launched to raise funds for a movie and the goal was met within 10 hours. Set in a fictional town in California, the show stared Kristen Bell and followed the life of Veronica through high school and college as she worked as a private investigator. The Veronica Mars movie was released in 2014.


The Brady Brides (1981)

the_brady_brides_opening_screenshotSource: http://tvline.com/

This was exactly what it sounded like – Marsha and Jan grew up and got married but were too poor to each afford their own house, so Marsha, Jan, and their husbands lived together! Wacky hijinks ensued! It was awful. But it was the kind of nostalgic awful you wanted more of. *coughcoughfullerhousecough*


Selfie (2014)

selfie_abc_logoSource: http://tvline.com/

Selfie was a newer spin on the classic My Fair Lady tale, and it had some majorly talented star power – Karen Gillian and Cho – but ultimately suffered from, well, a really terrible name that failed to inspire any interest whatsoever.


Witches of East End (2013-2014)

Witches_of_East_EndSource: http://tvline.com/

Witches of East End was a show about beautiful, powerful, dark-haired women who had a bunch of family drama and also did magic. It was totally addictive and left us way too soon.


Wonderfalls (2004)

wonderfalls tv show posterSource: http://tvtropes.org/

Apparently casting Lee Pace in a show created by Bryan Fuller unleashes a curse. What curse you ask?

That curse is that there will be an amazing show that is a bit too intelligent or weird for the masses, and thus it will end way too soon. Such was the case with Pushing Daisies, and such was the case with it’s predecessor, Wonderfalls. While Pace only had a supporting role, Caroline Dhavernas starred as a sarcastic, frustrated 20-something girl who uses her Ivy League degree to work in a souvenir shop in Niagara Falls. Then fake (plastic) animals start talking to her.


Deadwood (2004)

deadwood_titleimageSource: http://www.tvguide.com/

Deadwood was an HBO show that was cancelled as it was about to go into production for its 4th season. It left a LOT of loose ends hanging. Fans of the western had hoped that those ends would be tied up in 1 or 2 made-for-TV movies, but those dreams never came to fruition.


It’s hard to believe that HBO would cancel Deadwood, but the most shocking show cancellation is yet to come.


Moonlight (2007)

moonlightSource: http://www.imdb.com/

This show was a campy vampire soap-opera-esque prime-time mystery at its greatest. Sadly, it was not appreciated for what it was – a show about a sexy vampire private detective and the cute blond he falls for under the moonlight in LA. It was canceled, but we somehow got like sixteen Twilight movies, and those vampires hated themselves and sparkled. Thanks Hollywood.


V (2009-2011)

v_2009_intertitleSource: http://www.denofgeek.com/

V was a remake, sort of. In the mid 1980’s there were two mini-series and a short-lived show. In 2009, the new show was an attempt to take that story – earth’s first meeting with extra terrestrials who are super advanced and come in peace but (shock!) not really – and remake it. It worked for two seasons and then was canceled due to low ratings.


Terra Nova (2011)

Terranova-LogoSource: http://www.tvguide.com/

Terra Nova was about time travel and dinosaurs, and we’re still not quite sure how it all ended up going so very, very wrong. (Yes we are. It cost a fortune to make.) Definitely a situation where if a show had been given another season to really find it’s groove, it could’ve been something truly special.


Undeclared (2001-2002)


Undeclared was a show brought to us by Judd Apatow, who also brought us Freaks and Geeks. The show was about college freshman and the recently divorced dad of one who decides to hang out with them. It received much critical acclaim but suffered from poor ratings.


Better Off Ted (2009-2010)

betterofftedSource: http://www.popmatters.com/

This was a show in the same vein as The Office, but darker and definitely a sit-com as opposed to a “documentary.” It was hilarious, particularly to those who have survived the grind of corporate America. Worth watching for Portia de Rossi alone.


Terriers (2010)


Terriers somehow managed to be one of the lowest-rated shows in FX’s history. However, it received a Metascore of 75 and got a 94% on the Tomatometer at Rotten Tomatoes. What that basically means is that nearly everyone who saw the show loved it, just…not a lot of people saw it. A former cop/recovering alcoholic and his ex-con best friend start up an unlicensed detective agency and generally attempt to avoid other adult responsibilities.


Arrested Development (2003-2006)

arrested_developmentSource: https://en.wikipedia.org

Arrested Development was canceled after just three seasons yet retains one of the biggest cult followings of any modern TV show. (Seriously, the fans rival Firefly’s fans.) It was brought back in 2013 for a fourth season via the magic of Netflix. The original run of the show won six Primetime Emmys and a Golden Globe. After the fourth season on Netflix, there was supposedly going to be a film, or a fifth season, or both. But neither have come to fruition, so who knows?


Jericho (2006 - 2008)

jerichoSource: http://www.moviestalk.com/

Jericho was a show about what happens to people in a small town after nuclear war devastates most of the US. It was initially canceled after the first season due to low ratings, but there was such an uproar from fans that the network reluctantly made a second season of only 7 episodes that premiered in early 2008. The story now lives on in comic book form.


Revolution (2012-2014)

revolution_logoSource: http://www.imdb.com/

Revolution was brought to us by the same mind that gave us Supernatural – Eric Kripke – along with J.J. Abrams. The show is about a family trying to survive in a world post-electricity. Fifteen years prior, there was a great permanent blackout. The people of Earth were, by and large, not prepared to return to a pre-Industrial Revolution way of life.


Southland (2009)

southland-logoSource: http://www.imdb.com/

Southland was a cop-drama about a rookie and his experienced partner in LA. It was killed by NBC after one season, but resurrected on TNT for another four. Sometimes, when the big networks don’t get magical ratings overnight, they pull the plug on some really good shows. Their loss.


The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien (2009-2010)


This Tonight Show was full of drama from the start, and it was all off screen. O’Brien had been doing Late Night with Conan O’Brien for over a decade and a half, and Jay Leno had been doing The Tonight Show, which aired an hour earlier. Leno attempted to move on to bigger and better things, so O’Brien took over. Then when bigger and better things didn’t pan out for Leno, O’Brien was sent packing, and Leno was given back his spot. (That is until The Tonight Show was taken over by Jimmy Fallon in 2014.) Comedy is subjective; some people preferred O’Brien, some Leno, but most people can agree that O’Brien was treated quite poorly by the network. It’s worth noting that O’Brien’s version of The Tonight Show got 4 Emmy nominations in its 7 month run.


Star Trek (1966-1969)


This was the original series about cowboys in space. Sadly, it only lasted three seasons. Eleven movies and five other longer-running series later…we’re thinking the studio made the wrong call, here. (In case you haven’t heard, there’s another Star Trek series to start in September 2017, Star Trek: Discovery.)


Futurama (1999-2002 on Fox), 2006-2008 direct-to-DVD movies made by Cartoon Network), (2010-2014 on Comedy Central)

futurama_1999_logoSource: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Futurama

Futurama follows Phillip J Fry, a pizza delivery boy who finds himself cryogenically frozen on New Year’s Eve 1999, only to wake up in the 31st century where he becomes…a delivery boy. The show is funny, wickedly clever and heart-wrenching. (When was the last time an adult half hour cartoon show made you cry? Just watch “Jurassic Bark.”) Honestly, we’re hoping that Netflix picks it up because there will NEVER be enough Futurama. Even in 2016 the first season is still eerily relevant.


Freaks & Geeks (1999-2000)

freaks_and_geeksSource: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freaks_and_Geeks

Freaks and Geeks was a show about high school misfits in the 1980’s. One sibling was a freak, the other was a geek. It boasted a cast of actors that would later come to be household names – John Francis Daley, James Franco, Seth Rogen & Jason Segel – yet was canceled after only 12 episodes aired, though 18 had been filmed.

Photos: Feature Image: dvd box cover clip via collider.com, text added (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free media available.)  25. wikimedia commons (public domain), 24. Tom Small via flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, 23. richkidsunite via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 22. TV show poster via imdb.com, (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free media available.) 21. Showtime, Dead-like-meCC BY-SA 3.0, 20. wikimedia commons (public domain), 19. public domain via bradybunch.wikia.com, 18. wikimedia commons (public domain), 17. wikimedia commons (public domain), 16. tv show poster via imdb.com, (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free media available.) 15. screen shot via wikipedia.com, (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free media available.), 14. moonlight poster via dvd.netflix, (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free media available.) 13. wikimedia commons (public domain), 12. wikimedia commons (public domain), 11. title screen shot via wikipedia, (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free media available.) 10. logo via wikipedia, (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free media available.) 9. Season 1, Episode 3: “Change Partners” Original broadcast: September 22, 2010 on FX (Fair use), 8-5. wikimedia commons (public domain), 4. Ryan Olsen via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 3-2. wikimedia commons (public domain), 2. 1. Screen shot from opening credits via en.wikipedia (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free media available.)