40 TV Shows That Were Canceled Too Soon
Trust us when we say that these 40 shows were canceled far too early. They deserved a few more seasons to really get off the ground. Unfortunately, we'll never know!
We love new shows as much as the next person, but to get those shows, we have to see some cancelations. Some shows, we think it’s about time that they get the ax. They’ve been on TV for years and years. Take a look at The Simpsons, just as an example. Sure, it uses current life events, but the storylines have run their course. Instead, we could have a refreshed show that features new characters, new situations, and something a little more…new.
That being said, we think networks made some pretty horrible decisions sometimes. TV shows that should have done well, or would have done well, got the ax after a single season or two. Usually, the reason is that the show didn’t get high enough ratings or not enough people tuned in, but here’s the thing: it can take time for a TV show to grow. Not every show will start out a major hit. We can’t all be Breaking Bad, okay? Heck, even Breaking Bad had a hard time getting on TV, and now, it’s one of the best out there!
Before we go off on a tangent, lets circle back. Despite low viewership, some series had the potential to be great, and we’ve compiled a list of the ones that fit that bill. These are shows that should have been given plenty of seasons but got axed after one or two. Maybe some good-hearted streaming service should think about bringing these series back?
Santa Clarita Diet
Santa Clarita Diet was a breath of fresh air. This show was absolutely hilarious, but Netflix still canceled it. The streaming service said it was canceled because people didn’t watch it, but other reports claim that the producers asked the star actress, Drew Barrymore, to lose weight. Barrymore refused to lose weight, which could have contributed to it being axed.
Pushing Daisies was one of the best shows on TV during the late 2000s. The characters were quirky, and the dialogue was incredibly well written. The cast included Lee Pace and Kristin Chenoweth (both all-stars), so it was pretty dang surprising when it was canceled.
The Good Guys
The Good Guys starred Tom Hanks’s son, Colin Hanks, and Bradley Whitford. It was about a young, straight-laced cop who was paired with an older cop who refused to play by the rules. It was your typical buddy-cop show, but it had so much depth by the end of season one. It broke our hearts when it was canceled.
After a single season, Whiskey Cavalier got the ax. It starred some pretty big names, so we’re not sure why it got canceled. It had low ratings, but there was so much effort put into the first season that the second season was going to be a hit. Unfortunately, we’ll never see it.
Rob Lowe has a hard time with shows. A lot his get canceled, and this was one that deserved more. After one season, Fox canceled The Grinder even though it had the perfect combo of high-brow and low-brow comedy, which is pretty rare. When you couple that with the chemistry between Lowe and Fred Savage, the removal is even more confusing.
Sense8 was canceled after season two and was saved by Netflix to have a two-hour movie that would wrap up any loose ends. That being said, it was utter bologna that it was even canceled in the first place. It had diverse casting, and fans adored it.
Agent Carter was a blessing. She’s one of the best characters in the Marvel Universe, but her stand-alone show got canceled after two seasons. If you ask us, that was way too soon. What makes it worse is that we probably won’t see any more Agent Carter at all.
Moonlight was such a good show. It just jumped the gun on the whole vampire craze. Soon after the series was canceled, other vampire shows got incredibly popular and ran for several seasons. Moonlight could have been just as popular. It was about a vampire detective who was getting awfully close to a human cop while investigating crimes. Another network should really bring it back.
Constantine followed a self-destructive hero that just wanted to keep demons out of people and off the face of the earth. The series had one season, which was pretty good, but it wasn’t brought back thanks to the first eight episodes doing poorly. Regardless, the characters were written very well and had great direction.
Dead Like Me
Dead Like Me was a series from 2003 that lasted two seasons on Showtime. Several fans thought that Showtime jumped the gun when they canceled it due to poor ratings. After it’s cancelation, a lot of fans canceled their Showtime subscription and went on hiatus. Some didn’t even subscribe again until 2011 when Shameless (U.S.) premiered.
Feed the Beast
Feed the Beast was a new type of a show…sort of. It followed a character in the restaurant scene, but it was a serious show. It was great to see a restaurant setting that wasn’t a reality show or a comedy. Better yet, it starred Jim Sturgess and David Schwimmer. It looked like it had potential, but it was canceled far too soon.
Deadwood lasted three seasons before it was canceled, and that makes no sense. The show has an incredible 95% Rotten Tomatoes rating and starred people like Timothy Olyphant and Ian McShane. This one fell victim to being ahead of its time. With how popular Westworld is, Deadwood would be a major hit today.
Not a lot of people watched Secret Circle, but those that did absolutely adored it. It came out in 2011 during a time when there weren’t many shows about witches, so it was certainly unique. The series itself was based on a book series by the same author that did Vampire Dairies, so it could have been a hit. It only lasted one season before it received the ax.
No list would be complete without Jericho. The series was canceled after one season, but fans literally revolted and managed to get it back for a second season. Following the second season, it was canceled yet again, but we don’t understand why. If we had to guess, it was because the show was ahead of its time. It came out before the Walking Dead and other famous apocalyptic-esque shows.
Firefly is another one that fans were upset about. The series was set 500 years after a universal civil war, and it follows a crew that took any job that got them paid. The premise was so incredibly unique that it was probably why it ended up being canceled. Later, a movie released that tried to tie up a few loose ends, but a full series would have been a million times better.
The Mysteries of Laura
The Mysteries of Laura starred Debra Messing, an actress we already loved from Will & Grace. Good actress? Check. The story was about Laura Diamond, a brilliant NYPD homicide detective, who strived to find a balance between her day job and personal life. Being a mom, a detective, and a divorcee is pretty tough. So, a good story? Also, check. Unfortunately, it was still canceled after just three seasons.
Terriers should be on every list of TV show that was canceled too soon. It follows an ex-cop and his criminal friend as they become private investigators (sans license). It stars Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James, two truly underrated actors. Terriers was critically acclaimed but had low ratings, so Fox canceled it.
HBO generally won’t keep shows that don’t perform as well as they want. They almost passed on Game of Thrones! Enlightened was one of those shows they should have given a chance. It starred the incredibly Laura Dern as an ambitious corporate exec who had just experienced an intense breakdown. After a three-month retreat, she returns to her life with a new “enlightened” view she desperately wants to keep.
Stitchers was a Freeform TV show, so it didn’t really have much of a chance. Had this show premiered on another network, it would still be on. The plot is just a little too dark for Freeform. It followed Kirsten Clark, who had the special ability to stitch together minds of people who had recently died to investigate their memories. Pretty cool idea, right? It was canceled after three seasons.
Better Off Ted
Better Off Ted was like a lot of office dramas, except it wasn’t. The characters were exaggerated to the point that where corporate execs were practically evil, research and development had guys that were scientific geniuses but had the social skills of a child, and then everyone else was stuck in the middle. The comedy was spot on and received a lot of critical acclaims. Still, it only lasted two seasons.
The Royals had a lot of competition when The Crown came along. That being said, The Royals was a lot different than The Crown. First of all, it was really funny, but there was plenty of drama for anyone wanting depth in their show. It was canceled after four seasons due to sexual harassment claims against the show's creator, so we’ll never see the characters develop as we should have.
Freaks and Geeks
James Franco, Seth Rogan, Busy Phillips, Jason Segel, Linda Cardellini—all people who are known for being incredibly funny and talented today. Can you believe that once upon a time their show, Freaks and Geeks, got canceled? This show could have been one of the greatest coming-of-age stories out there, but now we’ll never know, will we?
Fringe was another sci-fi series that fans adored. Almost anyone who watched it became addicted, but that didn’t save it from being canceled after its fifth season. The series was about an FBI agent, Olivia Dunham, who was assigned to the “Fringe” division. The team was designed to investigate scientific cases that didn’t go as planned, to say the least.
Critics didn’t really love The Finder, but fans adored it. The series about a man who was very good at tracking people down, thus “The Finder.” Well, in the series, he teams up with a legal advisor to search for specific people. It doesn’t sound like much, but the actors made it everyone you’d want from a comedy series.
Dark Angel starred Jessica Alba before she got super famous. It lasted a total of two seasons before it was canceled from Fox. It was set in the cyberpunk future and followed a superhuman prototype who wanted to find the other children that grew up like her. Apparently, it had a significant audience drop between the first and second seasons, but that doesn’t mean it should have been canceled. The writing was excellent, and the actors were obviously skilled as they went on to bigger projects.
About a Boy
About a Boy was directed by Jon Favreau—the same guy who did Iron Man, Avengers, and the newest Lion King movie. Basically, it should have been a hit. It was about a guy who begins to get close to his neighbors, a boy and his mother. At first, he tried to resist the relationship, but he realized there was no point. About a Boy could have been a contender.
Trophy Wife started off on the wrong foot because it had a horrible title. It follows a former party girl who settles down with the man of her dreams, who is also older and richer. Naturally, he was married before, and his two exes are still in the picture, making her the new “trophy wife.” Critics and fans loved the show, so what’s the deal?
Almost Human starred the incredibly good-looking Karl Urban. While critics were less than enthused about the series, fans adored it. It followed a futuristic cop who just woke up from a 17-month coma following an attack on the police department. When he returns, he has to work with a robot and overcome his hatred of androids. Honestly, this could have made a great movie, too.
The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.
Okay, so this one is an oldie, but it’s still a goodie. The show was about a guy named Bisco County. Bisco was a Harvard-educated lawyer who decided law wasn’t for him. Instead, he wanted to be a bounty hunter. Set in 1893, it had a comedy, sci-fi, and western vibe all tied into one. Pretty much everyone loved it, but it was canceled after just one season.
Lone Star is one of the saddest on the list because it was canceled mid-season. It aired six episodes, and the network felt like it didn’t get enough viewers. Despite widespread critical appraise, Lone Star was canceled with four episodes unaired. Someone should tell Fox that shows need more than two episodes.
Party Down had some really great comedians. It starred Adam Scott, Lizzy Caplan, Ken Marino, and Martin Starr as characters wanted to make it in Hollywood as actors. In the meantime, they worked as caterers. None of them were particularly mature, so there were tons of great moments for the short two seasons that aired.
Profit is an older TV show from 1996. It was a drama/thriller that aired on Fox and created an intense industry buzz. It was about a junior executive who was scheming his way to the top of the corporate ladder. Many considered the series to be the precursor to melodramas that would dominate TV in the early 2000s. Regardless of the praise, the show was canceled after eight episodes.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Terminator was a pretty colossal film, so it was redesigned into a TV series in 2008. It didn’t get fantastic ratings, but there were tons of die-hard fans that adored Sarah Connor. After two seasons, it was canceled by Fox. Today, something like this would do pretty well, so we had to add it to the list.
Threshold premiered in 2005 and lasted a single season before it got the ax. Sci-fi is just hard to keep on TV. It was about a team of experts who were assembled the U.S. Navy to investigate an unidentified craft that landed in the Atlantic Ocean. While the actors weren’t super famous back in the day, several of them went on to star in critically acclaimed series, making us think it was canceled too soon.
Witches of East End
Witches of East End was another supernatural show that could have been something, but it wasn’t given enough time to lift off the ground. The series followed a family of witches that lived in the seaside town of East Haven. It brought back major Charmed vibes, so fans were pretty upset when it was canceled (especially since it ended with colossal cliff hangers).
Don’t Trust the B* in Apt 23
Don’t trust the B* in Apt 23 had an eye-catching name, so we assumed it would last more than two seasons. It was about a woman who moved to Manhattan for her dream job only to find out that the company went bust. Thankfully, she finds a job working at a coffee shop with a roommate that’s less than ideal.
Bunheads doesn’t seem like one of those shows you’d adore but trust us when we say it’s fantastic. The show was pretty quirky, funny, and heartfelt. It displayed ballet in a positive, realistic light, which was kinda rare. One of the best parts of the show was how someone’s actions could significantly impact another’s, whether good or bad. It lasted a single season before it was canceled. Bunheads deserved better.
We have a weakness for buddy-cop shows, okay? Battle Creek starred Josh Duhamel and Dean Winters as two law enforcement officers. One of them was straight-laced while the other was barely put together. They worked to clean up the streets, but it all ended after 13 episodes. We want more.
Scream Queens was unlike any TV show that’s ever aired. It was a comedy horror show that poked fun at everything that makes horror industry what it is today. The characters were airheads, but the comedy was done so well that you were glued to the screen. The story follows a group of sorority girls who are battling it out with each other and a masked killer that was taking them out one by one.
Wonderfalls was a comedy series that premiered in 2004. It was about a Niagara Falls souvenir-shop employee who realizes something is up when animal figurines begin talking to her. They send cryptic messages that lead her into the lives of others. The show lasted a total of six episodes.