Who’s ready for a rewatch?
We’ve all had to deal with the horror and misery of having our favourite TV shows cancelled at some point in our lives. And if you’re a sci-fi fan, chances are it’s happened way more than once.
Here are the TV shows we’re still mourning:
1. Dark Angel
OK, so MAYBE Michael Weatherly had to go on and film a little show called NCIS and MAYBE the ratings dropped because of the structure of the second season but that is NO EXCUSE to leave this cyberpunk show on a cliffhanger.
Thankfully, the DVD commentary for the series finale included show co-creator Charles H. Eglee explaining the intended plot for the third season.
Some of this plot was explored and expanded upon in the follow-up companion novels Skin Game and After the Dark. These books are definitely worth a read, and there’s also a prequel called Before the Dawn that I would 100 per cent recommend if you were as obsessed with this show as I was.
Anyone who’s anyone knows that Firefly is always going to appear on a list of TV shows cancelled too soon. This sci-fi/wild west beauty only got one awesome season before it was canned. That’s just brutal.
After this show was cut, it went on to become a cult phenomenon. Since people would not shut up about their eternal disappointment, we eventually got a feature film in 2005 that served as a continuation of the story.
After just 13 episodes, Terriers was cancelled due to poor ratings. Which is a pretty incongruous state of affairs, since fans and critics absolutely loved it, and the show ranked on many lists of 2010’s best new TV series.
The love for Terriers is quiet but persistent. Even if you’ve never heard of it before, half a dozen of your friends probably have, and they’ll be more than ready to educate you on the injustice of it being cancelled.
4. Happy Endings
I cannot even begin to express how devastated I was when I found out that Happy Endings had been cancelled. This show was LOVE and LIFE and EVERYTHING GOOD IN THE WORLD.
I’m going to straight-up blame the inconsistent episode scheduling and stupid moves by the ABC for an eventual ratings drop and cancellation.
They aired most of the first season out of order, destroying continuity (Dave’s food truck just blinked in and out of existence throughout the series), didn’t air the actual second season finale at the right time because they wanted to premiere Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23, and then just played pinball with time slots for the entire third season. Bad move, ABC. Bad move.
5. Pushing Daisies
A sad victim of the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike, Pushing Daisies only saw nine of its scheduled 22 episodes go to air in the first season. A ratings drop in the second season meant that only 13 episodes aired.
The showrunners did know the cancellation was coming, though, and they attempted to wrap everything up in an extremely rushed season finale.
Dreams of a comic continuation of the series were dashed when the publisher was shut down. There may still be hope for a film or musical revival, especially since Broadway darling Kristin Chenoweth was part of the cast.
Low ratings in the third season meant Hannibal (based on the Thomas Harris novels Red Dragon and Hannibal) went down almost as smoothly as some fava beans and a nice Chianti. Almost.
When the showrunners realised that this was to be one of many great TV shows cancelled, they pushed their artistic vision to the limit. Creator Bryan Fuller tweeted in 2015, “IF YOU THOUGHT THE ‘HORSE-WITH-THE-CORPSE-IN-IT-WITH-THE-BIRD-IN-IT’ WAS WEIRD, HANNIBAL EPISODE3-VII #DIGESTIVO IS MUCH, MUCH WEIRDER.” He didn’t disappoint.
This one may not have been an outstanding TV show but the premise was incredibly interesting: Alcatraz was not shut down due to safety concerns; it was shut down because the entire population of the prison mysteriously disappeared. And now they’re reappearing in today’s society with no memory of what has happened or where they’ve been since 1963.
The ratings weren’t great and critics were lukewarm in their reception, but sometimes you just need some damn closure.
8. Up All Night
With a cast comprising Christina Applegate, Will Arnett and Maya Rudolph, Up All Night was so enigmatic it was hard to look away. Sadly, during a mid-season hiatus that would see the switch from single-cam to multi-cam filming, both Christina Applegate and the show’s creator left the project.
9. The Carrie Diaries
This prequel to Sex and the City included fantastic ’80s fashion and some downright divine hair game from Annasophia Robb. It ended with Carrie living in New York City and sharing an apartment with a younger Samantha Jones.
Executive Producer Amy B. Harris revealed that she was glad to end it on a note that could have comfortably fit a season or series finale.
I guess that’s acceptable, since we don’t TECHNICALLY need a story that bridges the two series together seamlessly, but fans everywhere were left wondering how Carrie would meet her other BFFs and how they would live without the cute-as-a-button Sebastian character in their lives.
10. Freaks and Geeks
This one-season hit served as a big break for Judd Apatow, who has gone on to produce, write and direct some of the most memorable comedies of the past 20-odd years.
But most of the love for this show comes from the stellar cast – a line-up brimming with stars we know and love, including Seth Rogen, Jason Segal and James Franco.
The show ultimately fell victim to terrible time slots on its network (NBC) but it’s become a cult favourite. If you ask any group of people about TV shows cancelled too soon, chances are there will be at least one person (usually more) who launches into a rant about the fate of Freaks and Geeks.
11. Dead Like Me
The concept for this show is FASCINATING, especially if you’re a fan of detailed back story and interpretations of mythology. The pilot lured in 1.11 million viewers – a Showtime record that remained unbroken until the premiere of Shameless seven years later.
However, creator Bryan Fuller left partway through the first season due to major disagreements about the direction of the show and some say that change in direction was a major contributor to the show’s demise.
Dead Like Me did spark enough interest to create a direct-to-DVD movie that was released in 2009, although some main characters were either absent entirely or recast.
12. Tru Calling
It’s a pity that Tru Davies’ ability to help the dead didn’t extend to this doomed TV show. Tru Calling was a slow-burn tale, and the pacing is cited by many as a reason for its cancellation.
About 15 episodes into the 20-episode first season, almost everyone agrees that the show took a turn for the better but even some stellar follow-up episodes weren’t enough to save it. Tru Calling actually screened its finale in other countries before the US got a peek because it kept being pushed back.
After its cancellation, writer Doris Egan wrote about some of the proposed storylines for the TV show, which made everyone regret their life choices. This show could’ve been spectacular if it had been quicker to develop.
13. Terra Nova
Dinosaurs. Time travel. Steven Spielberg producing. What more could you want? Apparently some people wanted dialogue and minor plot lines that weren’t quite so cheesy and family-friendly. Reviews for Terra Nova went up and down, with a promising pilot, weak mid-season offering and thrilling cliffhanger finale.
The pilot reportedly cost around $10 million to make and the other episodes weren’t far behind. Low ratings just weren’t enough to justify such an immense budget – with those figures, extinction was inevitable.
14. Faking It
I can’t say that this one is too much of a surprise after a year-long gap between the first and second half of season 2. Plus, when you try to explain some of the plot out loud to people who haven’t watched it, you can’t help but laugh.
But teens questioning and embracing their sexuality, the first intersex character played by an intersex actor, and actual laugh-out-loud humour made this a delight to watch. Come baaaaaack.
15. The Newsroom
If you loved the snappy writing of The West Wing, chances are you’ll love basically everything that Aaron Sorkin writes. But the “failure” of this TV show actually had Sorkin claiming that he was no longer interested in writing for TV.
While there are only 25 episodes in the three-season run, each episode ran for somewhere between 50 and 75 minutes, and boy did it cram in the content with Sorkin’s trademark fast-paced dialogue.
Many reviews indicate that critics viewed the series as little more than a soapbox for Aaron Sorkin’s political views. Which would work well if you agreed with him, and could be detrimental if you didn’t.
16. Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23
Much like with Happy Endings, ABC decided to throw caution and continuity to the wind by airing episodes of Don’t Trust the B—- in whatever order they felt like.
Then, partway through the second season, the show was pulled from the ABC schedule entirely, leaving eight episodes unaired. The episodes were available to stream online before they were shafted as well.
17. Veronica Mars
This one is a bit of an anomaly. Veronica Mars was reportedly seeing an improvement in ratings when it was put on hiatus to make room for a new reality series: Pussycat Dolls Present. Yeah, I know. I’m just as offended as you are.
After the last five episodes of the third season aired, it was announced officially that the show would not be continuing but creator Rob Thomas tempted us all with a short promo of a flash-forward to Veronica’s time at the FBI.
Six years later, Rob Thomas and star Kristen Bell launched a Kickstarter campaign to try and crowd-fund a movie that would provide us all with some closure.
They smashed their goal of $2 million in the first 10 hours and broke all kinds of Kicktarter records before ending a month later with nearly 100,000 donors having raised $5.7 million. Yep. That’s how much we wanted more of this show. And the resulting movie was perfection.