Top 10 TV Shows That Were Stupidly Cancelled
It’s not often that television producers are willing to take a risk with a new, unique or unorthodox property. One the few occasions that they do push ahead with something unfamiliar they run into all sorts of problems – they don’t know how to market it, they don’t know who the audience will be, and so forth. If it does see the light of the dull glow of a television it’s not going to take much for the network to cut their loses and can the show. The number of great shows that weren’t given their due is an extensive one, and here’s the ones that we really wanted to see more of.
Since this one has been given a stay of execution is will sit on the bottom of the list, but it’s still not fully pardoned. The quirky, pop-culture referencing cast of oddballs who populate Greendale Community College make for some of the best television currently happening. Brilliantly written and acted with plenty of quotable gags when NBC shelved the series halfway through the third season the fans became very vocal and very angry, hitting the internet with a number of campaigns supported by the cast and crew. NBC quickly stated that they “didn’t intend to cancel the show” after many media outlets listed it as one of the best things on television and announced the return of the series.
Current Status: Back tomorrow!
After the massive success of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel, Joss Whedon carried high expectations from the studios. After one mishandled series a much safer bet was placed with Dollhouse. With fan favourite Eliza Dushku heading up the action orientated sci-fi show, people were excited. Audiences, however, wound up divided and with inconsistent quality due to a producers insistence on the first few episodes being stand-along stories approved by marketing the ratings hit a slump. Pulling out all the stops towards the end of season 2 Whedon and Co. started to make things look interesting again, but it wasn’t enough.
Current Status: Deactivated.
One of the most intriguing and visually interesting drama series to appear in recent years, Carnivale rode on the shirt tales of shows like Lost where the viewers were introduced to a mystery early on with only slight clues dolled out each episode. Set during the Great Depression we follow a circus troupe through the dust-bowl as they head towards a clash with a dangerous preacher with unusual powers. Themes of the supernatural took centre stage and although interest began high, the writers were forced to rush the finale into the end of the second season. The final episode of well received, but it was clear that too much information needed to be crammed into it.
Current Status: Pack up and left town.
7. Twin Peaks
Without the success of David Lynch’s mind bending and blockbusting series two decades ago we wouldn’t have shows like Lost or any of the big concept dramas which followed in its wake. When Laura Palmer is murdered in the small town of Twin Peaks the FBI send in Agent Cooper to solve the crime and drink some damn fine coffee. The show was a massive success which hinged on the mystery of the murderer. When show helmer Lynch put his original plan into action and fazed out the murder mystery to cast a wider view over the town audiences started to tune out. After a poorly received feature film the shows closed for good, robbing audiences of the opportunity to find out what else the writers had in store for the locals.
Current Status: Murdered.
6. Star Trek
Whilst the highly original Star Trek opened strongly it rapidly dropped ratings until it sat in the middle of the ladder. Until threat of the axe the fans of the show started a letter writing campaign to NBC until they renewed it for a second season. Showing the smart thinking that is demonstrated by television studio to this day, NBC put the fledgling show in the Friday night death slot with a lower budget where it held little opportunity to find new viewers. When Paramount inherited the rights to the show following a corporate take-over they sold it into syndication to recoup the costs. When the reruns generated a massive cult following Paramount decided to resurrect the show, beginning one of the biggest television programs of all time.
Current Status: Recently the subject of a successful cinema reboot with a sequel in the works.
Although Fox rejected all the ideas Matt Groening pitched for a The Simpsons spin-off (included Homer’s high school years and a live action Krusty talk show) they did push his sci-fi themed animated series Futurama. Although Fox heavily promoted the series randomly changing timeslots, inconsistent quality and sci-fi references made it difficult for the ratings to stay high enough for renewal. After four and half seasons the plug was pulled before Fox started to count their income from the DVD sales. Iconic characters and a sly wit had made the show a cult success and with the DVD box sets making them readily available the studio who axed the show noticed their mistake. The production of four DVD movies was quickly commissioned and even though they wrapped up the series a new season was approved.
Current Status: Still flying!
4. Freaks and Geeks
I’m willing to bet that somebody got fired for this one…when you’ve got a show starring the soon-to-be-famous talents of James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segal and Linda Cardellini you shouldn’t be quick to axe it. Created by Judd Apatow to boot, it was set in a high school circa 1980 where the a group of stoned out of their minds freaks and weak, nerdy geeks try to deal with their issues. Brilliantly funny and packed to the brim with talented actors and cameos it was impeded by the studios inability to market anything that wasn’t formula. Canned at the end of the first season, the DVDs became best sellers.
Current Status: Even if the studio wanted it back they couldn’t afford the cast.
3. Arrested Development
Much like Freaks and Geeks this series features cast members you’d struggle to put together on the small screen, namely Jason Bateman and Michael Cera as the black sheep father and son of the Bluth family. The rest of the clan, played by David Cross, Portia de Rossi, Jeffery Tambor, WIll Arnett and others are the most shallow, self involved people you are ever likely to meet. When their fortune disappears when the head of the family (and family business) is arrested everyone is left looking to middle child Michael for help. Brilliantly well written with running gags that start as snowballs and end as avalanches with an endless parade of guest stars and the smartest absurdest comedy ever seen on television. Mainstream audiences didn’t gravitate towards the Bluths, however, and they didn’t make it through the third season.
Current Status: After almost a decade of fan campaigns the entire cast have signed on for a short new season followed by a movie.
2. Veronica Mars
Veronica Mars was Buffy the Vampire Slayer if you swapped out the supernatural for classic film noir. Everything from the tone to the writing style to the ensemble cast was clearly lifted from the aforementioned work by Joss Whedon, except one could argue that Veronica Mars is better written. Joss Whedon called it the best thing on television and even appeared in a cameo. Starring the likes of Kristen Bell and Amanda Seyfred, riffing on classic detective stories, it’s amazing that this was ever axed – especially in favour of the execrable Search For the Next Pussycat Doll.
Current Status: Despite an awesome half-episode featuring grown up Mars as an FBI agent, this case has been closed.
Yeah, you all saw this coming. We only ever saw half a season of Firefly committed to film, but those few episodes was enough to turn into a cult sensation. To this day there’s still merchandise being produced, comics being written and fan fiction popping up all over the internet. Fox had placed their bets on Whedon following the success of his previous titles and allowed him to put together a big project with nine main characters and an expensive premise. Not wanting to invest to much money into an already expensive project Fox stupidly cut back the budget on every aspect of the show they could. It was poorly marketed, shifted from one terrible timeslot to another at a moments notice and playing the introductory episodes out of order – even people who wanted to watch the show reported missing episodes because they didn’t know when it was going to be on week to week. When it folded there was a massive outcry from fans, cast and crew who justifiably saw it as the next big thing and it continues to inspire conventions every year. Not bad for only eleven episodes.
Current Status: Although Universal tried to breathe some life into it with a feature film, the Serenity has been grounded for good.
Terriers! That is all!
Thanks for reminding how much I loved these short lived shows
I completely agree with Arrested Development and Community. I haven’t watched Firefly yet, but I heard it was amazing.
I cry all the time for Veronica Mars and well just about all the rest!
As much as i LOVED Twin Peaks, i thought we saw more than enough of it really. In season 2, once Laura’s murder is solved, we’re left with a few more episodes till the amazing finale. Those few episodes were pretty dull without the main plot of the story present anymore.
Freaks and Geeks should have gone longer. It was brilliant.
I need to re-watch Firefly.
I’d also add Pushing Daisies to that list. 🙂
That they cancelled Veronica Mars hurt me the most. =(