I could see why most people think that bad ratings is the sole cause for any show going off the air for good. A show getting cancelled is such a permanent move that, while it can be undone, especially in the world of reboots that we live in, is something that impacts thousands of people. Think about it — it’s not just the viewers who are upset they can’t tune in to their favorite Monday night series. The families who are impacted from the crew to the stars are also taken into consideration. That’s why when a creator says he simply wants to cancel a show because it’s “time” despite amazing ratings, it’s pretty shocking.
But then again that’s the way of the Hollywood world. Here one day and gone the next could really be the motto for a lot of these shows that saw their final days for shocking reasons. Not because people weren’t tuning in (even though that is the case for some of them), but there are even classics on this list that ended for reasons we really didn’t think of. We know shows like The Cosby Show are no longer on the air (clearly), but have you ever really thought about why it was cancelled or even just fizzled out? Then there are other shows that we completely forgot about and could be going to see if the entire series is on Netflix despite not really having an interest in it when it was on the air. From sexual allegations to cast feuds, there are some pretty shocking reasons why our favorite shows are no longer with us. Take a look.
15. The Cosby Show – Too Many New Characters
It’s no secret at all that The Cosby Show is arguably one of the biggest classic sitcoms of our time. The show was on the air from 1984-1992 and made a huge splash as it featured the first successful African American family on the small screen. But you might not have been able to see the alleged reason for its cancellation coming. Rumor has it it’s because the show continued to add way too many people. Now, as simple as that sounds, it’s not surprising that that could ruin a series. But what’s shocking is that it had the potential to ruin The Cosby Show when viewers met a slew of new characters in its sixth season. From Denise Huxtable going from a recurring to regular character again to her husband, Mark, and stepdaughter Olivia joining the cast, that was more than enough.
14. Angel – “Are You Picking Us Up Or Not?”
Angel was a huge hit on WB back in the early 2000s. This is why it was so shocking when the show got cancelled. And no it wasn’t bad ratings or anything like that. Instead, it looks like it was the show’s creator who made it get the boot. Producer David Fury told the story back in 2004 during an interview with Mike Jozic. He said the show’s creator, Joss Whedon, who also created its predecessor Buffy, was certain that the show would get picked up for what was supposed to be its sixth season. He went as far as asking the WB executive Jordan Levin, if it would be renewed. Well, word is he said, “Like, make your decision now whether you’re going to pick us up or not.” Levin’s response? “Okay, we’re canceling you.” Rumor has it both WB and Whedon regret the choice of Angel not continuing on after that.
13. Arrested Development – Creators Turned Down Reboot Offers
Oh my gosh, Arrested Development was such a hit! But it didn’t make it to season four. Apparently it wasn’t a big enough hit because the show had low ratings. Mitch Hurwitz, who created the show, even received offers from Showtime, who still believed in everything the show could do. But you know what? Hurwitz said nope. It’s because he thought the show had served its purpose and that it was time for it to go off the air. Jason Bateman, who starred as Michael Bluth, spoke on the cancellation. “I’m proud of [the show] and so like it as a TV fan that I’m happy we’re not going to get a chance to screw it up,” he confessed in an interview. “Our luck wouldn’t have held. There would have been cast fighting. We would have messed it up.” He might have been completely joking but sometimes it’s best to go out while you’re on top before you start to make your way to the bottom. The show was, however, brought back on Netflix.
12. Reading Rainbow – Not Educational Enough?
You would never guess why Reading Rainbow was not renewed for another season. Apparently it wasn’t educational enough. Yes, the introduction of the song was amazing (cue “butterfly in the sky….”) as well as the adorable moments at the end that included the saying, “But don’t take my word for it, see for yourself!” And host LeVar Burton was a hit too. But, the show was taken off the air because it wasn’t educational enough. Yes, that’s exactly right. And to make matters worse, George W. Bush was blamed for it when he signed the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002. It was said that a child’s love for reading couldn’t be measured based on the standards of the act. PBS subsequently didn’t have the money from the government it needed to continue the show. So it got the axe. Reading Rainbow started back in 1983 and reruns ran in syndication all the way until 2009. Burton has since started a KickStarter campaign in hopes of giving the show a reboot.
11. Martha Stewart Living – Criminal Record
Martha Stewart was a huge hit with her series Martha Stewart Living. So there were lots of questions of why it was yanked off the air. Well, it was her criminal activity that seemed to put an end to her small screen fame. At least for the time being. Yes, her sentence was a minimum one to say the least, but she was no longer known as this matriarch for all things home, cooking, and entertainment. Instead, she kind of had a tainted image and she was replaced with another television show. She tried to reboot her television career with a talk show but it looked like people didn’t really care what she had to say. Interestingly enough, now that her criminal drama has died down, she returned to television on VH1 with a cooking show with Snoop Dogg. That seems to be a hit and she’s even able to laugh at her past on it.
10. The Good Life – Assault Allegations And Controversial Rape Comments
Cee-Lo Green‘s view of “rape” is what caused him his reality series The Good Life. The show, which aired on TBS, was supposed to show the multi-talented singer, producer, and performer in a light that allowed fans to see what is life is like on a day-to-day basis. But after he took to Twitter to share his thoughts on sexual assault, the network pulled the plug on the show. He wrote, “If someone is passed out they’re not even WITH you consciously. People have really been raped REMEMBER!!!” He did apologize for his comment but it also came as a woman claimed that he gave her MDMA, also known as ecstasy, and then took advantage of her sexually. He pleaded no contest to the felony and was sentenced to 360 hours of community service. He was also on probation for three years. The first season of the show featured six episodes and snagged the attention of 677,000 viewers each night.
9. Heroes – Writer’s Strike
Yes, the Writers Guild of America strike back in 2008 was huge and extremely important. But Heroes was just one of several shows impacted by it. Others included Girlfriends, Everybody Hates Chris, and The Game. Interestingly enough, it was the writing and the plot that seemed to cancel the show after viewers simply stopped tuning in regularly. Fans were said to have been unable to connect the dots between the second and third season, making season four even more unbearable. The show ended up going off of the air after four seasons. But there is speculation had the strike not happened and the show not been impacted, it could still be going strong. Or at least could have gone for a few more years before seeing its final days. It didn’t really have the chance to bow out gracefully because only 4.41 people watched the series finale. You win some, you lose some.
8. Grace Under Fire – Drunken Antics On Set
I think all of us could see the potential that Grace Under Fire had after it debuted in 1993. It was even considered a top 20 hit in its first three seasons. But it ended up cancelled after season five. I really thought this show would end up being an ongoing classic. Still, the off-camera issues the cast had weren’t enough to carry the show as far as it could truly go. Brett Butler, who starred as Grace, was actually reported to have an addiction to pain killers. Unfortunately, she continuously disrespected and mistreated her co-stars. Things came to a head when the young actor who played her son, Jon Paul Steuer, quit the show just ahead of the fourth season amid speculation that Butler showed her breasts to him. Julie White also walked away from the show because of Butler’s alleged inexcusable behavior. Butler ended up seeking professional help as the show slowly went away until it left the small screen for good.
7. Happy Endings – Execs Said The Show Was “Too Narrow”
ABC confessed it did think Happy Endings was a good enough show to fit in with the overall branding message the network wanted to send to viewers. It’s not clear what the message is, or more so why Happy Endings fit it. But what’s clear is that the show got the boot after being on the air for two years. The entertainment chief for the network, Paul Lee, said in a statement, “I do think ‘Happy Endings’ is absolutely on brand. What we found was it was just too narrow. It was a very hard decision because, as you know, I love that show and I found it very hard to make that decision.” Apparently “too narrow” is code for “low ratings.” The story line for the show included a couple, David and Alex, who broke up after Alex left him at the altar. They still remained friends so it surrounded their close ones dealing with the split but still living life together.
6. Ellen – Coming Out Got Her Cancelled
Ellen DeGeneres has an extremely popular talk show and even two major movie deals under her belt (Finding Nemo and Finding Dory), but fans might remember her sitcom Ellen back in 90s is what launched her career. Interestingly enough, she was one of the first celebrities to come out as homosexual . There was a whole entire one-hour special complete with a viewer discretionary warning about the news. But the backlash she received was even bigger. Word is the backlash was too much for her. So she took a break from the spotlight. She returned in 2001 with the debut of her talk show, which is now one of the most popular around today. The now infamous episode aired on April 30 1997. It was called “The Puppy Episode” and marked the finale for the fourth season. Apparently it marked the finale for the series as well. Forty-two million viewers tuned in to the episode.
5. Penny Dreadful – Meant To End
Not only was the cancellation of Penny Dreadful shocking but the ending was as well. The series came to a close after three seasons, but one of the final scenes included Vanessa Ives’ shocking and heartbreaking death. What made it even crazier was that this was the first time the show had confirmed that it was coming to an end when it literally posted the words, “The End.” Between speechless gasps and the clutching of pearls and the murderous scream of, “What?!” heard in households throughout the nation, to say that the cancellation of this series is an understatement. So what caused it? The creator of the show, John Logan, said he felt it was time. “To me, the show was always going to achieve closure with the death of Vanessa. And all the storylines this season were meant to be leaving characters at a place of appropriate and beautiful stasis.”
4. Veronica Mars – Execs Hated The New Direction
I have to say Veronica Mars going off the air wasn’t too surprising. It seemed like it was on a downward spiral after the suspense kind of seemed to be reaching for the stars. But the reason it went off the air is still shocking. Apparently the network, The CW, thought that the content of the show wasn’t a good fit. To be honest, these days a reboot could be a hit on Freeform along with shows like Pretty Little Liars and Shadowhunters. The show’s creator, Rob Thomas, said that they tried to switch things up with Veronica possibly taking on the FBI. “It was our Hail Mary pass to try to get another season or two out of the show. When we went in and pitched it to them, Dawn loved it…The impression I got was someone, probably Les Moonves (President of CBS, The C in CW), just said, ‘are you kidding, we’ve given this show three seasons,’ and killed it.”
3. Boss – Cancelled Because The Star Was A Republican
Kelsey Grammer might have been television royalty after shows like Frasier and creating the hit series Girlfriends that lasted for eight seasons. But when it came to him actually starring in the Boss series on Starz, that show only lasted for two seasons. Telling the story of a Chicago mayor who had more than his fair share of mental issues, the show also featured Grammer as a producer. And while he won a Golden Globe, he didn’t snag any coveted Emmy nominations. Interestingly enough, Grammer said he thinks the show was cancelled because he was a strong Republican Party advocate. He supported candidates like John McCain in 2008 and Michele Bachmann in 2012. The network, however, said that the show suffered from low ratings. But Grammer said that was pretty much impossible because it was renewed for a sophomore season before the first even made its big debut. Funny how that works.
2. Freaks and Geeks – Judd Apatow Didn’t Take Execs Advice
Who remembers Freaks and Geeks?! I guess the better question is how could we forget Freaks and Geeks. It was the first of its kind and marked the first breakout role for the likes of people like Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jason Segel, Linda Cardellini, Samm Levine, and more. So why didn’t it make the cut past one season? Well, the executive who pulled the cord, Garth Ancier, revealed that he would do it again if needed. “I thought we had a very nice chat about ‘Freaks and Geeks’ on Saturday night,” he said after Rogen spoke about the cancellation on SNL and Twitter. “As I said, my only note to [the co-creator] Judd Apatow over the entire series was that either the Freaks and/or Geeks should win the occasional victory over the cooler kids — especially since Judd Apatow has taken that note in every hit movie since then.” Dang, Gina.
1. Dollhouse – Network Didn’t Push The Show Enough
Dollhouse might have had a nice looking cast but it only lasted for half of an actual season. It told the story of a top secret facility that does away with the secret lives of Echo and her friends so they can live normal lives… or try to. While it sounds like a pretty cool concept, the creators were over it before the ink even dried on the contracts. So they axed it. And who was the creator of this show? None other than Joss Whedon. There is other speculation that viewers just didn’t care enough about the show to keep it around. From low advertising dollars (the network reportedly didn’t push enough commercials) to coming on television on a Friday night, which could arguably be considered the day television shows go to die, this just wasn’t the best scenario for the series to begin with. Maybe next time, Whedon!