In a universe filled with the most puzzling mysteries and unsolved questions, one stands out amongst the rest – why do some of the greatest TV shows get cancelled without warning and others won’t go away?
In the 1950’s, the world was changed with the invention of television. It surprised everyone when it became equally as popular as going to the movies. Television has continued to evolve and innovate. It’s become much more cinematic in the approach. At one time there were only a few channels with the big networks being NBC, ABC and CBS. There is now a plethora of ways to watch one’s favourite series. TV shows are a crucial part of some people’s lives. Some shows still air weekly and can’t be missed. Fans rush home each week to watch the newest episode. For others it’s easier to binge-watch an entire series in a single weekend.
There have been numerous great TV shows since the first show hit the airwaves. Some series last several seasons and are on the air for years. In fact, some of those shows are still producing new episodes. However, there are also numerous beloved series that were cancelled way too soon. In some cases they didn’t even last a single season. These shows were critically acclaimed and eventually gained a cult following. Regardless, they were cancelled for various reasons but will never be forgotten. Here is a look at 7 Awesome Shows Cancelled Too Soon and 8 That Won’t Go Away.
15. Homeland (Won’t Go Away)
The spy thriller Homeland revolves around a CIA officer with bipolar disorder. The series made an immediate impact and was praised from the very beginning. However, some critics feel that Homeland isn’t what it once was and may have overstayed its welcome. Homeland debuted on October 2, 2011 and completed the sixth season in 2017. Homeland stars Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin. The first season was universally praised and the series was called one of the best new shows of 2011. However, over the years the series has declined in both quality and ratings. Some fans and critics feel the series has passed its prime. It’s still doing better than most shows and every single time Homeland seems down for the count it gets right back up. The series has been renewed for a 7th and 8th season with the 8th expected to be the final season.
14. Dead Like Me (Too Soon)
Dead Like Me had a small but loyal fanbase that loved the series. It revolved around a group of grim reapers working in Seattle. Bryan Fuller created the series and it aired from June 27, 2003 to October 31, 2004 for two seasons. This wouldn’t be the last time that Fuller had a series cancelled. It starred Ellen Muth and Mandy Patinkin. The series started to decline after Fuller left the series due to creative differences after 5 episodes. Showtime cancelled the series during the second season. However, the fanbase was very disappointed to see the series disappear. It was nominated for several Emmy awards and one Showtime executive claimed it had very high ratings. However, the network cancelled the series because of low ratings. The series was so popular with its fanbase that a direct-to-DVD film, Dead Like Me: Life After Death, was released in 2009.
13. Prison Break (Won’t Go Away)
There is no prison in the world strong and secure enough to keep the TV series Prison Break locked up. It always seems to escape somehow. Prison Break originally aired from August 29, 2005 to May 15, 2009 for 4 seasons. It stars Dominic Purcell, Wentworth Miller, Peter Stormare, Robert Knepper and Sarah Wayne Callies. The first season was a big hit and was considered one of the best new shows of 2005. However, following seasons all declined in quality and were receiving negative reviews by the 4th season. The series moved away from the original premise of a prison escape and became an action thriller type. Due to the change in plot and declining ratings the series was cancelled. The series aired its final episode and it appeared to be locked up forever. However, the series returned with a fifth season that aired from April 4th to May 30th, 2017.
12. Grey’s Anatomy (Won’t Go Away)
Many patients have died on the operating table at Seattle Grace Hospital. It’s almost a guarantee that the TV series Grey’s Anatomy will never meet that same fate. Grey’s Anatomy is a medical drama that is ABC’s longest running scripted Prime Time show. Shonda Rhimes created the series and it stars Ellen Pompeo. The series first premiered on March 27, 2005 as a mid-season replacement and is currently in its 14th season. Grey’s has been well received by critics that have praised the ensemble cast over the years. The series has often done very well in the ratings and is usually in the top ten highest rated shows. Season 13 was the highest rated show on ABC. Several iconic characters and memorable actors have come and gone. However, Grey’s Anatomy has enough material to outlast the entire cast. It won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
11. Deadwood (Too Soon)
Deadwood was a critically acclaimed western-drama that aired on HBO. The beloved series was universally praised for the incredible writing and cast. The series revolved around the town of Deadwood, South Dakota in the 1870’s. David Milch created the series, which aired from March 21, 2004 to August 27, 2006. It starred Timothy Olyphant and Ian McShane. The series won a total of 8 Primetime Emmy Awards. Regardless, HBO cancelled the series after the third season. At the time it was announced that two two-hour movies would be released instead of a fourth season but that never ended up happening. However, HBO and Milch reopened talks about a potential film in 2015. In 2017, McShane said, “(A) two-hour movie script has been delivered to HBO. If they don’t deliver (a finished product), blame them”. TV Guide ranked Deadwood at number 8 on the 2013 ’60 Shows Cancelled Too Soon’ list.
10. Two and a Half Men (Won’t Go Away)
At one point it appeared as though Two and a Half Men would be on TV forever. However, the popular series finally came to an end after years on the air. It aired from September 22, 2003 to February 19, 2015, for 12 seasons. It originally starred Charlie Sheen, Jon Cryer and Angus T. Jones. It often received mixed reviews but did very well in the ratings, usually finishing in the top 15. The 8th season ended prematurely due to Sheen entering rehab. He also belittled the series creator Chuck Lorre and they had a very public feud. Sheen left the series and his character was killed off. Ashton Kutcher was brought in to fill the void. It appeared at that point that the series would only last a few more episodes. However, the series went on for several more seasons before finally ending in 2015.
9. Carnivàle (Too Soon)
Carnivàle was a complex and complicated series that had a fiercely loyal fanbase. Many mysteries within the show were left unanswered due to the series’ abrupt ending. It aired from September 7, 2003 to March 27, 2005. It starred Nick Stahl, Clancy Brown and Michael J. Anderson. The critically acclaimed Carnivàle was cancelled after two seasons but was intended to run for 6 seasons. The pilot episode gained massive ratings but the series was unable to maintain those ratings. The series took place during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl. It was praised for its visual design, cinematography and costume design. However, the complex story and mythology was hard for some to follow. Also, the cost per episode was roughly $2 million. Carnivàle won several Emmy Awards but regardless was cancelled before fans could get the ending and answers they wanted. Not even a rabid fan campaign could bring the series back.
8. 24 (Won’t Go Away)
Jack Bauer is known for being indestructible. No matter what the villains try, they can never kill him. Even when it seems he’s dead, he finds a way to come back. The action thriller 24 is much like Jack in that way; it never dies. It originally starred Kiefer Sutherland as CTU agent Jack Bauer. It ran from November 6, 2001 to May 24, 2010, for 8 seasons and included the TV film 24: Redemption. The series returned for a ninth season with 24: Live Another Day, which aired from May 5 to July 14, 2014. 24 is critically acclaimed and even won a Prime Time Emmy for Outstanding Drama. The series was then spun off into 24: Legacy, which aired from February 5 to April 17, 2017. It starred Corey Hawkins as ex-army ranger Eric Carter. However, the spin-off ended up being a disappointment. That won’t stop the producers of the series as they’re already working on a new incarnation of 24.
7. Veronica Mars (Too Soon)
No series has ever captured the hearts and imaginations of its fanbase like Veronica Mars did. Fans from all over the world were heartbroken when the cherished series was cancelled. There is one important lesson the world learned that day; never mess with Veronica Mars fans. The series aired from September 22, 2004 to May 22, 2007 for three seasons. The series starred Kristen Bell and was universally praised. In 2007, the CW decided to cancel the series despite its incredible popularity. Fans of the series, known as Marshmallows, embarked on a fan campaign like no other. It included flying a plane over the CW office with a sign the read, “Renew Veronica Mars”. Another time fans of the series sent 10,000 Mars Bars to the CW offices. A film was finally made after a successful Kickstarter Campaign. The film, Veronica Mars, was released on March 14, 2014.
6. Full House (Won’t Go Away)
Full House is one of the most beloved series in the history of TV. The rabid and loyal fanbase helped keep the series on the air for years. They even helped bring the series back years later. Full House aired from September 22, 1987 to May 23, 1995 for 8 seasons. Despite the immense popularity the series often received negative or mixed reviews from critics. It starred Bob Saget, John Stamos, Dave Coulier, Candace Cameron, Jodie Sweetin, Andrea Barber and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. The series was finally cancelled after years but fans demanded the series return. It gained a cult status and continued to gain new fans. Fans were finally granted their wish. A sequel series, Fuller House, debuted on Netflix on February 26, 2016. It features the cast all reprising their roles with the exception of Mary-Kate and Ashley. Netflix recently released part one of season 3.
5. Pushing Daisies (Too Soon)
The Emmy award winning Pushing Daisies revolved around a pie-maker that could bring dead things back to life with his simple touch. Unfortunately, he was never able to bring this show back from the dead. Bryan Fuller created Pushing Daisies that aired for two seasons from October 3, 2007 to June 13, 2009. It starred Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride and Kristin Chenoweth. The series was universally praised for its quirky characters, visual design and fast paced dialogue. However, the first season only aired 9 of the planned 22 episodes because of the 2007-08 Writer’s Strike. The second season suffered from declining ratings and was cancelled after 6 episodes aired. The remaining episodes were eventually broadcasted, bringing the series to an end. There has been rumors and talk of bringing the series back or doing a film version. TV Guide included the series in their 2013 list of ’60 Shows Cancelled Too Soon’.
4. The Big Bang Theory (Won’t Go Away)
It’s very possible that long after the Earth has ended and the sun has exploded that The Big Bang Theory will still be on the air. It first premiered on September 24, 2007 and is now going into its 11th season. The Big Bang Theory stars Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons. Critics originally gave The Big Bang Theory mixed reviews but later the reviews turned more positive. After a slow start the series has become a major ratings success. It has finished in the top 3 shows in the ratings for the last several seasons. The success of The Big Bang Theory has resulted in a spin-off series, Young Sheldon. There are currently no signs of The Big Bang leaving fans anytime soon. The Big Bang Theory has already been renewed for a 12th season.
3. Firefly (Too Soon)
Firefly was a beloved space western series that fans weren’t ready to say goodbye to. The series revolved around the crew aboard the renegade spaceship Serenity. Joss Whedon created the series and it aired from September 20 to December 20, 2002. It starred a phenomenal ensemble cast of Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk and Morena Baccarin. The series was canceled after 11 of the 14 produced episodes aired. Fans were absolutely devastated at the end of the series. Since its cancellation the series has gained a massive cult following despite its short existence. It had very strong DVD sales and a loyal fanbase. In 2013, TV Guide ranked Firefly at number 5 on their ’60 Shows That Were Cancelled Too Soon’ list. In 2005, the series had such an impact that the movie Serenity was released. The film picked up after the events of the final episode of Firefly.
2. The Simpsons (Won’t Go Away)
The critically and commercially acclaimed series The Simpsons is the longest running American sitcom and animated sitcom. It has won 31 Prime Time Emmy awards and became a cultural phenomenon. The Simpsons debuted on December 17, 1989 and the 29th season is set to premiere in Fall of 2017. The series also includes a feature film The Simpsons Movie, which was released July 27, 2007. The series features the voice cast of Nancy Cartwright, Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer. The series was universally praised for the first 9 seasons, which are considered the golden age of the show. However, in the last several years the series has been heavily criticized for its decline in quality. Regardless, the series continues on with no end in sight. The Simpsons has already been renewed for the 30th season set to premiere in the fall of 2018.
1. Freaks & Geeks (Too Soon)
The critically acclaimed Freaks & Geeks is considered one of the greatest TV shows of all time, despite being cancelled midway through the first season. It featured a young ensemble cast that would go on to become some of the biggest stars in Hollywood. The series aired from September 25, 1999 to July 8, 2000 and starred Linda Cardellini, John Francis Daley, James Franco, Seth Rogen and Jason Segel. The series was cancelled after airing only 12 episodes because the network felt the series had failed to find an audience. After a fierce fan campaign, the series aired the final three episodes in the summer of 2000. The series has since gained an enormous cult following. In 2007, Time magazine included the series on their ‘100 Greatest Shows of All Time’ list. In 2013, TV Guide ranked Freaks & Geeks number one on their ’60 Shows That Were Cancelled Too Soon’ list.
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