Top 10 Shows That Were Canceled Too Soon

What's the deal with network executives, anyway? Can they simply not handle awesome television? Why must they tease us with one or two seasons of quality programming, then cancel good shows in favor of idiotic reality replacements? Is that really the way the world works now?

We sure hope not. But with fall premieres rapidly approaching, we're always wary of getting too attached, for fear of grave disappointment. And so we'd like to take a moment to reflect on our favorite TV short-timers. Because if it can happen to these gems (and Popular and Life on Mars and Dirty Sexy Money and Dark Angel and... ), it can happen to any of them.

Read 'em and weep.

10. Aliens in America

(CW, 1 season, 18 episodes, ended in 2008)
This high school sitcom had all the makings of a hit -- Scott Patterson from Gilmore Girls, Christopher B. Duncan from Veronica Mars, and two mega-talented kid actors, Lindsey Shaw and Dan Byrd. Shaw and Byrd were hilarious, and now they're showing major promise on 10 Things I Hate About You and Cougar Town, respectively. But maybe the show's deceptive title sealed its own fate. Or maybe it was the geeky look of the main characters -- the CW is notoriously a "pretty people" kind of network. We'll never know.

9. Firefly

(FOX, 1 season, 15 episodes, ended in 2002)
This multi-genre show never really got to spread its wings, even with a writer like Joss Whedon behind it. He assembled one hell of a cast -- including Adam Baldwin, Summer Glau, Nathan Fillion, and Sean Maher -- but it wasn't enough to keep the Serenity flying through space.

8. Sports Night

(ABC, 2 seasons, 45 episodes, ended in 2000)

and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

(NBC, 1 season, 22 episodes, ended in 2007)
Aaron Sorkin found much success with The West Wing, but his two other pet projects barely got off the ground. Both shows cast talented actors (Felicity Huffman and Josh Charles on Sports Night; Matthew Perry and Amanda Peet on Studio 60), but neither had a real chance to show them off. Did viewers mistake Sports Night for an an ESPN rip-off? Did Tina Fey's 30 Rock steal Studio 60's spotlight? Sigh.

7. Jericho

(CBS, 2 seasons, 29 episodes, ended in 2008)
Jericho probably has the saddest story of all the shows on this list -- not even a fan campaign and subsequent revival could save it. After the first full season ended in cancellation, fans protested in outrage, earning a second-season run. But CBS pulled the plug on this post-nuclear attack drama after a feeble seven episodes in Season 2.

6. Wonderfalls

(FOX, 1 season, 13 episodes, ended in 2004)

and Dead Like Me

(SHO, 2 seasons, 30 episodes, ended in 2004)

and Pushing Daisies

(ABC, 2 seasons, 22 episodes, ended in 2009)
Poor Bryan Fuller. He just can't catch a break. Waterfalls, his first collaboration with Lee Pace, didn't even air all its episodes. Dead Like Me embraced the undead just a few years before vampires became popular -- but it didn't live on for very long. And Pushing Daisies? Who wouldn't want to watch Lee Pace ... and pie?

5. Roswell

(WB, 3 seasons, 61 episodes, ended in 2002)
This WB classic mixed aliens and humans long before District 9 was around -- and the aliens were a lot cuter, too. Katherine Heigl, Shiri Appleby, and Colin Hanks all got their big breaks on Roswell, but the honeymoon lasted only three seasons.

4. Veronica Mars

(CW, 3 seasons, 64 episodes, ended in 2007)
Despite winning Satellite Awards, Saturn Awards, and Teen Choice Awards, this adolescent-angled Law and Order never earned very high ratings -- and Kristen Bell hasn't really caught a break since. Maybe that Gossip Girl voiceover gig will pan out into a real character someday?

3. My So-Called Life

(ABC, 1 season, 19 episodes, ended in 1995)
The cancellation of this angst-y teen show was especially bitter, because the first and only season ended on a cliffhanger. We'll never know whether Angela (Claire Danes) and Rayanne (A.J. Langer) became friends, or if Angela stayed with Jordan (Jared Leto) -- and that's just plain cruel.

2. Freaks and Geeks

(NBC, 1 season, 18 episodes, ended in 2000)

and Undeclared

(FOX, 1 season, 17 episodes, ended in 2002)
It would appear that Judd Apatow never really got the hang of serial narration -- Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared, his pet "cult classics," lasted no more than a season apiece. But maybe NBC and FOX never really got the hang of him. At least we can still count on the release of an Apatow-branded comedy every 18 months or so to provide dude jokes and sappy moments and screen time for every actor Apatow helped make famous. Movies are his "thing" now. But we'll never forget those one-season wonders.

1. Arrested Development

(FOX, 3 seasons, 53 episodes, ended in 2006)
There's only one way to say it: FOX made a huge mistake when they canceled this brilliant comedy. Though the 2010 movie may temporarily satisfy our cravings for cornballs and hot ham water, nothing can replace that ensemble cast and that magnificent, absurd script.



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Millennium,journeyman,studio 60
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I'm so sick of these lists not having Deadwood on them.
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What, no Twin Peaks? :P
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...Not to mention the great (1991-93) I'll Fly Away, which won both Regina Taylor & Sam Waterson Golden Globes, and also won Ms. Taylor the NAACP Image Award. It flew away way too soon!
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http://pollator.com/polls/the-best-tv-shows-that-where-canceled-too-soon





I personally miss Firefly the most!



Vote here for it, or another show and they might bring them back:



http://pollator.com/polls/the-best-tv-shows-that-where-canceled-too-soon
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and Conviction
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Invasion should be on this list
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My husband liked Moonlight, so it should be on the list too.=(
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Yeah, Legend of the Seeker should be there. Also Lipstick Jungle / Cashmere Mafia for the ladies.
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better off ted! portia de rossi is awesome! <3
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Other ones you're forgetting are AMC's Rubicon, that had only one season and became a favorite of mine to watch after Mad Men with it's mysterious twists and turns. And I really enjoyed The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency that also only ran for one season on HBO. Why do the networks keep dropping these good shows? Are they afraid to make TV good again, or has Network greed clouded there vision?
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Invasion should be on that list, it was a great sci fi show :(
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Now I found me some smaller shows to watch. The ones I really loved and def got cancelled way too early are MSCL and F&G, I would so much want to watch at least 1 more season. You start watching them, you get into the show, you really love how they start focusing on the whole cast and not only the 2 leads and then it's over. Roswell I love, but I think it was okay that it didn't get a 4th season. Of course I would love to see more, still wondering how they had kept the show exciting in the 4th year. I never was a fan of Veronica Mars though it's a cool show at times, so 3 season is long enough. Sad for Jack & Bobby, really, beautiful show with the feeling of old The WB shows. And not to forget the short, but interesting Gravity (with Krysten Ritter) that only had 10 episodes and left us with the possible worst cliffhanger ever, it's not that bad, cos it was not my favourite show, still it feels heartless not to give us episode 11. And one show maybe nobody else mentioned before: MTV's Now What? Only 13 episode, but with Adam Brody and I liked it! Usually those shows are not my thing, but I had a lot of fun, and what more can you expect from a high school students comedy? But to be fair, many shows I watch and like ran for enough seasons (and some got worse with time), tv is no wishing well, I am over most of the early cancellations (except for MSCL, F&G and also J&B), still it hurts when I think about it too much.
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Invasion and tru calling have to be my worst cancellations and also flashforward which took awhile to get going but got there in the end.
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Legend of the Seeker is one show that is SORELY missed and fans from all over the world are trying to get it back. :( I sure hope it is renewed, but this is one show that should be featured!!
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I liked DEAD LIKE ME i thought it was taken off to soon, i could see a few other ideas for episodes but maybe they couldn't. I did not like the idea that they kept coming up with other shows that had death in them like 'GHOST WHISPERER and the all to famous GHOST HUNTRS. These shows did not have a lot of thought to them and i don't like them.
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I agree with some of the other posters - where is "My Name Is Earl" on this list???
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Revival of Highlander (tv show NOT the movies) would be nice. Spinoff Raven was fun but Dan Scott as the good guy now would be a stretch plus he is no Adrian Paul (I guess the more straight thing is he did not have a 1964 Thunderbird convertible).
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Absolutely loved FIREFLY and Veronica Mars!!! Guess I am the only one that thinks Tru Calling should have made it longer- guess it must be my obsession with bad a** cheerleader, slayer Faith (I mean Eliza).
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Joan of Arcadia, Jack and Bobby, Angel, Moonlight, Roswell, Pushing Daisies, my list could go on forever, but the one I've never been more upset about is 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU! ABCFamily has absolutely failed by canceling the best show they have!
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privileged was canceled too soon also. it had such potential too bad the CW never saw it
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Firefly, Kyle XY, Futurama, Moonlight.
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FIREFLY! and freaks and geeks! those were legendary shows...who knows what was going through the tv execs minds when thy decided to cancel those shows...
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My 10 Shows that were cancelled that annoyed (No Order)

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles The 4400

My Name is Earl

Firefly

Studio 60 on the sunset strip

Sports night

Futurama (at least its returning)

Angel

Jerich

Reaper
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Futurama.
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Needs more My Name is Earl
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Firefly (happy they made a movie) and Pushing Daisies were cancelled too soon. Also, not on the list but still in my recent memory is CW's Reaper. Jericho I was happy it ended when it did.
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MY NAME IS EARL..crushed me when it didnt return, in fact it was a total surprise. What will I do without Joy's smile and attitude.

Firefly def should be on #1, 'Kings' was phenomenal but I suppose it came to a satisfactory conclusion, lying dormant and ready for re-emergence one the planets align thustly.
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And what is the story with Drive? It just ended and I heard nothing about it.
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The shows that reached a third season just shouldn't be on there. Come on! There are so many others that were royally screwed. My main ones: REUNION, Dark Angel, Firefly
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I agree with Firefly...only one on list I watched

Ones the list missed...
Heist...only lasted 6 episodes..great potential

Fastlane !!! Lasted a full 22 episode season...HUGE cliff hanger, and no end.
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No Middleman? No Profit? Your list is invalid. Except for the Arrested Development and Wonderfalls/Pushing Daisies notion.
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Carnivale HBO
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journeyman also cancelled to soon ,and defying Gravity
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Missing from list: CARNIVALE, THE RICHES, DIRTY SEXY MONEY, and DEAD LIKE ME (whose finale movie tanked). All fantastically original, creative, and thought-provoking. Probably why they got cancelled.
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NEW AMSTERDAM! Any many many more FOX shows >=(
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Dead Like Me, Arrested Development and, Pushing Daisies we're all great shows because of the writing and dialog. I really hated to see them go. Just like Spawn the animated series that was on HBO.
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Futurama, Reaper, The Class, Journeyman. The list goes on and on and still everything goes on as before with insane cancellations of great shows. When will actors/writers/fans and others who like quality find a way to punish the networks for their kick in the groin money is god decisions?
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I agree mostly; but replace Firefly with Commander in Chief (with Geena Davis); and also replace Sports Night with Jack & Bobby (with Logan Lerman from the new 'Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief')
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good.
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Agreed, but Firefly should be #1 and Arrested Development should be #2, strictly because Firefly got 14 episodes, of which only 11 made it to tv.
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Observation: How is it a "Top Ten Shows That Were Cancelled Too Soon" list if *14* shows are on the list? Shouldn't it be "Top Ten Producers Who Had Shows Cancelled Too Soon?"
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No "My Name is Earl" on that list? For shame. I actually liked Aliens in America but Earl not even beating that makes this list a bit of a joke :]. Sorry guys.
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What a ridiculous comment. Almost as ridiculous as the last two seasons of My Name Is Earl.
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that isn't even enough shows shot for a cable channel to pick it up and run with it.
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Drive from FOX was an awesome show. After the 2-night 4-hour premiere I was hooked. Two more episodes and FOX pulled the plug, and I even had to go online to watch those because they never aired them. Shame on you FOX, how come you kill so many great shows?? We love our 24, but let some of these other shows have a chance to get off the ground before pulling the plug. I'm still dying to know what happened but I'll never know, they only shot 6 episodes. :(
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I'd have to add two favorites that never got a full season -- Six Degrees on ABC and Reunion on Fox. Reunion was a murder mystery that never got solved, for crying out loud!
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Veronica Mars shouldn't have ended because it was the best show ever
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All those shows were bad. I'm not surprised they got canned.
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add a comment
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It was complete bulls*** when Arrested Development got cancelled.
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