Gone Too Soon... TV Series that were axed too quicklyby lunaticprophet | created - 28 Jul 2011 | updated - 24 Feb 2019 | Public
You spend time watching a new tv series, you get into the stories and the characters, you're excited to find out what happens next... but it seems you're one of only a few. The next thing you know, this new favorite of yours is off the air! This has happened to just about everyone who watches tv. This is an incomplete list of those shows I really liked that were killed 'cause some tv exec didn't think it would help turn a profit in the next quarter.
The biggest problem with today's mega-corporate controlled networks is that everything... EVERYTHING.. is a bottom-line concern. No long view.. just a fiscal quarter by quarter review. If it ain't a hit immediately -- GET RID OF IT!
Well.. few of the really great series are ever immediate hits! Some of the biggest hits of the last 30 years: "Cheers", "Seinfeld", "Hill Street Blues" (come immediately to mind).. struggled to find an audience. Took two or more years before they went on to become legendary.
None, NOT ONE, of those series would make it in today's network tv. All of them would've been canceled!
The problem with creating a list like this is that many of the "canceled too soon series" from decades past have slipped from my mind...
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1. Deadwood (2004–2006)
TV-MA | 55 min | Crime, Drama, History
A show set in the late 1800s, revolving around the characters of Deadwood, South Dakota; a town of deep corruption and crime.
Of all the "canceled too soon series".. This is the one that hurts the most!! UNBELIEVABLE ACTING on the part of Ian McShane! Great writing!
Would give anything to hear McShane deliver this line once more: "Coffee? Whiskey? ...Snatch?"
"Deadwood" & "Rome", could have been listed as two of the greatest dramas of all time had they been given more.... time!
2. In Treatment (2008–2010)
TV-MA | 25 min | Drama
A psychotherapist questions his abilities and gets help by reuniting with his old therapist, whom he has not seen for ten years.
This was a brilliantly written series, acted beautifully.. and sometimes superbly! Sooo sad to this canceled!
3. Rome (2005–2007)
TV-MA | 52 min | Action, Drama, History
A down-to-earth account of the lives of both illustrious and ordinary Romans set in the last days of the Roman Republic.
This is another UNBELIEVABLE HBO SCREW UP!
How do you kill off "Rome" & "Deadwood" in a span of 12 months?!?!
At least "Rome" got to tie up the storyline well. There was more to be told, but the way it ended felt like it could have been the conclusion that was meant from the beginning.
4. Rubicon (2010)
45 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
Will Travers is an analyst at a New York City-based federal intelligence agency who is thrown into a story where nothing is as it appears to be.
Just Sick, Sick, SICK to see this series canceled! It was smart, well acted and written. The ominous undertone and the constant anticipation of knowing something big was about to happen...
...that is probably what did this series in. It was slow developing. More verbally, instead of action, oriented. You had to follow it... to feel the anticipation... the nuances...
5. James at 16 (1977–1978)
60 min | Drama
James, a daydreamer and photographer, must learn to cope with life as his father moves the family from Oregon to Boston, Massachusetts.
Well, this is it... the very first one!
This is the series cancellation that took my cherry! Until this, I thought all series, that I liked, just went on and on...
This one hurt... and 30+ years later, I still remember this series fondly.
6. Arrested Development (2003– )
TV-14 | 22 min | Comedy
Level-headed son Michael Bluth takes over family affairs after his father is imprisoned. But the rest of his spoiled, dysfunctional family are making his job unbearable.
I have to admit.. I never saw an eps of this series when it was airing... not one. The first time I saw an episode was this year (2011), actually just a few weeks ago, and I'm in the middle of season two.
What a funny series! I see now why so many people fought so hard to keep this series airing and were so upset when it ended.
7. Men of a Certain Age (2009–2011)
TV-14 | 60 min | Comedy, Drama
A group of college buddies in the throes of middle age keep their friendship going long after they've graduated.
Just at the very moment I'm creating this list, I find out that "Men of a Certain Age" has been canceled!
With all the CRAP that stays on tv for years, I'm pissed but usually not surprised when shows that are meant for people with IQs higher than a grapefruit, get canceled... (must be hundreds of millions of grapefruits out there!).
TNT inexplicably, split its last season into two- 6eps seasons. What a stupid move! They lost half their audience with that stunt.
8. Pushing Daisies (2007–2009)
TV-PG | 44 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
A pie-maker, with the power to bring dead people back to life, solves murder mysteries with his alive-again childhood sweetheart, a cynical private investigator, and a lovesick waitress.
What an entertaining show. Visually beautiful and funny, with quirky story lines. It was a joy to watch!
9. Life (I) (2007–2009)
45 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
A former police officer returns to the force after having been wrongly imprisoned for years.
Sad that this did not make it. Never found a good rhythm. Anyone who watched Damian Lewis in "Band of Brothers" knows he can act (in an understated tone).
10. Swingtown (2008)
TV-PG | Drama
As America celebrates its 200th birthday, two generations of friends and neighbors in a Chicago suburb explore new freedoms and seek connections with each other in the midst of the socio/sexual revolution.
I liked this series at first... couldn't wait for the next eps. But as the season progressed, it became more soap opera-ish than I had expected. Still would've liked for it to get a season or two to see how it developed.
11. Journeyman (2007)
45 min | Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi
A man travels back in time to help people in trouble.
It wasn't great, but the storyline was interesting and it was getting better each week. The last few eps were very good.
12. Life on Mars (2008–2009)
TV-14 | 60 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
A present day car accident mysteriously sends a detective back to the 1970s.
This wasn't a great series but it was entertaining and might have survived but... linear story lines can always be a death-nail for a new, struggling series. Miss a few eps and you're lost and the audience will leave in droves if it feels lost.
This has happened to me countless times: "24", "Prison Break", "Lost", etc..
13. Threshold (2005–2006)
60 min | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
A team of experts are assembled after the U.S. Navy discovers an extra-terrestrial object briefly appeared near a ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
This show had an interesting storyline. It came out the same year all the networks decided to copy "The 4400" and so we ended up with "Invasion" (ABC), "Surface" (NBC), & "Threshold" (CBS).
Of the three, I thought "Threshold" was the best in the initial eps, but it was the first to be canceled. "Invasion" was a good series by the end of the first season and was promptly canceled.
14. Invasion (2005–2006)
60 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery
In the aftermath of a hurricane, a Florida Park Ranger and his family deal with strange occurrences.
This was just getting really good at the end of its first season and it gets axed!!
15. Homefront (1991–1993)
60 min | Drama, History, Romance
World War II is over and the boys from the town of River Run, Ohio, are coming home. It seems that life is slowly going back to normal, but war has changed everything and they will never be the same again.
This was an interesting and innovative series for its time. A drama set during WWII that tried to show lives of a cross-section of Americans living in a factory town. Could have been good... writing suffered during the season as it went for more soap-opera feel than the "I'll Fly Away" insightfulness that it began with.
16. Fear Itself (2008–2009)
TV-14 | 43 min | Horror
A television series broken down into thirteen separate sixty-minute films from premiere horror writers and directors.
The horror genre is sadly neglected in serial tv (finally, one that may last in "Walking Dead"). THIS was a very good horror series.. in the "Night Gallery" mold. Can't believe they didn't give this a permanent slot in the summer season lineup!
17. Help Me Help You (2006– )
30 min | Comedy, Romance
Dr. Bill Hoffman leads group therapy of offbeat individuals, but his outsize ego may keep him from being an effective therapist. Michael is a Wall Street type having an affair with Darlene, while Jonathan is a closeted married man.
Not a huge Danson fan... But this was a really funny series, that could have been one of the best comedies of its era had it been given time.
18. Southland (2009–2013)
TV-MA | 42 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
The lives of Police Officers working for the Los Angeles Police Department.
This may not qualify for this list since it's still airing... but, that almost wasn't the case 'cause....
NBC is run by MORONS!
No wonder they've been in last place for more than a decade!
"Southland" is... -WAS- the best drama on Network TV!
Like many people, I didn't initially watch it when it first aired on NBC... I caught one of the final eps NBC aired and was just blown away! I went back and watched all the previous eps and was completely hooked!
This is a GREAT SERIES!!
Thank goodness for TBS!!
19. Flashforward (2009–2010)
TV-14 | 42 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
A special task force in the FBI investigates after every person on Earth simultaneously blacks out and awakens with a short vision of their future.
Was really liking this series! REALLY wanted to see where it would go... and I did... right into the recycle bin and onto this list.
20. Boss (2011–2012)
TV-MA | 56 min | Crime, Drama
Mayor Tom Kane, diagnosed with a dementia disorder, struggles to keep his grip on power in Chicago.
The dialog is incredible. Grammar gives one of the best dramatic performances I've seen in a TV series in a long time. One of the "TOP 3" dramas airing on TV during its run. A ridiculously stupid move to take this series off the air after only two seasons!!
21. Detroit 1-8-7 (2010–2011)
TV-14 | 42 min | Action, Crime, Drama
The everyday trials and tribulations of Detroit's homicide unit.
"Detroit 187" may not have been another "NYPD Blue" but it was a good, gritty police drama in the "Hill Street Blues"/"NYPD Blue" mold. And look at the success those series had.
Yet another good series that just needed another season (or two) to gain an audience.
22. The Wire (2002–2008)
TV-MA | 59 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
The Baltimore drug scene, as seen through the eyes of drug dealers and law enforcement.
Yes, it was on for five seasons. Probably said all that it needed to... but a series that good, with writing that excellent.... they could've kept it on for a decade as far as I'm concerned! The most brilliant drama ever produced for television!
23. Awake (2012)
TV-14 | 43 min | Drama, Fantasy, Mystery
After a car accident takes the life of a family member, a police detective lives two alternating parallel lives, one with his wife and one with his son. Is one of his "realities" merely a dream?
The storyline was so very interesting... and disturbing... and intense in an emotional and dramatic form. The underlying tone and the tragedy that begins the series lead me to care for these characters and what they were going through. The stories were well written and the acting was some of the best I've seen on the "Big 4" networks in awhile... since season one of "Southland".
This series kept me entertained and wanting more. It reminded of "Life On Mars", only a different take.
But an excellent storyline and fine acting couldn't save this series from the hacks at America's Worst Network -- N B C (Nothing But Crap).
----------------- <rant> ------------------- Truthfully... I don't know why I even bother watching NBC. The whole viewer demographic for that network is so far removed from my tastes that I might as well be watching the CW.
In the 80s & early 90s, NBC got most of my network viewing time. Now they have the least of any network I watch. I watch more shows on foreign tv networks than I do on NBC.
The only thing left for me on NBC, currently, are "30 Rock" (one of the best sitcoms currently airing) and "Community" (one of the most innovative and inconsistent series I've ever seen).
24. Treme (2010–2013)
TV-MA | 59 min | Drama, Music
Life after Hurricane Katrina as the residents of New Orleans try to rebuild their lives, their homes, and their unique culture in the aftermath of one of the worst natural disasters in the USA.
Truthfully, I'm surprised this lasted as long as it did.
An excellent character driven series about, mostly, people of color, in the aftermath of one of the worst disasters in American history... 2005's Hurricane Katrina and its impact on the City of New Orleans.
At times, heart-rendering tales of misdeeds, apathy and out-right criminal negligence on the part of govt. workers and institutions. Not to mention the profiteering and systematic fraud that corporations, large and small, engaged in in the wake of this horrific tragedy.
But that is just the back drop to which this set of chars finds their lives have become. Well written and acted.. a unique show in the annals of American tv.
I will miss it much.
25. Low Winter Sun (2013)
43 min | Crime, Drama
Murder, deception, revenge and corruption that starts with the murder of a cop by fellow Detroit detective, Frank Agnew.
It seems you either loved or hated this show...
I thought it was a very good show w/ the chance to become something really special. But coming so quickly on the heels of "Breaking Bad" may have caused a backlash. Would have very much liked to see where it was going to go.
26. Sense8 (2015–2018)
TV-MA | 60 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
A group of people around the world are suddenly linked mentally, and must find a way to survive being hunted by those who see them as a threat to the world's order.
WTF!! This was an excellent series that could've gone on to create some incredible storylines.
BUT... a few things... first, the cost per eps was ridiculous.. but what do you expect when you filming in locations all over the world. Secondly, the writers/producers didn't seem to know what the hell they wanted to do with the story lines. They were painting themselves into a box with the main storyline.
Lastly, and let me preface this with the statement --- I'm no prude. But even I was annoyed with constant explicit sex scenes! And that's the first time I've ever said or even thought that in my life!
But I'm just shocked and pissed that the series was canceled! What a shame.
27. Penny Dreadful (2014–2016)
TV-MA | 60 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror
Explorer Sir Malcolm Murray, American gunslinger Ethan Chandler, scientist Victor Frankenstein and medium Vanessa Ives unite to combat supernatural threats in Victorian London.
I tell ya.. horror series just can't catch a break!
Penny Dreadful was just an excellent horror series. This should NOT have been canceled!
28. The Newsroom (2012–2014)
TV-MA | 55 min | Drama
A newsroom undergoes some changes in its workings and morals as a new team is brought in, bringing unexpected results for its existing news anchor.
Loved the writing, the dialog, the characterizations. This should not have been canceled!
29. Travelers (2016–2018)
TV-MA | 45 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Hundreds of years from now, surviving humans discover how to send consciousness back through time, into people of the 21st century, while attempting to change the path of humanity.
A fun and interesting sci-fi series. Good characters and pace. The first two seasons were very good... but the third season ended up in Netflix hands -- which is usually a good thing -- but it seems that the third season was rushed (maybe not enough time to write it well??) and it felt flat compared with the earlier seasons.
But still would've liked to see it wrap up the story instead of leaving its fateful audience wanting.
30. Counterpart (2017–2019)
TV-MA | 60 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
A hapless UN employee discovers that the agency he works for is hiding a gateway to a parallel dimension that's in a cold war with our own, and where his other self is a top spy. The war slowly heats up thanks to spies from both sides.
I liked this series... it had some issues but it was a good thriller in its geo-political/sci-fi mashup. Really wanted to see where it was going.
It deserved, at the very least, a third season.
31. Chance (2016–2017)
TV-MA | 60 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller
A forensic neuro-psychiatrist reluctantly enters a dangerous and violent world of mistaken identity, police corruption and mental illness.
This was a very good series, especially the first season. I really couldn't understand why it was canceled considering that Hulu was just beginning to create their own content and this was easily their best and first critically acclaimed series.
True the second season was not as good as the first but new series experiencing "sophomore slumps" is so normal, it's cliched.
A real shame... such a good series cancelled after its second season.