The worst thing in the entire world is falling in love with a TV show and having it get canceled way too soon. Okay, maybe we’re exaggerating, but it does suck! Some TV shows are just too far ahead of their time or no one realizes how great they are until it’s too late, but either way, there have been some amazing shows that were cut down way too early. Plenty of TV shows just weren’t given a chance to succeed and were ripped from TV schedules. Only after they were gone did viewers realize they should have watched when they could!
These days, amazing shows with low ratings have a chance to survive through streaming or post-series movies. But many shows were never given that chance and we only have one or two glorious seasons to soak in! Not every show can be as lucky as Family Guy or Futurama, two series that were actually canceled before being brought back to life on network television! We’re still waiting on reboots of these famed TV shows canceled way too soon!
Most of us relate so hard to Angela Chase (Claire Danes) as she navigates her teen years on My So-Called Life. This show is a pitch-perfect depiction of what life is really like for high schoolers! Angela decides she doesn’t want her “good girl” rep any longer and, armed with a box of hair dye and some rebellious friends, she aims to reinvent her image as so many teen girls do. The show perfectly depicts the drama of your teen years and how badly every teenager just wants to escape their life.
The show’s lasting legacy goes beyond its relatability, though. The two stars: Danes and a young Jared Leto have gone on to be mega-stars. Leto played Angela’s crush Jordan (who was illiterate but had great hair, so it all evens out) and we can’t believe there was ever a time where Leto and Danes were on TV screens every week together! The magic only lasted one season before the show was canceled and propelled into a cult hit.
There was once a show on TV that starred James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segal, Busy Phillips, and Linda Cardellini and it was canceled. Oh, and it was created by Judd Apatow. How?! Much in the same vein as My So-Called Life, Freaks and Geeks got into the nitty-gritty of what it means to be a teen without all the glitz and glam most '90s shows were used to. Lindsay Weir (Cardellini) is another TV teen girl looking to shed her perfect image as the throes of puberty have her questioning everything about herself. She aligns herself with the “freaks” of her school, while her pre-teen brother navigates high school with his “geek” friends. Together, the two give a hilarious glimpse into being in high school and not being the most popular kids at school!
The series didn’t even last a full season on TV and was canceled 12 episodes into its initial 18 episode order due to low ratings. The ratings may have been low, but those were watching loved the show and petitioned for NBC to eventually air three more episodes. The remaining three were only ever released on DVD and streaming years later.
This is one series that, while canceled way too soon, fans at least got two seasons of! Party Down follows Henry (Adam Scott), a struggling actor who rejoins the “Party Down” catering company full of Hollywood creatives trying to get by. The cast is stacked, making this another show full of stars we can’t believe all together on TV screens each week! Ken Marino, Jane Lynch, and Lizzy Caplan are just a few of the comedic heavyweights that led this show! Aside from the cast, there was a rotating door of famous guest stars from Kristen Bell to J.K. Simmons that always added something great to the episodes.
Low ratings, even by Starz standards, ended the show's run after the second season. But the dark humor and sarcastic talents of the cast have propelled their careers since.
We get it, the horrible title makes this seem like a horrible show. But trust us on this one — Selfie was so much more than a name! The story follows Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan) as she tries to reconnect more with real life after realizing her social media obsession has caused her to have no real-life friends. With some help from her hilariously awkward co-worker, Henry (John Cho), she begins to transform her life. Too bad they couldn’t transform the ratings, because they were bad. The show was canceled just six episodes into the first season, though Hulu picked up the show and aired episodes 7 to 13 on their platform. If this show had a better title, we’re pretty sure it would still be on the air!
Another great show that suffered from having a less-than-great title! Trophy Wife stars the hilarious Malin Akerman as former party girl Kate, who settles down with the man of her dreams. He just happens to be way older and way richer than she is. Oh, and this is his third marriage. With the two exes still in the picture, along with his three kids, Kate has to completely transform her lifestyle and prove she’s more than just a “trophy wife.” Critics and fans who actually watched the show loved it, but the ratings were lackluster at best and the show was canceled after only one season on-air.
A few years after the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon returned to TV with a new show, the sci-fi drama Dollhouse. The series revolves around underground “dollhouses” full of “Actives” a.k.a human dolls that are programmed to do the bidding of whoever buys them. They can do almost anything, from criminal to sexual, for the people who shell out big bucks for these life-size dolls. Oh, and I'd like to reiterate that these dolls are human with their brains reprogrammed for capitalist purposes. One of those human women "dolls," played by frequent Whedon muse Eliza Dushku, aims to become self-aware and regain control over her life. Despite poor ratings, the series was picked up for a second season, but it did not make it beyond that... leaving plenty of questions for fans!
We’ll admit that we’re suckers for shows about sleepy rural towns and prodigal sons returning to them. October Road fits this criteria and stars Bryan Greeberg, so you know it’s good. The show follows Nick Garrett, a writer who left his little town, wrote about it in an unflattering light, and then returned a decade later to the chagrin of his old friends and neighbors. When he runs into his ex and her 10-year-old son, he does the math and ends up sticking around for a little longer than he planned. The New England views and pre-This is Us emotion made this one a great pick. Unfortunately, low ratings led to the show's cancellation after two seasons. The only good part? The 19-episode series is streaming on Hulu for a low-commitment binge-watch full of laughs and tears!
This Netflix original series tells the true story of Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso as she turned from broke 20-something to the #GirlBoss of a fashion empire. It’s the kind of story any flailing young adult woman needs to see, but unfortunately, not too many people saw it. While Netflix doesn’t release their ratings data, we assume low viewership, along with rough critic reviews, led to the cancellation of this series after just one season. At least it still lives on the streaming site so new fans can check out that one glorious season!
After Friends ended, every new sitcom tried to capitalize on the “friends hanging out” theme. Most of them failed miserably, but then we got Happy Endings which started as a “friends comedy” and soon turned into something weirder and a sillier than anyone could have imagined. After Alex (Elisha Cutherbert) leaves Dave (Zachary Knighton) at the altar, their entire friend group is sent into disarray and they have to learn how the heck they all stay friends after such a traumatic shared experience! The amount of one-liners and long-running gags this show gave us is insane and makes it one of the best sitcoms of all time.
Unfortunately, fans didn’t get enough of it. After three seasons (which, we’ll admit, is more than most shows get!) the show was canceled due to low ratings and ABC deeming the show “off brand” for them (whatever that means!). Fans have been clamoring for a revival for years and got a little treat in 2017 when the cast reunited for a live reading of a “lost episode.” But we’re still here, waiting for a full-on reboot!
Judd Apatow just didn’t have a whole lot of luck on TV! His follow-up to the canceled-too-soon Freaks and Geeks was a show pretty much exactly the same (down to some of the cast!), but set in college instead of high school. This was another Apatow show that starred some of Hollywood’s hottest stars before they were famous, such as Kevin Hart and Charlie Hunnam! It was also another Apatow show to be canceled after one season due to low ratings. After two shows ended with no one watching them, Apatow moved onto film and the rest is history!
On any list of TV shows that you’ve probably never heard of but need to see, you’ll find Terriers. The series follows ex-cop Hank (Donal Logue) and his criminal friend Britt (Michael Raymond-James) as they become (unlicensed and completely illegal) private investigators. The show was critically acclaimed and beloved by its fans, but the low ratings (we’re talking less than 1 million views per episode!) ended it after only one season. We’re patiently waiting for someone to give Logue and Raymond-James another go at the P.I. business!
Many canceled-too-early shows were odes to teen life that was totally realistic. Life As We Know It is another of that vein that was frank about sex and relationships among teenagers and took a more salacious look at what high schoolers really get up to. The series starred budding actors Sean Faris and Missy Peregrym, both of whom have gone on to more success elsewhere since this show was canceled before the first season even ended due to low ratings. Just 11 of the 13 shot episodes aired, and the last two were only available on DVD!
On the surface, it’s easy to see Veronica Mars as another teen show about high school life. But beneath the surface, this story of a teen P.I. dug into class struggles, race relations, murder, and mental health — just to name a few things! The show stars Kristen Bell as Veronica Mars, a teen sleuth who helps her classmates solve crimes and tries to find out who really killed her BFF (played in flashbacks by the perfect Amanda Seyfried). Heavy stuff! Veronica was a take-no-prisoners kind of girl and never put up with anyone's crap — it’s why we love her!
The show had three seasons before low ratings and the UPN/WB merger eventually ended it. But the fanbase has been so passionate that the cancellation wasn’t the end for the show. The characters lived on through a fan-funded film that reunited everyone and several novels written by showrunner Rob Thomas. The biggest development thus far came in late 2018 when it was announced that FINALLY the show was getting rebooted for Hulu! Oh, and every season will be on the streaming platform soon. Marshmallows, rejoice!
Some TV shows are just too weird to stand a chance on network TV, but are definitely beloved by the fans who find it. Wonderfalls is one of those strange, wonderful little shows that was so great but almost no one knew it. The series centers on Jaye (Caroline Dhavernas), a gift shop worker who starts hearing the figurines in her shop talking to her. The premise was so bizarre that the show was barely watched and therefore canceled four episodes into the first season. All 13 episodes later aired on the cable network LOGO and the series was released on DVD.
The CW’s M.O. is basically “hunky teens with powers” so it’s a little shocking this show didn’t work out past the first season. The show stars Robbie Amell as Stephen, a titular “tomorrow person” who learns he’s genetically advanced and has special powers. His life is turned upside down when he finds himself in line with new “tomorrow people” friends and the scientist group Ultra who is trying to hunt him and his people down. The series garnered low ratings, even by The CW’s standards, and didn’t make it to another tomorrow!
Enlisted was too good for us and we let it go. This military-centered comedy focused on three brothers in the military together, all serving on the same base. The incomparable trio of Geoff Stults, Parker Young, and Chris Lowell was just about perfect but that wasn’t enough to keep the show on air. Increasingly low ratings led to the show getting pulled from Fox’s schedule after nine episodes and left in limbo while fans wondered if it was ever coming back. It was officially canceled two months later, and fortunately for fans, they decided to air the last four episodes to wrap up the series. Unfortunately for fans, those 13 episodes are all we got!
Fans of Gilmore Girls will definitely love this show — sadly, not many of them know about it! The series, created by Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, centers on Michelle (Sutton Foster), a classically trained dancer who moves to a small town with her new husband. She struggles there after living in big cities for years but soon begins teaching dance to the young women in the town. The series has so many similarities to Gilmore Girls, like the tone, fast-talking dialogue, and an idyllic small-town setting.
The series was canceled after the first season, but not until six months post-finale, leaving fans wondering if their fave show was ever coming back. The ABC Family show wasn’t a hit in the ratings and the network reportedly didn’t have money to fund the series, leading to the decision to cancel it.
This drama series centered on the lives of six friends over the course of 20 years, leading up to one of them getting murdered in the present! The mystery show switched between showing the friends in high school, young adulthood, and the present day as viewers try to figure out who the killer may be. The series was given a 22-episode order, but low ratings led to that getting cut down to 13. Nine of those episodes aired, but the other four were never seen. You guessed it: the killer was never revealed. Nothing worse than a compelling series ending before fans can get any answers!
This is a fan-fave show that was canceled, revived, and canceled again all in the span of a few years. What a rollercoaster for viewers! The post-apocalyptic drama set in the town of Jericho, Kansas followed how life went on after a nuclear attack on many major cities completely changes the world. The show had steady ratings but was still canceled after the first season. Fans were not having it. They sent 20 tons of peanuts to CBS execs, referencing something from the show's season finale, hoping it would convince them to renew the show. It worked! Jericho was given a seven-episode second season but after that, it was canceled, again, due to low ratings. It was revived once more, but this time as a comic book series continuing the plotlines of the show.
Pushing Daisies is the perfect example of a critical success and award-winning show still ending way too early. To be fair, the concept of the show is a little weird and a little dark! The series tells the story of pie maker Ned (Lee Pace) who can bring the dead back to life with a touch. He uses his powers for good to find killers and solve cases. However, he gets into some trouble when he ends up bringing back a childhood crush and falling back in love with the reanimated woman! Too bad he can’t ever touch her again or she’ll be officially dead forever.
The series won awards, had great reviews and was well-received by fans, but it still couldn’t be saved from cancellation due to one big issue: the writers' strike. The series was forced off-air during the 2007 - '08 strike before the second season was able to air and it never returned to TV screens.
Joss Whedon has another entry on this list! His sci-fi epic Firefly is one of the most beloved short-lived series of all time, and for good reason! The “space western” follows the crew of the Serenity spaceship as the crew takes odd jobs around the star system to survive. The series gave us Nathan Fillion, who was largely unknown before he broke out in the series as the captain of the ship, Mal.
Poor ratings led to the show being canceled 11 episodes into a 14-episode first season. The three remaining episodes were only available on DVD, leaving fans impatiently waiting to see how it all ended! The Serenity crew didn’t end their journey there, though, and appeared again in a film named Serenity, then later in a comic book series.