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The best cancelled Netflix TV shows: what were they thinking?

Netflix made a massive mistake with these shows.

The best cancelled Netflix TV shows: what were they thinking?
Marc Chacksfield
06 December 2023

Netflix was once ribbed for green-lighting just about any show. But the best cancelled Netflix shows are among our favourites on the entire platform.

In recent years belts have been tightened, and Netflix is now ruthless about the shows it cancels, sometimes doing so not long after the first episodes are broadcast.

It’s ruthless in the world of big budgets and ratings, where Netflix is expected to spend as much as $17 billion in 2024 on original shows.

You can have a good stab at guessing which shows are likely to be cancelled yourself, by keeping an eye on the Tudum website. This is a Netflix site that shows you the viewing figures of movies and shows each week.

If those figures aren’t high enough, there’s a good chance one of your favourite Netflix shows could fast become one of the best cancelled Netflix shows.

The full list of cancelled Netflix shows is more than 100 entries long. Sometimes these shows were just not that good, and they generally always did not attract enough viewers to keep the Netflix bigwigs satisfied. There was also a glut of cancellations around 2020, when altered shooting conditions — thanks to lockdowns and the shutdown of international travel — made creating TV shows vastly more difficult.

What are some of our recent favourites? We were devastated when we realised The 1899 would not get a satisfying conclusion. And as avid followers of Joe Cornish’s career, the director of the Attack the Block and The Kid Who Would be King, the cancellation of the highly-rated Lockwood and Co. was disappointing, if not surprising.

Here’s our run-down of the 16 best cancelled Netflix shows. Hankies at the ready...


The best cancelled Netflix shows

The best cancelled Netflix shows

1. Warrior Nun

Stream now (Netflix)

This fantasy found itself on both the wrong and the right trajectories. Warrior Nun’s second season received even better reviews than the first, but apparently its viewing figures were down, leading to its cancellation. You could argue there’s a good reason, given many of us were in lockdown when the first season arrived. But Warrior Nun isn’t the only victim of Netflix’s 2022 culling spree.

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The best cancelled Netflix shows

2. Lockwood and Co.

Stream now (Netflix)

This show has an unusually high Rotten Tomatoes rating for a series that only made it to one season. A trio of teenagers, a girl and two boys, team up to solve supernatural mysteries on the streets of an alternate present-day London. It was charming, witty and fun, but was officially cancelled less than four months after the first episode aired. We could have predicted as much from its Netflix T chart positions. It entered at number six, spent one week at the top spot before dropping to number seven. The, poof, gone. This Jonathan Stroud book adaptation just didn’t attract enough eyeballs.

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A group of eight individuals - from around the world - that are all intrinsically linked by a tragedy makes up the premise for Sense8. It’s as high concept as the come, but looks fantastic thanks to The Wachowskis on board. The problem was, it was expensive and Netflix decided to end it after two seasons. The problem was, there was a massive cliffhanger. In a rare move, Netflix allowed the series to conclude with a feature-length special.

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A stunning show with a mix of sci-fi, fantasy and the supernatural, The OA was a revelation when it first aired, playing with things like episode length to defy conventions. Brit Marling creates, writes and stars in the show and it looked like it truly was something special… then Netflix cruelly canned it, leaving the show on a massive cliffhanger. Will it come back? Fans are still petitioning but unfortunately it seems unlikely.

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The best cancelled Netflix shows

5. I Am Not Okay With This

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“I am not okay with this” is pretty much what we all said when we found out I Am Not Okay With This was only going to get one season. Based on the Charles Forsman comic, this really is a brilliant coming-of-age drama about a girl with telekinetic powers. Sophia Lillis (Beverly in the movie IT) stars and is utterly fantastic in it. Netflix blamed Covid-19 for the cancelation, which is a real shame.

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The best cancelled Netflix shows

6. Santa Clarita Diet

Stream now (Netflix)

Another show that’s been hit with the ‘three seasons and out’ curse, Santa Clarita Diet was fantastic fun, about a seemingly normal US family where the mum just so happens to be a zombie. Drew Barrymore is brilliant in anything but is at her best here, with Timothy Olyphant also superb as the devoted husband. This show could have run and run but Netflix, unfortunately, had other ideas.

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The real-life Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling was a fantastic backdrop to GLOW, a show about a group of misfits who get turned into a TV wrestling sensation. All of the actors in it are superb but Betty Gilpin utterly steals the show as the fading actress given a new lease of life. We were just three seasons in when Netflix announced it was no more - and it’s still a crying shame.

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The best cancelled Netflix shows

8. Mindhunter

Stream now (Netflix)

We waited the better part of four years to hear if Mindhunter would return for a third season. The second was shown in 2019, and the show appeared to be in limbo for some time. However, in February 2023 series director David Fincher confirmed the show is done. He suggested the show was considered too expensive to maintain, considering the number of eyeballs it attracted.

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This one was right up our street. A moody mystery from the makers of Dark? Set on a ship, 1899 is what you’d get if you smashed Dark and season one of The Terror together. The story got seriously strange in the first season, ended on a cliff-hanger and was promptly cancelled despite solid reviews and ranking well on Netflix’s own top 10 charts. Infuriating stuff.

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The best cancelled Netflix shows

10. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

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The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is a glorious show that updates The Dark Crystal for the modern world. It is a puppet-lead fantasy that really is a sumptuous watch. Unfortunately, though, the Crystal renaissance only lasted a season which is, quite frankly, an outrage.

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The best cancelled Netflix shows

11. Archive 81

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This seriously spooky show played around with the found footage genre to create a horror mystery that brings serious chills. The first season - focusing on a film restorer who thinks he's seen something horrifying in the footage he's restorin - felt like it was ready to expand into a second season but it just wasn't to be.

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12. The Get Down

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A show of epic proportions. Created by Baz Luhrmann it was about the birth of hip-hop, following a group of friends before and after they find fame. The first half is better than the second, but we really would have loved to have seen more of this as it is a beautiful watch that’s packed with amazing music and wondrous set pieces.

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13. Designated Survivor

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It was Netflix that helped Designated Survivor survive the first time around, saving the show from cancellation and giving Keifer Sutherland another chance to play president Tom Kirkman. While it was disappointing for the fans, Sutherland did himself note that “maybe it was time” to say goodbye.

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14. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

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This light horror show gathered quite a following in its 4-season run. A fifth was planned too, according to show actor Ross Lynch. However, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was among the shows caught up in the chaos caused by the pandemic. Its fourth season wrapped up production in March 2020, just as countries in the west were beginning to apply severe covid restrictions.

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15. Uncoupled

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This Neill Patrick Harris vehicle Uncoupled was never going to change the world. But this relatively small stakes dating and romance comedy series made a refreshing change from the Netflix Originals norm. A middle-aged gay man finds himself single after he is dumped out of the blue 17 years into a relationship. Netflix dumped this one after just one 8-episode season. Some good news for once: Showtime has picked it up for a second season.

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The best cancelled Netflix shows

16. Tuca & Bertie

Stream now (Netflix)

After finding success producing Bojack Horseman, Lisa Hanawalt went on to create the brilliant Tuca & Bertie, a brilliant show about two 30-year old bird women who live together in an apartment. Critics and audiences loved it - and for good reason, as it’s rare we see a truly female-focused show - but Netflix decided it was worth just one season. The good news is that the show has been revived by Adult Swim, which will be showing a second season very soon!

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These are the best Netflix TV shows - some of which are still around.

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