Now that we get most of our TV consumption from the likes of Netflix, the life expectancy can be all too short for a TV show - as our best cancelled TV shows list proves.
While the likes of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia managing a long life span, there are some shows that just don't get given the right amount of love.
Sure, some deserve to be canned immediately, but for every Joey, there’s one show that slips under the radar; a gem, re-emerging on streaming services in a blaze of binge-watched glory to remind studio execs that their axe-swinging may have been a tad premature.
If you feel like we've missed a gem, let us know below. And if your favourite canned TV show is on the list, then give it a vote.
Best cancelled TV shows
Feminist. Filmmaker. Friend to everyone. Josh Whedon was apparently in bits when executives came on set to let him know they were cancelling Firefly after just one season, yet he kept it together to tell the crew that this would be their last episode. Fans could be forgiven for getting teary-eyed themselves: the deadly 1-2-3 combination of empowering characters, superb visuals and dark storytelling are just some of the reasons its cancellation is a travesty to sci-fi.
2. Santa Clarita Diet
One of the funniest shows in recent years, Santa Clarita Diet is fantastic fun with Drew Barrymore as a zombie cannibal and Timothy Olyphant as her doting husband. We're still hoping that Netflix sees sense and breathes some life into this now dead franchise.
3. Agent Carter
There were just two seasons of Agent Carter and while they were tonally still trying to find their way, we would have loved to have seen more adventures with Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter. at least we got to see closure in Endgame of the character.
The three series we got from Daredevil were fantastic. Netflix created a really dark version of the character, weaving it into its very own Marvel Universe, with the likes of Jessica Jones and The Punisher being other shows that ended too soon. Hopefully now the characters' rights have reverted back to Marvel we will get the shows once more - and rumour has it we will see Charlie Cox once more as Daredevil in the upcoming Spider-Man movie.
5. Police Squad
Six episodes. That’s all we got from 1982’s Police Squad, starring Leslie Nielsen as that most inept of inept detectives Frank Drebin (a name picked blindly from the phone book). The sharply-written zingers and masterful slapstick humour of Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker were just outrageous. We’re still so riled by the network’s decision to cut the show short that we’ve got a good mind to call 911 ourselves. Still, at least we got the Naked Gun films from it – so it’s not all bad.
6. The OA
One of the best sci-fi shows in years, the OA was cruelly cut short just as it was getting into its stride. Created and executive produced by Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij, the story was meant to be told in five parts (ie, five series) but we only got two parts of a story about a woman who returns after disappearing for seven years.
7. Freaks and Geeks
Now the holy grail of imported region 1 DVDs, Judd Apatow’s Freaks And Geeks is arguably the ultimate example of how a show can be cancelled prematurely. Registering just one season between 1999 and 2000, it still managed to launch the fresh-faced talents of Seth Rogen, James Franco and Jason Segal among others, making it a cornerstone of modern US comedy. TV hipsters may also tell you that it featured writing credits from Bridesmaids director Paul Feig – and they’d be right. He even won an Emmy for one episode.
8. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
The Terminator film series feels like a TV show, there have been so many, but when they actually made into a Fox series, it was quite the hit with fans. Shame then, that there weren’t enough of them, and it was shelved after two seasons. Game Of Thrones’ Lena Headey starred as Sarah Connor, and the show followed her constant (can you imagine how annoying it would get?) battle against a bunch of deadly robots, one of which was Shirley Manson from Garbage, obviously. Again, there was promise of a film, but no dice, just yet. As with everything: just never any dice.
9. Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip
Even Joey had more seasons than Studio 60. We’re sure it’s a fact Matt Le Blanc has reminded Matthew Perry of many times since over games of foszball – OK, we’ve got to stop pretending Friends is real, we'll get help. We’re not saying this was ever of West Wing standard - though the Sorkinisms were hard to miss - we’re just saying it deserved more time, particularly with Perry giving his finest work in years as the producer of an SNL-like TV show. Dramatising an industry that already takes itself too seriously might well have been too much for some, but we’d have liked more.
10. Party Down
Heavily inspired by The Office, this mockumentary-style sitcom follows the down-on-their luck employees of a party catering company, and their desperate attempts to chase their dreams outside of serving canapes. Created by Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars) and Paul Rudd (Paul Rudd), the show starred big comedy talent like Adam Scott, Jane Lynch, Jennifer Coolidge and Ken Marino and was well-received, but after Scott and Lynch left, so did a lot of its steam. Still a great show, the absence of big names contributed to its eventual cancellation. There were rumours of a film but nothing has materialised yet. WHAT A BIG OLD SHAME.
11. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace
There couldn’t really have been a more fitting title for something broadcast during the graveyard shift on Channel 4. The late night slot led to low ratings and, subsequently, an early demise after just six episodes. The great irony here is that this only bolstered its cult status and why you’ll hear it namechecked by many A-list American comedy actors keen to come across as culturally savvy. But there’s no denying the prospect of more unintentionally hilarious horror from the big fat juicy brain of mastermind author Garth Marenghi (with a little help from Matthew Holness and Richard Ayoade) would have been too much to resist.
No real action, no stylish sets, just suspense and furrowed brows inside a mundane-looking office. Yep, on (crumpled, heavily scrawled) paper, Rubicon, didn’t look like much when it aired on BBC4, (and AMC Stateside) in 2010 for a short season. But then that was the point. Heavily influenced by seventies conspiracy thrillers like the Parallax View, the story presented us with an introvert codebreaker working for a New York-based so-secret-it-doesn’t-exist US intelligence branch who, ever so slowly, gets caught up in his own conspiracy. Trust us: if you buy the DVD, you won’t regret it.
13. The Black Donnellys
Better known as the other Irish-American crime drama which aired around the same time as Jason Isaacs’ Brotherhood, The Black Donnellys was set in present day Hell’s Kitchen New York and is easily as good as its rival show. But that shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise considering the Oscar-winning writer/director Paul Haggis was behind it all, pitting Irish vs Italians as the titular brothers are reluctantly involved in some very hairy criminal activity. Though, of course, we all know the real crime is how it stopped being aired.
14. The Get Down
This arrived on Netflix with great fanfare - a new musical chronicling the rise of hip-hop and disco in 1970s New York, created by King Musical Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge). It also nabbed just about every good review going - still, it ultimately proved too expensive for Netflix to continue to produce, and they binned it after one season (of two parts). Not enough dragons in it, that’s why. Needed more dragons.
15. The Hour
Billed as the British Mad Men, the BBC’s slick ‘50s drama, following the goings-on of a journalistic team working at the height of the Cold War, was unique in its own right. Featuring the cream of British talent including Ben Whishaw and Dominic West as two newsmen, the show was cut short after just two quick-fire seasons. Whishaw himself said he felt disappointed in the Beeb’s decision to leave the series on a knife edge: “We all felt we were coming back together again to finish off the story – so it was a blow to be honest.” We're with him on that.
- The best TV shows to watch (that haven't been cancelled yet)