When a TV show you love suddenly gets cancelled, it’s like your life can’t go on: food tastes bland; seeing loved ones becomes a chore; colors seem less vibrant; you spend most of the day longing for just another second on the couch, watching your favorite (cancelled) show. The struggle is real. Here are 13 shows gone before their time.
Conchords has a cult following that makes Arrested Development fans seem indifferent, but can you blame them? Conchords was one of the funniest and smartest shows ever to grace the small screen. When rumors of the cancellation were flying around, the Kiwi duo made a statement saying, “We’ve noticed the less we say about the future of the show, the more people want to talk about it, so in an effort to reverse this trend we are today announcing that we won’t be returning for a third season.”
HBO wanted more, but Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie decided they’d had enough and went back to New Zealand where they each have families. Let’s hope the duo makes a Flight of the Conchord’s movie, because the ending felt abrupt and sad, leaving viewers with no closure and a lifetime of regret.
Claire Danes might be an A-list superstar now, but we’ll always remember her as “Angela Chase” – the quintessential 90s girl – from My So Called Life. The show defined a generation, yet it was only on for one season, but the waves can be felt 20+ years later with young girls copying Angela Chase’s “grungy” style. And who can forget the swoon-worthy Jordan Catalano (played by another future A-lister)? Jared Leto’s character became so iconic, it spun a term called “Generation Catalano,” which defines people born in the tail end of generation X.
The show was the first of its kind to deal with modern teenage problems like guns and violence, adultery, homosexuality, and AIDS in a non-patronizing way. It felt real, raw, of-the-moment, and shouldn’t have been cut.
Arrested Development was not only one of the most subtly hilarious and cerebral shows of its time, but also a pioneer in creating no-laugh-track comedies. When it first appeared on air, people didn’t quite get it’s understated and shrewd humor, saying, “How am I supposed to know what’s funny if there isn’t a laugh track!” A few years later, The Office became the most successful show on TV at the time – but it wouldn’t have been possible without Arrested Development leading the way. Nowadays, shows with laugh tracks seem outdated and condescending.
Despite critical acclaim, Arrested Development suffered from low ratings and was ultimately booted from the network. To be fair, Arrested Development came back for an extra fifth season on Netflix after public demand. Unfortunately, the last season felt contrived and forced, lacking the charm of the original four seasons. Had Arrested Development been allowed to continue in the first place, the results would have been magical.
Judd Apatow’s first foray into television proved futile as Freaks and Geeks was cancelled after one season. Like many on this list, the show won critical acclaim and a cult following, but failed to impress TV execs.
Freaks and Geeks alumni like Seth Rogan, James Franco, and Jason Segal continued to immensely successful acting careers. Perhaps being on a cancelled show is a sign you’re destined for stardom?
Happy Endings was one of those feel-good shows with quick punch lines and quirky characters – watching it just made you feel happy. Every character in the show was lovable, quirky, and funny. The quips had the intelligence of Arrested Development, the slapstick humor of Scrubs, and the chemistry of Seinfeld. It was like a toned-down version of It’s Always Sunny, suitable for yuppies with families.
The show supposedly got cut due to low ratings and because ABC wanted to make room for new shows. Paul Lee, ABC’s entertainment chief, replied with, “What we found was it was just too narrow. It was a very hard decision because, as you know, I love that show and I found it very hard to make that decision. On the same token, I think Super Fun Night and Mixology are broader shows that will bring in a wider audience.” Ironically, both Super Fun Night and Mixology turned out to be flops and were both cancelled after their first seasons. Someone should fire Paul Lee.
If you liked Extras, you’ll love Party Down. Adam Scott stars in the comedy about aspiring actors who move to LA, but end up as cater-waiters instead. As you can imagine, the situations that go down are comedic gold. Anyone who has ever tried to make it in Hollywood can probably attest to the accuracy of the show.
Unfortunately, Party Down only lasted two seasons because of low ratings; losing Adam Scott to Parks and Recreation and Jane Lynch to Glee wasn’t helping either. Fun fact: Paul Rudd was one of the writers of the show.
While there are technically seven seasons of Futurama, fans had to wait five years for it to get picked up again. Five years in television time is like 50 years in real time. Futurama was one of the most imaginative and intelligent TV shows ever aired, despite being a cartoon. Some highlights included an episode in 3-D, cameos by Stephen Hawking and George Takei, a tear-jerking episode about a boy and his dog, and stories about time travel that give Interstellar a run for it’s money. Is it any surprise most of the writers for the show had advanced science degrees?
According to the Show’s creator, Matt Groening, Fox executives did not like the show (yet loved Family Guy) and that’s why it was originally cancelled in 2003 – perhaps it was over their heads?
Is it any coincidence Family Guy, Futurama, and Dilbert all came out in 1999? The golden era of adult comedies pumped out some major hits, but only one came out the victor. It’s sad gems like Dilbert were cancelled, while loud, obtuse shows like Family Guy that rely on shock-value, are still on.
Dilbert was realistically nerdy and the writers knew their stuff. Anyone who has worked in the tech industry or studied engineering can appreciate Dilbert for what it was – a well-written dry comedy perfectly encapsulating the tech world.
If you like Dexter, you’ll love Hannibal. Despite critical acclaim and a cult following, Hannibal didn’t make the cut and NBC cancelled it after only three seasons due to low ratings. It was just reported by TVLine that neither Amazon nor Netflix will pickup Hannibal.
Worst of all, the show’s creator, Bryan Fuller, said season four would be “one of the coolest yet.” Hannibal was one of the best psychological thrillers on TV and it’s a shame more people didn’t take notice.
Like most British comedies, The IT Crowd is slow and dry at first, but then leaves you in a fit of hysteria, wondering what happened. The term can best be described as “drive by comedy,” wherein you never see it coming. This sleeper hit won praise from critics and a cult following, but was suddenly cancelled after four short seasons. The show’s creator, Graham Linehan, said, “I felt that the last series was a nice strong point to go out on, and anything further might just be running on the spot. You don’t do your best work when you’re running on the spot.”
In response to the future, Linehan said, “The good news is the special, which is a big, juicy story with great storylines for all the characters (I think), and maybe a film,” back in 2011. He did follow through with a special episode, but it fell flat of expectations. No announcements of an IT Crowd movie have been made thus far.
Apartment 23 was refreshingly hilarious and an all-around solid show, except for one thing: the “Showblocker.” A Showblocker is that one weak link, or character, in the series that ruins the entire momentum of the show. They are so irritating that you can only sigh when they come on screen. In the sad case of Apartment 23, it happened to be the main character, June.
The writing and rest of the cast were all superb – James Van Der Beek was spot on in making fun of himself and Kristen Ritter carried the show with her charisma – but Dreama Walker added no personality or congeniality to the show. Bless her heart, you could tell she was trying really hard, but just wasn’t the right fit; too bad, because the show had great potential.
The Office (UK) creator, Ricky Gervais, created this hilarious documentary-style show about people who work as movie extras and their encounters with celebrities. Many notable people made cameos, including Patrick Stewart, Kate Winslet, Daniel Radcliffe, and Ian McKellen.
Though the show won many accolades and good ratings, Gervais decided to end it because, “One, you don’t want to hang around too long on a project. I think you start repeating yourself or putting pressure on yourself when you do it all yourself – when you write, and direct, and you’re in it and you do your own press and all that sort of stuff. I don’t want to bring in outside help. I don’t want to farm it out. I don’t want it to be collaborative. So you put everything you’ve got into it, and I like to get in and out.”
Yes, I’ll admit I was one of the few people who watched and enjoyed Kath & Kim. Kath & Kim is an American copy of an Australian show by the same name. Although many argue it just wasn’t as funny, I beg to differ. The show centers on a delusional mother-daughter duo and their daily shenanigans. The characters in the show were so deliberately annoying and trite you couldn’t help but laugh.
With Molly Shannon, Selma Blair, and John Michael Higgins starring in the show, it’s surprising it didn’t garner better ratings and reviews. Each character reminds me of a real-life person in their most archetypical moment. The comedy came out in 2008, right when the recession hit, so perhaps the plot hit too close to home for twenty-somethings moving back to their parent’s home?
What shows do you think were cut too soon? Which shows should have been cut?