As cinema has something of a resurgence thanks to the wave of superhero movies, it is important not to forget that TV is also increasingly on the up.
As shows like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and Westworld rule the ratings roost, other shows including Will & Grace, Roseanne, and Gilmore Girls have all been given the revival treatment.
Everyone has their favorite network, but there is no denying that ABC is right up with the greats.
Having been in the TV business since 1948, there is an eclectic history of shows for the network to be proud of, while even now, ABC still boasts one of the best rosters of programming around. Sadly, nothing can last forever, and whether your favorite show wraps everything in a neat bow or gets left on a tantalizing cliffhanger, saying goodbye to a TV treasure is never easy to do.
Over the years, ABC has been home to some of the best shows in all of history. From Happy Days to The Brady Bunch, Alias to Lost, and being the de facto home to Shonda Rhimes’ many thrilling dramas, ABC has literally done it all.
So, with this in mind, here are the 15 ABC Shows Canceled Too Soon (And 5 That Need To Go).
20 Too Soon: Scandal
With 124 episodes over seven seasons, Scandal was a political thriller of the ages. Starring Kerry Washington as the no-nonsense Olivia Pope, Scandal served as a grittier, messier, version of The West Wing.
A more far-fetched show compared to other Shonda Rhimes favorite Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal represented a diverse new age of TV shows that fans just couldn’t get enough of.
Creating the sometimes villainous Fitz Grant and his complex relationship with Pope, viewers often found themselves reeling from an hour of jaw-dropping television when the Scandal credits rolled.
Although some accused Rhimes of just going through the motions in the final few seasons, there was plenty there for a continuation.
The crossover between Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder showed just what promise a continuing show could have, however, ShondaLand decided this is one predicament Ms. Pope just can’t fix.
Jumping before it was pushed, Rhimes admitted that season 7 seemed like the right time to close the door on the Gladiators for good. Speaking to TVLine, she said that she had always planned to run Scandal for seven seasons and promised to deliver another “scandalous” season of murder and mayhem.
"We are going to handle the end the way we like to handle the important things in our Scandal family: all together, white hats on, gladiators running full speed over a cliff," she said.
Safe to say, Rhimes definitely delivered on that front.
19 To Soon: Alias
Long before J.J. Abrams was pulling in the big numbers for ABC with Lost, Alias was holding its own as one of the network’s best. Jennifer Garner recovered from her disastrous turn as Elektra in Daredevil and her own standalone spinoff to become another powerful female presence.
Everyone has heard of Sydney Bristow, and with Alias frequently scooping awards, it isn’t hard to see why. Garner excelled as Bristow, the dangerous government operative who becomes an expert at concealing her identity.
Alias became something of a phenomenon and even had its own (pretty dire) Xbox game as well as a series of novels. Although some storylines had come to a natural conclusion by the time season 5 rolled around, the finale teased that Sydney and Michael’s daughter had the same special traits of her mother.
Fans can almost smell that cash cow mooing. Back in 2010, ABC was reportedly working on a reboot that would remove Alias’ Rambaldi elements to make it more of a mainstream show, but it never seemed to get past the development stages.
The Alias writers even reunited at last years ATX Festival to discuss a reboot but remained tight-lipped whether the network was ready to tackle the series all over again.
Considering the likes of Prison Break and 24 all rose from the depths of oblivion long after they seemed to finish, let’s put a question mark over Alias for now.
18 Needs To Go: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Sharpen those pitchforks because this is sure to be an unpopular decision to send Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. out to pasture.
As the only Marvel TV show currently on primetime, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a million miles away from the Netflix crop of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage.
Defiantly dodging its critics, Agents has always been on the renewal bubble, with writers only recently preparing for season 5 to be the last with a finale that could’ve been a swansong storyline. Fans will now have to wait until the middle of 2019 before Agent Coulson and co. will be back on ABC again, but here’s why it should be the last.
In its early days, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had so much promise to coherently link the small and big-screen version of the MCU through notable cameos from the likes of Nick Fury and Maria Hill. As the years have gone on, Agents has distanced itself from the Marvel movies and carved its own storylines with some mixed success.
Season 5 effectively jumped the shark and sent the intrepid troop up into space, reminding viewers how much longer can the show really ride on the coattails of its movie counterparts?
The main point, though, its about time Clark Gregg got back to the important stuff and appearing in the MCU movies rather than being relegated to TV.
17 Too Soon: Nashville
There just aren’t enough music shows on TV anymore and with the likes of Glee and Smash already having hung up their microphones, Nashville was left to fly the flag alongside Empire.
Premiering on ABC in 2012, an all-star cast of Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere, and Clare Bowen locked horns in the perfect mix of music and melodrama.
Continuously dodging the ax, Nashville was saved one too many times. Considering that ABC had only just hired new showrunners Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick in hopes of giving Nashville a new lease of life, jaws hit the floor when season 4 was set to be the last.
After much scrambling, CMT picked up the show for a fifth season, but Nashville was still set for an early grave. Finally running out steam, the show is set to bow out in a hush after its move over to CMT in 2016.
ABC was frankly foolish to let the show go, and while some of the best storylines came after the move - Rayna’s departure for one -- CMT never felt like home for true Nashies.
As the network moved away from all scripted programming, it signed Nashville’s end and the curtain is coming down after six soulful seasons. Only time will tell whether season 6 leaves the door open for more, but rest assured that loyal Nashies will remember the day that the music dies later this year.
16 Too Soon: Revenge
They say it is a dish best served cold, but with Mike Kelley’s Revenge having been chilled since its cancelation in 2015, now might be the time to bring back Emily Thorne -- sorry, Amanda Clarke.
Inspired by Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, Revenge was a high-class and high-stakes thriller that continuously performed well for ABC.
Season 4 was never meant to be the end, but Kelley’s well-laid plans for season 5 had to be bulldozed to give a satisfying ending.
Even as Emily sailed off into the distance (quite literally) with her beau, the bittersweet ending of Revenge left plenty of questions for a possible continuation.
There is so much to love from Revenge’s glory days andup there with Alexis Carrington Colby, Edie Britt, and Cersei Lannister, Victoria Grayson became one of the ultimate TV villains. Grayson got her untimely sendoff in the season 4 finale and there is always the worry that Revenge wouldn’t be the same without her.
That aside, Revenge perfectly set up the possibility of a Gabriel Mann-led spinoff that focussed on the character of Nolan. Those involved were aiming for a Better Call Saul vibe if Nolan got his time to shine.
Elsewhere, a pilot called Kingmakers was filmed by Revenge producer Sallie Patrick amidst hopes to build the two shows in the same universe, however, these plans never came to pass.
15 Needs To Go: Station 19
Starring Jaina Lee Ortiz as “confident lieutenant” Andy Herrera, Station 19 is another female-first show that Shonda Rhimes has become so well known for.
Offering a change of career for Grey’s Anatomy star Jason George, the character Ben Warren left Grey Sloan and stuck on a helmet to join Station 19 and bridge the two shows together.
While Addison Montgomery held up Private Practice as the show’s lead, Warren is actually more of a secondary character.
Even an appearance from Ellen Pompeo in the Station 19 premiere couldn’t save it from feeling like a rehashed Chicago Fire that effectively swaps doctors and medicine for athletic firefighters and whirring sirens. That being said, at least Station 19 still has the pace of the rest of ShondaLand’s shows.
Sadly, the drama hasn’t exactly set the world on fire with its ratings in season 1 and has been more of a slow burner than its other ShondaLand counterparts.
Rhimes may appear to have the magic touch when it comes to gripping TV, but let’s not forget some of her less well-received shows like The Catch and Off The Map.
Still, with Station 19 already renewed for a second season, it looks like the embers will keep on burning here for at least a little longer. Who knows, maybe the show will hot up in season 2?
14 Too Soon: Once Upon A Time
Everything had been going so well for fairytale frolic Once Upon a Time, well, that was until the powers that be decided to shake things up for season 7.
There was a slew of big-name departures, however, the loss of star Jennifer Morrison and relegating Emma Swan to a recurring role hit fans the hardest.
Elsewhere, Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas waved goodbye to their time as Snow White and Prince Charming while The Walking Dead’s Andrew J. West attempted to take the reins as an older Henry Mills.
While a time jump managed to see Desperate Housewives into a new era, another story beyond Storybrooke wasn't the magic wand that Once hoped it could've been. Moving to Hyperion Heights and trying to mix the old and the new, something just didn’t work for season 7.
However, that isn’t to say there wasn’t plenty of potential. Effectively starting again and reintroducing fan-favorite characters like Cinderella with someone new in the part, Once had all the promise to keep running.
As everyone waited for the clock to strike midnight, creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz wrote the perfect fairytale ending for Once Upon a Time, but who’s to say another chapter can’t be written?
13 Too Soon: Castle
Nathan Fillion has popped up in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and leading the likes of Firefly-- is there any TV show that he isn’t great in? Some will always remember him as Captain Mal Reynolds, but others will undoubtedly think of Richard Castle.
Appearing in all 173 episodes of the crime-comedy drama, Fillion helped make Castle the show we know and love today... at least until the curtain fell.
Although Stana Katic and Tamala Jones were out of a reported season 9, Castle was set to carry on with Fillion returning for more.
It came as a more than a bit of a shock when the network axed Castle< back in 2016, leading to something of a rushed ending.
Starting as a clever procedural about a best-selling author turned amateur detective, Fillion and Katic fizzed alongside each other with their chemistry. The coupling didn’t exactly kill Castle, but things were starting to get stale before the show came to its conclusion.
Viewers had invested eight long years in Castle only to get a Plan B ending that left a sour note in many mouths.
A lazy flashforward to “seven years later,” was about as generic as a TV ending can be as Castle and Beckett got their happy ending.
Maybe when Fillion is done messing around with cameos for James Gunn in the MCU, Rick Castle could write another book?
12 Too Soon: Lost
“Polar” bear with us on this, but here’s why Lost needs to come back. It started as one of the biggest televisual events of the 21st Century and ended with one of the most divisive finales ever.
With its ensemble cast and constant twists and turns, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse’s show had several big payoffs for those who stuck with it until the end.
Admittedly, season 6 introduced a new crop of forgettable faces (Dogen and Zoe) while sweeping through the existing cast with the Grim Reaper’s scythe. As the likes of Widmore, Sayid, Jin, Sun, and even Jack all kicked the bucket in the final season, it may look like there aren’t many Losties left for a revival series.
With a myriad of questions including the four-toed statue and who was on the outrigger still left hanging over the show, these alone are enough of a reason to go back to the island.
Who says a Lost revival has to even pick up where the original left off? Time travel was a major part of the sci-fi spectacle and characters like the young Eloise Hawking were only briefly touched on in season 5.
For those still not convinced by a Lost reboot/revival, 2010’s mini-episode “The New Man in Charge” was just the tease everyone needed.
The epilogue followed fan-favorites like Hugo and Ben while also welcoming Malcolm David Kelly back into the fold as Walt. In the words of Jack, “We have to go back.”
11 Needs To Go: The Goldbergs
A unique premise as Adam F. Goldberg spun his own comedic childhood into a TV show, The Goldbergs fits in neatly among the rest of the network’s sitcoms. As other ABC staple Modern Family is still going great guns, The Goldbergs is still solely relying on its nostalgia factor.
Ready Player One was a great riff of ‘80s pop culture, but with The Goldbergs sitting at over 100 episodes, things are starting to sound a little like a canned laughter track from that decade.
It may have been a novel idea to see the ‘80s through the eyes of a young boy, but there’s only so long the same family drama everyone has seen 1,000 times before can remain funny.
The core cast is just as brilliant as they were in episode one, but with each passing week, Wendi McLendon-Covey’s role of Beverly Goldberg morphs more and more into Frankie from The Middle.
Even notable guest stars like Chuck Norris and Rick Moranis pale in comparison to the plethora of A-list talent that The Big Bang Theory frequently has.
With this in mind, it might be time for the fictional Adam Goldberg to grow up just a little bit. As ABC moves forwards with the ‘90s-set spinoff Schooled, the network might be better focussing on one Goldbergs project at a time.
10 Too Soon: Wonder Woman
An oldun but a goodun, ABC was the first network to bring Wonder Woman to life. Putting Lynda Carter in her invisible jet, Diana Prince had a short-lived trip to WWII in 1975 with the network.
From the iconic music to Carter’s legendary portrayal of the hardened warrior princess, ABC let the show move to CBS after just one season.
Here, Wonder Woman may have found its stride and a whole host of new storylines as it moved to the ‘70s, but there is no denying that the wartime setting had much more to give.
Wonder Woman and The New Adventures of Wonder Woman are effectively two different shows, with the revamped second and third seasons only retaining Carter and Lyle Waggoner (Steve Trevor) from the original cast.
Being a period piece and costing a small fortune thanks to set pieces and costumes, ABC spent too long deciding whether it would renew the show.
In the meantime, Warner Bros. was made a rival offer by CBS and quickly signed a deal for a wholly new direction. However, you only have to look at the influence on Patty Jenkins’ 2017 movie to see how important that first ABC series was.
While it could’ve all been very different if the network had kept its faith in Carter and Wonder Woman, the show is still a beloved piece of comic book history.
9 Too Soon: Forever
Having moved on from his days of playing Reed Richards, Ioan Gruffudd played the immortal Dr. Henry Morgan. Every time Morgan dies, he vanishes and then wakes up naked near a body of water - it was effectively just a way to show as much as Gruffudd's backside as possible.
Like many ABC shows, the non-linear story was told through flashbacks, revealing plenty about Morgan’s backstory. Given just a single season, Forever’s demise was blamed on live ratings.
Although creator Matt Miller has written an idea and pitched it to ABC for season 2, the network like the premise but decided not to continue the story.
Hoping to explore the pleasures of immortality, Henry was set to meet a whole host of new characters while even more of season 1’s cast would learn his secret.
Gruffudd was clearly gutted by the decision and took to Instagram to thank his fans while hyping what could’ve been in season 2. Fan reaction was strongly against the show’s cancelation, and strangely, Forever had a particularly strong viewership in France and Spain.
Politics is said to be the real reason behind the ax, while other lower-rated shows that were produced in-house by ABC were saved.
A fan-made graphic novel Forever & Ever! appeared on Facebook in 2016, which in itself would be perfect to turn into a live-action season 2.
8 Too Soon: Pushing Daisies
Quite how Bryan Fuller made a show about heartbreak and death into such a beloved black comedy is beyond most people, but there is no denying that Pushing Daisies was nothing if not original.
Representing a lighter side of Fuller’s typically dark Fullerverse, Pushing Daisies balanced a candy-coated romance story with the grim reality of demise. From the opening scene of Lee Pace’s Ned bringing his deceased dog back to life, the imaginative mind of Fuller had everyone hooked.
Alongside Pace, Anna Friel was adorable as the Zooey Deschanel-esque Chuck, while the rest of the cast was rounded off by stellar performances from Chi McBride, Kristin Chenoweth, and Ellen Greene.
Dubbed a “forensic fairytale,” Pushing Daisies had something for everyone but was sadly hindered by the Writers Guild strike before it limped to the end of its second season.
In 2015, it beat stiff competition from Joss Whedon favorites Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer in Esquire’s "TV Reboot Tournament" to claim the top spot. Only last year, Fuller told Vanity Fair that he would “drop everything” to make more Pushing Daisies.
Fortunately, it is a sentiment shared by many of the show’s fans, who have formed their own Daisies cult following. Considering that the show was nominated for 17 Emmys -- winning seven -- there is so much untapped potential.
Despite plans to live on in comic book, movie/mini-series, or even broadway form, Pushing Daisies has sadly remained six feet under... until now.
7 Too Soon: Inhumans
Although Inhumans was originally meant to be in movie form as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 3, the development hell of Scott Buck’s project led to a TV miniseries that was cancelled after just one season.
With dogy CGI and even dodgier wigs, Inhumas is possibly the biggest misstep for the normally unstoppable MCU. The cast may have included Misfits and Game of Thrones favorite Iwan Rheon, but it couldn’t save the Inhumans Royal Family from being dethroned.
Even with the show being spectacularly showcased in IMAX, the Inhumans creators admit that many were left disappointed by the fact that a TV series wouldn’t have the budget of the rest of the MCU’s movie counterparts.
While the MCU movies are still ruling the box office, the studio’s take on TV shows can be a bit of a hit and miss affair.
Although some viewers have started their own petition to bring the Inhumans back to life, it sadly looks like their time has come to an end.
Who knows though, maybe they can go back to cameoing in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. like they probably should’ve done in the first place.
The cast have been released from their contracts and with Anson Mount already cast as Captain Pike for Star Trek: Discovery season 2, it looks like Inhumans was a short-lived affair for those rowdy royals.
6 Needs To Go: Quantico
Effectively another How to Get Away With Murder where stupidly attractive young millennials turn towards an older mentor for help, ABC’s Quantico was the brainchild of Gossip Girl and Smash’s Joshua Safran.
Safran said that the idea came to him when he wanted to do a show focussing on a post-9/11 world, describing Quantico as what Die Hard would be life if it was a soap.
Trying to be its very own Silence of the Lambs, former Miss World Priyanka Chopra plays the Clarice Starling-esque Alex Parrish, who is thrown into trouble when accused of a terrorist attack on the FBI.
Feeling like a ShondaLand show without Ms. Rhimes at the helm, Quantico had just enough head-scratching twists and dual timelines to keep its fanbase hooked.
Thanks to the popularity of Chopra overseas, Quantico became a bestseller for the network overseas but still limped to a shorter third season of just 13 episodes.
Safran stepped down as showrunner and retired to a consultant role, while Quantico itself has been now been canceled after three seasons.
Season 4 is already off the table unless another studio picks it up, and although someone might save the dramatic thriller before its August 3 finale, this one should probably be resigned to the cold case files.
5 Too Soon: Twin Peaks
Annie was anything but ok when ABC ditched David Lynch’s nightmarish Twin Peaks back in 1991. Despite being firmly in the top-rated series of 1990, viewership steadily slipped over the second season.
Secondly, the mid-way point of season 2 wrapped up the “Who offed Laura Palmer?” mystery, which was arguably the show’s biggest pull. ABC also shifted season 2 around in its time slot more time than fans could count, leading to ratings tumbling by the time the finale aired.
The 15th episode placed Twin Peaks on indefinite hiatus and ABC decided to show the final six episodes to round the story off.
Heather Graham was a last-minute introduction as a possible love interest for Kyle MacLachlan’s Agent Cooper, but the show was continuously losing steam and viewers.
Annoyingly, ABC gave up on Lynch’s twisted trip to the Washington mountains and left fans with one of the biggest TV cliffhangers of all time. The maligned TV movie Fire Walk with Me, failed to capture the original spark of the show and it led to Twin Peaks being resigned to the history books.
Lynch clearly designed Twin Peaks to go beyond its 30 episodes, but viewers were set for an epic wait before there would be any answers.
The show surprisingly returned on Showtime in 2017 and had the almost unheard knack to bring back pretty much the entire cast apart from those who had sadly passed away.
4 Too Soon: Ugly Betty
Goofball comedy Ugly Betty was effectively a soapy version of The Devil Wears Prada that starred America Ferrera as the lead. With a slew of famous guest stars that included the likes of RuPaul Charles, Naomi Campbell, Vera Wang, and Lucy Liu, it was a who’s who of A-list talent.
However, blowing your budget on big names isn’t a guaranteed ticket to a long-lasting show. Although season 1 -3 performed consistently well, Silvio Horta and ABC Entertainment president Steve McPherson released a joint statement in 2010 that they had made the tough decision to give Ugly Betty the chop.
While Ferrera has had some success since, she had never hit the highlights of playing Betty Suarez.
Ugly Betty was a charming look at the fashion industry and had an eclectic cast of famous faces playing memorable characters like Marc and Amanda, Ignacio, Hilda, and of course, Wilhelmina Slater.
Ferrera is among those who have always championed a movie continuation, and in 2013, a Kickstarter campaign tried to fund it in the same Veronica Mars was.
As recently as 2016, the cast teased a possible Hulu revival, but as of yet, any more Ugly Betty looks about as likely as the lady herself winning a style icon award.
3 Too Soon: Agent Carter
Up there with Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, and Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell’s casting as Peggy Carter is Marvel movie perfection. After appearing in the likes of Captain America: The First Avenger, Atwell got the honor of leading spinoff show Agent Carter.
Sadly the female-first premise about the gun-toting spy failed to hit the mainstream appeal many had expected. When ABC swung the axe on the show back in 2016, executive producer Jeph Loeb was left confused, saying that there had been no conversations about Agent Carter not getting a third series.
There are hopes that Atwell could return as the no-nonsense Carter in Captain Marvel or via time travel for Avengers 4, but forget some bit-part cameo, ABC should bring back Agent Carter and return the character to her former glory.
While some have come to terms with the fact it will never happen, showrunner Michele Fazekas said there were seeds for season 3 littered throughout the second season, meaning all the pieces are already in place.
While Marvel shows are still muddling along on Netflix, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is constantly on the renewal bubble and Inhumans, well, let’s not talk about Inhumans.
With the MCU shifting its focus to female heroes in Phase 4, timing couldn’t be better to resurrect Agent Carter from the depths of development hell.
Also, who wouldn’t want to see more of Dominic Cooper as a dishy Howard Stark?
2 Too Soon: FlashForward
Imagining Lost but without the island and Matthew Fox, fans would probably come up with FlashForward. Even including Lost alumni Dominic Monaghan and Sonya Walger in its cast, it is easy to see where people drew the comparisons from.
As the network became obsessed with disaster-style shows with an ensemble cast, FlashForward looked like it could be ABC’s next big thing.
Focussing on a cataclysmic event where everyone on the planet lost consciousness for 2 minutes and 17 seconds while also getting a glimpse into their futures, it had all the potential to be a bingeable masterpiece.
Based on 1999’s Y2K-petrified book by sci-fi writer Robert J. Sawyer, impressive talents Brannon Braga and David S. Goyer brought FlashForward to life. Starting with a bang, FlashForward struggled in its formative days and faced a controversial “retooling” after its midseason finale.
Returning a very different show, it sadly limped towards its endgame. With the season 1 finale being filmed before FlashForward was canceled - and with the episode depicting another flashforward 20 years into the future - it was a devastatingly annoying cliffhanger to leave viewers on.
Sawyer even unveiled his own plans on Facebook for how to fix the show if it had been given a second season.
Embracing the Lost vibe, he wanted to make season 2 even more like the Hawaii-based island adventure, but also include a huge twist where FlashForward would’ve wiped out most of the human race. Alas, no one will ever know if ABC would have improved on its freshman year.
1 Needs To Go: Grey's Anatomy
Sorry to break it to you guys, but walking the halls of the Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital (formerly Seattle Grace) just doesn’t provide the jolt of excitement that it used to back in 2005.
With a shockingly high mortality rate that even other ABC favorite Desperate Housewives couldn’t compete with, the past 13 years of Grey’s Anatomy has seen everything from hostage situations to sinking ferries, bombs to plane crashes.
Over the years, everyone from Burke to Izzie has waved goodbye to that iconic hospital, while others like Denny and McDreamy have departed in a body bag.
With each season bringing a new crop of generic docs into the fray, Grey’s currently relies on grabbing headlines by bringing back former cast members like Kim Raver as fan-favorite Teddy Altman.
Elsewhere, there are rehashed storylines like Derek dying just when everyone thought he was safe - George O’Malley anyone? - and numerous wedding day flings. Even Christina Yang walked out the door, losing arguably one of the best doctors to ever grace a TV show.
Currently sitting as the second-longest primetime medical drama, it looks like Grey’s Anatomy is aiming for ER’s crown. It would be virtually impossible to return Grey’s to its glory days, but despite the possibility of flatlining, ABC’s consistent ratings are keeping the hospital open.
Although Ellen Pompeo recently told ET that Rhimes and co. are “starting to think about how you would end a show this iconic," that doesn’t exactly sound like the finale is around the corner.
Which ABC shows would you like to see back and which need to go? Sound off in the comments below!