It’s an unfortunate truth that sometimes great television shows get canceled too soon. Whether it’s due to a decline in ratings, casting changes, bad storylines, or trouble behind the scenes, most fans of canceled shows have to accept the fact that their favorite series will never again see the light of day. But in the last few years, shows have had the opportunity to be revived, whether via a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu or – in some cases – through a movie, such as Firefly, which came back in the movie Serenity, or the Veronica Mars movie.
While there are far too many television shows that ended before their time, we’ve highlighted a few that we think deserve their own follow-ups on the big screen.
Here are 15 Canceled TV Shows That Deserve Their Own Movies!
15 Freaks and Geeks
Out of all of the cancellations of beloved television series, Freaks and Geeks is frequently mentioned as one of the most unjust. This show, starring a now-famous Jason Segel, Linda Cardellini, Seth Rogen, and James Franco, centers on a pair of siblings who attempt to navigate high school and their social lives.
Freaks and Geeks only aired for one season before it was unfortunately canceled. Heralded as a great high school comedy, the show navigated the difficulties of high school and growing up, as well as common shared experiences among those considered to be outcast. Since the series ended so long ago, it would be impossible to film a movie with actors recreating their iconic characters as they were when the show ended. However, perhaps a high school reunion film – as Seth Rogen pitched a few years ago – would be the best way to revive the series’ characters in a believable and fresh way.
Enlisted only ran for 13 episodes on FOX before it was canceled. It focused on a platoon in Florida that was assigned to “rear detachment” – taking care of the base and the menial jobs on it. When Pete (Geoff Stults) returns from Afghanistan, he is assigned to rear detachment (or “rear D”) and is tasked with making an actual platoon and team out of the eccentric enlisted soldiers. Among those are his two very different brothers: sarcastic Derrick (Chris Lowell) and eager, sensitive Randy (Parker Young).
Enlisted was praised by critics, but canceled because of its terrible ratings and FOX’s decision to air the episodes out of order. The show was an ensemble comedy, focusing on the lives and relationships between those on rear D, but it was also beloved because of the way it strengthened the bond between the three brothers. Enlisted could easily be turned into a movie, as the possibilities for comedic shenanigans are endless, and the show’s ability to deftly balance humor and heart won over viewers.
One of the most common examples mentioned in terms of tragically canceled television series is the show Jericho. The show ran for two years on CBS, and is often brought up in duscussions of the most loyal TV followings ever, despite its low ratings. Although its cancellation was announced after one season, a fan campaign actually brought Jericho back for a second (after which the show was unfortunately axed for good).
This post-apocalyptic television series follows the residents of a small town called Jericho as they attempt to navigate life after nuclear attacks occur in various states within the US. Though the movie might not be able to pick up directly after the events of the series finale, it might help provide some semblance of closure for fans who were left with a cliffhanger to their favorite show. Because of its abrupt end and cult-like following, Jericho is definitely deserving of a follow-up movie.
12 Dead Like Me
When it debuted on Showtime, Dead Like Me was a dark, quirky dramedy about a young woman named George (Ellen Muth) who dies in an accident. Rather than move into the “great beyond,” however, George is tasked with making sure that the souls of people who die are escorted into the afterlife. She serves as grim reaper throughout the series, and the show deals with George’s experiences as well as how her family deals with her death.
Also starring the great Mandy Patinkin, the show – created and driven by Bryan Fuller – is totally deserving of a theatrical film follow-up (the show had one direct-to-DVD film in 2009) that might even revive the series for its fans. Dead Like Me was a unique television show with an intriguing premise and could definitely work as a film. If nothing else, its passionate fanbase – and those fans of Bryan Fuller – would flock to the theatres to see a wrap-up to their beloved show.
Loosely based on the play Pygmalion, Selfie aired on ABC and told the story of Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan), whose social media fame and real-life friendlessness leaves her seeking out help from a marketing image guru named Henry Higgs (John Cho). The romantic comedy focused on the burgeoning relationship between Henry and Eliza, as well as Eliza’s development as she learned how to be less self-focused and more others-focused.
With the title and its time slot, Selfie crumbled after only a few episodes. However, given the show’s premise, it would be fairly easy to turn the television series into a movie (especially given the fact that My Fair Lady, also based on Pygmalion, was a success). The chemistry between Henry and Eliza would lend itself to an hour and a half summer rom-com, and since there is a distinct lack of them in theatres these days, perhaps a Selfie film (or even a made-for-TV movie) would be welcome.
10 Party Down
Starring a pre-Parks and Recreation Adam Scott, along with a pre-Glee Jane Lynch, Ken Marino, Lizzy Caplan, and Martin Starr, Party Down followed the lives of caterers in Los Angeles who were desperately trying to start their careers or break into the business. This catering team worked events and each episode featured them working at a different event with colorful guests. Even though Party Down was beloved by critics, the ratings on Showtime led to its inevitable cancellation after a mere two seasons. And in spite of the fact that the cast of the series is, of course, much older than they were when the show was canceled, Party Down is deserving of at least a movie that could follow the exploits of the characters years in the future.
This reunion film, of sorts, would help to provide Party Down fans with a sense of closure regarding their favorite characters.
9 Almost Human
After only one season on FOX, the network canceled Almost Human – a sci-fi drama starring Karl Urban as John, a human detective whose partner, Dorian (Michael Ealy) is a robot. The show is set in the year 2048 where the prominence and development of technology has actually caused crime to rise.
Canceled due to its low ratings, Almost Human didn’t fare well on FOX as a serialized television show. However, perhaps the reception to the show would be different if it was given its own follow-up movie instead. While the series fixated on mysteries and plot, the story could likely be better developed within a two-hour movie than on television. Almost Human held a lot of promise, especially in terms of the development of the partnership between humans and androids, and fans of it would probably be eager to see the show’s storylines and characters wrapped up on the silver screen.
8 Red Band Society
When Red Band Society premiered on FOX, it starred a lot of lesser-known young actors who did an exceptional job of portraying teenagers who live together on a pediatric ward. The group – bound together because of their time spent in the hospital, but divided by the reasons they were there in the first place – became known as the “red band society” by self-appointed leader of the teenagers, Leo (Charlie Rowe) after the color of their medical wristbands. While the show focused on the lives of the teenagers and their drama, it also focused on the hospital staff including the doctors and nurses that cared for the teenagers.
Adapted from a Catalan series, Red Band Society was canceled after only ten episodes aired. But given the show’s premise (young adult stories continue to be on the rise in film) and its stars (including Octavia Spencer, who played a prominent nurse in the series), Red Band Society could actually do well as a standalone movie and deserves to have a proper conclusion for its storylines.
A musical, parodying, quick-witted comedy like Galavant was unfortunately destined for low ratings when it premiered on a major television network. Miraculously, however, ABC renewed the show for a second season. Sadly, after season 2, it was promptly canceled in spite of a small, but mighty, fanbase’s petitions to revive the series.
The show’s premise was relatively simple: a valiant hero named Galavant (Joshua Sasse) falls in love with a beautiful maiden (Mallory Jansen), who is taken away from him by an evil king (Timothy Omundson). After she’s taken, Galavant sinks into a depression and is only brought out of it thanks to his squire, Sid (Luke Youngblood) and a feisty princess (Karen David) who needs Galavant’s help to save her kingdom. Galavant was a hilarious, fun musical romp that deserves its own film that would likely have the same tone and feel as Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The series was fun, heartwarming, and filled to the brim with jokes that were smart and required you to pay attention. Recurring gags, as well as meta humor, made the show beloved among viewers and critics, and a movie would likely incite the same response.
6 Agent Carter
Unfortunately canceled after just two short seasons, ABC’s Agent Carter focused on Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), who worked to balance her life as a secret agent with her “normal” life in the 1940s. In spite of the fact that there was a short, 15-minute film created starring Hayley Atwell – a short that launched the television series – a feature-length Agent Carter film hasn’t yet been developed.
Given the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in recent years with the Captain America and Avengers films, a movie focusing on an endearing female heroine would not only be well-received but also welcome for a lot of people. The show deserves to have its stories expanded upon, and it is clear from the reception of the show that Hayley Atwell is a dynamic performer who could easily carry a film and a supporting cast. Whatever in-universe timelines have to be contended with in order to make a film possible, it’s certain that fans of Agent Carter would not mind if it meant that Hayley Atwell could reprise her role as the heroine one more time.
5 Arrested Development
Perhaps one of the most meta television comedies of all time, Arrested Development is a true example of how fans and intelligent creators can turn low ratings into an ultimate success. The series debuted in 2003, and as the series grew, it did so to critical acclaim and a lot of fan love. Arrested Development quickly became a cult hit because of its smart meta humor, eccentric characters, and notable guest stars, but the ratings remained stubbornly low.
When the series was canceled in 2006, fans assumed that would be the end. But Netflix revived the show in 2013, with promise for more episodes and – allegedly – a film in the works. Few canceled comedies deserve their own movies more than Arrested Development. It is a show that’s not just a television series, but has solidified itself as a part of pop culture with memorable characters like Buster Bluth (Tony Hale), Tobias Funke (David Cross), and more. Arrested Development definitely deserves its own film for the mark that it and its characters have had on pop culture.
4 Pushing Daisies
One of the most oft-referenced shows in terms of unjust cancellation, Pushing Daisies was a series by Bryan Fuller that debuted in 2007 and was canceled in 2009. The dramedy starred Lee Pace as Ned, a pie maker whose ability to bring people back from the dead just by touching them leads to him solving crimes. But that’s not all that Ned does with his gift: he uses it to bring back the love of his life, Chuck (Anna Friel).
Ned, however, cannot ever touch anyone he revives a second time or else they die permanently. Pushing Daisies focuses on the relationship between Ned and Chuck, as the two can never physically touch, as they help a private investigator named Emerson Codd (Chi McBride) solve crimes. The series also starred Kristin Chenoweth as Olive, who has unrequited feelings for Ned throughout most of the series. Brilliantly directed and featuring quick-witted and quirky humor, Pushing Daisies gained attention and the interest of critics and audiences alike, leading to it gain cult-like status and winning it numerous awards. We’re long overdue for a Pushing Daisies follow-up, and a movie would be the perfect chance to wrap up storylines and honor this iconic series.
3 Happy Endings
Happy Endings was a brilliant, intelligently-written comedy starring a talented cast that ran for three seasons on ABC. Unfortunately, despite numerous fan (and some critic) petitions to find another network for the series, Happy Endings has yet to be revived. If the show doesn’t find a new home on another network, it definitely deserves a follow-up movie.
The appeal of Happy Endings to most was the ensemble-centric nature of the comedy, as well as the quirky, light-hearted humor. Each cast member – Damon Wayans Jr., Eliza Coupe, Elisha Cuthbert, Adam Pally, Zachary Knighton, and Casey Wilson – was hilarious in his or her own right and brought life to their unique characters. Happy Endings was a fun, bright series that focused on the relationship between friends, family, and the ups and downs of navigating romance and life in your 30s. And considering the fact that each actor is currently (fairly) free to shoot a film, perhaps a Happy Endings comedy could be in the future. It would certainly be deserved.
Over the five years that it ran on television (and sixth that it ran on Yahoo! Screen), Community constantly fought cancellation. The low-rated NBC sitcom survived the axe season after season, even when its episode order was cut to 13 for the final few years. When the network decided to cancel the comedy after its fifth year, Yahoo’s short-lived online streaming service brought it back to life. Community was always an ambitious comedy, but never more so than after its second season.
Focusing on the relationship between a study group at a community college, the series delivered impeccable homages, flashy episodes, and meta humor in spades. Whether the study group was being attacked by zombies in its Halloween episode, turned into stop-motion animated figures for Christmas, or embarking on its annual paintball game, Community’s appeal was always in its humanity and portrayal of friendship. After Chevy Chase left the show and cast members Yvette Nicole Brown and Donald Glover departed, too, the series hit a bit of a snag. Still, the meta reference within the show of it receiving #sixseasonsandamovie means that Community will always be extremely deserving of its own film.
And given the Easter egg near the end of the fifth season, with Troy (Donald Glover)’s ship being overtaken by pirates, Annie (Alison Brie) and Abed’s (Danny Pudi) departures, a reunion film in order to save Troy seems like it would be plausible. For more reasons than to just bring a hashtag to reality, Community deserves to have its own action-adventure comedy movie.
Perhaps one of the most self-referential comedies in recent years, Psych ran on USA for a solid eight seasons, with each season containing 14-16 episodes. In spite of the fact that the series was long-running and didn’t suffer a first season cancellation like a lot of shows on this list, Psych is still deserving of a movie in order to reunite its cast and flash-forward in time to do so in order for one more great case or adventure.
The show, which was about a psychic detective named Shawn (James Roday) whose powers weren’t actually real, and his best friend Gus (Dule Hill) was impeccably written and incredibly smart. Rounding out the cast was serious, driven Detective Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) and kind but strong Detective Juliet O’Hara (Maggie Lawson), along with police chief Karen Vick (Kirsten Nelson) and Shawn’s curmudgeonly father, Henry (Corbin Bernsen). Psych was peppered with pop culture references, intelligent homages, and more meta humor and inside jokes than viewers could even keep track of. There are numerous comedies on television that have been canceled and are deserving of their own movies. Psych, with its chemistry between the cast and writing, is definitely among those. (Plus, imagine all the pineapples a two-hour movie could contain!)
What other canceled television series deserve their own movies?