When you think of the Syfy channel, images of cheesy monsters, and unoriginal plots probably come to mind. Or you think of the Sharknado franchise.
The network has a major history of airing amazing television programs in the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres. If there’s one channel that’s not afraid to try adapting a book or a movie into a series, it’s Syfy.
On the other hand, since the network is steeped in the speculative categories, budgets can easily skyrocket because many scenes need CGI, unique costumes, or elaborate sets. Unfortunately, Syfy tends to cancel shows before its plots pan out or any characters get developed. Some shows are canceled before the initial episodes finish airing. Syfy has had many great programs that have been canceled too soon, but they also currently air shows that definitely need to go.
The channel was known as Sci-Fi before rebranding as Syfy. Then again, in 2017, the network released a new logo and slogan, “It’s a Fan Thing.” The head of Syfy, Chris McCumber said there's “…no better occasion than Syfy’s 25th anniversary to get to back our roots, double down on premium original programming.”
Some of the programs on this list are good examples of Syfy allowing a show to start off strong, but then slowly removing support until it's time to end things.
Here’s 15 Syfy Shows That Were Canceled To Soon (And 5 That Need To Go.)
20 Needs To Go: The Expanse
The Expanse is an epic science fiction drama that’s so large in scope that, on a first watch, it could overwhelm you.
Based on a series of novels by James S.A. Corey, The Expanse has several plots going at once: a) a detective born on Ceres is tasked with locating a missing woman; b) an Executive Officer of an ice-hauling spaceship gets caught up in altercations between Mars, the Belt, and Earth; and c) a U.N. representative tries to stop a war between Mars and Earth.
The show has received praise from critics and fans and has won a Hugo award, but viewership is steadily dropping episode over episode. I the creators want The Expanse to continue, they’ll need quite a few more seasons to match the depth of the novel series.
First, there are a lot of characters to keep track of, not to mention the multiple plots being juggled. While the acting in the show is superb (especially from Thomas Jane and Shawn Doyle), it’s not enough to keep viewers entranced with the world of The Expanse. There’s simply too much in the novels to translate well to the small screen. This could be one show that suddenly gets axed with no resolution, forcing you to read the books.
19 Too Soon: Stargate: Universe
Stargate: Universe involved a ship called Destiny in a part of space billions of light years away from the Milky Way Galaxy. The crew escaped to that area and must find a way back to Earth while exploring this new, unknown part of space. It sounded like the creators ripped off the basic story-line of Star Trek: Voyager but set in the Stargate mythology.
Because the characters were more likable and interesting than other Stargate characters, and the show was better made than other Stargate shows, Universe became well-liked as a psychologically-darker program in the franchise. Universe won many Constellation, Gemini, and Leo awards, including Best Science Fiction Show of 2010 and various special effects awards.
For season 2, Syfy changed the show’s time slot, which the creators attributed the drop in viewership and ratings to. Syfy wanted Fridays for wrestling and moved Universe to Tuesday. Eventually, Syfy canceled the show, angering Stargate fans.
Brad Wright, a co-creator, felt the quality of the show wasn’t the issue. It was just Syfy’s decision to move the show to a different day.
Not all was lost: you can watch 34 webisodes to tie into the TV series as well as a comic book series that resolves the TV series finale and continues the story from there. Note: the creators are not involved in the comic.
18 Too Soon: Being Human
Did you watch a show about 3 roommates who were supernatural creatures trying to navigate the real world while being monstrous and human at the same time? If you did, then you watched Being Human. The show was based on the U.K. version of the same name, but similarities in plot ended after the 1st season.
With compelling characters that subverted from the usual tropes about werewolves, vampires, and ghosts, Being Human came into its own when it veered away from its British progenitor. Many critics felt the British version could (and possibly should have) ended a season before it did but the U.S. version had the potential to go much longer.
There were still stories to tell between the main characters and the recurring characters. It would have been quite possible for any of the recurring characters to shift into their own main story.
Sam Witwer, who played the vampire Aidan Waite, made sure fans knew that the cancellation was purely creative. “Wanted to tell a great story,” he said via Twitter, “from beginning to end. We didn’t want to bleed the concept dry.” At least Syfy allowed the final few episodes to give the show a “not-to-be missed send-off.” In the TV industry, that’s rare.
17 Needs To Go: Face Off
Face Off is a reality show that has prosthetic makeup artists compete to create prostheses that could be featured in horror and science fiction films. The show has been on for 13 seasons now.
After so many years, a reality show - especially a competition reality show - beings to show its age. Face Off reached that level seasons ago. The format is essentially the same season after season: contestants participate in challenges, and judges (celebrities and industry experts) decide who is eliminated week over week based on the work. Attempts to revitalize the show have recently occurred - judges could save a contestant, or the participants work on teams - but Face Off needs to go completely.
The reality show isn’t really offering anything new anymore.
Season 13 will be an “all-star” cast from previous seasons. Syfy did announce that the 13th season will be the show’s last. Fans and viewers started a petition at the beginning of May to keep the show going. Even William Shatner is sad: he signed the petition.
If you're a fan, you shouldn’t worry: in August 2017, a spin-off show called Face Off: Game Face premiered, which welcomes back four all-stars from the Face Off seasons to compete in rounds as they go head-to-head in challenges. That’s way too much Face Off.
16 Too Soon: Lost Girl
Running for 5 seasons beginning in 2010, Lost Girl chronicles the life of a succubus named Bo who is learning to control superhuman abilities. She helped people while on the path of discovery about her origins.
Lost Girl does have a formulaic “monster-of-the-week” format, but the characters and relationships between them drew viewers in. The show is a Canadian import, but when it premiered on Showcase, viewers made it the highest-rated scripted series of all time on that channel. On Syfy, the show immediately received great ratings and reviews that called Lost Girl witty and stylistic. As the show continued, it made many “Best of” lists, like those from Slate magazine and CNN.
There could have easily been more stories told in Lost Girl, giving it additional seasons. It was canceled too soon to create buzz for any other main plotlines. Even star Ann Silk thought the show would get one more season, but she said of the 5th and final season, “It’s time, in a way.”
On a good note, Syfy canceled the show early enough so that the creators and writers could adjust the story to give fans and viewers a real series finale.
15 Too Soon: Warehouse 13
Warehouse 13 became an extremely popular program for Syfy. In the first season, many of the episodes were some of Syfy’s highest-rated episodes, while the episode “Burnout” set the record for the highest-rated show of all time for Syfy in 2010. That was an amazing feat for a show that, at first glance, drew parallels to many other shows.
The potential for Warehouse 13 to grow and develop into a long-running cult favorite was cut short after 5 seasons.
Described as a combination of Raiders of the Lost Ark, The X-Files, and Moonlighting, the dramedy followed Secret Service agents locating missing supernatural artifacts. Right away, you can see the possibilities of Warehouse 13 continuing past season 5 since there’s really no limit on what constitutes a supernatural artifact. Theoretically, the writers’ imagination could have driven the show endlessly.
This show was considered part of Syfy’s shared universe, with some characters from Eureka crossing over to Warehouse 13, and a single character from Warehouse 13 making an appearance on Alphas.
If you loved the show and wanted more, you have a few options to live in the mythology again. Warehouse 13 was immortalized in comic book form, and Greg Cox wrote a tie-in novel called Warehouse 13: A Touch of Fever. Into board games? Then you can play Warehouse 13: The Board Game, a semi-cooperative game where one Agent secretly works against the Warehouse.
14 Too Soon: Heroes of Cosplay
If you’ve attended any comic conventions in the past 10 years, you’ve seen cosplay. While cosplay has been around since fan-centric convention got their main start in the 1960s and 1970s, cosplay (or costume play) really became popular recently. You might even know some household (and famous) names like Jessica Nigri and Ivy Doomkitty.
Heroes of Cosplay followed cosplayers both relatively known and unknown as they traveled to conventions during the show’s seasons. You got behind-the-scenes access to how costumes are made and judged. Of course, we also saw the drama that can sometimes ensue from such a close-knit community.
There are some extremely talented costumers out there, and those in the show deserved to be there! The show lasted only 2 seasons, but it was a good way to show the world that cosplay was (and is) a viable career choice. For example, Yaha Han has gone one to have license deals with McCall’s, and many cosplayers make a great living through print and calendar sales.
It would have been nice to see more cosplayers. Season 2 did go overseas to some of the bigger conventions, but in the limited episodes per season, it was hard to really showcase enough cosplayers for variety. Either more episodes per season or additional season would have made Heroes of Cosplay a staple of Syfy.
13 Needs To Go: Killjoys
Killjoys needed to go before the 5th season was announced as its concluding season. The concept of bounty hunters in space sounded intriguing to some, but when stripped of the story, there really isn’t much else there. The show was nominated for six awards but didn’t win any of them from 2015 to 2017.
Critics found that the science fiction archetypes in Killjoys offered nothing new to the genre. There are witty, sarcastic, and hardened characters essentially performing apprehensions of people (and things) because they don’t really have the skills to do anything else. The characters have pasts that catch up to them, forcing them to keep a low profile outside the entity they work for.
When you look at all the comparisons to other science fiction shows - especially those in space - the resemblance to Firefly is apparent.
Except Joss Whedon did it better.
One of the biggest complaints of Killjoys is the creators seemed to have developed a fiction universe so large that it overshadows the character interactions and depth. The show presented so much so fast that it became convoluted to the point where you don’t care about what individual characters are doing. Although Killjoys is basically Firefly, the show does enjoy high percentages on Rotten Tomatoes.
12 Too Soon: Incorporated
Dystopian books and movies are perenially popular. Something about watching characters handle a bleak future is entertaining.
Incorporated took place in 2074 in a dystopian Milwaukee. Numerous crises and extreme climate changes forced most countries to go bankrupt. Big, rich corporations have become mini-governments who head Green Zones. The places where governments don’t exist or have small influence are called Red Zones. The main character, Ben Larson, is Red Zone refugee who has infiltrated a Green Zone to locate his long-lost love, Elena, who’s become a high-end night worker.
Incorporated lasted 10 episodes before Syfy canceled the show after the first season. Ratings were never outstanding, but most numbers were higher than some of Syfy's longer-running shows. Rotten Tomatoes had the show maintaining a 75% on the Tomatometer and an 87% Average Audience Score.
The depressing future and how it featured in the show was unique and interesting and would have benefited from additional seasons. A deep mythos could easily have been created.
Some fans found the storylines too predictable, but everything else kept people engaged. Incorporated was one of those shows that had a consistent first season but needed at least one more to create a solid fan base.
11 Too Soon: Helix
Recently, with networks now having “half-seasons” of hour-long shows (typically 10-13 episodes per season), it’s imperative that shows nab viewers and keep them enthralled as the first few episodes air. Helix managed to do just that.
Scientists from the CDC go to a special facility located in the Arctic to check out a possible outbreak. As they research the disease, they discover that the future of humanity is in peril. One of the show’s executive producers was Ronald D. Moore, best known for his involvement with Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica.
Some unique storytelling features involved using viral infections to have the characters hallucinate traumatic events of their past. This was more effective in the context of the show since writers wouldn’t have to use flashbacks to provide backstories. Another interesting feature of the show was that each episode took place over a single day. While not the first time this concept was used (24 should come to mind), it provided viewers with an immediacy to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
Unlike some of Syfy’s shows, Helix made it 2 season, 26 episodes before it was canceled in April 2015. Was it too soon for Helix to leave the airwaves?
The world of Helix was creepy and effective while giving the actors perfect opportunities to show viewers how good they were.
For the story and characters alone, Helix should have continued.
10 Too Soon: Caprica
Syfy rebooted Battlestar Galactica, which ran for 4 seasons to acclaim and praise. It did much better than its predecessor from the 1970s and 1980s. Why not continue the Galactica universe by creating a prequel? That’s how Caprica was born.
The show takes placed 58 years before the destruction of the Kobol colonies and how the Cylons were developed. Before the first season finished airing in the U.S., Syfy canceled the series. The network yanked the final 5 episodes from the U.S. schedule, allowing the rest of the season to appear on Space in Canada. The following year after the cancellation announcement, Syfy aired the 5 episodes it had pulled in the U.S.
Why was Caprica canceled? Syfy claimed it was because of ratings, but a quick look at the number shows that Caprica consistently did better than some of its other shows. While they weren’t astronomical numbers, they were solid over most episodes.
If you watched any Battlestar Galactica, you know the mythology of the property is large. In previous series, much was touched on with humanity’s past, and it wasn’t until Caprica that the past was addressed and shown.
Like Fear the Walking Dead adds to the The Walking Dead world, Caprica added a lot in the 19 episodes it was allowed to air. Fans deserved more for that reason alone.
9 Needs To Go: Krypton
Krypton is one of Syfy’s newest shows, premiering in March 2018, but unfortunately, this show already needs to go. The premise of the show had so much potential, but so far, it is failing to deliver. The first season will be 10 episodes, but that may not be enough to save it.
Krypton is about Superman’s grandfather, Seg-El. The family has been shamed and Seg-El fights to restore family honor while finding a way to save the planet from destruction.
From the first episodes, viewership has steadily dropped.
What’s saving the show right now are the people watching it after it airs on their DVRs. Most of the review aggregate sites show average and mixed ratings. We could expect Syfy to announce Krypton’s cancellation after the 1st season is done, but it’s hard to predict something like that with superhero TV shows providing dependable viewership. It’s possible Syfy will try “one more season,” but with how underwhelmed some critics are by the show, that would be surprising.
Unless the creators and writers buck the obvious payoff to the current storyline, Krypton has a very predictable ending. The tagline for the show is “What if Superman didn’t exist,” but Syfy would be fine if this show stopped existing.
8 Too Soon: Defiance
Defiance mildly reinvented the science fiction genre by combining a TV show with a video game. They ran concurrently, with each one affecting the other. The show ran for 3 seasons and 38 episodes.
In the series, the town of Defiance had aliens and humans coexisting in a near future world where different species of aliens have now made they're home. The show focused on a few characters who are ensuring things stay peaceful.
Unfortunately, the show was canceled to soon, relying on the video game portion to continue its legacy. Syfy stated Defiance was canceled because of financial reasons, which is a common reason in television. Production values were high, but the quality was also high. The visual effects were some of the most praised qualities of the show, even being nominated for a couple of awards.
Ratings and reviews improved even from an already well-liked first season as the show went on, but despite the love critics and fans had for the show, Syfy shifted its focus to the video game, which is still supported to this day. There have been major updates (the game maker doesn’t plan any sequels, just updates), with a new “version,” called Defiance 2050. It will release for PC, PS4, and Xbox sometime in 2018.
7 Too Soon: Dominion
Loosely based on the 2010 film Legion, which was about Angels turning against humanity, Dominion got 2 seasons with 21 episodes total. Through the first season, Dominion held steady ratings, but viewership slightly dropped in season 2. Critics have ranged from negative to average reviews, but perhaps unsurprisingly, the Average Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes hovers around 84%. Even on IMDB, fans rate it above average.
It’s another case of fans disagreeing with television critics.
The show takes place 25 years in the future. A war between angels and humanity has changed the world because the angels believe humans have made God disappear. Michael, the archangel played by Paul Bettany in the film, fights alongside humanity against his brother, Gabriel. The city of Vega is home to Michael and the other humans until the savior - who’s been foretold - appears to protect and save mankind.
Syfy stated the drop in ratings was one of the main reasons the show was canceled. Like some of the other Syfy shows, more people were watching Dominion from their DVRs. However, based on that cinematic and ambitious second reason, Dominion is the perfect candidate for resurrection on a streaming service.
6 Too Soon: Tremors
Sometimes a show gets canceled before it hits the screen or gets the greenlight. The Tremors franchise includes one theatrical film, 5 direct-to-video movies, and a TV series that aired on the Sci-Fi channel (before it was Syfy.) The sixth movie, A Cold Day in Hell was released on May 1st, 2018 on Netflix, DVD, and Blu-Ray.
That first TV series, called Tremors: The Series, lasted 13 episodes in 2003. Even so, the Tremors universe is a beloved universe for its silly B-movie monsters, overly-dramatic acting, and horror-comedy that’s more comedy than anything. They're the kind of B-movies you can't help but watch all the way through. That is why a Tremors reboot for the modern audience is a perfect choice.
At first, Amazon Prime Video was interested in the new series, but in mid-2017, a pilot was filmed for Syfy.
Kevin Bacon even reprised his role for the pilot, and it was presumed he’d continue his role in later episodes.
However, in April 2018, after viewing the pilot, Syfy decided to pass on the Tremors reboot. Streaming services Netflix and Hulu were pitched the reboot idea, but as of right now, both have declined.
5 Too Soon: Blood Drive
After you hear the concept of Blood Drive, you’ll wonder how this show even made it a full season. It follows the adage, “It’s just so crazy it might work.”
Unfortunately, for Syfy, it didn’t. The series was canceled on the day the finale aired in September 2017.
The show is set in an alternate, dystopian 1999. A natural disaster has broken the U.S. in two along the Mississippi River. Heart Enterprises exploits weird findings at the bottom of the rift (called the Scar) to control American politics, economy, and the citizens. Water is scarce, and gas is outrageously expensive. An L.A. Police Officer partners with a “Femme Fatale” to participate in a race where the cars are powered by human blood. Are you thinking Mad Max meets Death Race yet?
Taking a look at review sites, there are many favorable reviews and scores from both fans and critics. The Hollywood Reporter's TV critic Daniel Fienvberg specifically said Blood Drive “kept me entertained and curious for longer than I expected.” During its run, ratings were abysmal. The show never got a proper resolution.
Blood Drive is another show that would probably thrive for another season or two on a streaming service.
4 Needs To Go: Z Nation
When Z Nation first aired, it was met with mixed reviews, but fans complained that the critics didn’t really get the show.
Z Nation is a combination comedy, horror, action, and drama post-apocalyptic TV show that doesn’t take itself too seriously. That would be fine if the writers and creators could find new and inventive ways to make the show fresh, but because they can’t, Z Nation should end.
Z Nation is getting ready to start its fifth, but it's DOA. The show tries to mix in multiple genres, and sometimes it tries too hard to do all of them at the same time. Other moments, it focuses on one or the other. The show should have taken notes from Evil Dead and Shaun of the Dead because those two properties stick with two genres and know how to mix them well: horror and comedy.
After 4 seasons, the characters are hard to like or empathize with, and the campiness that made the first season likable is getting old.
When the show tried to do a crossover with Sharknado 3 and Sharknado 5, you should have known Z Nation was possibly getting desperate for something new.
3 Too Soon: Continuum
Continuum is a science fiction show that takes place in the year 2012 when a terrorist organization from 2077 time travels back. A police officer from 2077 inadvertently gets sent back at the same time. The organization is against corporate rule, which how is how the world presided over in the future, and decides to utilize its violent tactics to bring down corporations.
The show is a police procedural as the police officer Kira, attempts to prevent terrorism from the group, Liber8, while keeping a low profile about her time travels.
Lasting 4 seasons, the show pumped out 42 episodes. The final season was a shortened “concluding” season, with an actual conclusion when Syfy decided it was time for Continuum to end.
The writers and creators managed to hint at so many other stories that occurred between 2012 and 2077.
The series easily could have lasted another 3 or 4 more. The writing and acting were top-notch and the Continuum universe intriguing enough to keep the attention of viewers and fans for years.
Continuum had won numerous awards in 2013 and 2014 for being a series, visual effects, and acting. Of 40 nominations over 3 years, the show won 18. The program also ventured into other media, including an alternate reality game called Continuum the Game (played via a website), comics, and a trading card set.
2 Too Soon: Alphas
Here's a show that Syfy canceled twice. The 1st season of Alphas ran from July to September 2011, but before it ended, reports that the show was canceled circulated through the industry. Then, at the beginning of September, Syfy renewed Alphas for another 13 episodes. In January 2013, Syfy officially ended the show.
Alphas is about a group of people with superhuman powers that solve crimes committed by other Alphas. While some critics found faults with the “been there, done that” show, fans and many critics found it refreshingly low-tech with a constantly-twisting plot. The characters (and the actors playing them) were great, and the dialogue and storylines were well written.
Even with those positives, Syfy canceled the show - most likely due to the drop in ratings from season 1 to 2.
During its run, Alphas became more popular overseas, but that’s not enough to keep a show going worldwide. On Rotten Tomatoes, the show enjoys an 87% critic rating with a 74% average audience score.
One nice thing Syfy could have done was resolve the cliffhanger at the end of season 2. The Big Bang Theory attempted to provide closure with Sheldon’s anxiety about the cancellation when he contacts Syfy about what happened. Since we only see and hear Sheldon’s side, Alphas fans don’t really know what happened. A 2-hour movie to close the show out would have been nice.
1 Too Soon: Dark Matter
Dark Matter follows a group of six men and women who wake up from a cryogenic state to an unfamiliar ship. They are the only ones on board, and not one of them has memories of who they are or what they’ve done in the past. The crew travels the universe figuring out their past and why they were brought together while helping others and taking on paying missions to survive.
The show, based on the graphic novel of the same name, lasted 3 seasons and was canceled in September 2017. The first two seasons garnered respectable reviews, which helped propel Dark Matter to a third season.
The final season received glowing reviews from both critics and fans, but it wasn’t enough.
According to the creator, the main reason he felt the show was canceled because Dark Matter was a Syfy original, so the network couldn’t “monetize the show through things like international sales, streaming, etc.”
Despite having a 5-year plan for the program, Mallozzi couldn’t save the show. He tried to pitch the plan in hopes Syfy would change their mind. He also pitched a shortened wrap-up season but Syfy held steadfast to its decision to cancel the show completely. The creator isn’t done, though: he believes in the series and continues to shop Dark Matter around.
What Syfy shows do you think were canceled too soon? Or need to go? Let us know in the comments!