There is nothing more frustrating than starting a brand new television program, getting invested in the character’s lives, friendships, and relationships, just to have that program ripped from you. As an audience, all we want is a little bit of closure – and one more season of our new favorites!
It’s hard to say goodbye to a cancelled series when all you can see is its potential. Over the last couple of years, the world has had its fair share of brilliant scripted dramas that were taken from us too soon. Many of them remain culturally relevant,= and should have been given another chance, particularly to wrap up some loose ends.
Unfortunately, some television programs have also simply run its course, but refuse to go. Whether they lack character development, focus on the least interesting aspects they have to offer, or have spun completely out of control – there are some shows on television (and various streaming platforms) that simply need to stop. And soon. No more, we say. If only we had the powers to replace the lost treasures of television with those we cannot seem to get rid of.
So without further ado, let’s have a look at 10 TV Dramas That Were Cancelled Too Soon (And 10 That Need to Go).
20. Cancelled Too Soon – Firefly
In 2002, audiences were introduced to the sci-fi masterpiece that is Firefly, created by Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s Joss Whedon. The series is set in 2517 and tells the story of a group of humans trying to explore a new star system aboard the space ship Serenity. Amongst its cast, we have some of the finest actors and actresses popular culture has seen (and continues to celebrate today) such as Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin, or Summer Glau.
Fox cancelled the series after only one season, but Firefly’s massive fan-base has enabled Whedon to expand his universe beyond the small screen.
In 2005, Universal Pictures produced the follow-up feature film Serenity, and since 2007 publisher Dark Horse Comics has released several comic books that would continue the story. Once you have a good sci-fi drama, don’t let it go.
19. Needs To Go – Supernatural
Supernatural is the only television program that did not only survive the merger of The WB and UPN to the CW, but still continues to return to audiences year after year. The 2017/18 season marks the series’ thirteenth year on air. The series follows two brothers, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) on their demon-hunting adventures. There are many fans that will argue that Supernatural does not deserve to be on that list.
However, there are just as many that would agree that the show has lost a bit of its direction after the first five seasons (which is where it was initially set to end).
18. Cancelled Too Soon – Veronica Mars
Another series that made the move from The WB/UPN to The CW was Veronica Mars, but unfortunately, it didn’t live long enough. Kristen Bell takes center stage as a teenage PI in this mystery drama created by Rob Thomas, which premiered in 2004. As Veronica (Bell) tries to solve a variety of cases, the first major one involving the death of her best friend Lilly (Amanda Seyfried), she falls in love, finds new friends, and generally tries to navigate high-school.
Veronica Mars was a brilliant combination of a coming-of-age story, and classic detective fiction.
Bell brought a gravitas to the role that made Veronica vulnerable, but indestructible. The series was cancelled in 2007, after three seasons. In 2013, fans raised over 5.7 Million dollars to continue Veronica Mars on the big screen and give the series a little bit of the closure it deserves.
17. Needs To Go – Grey’s Anatomy
You know a television program has changed for the worse when you tune in and don’t recognize any of the characters. When Grey’s Anatomy premiered on ABC in 2005, it rang in the era of Shonda Rhimes’s emotional torture. We laughed, we cried, we loved, and we yelled at our screens as we followed the lives of five doctors starting their residency at Seattle Greys Hospital.
14 seasons in and out of those five original characters, only two of them are left.
And they have suffered enough. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) had to live through countless deaths of friends, family members, and loved ones, and it is time for that to stop. Too many characters have left the show, particularly those that audiences were invested in. We miss Derek, George, Lexie, and Mark every day. Kudos to everyone who continued past the single digits, but it’s time for this one to end.
16. Cancelled Too Soon – Sweet/Vicious
Sweet/Vicious was a wonderful television program, but it was just a tad ahead of its time. The MTV series, which premiered in 2016, follows the vigilantes Jules (Elizabeth Bennett) and Ophelia (Taylor Dearden) who try to clean up their college campus by targeting predatory men and supporting assault victims.
Sweet/Vicious tackled a variety of issues including body shaming, bullying, and PTSD, and celebrated strong female characters as well as female friendships.
In April 2017, MTV announced it had cancelled the series, citing low ratings as the deciding factor. All efforts to ship the project to a different distributor have failed so far and almost a year since its cancellation, it seems that all hope is lost. It’s hard to accept that this series is gone, particularly in a world where the Me Too movement, as well as the Time’s Up campaign have shown a light on harassment and abuse.
15. Needs To Go – The Walking Dead
Audiences have always had a knack for the undead, but after the massive success of Twilight, popular culture was filled to the brim with zombies, ghosts, and vampires. In the midst of that, AMC premiered its very own version of the apocalypse, The Walking Dead, in 2010. The series focuses on Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), who wakes from a coma to find that the world as he knew it has been taken over by zombies.
It’s a simple premise and it has been working out very well for AMC. The Walking Dead has held steady, impressive audience numbers for years. But why?
If the first few seasons were entertaining at best, it now just drags on endlessly.
14. Cancelled Too Soon – My So-Called Life
Ready for a throw-back? In 1995, ABC premiered a television program featuring Claire Danes as Angela Chase, a young girl going through possible the worst phase in life – puberty. My So-Called Life dealt with the difficulties of adolescent life in an honest and bold way that would earn it critical acclaim. The series didn’t shy away from problematic issues such as homophobia, alcoholism and substance abuse, while handling a teenager’s everyday problems such as relationships, friends, and family life.
However, the daily strain of being on set was too much for a young Claire Danes, and she and her parents decided she would not return for a second season.
13. Needs to Go – Homeland
Well, speaking of Claire Danes… the actress returned to television full-time in 2011 in the Showtime production Homeland. In the spy drama, she portrays Carrie Mathison, a CIA counter-terrorism officer returning to American soil after an unauthorized operation in Iraq. The first few years of the series focus on her search for terrorist Abu Nazir and the last couple of seasons have taken Carrie to Germany, Afghanistan, and back to the US.
While the series showed a lot of potential in its first season, particularly in relation to Carrie’s mental health struggles, it seems that it has lost a bit of its direction.
12. Cancelled Too Soon – Pushing Daisies
Bryan Fuller knows what he does when it comes to television and Pushing Daisies is another fantastic example for that. The series is about the lovable pie-maker Ned (Lee Pace) and his ability to bring the dead back to life with just one touch (but only for one short minute!). While he uses his powers to solve crimes, his co-worker Olive (Kristin Chenoweth) and childhood sweetheart Chuck (Anna Friel) add the necessary quirk.
Pushing Daisies was the perfect combination of thrill and humor, and it kept audiences watching for two short seasons.
Unfortunately, it fell victim to the Writers Guild of America strike, which led to a prolonged gap between the seasons and therefore to low ratings for the series’ sophomore run. If only we could revive this show with a feather light touch of our finger tips.
11. Needs To Go – Marvel’s Inhumans
There’s no point in denying it, Marvel’s Inhumans bombed. The series follows the Inhuman Royal Family, who escape to Hawaii after a military coup and eventually have to save the world. And if that wasn’t weak enough a premise, even for a superhero project, the end-product disappoints with inconsistency and mediocre writing.
Unsurprisingly, Inhumans was not well received once it premiered in 2017.
Even at preview screenings of the pilot at San Diego Comic Con (which offers the ultimate assortment of the program’s target audience), reviews and impressions were rather mixed. The quality of the show reflects in its ratings, which are devastatingly low at best. Inhumans hasn’t been officially cancelled, but that is only a matter of time. Good riddance!
10. Cancelled Too Soon – Marvel’s Agent Carter
From one extreme to another. Marvel has made some questionable choices in the past, but its cancellation of Agent Carter might have been the worst. Audiences were first introduced to Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger. Peggy is a fierce, independent woman in the late 1940s, who she tries to balance her rather unexciting office job with secretly working with Howard Stark as an undercover agent. Atwell is a force to be reckoned with and has made the character fully and truly her own.
Despite a positive critical response and a loyal fan base, Agent Carter never brought in large audience numbers and ratings.
9. Needs To Go – 13 Reasons Why
There is something to be said about a good, ol’ miniseries. When Netflix first premiered 13 Reasons Why, an adaptation of the novel with the same title by Jay Asher, it was obvious they had created a smash hit. It quickly became the most talked-about program on social media. The first season encompassed the thirteen tapes that Hannah (Katherine Langford) has left her classmates after her she took her life, in which she explains the circumstances of her decision. It is heart-breaking, it is shocking, and it leaves you wondering.
However, when Netflix announced it had renewed the series for a second season, the only question that came to mind is WHY?
8. Cancelled Too Soon – Sense8
Netflix has a reputation for continuously developing its original content. We are several seasons into programs such as Orange is the New Black, so we know they are not shy to renew their hits – which is why it was a shock when they decided to cancel Sense8 after two short seasons. Sense8 focuses on eight characters from all around the globe, our “sensates.” whose lives are emotionally and mentally linked.
The series had a little bit of everything and explored many culturally relevant topics such as politics, identity, or religious belief in tasteful and respective ways.
7. Needs To Go – Dynasty
The late 2010s seem to be a time of reboots and too many of them just don’t work. Dynasty is one of those things the world would gladly live without. The 1980s version of the program revolved around a wealthy Southern family which is challenged by the new marriage of its patriarch, Blake Carrington. In 2017, The CW has put Dynasty back on its schedule, with the very same premise.
Developed by the creative minds behind Gossip Girl, Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, you get exactly what you expect: a pretty wardrobe, uninspired scheming, and a whole lot of unnecessary drama.
6. Cancelled Too Soon – Selfie
It’s not a secret that we are all a little bit obsessed with social media. Therefore, it came as no surprise when that phenomenon of our time was turned into a TV show. In ABC’s Selfie, Eliza Dooley (portrayed by the always charming Karen Gillan) has built her life around her digital identity, but quickly learns that followers on social media are no substitute for real friendships. She turns to her colleague Henry (John Cho) for help in becoming a less self-obsessed and narcissistic human being.
Selfie had charm, it had clever writing, and while it made fun of itself more often than not, it still featured relatable characters that were easy to invest in.
5. Needs To Go – The 100
When The 100 premiered on The CW in 2014, it was a welcome, but surprising, addition to the roster. Earth has been destroyed by a nuclear apocalypse and humanity has resettled a space station.
The series follows a group of young adults, many of them considered criminals, as they are sent back to Earth a century later to explore humanity’s chances of survival.
The 100 started as a great tale of survival in a new world and, while they were trying to build a new society, the adolescents still experienced complicated romances, challenging friendships, and learned about the importance of family. However, the series took a sharp turn for the worse in its third season, after taking out two of its main characters in quick succession. The story arcs that followed seemed uninspired and lazy, the characters shallow and one-dimensional.
4. Cancelled Too Soon – Hannibal
Oh look, another Bryan Fuller series that should still be on our to-watch list. In April of 2013, NBC premiered Hannibal, a series inspired by Thomas Harris’ novels about the intriguing connection between FBI agent Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), who is sent to investigate a serial killer in Minnesota and forensic psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), a cannibalistic killer himself.
The series pushed past many television boundaries and eventually won fans with the intriguing psychology behind its characters.
Its visuals and stunning color palette gave Hannibal a unique look and feel that many tried to imitate, but few were able to. Like many other programs, Hannibal eventually fell victim to declining ratings and was cancelled after three seasons.
3. Needs To Go – Scream
From one horror to another, MTV decided to reboot the 1990s cult classic Scream, with a predominantly teenage cast featuring Willa Fitzgerald, Bex Taylor-Klaus, John Karna and Carlson Young. The TV series tells the story of a group of teenagers, who are targeted by a serial killer whose modus operandi is similar to cases that occurred in the past. While the series was never something we actually needed, it was an entertaining and thrilling ride. The characters may have been flat, as they so often tend to be in average horror flicks, but the series handled that with humor and self-awareness.
However, after two seasons MTV decided to reboot the reboot and return with a whole new cast and setting.
2. Cancelled Too Soon – The Secret Circle
The CW tends to be a bit too trigger-happy with its “cancel” button at times. The Secret Circle premiered in 2011 and quickly turned into a fan favorite. The series is based on the books of the same name by L.J. Smith (also the author of The Vampire Diaries novels), and follows Cassie Blake (Britt Robertson), who learns she is a hereditary witch and soon joins a coven to learn more about her powers.
What Charmed was to the early 2000s, The Secret Circle could have become a decade later.
The supernatural drama clicked with audiences, but the latter end of its first season saw a decline in ratings. In addition to that, The CW cited high production and special effects costs as their reason for cancelling the series after only one season. But fans would have none of it, and have started several campaigns and petitions to save the show, such as “Save The Circle,” but to no avail.
1. Needs To Go – The Royals
The Royals has to be the most awful show on television and it has held that title for an impressive three years. The series debuted in 2015 on E!, a network that is better known for celebrity gossip. The Royals follows the head of the British royal family, Queen Helena (Elizabeth Hurley) and her hedonistic children through drama after drama, and scandal after scandal.
If the writing wasn’t so terrible, and the acting wasn’t so poor, it would be easy to take The Royals for what it should be – a satire, or a guilty pleasure.
But the series wants to be considered a drama, rather than the soap opera it is. The only thing that differentiates The Royals and Keeping Up With The Kardashians is the poor British accent. Please, E!, make it go away.
Which do you want to see return or go? Let us know in the comments!
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