While the world of television continues to adjust to its new competition from online streaming services, it seems like every other day our friends are telling us about five totally new series that we absolutely need to watch. But when we finally do get around to checking them out a few months later, we discover that they’ve somehow already been canceled.
With every new series fighting for viewership, it’s inevitable that a lot of shows are going to meet an early demise, and unfortunately, the quality of the series isn’t always a contributing factor. Plain and simple: if people aren’t watching, the advertisers aren’t making any money, and the show needs to go.
While not having an audience is a perfectly sensible reason for a series to be canceled, there are a number of shows that have been pulled from their respective networks for far more ridiculous reasons. Whether it be because of studio mishandling, misconstrued controversy, or accidentally destroyed sets, these few shows were quite possibly axed well before their time.
And to add insult to injury, we can't help but notice that tons of shows are continuing way past their prime, but they continue to take up airspace so the network can cash in on a franchise that has long worn out its welcome.
Here are 10 TV Shows Canceled For Stupid Reasons (And 10 That Need To Go).
20 Needs to go — Iron Fist
The series stars Finn Jones as Danny Rand/Iron Fist, a martial arts master who returns to NYC with plans to reclaim his family’s company after being presumed dead for over a decade. Despite the show’s best intentions, everything about Iron Fist proved to be either dull or derivative. Even the martial arts sequences — which should have been the standout of the series — proved to be lackluster and without any sense of urgency.
Although Netflix doesn’t reveal their shows' viewership, they’ve largely hinted that Iron Fist is the last show that audiences end up watching after making their way through Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and Luke Cage. But instead of relegating the character to a supporting role in the other series, Netflix has decided to go ahead with a second season of Iron Fist regardless.
19 Canceled — Angel
From Buffy all the way to The Avengers, Joss Whedon has repeatedly clashed with showrunners and executives over creative control, which has rarely turned out well for the studio or the writer/ director. The same can be said for Angel, a series co-created by Whedon along with David Greenwalt, which met an early demise in 2004 after just five seasons.
The spin-off to Buffy, which aired on The WB, was actually on a ratings upswing following a fourth season decline. However, then-head of the network, Jordan Levin, inexplicably canceled the show after Whedon asked for an early renewal. Reportedly, The WB was terrible at keeping their writers in the loop about whether or not their shows would be picked up for another season, resulting in many employees turning down other job offers while waiting in limbo.
However, Whedon’s best intentions to look out for his staff totally back-fired as Levin decided to cancel the network’s second highest-rated show to settle the power-play once and for all.
18 Needs to go — Supernatural
While many people agreed that the season five finale of Supernatural would have also served as a perfect conclusion to the entire series, this WB show has kept going. And going. And going.
We’re currently headed into the thirteenth season of Supernatural, which will premiere on October 12th of this year. But is there anything left for the Winchester brothers to do without totally dismissing everything they’ve already done? The characters have literally been to Hell and back and all but defeated God himself. How could they possibly top this by continuing the story any further?
The reason the network continues to string Supernatural out is, of course, the ratings, which have continued to be fairly solid despite a drop in quality. But at a certain point, we have to hope they would step in and try to preserve their creation before the series gets downright embarrassing.
17 Canceled — Young Justice
An animated series that highlighted the younger character within the DC Universe, Young Justice debuted on Cartoon Network back in November of 2010 before being canceled just two seasons later. This was perplexing to many viewers, as Young Justice was not only one of the most critically acclaimed superhero cartoons of all time, but also garnered a strong viewership during its initial run.
However, the success of a children’s animated series is less based on how many viewers are watching, and more on the number of toys that are being sold. As a result of its more complex storylines, more young girls, along with older audience members, were tuning into the show. But unfortunately, they weren’t rushing to snatch up the action figures at the store and the network had no choice but to cancel the show.
Luckily, the strong following has led to a long-awaited reboot, which was renewed last year with plans for a 2018 release date.
16 Needs to go — House of Cards
Although a sixth season of this massively popular Netflix series has yet to be officially confirmed, with Claire assuming the presidency in the last episode of the show while Frank returns to his role as “man behind the curtain,” another season of House of Cards seems imminent.
Throughout its five-year run, House of Cards has received massive critical acclaim, winning a handful of Emmy and Golden Globe awards and solidifying Netflix as an original content provider in the same league as broadcast and HBO. However, this is one series that we’d prefer to wrap up while the performances and story-telling are still solid, rather than dragging itself out for popularity’s sake.
Much like Breaking Bad, the premise behind House of Cards is not meant to live on indefinitely, as these characters can only cause so much destruction before they implode, and we can’t help but wonder if the story and characters would be best served by ending the series.
15 Canceled — Veronica Mars
Before it was resurrected with a crowd-funded movie in 2014, Veronica Mars was canceled after just three seasons, despite consistent viewership and strong reviews from critics. The series centered around a high school student living in a wealthy town in California who moonlights as a private investigator to solve weekly and season-long mysteries.
However, the downfall of Veronica Mars had less to do with the show’s small audience, and more to do with the network’s popularity in general.
The show originally aired on the UPN, until that network, along with WB, merged to create the CW. Though Veronica Mars survived the transition — and even managed to gain some viewers in the process — the show was put on hiatus mid-season three in order to introduce the network's new reality show, Pussycat Dolls Present, to viewers.
Clearly, the CW wanted to push out different content, and because Veronica Mars was part drama, comedy, and mystery, it didn’t end up fitting into the network's plans beyond its third season.
14 Needs to go — Family Guy
As Family Guy moves into its sixteenth season, consisting of nearly 300 episodes, it might be time for the network and creator Seth McFarlane to consider throwing in the towel. While shows like South Park and The Simpsons have proven that adult-skewed animated series can indeed last for decades, in the case of Family Guy, the quality of the show has been on a significant decline for a number of years, which may help explain why last season’s ratings reached an all-time low.
With his movie career and new series The Orville debuting this season, we can’t help but think that Seth MacFarlane's heart is no longer in the series that launched him to success. This wouldn’t be as big of a problem if the writing team started picking up the slack, but many of Family Guy's gags now revolve around self-referential humor or jokes that are controversial without being clever. We'd by more than okay with it if Fox finally decided to cancel this series for good.
13 Canceled — Firefly
While the debate rages on whether or not Firefly would have been as memorable if it wasn’t canceled so early in its run, the fact that this Joss Whedon series was pulled from the network after just 11 of the 14 episodes aired has solidified this space-western as one of the greatest cult shows of all time. While low ratings were the ultimate reason that Firefly was canceled, the reason the show received its super low ratings in the first place was likely a result of the studio's mishandling.
For starters, the show was given an ill-fated Friday night time slot by Fox - on top of the fact that the network actually aired the episodes out of order! Instead of heading up the series with Whedon’s intended pilot — which eased the viewer into the universe and the characters that inhabit it — Fox executives aired the second episode first and the pilot episode last, which makes absolutely no sense.
It’s as if the network actually wanted Firefly to be canceled before it even debuted.
12 Needs to go — The Big Bang Theory
While The Big Bang Theory may still be part of the nightly routine of many of our parents and grandparents, the show is well beyond its glory days. Unlike Two and a Half Men — the other massively successful sitcom created by Chuck Lorre — the jokes in Big Bang have absolutely no bite, turning the laugh track into an unintentional joke unto itself.
The problem with The Big Bang Theory (aside from its still criminally large audience), is that the jokes all revolve around the same premise: the characters are nerds. Which begs the questions, just how much longer will real-life nerds have to endure this misguided pandering?
With plans for the show to run through 2019, along with the Young Sheldon spin-off series already on its way, the expansion of this sitcom universe may prove to be infinite after all.
11 Canceled — Clone High
Few TV series can claim that their show incited a hunger strike halfway across the world. But that’s exactly what happened before Clone High was pulled from MTV back in 2003.
The series revolved around a high school full of historical clones —including JFK, Abraham Lincoln, Cleopatra, and Mahatma Gandhi — and was also a parody of the teen soap operas that were plaguing television throughout the early 2000s. While the series has since become an underground classic, Clone High was canceled after its first season after nothing more than a simple misunderstanding that spiraled out of control.
After Maxim published a totally unrelated image of Gandhi being beaten up in their magazine, web searches from India brought unexpected attention to Clone High and their depiction of Gandhi as a wild, high school partier. A hunger strike involving approximately 150 participants ensued and, for fear that India would ban MTV from their country, the series was never brought back for a second season, despite the creators agreeing to abandon the character of Gandhi altogether.
10 Needs to go — Grey’s Anatomy
Making its debut back in 2005, Grey’s Anatomy has turned out a whopping 295 episodes and it is currently in its fourteenth season on ABC. The series, which was created by Shonda Rhimes, centers around a team of surgeons, interns, and residents working at a hospital in Seattle, Washington.
Despite the fact that three out of the four original main characters have since departed, Grey’s Anatomy still turns in an impressive viewership year after year. Though indeed ratings have fallen since the massive popularity of seasons one through three, Grey’s Anatomy's average audience has remained over 10 million per episode, still making it one of the most-watched drama on ABC.
But in terms of story, Grey’s has long been on the decline, meaning that it might be best to ax the show in the same way they’ve killed off so many of their beloved characters throughout the last 14 years.
9 Canceled — Batman
Upon its debut, the 1960s live-action Batman series was a cultural phenomenon, attracting such a large audience that the show ran twice a week during its first two seasons. Unfortunately, all the upbeat campiness devolved into bizarre ‘60s-style surrealism in the third season, which led to a steady decline in viewership and an impending cancellation from ABC.
While this is far from a stupid reason for the show to reach its demise, NBC actually agreed to take over Batman, which might have marked a return to form for the series. However, amidst the negotiations, all the sets were accidentally destroyed. Not wanting to put up a whopping $800,000 upfront to have the Bat Cave rebuilt, the deal with NBC ultimately fell through, and the Adam West series was officially kaput by the end of 1968.
8 Needs to go — Fuller House
Nostalgia is a powerful thing — and it’s really the one reason why many of us tuned in to check out this Netflix sequel to the popular ‘80s and ’90s sitcom, Full House.
While it may have been fun to watch these character reconvene after two decades off the air, it didn’t take long to rediscover that the jokes in Fuller House are just as dull as they were in the original -- the only difference being that we’re all 20 years older, which doesn't help.
With the first season of the show garnering a 32% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, critics agree that Fuller House is flat and derivative of the original series. And while we can’t knock Netflix for bringing the series back for its initial 13-episode run, we definitely didn’t need a second season of the show. Or a third.
7 Canceled — Politically Incorrect
Sometimes it doesn’t so much matter what you say, but when you say it — which is a lesson that Bill Maher learned the hard way after making an ill-timed comment during a broadcast of his ABC show Politically Incorrect just six days after 9/11.
Effectively, the comedian/ political commentator said that bombing people from thousands of miles away was cowardly, but that staying in an airplane while it hits a building is not. While many viewers shrugged off and even agreed with the observation, a few viewers and right-wing political pundits were up in arms, which lead to Sears and FedEx pulling their ads from the time slot.
Since then, Maher has greatly enjoyed the freedom to say things that are actually politically incorrect on his HBO series, Real Time, which is currently in its 15th season with plans to continue through 2020.
6 Needs to go — Criminal Minds
Criminal Minds is another show that has simply gone on far too long. Even after 12 seasons and 277 episodes, CBS decided to renew the series for a thirteenth season, which debuted on September 27th to an audience of 7 million — by far the lowest audience for a premiere episode to date.
The series follows a large cast of characters working in the Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI who attempt to profile killers based on their crimes to stay one step ahead, rather than simply chasing leads with hopes of stumbling upon to the suspect.
While the original premise of Criminal Minds was enough to differentiate it from the slew of other police procedurals at the time of its release, at nearly 300 episodes, just how many heinous serial killers can we watch these characters profile?
Critics have been quick to point out that the series often confuses critical thinking with mind reading, and after two failed spin-off series, it’s time for CBS to pull the plug on this series as well.
5 Canceled — Profit
There’s a good chance that you’ve never even heard of this 1996 Fox series, and that’s likely because it was pulled from the network after only four of the first eight episodes aired. The reason? Because the main character, Jim Profit, was too amoral.
These days, with shows like Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and Mad Men, having a complex, morally ambiguous character at the center of your series is a good way to ensure success. But back in the mid-90s, the concept of putting a “bad” guy in the spotlight was largely lost on mainstream audiences.
Despite industry praise, certain audience members were up in arms over the shows supposed glorification of greed and adultery, leading to various protests and threats from affiliate stations to replace the show with local programming. As a result, Fox pulled the show altogether.
4 Needs to go — Once Upon a Time
Set in the fictional town of Storybrooke, Maine, Once Upon a Time features characters from many classic fairy tales who are living under a curse that has robbed them of their past memories.
Though the show has never featured the most plausible storylines or greatest acting, Once Upon a Time still managed to pull in strong ratings during its first few seasons, garnering nearly 13 million viewers during its pilot episode. But after six seasons, the show has been seriously losing viewers.
Season seven of the show debuted in October 2017 and acts as a soft reboot as the story relocates to the west coast — a possibly last-ditch attempt to revitalize the series after a record-low season six. But with increasingly ridiculous characters popping up, along with its inclusion of time travel and alternate realities (isn’t the whole thing an alternate reality anyway?), it’s time for ABC to finally wrap this overlong fairytale up.
3 Canceled — Police Squad!
A show that was truly ahead of its time, Police Squad! starred comedic actor Leslie Nielsen as Sergeant Frank Drebin, and the entire series parodied the police procedurals that plagued the ‘70s and ‘80s. The series debuted on ABC in 1982 - created by the makers of Airplane! and featuring the same offbeat humor and background gags seen in that film.
However, despite later receiving Emmy nominations for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Lead Actor, Police Squad! was canceled after just four of the original six episodes aired. The reason the then-ABC entertainment president gave for pulling the show was Police Squad! was effectively too smart and that it demanded too much from the viewer.
Fortunately, many of the concepts from Police Squad! were rolled into the massively successful Naked Gun film series, which found Nielsen returning to the role of Detective Drebin once again.
2 Needs to go — Keeping Up With the Kardashians
Easily the least controversial pick on the list, even those who still tune into Keeping Up with the Kardashians will freely admit that the show it absolute trash. But, just like a horrific car crash, they can’t look away.
Since a certain percentage of the population will always have the morbid curiosity to tune into a reality show like Keeping Up with the Kardashians, the only way that a show like this will meet its demise is if the participants back out or the network decides to start serving the greater good. But in this case, neither seems likely.
Add to that the massive amount of spin-off shows — including Khloe & Lamar, Rob & Chyna, Life of Kylie, Dash Dolls, Kourtney and Kim Take Miami, Kourtney and Kim Take New York, and Kourtney and Kim Take The Hamptons — and it’s clear to see that this fame-addicted family isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. What a shame.
1 Canceled — Ellen
Now that Ellen DeGeneres has been hosting her own successful talk show for well over a decade, it’s easy for younger audience members to forget that the host had an entire career as a stand-up comedian and actress back in the ’80s and ‘90s.
From 1994 to 1998, DeGeneres starred on her sitcom, where she played a quirky bookstore owner living in Los Angeles. Ellen was fairly popular during it first four seasons, until, in 1997, both the actress and the character came out as gay.
While the series continues to receive support from TV critics and the LGBT community, the ABC series also came under a hailstorm of fire from anti-gay organizations, prompting the network to go as far as adding a parental advisory before each episode aired — an unfathomable move today.
The controversy resulted in declining rating and Ellen’s eventual cancellation, and it would take another failed sitcom and half a decade before DeGeneres would reach the same success as she had before coming out.
So which shows do you think were unfairly canceled? And which ones need to go? Let us know!
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