The world of television programming is a cutthroat one. The door of on-air shows is constantly revolving. Cancellations abound, and just as one series is out, another takes its place without so much as a second glance by network heads.
But it’s not just he bad series that get the cut. All too often, shows are canceled just as they were getting started, leaving their fan bases frustrated and confused.
At the same time, some television series are allowed runs on air that are just too long to understand. One of the most frustrating aspects of being a TV fan is having one of your favorite shows canceled way too soon while a series you can’t stand continues to be on air for years. Unfortunately, this happens more often than viewers like.
This list will cover television shows of both categories, including some of the best and most beloved series that were canceled along with some of the worst series that networks somehow still allow to be on air.
Here is a list of 10 TV Shows That Shouldn’t Have Been Canceled (And 5 That Need To Go).
15 Canceled Too Soon: Agent Carter
When ABC announced in 2015 that Hayley Atwell’s Agent Carter from the 2011 film Captain America would be getting a television spin-off, fans grew very excited at the prospect of the bold female character getting to lead her own series. Unfortunately, Agent Carter’s time in the spotlight was short-lived.
The series was set in the 1940s and followed Atwell’s Peggy Carter as she worked with the SSR and Howard Stark.
Although the Marvel television series started out strong, Agent Carter began to lose viewers as it went on. By season 2, the series was just not able to bring in the ratings ABC had hoped for when it first green-lit the series.
Agent Carter was cancelled after season 2 in early 2016. Even worse, the last season ended on a major cliffhanger, leaving fans with no explanation about where their favorite Marvel leading lady would head next.
14 Canceled Too Soon: Freaks and Geeks
Paul Feig and Judd Apatow’s NBC comedy Freaks and Geeks has gone down as one of the most beloved high school shows in television history.
Not only did the series take a worn out genre and put a fresh spin on it with strong and relatable writing, but it also launched the careers of a number of young actors. Linda Cardellini, James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and Busy Philipps all got their start on the NBC series.
But despite its loyal audience, Freaks and Geeks only lasted one season on air before its network brought down the axe and ended its run because its ratings did not hold up next to more popular shows.
Only 12 of the 18 filmed episodes actually went on air, and it wasn't until a fan petition circulated in 2000 that the remaining episodes finally saw the light of day and aired on Fox.
13 Needs to Go: 13 Reasons Why
Last year, Netflix released its original teen series 13 Reasons Why. Following high schooler Clay Jensen as he listens to audio tapes left behind by his friend Hannah Baker, who committed suicide.
The show quickly gained buzz over its depictions of bullying, mental health, and suicide. It even kicked up quite a bit of controversy over its graphic suicide scene, which many considered to be inappropriate.
Putting the questionable suicide scene aside, 13 Reasons Why was never a show that was overly impressive. The writing and acting was often melodramatic and unbelievable. But in May 2017, Netflix renewed it for a second season.
The decision left many scratching their heads over why Netflix would continue such a controversial series. Hannah’s 13 reasons for committing suicide were already revealed by the end of season 1, so it’s unclear where the show can even go from here.
12 Canceled Too Soon: Rome
HBO’s sprawling historical epic Rome was one of the most impressive series the network has produced.
Complete with complex writing, memorable performances, and impressive set design, Rome drew in a big audience as it told the story of Ancient Rome turning from a republic to an empire.
But such large-level success comes at a price. Despite Rome’s large audience and high ratings, the show was simply too expensive to produce.
As a result, even though the series originally planned to complete a five season run, HBO cut Rome off after season 2. According to Rome’s creators, the show was supposed to go in many exciting routes with future seasons, including stories in Egypt and Israel.
When the details of future seasons were made public, the news that Rome would never come back sting even more for fans, making its cancellation one of HBO’s most disappointing cuts ever.
11 Canceled To Soon: My So-Called Life
For many who grew up in the 90’s, My So-Called Life was one of those formative teen television shows.
ABC’s high school drama followed Angela Chase, played by a young Claire Danes, as she navigated her high school years and tried to find her own identity. The show also starred Jared Leto as Chase’s love interest Jordan.
My So-Called Life was enjoyed by television critics and casual viewers alike . But the show suffered low ratings in the shadow of more popular series like Friends and Mad About You. ABC cut the chord on My So-Called Life after only one season in 1995.
The cancellation even inspired the first-ever internet petition started by fans to try to get the show back on air. But the series creators couldn’t get the ball rolling, and My So-Called Life never came back for a second run.
10 Needs to Go: American Dad!
When Seth MacFarlane unveiled his animated comedy American Dad! in 2005, many saw it as the better alternative to his first series, Family Guy.
It’s true that the show’s first few seasons were often funnier than MacFarlane’s other television work due to its reliance on character-driven humor rather than scattered punch lines and cutaways.
But soon, American Dad! began to suffer the same mistakes as Family Guy. As the show went on, it began to rely on the same old gags, making the once fresh series stale.
Still, TBS has managed to remain blind to the fact that American Dad! is nowhere near as funny as it once was. In January, the network renewed MacFarlane’s series for another two seasons. Like it or not, American Dad! isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
9 Canceled Too Soon: Pushing Daisies
One of cable television’s most original and innocently entertaining television shows, Pushing Daisies was among ABC’s most crushing cancellation decisions. The show follows Lee Pace’s Ned as he uses his special powers to bring dead people back to life to solve murder cases.
Pushing Daisies charmed both critics and fans at home with its quirky and eccentric tone. It received an impressive 17 Emmy nominations, going on to win 7 awards.
But the writer’s strike that began in 2007 messed up any plans ABC had for Pushing Daisies’ future. The strike interrupted the completion of the show’s first season, and even when the writers returned for season 2, the show struggled to pick up momentum again.
To the dismay of viewers everywhere, ABC decided to cancel Pushing Daisies in 2008. Devoted fans today still push for the show's return, refusing to believe that the show is gone for good.
8 Canceled Too Soon: Vinyl
Vinyl is one of those failed HBO experiments that could have had an impressive future had the network given the show a chance. Unfortunately, Vinyl was cancelled after only one season and was never given the time to recuperate from an uneven but promising first season.
Created by Mick Jagger, Martin Scorsese, and Terence Winter, the period drama following the 1970s music scene was thought to be a guaranteed success.
While the show included some seriously impressive performances from Bobby Cannavale and Ray Romano, but the series caught some flak from critics who claimed the show had some serious flaws. When Terrence Winter left the show due to creative differences, the series was in serious trouble.
HBO first decided to renew the series, but in a bizarre move, the network reversed its decision and canceled Vinyl, claiming the series had ratings that were too low to keep it on air.
7 Needs to Go: Grey’s Anatomy
In 2005, ABC premiered Grey’s Anatomy as a soap-opera alternative to the more stripped down medical drama ER. The show sky-rocketed to popularity, and admittedly, its first few seasons provided the exact kind of compelling melodrama that television needed at the time.
But more than 10 years later, it’s fair to saw that Grey’s Anatomy has run its course. After kicking out some of its strongest characters, putting its main character Meredith through the wringer season after season, and recycling the same old drama season after season, the show is nowhere near as entertaining as it once was.
Yet ABC has allowed the show to continue on, due in part because despite all its issues, loyal fans continue to tune in. In January, lead actress Ellen Pompeo signed on for two more years of Grey’s, meaning the show will most certainly live on.
6 Canceled Too Soon: Pitch
With Pitch, Fox tried to revive the television sports drama with a progressive twist, writing the show with a woman of color as the lead character. The series followed Kylie Bunbury as Ginny Baker, a pitcher who is chosen to be the first woman to play with the men in Major League Baseball.
The show was adored by critics, who showered Pitch with praise over its character development, Bunbury’s break-out performance, and involved drama. But Pitch struggled to draw in viewers at home. Unfortunately, the series wasn't able to find strong enough ratings to impress Fox.
The network pulled the plug on its baseball drama in spring of 2017. The show might not have had the largest audience, but its devoted fans were disappointed in the cancellation nonetheless.
5 Canceled Too Soon: Deadwood
For television fans, Deadwood has long been the prime example of an excellent show tragically cut down in its prime. Exploring the lawless world of 1870s Deadwood, South Dakota, the HBO western served up career-defining performances from its cast, nail-biting drama, and an impressive amount of profanity.
When it was on air, Deadwood was one of the strongest shows in HBO’s roster, and is still considered among HBO’s best dramas. Deadwood enjoyed a three season run before its success was cut short.
HBO and the show’s creator David Mitch hit some creative snags and couldn’t agree on the show’s future. HBO wanted to reduce the number of episodes per season by half, but Mitch couldn’t agree with the cuts.
The network ultimately canceled the series. But Deadwood fans shouldn’t despair: a revival movie is currently in the works and is set for a fall 2018 production start.
4 Needs to Go: The Big Bang Theory
It might be hard-pressed to find another sitcom on-air as tired and formulaic as The Big Bang Theory. The California-based comedy centers on a group of geeky scientists and their “normal” apartment-mate, Penny.
The series began in 2007, and it has only continued to rely on the same old humor and gags as it’s gone on. It’s not as if The Big Bang Theory was ever really that amusing in the first place, but at this point, the show simply needs to go.
Miraculously, CBS has continued to renew The Big Bang Theory and has even awarded it a spin-off, Young Sheldon.
While some don’t understand it’s humor, The Big Bang Theory must be doing something right: its audience has continued to grow season after season, giving CBS a sitcom to rely on to pull in steady ratings.
3 Canceled Too Soon: Party Down
One of television’s funniest and underrated comedies of all time was the Starz series Party Down.
Centered on a group of aspiring Hollywood writers and actors who work in catering while they try to get their dream careers off the ground, Party Down didn’t just have funny writing. The show also featured a hilarious cast, including Adam Scott, Ken Marino, Lizzy Caplan, Martin Starr, and Jane Lynch.
But despite its humor, the Starz comedy couldn’t draw the ratings it aimed for. When Jane Lynch left the series after its first season and Adam Scott followed behind her in season 2, the future of Party Down was in serious trouble.
The loss of two important stars plus its less-than-stellar ratings convinced Starz to cancel Party Down, causing television to lose one of its sharpest comedies.
2 Canceled Too Soon: Sense8
One of the biggest bombshell cancellations in recent memory has to be Netflix’s cancellation of Sense8. The hit sci-fi series told the story of eight strangers linked to each other by special abilities.
Sense8 was one of Netflix’s biggest shows, drawing in a huge fan base that celebrated the show’s diversity, politics, and entertaining drama.
But during the summer of 2017, Netflix broke some crushing news to the show’s fans: after 2 seasons, Sense8 would not be returning for more. Sense8’s die-hard fan base rallied to the show’s support, unleashing an elaborate web campaign to get the series back on air.
At first, Netflix was firm in its decision. But after fans refused to stop, Netflix folded and decided to award Sense8 one last two-hour special to wrap up the show.
The entire situation was unprecedented and proved the power of fans in the modern digital age.
1 Needs to Go: Iron Fist
After Netflix debuted Jessica Jones and Daredevil, fans of Marvel flocked to the streaming service, eager to watch the company’s other upcoming MCU projects in the hopes that they would all be just as impressive.
Things didn’t quite go as well as many hoped. While Luke Cage wasn’t quite as strong, it still help up against the other two series. But Iron Fist was another story altogether.
When the series following the adventures of Danny Rand premiered, fans sharply criticized the series for weak storytelling, lackluster performances, and poor combat sequences. It was widely considered the worst Marvel series ever put out by Netflix.
But Marvel is Marvel, and the show still drew viewers. Netflix wasn’t about to drop such a lucrative series, no matter how many criticized it.
Netflix renewed Iron Fist in July, 2017. You might hate him, but Danny Rand isn’t going anywhere.
Did we miss any of your favorite shows that were canceled too soon? Are there any others that need to go? Let us know in the comments!