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Top 10 TV Shows That Were Canceled Too Soon

Updated on June 5, 2013

No!!!!!!!!!!

But why?
But why? | Source

"If we fail to anticipate the unforeseen or expect the unexpected in a universe of infinite possibilities, we may find ourselves at the mercy of anyone"

And you and I my friends are completely at the mercy of ratings, revenue, and market trends when it comes to the television shows we love. It could be a sitcom that provides you with laugh out loud moments that make you spew your drink across the room. It could be a drama that hits so close to home you feel like they spoke to you first. It could be a suspenseful thriller that has you gripping the armrest of your favorite chair so hard that you develop carpal tunnel and yell at the screen when the credits roll. Then the inevitable happens. The show is canceled. No closure is reached, plot lines are unsettled, questions remain, and you’re left with a big empty hole right through the middle. This list is for you. You may not agree with all ten shows I mention, but at the very least, you’ll be thinking of the ones you knew and loved and lost. Please note, that not all of these shows were canceled by their network. Some were just ended. But here's my thing; if a show ends before I was ready for it to end, then it got canceled. Here we go.........

Does THIS happen to you?

How often do your favorite shows get canceled?

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#10: “It's your call Dana, but pretty soon it's going to be my call. Cause here's the thing, I can't let it be their call”

Sports Night was vintage Aaron Sorkin (who you will notice got the axe a couple of times on this list). Sorkin has a way of portraying workplace drama, academic humor, and creative dialogue better than most writers I have seen. Sports Night was no different. The ensemble cast was world class and would later go on to star in other Sorkin classics.

Sports Night was a show that centered on the day-to-day operation of a cable Sports Show similar to ESPN. Sorkin unearthed Robert Guillaume from Benson to play the Director of the show, with Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives) to play the producer. In just 2 seasons, it took home 8 Emmy’s and a Golden Globe for Huffman. It should be noted, that while the show is definitely a sitcom, there was plenty of drama to be had. Sorkin is also known for making his humor more realistic instead of just slapstick. This show also serves as a good primer for Sorkin’s later efforts and/or cancellations.

Take back your $100 and fold...

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#9: “You see someone running incredibly fast,the first thing you gotta ask is 'Are they running to something or away from something?' The answer is always both.

As far as I’m concerned, Joss Whedon is the King of getting screwed with his pants on when it comes to television shows being canceled. Dollhouse was no exception, lasting only 2 seasons. The premise was simple but the complexities of this show cannot be undersold. Young, good looking men and women that had gone astray or needed help would contract with the "House" for a period of 5 years. Their memories were erased but stored on hard drives. The "dolls" would then have character profiles uploaded into their brains, allowing them to be anybody that a prospective client would need for engagements. The "dolls" then served as escorts, consultants, doctors, bodyguards, and even under cover busts. Each "doll" had a handler that took them to the engagement and brought them back safely. They would then have their memory wiped and existed in sort of a zen trance until their next outing.

Eliza Dushku (True Lies) plays the lead role of Echo, a very special "doll" who begins to retain memories of her previous uploads, ostensibly becoming an uber "doll". Her handler is played by Harry Lennix (The Matrix Reloaded), who begins to bond with Echo. Whedon built a pretty good ensemble around the two with Olivia Williams playing the shrewd, ambitious director of the House; Adelle DeWitt and Fran Kranz playing Topher Brink, the super geek programmer in charge of the memory wipes and uploads. Whedon even managed to bring back 2 Firefly veterans in Summer Glau and Alan Tudyk for small parts.

Dollhouse really had everything you needed. There was the corporate conspiracy plot, the moral pendulum of what was going on, the lone hero FBI guy trying to expose the "House", the wack job "Doll" escapee who returns to cause havoc, and of course the plot of each job the "Dolls" were sent to perform. It's available on Netflix and Hulu right now, so you have zero excuse to miss this!

Season 1 Recap...Just to hook ya!

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#8: "Don't call me Junior"

Seriously, do you need a better reason to keep a show on the air than Indiana Jones? Not to mention the fact, that this was the origin story. The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles enters the list at #8. This show allowed us to watch Indy grow up and see his fascination with archaeology grow. We got to see where he got his trademark fedora and his sophomoric bravado. It serves as a great companion to the Harrison Ford Movies and the older "young" Indy is played by Sean Patrick Flannery. While he's no Ford, Flannery makes the transition to Ford believable and gives it substance.

You learn so much of Dr. Jones' past including his time with Pancho Villa. We witness Indy fighting at the onset of WWI. We see him meet George Patton, Leo Tolstoy, Ernest Hemingway, and Al Capone to name a few. They bring back Harrison Ford for a flashback episode where he plays a middle aged Indy recounting exploits.

And while this show may have ended, I do take solace in the fact that they at least may carry on the tradition with Shia Lebouf based on the "fedora" scene at the end of the 4th Movie.


How it all began...

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#7: "I won't be back"

Guess what? This is another show by Joss Whedon that was canceled. Do you see a pattern yet? Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles told a very much alluded to, but never fleshed out story of John Connor and how he became the leader of the resistance in the Terminator saga. Summer Glau (Firefly and Dollhouse) was tapped again to play the role of a Terminator sent back by "Future John" to protect his younger self. So there's a constant power struggle between Sarah Connor (Lena Headey) and Cameron (Glau) because Sarah is trying to protect her son by hiding and Cameron is trying to protect him by taking out all threats.

They also managed to resurrect Brian Austin Green, who plays a very convincing Derek Reese from the future, sent to check up on John. The rest of the cast performs admirably in their roles, resulting in a decent ensemble that moves the story along at a good pace. The special effects are done very well considering the lower budgets that TV shows are hampered with.

Joss Whedon knows how to weave a story, so it's not like these shows get canned for quality. Honestly, I think the man is just ahead of his time because I would bet money there weren't too many people dissatisfied with The Avengers movie. Guess who directed that flick? Yep...Whedon. That makes me fearful of the new show he has coming out; Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Keep your fingers crossed and make it a point to watch Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles when you get the chance.

The Truth Was Out There...

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#6: "We may find ourselves at the mercy of anyone or anything that cannot be programmed, categorized or easily referenced."

Okay, I know what you're thinking...Why in the world would you include a show that went 9 seasons on this list? It's very simple really...there was still SO much left to do and show. The X-Files was a groundbreaking show. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson anchored the story. Chris Carter wrote and directed incredible plot lines that twisted our minds and then brought them back together. It was Law and Order meets Ripley's Believe it or Not meets Close Encounters. There's really no way to go wrong with that.

It's sad that the only real reason this show ended (in my opinion) was over location disputes with the actors, falling ratings after going with a substandard group of actors in the 8th season, and slot scheduling with other shows. And while there are a couple of X-Filesque shows out there now that are good; Warehouse 13 and Torchwood, they still don't possess the "umph" that seeing Mulder and Scully on the scene did.

You had government conspiracy, alien invasion, creature of the week, "big brother", and a lot of crazy cult episodes. Carter managed to make them believable and very approachable to a mainstream audience that wasn't into aliens and science fiction. Mulder's academic, albeit, "spooky" humor was funny. My favorite running plot line was Scully always showing up 2 seconds late to one of Mulder's "alien" encounters.

Go back and watch this show! Then you will understand why 9 seasons just wasn't enough.

You said green men. A Reticulan's skin tone is actually grey. They're notorious for their extraction of terrestrial human livers. Due to iron depletion on Retic

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#5: C'mon man! it was basically Indiana Jones on TV once a week!! Can't we agree that's a good idea?

Tales of the Gold Monkey came out when I was 8 years old. It aired one year after the big screen release of Raiders of the Lost Ark and for the past 30 years, I've been wishing for it's return. It starred Stephen Collins (Star Trek the Motion Picture, 7th Heaven) as Jake Cutter. And while Collins may not have made the best Starfleet Captain, he certainly plays a passable comedic knock-off of Indiana Jones in this show.

Tales of the Gold Monkey takes place in 1938 on a small island in the South Pacific. Collins' character, Jake Cutter, is a cargo pilot. The island is full of various types of intrigue. Cutter's love interest is a US Spy that doubles as a lounge singer. His enemy is a Japanese samurai lady who also is attracted to him, and the local priest is a nazi spy. Combine that with a one-eyed Jack Russel Terrier for a sidekick and you have the makings of a great show. There's pirating, shootouts, a tiki bar, a brass monkey, and an honest to goodness gigantic Gold Monkey that they comically can't seem to find even though it's staring them in the face.

Do yourself a favor and pick up this classic 80's TV Show and gather the family around for a fun, adventurous evening.

What a cast!

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#4: I Serve at the Pleasure of the President

So, like The X-Files, this was another show that ran multiple seasons (7 in fact) that just had more story to tell. The West Wing was an incredible TV Drama. By far, it was the best ensemble cast Aaron Sorkin ever put together. The attention to detail in every area was on point and served to set the scene for every single episode. And even by the season finale, you just felt that there was so much more to accomplish and even more to explore.

The West Wing was one of those shows, that if you watched avidly, YOU became part of the White House staff by the end of the first season. Sorkin accomplished this by providing a cast that audience members could identify with. You felt the intensity of every decision President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) made. You could feel the passion in every speech that Toby (Richard Schiff) and Sam (Rob Lowe) put on paper. You walked to the hill with Josh (Bradley Whitford) to secure or flip votes in Congress because you knew how much he didn't want to disappoint Leo (John Spencer). You believed in Bartlet as you watched through the intensely loyal eyes of Charlie (Dule Hill), the President's aide.

As with Sports Night and the movie American President, Sorkin crafted incredible conversations with humor, wit, and passionate beliefs of patriotism. The cast did a great job of "selling" you on the day to day runnings of the White House with the sacrifices they made in their personal lives and the fervor with which they approached every duty they performed.

Rob Lowe left the show after 4 seasons and you felt like, "oh no, that's going to leave a huge gap". However, Joshua Malina (Sports Night) was brought in and didn't miss a beat. In later seasons; Jimmy Smits, Alan Alda, Teri Polo, Mary Louise-Parker, and others were brought in and gave us even more than we expected. The West Wing brought home more Emmy's than I can count and showed that non-cable programming was still very much alive. There are so many moments in every season that will leave you with that "wow" feeling that you just won't be able to refrain from going straight to the next episode.

And it's great to have favorite characters when you watch a show. But it's rarer still when you get angry with them for doing something bad or something that makes you disappointed. Sorkin does this with mastery. Then, when the character gets redemption, you feel this tremendous relief and you become proud all over again. It's seldom that TV can "move" you like that, but The West Wing accomplishes this while still giving you an entertaining, sometimes funny, but always enjoyable trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.


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#3: "I don't think you seem to understand what's going on here, Colonel! Our "reserves" are gone! All of our power is gone!"

Stargate Universe is the show Lost in space (and maybe a little Gilligan's Island without the comedy or Mary Anne). Instead of an island, it's a ship. Instead of Locke, you get Dr. Rush. Instead of Hurley, you get Eli. And...instead of 6 seasons, you get 2. You also get one of the most frustrating "finales that isn't" ever.

SGU takes place in the fictional Stargate Universe made famous by the movie Stargate, and its silver screen cousins Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. The premise is that a group of 40+ people are abandoning a planet that is being attacked and heading back to Earth through the Stargate. However, Dr. Rush (Robert Carlyle) has other plans. He dials a different number on the Stargate and maroons everyone on an ancient ship billions of light years from home. Obviously, this angers the rest of the unwilling shipmates, including a contingent of soldiers.

The show explores many different themes that target the human condition. Oddly enough, there's more human interest "stuff" in this show than there is campy science fiction material. You will deal with personal sacrifice, megalomania, military vs. civilian, and even HR issues. Every time the crew goes through a new gate, something entirely unexpected happens. It's also fun to watch a crew that can barely stand each other pull together, focused on the singular goal of getting home, to get things done. And "home" is its own character in this sci-drama series. The idea of being so far away with zero options and barely any hope truly drives the interactions with this crew.

It's 40 episodes. You'll latch onto them with reckless abandon. But be warned, when the credits roll at the end of episode 40, don't come crying to me that they didn't finish what they started! Still, you should watch them all!


These people were certifiable!!!

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#2: "Let me ask you something. Is this a business decision, or is it personal? 'Cause if it's business I'll go away happily. But if it's personal, I'll go away.

I love to laugh. I also am a sucker for family humor. Every family has its dysfunctions. But NO family has more dysfunction than the Bluth's of Arrested Development. I guarantee you will not stop laughing for one minute of this show.

Yes I know they're bringing it back on Netflix with new episodes on May 26th. But the question still remains...Why was it ever canceled in the first place? Jason Bateman is hysterically funny if you like dry, somewhat condescending humor. David Cross is a mess, Jeffrey Tambor is a confused mess, and Will Arnett will have you in tears.

Arrested Development is centered on the very wealthy, but very jacked up, Bluth family. The patriarch, Tambor, goes to prison in the pilot episode and the family loses everything. Bateman eventually arrests control of the company and begins to rebuild both the company and the family. However, he is sabotaged at every turn by the rest of the family.

You haven't seen television this funny since Seinfeld, I promise you. Go back and watch the first 3 seasons before the re-release of the new season on May 26th. You will thank me!

I think they aim to misbehave...

After the show...
After the show... | Source

#1: I can see that the Fox Network wasn't overburdened with an over-abundance of learnin'

So if you've read http://willjason.hubpages.com/hub/The-Top-Must-Have-products-for-your-SciFi-Geek then you know what I think of the show Firefly. This is one show that should have never been canceled. For the 3rd time on this list, Joss Whedon received the axe without so much as a little bit of "how's your uncle?". Firefly was the perfect show. I know the scifi community is small and not looked upon favorably by the rest of the world that just doesn't "get it". But this is a show where you could rip the whole "space thing" completely from the plot and STILL have a great show in another setting.

It's a show about a group of people that have fallen on hard times but still pull together, work hard, and make it. It's a show where you will laugh so hard at times that you'll swear you're bruising ribs with each chuckle. It's a show where the groups leader, CPT Mal Reynolds (Castle's, Nathan Fillion) is flawed but caring, loyal, and charismatic.

Firefly takes place in a distant future after a fierce galactic civil war between the Alliance and the Independents (Browncoats). The Alliance won the war, while Reynolds and his soldier sidekick Zoe (Gina Torres) licked their wounds as Browncoats. Reynolds and Zoe decide to purchase a ship and go into business as basically smugglers and/or thieves. They eventually recruit a crew and set off in a ship called Serenity, named after the Battle of Serenity Valley, where Mal and Zoe realized they had lost the war.

Adam Baldwin's character, Jayne Cobb will have you laughing non-stop. And if Jayne can't tickle your funny bone, Alan Tudyk as Wash is an absolute riot. He doesn't even have to talk, just his facial expressions will have you rolling on your couch. The way the crew is constantly bickering with each other but comes together tighter than Gorilla Glue when the chips are down is a sight to behold. And you'll be saying the same things everybody says with each episode you watch:

Come on Mal! Tell her!

Come on Inara! Tell him!

Jayne, just shut up! Wait...don't, it's funny how dumb you are

Mal, you need more grenades!

All in all, Firefly was one of the greatest one season shows of all time. The cult following that the crew of the Serenity has garnered is staggering. Fox knows they made a mistake. They know so well that they recently started putting out merchandise from the show 10 years after its cancellation and shut down other markets that had been producing the show's swag for years.

Gone...but NEVER forgotten!

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      jesse 4 years ago

      Pretty good list

    • Will Jason profile image
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      Will Jason 3 years ago from Chattanooga, Tennessee

      Thanks man, i think so. Sure, there are others i couldve added but in the end, these were my favorite.

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