The Top 50 Shows That Were Canceled Way Too Soon
Watching T.V. is one of the greatest pastime activities of all time! From drama to comedy, to horror and satires, television shows are the undisputed champion of leisure activity. This is why it hurts so much when one of our favorite shows is kicked off the air!
Some shows simply needed more development but many of them were hits in the making, so why did they get the boot? Look through our top 50 shows that were canceled way too soon and find out.
Arrested Development (2003-2006)
After season five it was announced that the comedy satire show Arrested Development (2003) wouldn't be coming back, and the hearts of fans dropped to their stomachs. Watching the level-headed Michael Bluth, played by Jason Bateman, try to keep his dysfunctional family together is too funny to resist once you get into it.
The show ran from 2003 to 2006 and by the end of the fifth season, the Fox network declared that the show's ratings were not up to their standards. Luckily, you can enjoy Arrested Development on Hulu with your friend's subscription!
The Tick (2001-2002)
The Tick (2001) is one of those characters that has superpowers but isn't quite the superhero you would expect to save the day. Fortunately, Marvel Studios shows their can-do attitude as they pushed this series as hard as they could. The story of the popular pest was re-developed and aired in 2001, ran for one season, and was finalized in 2002.
Since then, The Tick reboots have come into play and continue to hold steady on streaming platforms like Amazon Prime, yet it still has the same issue as its predecessor: low ratings. For that, reruns are what's keeping this bug from being completely squashed.
The Grinder (2015-2016)
When you think about what Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel were expecting when they created The Grinder (2015), cancellation most likely was not on the list. The legal comedy series was picked up in September 2015 and dropped in May 2016 due to not achieving high ratings, according to Fox.
The disappointing part is the show had critical acclaim from viewers and critics alike. The determined (and slightly delusional) mindset of an actor-turned-lawyer and his band of witty oblivious family members was definitely worth at least a second season.
It's hard to believe that the still popular classic comic T.V. series, Dilbert (1999), only lasted for one season. The dull and oblivious look in the eyes of Dilbert as he fades away at Path-E-Tech reached the souls of many through the original comic strips but not so much through T.V.
According to viewers, although satirically funny, the show had a slow pace and lacked the ability to create laughter from those who watched, despite a chuckle or two. With low ratings, the denizen that is Dilbert packed its cubicle and was suspended indefinitely.
Deadwood (2004) was a complete surprise to many fans because it was canceled after only two seasons of South Dakota crime and corruption. As the story is reported by Looper, the partnered networks were having a heated discussion about the show's budget and thespian pay, but couldn't come to a decision that made both parties happy; thus, the cancellation.
HBO had a star show on its hands as the reinvented plot showcased the violence and complicated individuals that ran the streets. Nonetheless, it had a good run and is still held in high regard.
The PJs (1999-2000)
New York has many areas where you can see prosperity and others where the word "poor" comes to mind. That's what The PJs (1999) showcased as it followed the lives of an African American family living in the inner-city housing projects. Let's thank comedian Eddie Murphy for coming up with such a revolutionary show.
There were many animations in the 1990s and early 2000s, but The PJs was the only show bold enough to add a comical twist to a sub-par lifestyle. After two seasons, The WB network found the budget to be too high for declining ratings and axed the show from its lineup.
Heroes was an action-packed show where different people discover they have superpowers. What made the 2006 hit series so cool was the powers that each person had and the realistic manners in which the powers could be used. Its drama was subtle enough to not be overwhelming while its fantasy was spot on.
However, the show only lasted four seasons and was canceled. Why? Mainly because of two reasons: first, the studio didn't approve the budget for the advanced technology needed for season five, and second, the character development started to go sideways.
The Finder (2012)
The Finder (2012) makes our list of top shows that were canceled way too soon because although the premise was great, the ratings were not. The plot is loosely based on the book series, The Locator, and explores the life of an Iraq veteran who has a neurological defect that allows him to find missing people through extraordinary spatial reasoning.
The concept was interesting enough to pass the pilot stage but it failed the first season test. Viewership was extremely low to the point of network embarrassment. The show's plug was pulled in May 2012 after only six months on the air.
Agent Carter (2015)
Peggy Carter is a Marvel Studios favorite as she struts around the military facility with determination in her spirit to uncover some of Hydra's most disturbing secrets. As intriguing as she appears in cameos of other Marvel movies, her personal story in Agent Carter (2015) wasn't as interesting as they would have thought.
Her plot was well-received but viewer engagement was just too low for the studio to put millions of dollars more into the project. Based on the low projections, the show was disbanded in March 2016 after two seasons.
Most T.V. viewers like a good sci-fi series every now and again, and that is where Rosewell (1999) came into play. It served as a medium between normal high school drama and exploring the world of a different species through having supernatural powers. The band of hybrids did their best to survive New Mexico but were shipped off sooner than they thought.
There was a warning from The CW that the show would be canceled through tweets, so viewers weren't left hanging. However, the show was declared "unceremoniously canceled" by many critics.
Futuristic shows tend to be a hit or miss based on the plot and Dollhouse (2009) unfortunately missed its mark. As reported, spectators were intrigued by the plot but due to ineffective marketing, the show didn't meet the network's standards. Eliza Dushku played the lead role of young, lost people who lost their identities and were replaced with temporary memories to fulfill assignments for clients.
How is that not a cool premise? It goes to show how important marketing is in the T.V. industry. Tragically, this futuristic show didn't see cancellation coming.
Morris Chestnut rarely fails at keeping the attention of his audience with his charm, assertion, and range of acting. Portraying a highly-skilled private practice doctor in Miami, Florida, "Rosey" helps his stand-offish partner, Vida, solve cases with a particular set of wit and knowledge in the almost hit show, Rosewood (2015).
The series lasted for two seasons through astonishing medical findings, action scenes, and of course, the occasional family drama with character development. Yet, because of a blocked storyline, the show hit a dead end and was canceled in 2017.
Kyle XY (2006-2009)
The mystery that was Kyle XY (2006) still lives on once people are reminded of the show. The premise was based on a sci-fi drama platform where a family takes in a formerly institutionalized teen boy who is basically a savant. The interesting part is that the boy lacked some standard emotional expression.
Watching Kyle learn how to be human is what kept the show alive for three seasons. The network had a hard time deciding how the show will continue creatively, and with no direction in mind, the show came to a smooth halt after the finale.
Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000)
The turn of the millennium gave us a lot of coming-of-age shows like Freaks and Geeks (1999). The plot is simple: a young female mathlete realizes that she is an "oddball out" and joins a group of "burnouts" who have lost their chance at popularity. What made the character interesting was how she watched her younger brother navigate his freshman year with ease and style.
As you can guess, the viewership was not as high as the networks would have liked it to be. Therefore, the comedy-drama series was canceled after one season of being on air.
College is one of the best - or worst - experiences of one's life. College freshman Steve Karp found this out all too well in the 2001 series Undeclared (2001). He, his girlfriend, and their fellow dormmates engage in some of the most embellished college antics you've ever seen.
Can you imagine going to school with your recently divorced dad tagging along?! Steve did and it made for some funny moments. Unfortunately, the fans were not feeling the show even though it was based on university life, and the show was let go after one season.
Selfie (2014 )
You would think a show by the name of Selfie (2014) would survive in the modern world, but low and behold, it did not. The series followed a self-involved 20-something year old after she suffers the hardship of being the core focus of an embarrassing video that went viral.
As a way to reform her image, she hires a marketing expert to fix what she broke. Many viewers of the ABC show were upset when the show was pulled because of the relatable concept, cultural presentation - John Cho - and character development between the two lead roles.
Brothers & Sisters (2006-2011)
With 5 seasons and 109 episodes, yes, Brothers & Sisters (2006) was canceled too soon! The series had a long stretch following the adult siblings of the Walker family as they dealt with their social and familial trials and triumphs. From old flames to new loves, to deception and cunning schemes, Brothers & Sisters created juicy gossip without trying.
In the end, network executives just didn't believe that the show produced enough viewer engagement to keep it going. The California family was released from their duty in 2011, hopefully with their quarrels figured out.
You, Me, and the Apocalypse (2015)
Most of us love a good apocalypse story and that was almost given to us via You, Me, and the Apocalypse (2015). A group of eclectic associates bands together to prepare for the inevitable doomsday. The show was developed by American and British producers and aired in the United Kingdom before the United States.
This caused much pirating in the U.S., so when the show was officially released in the States, many people were turned off due to the lack of quality they saw on the pirated version. This series never got a chance to entertain us the way we knew it truly could.
V (2009) is one of those shows that continues to make us think that if aliens came from another planet, would we be safe and simply learn their advanced ways of living? It also went to show us that aliens can be completely deceptive and have ulterior motives as to why they have come to our planet!
Elizabeth Mitchell and Morris Chestnut were lead roles in this sci-fi series for the two seasons that it lasted. With a few more episodes in the tank, the show was pulled off the air due to lower-than-expected ratings.
DC Comics has a knack for turning some of their heroes into live-action phenoms. The NBC network paired with DC to bring Constantine (2014) to life. Matt Ryan received only one season to show us what he could do to make John Constantine a household name. With magical powers and a cynical attitude, things were going well until the ratings came out.
However, the character Constantine did receive some cameos in The CW's Arrowverse and became a regular cast member on Legends of Tomorrow, so there's still some life left in this mystical character.
Numbers (2005) - stylized as Numb3rs - had a curiosity-peeking storyline connected to using a savant-type mathematician that uses known - and unknown - equations to solve particular cases for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Even with a solid premise related to crime and superpowers, the series caught fire and then burned out.
Critics report the demise of Numb3rs based on declined viewer engagement and wanting to use the slot for the debut of a new series. In the end, Numb3rs had a good thing going with many viewers for six seasons.
Good Girls Revolt (2016)
Good Girls Revolt (2016) makes our top 50 shows that were canceled too soon list for a few reasons. First, the American drama series was inspired by the book, The Good Girls, by Lynn Povich. Let's add that the book and the show are based on the late 1960s women's revolution towards work and education equality.
Such a show would flourish now, but because of the show being considered "ahead of its time" by critics, the show was pulled from Amazon Prime in December of that same year.
If you're a true T.V. geek, you've probably heard of Whodunnit? (2013), the mind-boggling show that featured a detective who presents various crimes for viewers to figure out. The plot of the show was meant to be interactive, however, it did not go as planned and did not catch the attention of many eyes.
Critics say that it lacked laughter and the crimes were too complex for entertainment television. So after one season, the show was extracted from the airwaves and retired to the archives.
The Unit (2006-2009)
The Unit (2006) was popular because it was based on the real-life experiences of top-secret military units. The cool part is that the units are modeled after the United States Army Special Operations Unit; you may know them better as Delta Force.
The show aired in March 2006 and ran for four seasons. The strategy that was shown over the years provided a lot of insight into military operations, which is why its cancellation in May 2009 was challenging to accept.
Chicago Justice (2017)
T.V. buffs may know about Chicago Justice (2017). It's the fourth installment of the Chicago franchise - created by Dick Wolf - and featured your typical law drama. The prosecutors and investigators at the Cook County State's Attorney's Office maneuver through the red tape of the legal arena and social media while keeping their ethics intact.
Yet, after one season, the show just didn't catch and lacked serious reviews. Notably, it was the first of the Chicago series to be canceled. Actor Peter Stone (middle) received a few gigs on Law & Order, so that's a plus.
Jericho ( 2006-2008)
Drama and mystery go together like peanut butter and jelly, and that's what Jericho (2006) tried to prove after two seasons on the air. The premise? A giant, dark mushroom cloud towers over a small town near Denver, Colorado, and no one seems to know what's going on.
A young man takes the lead in searching for answers that no one else can seem to find. As it seems, the show was quite long-winded and took a few episodes to get to the point. Ratings were decent, but not enough for a solid season three.
The Oblongs (2001-2002)
The Oblongs (2001) were a good way of learning why you should keep a clean body. The misadventures of a goofy family brought laughter to millions of viewers for only one season. WB reported lower than average ratings and pulled the plug with approximately five episodes in the season remaining.
It can be quite surprising knowing that a T.V. show created by the creative genius of Will Ferrell and Jean Smart became canceled so soon. Nonetheless, the toxic waste was the grounds for their cynical entertainment and a second season could have possibly solidified the show.
Ghost Whisperer (2005-2010)
Jennifer Love Hewitt was a popular actress in the early 2000s for many of her dramatic roles, including her appearance in the 2005 series Ghost Whisperer. She portrayed a young woman trapped in the astral realm of the dead and the living. Her ultimate goal was to help the deceased resolve their unfinished business with the living.
The premise was cool to start, yet, the tone of the show became a bit more than dry for a drama/fantasy show, according to ratings. Melinda's "gift" kept viewers engaged for several seasons before its untimely departure.
In September 2016, history was made when Pitch was introduced to our T.V. screens thanks to the Fox Network. The American drama series was created by Dan Fogleman and Rick Singer and featured Kylie Bunbury as Ginny Baker, the fictional first woman to pitch in Major League Baseball.
The show was inspiring to say the least and if you've seen the show, you know that it was also emotionally triumphant. Tragically, the show never caught fire and was extinguished within the same season and year it sparked.
The O.C. (2003-2007)
Shows like The O.C. (2003) show us how affluence and a support system can help even the most challenging cases. In Newport Beach, Orange County, California, a troubled youth becomes entangled in the lives of a group of friends living within their lave and luxury.
The drama series had its funny moments through snarky comments, but not enough to keep it on air. After four seasons, rumors started spreading that there wouldn't be a fifth, and they were true. Low ratings of the show got it pulled after only 16 syndicated episodes.
Lie to me (2009-2011)
For all the viewers that like to play therapist, Lie to me (2009) was the perfect show because it featured the fictional character Cal Lightman who had the ability to determine if someone was lying based on proven psychological behaviors and body language. Sounds like a cool premise and many viewers were hooked within the first season.
Its popularity grew, but by the middle of the third season, spectators started to review the show as "predictable". To save face and the reputation of the series, it was canceled in May 2011.
Lincoln Heights (2006-2009)
Russell Hornsby and Nicki Micheaux did a wonderful job portraying family members that move into a Los Angeles crime-infested neighborhood in the series Lincoln Heights (2006). The goal of the family was to help the community and serve the people within it - including the convicts.
It lived up to the standards of general drama television and brought in a lot of viewers over the first two episodes. Due to studio disagreements and a block in the storyline, Lincoln Heights never got a chance to fulfill its duty to the people and satisfy us with another season.
Eli Stone (2008-2009)
Wanting to do good for the sake of altruism was the plot of Eli Stone (2008). The fictional lawyer had the means to accept cases with little monetary gains because he had a superpower... a brain aneurysm that gave him visions of his clients and the truth within their legal narratives.
Although the San Francisco attorney had his client's best interest at heart, the studio didn't have his. The fantasy drama was canceled the following year for, you guessed it, lack of viewers and low ratings. Looks like the producers got to Eli before the aneurysm did.
Third Watch (1999-2005)
Is being canceled after six seasons considered "too soon"? Yes! Especially when it comes to Third Watch (1999). What made Third Watch bearable to watch amongst its other professional drama show cohorts is that it didn't solely focus on one profession. The series showcased the exploits of men and women who served as police officers, paramedics, and firefighters!
The fictional 55th Precinct always had something going on which kept the show alive until 2005. Overall, Third Watch had pretty high ratings and more than enough drama to binge on.
The Mayor (2017)
Politicians seem to be getting younger and younger in reality, so why not create a show about it. Meet The Mayor (2017), the sitcom featuring a young rapper who decides to run for mayor to create buzz for his up-and-coming music career.
Little did he know that the citizens trusted his logic and would actually vote him into the seat of power! The first, and only, season exhibited the talents of the actors but lacked chemistry throughout. As a result, The Mayor was impeached by the studio and taken off the air with no chance for a second season in sight.
Common Law (2012)
Common Law (2012) starred Michael Ealy (right) and Warren Kole (left) as two cop buddies who have to endure their toughest mission yet within their professional relationship... couples counseling! The premise is a bit ridiculous but the cast was stacked with well-known thespians like Sonya Walger and Jack McGee. It had laughter to keep you engaged and action to excite you.
The USA Network ran the show from May to August 2012 and lasted for only 12 episodes. The series was canceled because the ratings were just a blip on the monitor. Couples counseling for police officers... there's an idea.
Chasing Life (2014-2015)
The main character, April, had a rough time during the two seasons of Chasing Life (2014). The young woman was diagnosed with cancer and the show exhibits how she was able to reframe thoughts, experience the ups and downs of having cancer, and create a support system that proved they were there for her every step of the way.
Yet, the show was left on a cliffhanger and many viewers were upset when the show was canceled. Viewers and other fans expressed the desire for at least a third mini-season or T.V. movie, but nothing came to fruition.
Joan of Arcadia (2003-2005)
Joan of Arcadia (2003) is a hard show to forget. It circled around the life of Joan, a teenage girl who receives an astonishing - and quite random - visit by God. She is blessed with extraordinary insight and is tasked with completing assignments that eventually benefit the people that she helped.
Its drama was typical of what you would've expected but lacked comedy. Nonetheless, the series was on air for three seasons and holds a solid spot in T.V. history because of its ability to touch the hearts of the audience.
The Get Down (2016-2017)
Oh yeah, the funky grooves of the brothers from the Bronx were blared on the T.V. screens when The Get Down (2016) was released on Netflix. The American musical had many background surprises that viewers didn't know about like iconic rapper Nas playing the older rap voice of "Zeke", as well as being one of the head producers of the show.
According to Netflix, the budget was increasing without the views which created production delays and mid-quality work. For those reasons, The Get Down was the first Netflix show to be canceled after one season.
The Nine (2006-2007)
The Nine (2006) had its time on air but lost much of it because of the trajectory of the plot. Nine surviving hostages from a bank hold-up meet on a regular basis to rehash the memories of their traumatic experience. The survivors also have inter-connected storylines with their family and friends, and how they were affected too.
After its release, reviews were in and were not as great as expected. The plot seemed to stress viewers out a bit and wasn't action-packed enough to ignore it. With that being said, the show was pulled the following year.
Sci-fi is one of the largest genres of T.V. and film for a good reason: aliens! That's where Threshold (2005) joined the mix and provided viewers with a healthy dose of extraterrestrial magic. The team of experts that came together gave keen insight into how - and why - the galactic foreigners are approaching Earth.
The series showed promise based on engagement, but due to an unsuccessful move to a different day of the week, viewership significantly decreased and the show was lost. The following year in 2006, the complete season was released on DVD.
A to Z (2014-2015)
A to Z (2014) was a great romantic comedy because of the storyline of the relationship between Andrew and Zelda that was chronicled as the theme of the show. We saw the ups and downs that they faced as a couple, which so happened to be quite fluctuating as the viewer ratings.
Although the show had many funny moments, it received the news of being canceled with only five episodes remaining. Yet, the first 13 episodes kept T.V. fans watching to see what else the show could've revealed so that it could've stayed on the air.
Awake (2012) had a serious plot that either caught your attention or confused you, which is part of the reason the show was canceled: a small amount of viewership. As the plot goes, a detective gets into a big car accident and wakes up in two worlds: one where his wife is alive but his son is dead, and the other where the son is alive but the wife is dead.
The series even went as far as to prove how both worlds could be real! As you can see, it would be either very easy or hard for the show's plot to catch and keep your attention, but for psycho-thriller fans, this show was perfect.
Clone High (2002-2003)
MTV had a show that could've been a hit with a second season and a chance for people to watch it. Clone High (2002) was an animated series with the awesome premise of a bunch of famous people like Joan of Arc, Abraham Lincoln, and Cleopatra attending high school together. The antics were funny for each character and the lessons were relatable to real-life situations.
Because of poor marketing, Clone High did not receive the proper promotion for stellar views. Many people didn't know this cool show even existed until it was being yanked off the air faster than it started.
Carnivale (2003) was praised for its creative direction and awkward characters with sinister or holistic messages. The series received nominations for a few awards and was even listed as one of HBO's top shows to watch. What brought about the decline of views was the confusion of the plot, according to reviews.
Set during the Great Depression in Oklahoma, a farm boy and an upbeat minister find out that they are pawns in a war going on between heaven and hell. The war was clearly lost for Carnivale and the characters have passed on to play different roles in different shows.
The Secret Circle (2011-2012)
The Secret Circle (2011-2012) can be described as a mix between Harry Potter and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. The metaphysical powers that those in the secret circle possessed are what made the show intriguing enough to give it a chance. Unfortunately, by a viewer report, "the show tried way too hard."
There were about three villains in just the first season where the books that the show was based on introduced them gradually. In the end, the show was rushed and then rushed off the air.
Pushing Daisies (2007-2009)
The gloriously strange fairy tale of a young pastry chef who has the power to bring the dead back to life is told in the 2007 show Pushing Daisies. He solves the murders of the deceased with the help of his trusty and recently resurrected childhood sweetheart, and waitress that always has love on the brain, and a private investigator who questions even her own truth.
The comedy-drama appealed to millions of viewers at first. As the second season was fading out, so were the ratings. Even though it had a short run, Pushing Daisies had a promising T.V. career.
Still Star-Crossed (2017)
Still Star-Crossed (2017) is on the list of shows canceled way too soon because of the plot. It takes place following the aftermath of the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. The sets were authentic based on the times, the wardrobe was stunning and befitting of the creative cast members.
Yet, after one season, the show was taken from the viewers not just because of low views, but also because of a lost plot. Most people aren't aware of what happened after the death of those two crazy teens, and now we never will!
Grounded for Life (2001-2005)
A true American sitcom, Grounded for Life (2001) gave us the inner workings of a mid-thirty Irish Catholic couple named Sean and Claudia. They share three children together and watch over them like hawks, despite the kid's ability to slip away from them with ease and entertainment.
Let's also throw in Sean's carefree brother that lacks responsibility and his overbearing, judgemental father as the cherry on top. The show lost its luster and ratings and faded away, but still holds a place in T.V. history for many millennials.
American Gods (2017-2021)
Just the mention of American Gods (2017) brings gleam and tears to the eyes of all of its fans. The show follows Shadow Moon, a man serving a prison sentence and given early release. He finds Mr. Wednesday and enters a world of war between the Old Gods and the New Gods.
However, since its inception, the show's views had dropped 65%! The series was on season three when it was announced that the show would be axed and left many viewers frustrated by the cliffhangers that the show never got to clarify.