We’ve all been there. You find a new TV show you love and devour every episode as quickly as possible. You become invested in the characters and their stories and can’t wait to see what happens next. And then, suddenly, it’s over. The show is either unceremoniously cancelled on a cliffhanger or ends after just a few seasons, leaving you with a tremendous sense of emptiness. So if you’re still mourning the loss of a great show that ended too soon, don’t worry—you’re not alone.
The OA was an instant cult classic when it premiered on Netflix in 2016. The one-of-a-kind, mind-bending sci-fi show followed Prairie Johnson (Brit Marling), a blind woman who reappears after seven years with her sight restored. The OA was heart-wrenching and touching, with thought-provoking twists and turns that left viewers reeling. Creators Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij mapped out the five-season story arc long before Netflix purchased it in a bidding war against HBO. Still, unfortunately, to the dismay of fans, creators and actors alike, Netflix decided not to renew the show for a third instalment. Outraged viewers organised petitions, an animated billboard in Times Square, flashmobs with “the movements”, viewing events, a giant octopus kite, and there was even a hunger strike, but the streaming giant didn’t budge. This cancellation hit the most for us, with still so much of the story untold and that shocking finale.
Pushing Daisies is probably one of the most unique shows that have ever been on television. It’s about a man who can bring people back to life with a touch, but if he touches them again, they die for good. It’s quirky and adorable and stars Lee Pace and Anna Friel. It ran for two seasons before being cancelled by ABC.
Based on the book series “The Mortal Instruments,” Shadowhunters follows Clary Fray, a teenage girl who discovers she is part of a secret society of demon hunters. The show was a hit with book fans but, unfortunately, never found a broad enough audience to justify its high production costs. As a result, after three seasons, Shadowhunters was cancelled by Freeform.
This time-travelling adventure series followed a team of historians as they tried to stop a mysterious villain from altering the course of history. Timeless was an action-packed, well-written show with a fantastic cast, but unfortunately, it never found its footing in the ratings. As a result, NBC cancelled the show after just two seasons.
Wonderfalls is another brilliant but short-lived TV show from Bryan Fuller (the man behind Pushing Daisies and Hannibal). It follows Jaye Tyler (Caroline Dhavernas), a recent Brown graduate who starts seeing inanimate objects talk to her right around the time she’s supposed to start her dream job at an ad agency in New York City. Like Fuller’s other shows, Wonderfalls is inventive, darkly funny, and in the best way, just plain weird—but sadly, it only lasted for four episodes before being cancelled by Fox due to low ratings (though Hulu later aired all 13 episodes).
Hannibal was a dark and disturbing take on the classic Thomas Harris character, following FBI profiler Will Graham as he hunts down a serial killer. The show was visually stunning, with brilliant performances from Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy. Unfortunately, NBC cancelled Hannibal after three seasons.
The Get Down
The Get Down was an ambitious and visually stunning musical drama set in the South Bronx in the late 1970s. The show followed a group of young people navigating the burgeoning hip-hop scene. Unfortunately, despite critical acclaim, The Get Down was cancelled by Netflix after just one season.
Terriers is a Pulp Fiction-esque crime drama about two unlicensed private detectives in Ocean Beach, California. The show is darkly comedic and incredibly well-written, but it lasted only one season before being axed by FX.
Sense8 was a sci-fi drama created by the infamous Wachowskis (The Matrix) about eight people from around the world uniquely connected by a psychic bond. The show was visually stunning, with great performances from its diverse cast. Unfortunately, Netflix cancelled Sense8 after just two seasons.
Honourary mentions going to the brilliant Gentleman Jack, Paper Girls, The Wilds, Mindhunter, and I Am Not Okay With This, all of which feature prominent lesbian characters. Hmm, are we sensing a pattern here?
A significant loss to the TV landscape
The cancellation of these shows is a significant loss to the TV landscape. The need for instant virality is often the deciding factor on whether something is a success or not in modern streaming culture. There’s little room for error or creativity, and we can expect to see a lot more premature cancellations of daring and original shows that push the boundaries of what television could be and offer representation where it is otherwise difficult to find. These shows could grow into classics if given the space to breathe. It’s a shame we won’t get to see more of these incredible stories and characters.
These are just some of the many great TV shows that networks cancelled before their time, many of which had dedicated fan campaigns to try and revive them. Of course, it’s always gutting when a show we love gets the axe, but we can take solace in knowing that we’re not alone.
What other cancelled TV shows do you think deserved more?