The 13 Greatest TV Shows Canceled Too Soon

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The 13 Greatest TV Shows Canceled Too Soon Veronica Mars Kristen Bell smile gif


The Veronica Mars movie comes out in select theaters today. Fans of the show managed to accomplish what so many viewers of cult series can only dream of — they got to bring their favorite characters back to the screen for their viewing enjoyment. I’m very familiar with how it feels to lose a show too early. Not only do my favorite shows usually get canceled way too soon, but I’ve also caught up on a lot of short-lived series after the fact and felt the horrible emptiness that comes with running out of episodes. Renewal/cancellation season for me is torture. It’s gotten to the point that I just expect every show I love to disappear.

I’ll admit that sometimes it’s better to leave a show while it’s still good so it doesn’t wear out its welcome and become tedious. Anthology series like True Detective have taught us that sometimes a shorter run can leave a much bigger impact and a lot more satisfaction. But I still want so many shows back on the air, like, yesterday. So in honor of Veronica and her new movie, here are thirteen more great TV shows that were canceled way before their time. All the shows on this list had three seasons or fewer. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments so we can all spend the day crying over what could have been.

1. Happy Endings

Number of Seasons: 3

I still haven’t gotten over the fact that ABC canceled this hilariously clever show. It was totally the new Friends, and it makes me so sad that Two and a Half Men is still on the air, but something quick and quirky that starred really talented people isn’t allowed.

2. Pushing Daisies

Number of Seasons: 2

Original and well-executed concepts are hard to find on TV, so when one comes along you want to grab onto it and never let go. Unfortunately that usually means it’s going to die very soon. ABC let the last episodes of this series burn off at a weird time, and then it disappeared. Unfortunately fans don’t have Ned the Pie Maker’s ability to bring things back to life.

3. Bunheads

Number of Seasons: 1

I’m not going to lie, every show on ABC Family looks exactly the same to me. But not Bunheads. It was created by Amy Sherman-Palladino of Gilmore Girls fame, which means it was heartwarming and quick-witted and delightful and actually family-friendly without being juvenile. It also featured some really impressive dance numbers. I’m still holding out hope it’ll come back.

4. Twin Peaks

Number of Seasons: 2

I binge watched this David Lynch-created show last month and I’m still thinking about it. I would be shocked to see something so weird and disturbing and bold on the air today, let alone in 1990. Unfortunately the show was pressured to solve the central murder mystery halfway through the second season, and the show lagged as a result. There was a follow-up prequel movie called Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, but cult fans are still sad.

5. Freaks and Geeks

Number of Seasons: 1

It’s crazy to consider how many currently huge stars got their start on this show and then remember that it only had one season. And the last three episodes weren’t even aired until Fox Family started running the series later. Judd Apatow recently said his whole movie career has been “revenge” for this show getting cancelled, but if we’re being honest I’d rather watch more Freaks and Geeks episodes than Knocked Up

6. Arrested Development

Number of Seasons: 3 — until last year

You might say this one technically shouldn’t be on the list because it got a fourth season on Netflix, but it was still unjustly canceled the first time. And unfortunately I was part of the problem, because I didn’t watch it until years later. Being an original Arrested viewer should probably result in knighthood. Will any show ever be as funny as this one?

7. Don’t Trust the B—- In Apartment 23

Number of Seasons: 2

I’ll be honest and say that I doubted this show when it first premiered. I thought the title was bad, and Krysten Ritter’s character looked intolerable and I didn’t love the pilot. But then I picked back up on it later on and fell in love. It’s just so goofy and fun, which unfortunately wasn’t enough to keep it alive. To add insult to injury, the last few episodes were just thrown online.

8. Firefly

Number of Seasons: 1

Apparently the public just wasn’t ready for a witty space western. Once again, the show got canceled and the last few episodes weren’t initially aired. It’s gained an incredibly loyal cult following and plenty of critical praise, as always happens with these kinds of shows. Joss Whedon thankfully directed a follow-up movie called Serenity, but it’s still a sad loss.

9. Wonderfalls

Number of Seasons: 1

This show was created by Bryan Fuller, who also did Pushing Daisies, and who’s gotten a reputation for great shows canceled before their time. Wonderfalls is about a young woman who follows the instructions of various animal figurines that talk to her. I know, it sounds ridiculous. But watch one episode and you’ll be hooked.

10. Samantha Who?

Number of Seasons: 2

I think Christina Applegate is a really underrated comedic actress, and her talent was totally on display in this show about a woman with amnesia who discovers she used to be a pretty terrible person. It also co-starred Melissa McCarthy before she started playing the same character in everything.

11. My So-Called Life

Number of Seasons: 1

The original Claire Danes cry-face happened in this ’90s teen series that also starred a young Jared Leto and his fabulous hair. Watching it these days can feel a little dated, but that sort of adds to its charm. It takes being a teenager much more seriously than a lot of stupid movies and TV shows do, and the outfits are fun to ogle. If only there’d been more.

12. Popular

Number of Seasons: 2

Remember when Glee used to be good? That’s what this earlier Ryan Murphy show was like for its entire (very brief) run. It was weird and wacky and over-the-top in the best way, and it didn’t get preachy or cheesy. Maybe it was better that it didn’t last longer, considering where Glee‘s gone.

13. United States of Tara

Number of Seasons: 3

If you watch Orphan Black and are blown away by Tatiana Maslany’s multi-character performance, you should watch what Toni Collette does as a woman with dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder). This show was an interesting examination of mental illness and family dysfunction, and it was a great mix of comedy and drama that flew a little too under the radar.