Television Shows Canceled Too Soon

Shows get canceled before their time. Far too often, there comes along a fresh, unique, or high-quality TV series, and it never finds the success and audience it deserves, and therefore, the powers that be decide to end it.

Sometimes, a show can wrap the story up, but more often than not, the ending feels rushed; even worse, many of these shows get no real ending whatsoever, ending with a cliffhanger and many unresolved storylines. Above all else, devoted audiences want more. These fifteen shows deserved more. 

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist (2020 – 2021)

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist
Image Credit: Universal Television.

This musical series follows a young woman named Zoey, who after a freak incident in an MRI machine, begins to hear the innermost thoughts of others through song. What she calls “heart songs” puts her in some interesting situations, and the results range anywhere from sweet to hilarious to deeply moving. This show met too soon an end, but at least it got a movie to wrap everything up for fans.

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1993 – 1997)

Lois and Clark the New Adventures of Superman Teri Hatcher
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

This superhero show may not have as high a reputation as others, but it nonetheless has devoted fans who cherished the series in all its 1990s goofiness. At four seasons, it had a good solid run, focusing more on the life of Clark Kent trying to have a normal life and protect her secret identity of Superman, finding true love with feisty reporter Lois Lane, his writing partner at The Daily Planet.

The show had a healthy dose of storylines, some grounded and some that leaned heavily into the fantasy in a satisfying balance. But with the show ending with a baby left on the doorstep of Lois and Clark, another season could have explored their lives as parents. 

Country Comfort (2021)

Country Comfort Eric Balfour, Katharine McPhee
Image Credit: Kiki Productions.

Undeniably sweet and perhaps a little bit corny and cheesy, frankly, these attributes made this original Netflix series so welcome and refreshing. A combination of The Sound of Music and The Nanny, this series told the tale of an aspiring country singer unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend and kicked out of her band. She ends up on the doorstep of a large family in desperate need of a nanny.

Soon, she charms them all with her sunny attitude and optimism, giving the kids and their father a dose of happiness and hope they truly needed. Silly and good clean fun, it did not have any clear unresolved storylines, but a lot of wasted potential. Netflix did not pick the show up for another season, but in these times, there is always hope. 

Trophy Wife (2013 – 2014)

Trophy Wife Malin Akerman
Image Credit: ABC Studios.

One of the funniest sitcoms of recent years, Trophy Whife tried to capitalize on the success of Modern Family, but never got the chance to spread its wings. Just as funny, this modern family followed the sometimes tense but usually supportive and amicable relationship between a man and his new, much younger wife, his two extremely different ex-wives, and their children. It was zany, fresh, relatable, and often very, very sweet.

With a great cast that included Bradley Whitford, Malin Ackerman, Bailee Madison and Marcia Gay-Harden, Trophy Wife deserved much more than a single season

Ringer (2011 – 2012)

Ringer Sarah Michelle Gellar
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

A dark and twisty drama, Ringer's press lauded it as Sarah Michelle Gellar's big return to primetime television, and despite that, it definitely got the short end of the stick with its audience. The series had plenty of murder, betrayal, adultery, and intrigue—which should have worked to its benefit. Ringer followed twin sisters Siobhan and Bridget, who are thrown into a complex and intriguing tale that goes in so many different directions. But the plot never tool off. Siobhan fakes her death to help Bridget, who is set to testify against a dangerous mobster, and she steps into the life of her twin sister.

Some stories got resolved, while others were left up in the air, with the last episode leaving audiences completely unsatisfied. Featuring an amazing cast that also included Ioan Gruffudd, Kristoffer Polaha, Zoey Deutch, and Nestor Carbonell, Ringer deserved more than its extremely short-lived fate. 

Caroline in the City (1995 -1999)

Caroline in the City
Image Credit: CBS Productions.

Part of the extremely popular string of hit NBC sitcoms of the 1990s which included Friends, Seinfeld, Frasier, and Mad About You, all of which enjoyed greater success, Caroline in the City never got the same amount of love. That being said, Caroline in the City had a four-season run, a decent success for TV. 

Following a sweet and optimistic cartoonist and her circle of friends, Caroline in the City, like other similar sitcoms, followed the friendships and love lives of these 30-somethings in New York City with a great deal of humor and heart. 

Fans of the show will remember that this series ended on a huge cliffhanger with Caroline set to marry another man, only to see her true love Richard up on the balconies of the church, as she looks on with astonishment and uncertainty about what to do. Fans can imagine a happy ending for Caroline and Richard, but NBC denied that onscreen satisfaction.

Emily Owens M.D. (2012 -2013)

Emily Owes M.D.
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

With a definite influence from the popular Grey's Anatomy, this lighter medical drama follows the earnest and intelligent Emily (Mamie Gummer) as she begins a medical residence, alongside equally intelligent interns, including her high school nemesis (Aja Naomi King) and medical school crush (Justin Hartley). Luckily, Emily finds a friend and confidante, and perhaps something more with resident Micah (Michael Rady).

The competition is strong, the pressure is on to please the impossible to impress heads of the department, and the romantic entanglements are somewhat predictable. Yet the sincerity and relatable nature of Emily's character made the show fun. Emily Owens M.D. never resolved any storylines, including a romantic cliffhanger that left fans divided.

Crusoe (2008 -2009)

crusoe e1695415032329
Image Credit: Universal Media Studios. 

With a short 13-episode run, this series may be little known, but that does not mean it couldn't engross a viewer. Clearly trying to capitalize on the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean films, the show was loosely based on the classic novel Robinson Crusoe about a man who ends up shipwrecked on a seemingly deserted island, but he finds companionship with the man who lives there.

The two build a fantastical and innovative home akin to Swiss Family Robinson, while they must fend off pirates and other foes, and try to find a way back to England for Robinson so he can reunite with his wife. Romanticized and less than realistic, the show told an exciting adventure tale with likable characters and enthralling and emotional storytelling. Sadly, it ended before all of the storylines found resolution.

The Right Stuff (2020)

The Right Stuff Nora Zehetner, Patrick J. Adams, David Bolinger, Kyra Johnson
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

A far too short-lived drama, the book and 1980s film of the same name inspired this series. It follows the time in American history known as  “the space race” where NASA recruited fighter pilots to become astronauts in their Mercury Space program. Following the lives of these men and their families, their personal struggles as well as the pressure they felt provided plenty of drama.

Featuring a wonderful cast that included Patrick J. Adams, Colin O'Donoghue, Jake McDorman, and Patrick Fischler, this series showed just the tip of the iceberg in terms of NASA's space explorations. It only got to the first Mercury mission at the end of the season. The show had not only fantastic acting but also incredible production value and period details to draw in the audience whether they followed NASA or not. 

Forever (2014 – 2015)

Forever Ioan Gruffudd
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

Crime, police, and procedural shows such as Castle, The Mentalist, Law and Order, Psych, and Elementary, all have a hook or premise that sets them apart from each other to give them their own uniqueness.  Forever took that unique premise one step further.

Starring the dashing and charming Ioan Gruffudd, Forever follows the long, long tale of Henry Morgan, a man 200 years old fated to live forever, ever since he was shot and killed while trying to help to free the men on a slave ship. Somehow he comes back to life. Henry can die, but he always returns, remaining the same age, forcing him to remain on the move. His son Abe, whom he and his then-wife saved and adopted from a concentration camp during World War II, and who has aged beyond his father, offers Henry his only solace.

After a subway accident where he perishes and comes back to life, Henry helps the police solve a vicious crime. It grants him a new purpose in life- to use his over 200 years of vast knowledge and observational skills to help the police solve murders, as well as discover new clues into his cursed eternal fate along the way. While no show can last for an eternity, Forever deserved to run at least a little closer to that.

Smash (2012 – 2013)

Smash Anjelica Huston, Thorsten Kaye
Image Credit: Universal Television.

Smash had a devoted fan base that truly loved it. The series had a short, but decent run, and featured a wealth of talent. A somewhat soapy and dramatic look at the behind the scenes world of creating and producing a Broadway show, the series followed an array of characters and their often messy lives filled with romantic and professional ups and downs. That included the fresh-faced and talented ingénue (Katherine McPhee-Foster), an equally talented veteran looking for her big break (Megan Hilty), a recently divorced producer determined to make her own way (Angelica Houston), best friend music and book writing partners (Debra Messing and Christian Borle), and a womanizing but brilliant director (Jack Davenport).

In its two-season run, the show followed the development of two Broadway shows that ultimately ended up in competition with each other at the coveted Tony Awards. And therein lies the show's most glorious aspect: every single week featured a brand new original song and musical number either by acclaimed writers of Hairspray, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, or the La La Land and The Greatest Showman songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.

Between the amazing musical talent of not only McPhee-Foster and Hilty but also the likes of a pre-Hamilton Leslie Odom Jr. as well as Jeremy Jordan, and the acting caliber of Houston, Davenport, and Messing, Smash featured ones of the greatest casts ever. With engaging storylines, poignant drama, and stellar music, Smash more than lived up to its name. Though it did get a proper finale, it also had so many more songs to sing.

Pan Am (2011 -2012)

Pan Am Margot Robbie
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Television.

A colorful and highly romanticized look at the 1,960s the show also doesn't shy away from tackling more serious issues such as sexism, racism, the Cold War, and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, albeit in simplistic ways. 

The show followed several Pan Am stewardesses. Maggie (Christina Ricci) the feisty feminist hada big secret, Collete (Karine Vanasse) the glamorous but vulnerable girl had many personal scars, and Kate (Kelli Garner) the courageous and independent woman who uses her job to work in covert espionage for the CIA, and Laura (Margot Robbie), the sweet and naive girl who ran away from her wedding. Along with two very different, but ultimately good-hearted pilots (Mike Vogel and Michael Mosley), as well as a post-ER and pre-Timeless Goran Visnjic, and pre-Stranger Things David Harbour, this cast of characters and their exciting work take them to beautiful locales and places of danger and intrigue making for a thoroughly fun, romantic and captivating ride through the stylish, often tumultuous, but always thrilling 1960s world.

Timeless (2016 – 2018)

Timeless Abigail Spencer
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Television.

Inventive, engaging, and unique, Timeless delved into history books in a creative and poignant way, with truly amazing characters. The combination of the relationships formed, the moving themes made for one of the greatest shows in the last 10 years. In this historical fantasy three unlikely partners: Lucy, a professor, and historian (Abigail Spencer), Wyatt, a marine veteran (Matt Lanter), and Rufus, a scientist ( Malcolm Barrett), team up and travel through time to stop a man named Garcia Flynn (Goran Visnjic) from changing important events in American history. Eventually, the evil organization Rittenhouse, becomes so entrenched in history, that the characters must save not only each other but everything society holds dear.

Timeless featured detailed storylines at various points in history and also engrossing drama, as well as touching relationships between the characters. The cast had superb chemistry, and the show had stellar writing as well.

Thankfully after a cancellation, a final episode gave the creators a chance to wrap up everything in a satisfying way. Despite this, Timeless only scratched the surface of American history and did not venture to the world, and could have done much more.

Agent Carter (2015 – 2016)

Agent Carter Hayley Atwell
Image Credit: Marvel Television.

Chronologically, the series follows the events of Captain America: The First Avenger, with Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) taking a job with the SSR in New York City, fighting to find her place within the organization, and fighting against gender bias. When she begins to investigate a conspiracy on her own with the help of Howard Stark's trusted valet Edwin Jarvis (James D'Arcy) after Stark himself (Dominic Cooper) gets accused of treason, they stumble upon a plot of vast proportions. The second season takes our characters to sunny Los Angeles with Peggy and Jarvis encountering even more plots that could have catastrophic possibilities.

Agent Carter is a thoroughly engrossing, stylish series with stunning production designs and costumes, and incredible characters. Like so many entries in the MCU, it featured humor and heart combined with action and exciting drama.

Filled with fun and poignant moments and inspiration, Agent Carter deserved so much more.

Pushing Daisies (2007 – 2009)

Pushing Daisies
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

The story of Pushing Daisies brought a new twist to the mystery and procedural show. When Ned is a child he discovers he has the power to bring things back from the dead with a single touch, but there's a caveat. He must touch them again within 60 seconds otherwise, someone else nearby will perish, and he can never touch them again, or they will die.

Flash forward to him as an adult, and Ned becomes “the Pie Maker,” the mild-mannered pastry chef and owner of The Pie Hole, but also a consultant to private detective Emerson Cod, where he touches murder victims to discover their killer, and then splits the reward money. 

Pushing Daisies mixed moments of dark comedy with tender and unabashedly sweet romance. From the use of British narrator Jim Dale, who describes characters and cases with sardonic, the matter of fact humor and wit, to the sharp and fast writing for the incredible and engaging characters, to the candy-colored visuals and set designs, to the superb cast that included Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride, Kristin Chenoweth, Swoosie Kurtz, and Ellen Greene, to the indiscriminate setting which allows the series to feel simultaneously modern and timeless, Pushing Daisies deserved much more than the mere 22 episodes it was given.

Giving the characters somewhat of a conclusion, the ending felt rushed, and there was so much more to explore in this whimsical world. Perhaps someday this show about life and death and the power of love can return the way Ned worked his magic.