12 Fantasy and Sci-fi TV Shows that were Canceled Too Soon

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By Caitlin Donovan | More Articles
March 31, 2016  08:29 PM

Some TV shows drag on endlessly until they’re just a hollow carcass pretending to still be alive. But on the opposite side, there’s TV shows who die tragically young. Whether because of poor ratings, poor management, bad luck or pure executive evil, some genuinely good shows go down the drain, leaving unanswered questions, unresolved plotlines and dangling character arcs in their wake. Fans can only pick up the pieces and mourn.

Of course, it would probably be an impossible proposition to list every beloved and/or good TV show canceled too soon, especially when stuff like “good”, “beloved” and “too soon” are so subjective. So feel free to talk about any shows that didn’t make the list in the comments. Cry together and let the healing begin. 

1In The Flesh

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The BBC series In The Flesh was canceled after only two short seasons, despite being (what I consider to be) the most interesting take on zombies in midst of this undead boom. The show explored what would happen if zombies could be “cured” (i.e. their rabid hunger and mindlessness suppressed by medication- they’re still undead) and the stigma these “Partially-Deceased Syndrome” sufferers would face in society afterwards and the conflicts that would arise as a result.

The show unflinchingly explored prejudice in a way that paralleled real world events and unlike a lot of fantasy series that explore prejudice through metaphor, it actually allowed the main character to be a member of the minority group ialluded, avoiding the potential bad implications of “okay let’s explore homophobia but without having to actually deal with gay people” would cause.

The main character of In The Flesh is a guy who likes guys and it’s pretty clear a lot of people in his town hated him even before he became a zombie- it just adds more layers to the situation. Though in contrast, it should be noted of the metaphors in the show also seem to parallel to race too, and there are no heroic characters of color.

The show did deal with issues like suicide, depression, grief and post-traumatic stress in a very heartfelt manner- and many fans were inspired by it to share their own stories and support each other. But sadly, the show was canceled. Some say it was due to low ratings, while others say homophobia, but whatever the reason, it’s a shame that such nuanced, unique take on genre was vanquished so soon while lesser zombie media continues to lurch and groan.

2Young Justice

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The superhero cartoon Young Justice was struck down after two seasons, despite a newly expanded cast and lots of new stories to tell. The story featured a huge roster of teenage superheroes banding together to save the world. It was well-animated and filled with drama. And  it featured not-often-adapted fan favorite DC heroes like Bart Allen as Impulse, Jaime Reyes as Blue Beetle and Icon and Rocket from Milestone Comics. Many were hoping the third season would finally bring even more neglected heroes to the small screen- Stephanie Brown made a cameo in the last season that seemed to promise more and poor Cassandra Cain has yet to be featured in any media adaptation.

But alas, it was not to be. A third season of Young Justice was taken off the table. Recently, however, the show has been picked up by Netflix and show creators are advising fans to watch it as much as possible to motivate Netflix to consider financing a third season. 

3Green Lantern: The Animated Series

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Everyone was expecting the Green Lantern: The Animated Series to be a terrible story, much like the movie that it was clearly created to coincide with. But what it turned out to be instead was a heartfelt and solid superhero story with intriguing characters, compelling storylines and tragic explorations of loss. But the Green Lantern movie seems to have taken this show down with it, as it was also canceled after its second season. It was a case even more grievous than Young Justice, as the creators chose to end the whole thing on what is perhaps the most depressing cliffhanger ever animated. 

4Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

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Ah, this really takes me back, so permit be some nostalgia on this one. I remember watching this with my parents as a teenager- my Dad was a huge Terminator fan and Mom and I were always game for it as well. I can recall adoring this super intense, awesomely acted series that followed Sarah Connor and her son once again trying to prevent a terrible future that kept me on the edge of my seat every episode.

Despite its first season being the highest rated new show of the year, it was canceled after its second season. Like many on this list, it ended on a massive cliffhanger, with the main character traveling forward in time to find everything around him was changed. The cult following the show had gained threw a fit and a movie followup was even considered…but it didn’t happen. We got Terminator: Genesys instead. Cleary this was a great decision by the powers that be.

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Caitlin Donovan is a long-time nerd with a passion for superheroes and epic fantasy. She lives in North Carolina with her cat and wrestles with writing novels and doing editorial work when she's not ranting about pop culture online. She runs a blog at ladyloveandjustice.tumblr.com
@Caitlin Donovan | caitlin@epicstream.com