Most of us have been there at one point or another. We’ve spent weeks, even months following the journey of a new set of characters, getting to know their surroundings, and making them a regular part of our lives, only to find out that the show we’ve invested so much of our time in is being (or has already been) cancelled before it's even had the chance to develop beyond a single season. It’s an all-too-real part of modern media consumption, and for some, there’s no alleviating the pain that comes with seeing the plug pulled on their favorite television series.
While some shows certainly deserve to get the axe, the cancellation of others – especially after just a one season – leaves us scratching our heads, and those are the ones we’ll be looking at in this list. Here are 10 entertaining shows that were cancelled after one season:
Creator: Ben Queen
Cast: Vanessa Hudgens, Alan Tudyk, Danny Pudi, Ron Funches, Christina Kirk
After a somewhat shaky pilot episode, Powerless grew into a rather enjoyable stray from the norm in terms of superhero shows. Unfortunately, NBC decided to axe the series after only nine of its 12 episodes aired due to steadily declining ratings (although a 10th episode featuring Adam West would be made available for streaming following the actor’s unfortunate death). It’s quite a shame because the characters were finally starting to feel more fleshed out and the show was beginning to realize what it truly was: a workplace comedy that just so happened to exist in the world of superheroes. Few people would have imagined a superhero-themed sitcom would work, but with a tasteful blend of comedy and comic book lore, Powerless had strong potential.Advertisement
Birds of Prey
Creator: Laeta Kalogridis
Cast: Ashley Scott, Dina Meyer, Rachel Skarsten
Taking place in a future iteration of Gotham, long after the Caped Crusader had gone into exile, Birds of Prey followed the adventures of Black Canary, Oracle, and The Huntress, who had to learn to work together to protect their city. The series admittedly strayed away from the source material in several key areas, but it certainly made up for this with a beautiful visual style and a captivating premise. However, despite debuting to record-high ratings, fan interest quickly waned, prompting Warner Bros. to pull the plug after just 13 episodes. What’s more, the series ended on a cliffhanger, which means there’ll be no closure for those that actually enjoyed the show.
Creators: Daniel Cerone, David S. Goyer
Cast: Matt Ryan, Harold Perrineau, Charles Halford, Angélica Celaya
Co-created by David S. Goyer, who had a hand in the critically-acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy, Constantine followed the otherworldly antics of DC Comics’ opportunistic occultist as he attempted to defend humanity from the forces of darkness. However, despite premiering around the same time that shows like Arrow and The Flash were making massive waves over on The CW, NBC’s audiences were far less receptive to a comic-inspired tale, which eventually spelled doom for the series. Some may say that it’s a cop-out to blame the network, but considering how well received Matt Ryan’s iteration of John Constantine was when he reprised his role on Arrow… well, as they say, “the proof’s in the pudding.”
Creators: Kelly Marcel, Craig Silverstein
Cast: Jason O'Mara, Shelley Conn, Christine Adams
In 2149, when Earth is dying, an ordinary family is sent 85 million years into the past to join Terra Nova – a colony of humans looking to rebuild civilization and give mankind a second chance. It’s a premise that takes a good deal of suspension of disbelief, but once you’re able to look past that, you’re left with a show that features an excellent family dynamic, plus a fairly accurate representation of the Cretaceous period. Yes, the CGI left a lot to be desired, but the level of character development stood miles above many of FOX’s other offerings at the time. Perhaps the idea to make dinosaurs a regular part of a series with a television budget was too ambitious, but the show certainly knew how to handle character beats, and had the network had more faith in their writers, Terra Nova could have gone on provide viewers with years of entertainment.
Creators: Andrew Mogel, Jarrad Paul
Cast: Rob Lowe, Fred Savage, Mary Elizabeth Ellis
The first sitcom to make its way onto this list is The Grinder, which garnered plenty of buzz for featuring Fred Savage’s most significant live action television role since his stint as Kevin Arnold on The Wonder Years. The series followed a former hit TV series actor who believed that his time playing a lawyer in Hollywood qualified him to run his family’s real-life law firm after moving back to his small home town in Idaho. Fred Savage and Rob Lowe’s chemistry as brothers was off the charts, as were the laughs their interactions brought about, but unfortunately, as is often the case with FOX’s sitcoms, The Grinder got the axe and failed to make it past a single season.
Creators: Bryan Fuller, Todd Holland
Cast: Caroline Dhavernas, Katie Finneran, Tyron Leitso
Bryan Fuller is the man behind such cult classic television shows as Pushing Daisies, Dead Like Me, and Hannibal, but while each of those managed to last more than one season (Hannibal leads the pack with three), Wonderfalls never made it past its inaugural 14-episode run. The show focused on a sales clerk named Jaye Tyler, who received otherworldly messages from objects shaped as animals that guided her to help those around her. The writing was witty, the acting was superb, and the visual effects were incredibly well-rendered for network television, but FOX’s decision to air the first four episodes out-of-order and to place the series in incredibly poor time slots made it easy to see why the show wasn’t renewed for a second season. Still, it’s no less heartbreaking for fans of this quirky, whimsical breath of fresh air.
My So-Called Life
Creator: Winnie Holzman
Cast: Bess Armstrong, Wilson Cruz, Claire Danes, Jared Leto
Widely considered one of the greatest teenage dramas of all time, My So-Called Life explored the trials and tribulations of a 15-year-old girl, tackling everything from friends, boys, parents, and school, all in raw, visceral form. Despite receiving lukewarm ratings back in the mid-‘90s, the series lives on as in internet fandoms, and its messages remain timeless. It presented real-life situations in morally relative ways, with nothing being either strictly black or strictly white. To this day, no show has managed to deal with adolescence as brilliantly as My So-Called Life.
The Good Guys
Creator: Matt Nix
Cast: Bradley Whitford, Colin Hanks, Jenny Wade
Using the tried-and-true Odd Couple-esque buddy-cop formula, The Good Guys pairs a by-the-books officer who’s shunned by the rest of the police force with an aging cop living vicariously through his own glory days. The premise was hardly unique, but the satirical humor was worth the price of admission alone, and the surprisingly deep character beats were a welcomed treat for those that gave the series a fair chance. Unfortunately, The Good Guys was a series just slightly ahead of its time in the eyes of FOX, who cancelled the show after its first season before returning to the cop comedy well three years later with Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Freaks and Geeks
Creator: Paul Feig
Cast: Linda Cardellini, John Francis Daley, James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel
Kickstarting the careers of modern Hollywood comedy stars James Franco, Seth Rogen, and Jason Segel, Freaks and Geeks is the series that would put the young actors in the good graces of director/producer Judd Apatow, setting the stage for years of big-screen collaborations. Back in 1999, though, NBC had little faith in this high school drama that followed a diverse cast of mathletes, burnouts, and nerdy freshmen. The series featured a healthy dose of humor and some tasteful ‘80s nostalgia, but unfortunately, this came at a time when such thematic elements weren’t necessarily considered “network material.” Freaks and Geeks was cancelled after its first season but continues to house a massive, passionate fanbase, especially with many of the faces from both sides of the camera continuing to make waves in Hollywood.
Creator: Joss Whedon
Cast: Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Ron Glass, Morena Baccarin
No list like this is complete without the Joss Whedon-created space western Firefly, which sees a renegade crew aboard a small spacecraft fight for survival and traverse the galaxy 500 years in the future. This series had the potential to be the Star Wars of network television, but behind-the-scenes turmoil, inconsistent scheduling, and episodes being aired out-of-order all spelled disaster for the show, leading to its unceremonious cancellation. Fans have since campaigned endlessly to try and get the series revived, achieving partial success in the form of a feature-length film titled Serenity, however it proved to be a box office bomb in the long run. Nevertheless, Firefly still manages to live on in the hearts of fans, cementing its legacy as the quintessential cult classic series, and perhaps second only to Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Joss Whedon’s most acclaimed achievement in his illustrious, multimedia-spanning career.
What about you? What shows were you sad to see go after only a single season? Let us know in the comments section!