12 TV Shows That Were Unfairly Canceled

There’s nothing quite like your favorite television shows getting canceled. Whether you grew up in the age of week-to-week episode television or are more familiar with the current binge-watching trend, it always hurts when your favorite show gets the ax. Over the past several years, I’ve fallen in love with many TV shows and still harbor resentment over their (in my mind) unfair cancelations. Here are just a few of my favorite shows that ended too soon.

1. “Arrested Development”

Arrested Development, Taste Makers Ed Begley Jr., Jeffrey Tambor, Tony Hale
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox Television.

Arrested Development burst onto the scene in 2003 with its innovative, single-camera, documentary-style approach to the American sitcom genre. Its humor was unmatched and helped propel the careers of Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Michael Cera. Unfortunately, it was unceremoniously axed for poor ratings after only three seasons. Although Netflix valiantly revived the series on two separate occasions (to varying degrees of success, depending on which critic you ask), I still hold severe resentment against anybody who didn’t watch the show during its original, fantastic Fox run in the early 2000s.

2. “Flaked”

Flaked (2016) Will Arnett
Image Credit: Electric Avenue.

Speaking of Will Arnett, I’ll never waver in my belief that Netflix’s Flaked is one of the most underrated television series ever. Will Arnett pulled triple duty for this dark comedy, earning writing, directing, and acting credits. Although it lasted only two seasons in 2016 and 2017, the story’s central plot where Arnett plays a man who struggles with sobriety, dark secrets, and relationships while living in Venice Beach, California, lives rent-free in my head in 2024. Alas, it seemed that nobody actually watched the show, which is a shame.

3. “Family Guy”

Family Guy (1999) Alex Borstein, Seth MacFarlane
Image Credit: 20th Television.

Long-time fans of Family Guy know that the classic animated series was already unfairly canceled once in 2002. The show has since cemented itself alongside The Simpsons as one of the greatest animated comedies ever, it suffered from abysmal ratings ever since its debut on FOX in 1999. Countless fans thought the show was unfairly canceled, but fortunately, after a successful syndicated stint on Comedy Central, FOX executives realized the error of their ways and brought back the show, where it enjoyed the unprecedented success that continues to this day.

4. “Oliver Beene”

 Oliver Beene (2003) Andrew Lawrence, A.J. Trauth
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox Television.

Sometimes, I think I’m the only person in the world who ever watched FOX’s Oliver Beene in 2003. In my mind, the show was the perfect mashup of Malcolm in the Middle, The Wonder Years, and Family Guy. I routinely laughed throughout episodes, admiring the nonstop cleverness of the jokes. Sadly, Oliver Beene ended after just two seasons, and to make matters worse, the series is nearly impossible to find on streaming services or DVD sets in 2024. I’m pretty salty about that.

5. “Reunion”

Reunion
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

Is there anything worse than being hooked on a show and dedicating countless weeks to watching it, only for the rug to be pulled out from under you when it gets canceled before the season finishes? In 2005, that’s what happened to me. I was obsessed with FOX’s Reunion, a drama series based around a high school reunion and a mysterious murder (of course). It wasn’t the best show ever, but I was invested. As if to pour salt on my wounds, FOX never released the final few episodes, leaving me (and many others) hanging.

6. “Heroes”

Heroes Adrian Pasdar, Milo Ventimiglia
Image Credit: Universal Media Studios.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out if Heroes was ahead of its time or just a bad TV show. Although a reboot followed years later (Heroes Reborn), NBC pulled the plug on this landmark superhero drama after only four seasons. Like many series that are perhaps too ambitious for their own good, fans worldwide were teased repeatedly with superheroes and supervillains fighting each other. Unfortunately, they rarely got to witness those moments, since the show focused on the bizarre or boring personal stories of its main characters.

7. “Saved by the Bell: The College Years”

Saved by the Bell: The College Years Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Tiffani Thiessen
Image Credit: NBC Productions.

I’m still bitter that Saved by the Bell: The College Years was unceremoniously canned after only one season. Was I the only one who couldn’t get enough of the capers of Zack, Kelly, Slater, and Screech in a university setting? Apparently so. Low ratings plagued The College Years until NBC mercifully pulled the plug after only 19 episodes. The show had so much going for it as it tackled adult-oriented issues that the original Saved By the Bell couldn’t. In addition, the show boasts one of the most criminally underrated theme songs in television history.

8. “Tough Enough”

Tough Enough (1983) Dennis Quaid
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Tough Enough, which premiered on MTV in 2001, was the perfect “pull back the curtain” reality show for any professional wrestling fan. Combining elements of The Real World and WWE wrestling, the show followed wrestling hopefuls training who were hoping to get a lucrative WWE contract. It was an eye-opening experience for any wrestling fan. The show frequently showed the side of the business that isn’t normally exposed on television. Although Tough Enough existed in some shape or form after its original run, the original series captured lightning in a bottle that unfortunately only lasted three seasons.

9. “Dead To Me”

Dead to Me (2019) Christina Applegate
Image Credit: CBS Studios.

The Netflix hit Dead To Me reintroduced the world to the great Christina Applegate, who initially rose to fame with her role in the hit 80s and 90s sitcom Married… with Children. Although Dead to Me had a problem finding the balance between the show’s heavy plot and signature comedy moments, the acting was top-notch, highlighted by an out-of-this-world performance by Applegate. Unfortunately, Applegate’s real-life health issues forced the show to end abruptly. Fans still think the show had much more story to tell.

10. “Chapelle’s Show”

Chappelle's Show (2003) Dave Chappelle
Image Credit: Comedy Partners.

Dave Chapelle may be a polarizing figure in 2024, but he was on top of the comedy world in 2003 with the release of Chapelle’s Show. This sketch comedy series wasn’t afraid to push the envelope and made Saturday Night Live look like amateur hour. Bizarrely, Dave Chapelle left the show after just three seasons for reasons that remain personal and confidential. Ending a hit TV show is undoubtedly a controversial decision. But to walk away at the peak of its popularity made fans of Chapelle’s Show believe they were robbed of something truly excellent.

11. “Lost”

Lost Naveen Andrews, Evangeline Lilly
Image Credit: Touchstone Television.

In 2004, Lost became an American cultural phenomenon seemingly overnight, as tens of millions of viewers were captivated by the stories of the survivors of a plane crash stranded on a mysterious island. Although the series ran for six seasons, fans were still left unfulfilled. Many felt cheated by the show’s producers for not tying up many storyline loose ends. Millions of fans were upset when the show ended somewhat arbitrarily. I think Lost could have benefited from one more season to tie up loose ends and make the fans happy.

12. “Transformers”

The Transformers (1984)
Image Credit: Marvel Productions.

This may come from my inner five-year-old, but in 2024, I still can’t get over the shock I felt when the 80s animated series Transformers was taken off the air. It was the pinnacle of Saturday morning cartoon television, and five-year-old me always thought it had the legs to continue for at least 50,000 more episodes. Ultimately, the Transformers legacy still lives on in 2024 thanks to the many Hollywood films and next-generation animated series that spun off from the original cartoon.

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