The early cancellations of quality shows, even potentially iconic shows, has increasingly become problematic in tv history. Many notable series don’t even make it past their first seasons, despite their popularity and the support of fans. Here’s a look back at five of our favorite short lived shows over the past 15 years:
- Freaks and Geeks (2000) — Freaks and Geeks remains a widely popular television series, despite only lasting a single season. The show accrued millions of viewers, with 6.77 million. This large fan base and the high ratings from sites like IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes is evident. According to IMDB, Freaks and Geeks rated as an 8.5/10 or higher. It seemed like the show would be unstoppable. Yet, despite the audience’s raving reviews, NBC pulled the plug on “Freaks and Geeks” after 18 episodes. Although I did not watch the show during its original airing, I did watch all 18 episodes on Netflix. Freaks and Geeks follows the individual lives of average teenagers, while reflecting each characters triumphs and battles. But as a watcher, what made Freaks and Geeks extraordinary is that it offers a realistic depiction of the awkward and the embarrassing moments of being a teenager. It accomplished the frustration of being a teen while highlighting the bonds and estrangements of high school.
Veronica Mars (2004-2007) — A young Kristen Bell portrays the character of Veronica Mars, a teenager whose high school life and progression into college is anything but average. After the death and murder of her best friend, Mars begins working as a private investigator alongside her detective father. The show’s first season is on the higher side of average,with ratings reaching a 7/10 according to IMDB. Yet, the series raked in about 2.5 million viewers over the course of three seasons, with season 3 ratings sky-rocketing.
I still remember some of the episode plot-lines while watching the show’s first airing. The show focuses on the criminal actions of murder and rape from the up close and personal perspective of a young woman. Veronica Mars steps beyond the typical adult, team based crime shows that are produced in bulk. The program portrays a strong female protagonist; a time when powerful women in television really started to gain recognition. Thanks to the large fan base, the short-lived series received a proper ending with the Veronica Mars movie in 2014.
Firefly (2002-2003) — Firefly, Joss Whedon’s sci-fi drama, quickly became a wildly popular hit during the early 2000s. 4.48 million viewers tuned into watch the futuristic fiction. Although the show’s ratings jumped up and down every episode, Firefly gauged an 8.5-9.5 out of 10 over the course of 14 episodes according to IMDB. This Western Space Odyssey is set 500 years in the future. After the recent universal civil war, Sergeant Malcolm Reynolds and his crew travel the galaxy via their space aircraft, known as a firefly. Their mission of these rebels is to survive in space, as they lack the means to support themselves financially.
While I have never been a fan of science fiction stories, those interested in the widely-appreciated genre clearly voiced their opinions on Firefly’s brief existence. While the studio cancelled the series, fans of Firefly rejoiced over the series return to the big screen. The story and the cast from Firefly returned in a film continuation of the program, giving the show a proper ending with the 2005 movie Serenity, appropriately named. The film received a solid 8/10 by IMDB’s ratings.
- The Following (2013-2015) — The Following series, starring Kevin Bacon, lasted 3 seasons before its studio cancellation it in 2015. The show’s ratings averaged between 7 and 8 out of 10 according to IMDB. While the first two seasons did steadily decline in ratings, the third season inclined. Yet, despite the third season’s seemingly successful ratings and an average of 3.45 million viewers, The Following came to an end. The show features a detective who is personally affected by a case when a Edgar Allen Poe professor turned serial killer creates an uprise. The psychotic killer, Joe Carroll, forms a cult of serial killers or “believers” that are willing to follow his leadership at any cost. After watching the first season (and the show’s intensity and creep-factor), I find it hard to imagine that the series’ story line could continue after the first season. Yet, according to the ratings, season 3 managed to accomplish that, before the program’s demise.
- Complications (2015) — The 2015 drama Complications follows an ER surgeon, Dr. John Ellison, whose work live becomes complicated by the actions he has taken outside the hospital. In a single situation, the doctor decides who to save and who to kill, choosing to protect a young boy by actively killing gang members. The lines start to blur and the repercussions find John Ellison in every aspect of his life. Despite the series’ “riveting” plot-line, Complications came to an end after only 10 episodes, a result by USA network’s actions. Although Rotten Tomatoes’ critiques only gave the show a rating of 58%, 84% of audience members liked the show. Numerous fans took to twitter to express their outrage at “Complications” short-lived survival. According to IMDB, the series rated 8.5 out of 10 and had 2.78 million viewers.
According to NBC‘s network statistics, this trend of cutting series short is on the rise. But why is it that shows with lower ratings and a smaller fan base survive while some of the more popular series fall by the wayside within the first season? What do you think about these beloved cancelled shows? Was it too soon to extinguish these story lines? Let us know in the comments section below.