On more than one occasion, the powers that control television programming have a cruel sense of humor: great shows are canceled after a few seasons, while creaky old shows keep plugging away. An online community of television fans recently described their favorite shows that left all too soon, and you may find yourself agreeing that these shows deserved more seasons than they had.
1. Luke Cage (2016 – 2018)
This wildly popular show from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) starred Mike Colter as an ex-convict with superpowers, including unbreakable skin and incredible strength. It was a highly acclaimed series on the air for two seasons, from 2016 until 2018. Plans for a third season fell through after a disagreement over creative differences.
2. Freaks and Geeks (1999 – 2000)
It may have only aired for one season, however, Freaks and Geeks still holds a special place in the hearts of many viewers, who, to this day, are still upset with NBC for canceling such a highly revered show. On the upside, it did help to launch the careers of Linda Cardellini, Seth Rogen, and Jason Segel.
3. Millennium (1996 – 1999)
Created by Chris Carter, the mind behind The X-Files, Millennium centered around former FBI profiler Frank Black. Black used his unique intuitive skills for three seasons to help law enforcement solve baffling crimes connected to the occult. The program also introduced the world to Lucy Butler, one of the most sinister criminals on Black’s radar.
4. Better Off Ted (2009 – 2010)
For two brief seasons, audiences could watch a hilariously satirical show reminiscent of the 1970s ensemble comedies that dominated the airways and comedies that came after, like The Office and Parks and Recreation. Sadly, the ratings for Better Off Ted and critical acclaim weren’t enough to keep it on the lineup for a third season.
5. Santa Clarita Diet (2017 – 2019)
Despite the improbable premise of this dark comedy – starring Drew Barrymore as a married real estate agent whose life drastically changes when she begins to exhibit symptoms that she’s become a zombie – Santa Clarita Diet was a ratings and critical hit from its premiere in 2017 until its final episode at the end of the third season in 2019.
6. The OA (2016 – 2019)
The OA, which stands for “original angel,” was supposed to run for five seasons but was canceled after only two. Critics and fans alike were distressed over the sudden cancellation, with Hollywood creators like Shonda Rimes (Grey’s Anatomy) and Alex Kurtzman (the most recent Star Trek films) expressing their support for the continuation of the show. The OA was one of those programs far ahead of its time.
7. Altered Carbon (2018 – 2020)
Speaking of a show far ahead of its time, Altered Carbon, another Netflix classic, fits the bill. Based on Richard K. Morgan’s 2002 book of the same name, this television program explored a time hundreds of years into the future when science could transfer one person’s consciousness into someone else’s body while retaining memories and experiences. Despite its positive reception, Altered Carbon ended in 2020 after two seasons.
8. My So-Called Life (1994 – 1995)
When anyone speaks of shows that deserved to be on the air longer than they were, My So-Called Life always gets a mention, and for good reason. Besides the solid acting from Claire Danes, Jared Leto, and Wilson Cruz, the show tactfully discussed topics such as censorship, homelessness, teenage alcoholism, and school violence. When word got out that ABC was planning to cancel it after one season, it was the first show to have an online fan campaign to save it.
9. Pushing Daisies (2007 – 2009)
A sleuthing piemaker who can bring back the dead with one touch and make them die permanently with a second touch is the wacky but endearing premise of this two-season comedy mystery series. When Ned brings his childhood sweetheart back to life, they must navigate a romance without even the slightest physical contact. It’s a charming show with many fans who still mourn its demise.
10. Hannibal (2013 – 2015)
Fans of Thomas Harris’s books and movies, like Silence of the Lambs, could see the infamous Dr. Hannibal Lecter from a new perspective. Viewers saw how Dr. Lecter committed his crimes and manipulated FBI profiler Will Graham. What made the show notable, besides the graphic nature of the criminal acts, were the stunning visuals. It may have only been on for three seasons, but it’s an unforgettable show.
11. My Name is Earl (2005 – 2009)
A petty criminal suffers an injury that teaches him about karma and helps him to change his ways. When he sees that being a good person changes his life for the better, he makes it his mission to correct all the wrongs he ever committed. This sitcom, starring Jason Lee, was slated to air for a fifth season but was canceled after the end of season four.
12. Jericho (2006 – 2008)
Starring Skeet Ulrich of Scream fame, this action drama series followed the residents of Jericho, Kansas, after a nuclear attack struck the United States. They struggle to live under new social norms, where the rules have changed, and only sometimes for the better. Low ratings caused the series to end after one season. An aggressive online campaign that involved sending peanuts to CBS convinced the network to give it a second and final season.
13. Rome (2005 – 2007)
Airing on HBO for two seasons from 2005 until 2007, Rome detailed the life and exploits of the most prominent citizens of the first century B.C., including Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, and Cleopatra. Rome was a highly regarded series with a large fanbase consistently delivering high ratings. Unfortunately, high production costs made it too expensive, leading to its unfortunate end.
14. The Others (2000)
In 2000, NBC decided to try a three-series block of thrillers on Saturday nights called the Thrillogy (a play on the word trilogy). The Others was one of those three shows, and it only aired for 13 episodes before getting the proverbial axe. The show revolved around a small group of ordinary people with extraordinary abilities. They used their collective talents to solve crimes, all while being stalked by an unknown enemy.
15. Succession (2018 – 2023)
This recently ended dark comedy-drama is the series fans could not get enough of. From 2018 until 2023, viewers watched family patriarch Logan Roy pit his children against each other to see who would end up running the media empire he built from the ground up. The surprise series ending made viewers want to see the show return for another season or five.
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