All good things must end and many good things end before we’re given a full sense of closure. So it is with TV shows. Budgets climb too high, ratings dip too low, creators get too tired, networks get too demanding… whatever the circumstances, many amazing shows have ended before their time (or before fans were ready to let them go). Below is a list of shows that many fans feel ended prematurely and would love to see return in one form or another (happily, some of them already have).
Feel free to add your own picks for shows you weren’t ready to see go.
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Revival?:A fourth season of 15 episodes, which aired on Netflix in May of 2013. Possible fifth season (also on Netflix) and plans for a film.
In spite of its critical success and current devoted fanbase, Arrested Development originally aired to low ratings, causing the Fox network to cancel it in 2006 during its third season.
Though there were originally plans for the show to move over to Showtime for its fourth season, Hurwitz ultimately declined, stating that he felt he’d “taken the show as far as [he] felt [he] could as a series” and that was more afraid of disappointing fans by having the quality of the show drop than by not giving them more episodes.
However, the chance to continue the show in a non-weekly episodic format came in 2012 and, six years after the show had been cancelled, shooting for season 4 began. Fifteen new episodes of the show were released on Netflix in May of 2013 and there are talks to do more, as well as to finally get a film version rolling.
Revival?:Serenity (2005), several comic mini-series published by Dark Horse Comics
Often cited as one of the most blatant mishandlings of a television series (and a heinous act of injustice) by sci-fi fans, Joss Whedon’s space western Firefly was canned only after 14 episodes… 14 episodes which were aired out of order… actually, make that only 10 episodes that were aired out of order, as the original pilot and three of the final episodes were not aired during the show’s original run. The Fox Network indeed not only ran the episodes out of order, confusing casual viewers, but also refused to air the original pilot, did not air three other episodes, refused to run the show in its original wide-screen format, and aired it during its Friday Night Death Slot before scrapping it all together.
Fox had, however, underestimated the show’s already burgeoning fanbase and DVD sales for the show went through the roof, earning it a place as one of the biggest cult hits of all time. Firefly’s role as a sci-fi martyr has only driven its devoted fanbase, known as the Browncoats, to more passionate extremes and they have actively campaigned for the last ten years to bring the show back in any format they can. While the show is no closer to returning to TV, its post-air success has resulted in the production of a film continuation, Serenity, in 2005 and several mini-series of comics distributed by Dark Horse.
Well-known for its overt sexual content and political intrigue, HBO’s Rome was canned after only two seasons due to its notoriously high production costs. Co-creator Bruno Heller was informed that the show was to be cancelled midway through writing season 2, accounting for the breakneck speed of the history recounted in the show’s final episodes (about 13 years worth squeezed into 11 episodes).
Originally, season 2 was to end with the death of Brutus, with seasons 3 and 4 focusing on the events in Egypt and season 5 on the rise of Jesus Christ. Season 2 raked in much higher ratings, but by the time HBO had realized their mistake, the show’s cast and crew had already begun signing on to other projects.
Becoming a quiet cult hit after its cancellation, Rome proved a game-changer for TV dramas with its historical focus, sprawling cast, and sexual explicitness, opening the doors for shows like The Tudors, The Borgias, and Game of Thrones. With so many Rome alumni now working on Game of Thrones, it’s unlikely a revival of the show will ever get off the ground.
Following the adventures of two young Londoners, Tim and Daisy (played by co-writers Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson), and their strange lineup of friends and neighbors, as they all find new and exciting ways to do absolutely nothing, Spaced offered a hilarious and uncomfortably accurate take on the extended adolescence of the directionless twenty-something.
The show was a flawless blend of the surreal and the utterly mundane, made memorable by its brilliantly snappy dialogue, director Edgar Wright’s distinctive cinematic style, and its never-ending references to popular culture (that the show still holds up now 13 years later attests to how well-handled these references are actually were).
While not cancelled in the traditional sense of the word (the shows creators seemed to simply put the show on hiatus), many fans of the show found that its ending came too soon. Though Pegg and Wright have since hit the big screens with their wildly popular Cornetto Trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and At World’s End), many Spaced fans are still yearning for more resolution.
While Pegg, Wright, and Stevenson toyed with the possibility of a third series for years, they’ve each made it clear (since at least 2007) that the show is done. In an interview with The Guardian in July 2013, Pegg stated that the cast and writers are all simply too old now and that Tim and Daisy’s spaced-out, 20-something mindset is no longer who or where any of them are, so a remake would not have a “perspective of truth” and would lack the charm that made the series popular in the first place.
So, it seems, for now, that viewers will not be returning to 23 Meteor Street any time soon.
Revival?:Five more TV series, 12 movies, books, games, the whole kit and caboodle.
Cancelled by NBC after three seasons due to its low ratings, the original run of Star Trek (now referred to as Star Trek: The Original Series) proved a cult hit in syndication during the 1970s.
The show was briefly revamped with an animated series that ran between 1973 and 74, but it wasn’t until Star Wars proved in 1977 that sci-fi could be hugely commercially successful that Star Trek was given a true second chance in the form of a feature film. Since the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979, there have been an additional 11 Star Trek films and four television series that ran back to back between 1987 and 2005. It has become one of the most successful franchises in history with one of the most (notoriously) devoted fanbases and is still running strong. Not too bad for a show that was cancelled for poor ratings.
In spite of its wide critical acclaim and numerous Emmy wins, Deadwood came to a premature end after three seasons after HBO opted not to pick up the contracts of the cast. Though executive producer David Milch was originally in talks with HBO to produce two two-hour-long telefilms in lieu of a fourth season, the project never got off the ground. While Milch and the cast dropped hopeful hints for a couple years that the show would return in some form, Ian McShane and Milch have since confirmed that it looks like Deadwood is going to just stay dead.