Nowadays, the cancelation of a TV series doesn’t necessarily spell its end. The rise of streaming services like Netflix have given shows cast aside by networks a second chance, bringing back the likes of Arrested Development, Full House, Black Mirror, and plenty more.
Even so, not every canceled show has been as fortunate. Netflix can’t buy up every defunct property, as they begin to pour more and more money into their own original programming. That doesn’t mean we can’t have hope for these great shows though.
1. Firefly (duh)
The lowest hanging of all the low-hanging fruit, Joss Whedon’s Firefly is a case study in truly great television that left us far too soon. It may have run for just a single season (and a follow-up movie), but it’s become a cult favorite in the years following its cancellation by the higher-ups at Fox.
Many of the show’s cast members have gone on to bigger and better things in the years since. That said, even a single revival season on Netflix would go a long way toward giving it the ending it so rightly deserves.
Not every superhero series is a ratings winner, evidenced by the one-and-done Constantine series NBC mounted in 2014. The thing is, Matt Ryan played a version of the iconic DC magician so well, that he’s found himself a mainstay voice talent in DC’s animated universe. That, in turn, led to The CW green-lighting an animated Constantine series for their alternative streaming network, CW Seed.
That still doesn’t bring back the glory that was NBC’s live-action iteration, leaving us wondering whether a Netflix remount could be on the horizon.
3. Community (double duh)
Community is a show that’s been canceled and un-canceled more times than we can count. It started out as a cult favorite and critical darling on NBC, but couldn’t garner enough in the ratings department to justify a long-term stay. After the network replaced showrunner Dan Harmon in the fourth season of the series, it seemed like the beginning of the end. Then, Harmon was brought back for the fifth (and at the time, final) season, before the show was picked up for a sixth season by the now-defunct Yahoo! Screen streaming service.
So where does that leave Community now? Harmon is currently occupied with the third season of Rick and Morty, and yet still, we’re holding out hope that we’ll get the long-promised “movie” as part of its “six seasons and a movie” tagline.
SyFy’s prestige TV awakening may have been fully realized in the last year with The Expanse and The Magicians, but it all began back in 2011 with Alphas. The series focused on a diverse group of gifted individuals with unique abilities, not unlike the X-Men … with a twist: each person’s power came with a noted downside. One woman has heightened senses, but it also floods her consciousness with too much data. Another member of the team can see and decode electrical signals, but he’s also deep on the autism scale.
The show didn’t end up garnering much in the way of ratings unfortunately, leaving it out in the cold after just two seasons. Here’s hoping Netflix noticed …
5. The Tomorrow People
There’s just something about intriguing sci-fi TV shows that guarantee a ticket to early cancellation. Enter The Tomorrow People, the CW series about an underground race of telekinetic rebels fighting a shady government organization devoted to their destruction.
It lasted just a single season, and over that initial run, it gave us compelling drama, a well-built universe, and a wonderfully complex array of heroes and villains. The CW certainly doesn’t have any room for it anymore, so how about a certain streaming service picks it up instead?
6. Agent Carter
Of all the shows on this list, Agent Carter is the one with the highest likelihood of actually getting the green light from Netflix. Marvel is already well-established on the streaming service with Daredevil et al, and with their focus diverting away from network television, it would make a whole lot of sense to bring Hayley Atwell back for a Netflix series.
Agent Carter gave us a heroine who was every bit as competent (and often more) than her male counterparts, all while battling against the post-World War II patriarchy at virtually every turn. Suffice it to say, we’d all be better off with more of that in our lives.
Based on the Bradley Cooper-led movie by the same name, CBS’ Limitless series was surprisingly imaginative given its derivative slant. An intriguing visual language and a charismatic lead performance by Jake McDorman made it a promising commodity for CBS, despite getting canceled after just one season.
Efforts to sell the show to another platform ended up falling through though. All we can do is look toward the future and wait for someone to realize that Limitless really does deserve another season.
8. Terra Nova
A futuristic series with dinosaurs that was executive produced by Steven Spielberg certainly seems like the sort of concept that would be a runaway success. Instead, Terra Nova ended up getting weighed down by hokey special effects and poor ratings, running just 13 episodes before getting the ax from Fox.
There’s still plenty of material that was left untouched, with a story that finally got interesting right around the time its clock ran out.
9. Dark Angel
Terra Nova was far from the first hastily canceled sci-fi series with A-list creative talent attached to it. Dark Angel was the brainchild of none other than James Cameron, running just two seasons between 2000 and 2002. The story followed a genetically enhanced super-soldier on the run in Seattle circa 2019, and carried a promising premise to an unsatisfyingly abrupt end.
The special effects for the Jessica Alba-led series may not hold up well to today’s standards, and yet it’s not hard to imagine a modern update with a larger budget playing well, especially given the rise of the sci-fi genre in recent years.
10. Dead Like Me
Bryan Fuller has a long history of producing incredible television that is canceled too soon, including Pushing Daisies, Hannibal, and Wonderfalls. Before any of that though, he was the man behind Dead Like Me, telling us the story of grim reapers whose job of ushering the deceased into the next life was more of a nine-to-five grind than the ethereal experience we imagine it to be.
It was hilarious, inventive, and gave us a chance to see Mandy Patinkin shine on a regular basis, lasting only two seasons and an ill-fated movie.
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