Popular TV Shows Audiences Can’t Believe Were Actually Canceled

While audiences appreciate the new shows that pop up every year, it can also be hard to say goodbye to your favorite series as they come to an end. Though every TV comedy or drama has to come to a conclusion at some point, that doesn’t mean it’s easy for fans to say goodbye.

Here are the canceled TV shows we really miss. A major network pulled the plug on a fan-favorite after six successful seasons (page 10). 

1. The Americans

Keri Russell stands in front of Matthew Rhys in a scene

Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell portray Russian spies in The Americans. | FX

The Russian spy drama took a bow in March 2018, with its last season giving fans 10 “action-packed” episodes. The Americans‘ co-creator Joe Fields said he’s “known how it was going to wrap for several years,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Fans were sad to see the acclaimed show conclude. But one thing co-stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys can take away from the FX show: their baby boy. The Americans brought them together off-screen, which they can cherish long after the show ends.

Next: America’s favorite HGTV couple says goodbye.

2. Fixer Upper

Joanna and Chip Gaines sitting on couch

The adorable Gaines family will be missed. | Joanna Gaines via Facebook

Chip, Joanna, and their four kids will add one more to their family after Joanna gives birth in 2018. The pregnancy, along with their show Fixer Upper concluding this year, makes for a busy time for the farmhouse family.

In September 2017, the couple announced via their blog that the fifth season of the HGTV show would be its last: “While we are confident that this is the right choice for us, it has for sure not been an easy one to come to terms with. How bittersweet to say goodbye to the very thing that introduced us all in the first place.” The series finale took place in April 2018.

Next: This beloved show’s lead character had to surrender her white hat.

3. Scandal

Fitz sares at Olivia at Jake looks at him in the background

Fan-favorites Tony Goldwyn, Scott Foley, and Kerry Washington appear on Scandal Season 3. | ABC

Since 2012, fans adored this political thriller about main character Olivia Pope’s crisis management firm. Legendary Grey’s Anatomy producer Shonda Rimes always stated Scandal was a seven-season show. She announced its 2018 end, much to the dismay of viewers. Pope’s love affair with President Fitzgerald Grant III will go down in history as a beloved TV couple.

Scandal was named the American Film Institute’s Television Program of the Year. It received the Peabody Award for Excellence in Television, and Washington was nominated for an Emmy Award, Golden Globe, and SAG Award during the show’s run.

Next: NBC went overboard with Chicago-based shows.

4. Chicago Justice

The cast of Chicago Justice on NBC

Chicago Justice | NBC

Watch instead: Any of the Chicago series

Were there enough Chicago-focused TV shows airing before the creation of Chicago Justice? Probably. After one season, the fourth series in Dick Wolf’s Chicago franchise got the boot. But it made sense to give the legal drama a one-season try.

The original Chicago Fire is NBC’s second-highest rated drama (behind This Is Us). The other two, Chicago Med and Chicago P.D., do well enough. It looks like three’s a charm for the Windy City.

Next: This ABC favorite will quietly end in 2018.

5. The Middle

The Middle

A ninth season marks the end of The Middle. | ABC

This show about a middle-class American family quietly garnered high ratings on Rotten Tomatoes throughout its nine seasons on ABC. Although The Middle has consistently flown under the radar, it been a consistent success for the network, which announced the series would conclude in 2018, with its 200th episode taking place during that time.

The show’s creators stated, ” “It’s been an amazing run, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we’re looking forward to having an entire year to say goodbye.”

Next: Sexual harassment accusations put an end to this political thriller.

6. House of Cards

Frank Underwood leaning over the desk in the Oval Office, looking directly at the camera

Kevin Spacey in House of Cards | Netflix

As the #MeToo movement picked up steam in Hollywood, House of Cards lead Kevin Spacey faced sexual harassment allegations from numerous accusers. After the iconic actor released a less-than-satisfactory statement explaining his actions, Netflix cut ties with all of his projects, including the award-winning political thriller.

Although we don’t know much about the plot, House of Cards‘ sixth and final season will feature Spacey’s co-star, Robin Wright, as the lead. We do know her dysfunctional character,  Claire Underwood, will provide more than enough fodder.

Next: This show’s cancellation may have involved politics.

7. Last Man Standing

Last Man Standing

Last Man Standing is over for good. | ABC

Watch instead: The Goldbergs

This cancellation got messy when fans accused ABC of ending Last Man Standing due to star Tim Allen’s conservative political beliefs. Fans found the cancellation especially odd because the show still had solid ratings.

They even created an online petition threatening to boycott ABC. But the network’s Entertainment President Channing Dungey denied these claims, stating that “Tim Allen’s personal politics had nothing whatsoever to do with it,” as reported by People.com. She explained that scheduling and programming made it impossible to renew the series.

According to Esquire, Allen later said that “there is nothing more dangerous, especially in this climate, than a funny, likable conservative character.” We may never get to the bottom of this cancellation.

Next: This beloved comedy’s term is nearly over.


Selina Meyer on Veep

Julia Louis-Dreyfus delivers an award-winning performance as Selina Meyer. | HBO

Watch instead: Parks and Recreation

First known for her Seinfeld roleJulia Louis-Dreyfus earned critical acclaim as Vice President Selina Meyer in VEEP. And Rotten Tomatoes gives it consistently high ratings for all six seasons so far.

Sadly, HBO announced its seventh season will be VEEP‘s last. Louis-Dreyfus explained, “We don’t want to repeat ourselves or wear out our welcome. The story has a finality to it that feels end-of-series.” For now, VEEP fans eagerly await one last season set to air in 2018.

Next: NBC chose not to resuscitate this medical drama.

9. The Night Shift

The Night Shift

Fans were saddened to hear about the death of The Night Shift. | ABC

Watch instead: Chicago Med

With a quiet launch in 2014, The Night Shift flew under the radar, amassing a loyal following during its four seasons on NBC. The network pulled the plug in 2017, announcing there would not be a fifth season of the “army vet medical drama.”

With Chicago Med and the forthcoming New Amsterdam, NBC seemed to recognize it can only air so many medical dramas at once.

Next: Viewers said goodbye to this lovable TV couple after six seasons.

10. Mike & Molly

Mike & Molly

After six seasons, Mike & Molly was cancelled. | CinemaBlend via Youtube

Watch instead: Big Bang Theory

Just a week after the show’s sixth season premiere in January 2016, CBS announced that Mike & Molly wouldn’t return. The network opted not to renew its licensing agreement with the series co-producer Warner Bros. Television. The sitcom concluded its 13-episode sixth and final season in May 2016.

Next: Viewers slowly stopped “idolizing” this singing competition.

11. American Idol

The crowd cheers at the American Idol finale

American Idol finale | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Watch instead: The Voice

Fox closed the curtain on American Idol in 2015, after the once hugely popular series saw a continued dip in ratings. The reality phenom aired its 15th season from January to April 2016, with Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, and Harry Connick, Jr. returning as judges.

After intense negotiations, ABC bought American Idol and announced its 2018 return with new judges, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan. So far, ABC’s Idol has been plagued by scandals, such as sexual harassment allegations against host Ryan Seacrest and Katy Perry’s callous property battle against a group of Los Angeles nuns.

With terribly low ratings, the show lost to The Voice by approximately 3 million viewers as the competitions aired simultaneously. The future looks bleak for the new Idol.

Next: This across-the-border show pushed boundaries with viewers.

12. Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders

Executive Producer/Creator Erica Messer, actors Annie Funke, Daniel Henney, Gary Sinise, Alana De La Garza, , Tyler James Williams and Executive Producer Mark Gordon

The cast of Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Watch instead: Mindhunter

Spinoffs seem to be the answer when a network needs new content. Another canceled spinoff, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, was shown the door after two seasons of low ratings.

The Hollywood Reporter explained, “While the 7.3 million-strong average would look good elsewhere, it was not much to write home about for a CBS drama.” Luckily Criminal Minds fans can rest easy; the original show was renewed for a 13th season.

Next: There’s one less crime-fighting duo on TV.

13. Rizzoli & Isles

Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander chat at a restaurant in a scene from Rizzoli and Isles

Rizzoli & Isles | TNT

Watch instead: Seven Seconds

TNT’s long-running drama Rizzoli & Isles ended after its seventh season. Turner Entertainment chief creative officer Kevin Reilly confirmed the cancellation in January 2016 at a Television Critics Association panel, saying, “It felt like it was time.”

The 13-episode finale season aired from June to September 2016.

Next: Many fans protested the cancellation of this intense Netflix series.

14. Bloodline

John and Danny Rayburn walk on a dock at their mother's inn.

Bloodline | Netflix

Watch instead: Ozark

Netflix’s cancellation of this Emmy-nominated, critically acclaimed series shocked fans. With three suspenseful seasons complete, the network felt it was ready to move on and gave little explanation other than that.

We don’t know whether Bloodline‘s audience was a little too small, the expensive cost of production outweighed its success, or something else entirely. What we do know: We’ll miss siblings John, Danny, Kevin, and Meg and their dysfunctional family’s web of secrets and lies in the Florida Keys.

Next: Producing a show was too much for this couple.

15. The Jim Gaffigan Show

Jim Gaffigan and Jeannie Gaffigan

Jim Gaffigan and Jeannie Gaffigan | Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Watch instead: Atypical

With quite a low viewership, family comedy The Jim Gaffigan Show said goodbye to its TV Land fans. Produced by Gaffigan and his wife Jeannie, the show received praise from critics but ultimately did not extend beyond two seasons.

According to USA Today, Jim and Jeannie released a statement thanking TV Land for the opportunity to create a show inspired by their lives. They explained that The Jim Gaffigan Show took too much time away from their real family of five children.

However, the cancellation was a mutual agreement among the couple, production, and media company, so it seems like there’s more going on than meets the eye.

Next: This show seemed way too good to end.

16. The Good Wife

Julianne Marguiles holds a phone to her ear in the a scene from The Good Wife

The Good Wife | CBS

Watch instead: Doubt

CBS’ drama may be a critical darling, but its seventh season opened pretty softly. The show garnered a 1.2 rating in its October 2014 premiere. Though it drew in 9.25 million viewers, those numbers are only so-so for CBS.

With ratings continuing to dip and the official departure of its showrunners announced in 2016, the show was clearly ready for its curtain call. CBS made the cancellation official in February 2016, announcing the seventh season was its last.

Next: This “castle” came crumbling down.

17. Castle

Nathan Fillion

Nathan Fillion played Richard Castle for eight seasons. | Rich Polk/Getty Images

Watch instead: Jessica Jones

In May 2016, ABC pulled the plug on this procedural drama after eight seasons. The decision came months after the show let go female lead Stana Katic, reportedly to cut costs on the veteran series.

There was initial talk that a final abbreviated season would occur after her departure, but the network ultimately axed the show altogether.

Next: Fans loved Don Cheadle in this role.

18. House of Lies

Don Cheadle sits at a desk in House of Lies

House of Lies | Showtime

Watch instead: Master of None

The Showtime comedy, starring Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell, ended its acclaimed five-season run in 2016. The show’s cancellation was announced in May 2016, with the network confirming that the shortened, 10-episode Season 5 would be its last. Showtime president and CEO David Nevins said in a public statement at the time:

House of Lies is a comedy that has frequently been ahead of the curve. Over the course of its five seasons, it has tackled such hot-button topics as gender identity, wealth inequality, white privilege, police brutality, interracial relationships and code-switching with honesty and a biting sense of humor.

Matthew Carnahan and Don Cheadle have been dream partners and impeccable leaders. The core cast of Don, Kristen [Bell], Ben [Schwartz] and Josh [Lawson] are one of the best comedy teams on television. They have brought the series to an incredibly satisfying conclusion with this historic final episode shot in Cuba.

Next: This show got “blacklisted.”

19. The Blacklist: Redemption

Famke Janssen as Susan Scott 'Scottie' Hargrave wearing a light blue shirt and pointing a gun off screen on The Blacklist: Redemption

Famke Janssen as Susan Scott “Scottie” Hargrave on The Blacklist: Redemption | NBC

Watch instead: Taken

Good idea, bad execution? The Blacklist original with James Spader is arguably one of the best shows on TV. So it made sense to create a spinoff. Sadly, The Blacklist: Redemption never took off. Poor ratings and lower viewership ended the spinoff that starred Ryan Eggold and Famke Janssen.

Next: It’s a crime that this show was canceled. 

20. American Crime

American Crime

American Crime | NBC

Watch instead: American Crime Story

Viewers can’t get enough of the law and those who break it. And this showed during the first few seasons of American Crime. Receiving many Emmy nominations (and two wins for star Regina King) as well as critical acclaim and a good viewership, this anthology crime drama lasted for three seasons before ABC pulled the plug.

The move surprised loyal fans of American Crime, especially since it was the “most decorated drama series on air” this past season, according to Deadline.

Next: This drama lacked “interest” from its audience.

21. Person of Interest 

The cast stand together in a scene from Person of Interest

Person of Interest | CBS

Watch instead: Altered Carbon

This CBS sci-fi crime drama concluded its five-season run last summer. The network announced its cancellation shortly after issuing a reduced episode order for Season 5.

Both fans and producers were disappointed, with executive producer J.J. Abrams stating, “The only heartbreak there is how much good story there was to come if it were to have continued.”

Next: This period drama made history with its awards and fan base.

22. Downton Abbey

Maggie Smith sits in a chair in a scene from Downton Abbey

Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey | PBS

Watch instead: The Crown

Fans will miss this critically acclaimed series. The show ended its six-season run in March 2016 stateside, much to the dismay of audiences. The final season earned a largely positive response and scored Maggie Smith an Emmy win for Best Supporting Actress.

Rumors of a Downton Abbey film have circulated since the series finale, but no official plans have been made yet.

Next: The final season of this fantasy drama will be worth the wait.

23. Game of Thrones

Jon Snow on a boat with several other men

Fan-favorite Jon Snow plays a crucial role in GOT. | HBO

Watch instead: The Tudors and Vikings

As if learning the eighth season will be its last was hard enough, Game of Thrones creators announced the show would take a year off before its final season. It’ll likely be worth the wait; HBO’s biggest hit series of all time has aged well, delivering captivating storytelling, bloody action, and rich characters.

According to EW, the Emmy-winning fantasy drama will “spend a year and a half crafting the show’s final episodes in an effort to make the final hours as spectacular and satisfying as possible.”

Next: Maybe they’ve busted every single myth.

24. Mythbusters

Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman in a promotional image for Discovery's Mythbusters

Mythbusters | Discovery

Watch instead: Brain Games

After 13 years on air, the long-running science-themed program didn’t return this year. Discovery canceled the innovative reality series — one of cable’s longest-running shows — last year, following several seasons of declining ratings.

The 14th and final season aired its last episode in March 2016, but it didn’t take long for hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman to find a new gig. They, along with Mythbusters co-star Tory Belleci, now host the Netflix program White Rabbit Project, which premiered in December 2016.

Next: Fans were horrified to see this series go.

25. Penny Dreadful

Josh Hartnett and Eva Green stand together in a scene from Penny Dreadful

Penny Dreadful | Showtime

Watch instead: Peaky Blinders

Showtime’s horror drama officially ended its run. The network confirmed that the show’s two-hour Season 3 ender, which featured the shocking demise of a main character, also served as its series finale. The news shouldn’t be a huge surprise to viewers of the show, as the second hour of the episode concluded with a definitive “The End.” But what audiences may not have known is that it’s been the plan all along for the series to only run three seasons.

“[Creator/showrunner] John Logan has said three seasons is enough and I think it’s really interesting that we live in this world where every show can have its own rhythm and create its own destiny,” Showtime president David Nevins told The Hollywood Reporter. “This is a case of your creator says this is the best thing for the show and eventually you just say OK, do it, just do it well.”

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Additional reporting by Ali Harrison.