Cult Status: 10 Television Shows That Ended Too Soon!

By February 2, 2013
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Oh, TV, you fickle fickle beast you! While you have progressed and grown in the manner of which you tell stories and supply entertainment with edgier and stronger narratives, you still never cease to amaze me at how quick you are to slaughter the slower ones in the ongoing  race that is television entertainment.

It seems that, more and more each year, the networks throw all they can at the proverbial wall to see what sticks. While channels like FX and AMC can groom a show and let it mature and find its audience, the regular networks seem more like blood thirsty devil dogs chomping at the never ending bit, ultimately in search of the next beefy ratings treat. Because, well, it all comes down to money, right? With that said, here’s 10 shows that ended way too soon.

Let’s pour some out on the curb for these dead homiez.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (FOX)
2008 – 2009

Cast – Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker, Summer Glau, Brian Austin Green

In 2008, the Terminator franchise made its way onto television screens. The Sarah Connor Chronicles delivered a better story and acting than both Rise Of The Machines and Salvation. The series stayed true to the feel and function of the first two films, while delivering visual effects and a sci fi storyline, ultimately the attention here was on character development. As soon as the show premiered, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was an immediate hit. In fact, it was the highest rated new scripted series of that year. Yet, throughout the time it spent on FOX, the viewership seemed to slide lower and lower. Was it due to the pacing and plot holes throughout? Your guess is as good as mine. And thusly, the show was put to bed after only two seasons.

Reaper (The CW)
2007 – 2009

Cast – Bret Harrison, Tyler Labine, Missy Peregrym, Ray Wise, Rick Gonzalez

I still don’t quite understand why The CW canceled Reaper. With other such programming on the network like Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries, you’d think Reaper would have nestled in quite comfortably there. But, NO! For those of you unfamiliar, Reaper followed the story of Sam Oliver, who finds out on his 21st birthday that his parents sold him to The Devil. The agreement here is that Sam must now work for Satan as one of his “Reapers”. His job – to hunt down demons who escape from Hell, capture them, and send them back. The writing here was strong, the show blended horror and comedy successfully and any show with Ray Wise and Tyler Labine equals a big win in my book. Sadly, the geniuses at The CW saw things differently and Reaper never returned for a third season.

Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip (NBC)
2006 – 2007

Cast – Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet, Bradley Whitford, Sarah Paulson

For his follow up to West Wing, Aaron Sorkin set his sights on the behind the scenes of an SNL-ish live comedy variety show. Featuring the quick witted writing and characters one would expect from a Sorkin outing, Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip really just came out at the wrong time. Studio 60 premiered the same year 30 Rock did and it seems the meta comedy stylings of Tina Fey’s similarly themed show was way more appealing to audiences.  After a mid season hiatus, Studio 60 returned to television in 2007 and finished its one season run in July of that year.

Deadwood (HBO)
2004 – 2006

Cast – Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker, John Hawkes, Jim Beaver

The combination of HBO and David Milch brought to television THE BEST WESTERN SHOW EVER!  That’s right, I said it. Deadwood brought the big names from American old west mythology to the show’s muddy streets. Adding in a plethora of “fucks” and “cocksuckers” in the show’s ongoing dialog, Milch delivered some damn amazing television programming to the masses, ultimately changing the formula of what a Western TV Show should look and sound like.  Bounding with critical accolades, the show lasted three seasons. While prepping for it’s fourth season, Milch was also pitching John From Cincinnati to HBO. There were attempts to gets two feature length episodes of Deadwood made to tie the story together and end it properly. Obviously, that never happened.  Milch recently brought another amazing show to HBO. Luck only lasted one season, due mostly to the injuries inflicted upon the horses involved in the production. If you get a chance, check out the show, it was a pretty amazing feat.

The Good Guys (FOX)
May 2010 – December 2010

Cast – Bradley Whitford, Colin Hanks, Diana Maria Riva, Jenny Wade

This is the case of a great show with a great cast not catching on with a great audience.  The Good Guys was a throwback to the buddy cop show genre. Starring Bradley Whitford as old school, mustache having, straight outta the 70s detective Dan Stark and Colin Hanks as his by the book partner Jack Bailey. The show started off with promise, provoking a full 20 episode order by FOX but then the geniuses over at the network decided to move The Good Guys to the Friday night death slot. If you guys get a chance, check this show out. It’s a fun time, indeed.

Greg The Bunny (FOX)
March 2002 – August 2002

Cast – Eugene Levy, Seth Green, Bob Gunton, Sarah Silverman

From public access to Fox, Greg The Bunny debuted on Network TV in March of 2002. Starting off as an edgy puppet comedy for adults, it seemed the show runner and network were a bit clueless regarding the overall direction of the show. Promoted as one thing and delivered as another, the edginess got toned down enough to make this another run of the mill sitcom. As soon as the attention shifted more to the human characters than the puppets, the show’s cancelation was inevitable. Since its cancelation, Greg The Bunny resurfaced on IFC for a time in segments spoofing classic films. His puppet buddy Warren The Ape resurfaced in 2010 with his own show on MTV but that didn’t last too long either. The fuck, people!? We need more puppets on TV! Sifl And Olly, anyone?

Carnivale (HBO)
2003 – 2005

Cast – Nick Stahl, Michael J. Anderson, Adrienne Barbeau, Clancy Brown, Clea DuVall

Back in 2006, a friend let me borrow both seasons of Carnivale and I immediately became obsessed. The mythology, characters and supernatural Depression Era storyline was unlike anything I had seen on television at the time. But as quickly as it began, the show came to an abrupt ending. Partially due to a bad timeslot and lack of promotion, Carnivale had an insane budget for the time. Something along the lines of 4 million dollars were spent per episode. Talk about expensive!

Freaks And Geeks (NBC)
1999 – 2000

Cast – Linda Cardellini, Samm Levine, James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segal

Filled with a bunch of actors now considered to be on Hollywood’s A-list for comedy, Freaks And Geeks was a high school drama that focused around the nerds and slackers instead of the jocks and cool kids. Produced by Judd Appatow and created by Paul Feig, Freaks And Geeks has been recognized as one of the best shows of the past 13 years.
However, due to the stupidity of low ratings, only 12 of the 18 episodes shot actually aired during its original run.

Lie To Me (FOX)
2009 – 2011

Cast – Tim Roth, Kelli Williams, Brendan Hines, Monica Raymund, Hayley McFarland, Mekhi Phifer

As you can all see here, Fox has made a bunch of stupid decisions with regards to canceling TV shows. One of the bigger idiotic steps the network has taken in recent years, was canceling Lie To Me and Human Target to make room for that dinosaur fiasco Terra Nova. In an attempt, I can only assume, to gain their own equivalent of LOST, Fox killed some really good shows for the ultimate failure that was the dinosaur time travel eyesore that was Terra Nova. If you can’t tell, just writing about this is making me mad all over again.

Firefly (FOX)
September 2002 – December 2002

Cast – Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin, Summer Glau

Hey look! A Joss Whedon TV show! Success! Well, not really. Firefly followed a band of space pirates in space doing pirate stuff. Mixing western and space opera motifs, the show was carried by the charismatic Nathan Fillion. The mix of characters were intriguing enough to garner the status of watchable. However, once again, Fox moved a show with promise to the Friday night death slot. The show was ultimately canceled during its first season. And while the the fans of the show, and movie follow-up Serenity, are die hard and passionate, that doesn’t change the fact the film bombed just as bad as its television predecessor. So, who exactly do we blame here?

Honorable mention goes to Terriers, Awake and yes…Star Trek.

Well damn…

I have really drowned myself in melancholy with this list. While I go curl up into a fetal position in front of my Samsung plasma screen and weep, go ahead and share the shows you miss. And then together we can hold hands and have one Hell of a cry party!

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Aside from throwing words onto your screen here, he has written for the likes of FEARnet, Examiner, Dread Central and MTV Movies Blog. And yes, he was Percy on VR Troopers.