When it comes to discussing TV shows that were gone too soon, I believe that it’s important to consider the potential they each held. We have some great and popular shows which fans were eager to see more of, but we also have smaller shows that gained a cult following but were still ultimately cancelled. In this article, I’m going to avoid the incredibly common examples, such as FIREFLY (2002) or BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (1997), as I discuss my top 10 TV shows that fans were desperate to see more of!
#1 – HEROES (2006-2010)
HEROES (created by Tim Kring) revolved around people all over the world who discover that they possess special abilities. These powers could range from flying to being “master of space and time” i.e. teleportation and time-travel. Each episode pieced together the larger, over-arching plot, much like a comic book.
Sadly, the creation of season 2 coincided with the WGA writer’s strike. As such, the third act was removed entirely, and smaller scenes were re-shot to tie up loose ends. Instead of 24 episodes, only 11 were created. This left fans with a sour taste in their mouth as the ending felt underwhelming. Although there was always hope for the show, these cancelled episodes marked the downfall of the show’s ratings, and so it was cancelled after season 4.
#2 – FLASHFORWARD (2009-2010)
Based on the book by Robert J. Sawyer, FLASHFORWARD was a sci-fi TV show that ultimately left fans with more questions than answers. The show’s premise focused on a global event where everybody passes out at exactly the same moment for 137 seconds. During this simultaneous loss of consciousness, everybody experiences a vison of their life from 6 months in the future.
The first (and final) season ends with a 2nd FLASHFORWARD, this time 20 years into the future instead of just 6 months. Sadly, this final scene was shot before the decision to cancel FLASHFORWARD had been made.
#3 – THE OA (2016-2019)
THE OA amassed quite a cult following. The incredibly original, unique, and well-written show involved angels, multiple realities, resurrection, and much more. The show ultimately revolves around two groups of misfits: one forced together and the other formed out of necessity.
While Netflix decided to cancel THE OA due to poor viewership numbers, the show still stood for something great! It represented the coming together of unlikely allies to ward off a greater evil. The cancellation of such a powerful show hit fans hard, leading to the hashtag ‘#savetheoa’, along with marches, protests, and even hunger strikes.
#4 – SENSE8 (2015-2018)
SENSE8 followed a group of 8 strangers scattered around the world who become connected via a single consciousness. They can share memories, experiences, and even live through the body of another within their ‘cluster’ (the name given to each group of ‘sensates’). Despite being science fiction, the show delved into what it means to be human.
Sadly, SENSE8 was cancelled after just two seasons. However, the response from the fans led to Netflix reuniting the cast and crew for a final episode which would tie up the loose ends and give the story some closure. Of course, this meant rushing to the end and fans are still desperate to see the mind-sharing group return.
#5 – LIE TO ME (2009-2011)
LIE TO ME was based incredibly loosely on the work of Dr Paul Ekman. Ekman is responsible for our understanding of micro-expressions: brief facial expressions that last for just a fraction of a second. Through these, you can theoretically understand the truth behind a person’s response to any situation. In the TV show, this character is known as Dr Cal Lightman (Tim Roth) and his team help to spot lies and solve crimes. It was thrilling, dramatic, and just an overall good show.
Sadly though, LIE TO ME was cancelled after its 3rd season. Where seasons 1 and 2 had stuck somewhat closely to the science, season 3 went a different path, ultimately resulting in a decline in ratings and eventual cancellation.
#6 – KYLE XY (2006-2009)
Kyle, a boy with a mysterious past, is taken in by Trager family. This seemingly weird individual begins to demonstrate incredible intelligence, as well as abilities. The show follows Kyle and his new family as they search for answers, such as why does Kyle not have a belly button?
The shows loveable characters and deepening mysteries lured fans deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole. That is until the season 3 finale, which despite leaving audiences with a major cliffhanger, would prove to be the show’s final episode. Apparently low ratings were just one of several reasons why KYLE XY didn’t return to tell the rest of the story.
#7 – HANNIBAL (2013-2015)
We’re all familiar with Hannibal, most notably in the movies where Anthony Hopkins takes on the role of the intelligent and charismatic cannibal. The TV show took audiences on a different journey, focusing on Hannibal’s relationship with Will Graham, following the two as they work to help the FBI track down serial killers.
Sadly, despite the first seasons being thrilling and captivating, season 3 felt like it missed the mark for many fans. Each new scenario felt like it forced Graham and Hannibal together in order to create conflict, and new advisories felt underwhelming in comparison to previous seasons. The decline in viewings was cited as being one of the main reasons why we didn’t see HANNIBAL return for season 4.
#8 – THE FOLLOWING (2013-2015)
THE FOLLOWING may not have been the most original TV show in the world, but what it lacked in originality it made up for in character. Starring Kevin Bacon, Shawn Ashmore and James Purefoy, THE FOLLOWING explores the development of a cult of serial killers, and the team tasked with tracking them down.
Sadly, the show began to fall apart slightly after the first season, to the point that season 3 was barely recognizable. However, the season 3 finale set the story up for a fresh new take, should season 4 have been given the green light. Sadly, it wasn’t.
#9 – THE EVENT (2010-2011)
THE EVENT was a mysterious and fascinating science fiction show which explored a group of humanoid alien beings who lived among the human population of Earth. Each episode took audiences deeper into a conspiracy of galactic proportions, until we were left with one question: what is ‘the event’? This moment, which is referenced by the aliens frequently throughout the show.
In the end, we never found out the truth about “the event” as the TV show was cancelled before all could be revealed. Once again, low ratings left the show runners with no choice but to cancel. While there had been talks of a miniseries, this quickly faded away from reality.
#10 – GAME OF THRONES (2011-2019)
I know what you’re thinking: GAME OF THRONES had 8 seasons, how can it possibly be included on a list for TV shows that ended too early? Hear me out…Back in 2015, HBO expressed interest in having the show run for as many as 10 seasons, with Martin himself stating that it would take closer to 12 in order to tell the story properly.
Fast forward to 2019 and fans were given the shows final season: season 8. Ultimately, this would go on to divide fans. Many felt that season 8 (and for some, season 6 onwards) felt incredibly rushed. Events didn’t make sense, character development faded into nothingness, and the once slow-moving show burst into a sprint to the finish line. Many have accused the writers and directors of the show of rushing to end things with HBO in order to begin their STAR WARS project with Disney.