Early TV Cancellations

10 recent shows cancelled well before the first season was even over.

Every Fall season brings the finest of what the networks have to offer. New dramas! New comedies! New car insurance commercials wedged in between them! And to every season there is a turn, and quite often those turns offer doom and death to fledgling shows. Reasons for early cancellations are numerous: bad writing, low ratings, controversial content, political climate, and the list goes on. In this article we pay tribute to the recent dearly departeds, though further reading will suggest "dearly" might not be the right adjective to use. Here, then, are 10 shows that met their demise after airing just six episodes... or less.

Canterbury's Law

Like The Good Wife, Julianna Margulies produced and starred in Canterbury's Law, another lawyer show. But that's where the similarities stop. Elizabeth Canterbury differed from The Good Wife's Alicia Florrick in that she had been cheating on her husband. She drank often to deal with both the kidnapping of her son and her possible indictment and disbarment for jury tampering (which she did commit). She wasn't going to win any awards in politeness or subtlety. Cool, right? But the critics and the public didn't take to it, so we were left without any resolutions. Of course, Margulies was terrific on the show, but perhaps she was too crass for primetime back in 2008. Still, some of us miss all that troublemaking in court.

Day Break

Taye Diggs plays an LAPD detective who is stuck in his own Groundhog Day scenario: He's been framed for the murder of an Assistant DA, and he must repeat the same day over again until he figures out who the real killer is and why he was framed. This series only lasted six episodes on ABC, but lived to see another day on ABC.com, the cable channel TV One, and Hulu. It seems that repeating this series over a few times solved the mystery of the missing viewers.

Lone Star

There was a lot of buzz surrounding Lone Star and its premise: A con-man lives a double life, with a wife in one town and a girlfriend in another, while trying to scheme and create a successful oil business of his own. Oddly, this FOX drama was cancelled after only two episodes in the Fall 2010 season despite its rave reviews from critics including the AV Club, which called it "the best network pilot of the year." Unfortunately it was the audience who disagreed, and the ratings were so low, Lone Star became the first official cancellation of the 2010 season.

Lucky 7

Seven gas station workers win the lottery jackpot, which changes their lives. But we don't really know how their lives changed since the show had no luck of its own and aired two measly episodes before it got yanked. In a season of weak series premieres, this one got no pity from the critics, earning a whopping 29 percent Tomatometer score. But these characters were engaging, and if Lucky 7 had been given a chance, we might have enjoyed getting to know them better. We started to see the relationships develop into something interestingly dramatic in the short time we spent together.

My Generation

My Generation aired on ABC in the Fall of 2010. This mockumentary-style series follows a group of stereotypical (the jock, the beauty queen, etc) high school seniors upon graduation thinking the world is at their feet. It then revisits them ten years later, incorporating real world events and their aftermaths, like the 9/11 attacks and the Enron scandal. After an underwhelming premiere and an even lower-rated second episode, ABC pulled the show. My Generation was heavily marketed, but it never quite got the chance to connect with an audience, as it went up against fan favorites like The Big Bang Theory, Bones, and The Vampire Diaries.

We Are Men

Why, Tony Shalhoub? Why? This failed bromance starred Shalhoub, Kal Penn and Jerry O'Connell as a trio of man-child divorcees that mentor a recently dumped Chris Smith on the rougher points of misogyny. Two painful episodes are all it took for CBS to see the error of its ways and bring this pity party to a screeching halt. With a score of four percent on the Tomatometer, it's no surprise this one crawled back into its man cave to die.

The Playboy Club

NBC's feebly provocative attempt at adult-targeted fare that the cable networks have been dominating in recent years. The Playboy Club was a hot commodity at NBC before release, centering on the wheelings and dealings at Hugh Hefner's legendary and exclusive club. Controversy came from both sides: feminists claimed the show was exploitative and demeaning (which star Amber Heard defended against), while the lack of sex and nudity offended the hounddogs. Ultimately the show was DOA, cancelled after just three airings.

Do No Harm

A modern take on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with elements of Dexter and House, this series was a midseason show from earlier this year, starring Steven Pasquale as a neurosurgeon who transforms into an alter ego and goes bananas every night. Pre-release marketing was poor, obscuring Pasquale's face on most posters and billboard ads (not that anybody was familiar with Pasquale anyway). Low ratings from the get-go forced NBC to mercifully put Do No Harm out of its misery.

Charlie's Angels

ABC tried to bring Jiggle TV back in fashion in 2011 with less than sexy results. The reboot of Charlie's Angels, spearheaded by Smallville creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, cast three gorgeous girls (Annie Ilonzeh, Minka Kelly, and Rachael Taylor) as private detectives, and ditched everything else needed to make a show work. The trio's performances were critically drubbed across the board, while the darker tone and poorly-staged action sequences alienated what made the original show popular. ABC put out three episodes in September before cancelling it on October 14, 2011.

Ironside

The original Ironside ran for eight seasons. NBC's remake ran for three... episodes. Blair Underwood was cast this year as the titular character, a tough and sexy detective who is shot on the job and is confined to solving crime in a wheelchair. Minor controversy arose when Underwood was cast as a paraplegic, though NBC insisted they needed an actor who could walk to accommodate the show's flashbacks. Of course, all that pales in comparison to NBC's panic when Ironside debuted to middling numbers and continued to lose viewers with each subsequent week. NBC saw the writing on the wall and, unwilling to commit, cancelled the show on October 18.

Comments

Leo Kellogg

Leo Kellogg

Awake?!?!?!?!?!

Nov 5 - 06:42 PM

RT-Ryan

RT-Ryan .

We've updated the intro text to reflect that the list was intended to include shows that were cancelled before they were able to air more than six episodes. We wanted to focus on shows that got the axe QUICK.

Nov 5 - 07:15 PM

Daniel Ireland

Daniel Ireland

Awake was a great show in my opinion but it doesn't fit in this list. It had a full season at least... just wish it would have been renewed!

Nov 5 - 08:14 PM

John Daniel

John Daniel

Agreed.

Nov 6 - 11:17 AM

Joey Gallo

Joey Gallo

Awake's premise was interesting. The show itself sucked

Nov 7 - 03:58 PM

andre t.

andre tremblay

You got a couple of episode that were fantastic, but the rest followed the same formula. The problem is that you had to follow all the episodes to understand it. Otherwise, if someone pick the show late, they would ask themselves: who is who or what ? That can be hard to follow.

Nov 10 - 09:30 AM

Alex Bauman

Alex Bauman

It's called serialized television. Not a new concept. Look at the TV greats. Breaking Bad, The Wire, The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, Justified (2nd half of season 1 onward), the Shield, Six Feet Under, Sons of Anarchy. All of these have serialized storylines. If you pick up the show late, you rent season 1 and start from the beginning. I would hardly call this evidence of the show being bad.

Nov 11 - 12:29 AM

RT-Ryan

RT-Ryan .

We've updated the intro text to reflect that the list was intended to include shows that were cancelled before they were able to air more than six episodes. We wanted to focus on shows that got the axe QUICK.

Nov 5 - 07:15 PM

John Gonzalez

John Gonzalez

i know it wouldn't count on this page since it had 5 seasons but southland was unnecessarily canceled. its the best cop show ever, it was gritty and realistic and the performances were amazing, they should have at the very least gave it a good final conclusion instead of leaving it on one of the biggest cliff hangers in the shows run! someone should try and pick it up and bring it back to life, fx, amc, or even hbo would be amazing. bring my damn show back!!!

Nov 5 - 08:13 PM

Michael Hahn

Michael Hahn

I never watched it, but if a show has gone on for 5 seasons, then the network has an obligation to its viewers to at least make sure it gets a conclusion before they cancel it. Five seasons is a long time to invest in a show, only for the network to give its viewers the middle finger at its end. Inexcusable.

Nov 6 - 12:35 AM

Kevin Miller

Kevin Miller

That's like saying Weeds is the best show ever about a middle-class parent who turns to selling drugs to make ends meet.

Nov 6 - 06:52 AM

This comment has been removed.

Emma McClatchey

Emma McClatchey

What he means is Southland is not the Breaking Bad of cop shows. i.e. not the best ever.

Nov 21 - 09:44 PM

Meltem Ceyhan

Meltem Ceyhan

I agree with you on that it is the best cop show but the 5th season was really bad.

Nov 6 - 12:25 PM

Adrian Marquez

Adrian Marquez

It WAS actually brought back once. It originally aired on NBC for just 1 season and got canned. But TNT decided to pick it up and got to air for 4 more seasons. But yeah, that really blows that it got canned again. You actually sound like me when Lights Out and Terriers got cancelled on FX! Man, I don't even wanna talk about it, 'cause it still gets me mad. Lol

Nov 9 - 11:18 PM

Alex Bauman

Alex Bauman

Agreed. Southland was easily the best cop drama on tv at the time (if you count Justified as a cop drama, they're about the same in terms of quality). It was on the same level as the recent classic cop dramas like The Shield and The Wire. The characters were so well written. The episode "Chaos" is one of the finest hours in tv history and John Cooper is one of the best written characters on tv past and present. John Cooper's entire story arc is such a brilliantly written emotional roller coaster. Michael Cudlitz deserved not just an Emmy nomination, but a win. And for those reading my comment who haven't seen Southland, I've seen nearly all the competition. I watched Hannibal, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Boardwalk Empire, Justified, Homeland, The Americans, Mad Men, The Walking Dead. Plenty of great supporting actors on all of those shows, but Cudlitz towers over every one. His storyline is unforgettably powerful. I even created a facebook page for him getting nominated but it only got a little over 100 likes.

Nov 11 - 12:37 AM

Daniel Ireland

Daniel Ireland

Awake was a great show in my opinion but it doesn't fit in this list. It had a full season at least... just wish it would have been renewed!

Nov 5 - 08:14 PM

John Daniel

John Daniel

Agreed.

Nov 6 - 11:17 AM

connellyde

Devon Connelly

I don't know why but back in the day (2007 for me haha) I was upset when Traveler got cancelled...mainly because they didn't ever get to finish it and there was so much unsolved.

Nov 5 - 09:02 PM

Chaloh Wammz

Chaloh Wammz

you have spoken to my heart...why did they do that?

Nov 7 - 06:54 AM

Eva Klevska

Eva Klevska

I kinda liked Ironside. I mean, it wasn't particularly good, but it still felt cool watching it.Not the worst procedural out there, for sure.

Nov 5 - 09:54 PM

Bud Baker

Bud Baker

I didn't even know any of these shows existed

Nov 5 - 10:04 PM

Christopher256G

Christopher Greffin

I only recognized The Playboy Club, and only due to the fact it was so obvious with that show and Pan Am were obvious attempts to try to replicate the period piece success of Mad Men.

Nov 6 - 10:10 PM

Michael Hahn

Michael Hahn

I never watched it, but if a show has gone on for 5 seasons, then the network has an obligation to its viewers to at least make sure it gets a conclusion before they cancel it. Five seasons is a long time to invest in a show, only for the network to give its viewers the middle finger at its end. Inexcusable.

Nov 6 - 12:35 AM

Raymond Watt

Raymond Watt

You forgot that TV adaptation of "Napoleon Dynamite". That lasted 6 episodes.

Nov 6 - 04:46 AM

Lucas Hardy

Lucas Hardy

They only ordered 6 for that one.

Nov 6 - 12:19 PM

Todd Knaperek

Todd Knaperek

And that was 5 and a half too many.

Nov 8 - 07:55 AM

Kevin Miller

Kevin Miller

That's like saying Weeds is the best show ever about a middle-class parent who turns to selling drugs to make ends meet.

Nov 6 - 06:52 AM

This comment has been removed.

Emma McClatchey

Emma McClatchey

What he means is Southland is not the Breaking Bad of cop shows. i.e. not the best ever.

Nov 21 - 09:44 PM

Aaron Davies

Aaron Davies

My Own Worst Enemy?

Nov 6 - 08:05 AM

Mark C.

Mark Craft

Firefly anyone?

Nov 6 - 10:57 AM

Bevan Calo

Bevan Calo

That made it to 10 eps, I think.

Nov 6 - 12:13 PM

Stephen Taylor

Stephen Taylor

Still hacked off at the loss of Firefly

Nov 7 - 11:00 AM

Dave Johns

Dave Johns

Quite possibly the best show ever canceled in the first season.

Nov 8 - 03:09 PM

John Daniel

John Daniel

Agreed.

Nov 6 - 11:17 AM

Bevan Calo

Bevan Calo

That made it to 10 eps, I think.

Nov 6 - 12:13 PM

Lucas Hardy

Lucas Hardy

They only ordered 6 for that one.

Nov 6 - 12:19 PM

Todd Knaperek

Todd Knaperek

And that was 5 and a half too many.

Nov 8 - 07:55 AM

Meltem Ceyhan

Meltem Ceyhan

I agree with you on that it is the best cop show but the 5th season was really bad.

Nov 6 - 12:25 PM

Meltem Ceyhan

Meltem Ceyhan

The best show that was canceled is Deadwood.

Nov 6 - 12:26 PM

Clarence Bodicker

Clarence Bodicker

Deadwood wasn't so much cancelled as it was finished. It was based on actual events and....they were done.

Nov 9 - 03:39 PM

Scott Love

Luke Simpson

Oh man, I remember My Generation, it was really good!

jk i've never seen it

Nov 6 - 12:28 PM

Scott Love

Luke Simpson

And then there's "Time Warriors," which was so bad it NEVER EVEN EXISTED

Nov 6 - 12:29 PM

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