By “canceled,” I don’t mean that they ran for eight seasons then ended. Or just ended. I mean a network either abruptly decided not to renew, or there were so many creative differences that it couldn’t go on, and was then canceled. OK, you’ve been warned!
When it went off the air: Canceled in 2002, just three months after the first episode aired.
Why it was canceled: When Fox pulled the plug, it was ranked 125th in the Nielsen ratings and averaged 4.48 million viewers. So, yeah, the ratings blew, but it remains a cult classic.
Potential for revival, on a scale of 1-10: 8, but not as a TV show. Serenity was a film spinoff of the series, and creator Joss Whedon has alluded to the idea that there may be another installment coming. Ya know, after he’s done with a zillion other things.
2. Dead Like Me
When it went off the air: In 2004, after two seasons.
Why it was canceled: Creator Bryan Fuller, who left after five episodes into Season 1, stated that the show was terminated because of “a loss of quality and a sense the problems would continue.”
Potential it could be revived, on a scale of 1-10: -5. Aside from the fact that it sounded like a poor work environment on set, Mandy Patinkin is currently booked on Homeland, and a film version of the show was released in 2009. It’s dead… like me, after realizing it won’t ever come back.
3. Freaks and Geeks
When it went off the air: In 2000 on NBC, after airing only twelve episodes of the eighteen episode order. A fan campaign persuaded NBC to air three additional episodes, and the series was aired in full on Fox Family during syndication.
Why it was canceled: Freaks and Geeks was ranked 93rd in the ratings race. Hey, it’s better than 94th… right?
Potential it could be revived, on a scale of 1-10: 0. The unofficial spinoff was a show called Undeclared, which centered around college freshmen, and was also canceled after one season. But they did have a photoshoot reunion in 2012, if that’s any consolation.
4. Pushing Daisies
When it went off the air: The last episode aired in December of 2008.
Why it was canceled: After the writers strike in 2008, Pushing Daisies came back and wasn’t able to pick up steam in the ratings race. In spite of its 12 Emmy Award nominations, it wasn’t picked up for a third season.
Potential that it could be revived: 10, because creator Bryan Fuller has admitted to working on a film version, and talked about taking his film to Kickstarter. (Come on, Pushing Daisies fans!)
When it went off the air: In 2006, after four seasons.
Why it was canceled: In spite of ratings that were fine by CW standards, Everwood was canceled and replaced by a new show called Runaway. That replacement show was then canceled after three episodes, and the slot was given to an eleventh season of 7th Heaven.
Potential that it could be revived: 0, and some have described the possibility of a revival as, “The show is dead. Buried. Gone for good.”
6. Kyle XY
When it went off the air: 2009
Why it was canceled: After three seasons, it was rumored that the series ended with a lot of unresolved story lines because of poor ratings.
Potential that it could be revived: 1. Seeing as showrunner Julie Plec included a “wrap up” in the Season 3 DVD, which included what would have happened in the series. Plec also has roughly one million* other shows currently on the air.
(*My own exaggeration.)
7. Las Vegas
When it went off the air: The series ended on an abrupt cliffhanger in 2008, after five seasons.
Why it was canceled: It was noted as a victim of the writers strike, with costs being too high afterward to renew.
Potential it could be revived: 0, seeing as James Caan and Nikki Cox left the series in the fourth season, and there have been no rumors of revival.
When it went off the air: In 2008, after a 16 episode season.
Why it was canceled: Vampire shows are totally hot right now, but when the show aired in late 2007, it didn’t hit well with critics or ratings.
Potential that it could be revived: 2. When the series was initially canceled, writer and EP, Harry Werksman, tried to sell a second season to another network, and even discussed the possibility of a film. None of those plans have panned out… yet.
When it went off the air: In 2008, after two seasons.
Why it was canceled: The show was actually canceled twice. The first time came after the first season aired. It was renewed for a second season, thanks to an impressive fan campaign effort. Then promptly canceled again.
Potential that it could be revived: 5, as there have been talks of a feature film since 2009.
When it went off the air: 2002
Why it was canceled: The show’s first two seasons aired on the WB, and suffered in the second season after the show shifted to include more sci-fi themes. The third and final season aired on UPN, immediately after Buffy, but couldn’t hold on when it came to the ratings game.
Potential that it could be revived: 0, especially when you consider that even the book series was canceled.
11. Twin Peaks
When it went off the air: 1991
Why it was canceled: Ratings declined significantly in season two, after Laura Palmer’s murder was resolved, and continued to go down with several time slot changes.
Potential that it could be revived: 0. A film version called Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me came out in 1992, and since then creator David Lynch has stated that he has no interest in continuing the series.
When it went off the air: In 2006 after three seasons.
Why it was canceled: It’s a little unclear as to why the show was left on such a cliffhanger. It could be that it had a very specific audience that just wasn’t driving enough ratings to justify the cost of a period piece show. But the specific reason has always been a bit murky.
Potential that it could be revived: 2, creator David Milch has said that the possibility is highly unlikely, as they’ve come close to film versions, but it has yet to happen. Again, there’s that word “yet.”
13. My So Called Life
When it went off the air: 1995
Why it was canceled: Claire Danes played a big role in the show’s cancelation, as she approached producers and said that she didn’t want to be part of a second season. Couple that with not stellar ratings, and the show was off the air after just one season.
Potential that it could be revived: Aside from re-runs … negative a million and one.
14. Ugly Betty
When it went off the air: In 2010, after four seasons.
Why it was canceled: Between the third and fourth seasons of Ugly Betty, the show dropped from 8.1 million viewers to 5.3.
Potential that it could be revived: 5, as star America Ferrera has said, “It’s so wonderful that the fans care so much that this question about the movie just keeps coming up. It’s not anything that’s actually in the works but is something that’s always a possibility, and it’s wonderful to know that the fans want it.”
15. Happy Endings
When it went off the air: In early May of 2013, after three seasons.
Why it was canceled: The usual suspect’s behind this one: low ratings. But Rolling Stone called it, “the most underrated, under-watched series on the air today.” Not that it will make you feel any better, but hey—better than nothing!
Potential that it could be revived: 8. The show is currently being shopped to other networks, though has yet to find a home. So, if you’re a fan, now’s the time to start a movement!
When it went off the air: It was canceled this past March, after two seasons.
Why it was canceled: Low ratings.
Potential that it could be revived: 2. Nothing’s impossible, but even a Twitter/Tumblr campaign by the fans couldn’t save the show. Creator Mike White did detail what a third season would’ve included, if you want to know the ending.
When it went off the air: In 2010, after two seasons.
Why it was canceled: It was only the power of Joss Whedon’s fan base that even gave the show a second season. With one Fox exec stating, “If we’d canceled Joss’s show I’d probably have 110 million e-mails this morning from the fans.” After that, it was canceled due to poor ratings.
Potential that it could be revived: 0. If only because I’d selfishly want to see a Firefly reboot first.
When it went off the air: 2010, after a four season stint.
Why it was canceled: Ratings strikes again, as the fourth season premiere was the lowest rated episode in the series up to that point, bringing in 5.9 million viewers.
Potential that it could be revived: 9, as it’s rumored that MSN may revive the series in conjunction with plans for original Xbox programming.
Fun Fact: Bryan Fuller had a brief stint writing on Heroes, after Pushing Daisies was canceled.
19. Party Down
When it went off the air: In 2010, after two amazing seasons.
Why it was canceled: Losing Jane Lynch to Glee and Adam Scott to Parks and Recreation didn’t help the already low ratings.
Potential that it could be revived: No revival has been discussed, though the cast did “reunite” on Twitter in 2013, and in costume, no less!
When it went off the air: Canceled in 2013, with the series finale airing this Sunday, May 26.
Why it was canceled: Ratings is officially to blame, but BuzzFeed’s own Kate Aurthur may have foreshadowed what was to come in her piece, “How “Smash” Became TV’s Biggest Train Wreck.”
Potential it could be revived: There’s been no murmurs of any promise yet, but that may be just because the show is still on the air.