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18 TV Shows That Were Canceled Before Their Time

With news that Looking is not coming back for a third season, it joins the list of series that left us far too soon.

1. Trophy Wife


With a title like Trophy Wife, you couldn't be faulted for assuming that the show itself would be crass and formulaic. In reality, it was anything but. The exceptional cast — from Malin Akerman to Bradley Whitford to scene-stealer Albert Tsai — gelled perfectly, establishing a chemistry that really should have lasted for more than the one season it was given.

2. Enlightened

Lacey Terrell / HBO

Laura Dern and Mike White were fantastic in this HBO series — created by White — about a woman who attends a spiritual retreat after a workplace meltdown and comes back with a hopeful new attitude and desire to change the world. The show was a vivid presentation of the successes and perils of optimism, both in one's personal life and in politics and culture at large. The series got the ax after two seasons, although if you want to remember how beautifully poignant it was, this clip is guaranteed to bring the tears.

3. Deadwood


This Western from David Milch brought audiences one of the most mesmerizing villains in TV history in the form of Al Swearengen (Ian McShane), although reducing him to just a villain does a disservice to the complexity of Deadwood. The show was both intimate and loud, drawing intrigue from small interactions as well as major political upheaval. There was so much more for the series to explore after its third and final season, but it never had the chance to.

4. Twin Peaks


Although a reboot of the show was allegedly in the works, recent comments by series creator David Lynch have left that up in the air. What is certain, however, is that the ending of Twin Peaks left us with more mysteries than answers following its cancellation after two seasons. Fans would do almost anything to get the show back — even if it meant journeying to the Black Lodge.

5. Pushing Daisies


For a show about a man with the power to, essentially, decide if a person should live or die, Pushing Daisies was surprisingly cheerful. Although its premise could have leant itself to dark drama, this show was instead a quirky and lighthearted romp. The colors were dazzling, the wordplay fantastic, and the characters superb. Two seasons were not enough to tell the love story between Ned and Chuck, and fans are still wondering if they were ever able to touch each other.

6. Veronica Mars

Warner Bros. Television

Yes, we got a movie recently, but you can't deny that three seasons of the show itself was too few. Kristen Bell's Veronica was whip-smart and had some of the greatest comebacks and quips ever seen on television, making her a character for the ages. And although the decision to speed up the timeline of Veronica's life and throw her into an FBI setting might have been questionable, at least it would have been a fourth season.

7. Chuck


OK, Chuck had five seasons, which is certainly plenty compared to the rest of the shows on this list. But that doesn't mean that fans didn't need more. With the series constantly on the bubble, producers had to structure each season as if it were the last, an awkwardness that Chuck didn't deserve. And with the final season leaving Sarah and Chuck's relationship so ambiguous, you can't blame viewers for feeling like they were cheated out of more.

8. Happy Endings


Although slow to develop its identity in the wake of so many comedies about young friends living in the big city — let's pretend the "leaving the groom at the altar" thing never happened — Happy Endings quickly morphed into one of the most hilarious things on TV, with rapid-fire jokes that took pop culture references to the next level. Three seasons were not nearly enough.

9. United States of Tara

Jordin Althaus / Showtime

One of few shows on television to actually attempt to portray the realities of living with a mental illness, United States of Tara was a darkly comedic but emotionally honest look at how the Gregson family approached Tara's dissociative identity disorder. Toni Collette won both an Emmy and a Golden Globe for this show, and yet Showtime chose not to renew the series after its third season.

10. Treme

Skip Bolen / HBO

Treme kind of, sort of, maybe was given a proper chance to run its course, although the extreme shortness of the final season suggests that the show had more story to tell than the network was willing to give it. Treme was never going to be one of HBO's biggest hits, but its ability to interweave larger cultural critiques with stunningly intimate character studies made it one of the most impressive shows that people barely talked about.

11. The Bridge


Based on a Scandinavian show of the same name, the American version of The Bridge transferred the action to the U.S.–Mexico border, where two detectives from opposite sides of the crossing had to work together to solve a murder. The plot itself was never as strong as the sense of atmosphere and tone that the series worked to develop, although most critics agreed that the second season was moving in the right direction. Sadly, the show was never given a chance to prove itself past that.

12. Carnivàle


This heavily stylized tale of a carnival traveling through the United States during the Great Depression era lasted only two seasons on HBO. Given that the show's creator Daniel Knauf had intended for it to last six seasons, it's clear that Carnivàle — which ended on a cliffhanger — had a lot more story to tell.

13. Party Down


With one of the best casts out there — Adam Scott! Lizzy Caplan! Literally everyone else! — Party Down was an unsurprisingly hilarious look at the often soul-crushing realities of life in Los Angeles. After two seasons, the show was canceled, with some suggesting that the loss of Scott to Parks and Rec was too much for the show to overcome.

14. Terriers


Although it got only one season, Terriers was among the most consistently praised TV series of 2010. Without a hugely recognizable cast, though, and relatively low ratings, it wasn't shocking to see it go.

15. Firefly


Fandom is still mourning the loss of Firefly, a show helmed by Buffy's Joss Whedon and starring perennial geek favorite Nathan Fillion. At the very least, the show was given a somewhat proper send-off with the 2005 film Serenity picking up where the events of the series left off. Still, it would have been nice to see the crew members continue their journey through space for more than just one season.

16. Dead Like Me


Created by Bryan Fuller — who also created gone-too-soon Pushing Daisies — Dead Like Me interwove its supernatural storyline with a more nuanced look at how people approach the realities of death. The show did get a follow-up film in 2009, but that wasn't enough for fans craving more of Fuller's unique vision.

17. My So-Called Life


Perhaps the pinnacle of teen angst on TV, My So-Called Life was robbed of its potential after getting canceled only one season into its run. There have been a lot of reports and rumors that the show's cancellation was due to star Claire Danes' desire to leave the series, but no matter why it ended, fans can all agree that it was too soon. We needed more Angela Chase.

18. Freaks and Geeks


Judd Apatow might be a big-time movie producer these days, but a decade and a half ago, he was struggling to keep his TV shows on the air. Like My So-Called Life, Freaks and Geeks explored the intricacies of high school life through the eyes of outsiders. Even though it was only given one season, it at least carries the legacy of bringing us Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jason Segel, and more.

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