For as much as fans like to complain about disappointing series finales — such as the Game of Thrones ending or the confusing conclusion of Lost, to name a couple — at least those TV shows can say they had the opportunity to have their final curtain call on their own terms. There are even more TV shows cancelled way too soon that were unable to complete their stories as intended and the following are some of the most notable examples.
Agent Carter (2015-2016)
Before Marvel TV shows were available with a Disney+ subscription, ABC was the home of series like Agent Carter, which followed the adventures of Hayley Atwell’s covert operative in the 1940s. Unfortunately, the series only lasted two seasons because, as Atwell told The AV Club, the network wanted to put the actor in something more “mainstream.” At least we got to see more of Peggy Carter in subsequent MCU movies and the animated anthology series, What If…?
Archive 81 (2022)
One of many, many examples of prematurely canceled Netflix TV shows you will see on this list is Archive 81, which ended on a shocking cliffhanger that had fans itching for more. Unfortunately, the mysteries surrounding that finale will be left unanswered by the horror series’ cancellation after one season. Plus, fans won’t find the closure they seek in the podcast it is based on, which ended its own first season in a much different way.
Ash Vs. Evil Dead (2015-2018)
Bruce Campbell retired his most iconic character, Ash Williams, after Starz chainsawed this continuation of the Evil Dead movies after three seasons. According to Bloody-Disgusting, there were plans to build off of the Ash vs. Evil Dead finale’s apocalyptic cliffhanger for a Mad Max-style fourth season.
DC's Legends Of Tomorrow (2016-2022)
After seven seasons, acclaimed DC TV show, Legends of Tomorrow, was unexpectedly given the boot, much to the dismay of the cast, crew and fans, as EW reported in 2022. The time-traveling Arrowverse series left on a cliffhanger that saw the live-action debut of Booster Gold.
The Event (2010-2011)
What is The Event? We’ll never know for sure because NBC took this sci-fi thriller — starring Jason Ritter and Blair Underwood — out of orbit after one season due to low ratings, as Deadline reported. According to Assignment X, there was talk of wrapping up its mysterious story — about a conspiracy involving aliens — with a SyFy original movie that never happened.
In one of the most heartbreaking instances of a TV show ending too soon, Firefly was cancelled by Fox after 11 episodes, being a victim of an unfavorable time slot, a mixed-up episode order, a misleading marketing strategy, etc. While the 2005 feature-length spin-off film, Serenity, provided some closure, fans remain unsatisfied, knowing what great potential this clever fusion of a cosmic setting with western themes had.
First Kill (2022)
This intriguing series based on a Romeo & Juliet-esque short story with a twist involving vampires and LGBQT+ themes only lasted one season on Netflix. First Kill showrunner Felicia P. Henderson told The Daily Beast that she believes the marketing — which downplayed the series’ supernatural elements in favor of highlighting its core teen romance — hindered its potential to gain more interest.
ABC’s Forever turned out to be misnomer, as this crime drama starring Ioan Gruffudd as an immortal medical examiner met an early demise due to low ratings. Creator Matt Miller later revealed on Twitter (via TV Line) plans he had for Season 2, which included delving into the main character’s family history, hints that he inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to create Sherlock Holmes, etc.
Freaks And Geeks (1999-2000)
There had never been a teen TV comedy quite like Freaks and Geeks, which was expelled by NBC after suffering bad time slots and fierce competition for 12 episodes (out of the 18 that were filmed). However, it spawned a stunning legacy, inspiring coming-of-age TV dramedies since and jumpstarting the stellar careers of the Freaks and Geeks cast.
The Get Down (2016-2017)
According to Esquire, Netflix declined to comment on exactly why The Get Down became the platform’s first original series to be cancelled after just one season. However, co-creator Baz Luhrmann would share in a Facebook post that the stylish dramatization of hip-hop's roots would not continue in part because of his commitment to his next feature-length effort, which turned out to be Elvis.
The Glades (2010-2013)
The Glades had a Season 4 finale similar to Dallas’ iconic Season 3 cliffhanger, in which the main character gets shot. However, Dallas was actually given to opportunity to reveal who shot J.R. Ewing, but Jim Longworth’s shooter would remain unknown since A&E would cancel the acclaimed crime procedural. TVLine reported that Matt Passmore — who led the show as the Chicago-based cop transferred to the Everglades — claimed he knew the shooter’s identity, but was unable to say at the time.
Developer Bryan Fuller’s reinterpretation of author Thomas Harris’ epic crime saga had a Season 3 finale similar to the ending of Thelma & Louise — Mads Mikkelsen’s Hannibal Lecter and Hugh Dancy’s Will Graham lunge themselves off the side of a cliff in each other’s arms — but with less satisfying results. Since NBC pulled the plug, Hannibal fans have since been hungry for a fourth season, which Dancy told Collider he would be open to, but adds it would be unlikely due to the financial cost.
Stephen Amell followed his long tenure leading the Arrow cast by starring in this drama offering an inside-look at the professional wrestling word that Starz tossed out of the ring in 2023. Showrunner Mike O’Malley shared with EW his ideas for Heels Season 3 if the series wer find a new home.
Despite its stellar debut, EW reported that Heroes was on a steady decline in viewership before NBC sealed its downfall after four seasons. While the acclaimed twist on comic book lore series would continue in 2015 in the the form of Heroes Reborn, even that was cancelled and was ultimately dubbed a “limited series revival,” according to TV By the Numbers.
How I Met Your Father (2022-2023)
Fans were not happy that Hulu cancelled How I Met Your Father before it could confirm the identity of the man Hilary Duff’s Sophie was destined to marry. At least it lasted longer than the previous attempt at a gender-swapped How I Met Your Mother spin-off, which never made it past the unaired pilot.
I Am Not Okay With This (2020)
Showrunner Jonathan Entwistle was certainly not okay with Netflix axing his adaptation of Charles S. Forsman’s graphic novel, I Am Not Okay With This, due to the Covid-19-related costs, apparently. According to Insider, the plan was to complete the story of a 17-year-old discovering she has special powers in two seasons, only to learn it would be not renewed after the scripts were written.
Joan Of Arcadia (2003-2005)
While critics likely prayed to see it continue, CBS opted not to renew Joan of Arcadia for a third season. According to EW, the Emmy nominated series starring Amber Tamblyn as teenager visited by God in human form suffered a major ratings slump in its sophomore run.
Julie And The Phantoms (2020)
The supernatural musical series, Julie and the Phantoms, ended it first season on a spooky cliffhanger that raised questions which will never be resolved, unfortunately. According to MovieWeb, Netflix pulled the plug on the show — following an aspiring teen musician and her three ghostly bandmates — because it failed to appeal to its target demographic, despite proving popular among viewers 18 and older.
The Last Man On Earth (2015-2018)
After four seasons, star and creator Will Forte’s post-apocalyptic comedy, The Last Man on Earth, ended with a bizarre cliffhanger in which a large group of unidentified survivors in gas masks emerge from an underground bunker. The former SNL cast member shared with Vulture’s Good Ones podcast his plan to explain who those people were and how the story would evolve from there.
A League Of Their Own (2022)
Based on one of the best sports movies of all time, A League of the Their Own was also a fresh take on the true story of the World War II professional women’s baseball league. Despite its acclaim, it struck out with Amazon, which suddenly and shockingly cancelled it after one season.
Lockwood & Co. (2023)
Mere months after it premiered, Netflix exorcised the inventive supernatural mystery thriller, Lockwood & Co., which based its first season on the first two books of the five-part series that inspired it. Fans of the show — which followed a group of teen ghost hunters in London — petitioned for its revival after it was cancelled.
The Midnight Club (2022)
Most of Mike Flanagan’s best shows have been limited series, which is why it was a surprise when his adaptation of Christopher Pike’s novel, The Midnight Club, ended with a tease at a second season. When Netflix chose not to renew the heartbreaking coming-of-age horror series, Flanagan posted his plans for Season 2 in full detail on his Tumblr blog.
My Name Is Earl (2005-2009)
Despite literally ending Season 4 with a “To Be Continued” caption, NBC opted not to continue My Name is Earl. Ethan Suplee, who played Earl’s brother, Randy Hickey, explained on the Slick and Thick podcast (via TikTok), that the network refused to give Fox (which owned the property) more money to license the show for another year. He then shared that the series finale would have revealed that Jason Lee’s titular reformed criminal was the unwitting catalyst of an entire movement of people making lists of amends.
According to Deadline, the lights went out on Revolution — set in a post-apocalytpic future without electricity — after its long hiatus between its first and second seasons on NBC caused a dip in popularity. Creator Eric Kripke later told Buddy TV he envisioned Season 3 as a treasure hunting adventure, which — as THR reports — was adapted into a four-part digital DC comic in 2015.
Santa Clarita Diet (2017-2019)
The Season 3 finale of Santa Clarita Diet saw Drew Barrymore’s undead real estate agent Sheila Hammond take a bite of her husband, Joel, played by Timothy Olyphant. What major changes that cliffhanger might have led to remain a mystery since Netflix buried the funny, inventive take on zombie lore, reportedly due to increasing production costs, according to Deadline.
The Secret Circle (2011-2012)
Despite being the network’s third highest-rated series at the time, The Secret Circle was cursed with cancellation after just one season on The CW. According to CBR, it was on a steady decline in viewership since its premiere that led to the teen supernatural fantasy’s premature demise, despite a cliffhanger season finale.
The Society (2019)
Also one of the best Natasha Liu Bordizzo TV shows, The Society — which followed a group of teens mysteriously cut off from the rest of the world — was cut off from continuing its story in a second season. Creator Christopher Keyser shared with Variety how upsetting the “abrupt” cancellation of the Lord of the Flies-esque sci-fi series was after spending months preparing for the second season.
Acclaimed cop drama Southland was cancelled right before its second season aired on NBC, but was picked up soon after by TNT, which would eventually drop the series after Season 5. EW later reported that there were talks of a movie that would resolve a cliffhanger in which Michael Cudlitz’s John Cooper gets shot, but nothing came to fruition.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008-2009)
One of the best shows Fox should be embarrassed about cancelling is Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which deviated from the initial Terminator movies’ canon in ways that fans and critics responded well to. Unfortunately, the sci-fi series met an untimely fate when it was cancelled after its second season suffered a significant drop in ratings.
Pushing Daisies (2007-2009)
A beloved romantic-comedy series that ended too soon was Pushing Daisies, which starred Lee Pace as a baker with the ability to bring people back from dead by touching them, but only once. If only the quirky, creative, multi-Emmy-nominated show could be brought back from the dead so fans could see where the story was meant to go past its two season on ABC.
Warrior Nun (2020-2022)
Based on a popular comic book, Warrior Nun fell victim to Netflix’s habit of cancelling some of its most acclaimed series after its second season dropped to less than half its average viewership just three weeks after it premiered, according to Variety.
The Wilds (2020-2022)
Despite being praised as one of the best Amazon Prime original TV shows, the coming-of-age survival drama, The Wilds, did not survive past a second season at Amazon. ComicBook.com later reported that fans voiced their disappointment that the cliffhanger season finale would go unresolved.
These TV shows were not here for a long time, but it was a good time while they lasted.