It happens all the time. A show comes along that breaks the mold; it entertains, intrigues, and enchants us unlike anything we have ever seen. Maybe it is the humor, the drama, the characters, the story, or a blissfully chaotic mixture of all these things that keeps us coming back week after week for more. Then one day, without cause or provocation, it is taken away. Canceled. The network tries to justify this offense with musings of low ratings and other hogwash, but this satisfies us not. We are left wondering what might have been had the story been allowed to continue.
While there are more shows than I can count that have met this fate, there are only three which I have experienced personally, each of which I will give attention below. I welcome everyone to add in their nomination(s) for shows that ended to soon in the comments.
1 – Firefly
Of the three shows I will discuss in this post, this one makes me the saddest. Cancelled by Fox after its first season, Firefly met a far too unkind end light years before its time. The story was compelling and original, but the characters are what really made this show special. There were nine main characters, and you had an actual vested interest in every one of them. There was suspense, drama, humor, action, everything you could want from a science fiction/fantasy series. It should say something that the DVD sales for this series sparked the making of a follow up movie, Serenity. While this film gave fans some closure, it was forced closure; closure that Firefly should have had the opportunity to reach naturally through a healthy run as a series.
2 – Dead Like Me
Series released on Showtime have a tendency to be unique, and Dead Like Me was no exception. This show managed to last two seasons before Showtime pulled the plug, bringing what could have been a very compelling series to a premature end. Dead Like Me’s original concept and colorful characters brought a mix of humor and drama to the screen that couldn’t be missed. Its first season was a smash hit, but the second left Showtime with the impression that it had run its course, thus the series was canceled. While I must agree that some of the story lines were growing a bit worn from over-use, the show had great potential to grow beyond those lines. There was room for expansion, as it were. Unfortunately, the show never got to that stage, thus fans were left to pine over the possibilities and ultimately be insulted by the poor excuse of a follow up movie (Dead Like Me: Life After Death) that was released in 2009. This movie was a messy attempt at a cleanup and failed to offer any real closure to many of the series unfinished plot lines. Thus is what happens when a series is forced to end before its time I suppose.
3 – Pushing Daisies
I have but one thing to say to ABC for canceling this show: What the hell were you thinking? To this day, I remain utterly confused and disappointed in the network for ending this series after its second season. Pushing Daisies was one of kind. It was like Tim Burton meets Dr. Seuss. A comedic crime mystery series with super natural elements told like a fairy tale – how amazing is that? The interpersonal conflicts between the characters were compelling, the story was original and fascinating, the setting was surreal; and yet one episode before the end of the second season, ABC informs the crew that there will not be a third season. Thus fans are left with a barely two-minute montage at the end of the season-turned-series finale that hastily wraps up some of the bigger plot lines, and leaves others completely unresolved, never to be addressed again. There is no justification for such an end. What really hurts is the last episode was going to be a wonderfully painful cliff hanger, setting up the third season beautifully. But no, we get a last minute montage that leaves us with more questions than answers. There are rumors of a movie in the works, but they are few and far between and from unreliable sources. I suppose I will always be left wondering what the deal was with Ned’s Dad. Thank you, ABC, for totally ruining what could have been one of your best series.
And that concludes my commentary/rant about shows that met an untimely end. As I said before, I have not been exposed to all of the great shows that met a similar end, so mention any I left out here in the comments.