Be it due to a lack of viewers, funding, time, or the failings of misguided network executives who need to take a long hard look in the mirror while they slowly starve to death, unable to pull away from the shameful spiral that they’ve plunged themselves into by killing, not just a TV show, but a dream!…
Where was I going with this?
Oh yeah! Sometimes TV shows, film franchises, and game series get cancelled before they reach a satisfactory conclusion, or are forced to rush to a disappointing finale that leaves the fans feeling cheated. Here’s some of our favourites, the Top 10 series that ended too soon.
10) Ugly Americans
With cartoons for adults becoming increasingly popular over the last couple of decades, it’s no real surprise that we’ve lost some gems between South Park and Rick & Morty. For me, the forgotten hero of the animation graveyard is Ugly Americans, which follows ordinary person, Mark Lilly, trying to get by in a version of New York where “diversity running rampant” means living alongside zombies, robots, tree people, land whales, koala men, and eastern europeans.
Mark’s flatmate is a zombie, his coworker is an alcoholic wizard, and his girlfriend is a demon and his boss. Little wonder that he’s struggling to keep things on an even keel, even when you consider that all of this is perfectly normal life. Through Mark’s journey we are confronted with the fact that you can’t please everyone, and that you can’t keep a good TV show going to save your life!
This one is still a little fresh for me despite the fact that the two season run ended in 2009. Sam finds out that his soul was sold to the Devil before he was even born, but the Devil’s not about to waste a perfectly good mortal servant by dragging him down into the pit for all eternity. He’s instead tasked with hunting down refugees from Hell and shipping them back.
The show boasted Tyler Labine as Sock, the overly confident layabout and comic relief; Rick Gonzales as Benji, the nervous catholic kid who doesn’t like being mixed up in the Devil’s business; and Ray Wise as the best Devil ever! It was Buffy meets Ghostbusters meets Constantine meets My Name Is Earl. It was perfect, and then right when they started getting some real plotlines laid out… it was gone.
8) X-Men Origins
Why didn’t this expand out more? There are so many very cool, very diverse, very different characters in the X-Men universe, so why on Earth did they not capitalise on this further? The sheer number of characters they could give us – X-Men Origins: Phoenix, X-Men Origins: Nightcrawler, X-Men Origins: Magneto – What an amazing premise this could have been. But no…
Instead, we were greeted with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the logical start to a great series. Unfortunately, the film was received poorly, mostly due to the mishandling of characters such as Deadpool. Whilst this one film did bad, it doesn’t mean X-Men Origins should stop. I’d simply love to see a story of Kurt Wagner in the Munich Circus, performing feats that wow the audience.
DC make some pretty good TV shows, but apparently enjoy cancelling the best ones. Arrow and Flash have started to overstay their welcome but Matt Ryan was never even given that chance. One tremendous season and the comic book occultist is relegated to the under appreciated animated universe as a back-up lead.
Ok, so there’s an animated series slated for next year on CW’s throwaway channel, and a cameo set up in Legends of Tomorrow (and I’m not putting myself through Legends of Tomorrow just for that) but ratings be damned, there was scope for Constantine to shine in ways that Preacher just couldn’t. In the end all the CW did was to open up old wounds about Reaper.
6) Narnia Film Series
Everyone loves The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. There’s something very nostalgic about bringing that subject up and whenever we mention Narnia, we instantly remember the strong, bold characters that appear throughout the franchise’s history. The Chronicles of Narnia film series however, was supposed to be something more than what we got… They were supposed to cover all seven books.
A series of seven books which spanned as many years, The Chronicles of Narnia are well loved and in 2005, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe was brought back to the limelight. A brand new film, with fully fleshed out animations – People loved it. But then slowly, the films trailed off in popularity. With the initial goal of making a film out of all of the Chronicles of Narnia, they ended up with only three films… For now! But the last one was done in 2010, so uh, don’t hold your breath.
5) My Name Is Earl
Having gone through life being the bad guy who always had bad things happening to him, Earl vowed to right his wrongs by doing good and fixing the problems he causes. Having won a good sum of money from a lottery ticket, Earl Hickey sets off, typically along with his rather slow brother, Randy, and they go to right the wrongs that Earl caused. It’s a simple show, with simple, but highly effective humour.
There was due to be a fifth season out, with season four ending with simply “To Be Continued”. Many years on, we’ve still not got a definitive answer as to whether or not we’ll eventually get another season, however we’d seriously like to see it make a comeback. It’s hugely entertaining, even with some incredibly exaggerated stereotypes. And to think – It was only cancelled because a network wanted to take ownership over some of the creativity behind the production and writing.
Everyone loved Heroes when it first aired; a team of would-be heroes coming together to fight off catastrophes of varying degrees of severity. These would-be heroes are made up of everyday people who find they develop their own powers, including the simply omnipresent Hiro Nakamura (see Top 10 Teleporting Characters).
Heroes was much loved, but the ratings really wasn’t going very far for network NBC. They had to make a tough choice, as they wanted something to fill the slot with higher ratings. Heroes became something of a pop culture icon; something accessible by everyone and written for everyone. There was later a miniseries called Heroes Reborn, but let’s be honest – No one wants a miniseries, when there is so much more of a main series to go.
3) Half Life
Making our Third Place spot, we have Half Life. Get it? Third? Because Half Life 3? Haha. Oh god, I’m crying.
Half Life 3 is a well known joke in the gaming world at the moment, as everyone has been begging for it, but it’s just not happening. The hype is unfathomable, as if Valve were to announce it tomorrow, we’d have a much happier gaming world. Yes, it’s true, Half Life 2 got some episodes, but that was mostly to keep people tied over. Sometimes though, tying people over just isn’t enough.
Valve have kept us waiting for a very long time, to the point where many people believe a Half Life 3 will not happen. Perhaps in the future we’ll be able to remove this entry from this list, but as is, every gamer out there will agree that the Half Life franchise was one that ended far too soon.
2) Berserk (original series)
Featuring Guts and his oversized sword, Berserk is an anime (and manga) about humanity against demons and one another. It’s a bloody, war-entrenched series, featuring a bunch of travelling companions, betrayal, excessive nudity and of course, gore galore. If this sounds appealing to you, trust me – It’s worth a watch.
Naturally, the most gruesome entry on our list comes in the form of an anime. Now, be aware that since the original series, Berserk has had movies and a whole new series, however it has effectively hit the reset button on the series as a whole. Therefore, we thought it not only fitting to include this entry on the list, but an absolutely unforgettable example of what happens when a series is just cut short. Sure, it’s continuing now – But it’s not the same as it once was.
Tragic – We wish we had more of the original series.
Any questions? No? Good.
There’s not a lot here to say. Firefly was not only cancelled too soon, but shown at an obscene hour and in completely the wrong order in it’s first run. Those who would be fans had no idea of the existence of Whedon’s legendary space-western until it was already too late, instead accumulating a cult following that dwarfs many fandoms and stands among the greats. Survived by it’s moderately acceptable feature film, and remembered in comic books, Firefly was our martyr, our fallen prophet. Perhaps another four seasons and it would have outstayed its welcome, but would another year been too much to ask?
There is a special place in hell for Fox Executives, and people who talk in theatres.
Unlike so many of our fallen friends, our list shall not be cut short. Oh the main story may be over, but we have plenty of loose ends to tie up, and this ending will be satisfying to all. Here is our epilogue of honourable mentions.
Community – #sixseasonsandamovie
Ok, so most TV shows are lucky to get six series before succumbing to cancellation, in fact by most standards that’s a run to be proud of. But Community had such high hopes with the hashtag Six Seasons and a Movie going global before original network NBC ended production with season 5. Creator Dan Harmon turned to streaming services to save Community from the chopping block for their final season, and Yahoo swung in to save the day! Which is basically the same as cancellation.
And as for a movie? Well it’s still on the cards but as yet not a lot of anything is happening. Harmon may have struck gold with Justin Roiland on Rick & Morty, and after two years there’s still little more than discussion and uncertainty. The window of opportunity may be closing on anything so dramatic as the fabled and oft hashtagged movie, and funding may yet dry up leading to yet more losses in the main cast. We can hope, but hope – like a TV show – doesn’t last forever.
React World – The Fine Bros
This may be a bit of a low blow. React World never really got off the ground, as the Fine Bros “React” format was never originally theirs to claim, and despite their enthusiasm and optimism for the project that would allow new creators to make “React” videos with the Fine Bros logo attached… well we can all do it without the need for the logo, can’t we.
Sure, they managed to put a slick format to the already-popular YouTube subgenre, but attempting to copyright and patent the idea was hubris of the most naïve kind. Their franchise attempt caused devastating backlash that obliterated their subscriber base, alienated enormous internet communities like Reddit, and finally after a year of cheerfully denying what was going on, the Fines abandoned ship, damage done, but still alive to try again another day.
Breathe a sigh of relief, and take a cathartic moment to appreciate that grief, the loss of so many loved ones cut down in their prime. And then let go. It’s time to move on, because television, cinema, literature, and gaming, they all have such a bright and wonder-filled future ahead of them, and so do you. Vote in the poll below for next week’s Top 10.
Which series was too short for your liking? Did we miss your most missed show? Was that sentence easier to type than to say out loud? Let us know what you think down in the comments below, or as ever you can make yourself heard on our Facebook and Twitter pages!