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Flash in The Pan: 15 Shows That Disappeared Too Fast

Shows that drag on too long are a bummer but undeniably better than the alternative. The TV buff fears nothing more than a beloved show suffering ratings-rated cancellation or ending prematurely for any other reason. TV buffs feel a sense of unfinished business when they think of these shows that expired far too soon.

1. The Night Of (2016)

Image Credit: BBC Worldwide Productions.

Calling The Night Of a “delight” would not be accurate. One of the darkest, most realistic depictions of New York City's prison system is grittier than a two-dollar steak. Fans couldn't look away from Riz Ahmed's journey from a wide-eyed student to a hardened prisoner in a single television season.

Viewers received the decision not to renew the multiple Emmy-winning show as well as a guilty verdict.

2. Mindhunter (2017)

Image Credit: Denver and Delilah Productions.

Can Netflix viewers not have nice (original) things? Mindhunter is, to many, the most polished, engrossing show the streaming service has ever produced. With legendary director David Fincher guiding the project, portrayals of David Berkowitz, Charles Manson, Ed Kemper, and other serial psychopaths felt a bit too authentic. 

Two seasons of Mindhunter were not nearly enough.

3. Firefly (2002)

Image Credit: Fox.

Like other beloved shows such as Arrested DevelopmentFirefly garnered an immediate and intense cult following but failed to garner the ratings Fox demanded. A futuristic cat-and-mouse tale set in outer space, fans felt a kinship with the spaceship Serenity.

But, like a firefly, Firefly was here and gone in a blink, logging only one season. 

4. Carnivale (2003)

Image Credit: Home Box Office.

HBO stripped away the P.T. Barnum-esque pageantry from the carnival, instead setting Carnivale in Depression-era Oklahoma. The show takes on a supernatural twist, but the grotesque, menacing cast of carnies is alone worth the price of admission (which is nothing more than a Max subscription). 

With critical praise that ranks Carnivale among HBO's very best, two seasons feel shorter than the pint-sized ringleader of the carnival, Samson.

5. Studio 60 on The Sunset Strip (2006)

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

Remember that primetime comedy show that took The Office's faux-documentary format and applied it to sketch comedy show? It debuted the year after Americans discovered (and became quickly addicted to) The Office, and revered writer Aaron Sorkin created the show. John Goodman even won an Emmy!

The show was canceled after only one season, though, as NBC allocated more resources to 30 Rock instead.

6. Undeclared (2001)

Image Credit: DreamWorks Television.

Judd Apatow created Undeclared, a coming-of-age comedy that followed a college freshman, his girlfriend, and a cast of sufficiently eccentric classmates. Think Animal House meets Freaks and Geeks

With cameos from Adam Sandler and Amy Poehler and a core cast loaded with future stars from the Apatow-verse (Jason Segel, Seth Rogen, Kevin Hart, and Jay Baruchel), Undeclared deserved far more than one season. With 13 episodes, viewers didn't even get the Freshman 15. 

7. Freaks and Geeks (1999)

Image Credit: DreamWorks Television.

Freaks and Geeks is one of those projects you look back on and say, “of course that worked.” With Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) directing a cast that included Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Linda Cardellini, and James Franco, Freaks and Geeks received tons of love from the Emmys. Unfortunately, we only have one season to stream.

8. The Unit (2006)

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox Television.

A serious, critically-respected war drama was a rarity on network television in 2006, and films of cinema may have been shocked to see legendary writer David Mamet's name attached to the series. While The Unit got a four-season leash on CBS, Criminal Minds has been on air since 2005. Make it make sense.

9. Better Off Ted (2009)

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox Television.

Better Off Ted took a comedic look behind the scenes of the laboratories that make the ceaseless barrage of pharmaceutical products. It was a refreshingly jaded look at for-profit science. As is often the case with razor-sharp-witted network comedies, the viewing masses couldn't keep up. ABC canceled the show after only two seasons. 

10. Arrested Development (2003)

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox Television.

A truly revolutionary show that pioneered the shoulder-held, wobbly camera style on American television, Arrested Development was as refreshing as a frozen, chocolate-dipped banana for viewers who wanted elevated comedy on network TV.

While critics immediately gravitated towards Jason Bateman and the fictional Bluth family, poor ratings dogged the primetime Fox comedy through its four seasons. It was canceled in 2006, only to return (in disappointing fashion) as a Netflix revival in 2013.

11. Grounded for Life (2001)

Image Credit: The Carsey-Werner Company.

From Roseanne to Home Improvement and Modern Family, the chaotic but lovable family has always been a winning formula for network executives. Grounded for Life aimed its premise directly at working-class America. The writers also leaned into the protagonists' Irish Catholic roots.

While it was a solid comedy, it seems that the blue-collar, Irish Catholic bent has a relatively short shelf life. To many fans' dismay, Grounded for Life saw only five seasons on air.

12. Jericho (2006)

Image Credit: CBS Paramount Network Television.

A network thriller that seems relevant today, Jericho documents a Kansas town that loses power after an apparent nuclear attack on Denver, CO (within sight of Jericho, Kansas). While fans and critics loved the apocalypse theme, the Chernobyl vibes were too heavy for network audiences. Disinterest led to two separate cancellations.

13. John Doe (2002)

Image Credit: Fox Television Studios.

Lasting only one season, John Doe centers around a man who has seemingly supernatural intelligence and ability but can't figure out who the heck he is. You may be sensing a trend that thought-provoking shows don't generally last long on network TV.

14. Flashforward (1995)

Image Credit: HBO Entertainment.

A supernatural thriller aired on ABC, Flashforward asked fans to tag along as FBI investigators determined why everyone on earth blacked out all at once. Based on the show's one-season runtime, audiences were content to let the feds figure it out on their own.

15. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

Before she was Cersei Lannister, actress Lena Headey played Sarah Connor, a veritable alpha chick out to destroy Skynet once and for all. Fans had high expectations for the television show that followed up after Terminator 2: Judgment Day, but substandard ratings led to cancellation after two seasons. The machines won.

Source: (Reddit).

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Flash in The Pan: 15 Shows That Disappeared Too Fast


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