Like many things in life, TV giveth and TV taketh away. For every so-so show that gets picked up for a full season, there are five other gems that are canceled way too soon and never get to live out their full television potential. It happens season after season, and there are so many brilliant and bold shows that should have been given a chance to thrive — or, like, 15 seasons to thrive.
While this is by no means a comprehensive list, here are nine of the more recent cancellations that really, truly sting. Grab the tissues because I’m counting down some TV shows that were canceled too soon, and I will not be holding back.
Pushing Daisies was a beautiful, surreal, hilarious, heartbreaking comedy half-hour, and nothing will ever be like it, ever. Stylistically, it’s in a category of one, and the content plays with life, love, and death so playfully, which is weird, because none of those are particularly light subjects to tackle. Its early cancellation was mostly a result of the 2007-8 Writers’ Guild of America strike, but on the bright side, it holds up to binge-re-watching.
2My So-Called Life
High school! The ’90s! Romance! Drama! Feelings! Not understanding your parents! Your parents not understanding you! Making friends with people from different backgrounds, perhaps for the first time in your life! Experimenting! This show combines nostalgia and the aching loneliness/excitement of being in high school and living in the suburbs and just trying to figure it all out. A blessing from the TV goddesses themselves. Watch immediately; have tissues at the ready.
Happy Endings, which ran for three seasons on ABC, was literally too good for this world. It was funny and insane and brilliant and offered some truly unhinged commentary on life and dating and adult friendships. Unlike other sitcoms about friend groups, Happy Endings had a diverse cast — and some truly blessed zingers.
Are we having fun yet? No, we are not, because Starz cancelled Party Down after two perfect seasons. This show is so brilliant, it deserves to be watched with captions so you don’t miss a single joke. Also, Parks & Rec fans, it stars Adam Scott as basically Ben Wyatt’s depressed, edgier older brother, and you’ll be shipping him and Lizzy Caplan’s character 4ever.
Tina Fey protégée Tracey Wigfield (30 Rock, The Mindy Project) created a workplace sitcom about a local news broadcast that co-starred Andrea Martin and Nicole Richie — yes, that Nicole Richie! — and we all just stood by and let the universe cancel it. It lasted two brief seasons, and while it takes a minute or two to find its footing, it’s honestly a gem. Also, the Season 2 premiere featured Tina Fey in the role of a sexually suggestive boss, so there’s that, too.
6Freaks & Geeks
What could possibly be said about Freaks & Geeks that hasn’t been said already? I’ll just say this: Few television series that lasted just one season have *multiple* documentaries about them headed our way in the year 2018. See my earlier comments about My So-Called Life and just dial the show back from 1994 to 1991, and *poof* — magic. Short-lived, gone-too-soon magic.
7Flight of The Conchords
I will not rest until new Flight of the Conchords episodes air five days a week like a soap opera. Do you have HBO? Do you like awkward, ridiculous humor; New Zealand accents; and songs that have been stuck in my head since junior year of high school? Get on it.
8Better Off Ted
Better Off Ted, like so many on this list, was *way* before its time. A fast-paced satire of corporate culture that co-starred Portia de Rossi, hello! The full series is available on Netflix, when you’re ready to jump into a colorful take-down of modern capitalist greed in *amazing* suits.
This 2017 one-season delight was pretty high-concept for a mid-season replacement, as it involved an oversized gym bag and time travel. Note that other mid-season replacements that went on to be smash hits — like Grey’s Anatomy and The Office — did not involve time travel. That said, this was hilarious, sweet, timely, and weird, and was rounded out by Yassir Lester (comedic genius) and Leighton Meester (oh, you know, just Blair Effing Waldorf). RIP in peace, sweet prince.