The stages of grief we go through when our favorite TV shows get canceled

Raise your hand if you have ever been personally victimized by the cancellation of a television show. For me, that dreaded scenario happens at least once every six months. One second the show is on the air and I’m obsessively re-watching it on Hulu. The next, it’s gone, just like that. Poof.

A few years ago I tried to impose a rule on myself: I couldn’t watch any new show until it had been picked up for a full season. That way, at least I knew I was guaranteed like a dozen episodes, right? It was working great. Well, it was working great until the new series A to Z was canceled last week.

I know, I know, I broke my cardinal rule but I had to. I needed something to fill the How I Met Your Mother void, and A to Z seemed like a suitable replacement in more ways than one. I stated watching A to Z. I got addicted to A to Z. And then it was canceled. So was Manhattan Love Story (another new show I broke my rule for, but it was so darn cute!). Also can I bring up the cancellation of Bunheads? Tragic. And maybe now enough time has passed that I can finally talk about Happy Endings without crying. May you rest in television peace. Also, remember the glory that was Firefly? I can go on and on.

Clearly, this is not the first time I’ve dealt with the loss of a favorite show. A show being canceled is a bajillion times worse than a show ending gracefully, like Parks and Recreation will next year. Pawnee has given us time to mentally prepare for its ending. No one prepared us for A to Z‘s cancellation. When a show is canceled there’s no warning; it’s like a soggy bandaid being ripped off, which is the worst. That’s actually the first step in the canceled TV show grief recovery process — pain. Pain, because you never expect something you love to be taken away so quickly. As I continue to mourn what will be the last few episodes of A to Z (all 13 episodes of the season will air), what follows are the steps I’ll go through next.


It really can’t be over, right? This is an April Fool’s joke six months too early. Ha ha, so funny, television executives! I don’t even see how it’s possible to just outright cancel a show, because what happens to the characters? Where do they go? Why are you doing this to me? Did I do something wrong? It’s like when you finish a really great novel, and for the rest of the day you wonder what happened to the characters from the story. At least they got an ending and a last page. Cancellation brings neither one of those things. There’s no closure. I just want to make sure the characters are OK.

Like, with Andrew and Zelda, will we learn their ending? Do they break up? Do they get married? I won’t accept that they’re just gone — they’ll always live on in my heart. At least you can’t take that away from me.


This is also the desperate stage, where viewers (like me) are willing to do whatever it takes to prove their devotion to the show. There was a period of time where Zachary Levi’s Chuck was almost canceled by NBC, and since Subway sponsored the series, I — along with other devoted fans — bought a lot of $5 foot longs. Look at how much I love this show, I’m willing to go out of my way to get a turkey sandwich! Can’t you see this TV? Please don’t do this to me.

If that doesn’t work, we’ll try Twitter campaigns. Or maybe one of a million different stunt campaigns. I feel like with A to Z we just need to send a lot of alphabet soup to someone, but I don’t know where to send the cans. Every revolution has to start somewhere.


Ugh [opens up Hulu and five hours later stops watching]. This show is so great, it doesn’t make sense why someone would cancel it. Have the folks in charge even SEEN the show? Is nothing safe? Lemme just watch the pilot episode again. It showed so much promise. It still shows so much promise.

Maybe I can single-handedly bring their ratings up if I just continuously play the same episode again and again on a loop. Knowing they’ll be no more episodes I have to live in the here and now, and right now that means a mini-marathon.

The most tragic thing about a canceled show is that sometimes it’s not released on DVD, or Netflix. Now what? How do I procure my own copy of A to Z before it’s pulled from the NBC homepage? Maybe I’ll just have to re-watch each episode 100 times so it’s ingrained in my brain forever.


Maybe the show’s not gone forever. Firefly got a movie. Arrested Development was revived seven years later on Netflix. Community moved to Yahoo! Screen. The Comeback came back! Just because it’s canceled doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. This doesn’t have to be the last time we see our television friends. We must have hope. Ben Feldeman is too adorable for there not to be a second coming.


There will be other TV shows. Maybe not as delightfully charming as A to Z, but there will be others. This isn’t the end of television. That’d be a whole different story. Prime time lives on.

[Re-watches A to Z pilot. Again]

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