Top 10 TV Shows Surprisingly Canceled After Only One Season

Tags: #Firefly ,   #MySoCalledLife ,   #WhiskeyCavalier ,   #TVShow ,   #battlestargalactica

Dan N. Scarborough

Dan N. Scarborough

Last updated:  2023-04-25 06:00:06

Not every TV show is destined to be "Friends" or, god forbid, "The Simpsons." The longevity of it mostly depends on its popularity during the initial run. That's why the first season is usually the best, with the quality later declining. However, unlike The Witcher, some shows didn't last more than one season despite being excellent. Fortunately, those first seasons sometimes achieve the cult status and popularity they missed originally. Here are the top ten of the best TV shows that lasted only a single season.

10. "My So-Called Life"

It launched some great acting careers, but sadly didn't last

This 1994 TV show basically started the careers of Claire Danes and Jared Leto. Danes star as Angela, a troubled teen (and which teen isn't troubled?) during the 1990s. The show follows her as she struggles with teenage angst and the bittersweet high school life. Most of the 19 episodes revolve around Angela's crush, Jordan, played by Leto. 

Despite the great script and acting, the show didn't attract enough audience to deserve the second season. In hindsight, that was a pretty regrettable decision, as it belongs among the best teen TV shows. "My So-Called Life" is now a cult classic and a great window into the lives of teens in the mid-90s. You can hardly imagine a better start to an acting career. 

9. "Freaks and Geeks"

Misfits and geeks never looked cooler

"Freaks and Geeks" is a TV show made by Paul Feig and Judd Apatow in 1999. It follows a group of high school outsiders during the 80s. The main character is Lindsay Weir, played by Linda Cardellini. As the season goes, Lindsay finds out she belongs among the group of burned-out misfits. Her brother Sam (John Francis Daley) is having his own troubles in his freshman year, especially with bullies. 

Similar to the previous entry, "Freaks and Geeks" gained a cult following after it was canceled. Not only was it a starting point of many successful careers, but this show also brings a message that works regardless of era. The message is that adolescence can build our confidence in our own abilities. That's why "Freaks and Geeks" are still relevant decades later. 

8. "Bunheads"

From a showgirl to a ballet teacher

Amy Sherman-Palladino is known for her hugely popular TV show "Gilmore Girls." The show she did after, "Bunheads," tried to recreate the charm of small-town States. The main character, played by Sutton Foster, is a Las Vegas showgirl. Due to unavoidable circumstances, she's forced to move to her husband's hometown. Yet, she put her dancing skill to use by teaching ballet in her mother-in-law's studio. 

"Bunheads" was a show unlike any other. Not because it was melancholic and moody or because it contained dance sequences. Instead, it was all about the approach to the story. "Bunheads" used dialogue as a way to connect with people while distancing themselves from them simultaneously. The show had heavy themes, such as grief, loss, and failure, but the approach was slow-burning and lackluster. That's why "Bunheads" is unique and a little weird.

7. "Battlestar Galactica"

The beginning of a legendary space saga

This TV show started the Galactica craze, lasting decades after. The whole story about the titular wandering Battlestar, formed in the late 1970s. This one-season show, which featured Lorne Greene and Dirk Benedict, was about a lone battleship wandering space searching for the home planet, Earth. The start of the season was hugely popular, but it faded near the end, so ABC chose to cancel it. 

However, the fans were outraged about ABC's decision, and Galactica got a spin-off in 1980. Two decades later, the popularity of Galactica was rekindled with the 2003 mini-series based on the original. The 2003 "Galactica" was an initiation of the ultra-popular 2004 "Battlestar Galactica" TV show, widely praised as one of the best SF TV shows ever. 

6. "The Police Squad"

The police job isn't a joke unless it is

When the movie "Airplane!" appeared for the first time, it showed the audience a new sort of humor. The gags here were based on parody, satire, and farce. Thus, the movie revolutionized the comedy genre, making parodies the next big thing. It was also a career turning point for Leslie Nielsen, known for serious roles until then. 

Hence, the makers of "Airplane!" David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams tried to bring the same humor to the small screen with "The Police Squad." Regrettably, the American TV audience wasn't so fond of spoof-based humor. Despite that, this story has a happy end. Leslie Nielsen and his character detective Frank Drebin came to their own in "The Naked Gun" movie series based on the underrated TV show.

5. "The Adventures of Brisco County Jr."

The show that was 20 years ahead

Bruce Campbell was a household name for a long time, thanks to the "Evil Dead" movies. In the 90s, he tried to employ his characteristic charm in a weird western TV show. Brisco County Jr is a Harvard-educated lawyer who became a bounty hunter. That's when a group of industrials hires him to find outlaw John Bly and his gang and bring them to justice. In his adventures, Brisco enjoys the company of the colorful bunch of helpers. 

Although it's a Western at its core, "Brisco County Jr." features science fiction, steampunk, and other fantasy genres. Also, this TV show earned praise for its sense of humor, keeping things just a bit below over the top. Despite the high rankings, the show didn't garner enough audience to justify the continuation. We're pretty sure this show would still be airing if it premiered 20 years later.

4. "Whiskey Cavalier" 

Stylish and cool secret agent affair

"Whiskey Cavalier" is an ABC-made action drama airing for one season in 2019. The main character was an FBI agent with the titular code name, played by Scott Foley. He is assigned a new partner, a lady CIA agent played by Lauren Cohan. Two of them are leaders of the group of misfit agents who undertake missions over Europe. 

The most excellent value of "Whiskey Cavalier" is that it knows precisely what it is. It's an elegant and stylish action-packed dramedy with handsome people in it. If we had to compare it, this show looks like "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" movie the most. And this is a big compliment since most modern TV shows are not exactly sure what they are trying to be. Apparently, that wasn't enough for the continuation, though.

3. "Trophy Wife"

It's not easy being the good catch

The trophy wife from the title was played by Malin Ackerman, known as Silk Spectre 2 in the "Watchmen" movie. Yet, this role is entirely different. Here she plays a young party girl falling in love with an older man. And because of that, her life completely turns upside down. Thus, she must adjust to her new lifestyle, including dealing with ex-wives and her new husband's children. 

Despite critics and audiences loving it, the show was canceled after a single season. This is a shame because this would be a great TV show for all the "Modern Family" fans. It has all the heart of humor from the said TV show while lacking laziness and crudeness. We guess we'll never know what would happen if "Trophy Wife" aired for one more season.

2. "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip"

Comedy is a very dramatic job

It's baffling to see that a TV show uniting Aaron Sorkin and Matthew Perry lasted only one season. Yet, it happened with "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" in 2006. This show follows the production of a late-night comedy show. Despite having comedy as the theme, this is a serious drama about the struggles of the production. While behind the scenes, the show slowly goes into total anarchy, it's up to the leading writer and producer to keep it afloat. 

Allegedly, the first couple of episodes were near-perfect as they contained everything you could wish for. Sorkin's dialogue was the show's selling point, with instant one-liners you wished you could write down. Furthermore, there were also some stellar theater pieces and exemplary dramatic performances. Sadly, the show's rating declined every week, and NBC axed it the following year.

1. "Firefly"

Curse Fox's sudden but inevitable betrayal

Out of all prematurely canceled TV shows, "Firefly" takes the cake as the most regrettable. "Firefly" is set centuries in the future, but the setting is very similar to western classics. The main characters are a rag-tag group of mercenaries trying to survive after their side lost the space equivalent of the Civil War. The crew undertakes missions from both sides of the law in the hope of earning enough to begin a new life. 

Considering the cult status "Firefly" has now, it's hard to believe the audience didn't have enough interest during the initial airing. The show is perfectly paced, balancing between space Western and action-comedy. Also, the crew of Serenity is a very colorful bunch of misfits you can't help but root for. Though the story did have an ending with the movie "Serenity," there's still a bitter taste of what could have been if "Firefly" lasted longer.

A lot of TV shows got canceled before they could reach popularity and new ones like "Rings Of Power" might have the same faith. Unfortunately, sometimes the show's quality isn't enough to guarantee success. However, some TV shows got spin-offs or movies that wrapped up their stories. As the trend of reviving old series continues, there's hope for that too.

What's your favorite single-season show? Which ones would you add to this top ten list?



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