10 Most Disappointing TV Cancellations of the Past Decade

8 minute read

By Laura Gooyers

While TV shows have always been a part of our entertainment lives, in the past decade we’ve seen the popularity of TV series skyrocket with the evolution of subscription services such as Netflix and Hulu, making it easier than ever to binge-watch your favorite shows. Maybe that’s why fans seem to get so attached to their series lately. Every television fan dreads the day they hear their favorite show is going off the air and the stories of their beloved characters will be no more. The last decade has seen many shows face the firing squad but the cancellations of these 12 popular series were particularly upsetting…sparking outrage and in some cases, even petitions online.

Firefly -2003

We stretched the definition of a decade on this show but only because it HAD to be on this list. Firefly started in September 2002 and by mid-December, it was averaging 4.7 million viewers per episode but despite this, the show only lasted 1 season before getting canceled by Fox in 2003. The space meets western sci-fi series gained even more popularity post-production and partly due to protests from passionate fans, a movie was released in 2005 titled ‘Serenity’ which picked up where the series left off. Even today Firefly continues to be widely recognized as one of the most popular TV shows that were canceled too soon.

Source: Screenshot via 20th Television

Futurama -2003, 2013

Fans of this futuristic adult animated sitcom about a pizza delivery guy frozen in time have been on an emotional roller coaster through the years. Futurama started in 1999 on Fox and was quickly embraced by fans who appreciated the shows creative writing and adult humor. Unfortunately for fans, the series suffered many woes including the erratic airing of new episodes and constantly changing time slots. In 2003 Fox decided to stop buying new episodes during the shows 4th season and it went out of production, but in 2005 Comedy Central picked it up and produced 4 straight-to-DVD films that were supposed to wrap up the show. Its creator had different ideas however and in 2010 the series came back to air on Comedy Central. The show saw another 2 seasons from 2010-2013 before it was again canceled by Comedy Central.

Source: Screenshot via 20th Century Fox

Arrested Development -2006, 2013

The show that followed the dysfunctional fictional Bluth family started in 2003 on Fox and ran for a total of 3 seasons. Fans fell in love with the show’s cast of quirky characters but despite much acclaim from critics, viewership was low and it went off the air in 2006.  Post-production, however, the show gained a cult following and fans were vocal about their desire for more episodes. The complaining all paid off for fans as more than 6 years after it was canceled, the show was picked up by popular streaming site Netflix for a 4th season which consisted of 15 new episodes which are widely speculated to be a lead-in for a big screen movie.

Source: Screenshot via 20th Century Fox

Deadwood -2006

The American western series which centered on the crime and corruption of the town of Deadwood during the late 1800s was a hit from the beginning. The HBO series received critical acclaim in addition to winning 8 Emmy Awards from 28 nominations and a Golden Globe. Despite its all-star cast and strong support from critics, the series only lasted 3 seasons. It started in May 2006 with HBO’s decision not to renew the actor’s contracts but the network was adamant the show was not canceled. The series future hung in limbo through talks between HBO and the series creator David Milch who stated in 2007 that he would agree to do two television movies instead of a 4th season and intended these movies to wrap up the series. HBO executives admitted in 2007 that the chances of these telemovies being made were unlikely. Fans of the show waited in vain and in 2009 several of the shows actors said they considered the series over. Even today fans would love to see this show completed but we’re not holding our breath.

Source: Screenshot via HBO

Veronica Mars -2007

The mystery drama series known as Veronica Mars is a shining example of the power of fans. The series started in 2004 on the now non-existent network UPN and ran for 2 seasons before UPN changed to the CW network. Veronica Mars continued for a third season on CW before network President Dawn Ostroff announced the show was going on hiatus in January 2007 to make way for new reality series ‘Pussycat Dolls Present’. The show returned to air the final 5 episodes of season 3 and the CW announced it would not be returning. The shows creator Rob Thomas wrote a script for a full-length film to pick up 4 years after the series left off but Warner Bros. opted not to fund the project. In 2013 over 6 years after the series ended, Thomas and series star Kristen Bell started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $2 million to make the movie. Thanks to fans, they surpassed their goal with a total of $5.7 million pouring in from fans of the show and in March of 2014 the film was finally released and fans got the ending they always wanted.

Source: Screenshot via Warner Bros.

The Riches -2008

The FX series about a family of crooks starring Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver lasted only 2 seasons before meeting its untimely demise. The 2007 pilot episode drew a whopping 3.8 million viewers, coming in second only to the premiere of ‘The Shield’ and the series received much acclaim from critics who called it a “layered drama” with “unexpectedly soulful pleasures”. The show returned for a second season but on September 26, 2008 (5 months after season 2 ended) series actor Todd Stashwick reported on his blog that the series was canceled. A few days later the FX network officially confirmed the cancellation. Many fans speculate that the series fell victim to the 2007-2008 writer’s strike which caused lengthy production delays.

Source: Screenshot via 20th Television

Brotherhood -2008

One would think that a crime drama surrounding the lives of two Irish-American brothers on opposite sides of the law would see a long and prosperous run on television. Sadly this was not the case for the Showtime series Brotherhood. It first aired on the network in 2006 receiving widespread acclaim for the show’s producers and writers; Blake Masters and Henry Bromell. The series continued for 3 seasons on Showtime but each season the number of episodes decreased. The show was not renewed after the third season and the network later announced the show was canceled. The shows fan base had not grown like the network wanted, however those that watched the show were highly disappointed when it ended and compared it to the likes of such successes as ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘The Wire’.

Source: Showtime

Flight of the Conchords -2009

The show that was once called “TV’s most original and irresistible new comic concoction” only lasted a short 2 seasons. Flight of the Conchords centered on the lives of two musicians from New Zealand; Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement as they made their way in New York City in search of stardom. There was no shortage of critical acclaim and fan following for this HBO series. After the first season, HBO signed on for a second which was set to be released in 2008 but was postponed to 2009. McKenzie and Clement who wrote the series themselves stated that writing the second season would take more time than the first because they needed to come up with new material. At the end of 2009, the boys stated the series would not return for a third season and although fans say the series was wrapped up well, the disappointment of its short run still stings today.

Source: Screenshot via HBO

The Oprah Winfrey Show -2011

How could we ever forget that sad day when Oprah went off the air…ending a 25 season era that ran from 1986 to 2011. The charismatic talk show host/personal wellness advocate/philanthropist had a very long and prosperous career as the captain of what still remains the highest-rated talk show in American television history. The show which focused on highly engaging and topical issues captivated millions of viewers who religiously tuned in each day, and won 47 daytime Emmy awards during its tenure. Early in the shows 12th season, Winfrey admitted that she was exhausted and was considering quitting but while filming the movie ‘Beloved’ she was reminded of her responsibility as an ‘admired woman of color with great power and influence’, and so Oprah continued. This is until 2008, when in an interview with Larry King, Winfrey announced that she would not renew her contract after 2011 effectively ending the show. Diehard Oprah fans can still see her on her television channel OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) but many will never forget the shows popular segments like ‘Oprah’s book club’ and ‘Oprah’s favorite things’.

Source: Screenshot via CBS

The Newsroom -2014

From the creator of ‘The West Wing’  came this edgy, smart and always controversial drama from Aaron Sorkin. The Newsroom followed a team of journalists and news anchors in the fictional ACN news network and starred Jeff Daniels as the polarizing lead anchor Will McAvoy. In true Sorkin form, the show was controversial out of the gate in 2012, with its style being described as having “wit, sophistication and manic energy…” at its best, but at the worst “chokes on its own sanctimony”, according to critics. Despite this, the show which centered on actual news stories from recent years only picked up steam after season 1 with season 2 growing more fans and receiving favorable reviews. When HBO announced the series would see the third season, fans rejoiced as the show was really just entering its prime; and it seemed the show was here to stay. HBO however, was not sold and as quickly as they gave us hope, they took it away as with the season 3 announcement came an additional note that season 3 would be the last and the series wrapped up in December 2014. Given the fresh cancellation of the show, speculation still swirls as to the reason why; some say the disagreements between HBO and Sorkin had taken a toll while others admitted the show had written it’s way out as it had nearly caught up to real-time events. Either way, we’re still reeling from this one.

Source: Screenshot via HBO

Laura Gooyers


Laura Gooyers has been writing about everything from music to movies for Goliath since 2015.