10 TV Shows Cancelled Too Late
Angry fans mob television network customer service lines about their favourite shows being cancelled all the time, but how about the times we’ve stood back and applauded the decision to put a flailing show and its cast and crew out of their misery?
There have been plenty of examples of television shows that make us want to scalpel out our eyeballs just to have something other to do than watch, yet oddly they’re not always enough for us to reach for the remote where we left it when we accepted the pizza from the delivery guy.
Here are ten shows that we think were cancelled far too late in the production process – as in, they actually made it to air.
When was it cancelled? Confirmed to be ending after season 6.
When should it have been cancelled? Season 3.
You’ve got us, Glee season one was fine. Teenagers at a typical high school singing all your favourite hits from Journey to Beyonce. It was amusingly melodramatic and borderline entertaining, if never laugh-out-loud funny. It was exactly the sort of thing that might attract a strong following of pre-teens (and you) and it did.
Season 2 was hit and miss. Season 3 – around the same time Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk decided to work on American Horror Story instead – was when this show really needed out, and yet we inexplicably got three more seasons instead. Three more seasons of barely comprehensible storylines and top forty songs (because most of the stuff we actually enjoyed listening to had run dry by this point). The writing was lazy and ridiculous. Don’t believe me? Rachel went to stage school. Rachel achieved her dream of being a leading lady on Broadway in her first year of stage school. Rachel decides, a week later, Broadway is boring. Rachel joins a television pilot in LA. Rachel’s television pilot fails. Rachel tries to go back to stage school. Broadway comes knocking. REALLY?
Have this terrifying clip from the recent final season, which could be used for evidence writers have decided to forgo writing and lift lines from fanfiction:
When was it cancelled? Mid-season 2.
When should it have been cancelled? Post-season 1.
Everyone remembers this show as bad, but it wasn’t always so bad. That’s because we remember the horrendously awful second season, when really the first season alone would have been a fair, if not overly exciting, attempt at a Friends spin-off. It wasn’t the smartest comedy ever, but it wasn’t the worst either. If it didn’t continue past season two and wasn’t constantly compared to the sensation that was Friends, it might not be considered so terrible.
Any Friends spin-off without the rest of the group was probably always doomed to failure, but they turned lovable idiot Joey into a moping, unfunny character by mid-season 2. Not at all in keeping with the spirit of the celebrated sitcom Friends.
Here’s a video entitled Funniest moments in Joey season 2… I rest my case:
When was it cancelled? Season 1, episode 1.
When should it have been cancelled? Post-pilot.
With such successful source material (Ironside was a remake of the 1967-75 series) and its being a police procedural drama (audiences can’t seem to get enough of them), you’d think surviving past three episodes would be a given. Unfortunately, Ironside was one of the most boring shows ever to grace US screens – and was very lucky to get three episodes. We’d have cancelled it after one, and only aired the first on the back of the success of the old series. It’s hard to make a violent police drama violently boring, yet Ironside achieved this.
Looking to aid sleep? Try episode one of Ironside:
When was it cancelled? Post season 1, after original episode commission reduced.
When should it have been cancelled? Prior to recording.
One day, “boundary-pushing” Seth MacFarlane had a wonderful idea: why not combine all the least funny, offensive jokes in Family Guy and give them their own platform? Better yet, let’s make it live action. And so Dads came to be.
Almost certainly because MacFarlane was executive producer, Dads was commissioned for a full season on Fox, and survived nineteen episodes before it was officially decided enough was enough. Dads was of course attracting warranted criticism from every media source possible by the debut of its pilot episode. It got so much criticism that the marketing campaign for the show lifted quotes from the negative reviews to make a point about idiot journalists with no sense of humour, but probably just alerted more people to the lack of brains that went into producing this show.
And on top of all that, the racist, homophobic, sexist, and ageist jokes just weren’t funny.
Have an assortment of terrible moments and criticism:
When was it cancelled? Season 1, episode 3.
When should it have been cancelled? Before recording.
Something about this show makes me want to kill myself, and I have still never managed to make it more than halfway through the first episode. Judging by the fact it was cancelled mid-season, other viewers felt similarly. It is both not funny and grates on your soul.
There is nothing likeable or even remotely entertaining about the character of Allen, a prized son of same-sex parents (one of whom isn’t actually gay but a straight trophy husband sticking around for an easy life), he is an irritating beyond belief and I want nothing more than to pick him up and throw him out of the window. The parents aren’t much better, and the jokes at adopted daughter Julie’s expense really aren’t funny. Just like they’re not funny with Meg in Family Guy.
Cancelled after three episodes? How on earth did it make it to broadcast?
This first episode will make you feel a cheesegrater on your brain:
When was it cancelled? Season 1, episode 7.
When should it have been cancelled? Episode 3.
‘Selfie’ was Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year 2013, so a sitcom was absolutely essential. On the surface, it was sort-of a cool idea to have it be a modern re-working of the 1912 George Bernard Shaw play Pygmalion, too. Except it wasn’t, because the show is based on a dated concept that needed far more intelligent writing to be plausible in 2014. BUT it did star Karen Gillan, who was stellar in Doctor Who.
However, the show seemed determined to tell selfie-obsessed Eliza that she was wrong for being the way she is, but didn’t really serve up any justification for that idea. Actually, there are worse things than having a huge online following in the digital age. Just ask Zoella.
It ended up not being particularly funny and made little use of Gillan’s talents, and maybe should have been cancelled by episode three, when it became exceedingly clear Eliza really was a vapid, one-trick pony.
Check out the totally barf-worthy first episode here:
When was it cancelled? Post-season 1.
When should it have been cancelled? Pilot.
We understand the concept behind Cavemen, we really do. It was supposed to be a thoughtful look at racism by creating a race of ‘cavemen’ that were considered in their world second class citizens. However, after some really awful make-up and prosthetics, what we had left was a really odd and uneventful comedy. Perhaps the light tone and comedy setting just didn’t work for the high-concept, or maybe it just needed writers who weren’t satisfied to ride on one good idea.
We got a confusing real world scenario with hairy cavemen in every scene, acting like typical unpopular kids. It was weird and would have been better without the ‘cavemen’ idea, as in a show about unpopular/dorky/awkward people (pretty much the format for every sitcom ever).
Watch the full first episode and laugh not once:
The Inbetweeners US
When was it cancelled? Post-season 1.
When should it have been cancelled? Whenever producers first saw the scripts. Possibly they never did.
There had to be a place for a US adaptation of a popular British series on this list somewhere, didn’t there? Watching the US version of The Inbetweeners is somehow physically painful.
For some reason, nobody thought to actually adapt the scripts to a US audience in the US. The quirky British humour that makes sense to us – along with anything Jay says – is extremely cringeworthy when spoken by Americans who really don’t seem to get it.
Watch the (still-too-long) series trailer here:
The Office US
When was it cancelled? Finished after season 9.
When should it have been cancelled? Post-season 7.
Contrary to the Inbetweeners, The Office is easily one of the best US adaptations of British television and during its second season became the highest rated show on NBC. Not half bad. However, in later seasons it suffered from the almost uniquely American fate of dragging on far too long. The jokes aren’t funny, the style is tired, and after season 7 lead star Steve Carell has had enough and left.
There are some funny moments in seasons 8 and 9, but overall it’s a tiring job wading through the same old jokes trying to find them. Certainly not two seasons to marathon, unless your intention is to cull insomnia.
Watch The Office US season 8, episode 7 (already far into the show’s decline):
Two and a Half Men
When was it cancelled? Finishing after season 12.
When should it have been cancelled? Post-season 7.
The story-lite, ratings-hit sitcom managed to survive twelve seasons, critical distaste and lead actor Charlie Sheen being indisposed. It was misogynistic, lazy, and provided canned laughter at moments one couldn’t even imagine laughing at. Yet somehow it’s quite easy to watch, even if it’s with your head in your hands, criticising every moment and telling anyone who happens to pass the living room that you actually hate the show.
Our pick for when this show should have ended is season 7, right when serial-womaniser Charlie was with his long-term fiance Chelsea. It would have offered character growth for Charlie (a phrase unheard of in the Two and a Half Men writer’s room) and made a fair enough ending if the two had gotten hitched. Plus, we could have avoided the string of terrible storylines in season eight, namely Charlie and Rose running off together after Rose pretends a mannequin is her husband, and Alan going weirdly insane for one episode. Sheen leaving was a blessing in disguise. He escaped the show – we wish we could have.*
Watch the worst song is the history of musical theatre, as performed on Two and a Half Men:
*(That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy Ashton Kutcher taking his clothes off at every opportunity, but let’s face it, had he not been on Two and a Half Men we would have seen Ashton somewhere else).