Too Good to Last

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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    "We made a land where crap is king and the good don't last too long."

    Spock's Beard, "The Good Don't Last"

    An intelligent, well written show, usually a subtle blend of comedy and drama, beloved of a devoted group of fans and critics. So why did it never have a chance? (Or at best, struggled in the Ratings for a couple seasons.)

    Well, either the mainstream just isn't interested in this show, or the network never even gives it a chance to build an audience (usual translation: it's on FOX)... or it's created by Tim Minear, Judd Apatow, Bryan Fuller, or Joss Whedon. Sometimes, someone high up at the network takes a dislike to the show and does everything in his power to kill it. Maybe the network doesn't think it fits in.

    If the show is lucky enough to be shown on a cable network in reruns, it may build up a bigger following there than it ever had in its first run.

    The observant reader will note that the vast majority of Too Good to Last shows are from the 1990s or later. This is likely because of the increased emphasis on ratings above all else. On the other hand, the list might be biased toward the past decade because shows like this have an unfortunate tendency to fall off the face of the earth upon cancellation, so our ability to recall and report them is inversely proportional to how long ago they aired (factors for these older shows all but disappearing include too few episodes for syndication, the far lesser number of shows available on home video pre-DVD boom - and far smaller print runs for those that were - and the original masters being lost, destroyed or reused; few people back then understood their potential value).

    There's always been an emphasis on ratings in television, but it seems to have become much more pronounced since the early 1990s. It is widely commented upon that Cheers was dead last in the ratings among all regular series in its first season (1982–83), and that a show doing that badly today would almost certainly be cancelled within its first month or two. This isn't necessarily a new phenomenon, but some shows only survive by having a network president who is a fan.

    Another theory is that the advent of the Internet and the explosion of cable channels has made it harder for these too-soon cancelled shows to be forgotten.

    For those shows that manage to pull out a few seasons with plenty of network problems before going under, check out the Exception section at the bottom of this page. The main entries are about shows that barely managed to get out a single season, if that. Incidentally, some shows end up being canceled only to be Uncanceled by the network or do a Channel Hop.

    It's notable that of the exceptions and shows that were Uncanceled, only a handful were aired on non-cable networks. A series that is Too Good to Last may have better chances on cable than on broadcast networks, in part because cable doesn't demand ratings as high in the first place for the show to be considered a success.

    Unfortunately, the viewers are never told "What would have happened next", because the now unemployed/transferred writers will want to recycle their unused ideas into their next job.

    Related Tropes

    Shows that are Too Good to Last can be Short Runners, but sometimes they are longer.

    Examples of Too Good to Last include:

    Live-Action TV and Western Animation

    American Broadcasting Company (American)/ ABC Family


    • American Gothic
    • Arnie: This satirical early-'70s comedy starred Herschel Bernardi as a loading-dock foreman who suddenly and unexpectedly found himself promoted to corporate management. Poor ratings doomed it after two seasons despite critical acclaim.
    • Bette
    • Bob!: Bob Newhart's third sitcom, starring Newhart as a greeting card artist/writer who jumps at the chance when Ace Comics offers to revive a comic book character he created a few decades earlier. The show withered in a bad Friday night timeslot.
    • Bridget Loves Bernie: This 1972 sitcom about the marriage of a Jewish cabdriver and an upper-class Irish Catholic actually got decent ratings, but CBS canceled it after one season anyway after both Jewish and Catholic groups objected to the premise. (The show did, however, lead to Romance on the Set and eventual marriage between stars David Birney and Meredith Baxter.)
    • Brooklyn Bridge
    • Century City
    • Christy
    • Citizen Baines: moved slowly for many viewers but had a great cast headed by James Cromwell.
    • Close to Home was a crime drama based around Annabeth Chase, a criminal prosecutor and showed her trying to balance her work and family life (The first episode is basically Annabeth coming back from maternity leave). The show's two lead characters were both female, something not often seen on CBS crime dramas. The balancing act only got harder after Annabeth's husband was killed in the season 1 finale. The show was cancelled after 2 seasons.
    • East Side West Side was about a social worker who focused on the problems of the inner city and was probably the first American series to seriously address racism. It managed to win an Emmy, but is largely forgotten today.
    • EZ Streets: too raw for CBS, this mob drama from Paul Haggis might have succeeded on cable.
    • Family Dog: The replacement for Fish Police. Not as good, and definitely more crude. Still deserved to last more than 10 episodes.
    • The Famous Teddy Z: Created by WKRP's Hugh Wilson, this series starring Jon Cryer and Alex Rocco (who won an Emmy for his character Agent Al Floss) was set in a Hollywood talent agency and was thought in some circles to be too 'inside' to appeal to middle America.
    • The Flash: Based on the comic book character of the same name, this series got canceled after one season due to being constantly shuffled around in varying time slots and facing tough competition from NBC and FOX on Thursday nights.
    • Fish Police: The best of the first three shows made to compete with The Simpsons. Also the shortest lived at only six episodes. Had an all star cast with John Ritter, Megan Mullaly, Tim Curry, Frank Welker, Robert Guillame, Edward Asner, Hector Elizondo, Buddy Hackett, Jonathan Winters, Jo Beth Williams, and an array of guest stars such as Phil Hartmann.
    • Franks Place
    • Gary Unmarried
    • George And Leo: The pairing of old sitcom pros Bob Newhart and Judd Hirsch wasn't enough to save this Odd Couple-esque show from an early exit.
    • Good Morning World: Long before WKRP in Cincinnati or News Radio, there was this 1967 sitcom from the creators of The Dick Van Dyke Show set at a radio station. Even the presence of a pre-Laugh In Goldie Hawn couldn't prevent its cancellation after one season.
    • The Handler
    • He And She: This 1967 sitcom starring Paula Prentiss and Richard Benjamin received critical acclaim and Emmy awards and is believed to be the precursor of the more "realistic" brand of '70s situation comedies (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, for example). Low ratings doomed it, though, and it only lasted one season.
    • The Honeymooners: incredibly, only ran one season as a stand-alone sitcom, although the characters admittedly were used for many years on Gleason's variety show.
      • This one is a bit murky simply because Gleason didn't like the grind of a sitcom, which is the reason why the show ended.
    • Ivan the Terrible: Lasted five episodes in 1976; those who remember it at all remember it fondly.
    • Jericho: Was famously resurrected by a Sending Stuff to Save the Show fan campaign, but the respite would last only a season before the ax fell again.
    • Joan of Arcadia: popular, but in the wrong demographic.
    • Listen Up!
    • Love Monkey. Also an example of Screwed by the Network.
    • Mary: Mary Tyler Moore's 1985 return to situation comedy, and a worthy Spiritual Successor to her her classic '70s show. Poorer-than-expected ratings doomed it to cancellation after one season.
    • Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures: A massively influential Genre Turning Point for American television animation which directly influenced (and provided talent) to almost every cartoon show made in its wake. It got canceled due to a contrived moral panic involving some crushed flowers which apparently looked a bit too much like cocaine. Most fans of the show claimed that it would've gotten canceled for low ratings anyway.
    • Million Dollar Password: Frequently won it's timeslot, but was cancelled because it didn't the network's target demographic.
    • Moonlight: Several reasons for this, including Friday Night Death Slot. Many fans also feel it was Screwed by the Network, particularly because the final episode was promoted as the season finale (rather than the series finale) and fans were led to believe it would be renewed. Another victim of the 2007 writer's strike.
    • Now and Again: A well-cast, well-written, well-acted reimagining of the concept of The Six Million Dollar Man. First season featured one of the creepiest and most inexplicable villains ever. Got the Friday Night death slot, and its one and only season did not even air in its entirety until many years later on Sci-Fi.
    • Project G.e.e.K.e.R.: Had incredibly good ratings during the time, but only lasted one 13-episode season due to not meeting the educational programming standards set forth by the channel.
    • Smith
    • That's Life: a "chick show," but with an excellent cast (Heather Paige Kent, Ellen Burstyn, Paul Sorvino, Kevin Dillon, Debi Mazar).
    • Threshold
    • Total Recall 2070
    • The Weird Al Show. Damn you, Executive Meddling!
    • Winning Lines: American version of the UK game show, was well-liked but ultimately doomed by only being aired on Saturday nights with no consistent time-slot
    • Worst Week: The American version.



    Widely considered the worst offender of them all.


    The WB / UPN / The CW

    Nickelodeon / The N / Nick Jr.


    Cartoon Network / Adult Swim

    MTV / MTV 2

    • Clone High: Another utterly unresolved storyline, that stopped on a Cliff Hanger bordering on Downer Ending.
    • Celebrity Deathmatch: Sure, it DID get brought back a few years ago on MTV 2, buuuuuuut...
    • The Sifl and Olly Show - 3 seasons produced, two aired (the third had a DVD release)
    • Wonder Showzen - Despite two seasons and respectable ratings, MTV denied a third season. Some of the more experimental episodes during the second season might've also had something to do with it.
    • Downtown - It was just too intelligent for some exec.
    • Skins: The American Version. A mix of middling ratings and very vocal opposition from parent groups (calling the show Child Pornography), this show got canceled right when it was finding its voice and independence from the British original.
    • Death Valley received only a twelve-episode first season and was not renewed for a second, despite building a single, all-encompassing storyline from the very first episode, and ending on a Cliff Hanger.
    • Undergrads was cancelled after 13 episodes which left the show on a cliffhanger. The reason for cancellation was the low funding, but the creator Pete Williams is still very keen on creating a second season. Nowadays the show has a high cult status, one of the reasons being because of its originality.
    • The Hard Times of RJ Berger, the best live-action show MTV has had in years, began with a high viewer rating during the first season (the first episode had a viewer rating of 2.6 million), but the viewer ratings dropped drastically by the second season, causing MTV to cancel the show.
    • Good Vibes, another great show MTV has had in recent years, and arguably one of the best shows they've ever had, was heavily Screwed by the Network: Episodes were aired Out of Order,[1] the show aired in a Friday Night Death Slot (well, technically, it aired on Thursdays, but still...) at a time in which most people would be away from home (or possibly asleep), and more. And due to low viewer ratings because of its time of airing, MTV ordered the show to be cancelled.
    • The music video show MTV Amp did a decent job promoting different forms of techno based music and its artist. However, the show only lasted two seasons, with the second season not being complete. Most people who've seen the show will tell you that it ended far too soon. The fact that the show came on late at night, makes the impact it had, even more powerful.

    • Rick and Steve: Either stuck in Development Hell or cancelled outright after 2 seasons, ending on a cliffhanger that had been built up from the very first episode. Historically Screwed by the Network, you're lucky if you see a re-run at all, and nothing official has been announced confirming the show's future.

    G4 / G 4 TV

    • Code Monkeys: Arguably the best show G 4 TV ever had, and they didn't sink for a third season.
    • Portal: Not canceled due to ratings, as the creator was not shy about letting fans know, but rather due to personal differences between himself and the network head.
    • The cable station itself could qualify. It was originally meant to be a station solely based around video games and technology. However, the station has since gotten far away from its original concept in order to survive. In fact, many of the original personalities were fired with only Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb of X-Play, and a few others, keeping their jobs.
      • Oh god, agreed. Very very agreed. Arena, Judgement Day, Filter, Cinematech, Cheat... the list just goes on and on and on...
        • Technically, Judgment Day did last, but only in Canada, and under the name Reviews on the Run.


    • Ace Lightning
    • The Tripods was epic science fiction with astonishing production values. They filmed the first 2 parts of John Christopher's trilogy, but the last book never made it to the screen.
      • Its demise was blamed on it being very slowly paced, plus it was scheduled on Saturdays opposite The A-Team...
    • Star Cops: Intelligent, critically-lauded British sci-fi/cop show crossover about police on the moon, canned after one series (and a lot of in-fighting) despite the first series finale setting up a new season on Mars.
    • Lark Rise to Candleford was the subject of a petition when it was cancelled in 2011 but the Beeb held firm.
    • The Sarah Jane Adventures - Actor Existence Failure, as the actress who played the title character died half way through filming the fifth season.
    • Outcasts ended on such a tantalizing cliffhanger - and was then cancelled by the BBC due to poor ratings. Unless some other sci-fi channel renews it, it's unlikely we'll see another season.
    • 15 Storeys High. The BBC really messed about with this series, putting it on a graveyard slot. Then allegedly told Sean Lock he couldn't do a third series.
    • Zen, a crime drama set in Italy that was cancelled after three episodes.

    Channel 4


    • Carnivale
    • Deadwood
    • Rome, they originally planned five seasons, chronicling the reigns of a few different Emperors, but had to cut it down to three, then two when funding was cut. A movie may be coming.
    • The Comeback
    • Lucky Louie


    Sci-Fi /Syfy

    • The Odyssey, a Mind Screwy Ontological Mystery for kids. Not to be confused with Odyssey 5 (below) or Homer's original epic.
    • Mission Genesis (known as Deepwater Black in Canada where it originated.) Teen drama plays out with SF themes in the foreground on their way back to earth. Very intelligent, containing a few actors who would go on to fame in other sci fi series. Canceled after 13 episodes.
    • The Invisible Man ran for two seasons, then was cancelled "due to cost issues and internal bickering."
    • Caprica: The network's official statement says it all: “Unfortunately, despite its obvious quality, ‘Caprica’ has not been able to build the audience necessary to justify a second season.”
      • To add insult to injury, the cast and crew have been very clear that (a) the first season finale, which was filmed before the cancellation report, contains multiple cliff-hangers and would not make a satisfying end to the series, and (b) the second season has been planned out in more detail than any BSG season was, and it's a really good plan.
    • Stargate Universe was canceled mid-season, with cast and crew only hearing it from their fans on Twitter. Although the show had divided the Stargate fandom, there's no denying that the show had quality and brilliant acting behind it (ROBERT FREAKIN' CARLYLE!!) - even the haters had started to agree that season 2 was good. Plus, as the series had been planned out to last five seasons, it'll almost certainly end on a massive cliffhanger leaving almost all the main plot arcs unresolved. Thank you so much SyFy!
    • Farscape: An extremely clever if dark Sci fi with Muppets, literally it was produced by Jim Henson's company! Unfortunately, much like Firefly the Network had a hard time understanding its brilliance. It was moved around constantly and was eventually Screwed by the Network it its forth season, ending on a cliffhanger.
      • Farscape only received a conclusion due to a massive outpouring of fan support after its cancellation.
    • The Dresden Files: based on the book series by the same name. Although the TV series was very different from its literary inspiration and not very well received by fans of the novels it was charming and clever and had lots of potential. But before it had much of a chance to prove itself it was canceled midway through it first season.
    • Tremors: Got decent ratings despite its lack of advertisement compared to other shows and having its episodes aired badly Out of Order, Sci-fi pulled the plug anyways.
    • The Amazing Screw On Head: All we got is an awesome, awesome pilot. In retrospect, an animated show based on a comic by Mike Mignola with Paul Giamatti and David Hyde Pierce on voice duty was much too great in concept to actually work in this reality.



    ITV / CITV

    • Beat The Cyborgs. There was nothing wrong with this kid's game show. In fact, it was really good and quite well received, and a second series was promised. It just... never came. There was no explanation as to why, and now, seven years down the line, the programme's fallen off the edge of the earth to the point where there are no online clips at all and it is never repeated.
      • CITV later stopped all commissions of original material (which killed off My Parents Are Aliens), and Mark Speight, who was the presenter known as the Borgmaster, has died. Definitely no chance of a revival now.
    • Palmetto Pointe
    • TUGS


    • Blood Ties. This show had either one season or two half-seasons, depending on who you ask. It might have done better on a different network.



    • Remember WENN: Ran 3 seasons on AMC before that network changed its format. To add insult to injury, it ended on a Cliff Hanger.
    • Rubicon: One season, also ending on a cliffhanger. Notable because it's the first, so far, of AMC's Original Series to be canceled prematurely.

    Pro Sieben

    • Stromberg, a German comedy show extremely similar to The Office, got recommissioned for several series, even though it was never a success. Still, they've got a large cult-fanbase.


    • Da Vinci's City Hall: A sequel series to Da Vinci's Inquest (one of the highest-rated and most critically-acclaimed series to ever air in the network's history), City Hall moved the title character (and former coroner) Dominic Da Vinci from the medical office to the political field. The show was critically acclaimed (and unusually continuity-heavy) - critics and some viewers loved it, but others tuned out, and the network dumped it after a single season (with many loose ends still remaining).
    • Intelligence, made by the creator of Da Vinci's Inquest, won a Gemini Award for Best Dramatic Series during its debut season in 2007, then got unceremoniously canned at the end of its second season. Supposedly, CBC killed it for political reasons.
    • JPod (CBC)
    • The Border
    • This Is Wonderland lasted three seasons, but got no promotion and wildly varying timeslots by the network, and got canned with plot threads Left Hanging.
    • Radio-Canada, the french arm of the network, is no stranger to the trope either. A particularly Egregious case was Les Aventures de Jack Carter, a quirky, witty, fun detective show that pulled in both great reviews and ratings, was cancelled after just one season because the network "wanted to make room for new shows". Even given the shorter runs of Quebec-made shows, it doesn't make much sense.


    • Cybersix (Teletoon) was a brilliant series with lots of action, fun characters, and surprisingly mature content (among other things, episodes alluded to the death of a child and Nazism). It was very well received and even won an award, "Special Mention for the Best Science Fiction Program". Yet it only got one season of thirteen episodes (the original Argentinian comic had easily enough material for 2-3 more seasons).

    Comedy Central

    • The Critic: Ran reruns, with the promise of new episodes. Never happened.
    • TV Funhouse - Only ran one season with eight episodes. The reason behind its cancellation was because Comedy Central was disappointed at how each episode went over budget.
    • Krod Mandoon and The Flaming Sword of Fire. Canceled after one season.
    • Strangers with Candy
    • Important Things with Demetri Martin
    • Drawn Together was cancelled because of the cost to produce it was too high and that Comedy Central wasn't making much profit. They took a break half way through season 3, making fans believe that the second half was the fourth season. The show has a very loyal fanbase and a cult following.


    • Not so much a show, but rather a channel itself devoted to cancelled shows. The Dutch channel Veronica pretty much runs on this stuff. The average plot: 1.) Show is announced with a lot of fanfare. The same teaser is shown over and over again. 2.) Show airs, some people get hooked. 3.) Show disappears without a warning. 4.) People check out the series online and learn that it only ran for a couple of episodes before getting cancelled. This goes for most sci-fi/action dramas listed above. There is a clue though, every time they first announce the show with the teasers, the show will be referred to as 'The hit series <insert showname>'. Latest victim: Flash Forward.


    While most of GSN's original programming is highly lambasted by fans of the game show genre, it did turn in a couple gems:

    • Late Night Liars: A very unusual hybrid of puppet show and Panel Game. The few people that watched it thought it was one of the network's best shows ever.
    • Russian Roulette: Made it to two seasons with an interesting gimmick (dropping contestants through trapdoors) and a very enjoyable host (Mark L. Walberg), but a constant source of reruns.

    Whole Television Channels

    • C Channel, a Canadian premium cable channel focused on arts and culture, lasted only 5 months in 1983.
    • Z Channel, a pioneering cable television channel showing classic movies, basically a precursor to both AMC and Turner Classic Movies. It championed many of the same things that cinephiles did (and later the aforementioned Turner Classic Movies): Letterboxing, showing films that otherwise wouldn't appear on other networks, director's cuts of films, and so on. It lasted a decent amount of time, 1974 to 1989, but its last few years are rife with Executive Meddling and Network Decay. Xan Cassavetes, daughter of film director John Cassavetes, made an acclaimed documentary about the channel's heyday, Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession in 2004.
    • Tech TV, before it was acquired by G4.
    • Nickelodeon's Nick Gas channel, which broadcast Nick's 90's game shows. It was discontinued and replaced with The N in 2007.
    • New Zealand-based public service broadcaster TVNZ 7 will go off the air in mid-2012, after it was announced its funding would not be renewed.



    • Storm Chasers was cancelled in January 2012 after 5 seasons for unknown reasons despite a positive response from viewers and elevating the chase teams to celebrity status.

    Other Media

    Anime / Manga / Comics

    • Aztek had a fresh hero, good crossover potential and a promising overarcing plot. Then it ran right into the 1996-97 comic book market crash and got cancelled after 10 issues. Luckily, Aztek had already been set up to join the Justice League of America, and his plot got resolved in that book.
    • Double Arts was an engrossing and fun manga that thumbed its nose at loads of the problematic stereotypes of its genre in wonderful ways and was obviously gearing up for an Ancient Conspiracy plot...and was cut down in its infancy by low ratings, with barely enough time for the artist to sketch out an ending with a little closure. An example of Screwed by the Demographic—Double Arts was a more trope-defying Shonen series in a magazine that usually aims for the 12-18 demographic.
      • The same can also be said for Mx0.
    • Gun Blaze West: The series begun by Watsuki Nobuhiro just after Rurouni Kenshin finished. It only lasted long enough for two or three volumes worth of material.
      • Busou Renkin almost nearly suffered the same fate, being canceled before the series had concluded. Nobushiro managed to at least get a proper ending made for the volume release, satisfyingly wrapping everything up.
    • DC's "Red Circle" books, The Shield and The Web, had some great promise, but was cancelled after ten issues EACH!
    • Zombie Powder: Word of God says that the creator was going through some severe anxiety and depression during its run which was one of the main reasons for its cancellation.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam got poor ratings in its original run and it was canceled, cutting down the amount of episodes from 52 to 39 and forcing Tomino had to quickly improvise an ending. However, due to good re-run ratings the show was re-cut (with some new animation) into 3 movies, and Zeta Gundam was made.
    • The original Shaman King manga was canceled RIGHT BEFORE the showdown with the Big Bad. It would be Uncanceled and finished several years later.
    • Nyx
    • Meister. Primed to be the hot new sports manga with dynamic characters and stimulating art. Cut from Weekly Shonen Jump two months after it debuted, forced to cobble together a sudden (and not particularly lucid) ending. Only ten chapters. They didn't even get through one goddamn soccer game.
    • Captain Britain and MI:13 was canceled after issue 15, thought it would be hard to see how they could top Dracula and his vampire army's invasion from his castle on the moon.
    • Futaba Kun Change Cancelled just as it was setting up some major story arcs, leading to the creator scrambling to wrap everything up for the ending due to time constraints. We can't help wondering if the ending would have made more sense if it'd been given enough time to play out naturally.
    • The new series of Exiles lasted about six issues.
    • Batman Adventures (the second volume): a comic written by Ty Templeton and Dan Slott as a sequel to Batman: The Animated Series that did its best to tie in with the DC Animated Universe. It was very sadly killed after only 17 issues to be replaced with a The Batman tie-in comic, leaving all of the plotlines (sadly the creative team planned on to at least 40 issues, some details on the Toonzone boards) except for the ones that they scrambled to cover in the last four issues dangling.
    • Although Voices had a good run (with exciting action, well-made drama and a unique Interactive Comics gimmick that gave the series its name), it only lasted one and a half chapters due to pressure from Real Life on the author, which massively stifled the update rate.
    • Thor: The Mighty Avenger. Although for all the complaining about its cancellation; it didn't ever manage to break 10k in issue sales which makes its cancellation by Marvel extremely reasonable from a business standpoint.
    • Aoi Hana was supposed to get a second season, but those plans were canceled when the DVD sales for the first season turned out to be disappointing.
    • Hikari no Densetsu is based on a best-selling manga, was produced by a highly talented staff and has had more than its share of positive reviews, yet it was a huge bomb on Japanese TV and was yanked off the air after only 19 episodes. The anime was a success in Europe, though.
    • Kanamemo, which ended having a Sequel Hook, never got its second season simply due to surprisingly poor DVD sales.
    • The anime adaptation of The World God Only Knows was met with so much rejoicing that a deal for a second season was made before the first episode even aired. Unfortunately, despite being a faithful adaptation with solid characterization and some excellent music, ratings for the show haven't been able to measure up to popularity of the manga. Two OVA series adapting the beginning of the Goddesses arc got enough interest to giving a third series to cover that arc, but there is no hope that the manga's conclussion may be animated any way soon.
    • Hakaima Sadamitsu, a little-known but ridiculously awesome Seinen. Started as a manga in 1999, got an anime adaptation in 2001 that was cancelled after ten episodes. The Other Wiki says the manga is still going.
    • Raijin Comics in the U.S. A weekly anthology series made up of Baki the Grappler, Fist of the Blue Sky, and attempting to bring in political and horror mangas? Hell yes! Only for it to to monthly within not even two years and then canceled.
    • This is the general belief of fans from both the OVA and Decode series of Birdy the Mighty. The OVA series only had four parts and the Decode series two seasons and both series still had many loose ends when they ended.
    • Cyber City Oedo 808 was intended as a demo to impress potential investors; had the investors been impressed, they would have expanded out the three one-hour episodes into a full length series... in 1993. Needless to say, the investors were not impressed.
    • Rion 2990 was an independent manga-esque comic released in the 1980's and published under the Mirage imprint. Unlike other manga-esque titles, Rion looked absolutely authentic in regards to its visuals that it could be mistaken as an actual Japanese manga. In addition to that, it had a high stakes, cold war era plot about a struggle between war and peace with likable characters. It was proposed to be a 4-issue miniseries, but it got cut short and only two of the four issues were released due to Mirage ballooning and crashing.
    • Ichigo Mashimaro.
    • Cross Gen Comics went bankrupt in 2004, right when the Negation War and Solusandra story arcs were bringing all the series in the universe together and the underlying meta-plot to light.


    • Although not a television show, Battlefleet Gothic had only a few months of publicity and attention before being handed over to Specialist Games (then Fanatic Press), a fate shared with many other spinoff games.
    • Lego Universe
    • XIII was intended to have a sequel, so the game ended in a cliffhanger. Sadly, too few people bought this great game so the sequel was never made.
    • Similar to the above, Psychonauts had a great concept and story, and closed with the apparent start of another adventure. Despite garning a vocal hardcore fanbase later on, it sold poorly.
      • Then, in february 2012, Markus Persson, creator of indie juggernaut Minecraft, announced that he wanted to finance a sequel. Fans are waiting to see if it pans out before they start rejoicing.
    • Also similar to these, Beyond Good and Evil. But although this beautiful masterpiece didn't sell that well, it will get a sequel.
    • Advent Rising, featuring a story written by science fiction god Orson Scott Card. The game was planned from the get-go to be a trilogy, but like Psychonauts, was pushed out the door too quickly by Majesco (who was facing bankruptcy at the time). The result was an unpolished and glitchy (albeit still playable) game. When given just a month to polish it for the rerelease of the game on PC, the average ratings jumped a considerable amount. The game ended on the definition of a cliffhanger, and the original team (who have long since left Majesco, and were recently bought by Epic) has expressed interest in finishing the trilogy, but Majesco won't release the rights to them. They're too busy with Cooking Mama I guess...
      • And who could forget the terrible marketing ploy they used to sell copies of their unfinished game. The main selling point of the game was an in-game contest where players had to find a symbol in one of the levels. Whoever found the symbol first and submitted undeniable proof to the developers would win a large sum of money. Cue a crafty player finding the symbol, sending the proof, then having the developers back out.
    • Working Designs. They were mostly known for their excellent localizations of the Lunar series, as well a several other games (mostly RPG and strategy) that would have otherwise never seen the light of day outside Japan.
    • Shenmue. Due to high production costs and low sells this epic hardly got off the ground. It's like reading the first half of Fellowship of the Ring and quitting.
    • Panzer Dragoon was a great series of on-rail shooters, and the third game (Panzer Dragoon Saga) was an outstanding RPG, but Saga being released near the end of the Sega Saturn's lifespan in the US, and Orta being exclusively released for a console in which first-person shooters got more attention than on-rails shooters, the series was left to die.
      • The prices of Saga alone should show you how much people love these games.
    • Evolution: The World of Sacred Device was a fantastic RPG on the shortlived Dreamcast. After a mediocre sequel and an amazing reboot on the Gamecube, the series was left out to die. It doesn't help that it was developed by Sting Entertainment.
    • Phantom Brave is a truly remarkable game developed by Nippon Ichi (the people behind Disgaea series). Even though two remakes have been remade for the game on both Wii and PSP, the game has yet to make a sequel.
    • Legacy of Kain. Despite setting a new standard for thought-provoking plots and dialogue, these successes meant gameplay was traded off and resulted in the series' silent downfall, with the most recent game, 2003's Defiance, selling below expectations and without real resolution, and a potential sequel, The Dark Prophecy, quickly became Vaporware. Adding the fact that the head writer for the series is now working for Naughty Dog and the voice of the series' Big Bad is dead, and you can tell they're not going to put out another game any time soon.
    • Conker's Bad Fur Day: It was going to have a sequel, but after Rare being bought out by Microsoft and some Executive Meddling the game was instead just re-made with better graphics...and censored.
    • A console example, the infamous Sega Dreamcast. Same could be said for most of Sega's systems.
    • Dino Crisis promised an interesting premise, and while not as popular as its sister franchise Resident Evil or its inspiration Jurassic Park, it won over enough fans largely by emulating the Survival Horror aspects of the one and exploiting the dino appeal of the other. Dino Crisis 2 took the series in a new direction, which made it something of a Contested Sequel, but Dino Crisis 3 turned out to be a Franchise Killer, much to the dismay of fans of the previous titles. No sequels have ever been announced since then.
    • Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy: Ends on a "To be Continued." But with the Midway Lawsuit a sequel really looks unlikely.
    • Jet Moto.
    • ActRaiser. The sequel removed the simulation gameplay, and needless to say flopped.
      • Them making the action only gameplay ridiculously hard, also didn't help matters.
    • The Ogre Battle series was intended to be a seven-episode game series, but only episodes V, VII, and VI (released in that order) were made. Yasumi Matsuno, the series' creator, left Quest during the development of Ogre Battle 64 to work for Squaresoft, where he worked on Final Fantasy Tactics. Even after Square Enix purchased Quest, he refused to work on any Ogre Battle, choosing to concentrate on the so-called "Ivalice series". Now that Matsuno left Square Enix, it seems unlikely we'll ever see any of the first five Ogre Battle episodes. It might be on its way to revival, however, with the announcement of a remake of Tactics Ogre headed by Yasumi Matsuno himself. Keep your fingers crossed!
    • Eternal Darkness Sanitys Requiem, while no official word has stated the sequels won't come, isn't actively in production, which probably means we'll never see it. The developer company is now associated with Microsoft, and is much more interested in continuing the lackluster Too Human. Penny Arcade even wrote a comic about it.
    • Xenosaga, while it did get a trilogy completed, the creators were forced to wrap up halfway through their intended story, making the events in the third game, which should have taken place over several in order to properly develop the characters (especially noticable with all 4 Testaments, all of whom are deeply linked to a different main character, having their respective stories wrapped up fairly quickly). Even then, the final game ends with a cliff hanger. In addition, this cancellation also meant that the extra games, including those that went into detail about the events between the second and third game, would not leave Japan.
    • The Last Express was adored by critics and many players, but a complete lack of advertising and a limited distribution by the dying Broderbund company made it a huge commercial flop. What made it worse is that the game's story sets things up for a sequel at the end, with Cath presumably on his way to Jerusalem to get a look at a mysterious manuscript. Though Interplay re-released it for a brief period before going bankrupt, and Gametap now has it available, it is highly unlikely anyone will ever make a sequel.
      • Not to mention the fact that it was one of the few good games, at the time, to feature multiple endings.
    • Humongous Entertainment constantly received critical acclaim in its day, but with 2D and the Adventure Game markets slowly dying out, the company was eventually forced to shut down. Atari now owns the rights, but have failed to make a decent game since.
    • The System Shock series. Both were commercial failures but were critically acclaimed and System Shock 2 in particular is widely regarded as one of the greatest FP Ses in history.
    • Anachronox ended with a huge cliffhanger that thanks to producer ION Storm imploding will never get resolved.
    • Fear Effect. Fear Effect Inferno was going to be the third game for the series, but Kronos folded. There are clips showing things that were supposed to happen in this game. This is the first clip. This is the second clip. This is the third clip. This is the fourth clip. This is the fifth clip. This is the sixth clip. This is the seventh clip. This is the eighth clip. This is the ninth and final clip.
    • Baten Kaitos was an unusual RPG series on the Gamecube, featuring a World in the Sky populated by Winged Humanoids. Neither of the games sold particularly well, but over the years, they've gained a small fanbase. A third game was planned, but cancelled due to poor sales and lack of interest.
      • There are rumors that a third game might be in the works, though...


    • The fabulous teen series DRAMA! never had more than a miniscule yet devoted fanbase, so Simon & Schuster decided to stop publishing it after just four books. Fortunately, they gave Paul Ruditis the bad news before he started the fourth book, so he was able to speed up some story arcs to give his characters the ending they deserved.


    • Andromeda (UK); power trio featuring future Atomic Rooster guitarist John Du Cann
    • At The Drive-In
    • The Avalanches
    • Syd Barrett
    • Black Star
    • Big Star
    • Blind Faith. Meaningfully named by the band members in response to fan hype. They knew it wouldn't last, from the beginning.
    • Blodwyn Pig; British blues group featuring ex-Jethro Tull guitarist Mick Abrahams. Their first album did real well, but a supposedly lackluster second album, along with the pressures of the music industry, led main songwriter Abrahams to leave, effectively crippling the group.
    • David Bowie's album 1.Outside was supposed to be the first of a trilogy. Unfortunately, Bowie decided to cancel the other two parts.
      • If this is unfortunate depends on wether or not you believe that the other two parts could have lived up to the expectations...
    • Catherine Wheel
    • Chagall Guevara
    • Chickenfoot possibly with drummer Chad Smith returning exclusively to The Red Hot Chili Peppers and guitarist Joe Satriani most likely going back to the studio for another solo album.
      • A second album is due in the fall of 2011, so it appears that Chickenfoot will be a part-time thing. And Chad and Joe are still in the band.
    • Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains
    • Crucial Three. It tells something when a band that only existed for about six weeks and never recorded a song or at least performed in public in that time still gets a wikipedia and an allmusic entry.
      • They get their own pages mostly because of the important post-punk acts founded in its wake, bassist Julian Cope's Teardrop Explodes, guitarist Pete Wylie's Wah!, and vocalist Ian Mc Culloch's Echo and the Bunnymen.
    • Dixie Dregs
    • The Exploding Hearts. If only their van hadn't flipped over on the highway...
    • The Flying Burrito Brothers
    • The Fugees (and Lauryn Hill's solo career)
    • Buddy Holly - Author Existence Failure
    • Husker Du
    • JJ72
    • Jellyfish. Two commercially ignored fantastic albums, two different lineups, end of story. Other members formed groups and solo acts since, but it seems to be the last we'll ever hear of them.
    • Josef K
    • Joy Division, though they lived on, in a way, as New Order.
    • Kyuss
    • The La's
    • Life Without Buildings (even though it seemed more like an art project than an actual band).
    • Richey-era Manic Street Preachers
    • mclusky
    • The Minutemen
    • Mother Love Bone
    • Morphine, thanks to Author Existence Failure
    • My Bloody Valentine
    • Nailbomb. One studio album, one live album then they deliberately made the decision to quit while they were ahead. The live album was even called Proud to Commit Commercial Suicide.
    • Neutral Milk Hotel
    • New Kingdom: Pioneering Psychedelic Rock and Rap Rock band. Dropped off the face of the Earth after their second and best album, Paradise Don't Come Cheap.
    • New York Dolls. Two albums with the classic line-up, then they fizzled out just as the punk movement was finding its legs.
    • The New Radicals
    • Nirvana
    • The Normal are best known for the creepy, ahead-of-its-time, oft-covered and anthologized proto-synth pop song "Warm Leatherette". Unfortunately, if you really like that song, there's only one other Normal song, "TVOD", which was originally its A-side. There's also The Silicon Teens, who, like The Normal, are an alias for Daniel Miller, and put out one album consisting of intentionally synthesizer-heavy oldies covers with a few originals mixed in. Beyond that, Miller has primarily stuck with producing, remixing, and occasionally being credited for synthesizer or programming on other people's albums.
    • N.W.A.
    • Omaha Sheriff. In spite of copious amounts of talent, some really quite excellent songs, some airplay on American radio and a big boost from famous producer Tony Visconti, they managed to record only two albums in their lifetime, only one of which was ever released. The release of their album Come Hell or Waters High at the same time as the punk explosion was devastatingly ill-timed. None of their music has been released on CD.
    • Bill Nelson's Red Noise, a fun and inventive New Wave group that lasted for one album and a few singles before Nelson went on to lead a successful solo career.
    • The Runaways
    • The Sex Pistols, who popularized punk rock, only managed to record a single album (on which the band's best-known member didn't even play a single note) before collapsing under their own self-loathing. Sure, they've toured on and off since 1996, but they've never gotten around to recording any new material in all that time.
    • Sleep released 2 albums, the second considered a classic of the Stoner Rock genre. their third album was a single hour long track that the label decided was unmarketable, they were dropped from the label and shortly after decided it was time to call it quits. the member's seperate projects since then make you wonder what could have been. (had they continued together, the album was finally given a proper release 7 years later)
    • The Smiths
    • Stone Roses
    • The Traveling Wilburys. Roy Orbison's death probably didn't help... not to mention of course they were all superstars to begin with.
    • Uncle Tupelo, although their breakup spawned a couple of bands (Wilco, Son Volt) that were pretty damn great in their own right.
    • The Unicorns
    • Ritchie Valens - Author Existence Failure
    • Amy Winehouse - Author Existence Failure
    • Young Marble Giants
      • Though the Islands are good also.


    • The Stan Freberg Show was canceled by the CBS radio network after running for only 15 episodes, due to failure to attract a sponsor. Stan Freberg took favorite sketch requests a week before the final episode to thank fans for their enthusiasm for the show. Thank goodness all the episodes survive.
    • Australian comedian Tony Martin's Get This was a massively clever and energetic show that mocked a lot of radio conventions. Because of this it was axed despite being not only network Triple M's top rating show, but also the ONLY show rating vaguely well. Note it continued to be the top-rating show in spite of undergoing three timeslot shifts.


    • The Formula One race track in Istanbul, introduced in 2005, got called "the best race track in the world" by Bernie Ecclestone (President and CEO of Formula One Management). It got pushed off the calender for the 2012 calender, meaning it only ever hosted six Grand Prix.


    • Xevoz and its tie-in comic. The toyline from Hasbro (with aid from Stikfas) was made up of figures with interchangeable parts and weapons, and a collectible card like game, using the figures themselves and "Battle Helix" dice. It only lasted for four series of figures, but that's two more than it seemed the line would support. After seemingly being cancelled after Series 2, and again after Series 3 (plus some deluxe sets), Xevoz finally disappeared for good (for now).
    • Hornby's Were Bears were discontinued after 1989 despite them being very well made and original toys. They have become very sought after and collectable toys since then. A few new websites hint that they may be being made once again and might even have a movie or cartoon series made after them.
    • Zoids models
    • Transformers: The Alternators were Hasbro's finally giving the adult Periphery Demographic (the Trope Namer for Ruined FOREVER) what they had been begging for since the 80s: big, complex, show accurate "collector" toys. Adult fans loved it, but it turns out they didn't make up as much of the audience/buyers as they thought and the Alternators didn't sell well enough to continue. The Alternators continue to rack up impressive sums of money on eBay, though, and they are pretty sweet.
    • Stan Winston Creatures, makers of, amongst other things, the Furry-friendly Realm of the Claw action figures. Thanks to a dispute with Toys 'R Us, the exclusive distributor of the company's toys, they were forced to put a hold on further toy development. After languishing in Development Hell for years, once Stan Winston died...
    • My Scene dolls, had a small but devoted fandom. Now it's not even didtributed out of South America.


    • The Film Crew, a Spiritual Successor to Mystery Science Theater 3000 helmed by Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy. The four episodes available on Amazon are the only four there were and are likely to ever be. Fortunately, their second attempt at a spiritual revival of MST3K, Riff Trax, seems to have been a hit.

    Shows that were rescued (Exceptions)

    • Angel: While the show ran long enough and the finale was appropriate enough to make it feel like a show that naturally ended, a sixth season was planned but cancelled. Joss Whedon was broken up about it.
    • Arrested Development, although this show managed at least 3 seasons, about 2 1/2 more than most of the others on this list, it still stung because of the massive positive critical response and awards won.
    • Babylon 5: Canceled after season four, forcing the producers to compress stories intended for two seasons into one. Then they were picked up for a fifth season on TNT.
    • Better Off Ted: ABC did its best to keep it on for a second season despite abysmal ratings but decided to let it go once the second season couldn't turn it around.
    • The Critic (ABC and Fox; both networks cancelled it.)
    • Danny Phantom (Nickelodeon): Creator Butch Hartman expressed interest in continuing the series but Nickelodeon wouldn't have it. At least he still managed to give it a Grand Finale, despite the third season only being about half as long as the other two.
    • Dark Angel. Fox show. Only an exception in the sense of having had two seasons, otherwise characterized by everything it says at the top. Third season greenlit and then abruptly cancelled.
    • Daria: After the end of the series' 5th season, MTV gave Glenn Eichler an option: a 6-episode 6th season or another Made for TV Movie. Eichler, running out of ideas, choose the movie, and the series ended with Is It College Yet?
    • Two DCU examples: Both Blue Beetle and Manhunter, which had been on the very brink of cancellation for their entire runs, were recently canceled at just under 50 issues, managing to wrap up their storylines in a satisfying way. In that time, Manhunter was canceled and revived twice. Both returned as back up features (in Booster Gold and Batman: Streets of Gotham respectively).
      • Also: The two 'Red Circle' books ("The Shield" and "The Web") had their plots wrapped up in the current "Mighty Crusaders" mini-series!
    • Dollhouse: Miraculously managed to get a second season in spite of low ratings because Fox was aware of the dedicated fanbase, but was cancelled after episode 2.04 aired. On the one hand, that seems premature; on the other hand, it gave the crew time to write and film a series finale instead of just a season finale.
    • Due South (CBS) had a wobbly history, including getting canceled twice, but it aired four seasons and ended on its own terms.
    • Exo Squad (USA): Note that they DID finish off a couple story arcs before the cancellation hit, so it could also count as a counter example. Its later cousin, Wing Commander Academy, fared far worse (13 eps, cut off right in the middle when USA Network pulled all of their Saturday morning cartoon lineup.)
    • For Your Love [2] was first aired on NBC and cancelled after six episodes, it was then picked up by The WB and managed to last for another four seasons. It was renewed in spite of suffering a 70% drop in ratings during the third season, though it's final years on the network were a bit spotty, as it frequently shifted schedules and came very close to being cancelled after the fourth season, and six episodes episodes of the fifth season(including the series finale and one christmas-themed episode that was held back from the fourth season) were unaired in the original run, though TV One later picked up For Your Love for reruns and the missing episodes were finally aired.
    • Freakazoid!: One of the best comedy cartoons of the 90's. Unfortunately, it was built on Parental Bonus, even though it was put on Kids' WB. Only got two seasons.
    • Friday Night Lights: A rather unusual example. After airing on NBC for two seasons, the acclaimed but low-rated show was saved from cancellation by moving to DirecTV's "101 Network" channel for three more seasons, with NBC itself re-airing the show each spring after the 101 Network run had ended.
    • Futurama: Vindication was had at last in 2007, when the show was Uncanceled.
    • Home Movies: UPN pulled the plug after just five episodes, but Adult Swim picked it up for the rest of the first season and then another three years.
    • The 2002 revival of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (Cartoon Network); shared the same fate as the toyline revival.
    • JAG was first aired on NBC, and then canceled after the first season. CBS then picked it up partially because of its massive popularity in Australia, and ran it for another nine years, during which it became one of the most popular shows on television (and spawned the More Popular Spinoff, NCIS).
    • Kyle XY: One of ABC Family's most successful shows, which was canceled after its third season. And right when a dramatic twist regarding Kyle's origin is revealed! The producers soon after revealed what had been planned for later seasons. By no means a brilliant series, it was still head-and-shoulders above its competition. It had a sci-fi premise, stellar acting, and a great deal of maturity. To put it into perspective, Kyle XY died because it wasn't pulling in as much ratings as The Secret Life of the American Teenager.
    • La Femme Nikita (USA): The cancellation announcement was made suddenly at the end of the fourth season, with lots of Canon Fodder just hanging there. This prompted a massive fan campaign and there was a fifth "half season" to answer some of the major questions and give a Bittersweet Ending for some closure.
    • Moral Orel: The show made a nice ending, but the writers were forced to cut plotlines that would have come up in later episodes.
    • My Name Is Earl (NBC): Lasted a reasonable 4 years, never a ratings giant but had a good number of fans. Unexpectedly canceled on a Cliff Hanger.
    • Noonbory And The Super Seven: Easily the best Saturday-morning show that CBS aired after the 2006 break-up with Nickelodeon, Cookie Jar yanked it out of CBS' Saturday-morning line-up after one season because it wasn't based on a big enough license. However, Cookie Jar decided to place it on one of their Syndication packages in October 2010. However, it was short-lived, as it was off the air AGAIN after only one season due to Cookie Jar cancelling its Syndication deals!
    • Northern Exposure: a quirk-fest that began as a mid-season replacement, not usually a recipe for success on network TV, nevertheless managed to air six seasons and rack up plaudits and fans.
    • News Radio was fast paced and witty, but suffered a lot of time slot changes by NBC and it never quite made it to the top of the ratings not to mention the death of an important cast member well into the series, and yet it managed to go on for five seasons.
    • Oz
    • ReBoot: Did well pretty much everywhere it aired, but ABC yanked it after two. It did well in Canada and on Cartoon Network for a third season, abruptly canceled upon edging out a fourth season three years later. Always seems to get a good break with talk of being Uncanceled with a series of movies.
    • Sliders: was cancelled after its first season, brought back as a mid-season replacement the following year after fan protesting, and aired two more seasons on Fox. The SYFY channel produced a fourth and fifth season before finally cancelling it.
    • Space Cases: Guess what other space series this show shares an actress with. Go on, guess. She got written out of the show after season 1, though... Too bad for Nickelodeon.
      • She was "written out" because she had a prior commitment to another Too Goodto Last show, Disney Channel's Flash Forward (which had nothing to do with ABC's Flash Forward).
    • The Goode Family: Friday Night Death Slot.
    • Star Trek: The Original Series: canceled after its second season due to poor ratings, it was revived by one of the first fan campaigns.
    • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, victim of a Retool that turned off its viewer base.
    • The Tick (animation): Not only did the cult-favorite animated series last only three seasons, but its live-action counterpart sadly ended with only one season (and two episodes never even aired).
    • Titus: The creator even said that he preferred it was canceled due to Executive Meddling and risky material then not being popular or funny.
    • Undergrads
    • Veronica Mars is right on the borderline, with three seasons on UPN/the CW network.
    • ECW: Partially due to TNN's refusal to advertise or even acknowledge the show, using it as a test drive to drop it for WWF.
    • Stargate Universe was canceled midway through its second season with 10 episodes left; those are set to air as planned but it will not be getting a third season.
      • A lot of people would disagree that the show is an example of this. Ultimately, it died for lack of ratings and not the FOX treatment. A Soap Opera In Space! just wasn't what sci-fi fans, let alone fans of the previous series it's named after, wanted and when they went away, so did SGU.
        • The second season's ratings did sink like a stone, but it bears noting that it was after a time-slot change. Funnily enough it was REMOVED from the Friday slot and did worse.
      • What is sad is that this may mean the SGA and SG1 movies, already in Development Hell, are off the table as well (Word of God says they're "indefinitely postponed"). A franchise of new 'gate films with the level of epicness seen in Stargate: Continuum would have been the coolest thing ever - too cool to last.
    • The Wire had five full seasons. However, considering the widespread acclaim (some even declared it the best series ever), its ratings were dismal.
    • Averted (for now) with the One Piece simulcasts. Before the first simulcast could even be done, real "pirates" stole the episode from Funimation's servers and illegally distributed it, resulting in a four month freeze before it finally came back and started for real. In fact, this led to Funimation instituting new security measures.
    1. For example, Red Tuxedo, which was meant to be the season finale and ended with Gina ditching Turk for Mondo, opening up to more possibilities on where their relationship would go, aired as the 8th episode, while Backstage Babs, which was the 9th episode chronologically, aired as the "season finale".
    2. (perhaps the most unusual example on this page as despite airing for 4 years on a major network not all that long ago, hardly anyone seems to have even heard of this show let alone remember it)