On Friday (June 8), Netflix airs the movie-length finale of Sense8, its original sci-fi series that lasted only two seasons before its cancellation. While its viewership was loyal, its size wasn't large enough to support what Netflix officials said was an expensive show to produce.
So, now is as good a time as any to look back at the best shows that got axed too early. Some shows also inspired movies, while others were picked up by other networks (before getting canceled yet again).
Credit: Murray Close/Netflix
The high school noir series Veronica Mars — led by Kristen Bell — picked up the Strong, Witty Female Lead torch that Buffy The Vampire Slayer mic-dropped at the end of its seven-season run. A hit with critics for its excellent season-long mysteries, the show struggled to gain an audience during its first two seasons on UPN. A third season that brought Ms. Mars and her friends (and frenemies) to college aired on The CW, and dealt with sexual assault on college campuses in ways that felt ahead of its time. A Kickstarter-backed film followed many years later, but felt too cobbled together, as the Mars family's investigations fit better in a longer, drawn- out format. — Henry T. Casey
This is among the long list of shows brimming with potential that was canceled by Fox before its time. Almost Human was a sci-fi buddy cop show packed with creative action scenes and quality CGI. A shunned, human cop who hates androids, Karl Urban (Star Trek), gets teamed up with a new partner, Michael Ealy (Barbershop), who happens to be an obsolete android. These two outcasts reluctantly pair up, and each episode throws a brand-new case at them with interesting sci-fi gimmicks. While it may sound incredibly cliché, the show actually proved to be quite campy due to the performances and chemistry of the two leads. It had some decent world-building as well, leaving you wondering what was really outside the walls of the city. There's an entire universe filled with intense action, natural comedy and fluid drama waiting to be embraced by audiences. — Rami Tabari
It almost feels greedy to ask for another season of Bryan Fuller's Hannibal, which was so insanely gruesome that I'm still surprised NBC aired it. The show focuses on the complicated relationship between Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) and the man hunting him down: FBI special investigator Will Graham (Hugh Dancy). If that synopsis — and the promise of Gillian Anderson portraying Lecter's psychotherapist, Bedelia Du Maurier — tickles your fancy, then run to Amazon Prime Video now, and avoid any spoilers about the show. Yes, the show could easily have a fourth season, and fill some of the void that Game of Thrones is about to create. — Henry T. Casey
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Party Down operated on a fantastic premise: a catering company of screwups, based out of Los Angeles, goes from party to party, trying to survive their mundane, soul-sucking work. The show was anchored by Ken Marino's amazingly pathetic performance as Ron, who's dying to leave the group and start a chain of Soup 'R Crackers restaurants.
It's argued that Starz's cult-hit comedy Party Down had to die, in order for Adam Scott (Henry) to take the role of Ben Wyatt on Parks and Recreation. But that discounts the dry, biting comedic timing of Lizzy Caplan (Casey), who could have led the show for multiple seasons into the future. — Henry T. Casey
Credit: Ron Batzdorff/Starz
Hank Dolworth (Donal Logue) is an ex-cop who got booted from the force and the house he shared with his now-ex-wife, and who is seriously down on his luck. How bad is it? The first episode finds him dealing with an old friend's death, struggling to pay past-due alimony checks, and taking a job from a real estate mogul he doesn't trust. Luckily, his old buddy, Britt Pollack (Michael Raymond-James), is also in need of a payday, and the two partner together.
Terriers didn't make it longer than a season on FX, which was a great home for murky crime dramas. Maybe it didn't grab an audience because of its focus on relationships and frustration with an upper class developing every property lot in sight. And perhaps because it didn't offer the sex appeal of Sons of Anarchy, or the violence of The Shield. But if you enjoy the short season, you can find more of Donal Logue as Detective Harvey Bullock on Fox's Gotham. — Henry T. Casey
In 2002, a bickering band of runaways packed themselves onto the Serenity, a Firefly-class spaceship, and stole everything from black-market goods to the hearts and devotion of a legion of fans. The ship's led by the boorish, stubborn Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) who wouldn't survive without the help of his first mate, Zoe Washburne (Gina Torres), who is married to the ship's pilot Hoban "Wash" Washburne (Alan Tudyk). Mechanic Kaylee (Jewel Staite) gave the crew a bit of optimism, while the surly Jayne (Adam Baldwin) matched her enthusiasm with cynicism. The cast included Morena Baccarin as Inara, a Companion (a classy sex worker of the future), and Sean Maher and Summer Glau, who played Simon and River Tam, a brother and sister pair on the lam..
To the dismay of the show's small but rabid fanbase, Firefly was showrunner Joss Whedon's shortest-running TV series, running only three months, from Sept. 20 to Dec. 20. Those fans managed to push Fox to give the Serenity one last voyage, as a feature-length movie. — Henry T. Casey
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After stealing the show in Captain America: The First Avenger, Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) got an excellent spin-off show that continued the adventures of the witty, badass super-spy. Agent Carter was playful 1940s noir at its finest, balancing Carter's deep-cover investigations with her everyday struggles as a single girl in New York City (and later Los Angeles). It also had a great supporting cast, with Dominic Cooper reprising his role as Howard Stark and James D'Arcy playing the charming Edwin Jarvis (you know, before he was Tony Stark's A.I.). Sure, Agent Carter's second season wasn't as thrilling as the first, but it's still one of the stronger TV projects to come out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And we need a resolution to that cliffhanger ending. — Mike Andronico
Credit: Kelsey McNeal/ABC