Despite a heap of critical acclaim, Southland got the axe earlier this week. NBC gave fans the kind of surprise that happens all too often when smart TV shows are still trying to find an audience. We wanted to look back on other TV series that were canceled too soon. A half-dozen networks are represented here, but it seems like Fox and ABC are the quickest to give up on great television. A couple animated shows—Futurama and Family Guy—managed to survive the first cancellation, and it’s still possible that Southland will find a home on cable. But those are the exceptions. These 15 classic shows all died too young.
Andy Barker P.I.
(32 episodes; Sept. 26, 2007 – April 8, 2009; NBC)
Before Jason Schwartzman was privately investigating without a license in Bored to Death, Andy Richter and Arrested Development’s Tony Hale did things the suburban-strip-mall way in this half-hour comedy. Andy Richter Controls the Universe was another short-lived gem on Fox in 2002-03.
(29 episodes; Sept. 20, 2006 – March 25, 2008; CBS)
Fans rallied to bring Jericho back after its first cancellation, but they were more successful at rallying the loyal base than converting casual viewers, and it CBS killed the post-apocalyptic drama a second time in 2008. Now all we’re left with are the hopes that NBC’s Day One doesn’t suck.
(13 episodes; March 12, 2004 – Dec. 15, 2004; Fox)
Prior to Pushing Daisies, Star Trek writer Bryan Fuller co-created the equally quirky Wonderfalls in which an overeducated sales clerk received strange advice from inanimate figurines. After only four episodes and a confusing time-slot change, Fox gave up on the show, and the single season finally aired on Logo in the summer of 2005.
12. Love Monkey
(8 episodes; Jan. 17, 2006 – May 16, 2006; CBS, VH1)
After Ed, Tom Cavenaugh briefly starred in a quirky dramedy as a record-label exec who left a major label to work at an indie upstart. It was fun, particularly since it delved into familiar territory for those of us at Paste. After three-episodes which featured cameos from Ben Folds, Aimee Mann and James Blunt, CBS pulled the plug, and VH1 aired the remaining five episodes.
11. Dead Like Me
(29 episodes; June 27, 2003 – Oct. 31, 2004; Showtime)
The grim reaper is an 18-year-old directionless college drop-out named Georgia Lass whose post-life boss is a bank robber who died in the 1920s played by Mandy Patinkin. But, sadly, her on-air life was even shorter.