The best TV shows offer intriguing characters, masterful performances, and solid storylines. As a result, shows can gain a cult following that endures even if the show's run is prematurely cancelled.
"Pushing Daisies" is about a pie maker with the power to bring the dead back to life, beginning with his childhood sweetheart. The pie maker, his girlfriend, a detective, and a waitress solve weekly mysteries in whimsical settings like magician's castles and honey factories. "Pushing Daisies" even drew critical acclaim, including Emmy nominations.
This one-season series was the creation of Joss Whedon of "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer" fame. The show focuses on the crew of Serenity, a Firefly class spaceship. Serenity's crew takes on cargo for hire and delivers it to various outposts in space. The show drew notice for its western-like flavor, storylines, characters, and ensemble acting.
After she was Phoebe Buffay, Lisa Kudrow became Valerie Cherish, an ex-star trying to reclaim the limelight with a reality show in “The Comeback.” Unfortunately, the show was ahead of its time and never resonated with large audiences in 2005. The good news is that the show got to come back for a second season in 2014, where it met a much larger and more appreciative crowd.
Freaks and Geeks
This Paul Feig creation featured a lot of familiar faces from Judd Apatow films, including Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and James Franco. The show examined relationships among misfits and popular kids as they navigated life at McKinley High in the 1980s. The comedy drama drew notice for depicting the poignant pain of high school life.
Better Off Ted
Following the daily life of workers in a fictional, soulless research and development company, “Better Off Ted” perfected witty and satirical humor. Although it was praised for its comedy and the character of Veronica Palmer (portrayed by Portia de Rossi) became a fan favorite, the series was cancelled due to low ratings.
The TV saga "Deadwood" engaged audiences with its sober portrayal of the American West circa 1876. The series centered on the relationship of lawman, Seth Bullock, and saloon owner, Al Swearengen, and the lives they affected. Ian McShane's performance as Swearengen mesmerized loyal fans. Unhappy show devotees did not like how the series closed with loose ends and unanswered questions.
"Arrested Development" originally started on the Fox network before finding a home on Netflix. Creative differences with show creator, Mitchell Hurwitz, marketing, the show's air time, and audience ratings contributed to its cancellation. The show has seen a revival through online network Netflix.
The brainchild of Paul Rudd and Rob Thomas, among others, “Party Down” enlisted a star-studded cast (and quite a few cameos) to play struggling actors working as caterers. Due to low ratings and two actors leaving the show for bigger projects (Adam Scott for “Parks and Recreation” and Jane Lynch for “Glee”), the show was cancelled but continues to be beloved. A movie script is currently being written so a comeback seems very likely.
A blend of a workplace sitcom and an action-packed spy show, “Chuck” told the story of a computer whiz who accidentally learns all of the C.I.A.’s secrets and must become a spy. The show was set for cancellation after season two due to failing ratings, but devoted fans launched a successful campaign to renew the show. Although “Chuck” continued to be on the cusp of cancellation, it held on until finishing five seasons.
After three seasons, ABC canceled David Caspe’s smartly written ensemble comedy series in 2013 as a result of lowered ratings stemming from the network’s erratic scheduling of the show’s final season. Despite various accolades, the show took too long to find its footing and was never made a priority to ABC. The show got better with each new season as the cast finally jelled, and it sadly was cancelled after its best season of all.
Although Jennifer Love-Hewitt's supernatural drama did last 5 seasons, fans of the heartwarming and creepy show still want more. The show featured Love-Hewitt as a woman with the ability to communicate with the dead.
A series focused on the life and trials of teens, the show revolutionized how young people are portrayed on TV. It contrasted with "90210" by focusing on the pains of growing up in a middle-class high school. Claire Danes portrayed 15-year-old Angela with an air of indolence and frustration with the world. It encouraged similar shows to show the actual experiences of teen life.
Still a cult classic, this show about an incredibly resourceful high school detective had fans hooked from the get-go. It's smart writing and compelling plot lines were the perfect launching pad for Kristen Bell to take over Hollywood. Fans loved the show so much, that they even crowdsourced a movie based on the show!
This quirky and eerie series had well-known stars supported by good writing. The story focuses on carnival life during the Great Depression. Ben Hawkins discovers he has a healing gift. Brother Justin does God's will. Together, Ben and the minister are actors in a conflict of good and evil. Fans craved more and were unhappy when the series wasn't renewed after its second season.
"Journeyman" followed Dan Vasser (Kevin McKidd), a man with the gift of time travel. He used his gift to help people in need. The mystery of how Vasser got his powers, his mission, and the role of fellow traveler, Livia Beale attracted audiences to the series, which drew critical notice for its strong acting and well-plotted stories emphasizing relationships.
Like "Firefly," this was another sci-fi creation from the mind of Joss Whedon that was cancelled before its time. Although the show about programmable human "dolls" met low ratings, fans of the series know how original and compelling the story lines and acting in the 2-season series are.