In a reality where ratings dictate how much a network can charge for ad revenue, ratings are everything. Network executives frequently don’t care that a show is gradually improving in total viewers; they want instantaneous results to realize maximum profit. The ratings system is a flawed one, as it is based on an estimate from families with a Nielsen box in their home and only offers an educated guess as to how many people are tuning in to a particular program at any given time. My problem with that is that a lot of Nielsen families have wretched taste and ruin people’s lives with their stupid viewing habits. As a result of that, many shows get cancelled way before their time.
Horror, sci-fi, and fantasy series are a prime target for early cancellation. Since they appeal to a niche audience, they are at a disadvantage from the get go. There are countless shows that have been given the axe long before their time and that is simply maddening. There are an innumerable number of television shows that were taken off the air before they should have been, so with that in mind, we are spotlighting 8 of our favorite genre themed series that were cancelled too soon.
Todd and the Book of Pure Evil
A beloved Canadian television series that aired in the US on FEARnet, Todd and the Book of Pure Evil offered just the right amount of sarcasm, ironic humor, and carnage to satisfy even the most discerning of horror fans. Todd and his dealings with a cursed book are equally funny and entertaining. The show offered ridiculous gags, like a giant talking penis and always made the audience feel as though they were in on the joke. The show was prematurely cancelled after season two and after much effort on the part of the creative team behind the show, financing for a season three was not obtained. The show turned to Kickstarter and was able to source more than their goal to create an animated season three to wrap up the story. As of now, we are unsure on the details as to when the animated third season will be available. If you know anything about the status of season three, let us know in the comments below.
This David Lynch series lives on in the hearts of fans as if it never ended. Never has a television murder been so twisted, depraved, and bizarre as that of Laura Palmer. Twin Peaks has one of the largest cult followings of any series ever to grace the airwaves. The series ran for two seasons and David Lynch was able to provide additional answers with the feature film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. But additional seasons could have explored more of the strange goings on in the town of Twin Peaks or a variety of other things. A lot of the season two episodes were preempted by Gulf War coverage, which made the sometimes tough to follow plotline even more of a challenge. As a result, the ratings declined. It’s a shame that the network lost faith in the show. Had it been given more of a chance to flourish, it could have enjoyed a long run and grown its fan base exponentially.
American Gothic only ran for one season. It had an intricate series of twists and turns like Twin Peaks, and had a similar cult following as well. However, the show’s fan base wasn’t enough to keep it alive. Fans protested, wrote letters, and did everything they could to encourage a second season but their efforts were to no avail. The network felt that the ratings didn’t justify a repeat visit to the town of Trinity. It’s likely too late now but it would be great to see a film that provided closure to the story or even for Netflix or another media conglomerate to resurrect the series and provide closer for the dedicated fans.
Masters of Horror
The Showtime series Master of Horror was a great opportunity for up and coming as well as established filmmakers to showcase their craft. Many noteworthy names contributed to the series, but unfortunately, it only ran for two seasons before being pulled off the air. The real shame is that the show offered newcomers like Lucky McKee a chance to showcase his talent with a nationwide audience. The series was sort of revived for network television, with Mick Garris at the helm, under the name Fear Itself. Fear Itself suffered a similar fate, only lasting one season, consisting of a small number of episodes.
Friday the 13th The Series
This television series followed a group of antiquities dealers tracking down cursed objects that gave their owner great power but not without a steep price. This program, though made by Paramount, had nothing to do with the film franchise. Other than using the name and logo from the Friday the 13th films, there is no real connection. The studio though that using the Friday the 13th name would provide a built in audience for the show. To an extent, their plan worked. The episodic drama ran for three seasons and it has been speculated that the series was cancelled because the time slot was changed for the third season and viewers didn’t catch wind of that in time to keep the series on the air. Whatever the reason for the series’ premature cancellation, it’s unfortunate that the show didn’t last longer. It would be fantastic to see the original cast reunite for a made-for-TV film to cap off the show.
Fear Itself is like an unofficial season three of Masters of Horror. Mick Garris created both programs and each tapped a different director every week to spin a new tale of terror. As it turns out, the idea may have been too violent for network television because the show only ran for one very brief season. The idea behind Fear Itself and Masters of Horror is a great one. It just needs the right network and the right formula. Chiller TV would be a good place for a show like this. The channel airs horror at all hours and is regularly watched by dedicated genre film fans. Maybe, someday we will see Mick Garris take another stab at this format and realize a greater level of success than his previous two attempts have garnered.
Dead Like Me
Dead Like Me was a witty, sarcastic look at life after death and put a hilarious spin on the obligations of the Grim Reapers responsible for guiding the newly dead into the afterlife. The show was full of understated but uproarious dialogue between the core characters and had a fantastic cast. The onscreen dynamic between the leads was among the best I’ve seen in a series of this ilk. The program was lucky enough to be capped off with a film but unfortunately the picture wasn’t as satisfying as one might of hoped and didn’t have the same magic as the television show. The creator of this program also helmed the short-lived Wonder Falls, which had a lot of the magic of Dead Like Me and a somewhat supernatural theme but was also canceled long before its time had come.
The Dresden Files
This SyFy Network series about a paranormal investigator of sorts only produced one short season. It’s unfortunate that the show wasn’t given more of a chance because there is plenty of material to draw from in the books on which the series was based. Also, the cast was very enjoyable. Paul Blackthorne was brilliant as Harry Dresden. The cases Harry would take on were intriguing, and the series left audiences wanting to see more. Had the show been given the chance to catch on, it very likely would have. Perhaps the series will be adapted for the big screen someday but I’m not holding my breath.
What are some of your favorite prematurely cancelled series? Let us know in the comments box below!