Top 10 TV Show Cancelations That Made Fans RAGE QUIT
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Just one more season, please! For this list, we'll be looking at the most beloved TV programs that were axed, greatly upsetting devoted viewers. We will be including shows that were later brought back. Our countdown includes "Freaks and Geeks", "Sense8", "Futurama" and more!
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 TV show cancellations that made fans rage quit. For this list, we’ll be looking at the most beloved TV programs that were axed, greatly upsetting devoted viewers. We will be including shows that were later brought back. Did you watch any of these shows when they first aired? Let us know in the comments below!
#10: “Freaks and Geeks” (1999-2000)
Now a beloved cult classic, “Freaks and Geeks” initially struggled. Don’t get us wrong, the teen show received three Emmy nominations and won for Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series. However, NBC reportedly didn’t understand what creator Paul Feig and his team of writers were doing, and the show was never given a consistent schedule. So ratings suffered. Only 12 episodes were aired before it was canceled, despite 18 being produced. Fans were greatly upset about this, and the remaining episodes eventually became available. Luckily, the series later received an enormous boost in popularity after many of its actors – like Seth Rogen and Jason Segel, became major stars.
#9: “Sense8” (2015-18)
Co-created by the Wachowski sisters and J. Michael Straczynski, “Sense8” was a beloved sci-fi show about a group of individuals who shared a mental link. It was positively received, earning a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Drama Series and snagging two two Emmy nominations. However, it was too expensive to continue making the program without a higher viewership, so it was canceled after two seasons and 23 episodes – on a cliffhanger, no less. The outraged fanbase were extremely vocal online, making their feelings known through the likes of hashtags and petitions. As a response to the passion, Netflix commissioned a 24th episode to serve as a series finale and wrap up dangling storylines.
#8: “Twin Peaks” (1990-91; 2017)
An idiosyncatic show from Mark Frost and David Lynch, “Twin Peaks” centers on FBI agent Dale Cooper as he attempts to solve a homicide in the sleepy town of Twin Peaks. While the show was a huge success in its first season, viewership started dropping off midway through the second. A messy cancellation followed, which included changed time slots and multiple hiatuses. In response, the “Citizens Opposed to the Offing of Peaks” (or, playfully, COOP), wrote letters to the network. A so-called “protest meeting” was also held in Washington, D.C., and was attended by nearly 200 fans. “Twin Peaks” retained a devoted fan base throughout the decades, and was brought back for a limited third season in 2017.
#7: “Quantum Leap” (1989-93; 2022-)
Initially airing between 1989 to ‘93, “Quantum Leap” was a sci-fi show that followed Sam Beckett, a physicist who continuously hopped through time and attempted to fix historical errors. The show was widely beloved and earned six Emmys throughout its lifetime. However, it struggled in the ratings. To help generate attention, NBC created “Quantum Leap Week,” during which they aired episodes nightly. The campaign seemingly didn’t work, as the show was canceled, leaving behind disappointed fans. But, thanks to its reputation, NBC decided to give viewers a 2022 revival. It serves as the show’s sixth season, and is set thirty years after the original.
#6: “American Vandal” (2017-18)
This true crime spoof follows high school students Peter and Sam as they attempt to uncover the truth behind various crimes. Season one is about the vandalization of faculty vehicles. In season two, the aptly-named Turd Burglar spikes the school’s lemonade with a laxative. The mockumentary received universal acclaim and even won a Peabody. Despite the accolades, Netflix axed it after the second season. This generated a slew of articles from major websites and publishers condemning the move and praising “American Vandal” as one of the best shows around. Unfortunately, it seems quality alone does not dictate the survival of a show.
#5: “Deadwood” (2004-06)
HBO has given us numerous excellent shows throughout its legendary history, and “Deadwood” is certainly one of them. Airing for three seasons from 2004 to 2006, it followed the titular South Dakota town as it grew increasingly civilized. “Deadwood” is often regarded as one of the best shows ever made and is typically praised for its writing. But for various reasons, the show was canceled after its third season, abruptly leaving behind an unfinished story. To help placate the frustrated fans, HBO and creator David Milch decided to wrap up the story through two made-for-TV films. These plans floundered for over a decade before “Deadwood: The Movie” was finally released in 2019.
#4: “Futurama” (1999-2003; 2008-13)
Created by Matt Groening of “The Simpsons” fame, “Futurama” is about lovable goofball Philip Fry, a man from the present who suddenly finds himself in the year 2999. Despite consistent acclaim, Fox reportedly wasn’t keen on bolstering the show, and let it die in 2003 following its fourth season. However, there was still enormous demand for the program, and Cartoon Network had great success in airing reruns. In fact, it was such a success that Comedy Central had four straight-to-DVD movies made, which were later turned into a season of their own. Two more seasons were made by Comedy Central before the show was once again axed. But once again, it was revived - this time in 2022 by Hulu. There’s just no keeping “Futurama” down.
#3: “Veronica Mars” (2004-07; 2019)
A beloved piece of detective fiction, “Veronica Mars” stars Kristen Bell as the titular student slash private investigator. The show attracted a very vocal fan base that tried, in various ingenious ways, to boost its popularity. The so-called “Cloud Watchers” even reportedly had thousands of Mars bars sent to the CW’s head office when the series was canceled in 2007. The impassioned viewers were extremely eager to get a “Veronica Mars” movie made, and they raised a collective $5.7 million on Kickstarter, making it happen. As if that wasn’t enough, a fourth season followed the film in 2019, proving that there’s still plenty of demand for more investigative shenanigans.
#2: “Hannibal” (2013-15)
By 2013, the Hannibal Lecter universe was getting a little long in the tooth, with 2007’s “Hannibal Rising” earning particular ire. In came “Hannibal” and creator Bryan Fuller to give it new life. An adaptation of Thomas Harris’s novels, it was notably praised for its inventiveness and Mads Mikkelsen’s performance as the title character. However, the show was tragically canceled after its third season and never got to adapt “The Silence of the Lambs.” The decision left many fans flabbergasted, and they’ve been pining for more material ever since. As of 2022, “Hannibal” is still canceled, but talks of a fourth season or possible miniseries have reportedly taken place.
#1: “Firefly” (2002)
This is the poster child for “beloved shows getting canceled and leaving behind an irate and incredibly eager fan base.” It centers on the ragtag crew of the Serenity, who explore the outer reaches of a distant star system. “Firefly’s” life on TV was a mess from the start, as Fox ditched the original pilot and aired the episodes out of order. It was very quickly canceled, before all 14 episodes had even made it to air. The fans were impassioned and did everything they could to raise awareness of the show, like donating DVDs to the U.S. Navy. Their public support (as well as excellent DVD sales) resulted in a movie called “Serenity,” which was released in 2005.