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Too Good to Last

"...I thought Avatar was so good that it was sure to be canceled. It seems a little too deep, a little too intelligent for the kind of cartoon I was used to. So I was really delighted when it found an audience and it showed that parents watch what their kids watch, and that a serious show that dealt with important issues could find an audience."
—>—Mark Hamill, discussing his work on an Aversion of this trope.

An intelligent, well written show, usually a subtle blend of comedy and drama, beloved of a devoted group of fans and critics. So why did it never have a chance?

Either the mainstream isn't interested or the network never even gives it a chance to build an audience (usual translation: it's on FOX)... or it's created by Tim Minear, Judd Apatow, Bryan Fuller, or Joss Whedon. Sometimes, someone high up at the network takes a dislike to the show and does everything in his power to kill it. Other times the network doesn't think it fits in If the show is lucky enough to be shown on a cable network in reruns, it may build up a bigger following there than it ever had in its first run.

The observant reader will note that the vast majority of Too Good To Last shows are from the last 15-20 years. This is likely because of the increased emphasis on ratings above all else. On the other hand, the list might be biased toward the past decade because shows like this have an unfortunate tendency to fall off the face of the earth upon cancellation, so our ability to recall and report them is inversely proportional to how long ago they aired.

There's always been an emphasis on ratings in television, but it seems to have become much more pronounced since the early 1990s. It is widely commented upon that Cheers was dead last in the ratings among all regular series in its first season (1982-83), and that a show doing that badly today would almost certainly be canceled within its first month or two. This isn't necessarily a new phenomenon, but some shows only survive by having a network president who is a fan.

Another theory is that the advent of the Internet and the explosion of cable channels has made it harder for these too-soon canceled shows to be forgotten.

For those shows that manage to pull out a few seasons with plenty of network problems before going under, check out the Exception section at the bottom of this page. The main entries are about shows that barely managed to get out a single season, if that. Incidentally, some shows end up canceled only to be Un-Canceled by the network or do a Channel Hop.

Of the exceptions and shows that were Un-Canceled, only a handful were aired on non-cable networks. A series that is Too Good To Last may have better chances on cable than on broadcast networks, in part because cable doesn't demand ratings as high in the first place for the show to be considered a success.

Unfortunately, the fans are only rarely told what would have happened next, because the now unemployed/transferred writers will generally want to recycle their unused ideas into their next job.

Related Tropes

Shows that are Too Good To Last can be Short Runners, but sometimes they are longer.

Examples

Live Action TV and Western Animation

    open/close all folders 

    ABC (American)/ ABC Family 

    CBS 
  • American Gothic
  • Arnie: This satirical early-'70s comedy starred Herschel Bernardi as a loading-dock foreman who suddenly and unexpectedly found himself promoted to corporate management. Poor ratings doomed it after two seasons despite critical acclaim.
  • Bob!: Bob Newhart's third sitcom, starring Newhart as a greeting card artist/writer who jumps at the chance when Ace Comics offers to revive a comic book character he created a few decades earlier. The show withered in a bad Friday night timeslot.
  • Bridget Loves Bernie: This 1972 sitcom about the marriage of a Jewish cabdriver and an upper-class Irish Catholic actually got decent ratings, but CBS canceled it after one season anyway after both Jewish and Catholic groups objected to the premise. (The show did, however, lead to Romance on the Set and eventual marriage between stars David Birney and Meredith Baxter.)
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Century City
  • Christy
  • CHAOS: A spy comedy-drama about a small group of loose-cannon CIA agents, which basically tried to be a lighter, more tongue-in-cheek version of gritty modern-day espionage series like Homeland note . Only 13 episodes were made, and they were shown out of order by the network.
  • Citizen Baines: moved slowly for many viewers but had a great cast headed by James Cromwell.
  • Close To Home was a crime drama based around Annabeth Chase, a criminal prosecutor and showed her trying to balance her work and family life (The first episode is basically Annabeth coming back from maternity leave). The show's two lead characters were both female, something not often seen on CBS crime dramas. The balancing act only got harder after Annabeth's husband was killed in the season 1 finale. The show was cancelled after 2 seasons.
  • East Side West Side was about a social worker who focused on the problems of the inner city and was probably the first American series to seriously address racism. It managed to win an Emmy, but is largely forgotten today.
  • EZ Streets: too raw for CBS, this mob drama from Paul Haggis might have succeeded on cable.
  • The Famous Teddy Z: Created by WKRP's Hugh Wilson, this series starring Jon Cryer and Alex Rocco (who won an Emmy for his character Agent Al Floss) was set in a Hollywood talent agency and was thought in some circles to be too 'inside' to appeal to middle America.
  • The Flash: Based on the comic book character of the same name, this series got canceled after one season due to being constantly shuffled around in varying time slots and facing tough competition from NBC and FOX on Thursday nights.
  • Franks Place
  • Gary Unmarried
  • George And Leo: The pairing of old sitcom pros Bob Newhart and Judd Hirsch wasn't enough to save this Odd Couple-esque show from an early exit.
  • Good Morning World: Long before WKRP in Cincinnati or NewsRadio, there was this 1967 sitcom from the creators of The Dick Van Dyke Show set at a radio station. Even the presence of a pre-Laugh In Goldie Hawn couldn't prevent its cancellation after one season.
  • The Handler
  • He And She: This 1967 sitcom starring Paula Prentiss and Richard Benjamin received critical acclaim and Emmy awards and is believed to be the precursor of the more "realistic" brand of '70s situation comedies (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, for example). Low ratings doomed it, though, and it only lasted one season.
  • The Honeymooners: incredibly, only ran one season as a stand-alone sitcom, although the characters admittedly were used for many years on Gleason's variety show.
    • This one is a bit murky simply because Gleason didn't like the grind of a sitcom, which is the reason why the show ended.
  • Jericho: Was famously resurrected by a Sending Stuff To Save The Show fan campaign, but the respite would last only a season before the ax fell again.
  • Joan of Arcadia: Popular, but in the wrong demographic.
  • Listen Up!
  • Love Monkey. Also an example of Screwed by the Network.
  • Mary: Mary Tyler Moore's 1985 return to situation comedy, and a worthy Spiritual Successor to her her classic '70s show. Poorer-than-expected ratings doomed it to cancellation after one season.
  • Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures: A massively influential Genre Turning Point for American television animation which directly influenced (and provided talent) to almost every cartoon show made in its wake. It got canceled due to a contrived moral panic involving some crushed flowers which apparently looked a bit too much like cocaine. Most fans of the show claimed that it would've gotten canceled for low ratings anyway.
  • Moonlight: Several reasons for this, including Friday Night Death Slot. Many fans also feel it was Screwed by the Network, particularly because the final episode was promoted as the season finale (rather than the series finale) and fans were led to believe it would be renewed. Another victim of the 2007 writer's strike.
  • Now and Again: A well-cast, well-written, well-acted reimagining of the concept of The Six Million Dollar Man. First season featured one of the creepiest and most inexplicable villains ever. Got the Friday Night death slot, and its one and only season did not even air in its entirety until many years later on Sci-Fi.
  • Project Gee Ke R: Had incredibly good ratings during the time, but only lasted one 13-episode season due to not meeting the educational programming standards set forth by the channel.
  • Smith
  • That's Life: a "chick show," but with an excellent cast (Heather Paige Kent, Ellen Burstyn, Paul Sorvino, Kevin Dillon, Debi Mazar).
  • Threshold
  • Total Recall 2070
  • The Weird Al Show. Damn you, Executive Meddling!
  • Worst Week: The American version.

    NBC 

    FOX 
Widely considered the worst offender of them all.

     FX 

    The WB / UPN / The CW 
  • Animaniacs: to be fair, it had a long and popular run for 6 years, but some of those years featured very infrequent new releases. The show ended just shy of its 100th episode, unless you count its movie Wakko's Wish as its last episode.
  • Baby Blues: [adult swim] used to rerun it, but now the rights have expired.
  • Battletech: Making an animated show based on a heavy-handed war game for a Saturday/Sunday run back when they ran cartoons on TV was almost certain doom in and of itself.
  • Bedford Diaries
  • Western Animation/{Detention}}
  • Dilbert: Scott Adams (the creator of the famous comic strip the show was based on) often blamed the fact that the UPN screwed the show over by putting it in a timeslot after Shasta McNasty, a show that appealed to a completely different (and, as Adams argued, a less intelligent) audience than Dilberts audience.
  • Do Over
  • Drew Carey's Green Screen Show
  • The EarthwormJim cartoon Sadly only lasted 2 seasons, which was only 23 episodes. Possibly cancelled due to Creator Backlash.
  • Freakazoid!: Cancelled after 2 seasons.
  • Histeria: Reports of Executive Meddling abound.
  • Homeboys In Outer Space
  • Home Movies, season one. Thank God for Adult Swim.
  • Invasion America
  • Jack & Bobby
  • Jake 2.0: The first season was cut short, leaving both fans and international distributors irked.
  • Lazarus Man. Addictive, well-written, genre-busting Western (and mystery/fantasy/horror/romance, likely a few others). Took a hiatus in its first season and was never seen again. (In fairness to the network, the lead actor, Robert Urich, had contracted cancer and was no longer able to work... although he sued the producers for that decision, and in fact did continue to work, becoming a regular in two more series - Love Boat: The Next Wave and Emeril - before he passed away in 2002, six years after The Lazarus Man did.) Died with its boots on.
  • The Legend of Calamity Jane
  • Living With Fran
  • Loonatics Unleashed: Has a loyal fanbase in spite of the huge amount of Internet Backdraft and got pretty solid ratings, so it's cancellation is a bit of a mystery.
  • Mission Hill
  • Nikki & Nora. A closeted lesbian couple who happen to be partnered-up homicide detectives, solving crimes in New Orleans with Derek Morgan as their boss. Made of Win. Made it to a pilot. Still completely frikkin' awesome.
  • Nowhere Man Not only was it critically praised, it was UPN's highest rated show. They replaced it with Homeboys in Outer Space and Moesha.
  • On The Spot was a partially improvised sitcom that had only half of a script and was cancelled after 5 episodes, but still has a relatively strong internet following, and the episodes can be found on YouTube. 230,000 people can't be wrong.
  • Pepper Dennis
  • Popular
  • Reaper
  • Related
  • Road Rovers: Was canceled due to low ratings, though popular opinion is that the censors discovered a dirty joke in the last episode during Exile's song about Russian names and shut down production. It could be both reasons, though the joke (which was edited in reruns) was possibly a parting "Up yours!" for how badly the network screwed it over.
  • Run Of The House
  • Seven Days
  • Smart Guy
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: Sadly only lasted 3 seasons. It was cancelled to make way for Animaniacs and because Charlie Adler quit after being rejected for Animaniacs.
  • Twins
  • Viewtiful Joe caught up in the clusterfuck that was the merging with UPN.
  • The Spectacular Spider Man (Kids WB/Disney XD). Thank red-tape confusion with the Disney/Marvel deal and Sony giving up Spider-Man's TV rights for this one.
    • Especially infuriating as its abrupt and unplanned ending left the show with a severe case of Downer Ending.
  • The Oblongs
  • Teknoman The dub version of Tekkaman Blade. They showed the first 26 episodes, reran them, then canceled it and replaced it with The Mouse and the Monster.

    Nickelodeon / The N / Nick Jr. 

    Disney 
  • Dave the Barbarian
  • Gargoyles: only lasted three seasons—and its last season was drawn by a different house, wasting the show's elaborate backstory.
  • Phil of the Future: Fox gets panned for dumping good shows, but the Disney Channel may be the worst offender.
  • Teamo Supremo: Like with Darkwing (see below), Teamo had some planned storylines that never came to fruition.
  • Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! was canned after 52 episodes at the start of the final climax. The creator had an ending planned and everything. The ratings were fine too.
  • American Dragon Jake Long: Disney decided to cancel it, despite the ratings being fine and there being plenty of story lines for at least one more season.
  • PB&J Otter: Jumbo pictures got into an argument with Disney shortly after the third season was produced. They then cut off all ties with Disney and production of this, along with various other Disney programming, stopped.
  • My Little Pony Tales: Only one season, due to poor reception as the Slice of Life format was very new and visionary when the show premièred. It has since obtained a cult following.
  • As stated on ABC, W.I.T.C.H. suffered a similar fate to other Disney animated action/adventure shows, ending after two seasons and with a massive hint at a third season to boot. The reason, according to this FAQ from tv.com, is there was "little to no interest both from the investors’ and the producer’s side" to continue the series. Coincidentally, Greg Weisman was brought on board for the second season which was widely regarded as an improvement over the first. Check the man's page to see how the network has regularly treated him like a two dollar call girl.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes: The original order consisted of two seasons, with a total of 52 episodes. As the show progressed, it became evident that the writers had already started planning a third season. However, Disney XD ended up ordering a whole new Avengers cartoon instead of more episodes. The fact that EMH received better ratings among adults than among children made Disney XD think that it didn't appeal to their target demographic.

    Cartoon Network / Adult Swim 

    MTV / MTV 2 
  • Clone High
  • The Sifland Olly Show - 3 seasons produced, two aired (the third had a DVD release)
  • Wonder Showzen - Despite two seasons and respectable ratings, MTV denied a third season. Some of the more experimental episodes during the second season might've also had something to do with it.
  • Downtown - It was just too intelligent for some exec.
  • Skins: The American Version, due to complaints that it was too sexually-charged for a show featuring minors.

    Logo 

    G4TV 
  • Code Monkeys: Arguably the best show G4TV ever had, and they didn't sink for a third season.
  • Portal: Not canceled due to ratings, as the creator was not shy about letting fans know, but rather due to personal differences between himself and the network head.
  • Hurl: Yes the name is pretty much what you think it is, a game show about people trying their darnest to keep from puking while being spun around. It was made on the cheap and it showed, but it was still fun watching.

    BBC 
  • AceLightning
  • The Tripods was epic science fiction with astonishing production values. They filmed the first 2 parts of John Christopher's trilogy, but the last book never made it to the screen. Its demise was blamed on it being very slowly paced, plus it was scheduled on Saturdays opposite The A-Team...
  • Star Cops Intelligent, critically-lauded British sci-fi/cop show crossover about police on the moon, canned after one series (and a lot of in-fighting) despite the first series finale setting up a new season on Mars.
  • Outcasts ended on such a tantalizing cliffhanger - and was then cancelled by the BBC due to poor ratings. Unless some other sci-fi channel renews it, it's unlikely we'll see another season.
  • Series/{{15 Storeys High}}. The BBC really messed about with this series, putting it on a graveyard slot. Then allegedly told Sean Lock he couldn't do a third series.
  • Zen, a crime drama set in Italy that was cancelled after three episodes.

    HBO 

    PBS 
Pretty common as the show is funded from donations.

     Sci-Fi /Syfy 
  • The Odyssey, a Mind Screwy Ontological Mystery for kids. Not to be confused with Odyssey 5 (below) or Homer's original epic.
  • Mission Genesis (known as Deepwater Black in Canada where it originated.) Teen drama plays out with SF themes in the foreground on their way back to earth. Very intelligent, containing a few actors who would go on to fame in other sci fi series. Canceled after 13 episodes.
  • The Invisible Man ran for two seasons, then was cancelled "due to cost issues and internal bickering."
  • Caprica: The network's official statement says it all: “Unfortunately, despite its obvious quality, ‘Caprica’ has not been able to build the audience necessary to justify a second season.” To add insult to injury, the cast and crew have been very clear that (a) the first season finale, which was filmed before the cancellation report, contains multiple cliff-hangers and would not make a satisfying end to the series, and (b) the second season has been planned out in more detail than any BSG season was, and it's a really good plan.
  • Stargate Universe was canceled mid-season, with cast and crew only hearing it from their fans on Twitter. Although the show had divided the Stargate fandom, there's no denying that the show had quality and brilliant acting behind it (ROBERT FREAKIN' CARLYLE!!) - even the haters had started to agree that season 2 was good. Plus, as the series had been planned out to last five seasons, it'll almost certainly end on a massive cliffhanger leaving almost all the main plot arcs unresolved. Thank you so much SyFy!
  • Farscape: An extremely clever if dark Sci fi with Muppets, literally it was produced by Jim Henson! Unfortunately, much like Firefly the Network had a hard time understanding its brilliance. It was moved around constantly and was eventually Screwed by the Network after its fourth season — despite having been promised a fifth — and ended on a cliffhanger.
    • Farscape only received a conclusion due to a massive outpouring of fan support after its cancellation.
  • The Dresden Files: based on the book series by the same name. Although the TV series was very different from its literary inspiration and not very well received by fans of the novels it was charming and clever and had lots of potential. But before it had much of a change to prove itself it was canceled midway through it first season.
  • Tremors: Got decent ratings despite its lack of advertisement compared to other shows and having its episodes aired badly Out of Order, Sci-fi pulled the plug anyways.
  • Alphas: A neat X-Men type series, with some interesting superpowers and character dynamics. Cancelled after one season with what should have been a brilliant Cliff Hanger, but instead was a Downer Ending.

    Showtime 

    USA 

    ITV / CITV 
  • Beat The Cyborgs. There was nothing wrong with this kid's game show. In fact, it was really good and quite well received, and a second series was promised. It just... never came. There was no explanation as to why, and now, seven years down the line, the programme's fallen off the edge of the earth to the point where there are no online clips at all and it is never repeated.
    • CITV later stopped all commissions of original material (which killed off My Parents Are Aliens), and Mark Speight, who was the presenter known as the Borgmaster, has died. Definitely no chance of a revival now.
  • Palmetto Pointe
  • TUGS

    Lifetime 
  • Blood Ties. This show had either one season or two half-seasons, depending on who you ask. It might have done better on a different network.

    TNT 

    AMC 
  • Remember WENN: Ran 3 seasons on AMC before that network changed its format. To add insult to injury, it ended on a Cliff Hanger.
  • Rubicon: One season, also ending on a cliffhanger. Notable because it's the first of AMC's Original Series to be canceled.

    Pro Sieben 
  • Stromberg, a German comedy show extremely similar to The Office, got recommissioned for several series, even though it was never a success. Still, they've got a large cult-fanbase.

    CBC 
  • Da Vinci's City Hall: A Sequel Series to Da Vinci's Inquest (one of the highest-rated and most critically-acclaimed series to ever air in the network's history), City Hall moved the title character (and former coroner) Dominic Da Vinci from the medical office to the political field. The show was critically acclaimed (and unusually continuity-heavy) - critics and some viewers loved it, but others tuned out, and the network dumped it after a single season (with many loose ends still remaining).
  • Intelligence (2006), made by the creator of Da Vinci's Inquest, won a Gemini Award for Best Dramatic Series during its debut season, then got unceremoniously canned at the end of its second season. Supposedly, CBC killed it for political reasons.
  • jPod (CBC)
  • The Border
  • This Is Wonderland lasted three seasons, but got no promotion and wildly varying timeslots by the network, and got canned with plot threads Left Hanging.

    Teletoon 
  • Cybersix (Teletoon) was a brilliant series with lots of action, fun characters, and surprisingly mature content (among other things, episodes alluded to the death of a child and Nazism). It was very well received and even won an award, "Special Mention for the Best Science Fiction Program". Yet it only got one season of thirteen episodes.

    Comedy Central 

    Veronica 
  • Not so much a show, but rather a channel itself devoted to cancelled shows. The Dutch channel Veronica pretty much runs on this stuff. The average plot: 1.) Show is announced with a lot of fanfare. The same teaser is shown over and over again. 2.) Show airs, some people get hooked. 3.) Show disappears without a warning. 4.) People check out the series online and learn that it only ran for a couple of episodes before getting cancelled. This goes for most sci-fi/action dramas listed above. There is a clue though, every time they first announce the show with the teasers, the show will be referred to as 'The hit series <insert showname>'. Latest victim: Flash Forward.

    Animal Planet 

    GSN 
While most of GSN's original programming is highly lambasted by fans of the game show genre, it did turn in a couple gems:

  • Late Night Liars: A very unusual hybrid of puppet show and Panel Game. The few people that watched it thought it was one of the network's best show's ever.
  • Russian Roulette: Made it to two seasons with an interesting gimmick (dropping contestants through trapdoors) and a very enjoyable host (Mark L. Walberg), but a constant source of reruns.

     IFC 

    Whole Television Channels 
  • Z Channel, a pioneering cable television channel showing classic movies, basically a precursor to both AMC and Turner Classic Movies. It championed many of the same things that cinephiles did (and later the aforementioned Turner Classic Movies): Letterboxing, showing films that otherwise wouldn't appear on other networks, director's cuts of films, and so on. It lasted a decent amount of time, 1974 to 1989, but its last few years are rife with Executive Meddling and Network Decay. Xan Cassavetes, daughter of film director John Cassavetes, made an acclaimed documentary about the channel's heydey, Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession in 2004.
  • Tech TV, before it was acquired by G4TV.
  • Nickelodeon's Nick Gas channel, which broadcast Nick's 90's game shows. It was discontinued and replaced with The N in 2007.
  • New Zealand-based public service broadcaster TVNZ 7 will go off the air in mid-2012, after it was announced its funding would not be renewed.

Other Media

    Anime / Manga / Comics 
  • Aztek had a fresh hero, good crossover potential and a promising overarcing plot. Then it ran right into the 1996-97 comic book market crash and got cancelled after 10 issues. Luckily, Aztek had already been set up to join the Justice League of America, and his plot got resolved in that book.
  • Double Arts was an engrossing and fun manga that thumbed its nose at loads of the problematic stereotypes of its genre in wonderful ways and was obviously gearing up for an Ancient Conspiracy plot...and was cut down in its infancy by low ratings, with barely enough time for the artist to sketch out an ending with a little closure. An example of Screwed by the Demographic — Double Arts was a more trope-defying Shonen series in a magazine that usually aims for the 12-18 demographic.
    • The same can also be said for Mx0.
  • Gun Blaze West: The series begun by Watsuki Nobuhiro just after Rurouni Kenshin finished. It only lasted long enough for two or three volumes worth of material.
  • DC's Red Circle books, The Shield and The Web, had some great promise, but was cancelled after ten issues EACH!
  • "Zombiepowder.'': Word of God says that the creator was going through some severe anxiety and depression during its run which was one of the main reasons for its cancellation.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam got poor ratings in its original run and it was canceled, cutting down the amount of episodes from 52 to 39 and forcing Tomino had to quickly improvise an ending. However, due to good re-run ratings the show was re-cut (with some new animation) into 3 movies, and Zeta Gundam was made.
  • The original Shaman King manga was canceled RIGHT BEFORE the showdown with the Big Bad. It would be Uncanceled and finished several years later.
  • Nyx
  • Meister. Primed to be the hot new sports manga with dynamic characters and stimulating art. Cut from Weekly Shonen Jump two months after it debuted, forced to cobble together a sudden (and not particularly lucid) ending. Only ten chapters. They didn't even get through one goddamn soccer game.
  • Captain Britain and MI13 was canceled after issue 15, thought it would be hard to see how they could top Dracula and his vampire army's invasion from his castle on the moon.
  • Futaba-kun Change!: Cancelled just as it was setting up some major story arcs, leading to the creator scrambling to wrap everything up for the ending due to time constraints. We can't help wondering if the ending would have made more sense if it'd been given enough time to play out naturally.
  • The new series of Exiles lasted about six issues.
  • The Batman Adventures (the second volume): a comic written by Ty Templeton and Dan Slott as a sequel to Batman: The Animated Series that did its best to tie in with the DCAU. It was very sadly killed after only 17 issues to be replaced with a The Batman tie-in comic, leaving all of the plotlines (sadly the creative team planned on to at least 40 issues, some details on the Toonzone boards) except for the ones that they scrambled to cover in the last four issues dangling.
  • Although Voices had a good run (with exciting action, well-made drama and a unique Interactive Comics gimmick that gave the series its name), it only lasted one and a half chapters due to pressure from Real Life on the author, which massively stifled the update rate.
  • Thor: The Mighty Avenger. Although for all the complaining about its cancellation; it didn't ever manage to break 10k in issue sales which make its cancellation by Marvel extremely reasonable from a business standpoint.
  • Aoi Hana was supposed to get a second season, but those plans were canceled when the DVD sales for the first season turned out to be disappointing.
  • Hikari no Densetsu is based on a best-selling manga, was produced by a highly talented staff and has had more than its share of positive reviews, yet it was a huge bomb on Japanese TV and was yanked off the air after only 19 episodes. The anime was a success in Europe, though.
  • Kanamemo, which ended having a Sequel Hook, never got its second season simply due to surprisingly poor DVD sales.
  • Hakaima Sadamitsu, a little-known but ridiculously awesome seinen. Started as a manga in 1999, got an anime adaptation in 2001 that was cancelled after ten episodes. The Other Wiki says the manga is still going.
  • Raijin Comics in the U.S. A weekly anthology series made up of Baki the Grappler, Fist of the Blue Sky, and attempting to bring in political and horror mangas? Hell yes! Only for it to to monthyly within not even two years and then canceled.
  • This is the general belief of fans from both the OVA and Decode series of Birdy the Mighty. The OVA series only had four parts and the Decode series two seasons and both series still had many loose ends when they ended.
  • Cyber City Oedo 808 was intended as a demo to impress potential investors; had the investors been impressed, they would have expanded out the three one-hour episodes into a full length series... in 1993. Needless to say, the investors were not impressed.
  • Rion 2990 was an independent manga-esque comic released in the 1980's and published under the Mirage imprint. Unlike other manga-esque titles, Rion looked absolutely authentic in regards to its visuals that it could be mistaken as an actual Japanese manga. In addition to that, it had a high stakes, cold war era plot about a struggle between war and peace with likable characters. It was proposed to be a 4-issue miniseries, but it got cut short and only two of the four issues were released due to Mirage ballooning and crashing.
  • Strawberry Marshmallow.

    Games 
  • Although not a television show, Battlefleet Gothic had only a few months of publicity and attention before being handed over to Specialist Games (then Fanatic Press), a fate shared with many other spinoff games.
  • LEGO Universe
  • XIII was intended to have a sequel, so the game ended in a cliffhanger. Sadly, too few people bought this great game so the sequel was never made.
  • Similar to the above, Psychonauts had a great concept and story, and closed with the apparent start of another adventure. Despite garning a vocal hardcore fanbase later on, it sold poorly.
  • Also similar to these, Beyond Good and Evil. But although this beautiful masterpiece didn't sell that well, it will get a sequel.
  • Advent Rising, featuring a story written by science fiction god Orson Scott Card. The game was planned from the get-go to be a trilogy, but like Psychonauts, was pushed out the door too quickly by Majesco (who was facing bankruptcy at the time). The result was a unpolished and glitchy (albeit still playable) game. When given just a month to polish it for the rerelease of the game on PC, the average ratings jumped a considerable amount. The game ended on the definition of a cliffhanger, and the original team (who have long since left Majesco, and were recently bought by Epic) has expressed interest in finishing the trilogy, but Majesco won't release the rights to them. They're too busy with Cooking Mama I guess...
    • And who could forget the terrible marketing ploy they used to sell copies of their unfinished game. The main selling point of the game was an in-game contest where players had to find a symbol in one of the levels. Whoever found the symbol first and submitted undeniable proof to the developers would win a large sum of money. Cue a crafty player finding the symbol, sending the proof, then having the developers back out.
  • Working Designs. They were mostly known for their excellent localizations of the Lunar series.
  • Shenmue. Due to high production costs and low sells this epic hardly got of the ground. It's like reading the first half of Fellowship of the Ring and quitting.
  • Panzer Dragon was an amazing RPG for the Sega Saturn. After a reboot in the form of an on-rail shooter, the series was left to die.
    • The prices of Saga alone should show you how much people love these games.
  • Evolution: The World of Sacred Device was a fantastic RPG on the shortlived Dreamcast. After a mediocre sequel and an amazing reboot on the Gamecube, the series was left out to die. It doesn't help that it was developed by Sting Entertainment.
  • Phantom Brave is a truly remarkable game developed by Nippon Ichi (the people behind Disgaea series). Even though two remakes have been remade for the game on both Wii and PSP, the game has yet to make a sequel.
  • Legacy of Kain. Despite setting a new standard for thought-provoking plots and dialogue, these successes meant gameplay was traded off and resulted in the series' silent downfall, with the most recent game, 2003's Defiance, selling below expectations and without real resolution, and a potential sequel, The Dark Prophecy, quickly became Vaporware. Adding the fact that the head writer for the series is now working for Naughty Dog and the voice of the series' Big Bad is dead, and you can tell they're not going to put out another game any time soon.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day: It was going to have a sequel, but after Rare being bought out by Microsoft and some Executive Meddling the game was instead just re-made with better graphics...and censored.
  • A console example, the infamous Sega Dreamcast. Same could be said for most of Sega's systems.
  • Dino Crisis promised an interesting premise, and while not as popular as its sister franchise Resident Evil or its inspiration Jurassic Park, it won over enough fans largely by emulating the Survival Horror aspects of the one and exploiting the dino appeal of the other. Dino Crisis 2 took the series in a new direction, which made it something of a Contested Sequel, but Dino Crisis 3 turned out to be a Franchise Killer, much to the dismay of fans of the previous titles. No sequels have ever been announced since then.
  • Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy: Ends on a "To be Continued." But with the Midway Lawsuit a sequel really looks unlikely.
  • Jet Moto.
  • ActRaiser. The sequel removed the simulation gameplay, and needless to say flopped.
  • The Ogre Battle series was intended to be a seven-episode game series, but only episodes V, VII, and VI (released in that order) were made. Yasumi Matsuno, the series' creator, left Quest during the development of Ogre Battle 64 to work for Squaresoft, where he worked on Final Fantasy Tactics. Even after Square Enix purchased Quest, he refused to work on any Ogre Battle, choosing to concentrate on the so-called "Ivalice series". Now that Matsuno left Square Enix, it seems unlikely we'll ever see any of the first five Ogre Battle episodes. It might be on its way to revival, however, with the announcement of a remake of Tactics Ogre headed by Yasumi Matsuno himself. Keep your fingers crossed!
  • Eternal Darkness, while no official word has stated the sequels won't come, isn't actively in production, which probably means we'll never see it. The developers are much more interested in continuing the lackluster Too Human. Penny Arcade even wrote a comic about it.
  • Xenosaga, while it did get a trilogy completed, the creators were forced to wrap up halfway through their intended story, making the events in the third game, which should have taken place over several in order to properly develop the characters (especially noticable with all 4 Testements, all of whom are deeply linked to a different main character, having their respective stories wrapped up fairly quickly). Even then, the final game ends with a cliff hanger. In addition, this cancellation also meant that the extra games, including those that went into detail about the events between the second and third game, would not leave Japan.
  • The Last Express was adored by critics and many players, but a complete lack of advertising and a limited distribution by the dying Broderbund company made it a huge commercial flop. What made it worse is that the game's story sets things up for a sequel at the end, with Cath presumably on his way to Jerusalem to get a look at a mysterious manuscript. Though Interplay re-released it for a brief period before going bankrupt, and Gametap now has it available, it is highly unlikely anyone will ever make a sequel.
    • Not to mention the fact that it was one of the few good games, at the time, to feature multiple endings.
  • Humongous Entertainment constantly received critical acclaim in its day, but with 2D and the Adventure Game markets slowly dying out, the company was eventually forced to shut down. Atari now owns the rights, but have failed to make a decent game since.
  • The System Shock series. Both were commercial failures but were critically acclaimed and System Shock 2 in particular is widely regarded as one of the greatest FP Ses in history.
  • Anachronox ended with a huge cliffhanger that thanks to producer ION Storm imploding will never get resolved.
  • Fear Effect. Fear Effect Inferno was going to be the third game for the series, but Kronos folded. There are clips showing things that were supposed to happen in this game. This is the first clip. This is the second clip. This is the third clip. This is the fourth clip. This is the fifth clip. This is the sixth clip. This is the seventh clip. This is the eighth clip. This is the ninth and final clip.
  • Baten Kaitos was an unusual RPG series on the Gamecube, featuring a World in the Sky populated by Winged Humanoids. Neither of the games sold particularly well, but over the years, they've gained a small fanbase. A third game was planned, but cancelled due to poor sales and lack of interest.
    • There are rumors that a third game might be in the works, though...
  • The developers of Split Second had clearly intended for there to be a sequel, given the way they decided to close out the single-player season mode. The game had already left its mark as a unique racing game experience but Disney Interactive Studios had other plans and kiboshed the sequel and then ended up closing the studio.
  • DJ Hero was a unique and fun Rhythm Game with an awesome original soundtrack (every song in both games is an original remix of licensed music, with the vast majority splicing two songs together) that ended up flopping due to coming out at a time when the music game fad was on the way out. Despite getting an Even Better Sequel, it still wasn't enough, and the series wasn't profitable enough to continue its development.

    Literature 
  • The fabulous teen series DRAMA! never had more than a miniscule yet devoted fanbase, so Simon & Schuster decided to stop publishing it after just four books. Fortunately, they gave Paul Ruditis the bad news before he started the fourth book, so he was able to speed up some story arcs to give his characters the ending they deserved.

    Music 
  • Andromeda (UK); power trio featuring future Atomic Rooster guitarist John Du Cann
  • At The Drive-In
  • The Avalanches
  • Syd Barrett
  • Black Star
  • Big Star
  • Blind Faith. Meaningfully named by the band members in response to fan hype. They knew it wouldn't last, from the beginning.
  • Blodwyn Pig; British blues group featuring ex-Jethro Tull guitarist Mick Abrahams. Their first album did real well, but a supposedly lackluster second album, along with the pressures of the music industry, led main songwriter Abrahams to leave, effectively crippling the group.
  • David Bowie's album 1.Outside was supposed to be the first of a trilogy. Unfortunately, Bowie decided to cancel the other two parts.
    • If this is unfortunate depends on wether or not you believe that the other two parts could have lived up to the expectations...
  • Catherine Wheel
  • Chagall Guevara
  • Chickenfoot possibly with drummer Chad Smith returning exclusively to The Red Hot Chili Peppers and guitarist Joe Satriani most likely going back to the studio for another solo album.
    • A second album is due in the fall of 2011, so it appears that Chickenfoot will be a part-time thing. And Chad and Joe are still in the band.
  • Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains
  • Crucial Three. It tells something when a band that only existed for about six weeks and never recorded a song or at least performed in public in that time still gets a wikipedia and an allmusic entry.
    • They get their own pages mostly because of the important post-punk acts founded in its wake, bassist Julian Cope's Teardrop Explodes, guitarist Pete Wylie's Wah!, and vocalist Ian Mc Culloch's Echo and the Bunnymen.
  • Dixie Dregs
  • E Nomine
  • The Exploding Hearts. If only their van hadn't flipped over on the highway...
  • The Flying Burrito Brothers
  • The Fugees (and Lauryn Hill's solo career)
  • Buddy Holly - Author Existence Failure
  • Husker Du
  • JJ72
  • Jellyfish. Two commercially ignored fantastic albums, two different lineups, end of story. Other members formed groups and solo acts since, but it seems to be the last we'll ever hear of them.
  • Josef K
  • Joy Division, though they lived on, in a way, as New Order.
  • Kyuss
    • Luckily there's still Queens of the Stone Age.
  • The La's
  • Life Without Buildings (even though it seemed more like an art project than an actual band).
  • Richey-era Manic Street Preachers
  • mclusky
  • The Minutemen
  • The Monks: A noisy, psychedelic garage rock band who played in Germany at the same time The Beatles did. They recorded one album in 1966 which foreshadowed the rise of noise-rock and punk, then broke up. (They reunited and recorded a live album in the 90s, after one of the original members had died.)
  • Morphine, thanks to Author Existence Failure
  • Mother Love Bone
  • Nailbomb. One studio album, one live album then they deliberately made the decision to quit while they were ahead. The live album was even called Proud to Commit Commercial Suicide.
  • Neutral Milk Hotel
  • New Kingdom: Pioneering Psychedelic Rock and Rap Rock band. Dropped off the face of the Earth after their second and best album, Paradise Don't Come Cheap.
  • New York Dolls. Two albums with the classic line-up, then they fizzled out just as the punk movement was finding its legs.
  • The New Radicals
  • Nirvana
  • The Normal are best known for the creepy, ahead-of-its-time, oft-covered and anthologized proto-synth pop song "Warm Leatherette". Unfortunately, if you really like that song, there's only one other Normal song, "TVOD", which was originally its A-side. There's also The Silicon Teens, who, like The Normal, are an alias for Daniel Miller, and put out one album consisting of intentionally synthesizer-heavy oldies covers with a few originals mixed in. Beyond that, Miller has primarily stuck with producing, remixing, and occasionally being credited for synthesizer or programming on other people's albums.
  • NWA
  • Omaha Sheriff. In spite of copious amounts of talent, some really quite excellent songs, some airplay on American radio and a big boost from famous producer Tony Visconti, they managed to record only two albums in their lifetime, only one of which was ever released. The release of their album Come Hell or Waters High at the same time as the punk explosion was devastatingly ill-timed. None of their music has been released on CD.
  • Bill Nelson's Red Noise, a fun and inventive New Wave group that lasted for one album and a few singles before Nelson went on to lead a successful solo career.
  • The Runaways
  • The Sex Pistols, who popularized punk rock, only managed to record a single album (on which the band's best-known member didn't even play a single note) before collapsing under their own self-loathing. Sure, they've toured on and off since 1996, but they've never gotten around to recording any new material in all that time.
  • Sleep released 2 albums, the second considered a classic of the Stoner Rock genre. their third album was a single hour long track that the label decided was unmarketable, they were dropped from the label and shortly after decided it was time to call it quits. the member's seperate projects since then make you wonder what could have been. (had they continued together, the album was finally given a proper release 7 years later)
  • The Smiths
  • Stone Roses
  • The Traveling Wilburys. Roy Orbison's death probably didn't help... not to mention of course they were all superstars to begin with.
  • Uncle Tupelo, although their breakup spawned a couple of bands (Wilco, Son Volt) that were pretty damn great in their own right.
  • The Unicorns
  • Urusei Yatsura (UK band), a little-known but critically-acclaimed indie band in the 90s (not to be confused with the anime however) that fizzled out after only three damn good albums.
  • Ritchie Valens - Author Existence Failure
  • Amy Winehouse - Author Existence Failure
  • Young Marble Giants
    • Though the Islands are good also.

    Radio 
  • The Stan Freberg Show was canceled by the CBS radio network after running for only 15 episodes, due to failure to attract a sponsor. Stan Freberg took favorite sketch requests a week before the final episode to thank fans for their enthusiasm for the show. Thank goodness all the episodes survive.
  • Australian comedian Tony Martin's Get This was a massively clever and energetic show that mocked a lot of radio conventions. Because of this it was axed despite being not only network Triple M's top rating show, but also the ONLY show rating vaguely well. Note it continued to be the top-rating show in spite of undergoing three timeslot shifts.

    Sport 
  • The Formula One race track in Istanbul, introduced in 2005, was called "the best race track in the world" by Bernie Ecclestone (President and CEO of Formula One Management). It got pushed off the calendar for the 2012 season, meaning it only ever hosted six Grand Prix.
  • The Group B era of rallying, a brief period in The Eighties when WRC was more popular than Formula One. It produced some of the fastest, most iconic rally cars of all time, but inadequate crowd management and pure power in these cars led to several fatalities, and FIA cancelled the class in favour of the more strictly regulated Group A.

    Toys 
  • XEVOZ and its tie-in comic. The toyline from Hasbro (with aid from Stikfas) was made up of figures with interchangeable parts and weapons, and a collectible card like game, using the figures themselves and "Battle Helix" dice. It only lasted for four series of figures, but that's two more than it seemed the line would support. After seemingly being cancelled after Series 2, and again after Series 3 (plus some deluxe sets), Xevoz finally disappeared for good (for now).
  • Hornby's Were Bears were discontinued after 1989 despite them being very well made and original toys. They have become very sought after and collectable toys since then. A few new websites hint that they may be being made once again and might even have a movie or cartoon series made after them.
  • Zoids models.
  • Transformers: The Alternators were Hasbro's finally giving the adult Periphery Demographic (the Trope Namer for Ruined FOREVER) what they had been begging for since the 80s: big, complex, show accurate "collector" toys. Adult fans loved it, but it turns out they didn't make up as much of the audience/buyers as they thought and the Alternators didn't sell well enough to continue. The Alternators continue to rack up impressive sums of money on eBay, though, and they are pretty sweet.
  • Stan Winston Creatures, makers of, amongst other things, the Furry-friendly Realm of the Claw action figures. Thanks to a dispute with Toys 'R Us, the exclusive distributor of the company's toys, they were forced to put a hold on further toy development. After languishing in Development Hell for years, once Stan Winston died...
  • My Scene dolls, had a small but devoted fandom. Now it's not even didtributed out of South America.

    Video 
  • The Film Crew, a Spiritual Successor to Mystery Science Theater 3000 helmed by Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy. The four episodes available on Amazon are the only four there were and are likely to ever be. Fortunately, their second attempt at a spiritual revival of MST3K, Rifftrax, seems to have been a hit.

    Shows that were rescued (Exceptions) 
  • Angel: While the show ran long enough and the finale was appropriate enough to make it feel like a show that naturally ended, a sixth season was planned but cancelled. Joss Whedon was broken up about it.
  • Arrested Development, although this show managed at least 3 seasons, about 2 1/2 more than most of the others on this list, it still stung because of the massive positive critical response and awards won.
  • Babylon 5: Canceled after season four, forcing the producers to compress stories intended for two seasons into one. Then they were picked up for a fifth season on TNT.
  • Better Off Ted: ABC did its best to keep it on for a second season despite abysmal ratings but decided to let it go once the second season couldn't turn it around.
  • The Critic (ABC and Fox; both networks cancelled it.)
  • Danny Phantom (Nickelodeon): Creator Butch Hartman expressed interest in continuing the series but Nickelodeon wouldn't have it. At least he still managed to give it a Grand Finale, despite the third season only being about half as long as the other two.
  • Dark Angel. Fox show. Only an exception in the sense of having had two seasons, otherwise characterized by everything it says at the top. Third season greenlit and then abruptly cancelled.
  • Daria: After the end of the series' 5th season, MTV gave Glenn Eichler an option: a 6-episode 6th season or another Made-for-TV Movie. Eichler, running out of ideas, choose the movie, and the series ended with Is It College Yet?
  • Two DCU examples: Both Blue Beetle and Manhunter, which had been on the very brink of cancellation for their entire runs, were recently canceled at just under 50 issues, managing to wrap up their storylines in a satisfying way. In that time, Manhunter was canceled and revived twice. Both returned as back up features (in Booster Gold and Batman: Streets of Gotham respectively).
    • Also: The two 'Red Circle' books ("The Shield" and "The Web") had their plots wrapped up in the current "Mighty Crusaders" mini-series!
  • Dollhouse: Miraculously managed to get a second season in spite of low ratings because Fox was aware of the dedicated fanbase, but was cancelled after episode 2.04 aired. On the one hand, that seems premature; on the other hand, it gave the crew time to write and film a series finale instead of just a season finale.
  • Due South (CBS) had a wobbly history, including getting canceled twice, but it aired four seasons and ended on its own terms.
  • Exosquad (USA): Note that they DID finish off a couple story arcs before the cancellation hit, so it could also count as a counter example. Its later cousin, Wing Commander Academy, fared far worse (13 eps, cut off right in the middle when USA Network pulled all of their Saturday morning cartoon lineup.)
  • For Your Love note  was first aired on NBC and cancelled after six episodes, it was then picked up by The WB and managed to last for another four seasons. It was renewed in spite of suffering a 70% drop in ratings during the third season, though it's final years on the network were a bit spotty, as it frequently shifted schedules and came very close to being cancelled after the fourth season, and six episodes episodes of the fifth season(including the series finale and one christmas-themed episode that was held back from the fourth season) were unaired in the original run, though TV One later picked up For Your Love for reruns and the missing episodes were finally aired.
  • Freakazoid!: One of the best comedy cartoons of the 90's. Unfortunately, it was built on Parental Bonus, even though it was put on Kids' WB. Only got two seasons.
  • Friday Night Lights: A rather unusual example. After airing on NBC for two seasons, the acclaimed but low-rated show was saved from cancellation by moving to DirecTV's "101 Network" channel for three more seasons, with NBC itself re-airing the show each spring after the 101 Network run had ended.
  • Futurama: Vindication was had at last in 2007, when the show was Un-Canceled.
  • Home Movies: UPN pulled the plug after just five episodes, but Adult Swim picked it up for the rest of the first season and then another three years.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002) (Cartoon Network); shared the same fate as the toyline revival.
  • JAG was first aired on NBC, and then canceled after the first season. CBS then picked it up partially because of its massive popularity in Australia, and ran it for another nine years, during which it became one of the most popular shows on television (and spawned the More Popular Spin-off, NCIS).
  • Kyle XY: One of ABC Family's most successful shows, which was canceled after its third season. And right when a dramatic twist regarding Kyle's origin is revealed! The producers soon after revealed what had been planned for later seasons. By no means a brilliant series, it was still head-and-shoulders above its competition. It had a sci-fi premise, stellar acting, and a great deal of maturity. To put it into perspective, Kyle XY died because it wasn't pulling in as much ratings as The Secret Life of the American Teenager.
  • La Femme Nikita (USA): The cancellation announcement was made suddenly at the end of the fourth season, with lots of Canon Fodder just hanging there. This prompted a massive fan campaign and there was a fifth "half season" to answer some of the major questions and give a Bittersweet Ending for some closure.
  • Moral Orel: The show made a nice ending, but the writers were forced to cut plotlines that would have come up in later episodes. They eventually had to compromise with a special that was somewhat of a prequel to the main series.
  • My Name Is Earl (NBC): Lasted a reasonable 4 years, never a ratings giant but had a good number of fans. Unexpectedly canceled on a cliffhanger.
  • Noonbory And The Super Seven: Easily the best Saturday-morning show that CBS aired after the 2006 break-up with Nickelodeon, Cookie Jar yanked it out of CBS' Saturday-morning line-up after one season because it wasn't based on a big enough license. However, Cookie Jar decided to place it on one of their Syndication packages in October 2010. However, it was short-lived, as it was off the air AGAIN after only one season due to Cookie Jar cancelling its Syndication deals!
  • Northern Exposure: a quirk-fest that began as a mid-season replacement, not usually a recipe for success on network TV, nevertheless managed to air six seasons and rack up plaudits and fans.
  • NewsRadio was fast paced and witty, but suffered a lot of time slot changes by NBC and it never quite made it to the top of the ratings not to mention the death of an important cast member well into the series, and yet it managed to go on for five seasons.
  • Oz
  • ReBoot: Did well pretty much everywhere it aired, but ABC yanked it after two. It did well in Canada and on Cartoon Network for a third season, abruptly canceled upon edging out a fourth season three years later. Always seems to get a good break with talk of being uncanceled with a series of movies.
  • Sliders: was cancelled after its first season, brought back as a mid-season replacement the following year after fan protesting, and aired two more seasons on Fox. The SYFY channel produced a fourth and fifth season before finally cancelling it.
  • Space Cases: Guess what other space series this show shares an actress with. Go on, guess. She got written out of the show after season 1, though... Too bad for Nickelodeon.
    • She was "written out" because she had a prior commitment to another Too Good To Last show, Disney Channel's Flash Forward (which had nothing to do with ABC's Flash Forward.
  • The Goode Family: Friday Night Death Slot.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: canceled after its second season due to poor ratings, it was revived by one of the first fan campaigns.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, victim of a retool that turned off its viewer base.
  • The Tick: Not only did the cult-favorite animated series last only three seasons, but its live-action counterpart sadly ended with only one season (and two episodes never even aired).
  • Titus: The creator even said that he preferred it was canceled due to Executive Meddling and risky material then not being popular or funny.
  • Undergrads
  • Veronica Mars is right on the borderline, with three seasons on UPN and The CW network.
  • Tom and Jerry Tales. It did alright on Kids' WB! from 2006 to 2008, but was killed by 4Kids Entertainment when it took over Kids WB.
  • ECW: Partially due to TNN's refusal to advertise or even acknowledge the show, using it as a test drive to drop it for WWE Raw.
  • Stargate Universe was canceled midway through its second season with 10 episodes left; those are set to air as planned but it will not be getting a third season.
  • The Wire had five full seasons. However, considering the widespread acclaim (some even declared it the best series ever), its ratings were dismal.
  • Averted (for now) with the One Piece simulcasts. Before the first simulcast could even be done, real "pirates" stole the episode from Funimation's servers and illegally distributed it, resulting in a four month freeze before it finally came back and started for real. In fact, this led to Funimation instituting new security measures.

Too Cool to LiveYMMVTook the Bad Film Seriously

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