Shocking cancellations of your favorite television shows can often feel like a punch to the gut, especially if there were no warning signs beforehand. Fans are left stunned and dismayed when networks and streaming platforms unceremoniously ax their treasured programs, with many rallying to fight the decision and advocate for the shows to be picked up elsewhere. While this tactic has proven to yield promising results it’s not always effective, and sometimes when a show bites the dust it’s gone for good. Not all your beloved television picks can be as lucky as Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Lucifer, both of which found new life on a different network.
The critically-acclaimed psychological horror thriller Hannibal was a knockout with the critics and audiences and developed a passionate following, yet still the series was canceled after just three seasons. The Netflix sci-fi drama Sense8 was an edgy and innovative show that explored the lives of 8 interconnected people across the world, beautifully exploring topics like gender, sexuality and politics in its immersive storytelling; it too was canceled after just two seasons. These were some of the most upsetting TV cancellations of the past decade.
8 Happy Endings
Chronicling the misadventures of six best friends living in Chicago and how they handle the unexpected split of two of their own, the 2011 comedy Happy Endings touts an entertaining cast of performers including Elisha Cuthbert, Damon Wayans Jr. and Casey Wilson who all portray unique and colorful characters.
The close group of pals attempt to navigate romance, breakups, adulthood and life’s curveballs, and the sitcom garnered widespread acclaim during its three season run; when it was shockingly canceled by ABC following its unusual scheduling, the pop culture website Vulture called it one of the “worst TV decisions” of the 2012-13 season. The show was shopped around to other networks but did not find a new home, and Rolling Stone called Happy Endings “The most underrated, under-watched series on TV, that may also be the funniest.”
Based on the character and themes of Thomas Harris’ popular novels Red Dragon, Hannibal and Hannibal Rising, the NBC psychological horror-thriller Hannibal explores the relationship between gifted FBI criminal profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and the revered psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) as Will struggles to understand his innate ability to empathize with psychopathic serial killers.
The adaptation was lauded during its television tenure and was the recipient of numerous accolades including Saturn and IGN Awards, with many critics and audiences considering it one of the best series of the horror genre. Hannibal was canceled after three seasons due to low viewership, outraging fans of the terrifying thriller who were deeply invested in the peculiar relationship between Graham and Lecter; the show has since gone on to accrue a passionate cult following.
The Netflix original thriller drama series Bloodline tells the story of the Rayburns, a well-off Florida Keys family that must confront the skeletons in their closet when the black sheep returns home for the 45th anniversary celebration of his parents. The close-knit clan battle with both paranoia and their own dark secrets as they are faced with the sins of their past, with devastating results.
The thriller premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival and was well-received, earning praise for its commanding performances and breathtaking cinematography; Hollywood Reporter called it “… a riveting, superbly cast slow-burn family drama set between the oceanfront paradise and the murky mangrove swamps of the Florida Keys.” Bloodline continued to deliver with its second and third seasons, yet was shockingly canceled by Netflix due to its high production costwith the streamer spending between $ 7 to $ 8.5 million an episode.
5 Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Fans across the world were dismayed when Fox canceled the hilarious police procedural comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine after five seasons, despite the charming series winning Golden Globes, GLAAD Media Awards and Emmys and being lauded by critics. The show follows detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) in Brooklyn’s 99th Precinct as he interacts with his eccentric co-workers and friends while hilariously battling it out with their stern commanding officer Captain Raymond Holt.
In a miraculous and heartwarming turn-of-events, NBC picked up the comedy the very next day and ended up producing three more seasons; fans of Brooklyn Nine-Nine had swiftly launched a social media campaign to revive the program and their prayers were answered by the network, granting viewers a proper goodbye when it completed production in 2021.
4 Good Girls
Headlined by a spectacular cast of dynamite leading ladies including Christina Hendricks, Retta and Mae Whitman, the NBC crime dramedy Good Girls centers on suburban mothers Beth Boland, Ruby Hill and Annie Marks as they are desperate to make ends meet and decide to pull off an unlikely heist by robbing a supermarket. Their success attracts the unwanted attention of a mob gang, and the women find themselves being pushed down a dangerous and twisty path.
While the show’s first season premiered to mixed reviews, the compelling drama went on to develop a strong fan following and earned acclaim from critics, with both its second and third seasons garnering a Rotten Tomatoes score of 100%. Viewers were devastated by its cancellation and hoped it would be picked up by Netflix due to its streaming ratings, but the show was unfortunately not shopped anywhere else.
The Netflix sci-fi drama series Sense8 chronicles the lives of eight strangers from around the world as they make the startling discovery that they are suddenly linked mentally, being able to share one another’s actions and thoughts; as they attempt to learn what is happening to them, the group finds themselves being pursued by a mysterious organization determined to destroy their existence. The show’s creators the Wachowskis and J. Michael Straczynski set out to explore sexuality, gender, politics and identity issues that they believed had not been previously addressed on the small screen.
Despite delivering solid ratings and earning praise and numerous accolades for its performances and riveting storytelling, Sense8 was canceled by Netflix after just two seasons. To give the series a proper send-off and in response to the mounting criticismthe streaming giant produced a two-and-a-half hour series finale.
2 One Day at a Time
Based on the 1975 series of the same name, the Netflix sitcom One Day at a Time is a reimagining of the classic show that depicts the everyday lives of three generations of a Cuban-American family: single mother and nurse Penelope, her two children Elena and Alex and her traditional, old-school mother Lydia. Starring a dazzling cast including Justina Machado, Isabella Gomez and Rita Morenothe wholesome and endearing sitcom tackled many heavy issues, such as racism, sexism, immigration and mental health.
One Day at a Time consistently earned rave reviews from audiences and critics, with Machado and Moreno’s performances being lauded as well as its sharp writing, yet Netflix canceled the series after three seasons. The television network Pop revived the comedy for an additional season before once again axing it; the show’s Twitter account thanked the show’s loyal fans, writing: “This is not goodbye, it’s see you later. We’ll be back soon, family! Thank you for watching with us. ”
Revolving around the DC Comics character Lucifer Morningstar as he abandons his kingdom of Hell in favor of the glitz and glamor of Los Angeles, the urban fantasy show Lucifer depicts the Devil as he runs his nightclub known as Lux while serving as a consultant to the LAPD and Detective Chloe Decker. Tom Ellis is brilliant as the handsome and devious angel who was cast out of Heaven for his rebellious ways, pairing wonderfully with Lauren German’s strong-willed and savvy Chloe.
Fox canceled the series in 2018, sparking the fans, cast and crew to rally on Twitter and social media to save Lucifer; one month later, Netflix swooped in and picked up the show, where it ran for another three highly-successful seasons and earned a large viewership. Following its conclusion in 2021, fans and critics paid tribute to the program, with Vanity Fair writing, “Over the years, it’s gotten looser, funnier, more sure of itself and more emotionally engaging, all the while showing admirable fealty to the building blocks of quality mainstream television.”
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