Warning: Spoilers for these shows ARE included!
About a Boy (2014 – 2015)
Based on: About a Boy by Nick Hornby
Developed by: Jason Katmis
Starring: David Walton, Benjamin Stockham, Minnie Driver
This show, based on a novel and a movie, was pretty funny. Lowlife (yet extremely rich) Will Freeman (David Walton) has nothing going for him until he becomes best friends with an eleven-year-old boy, Marcus (Benjamin Stockham). The two cook up some pretty wild antics together, and the show had some pretty smart writing. That’s not surprising, since Colleen McGuinness, who wrote on 30 Rock, was also staffed on About a Boy. We’ll miss you next season, Will and Marcus!
Bunheads (2012 – 2013)
Network: ABC Family
Created by: Amy Sherman-Palladino
Starring: Sutton Foster, Kaitlyn Jenkins, Kelly Bishop
When you’re created by rapid-fire witted Amy Sherman-Palladino, you’re instantly beloved by millions. She did create Gilmore Girls, after all. Unfortunately, Bunheads just didn’t pull enough love from viewers or critics. It revolved around struggling dancer Michelle (Sutton Foster) and her move to the small town of Paradise, California. There, she lived with her strict, ballet teacher mother-in-law (played flawlessly by Kelly Bishop) and acted as mentor for the young, aspiring ballerinas. It had the same incredible wit as Gilmore Girls and the same emotional depth, and yet, ABC Family let it go.
Freaks and Geeks (1999 – 2000)
Created by: Paul Feig
Starring: Linda Cardellini, James Franco, Jason Segel
What’s up, Detroit? This comedy/drama took place in the suburbs of your author’s city, but that’s not the only reason why it should be mourned. This show had the perfect blend of deliciously witty moments and heartfelt drama, executed perfectly by every one of its actors. It had the potential to be the next Wonder Years, but it got the axe after 18 episodes. The cast and crew isn’t hurting, though. This show launched the careers of all its stars, and creator Paul Feig is director of films like The Heat and Bridesmaids.
Based on: Backstrom series by Leif G.W. Persson
Developed by: Hart Hanson
Starring: Rainn Wilson, Genevieve Angelson, Kristoffer Polaha
13 episodes wasn’t long enough for you, Backstrom. The show followed detective lieutenant Everett Backstrom (Rainn Wilson) and his team as the solved special crimes in Portland, Oregon. It was a smart show with a lot of potential, but it’s likely the timeslot (Thursday nights at nine) did it in. However, the cancellation is a little surprising, since the project was led by Hart Hanson. His other series, Bones, has been on Fox for ten years and is set to return for an eleventh season this fall.
Firefly (2002 – 2003)
Created by: Joss Whedon
Starring: Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Gina Torres
This series, a strange hybrid between space fiction and Westerns, is still beloved by Whedon fans everywhere. However, the show ran for a mere fourteen episodes on FOX in 2002. What’s more, the network didn’t even show the episodes in order. There are claims Whedon said this was the show he was born to create. Eventually, he had the last laugh. In 2005, a movie sequel to the show, Serenity, was released in theaters.
Veronica Mars (2004 – 2007)
Network: UPN, then CW
Created by: Rob Thomas
Starring: Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni
OK, so 64 episodes is a lot more than the rest of these shows ever saw. But Veronica Mars could have kept it going for a great deal longer. It was a crime show with heart, humor, and a wickedly smart, female protagonist. The stories took twists and turns not even the most astute viewer could predict, and the performances were always genuine and so on point. On the season three DVD, fans have the opportunity to see the teaser footage for a Veronica Mars season four. It showed Veronica as a young, federal agent, but it seemed to eliminate beloved characters like Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) and Wallace Fennel (Percy Daggs III). Thankfully, fans funded a pretty rad movie adaptation in 2014.
Arrested Development (2003 – 2006; revived by Netflix in 2013)
Created by: Mitchell Hurwitz
Starring: Jason Bateman, Portia di Rossi, Jessica Walter
It’s debatable, but Arrested Development may be the greatest sitcom of all time. The jokes are so fast and so smart you have to watch the episodes again just to catch them. You’re too busy laughing about the joke before it to catch them all. It’s genius. The show didn’t perform too well in its original run but became an instant cult classic after its cancellation in February 2006. It became such a big deal that Netflix revived it for 15 episodes in 2013. Arrested Development may never get old. There’s always money in the banana stand to keep it going.
Raising Hope (2010 – 2014)
Created by: Greg Garcia
Starring: Lucas Neff, Martha Plimpton, Garret Dillahunt
This one could go either way. Under Garcia, Hope was the perfect show. It was funny, sweet, and about a truly loving family – something you rarely see on TV at all. The fourth season (and the only one without Garcia) was still pretty darn good, but it wasn’t as good as the previous three. The last episode, however, will always be perfect – one of the best series finales in recent memory.
My So-Called Life (1994 – 1995)
Created by: Winnie Holzman
Starring: Claire Danes, A.J. Langer, Jared Leto
This show had heart. It had passion, and it had teenagers so finely aware of themselves that your jaw was just constantly on the floor. But it wasn’t like 90210. Therefore, the network kicked it to the curb. Its stars aren’t hurting. Danes is extremely decorated for her legendary performance in Homeland, and Leto recently won an Academy Award for his work in Dallas Buyers Club.
Pushing Daisies (2007 – 2009)
Created by: Bryan Fuller
Starring: Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride
What a quirky, cute, awesome, little show. Ned (Lee Pace), a pie-maker, has the ability to revive the dead with a simple touch. He uses that touch on his girlfriend, Chuck (Anna Friel), but if they touch again, she’ll die forever. This makes for simply adorable gags. This show was pretty great with all its characters and created some awesome, female role models for everyone in the audience. It’s a shame it died out so soon. Ned must have accidentally touched it twice.