Early TV Cancellations

10 recent shows cancelled well before the first season was even over.

by | November 5, 2013 | Comments

Every Fall season brings the finest of what the networks have to offer. New dramas! New comedies! New car insurance commercials wedged in between them! And to every season there is a turn, and quite often those turns offer doom and death to fledgling shows. Reasons for early cancellations are numerous: bad writing, low ratings, controversial content, political climate, and the list goes on. In this article we pay tribute to the recent dearly departeds, though further reading will suggest “dearly” might not be the right adjective to use. Here, then, are 10 shows that met their demise after airing just six episodes… or less.

Canterbury’s Law

Like The Good Wife, Julianna Margulies produced and starred in Canterbury’s Law, another lawyer show. But that’s where the similarities stop. Elizabeth Canterbury differed from The Good Wife‘s Alicia Florrick in that she had been cheating on her husband. She drank often to deal with both the kidnapping of her son and her possible indictment and disbarment for jury tampering (which she did commit). She wasn’t going to win any awards in politeness or subtlety. Cool, right? But the critics and the public didn’t take to it, so we were left without any resolutions. Of course, Margulies was terrific on the show, but perhaps she was too crass for primetime back in 2008. Still, some of us miss all that troublemaking in court.

Day Break

Taye Diggs plays an LAPD detective who is stuck in his own Groundhog Day scenario: He’s been framed for the murder of an Assistant DA, and he must repeat the same day over again until he figures out who the real killer is and why he was framed. This series only lasted six episodes on ABC, but lived to see another day on ABC.com, the cable channel TV One, and Hulu. It seems that repeating this series over a few times solved the mystery of the missing viewers.

Lone Star

There was a lot of buzz surrounding Lone Star and its premise: A con-man lives a double life, with a wife in one town and a girlfriend in another, while trying to scheme and create a successful oil business of his own. Oddly, this FOX drama was cancelled after only two episodes in the Fall 2010 season despite its rave reviews from critics including the AV Club, which called it “the best network pilot of the year.” Unfortunately it was the audience who disagreed, and the ratings were so low, Lone Star became the first official cancellation of the 2010 season.

Lucky 7

Seven gas station workers win the lottery jackpot, which changes their lives. But we don’t really know how their lives changed since the show had no luck of its own and aired two measly episodes before it got yanked. In a season of weak series premieres, this one got no pity from the critics, earning a whopping 29 percent Tomatometer score. But these characters were engaging, and if Lucky 7 had been given a chance, we might have enjoyed getting to know them better. We started to see the relationships develop into something interestingly dramatic in the short time we spent together.

My Generation

My Generation aired on ABC in the Fall of 2010. This mockumentary-style series follows a group of stereotypical (the jock, the beauty queen, etc) high school seniors upon graduation thinking the world is at their feet. It then revisits them ten years later, incorporating real world events and their aftermaths, like the 9/11 attacks and the Enron scandal. After an underwhelming premiere and an even lower-rated second episode, ABC pulled the show. My Generation was heavily marketed, but it never quite got the chance to connect with an audience, as it went up against fan favorites like The Big Bang Theory, Bones, and The Vampire Diaries.

We Are Men

Why, Tony Shalhoub? Why? This failed bromance starred Shalhoub, Kal Penn and Jerry O’Connell as a trio of man-child divorcees that mentor a recently dumped Chris Smith on the rougher points of misogyny. Two painful episodes are all it took for CBS to see the error of its ways and bring this pity party to a screeching halt. With a score of four percent on the Tomatometer, it’s no surprise this one crawled back into its man cave to die.

The Playboy Club

NBC’s feebly provocative attempt at adult-targeted fare that the cable networks have been dominating in recent years. The Playboy Club was a hot commodity at NBC before release, centering on the wheelings and dealings at Hugh Hefner’s legendary and exclusive club. Controversy came from both sides: feminists claimed the show was exploitative and demeaning (which star Amber Heard defended against), while the lack of sex and nudity offended the hounddogs. Ultimately the show was DOA, cancelled after just three airings.

Do No Harm

A modern take on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with elements of Dexter and House, this series was a midseason show from earlier this year, starring Steven Pasquale as a neurosurgeon who transforms into an alter ego and goes bananas every night. Pre-release marketing was poor, obscuring Pasquale’s face on most posters and billboard ads (not that anybody was familiar with Pasquale anyway). Low ratings from the get-go forced NBC to mercifully put Do No Harm out of its misery.

Charlie’s Angels

ABC tried to bring Jiggle TV back in fashion in 2011 with less than sexy results. The reboot of Charlie’s Angels, spearheaded by Smallville creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, cast three gorgeous girls (Annie Ilonzeh, Minka Kelly, and Rachael Taylor) as private detectives, and ditched everything else needed to make a show work. The trio’s performances were critically drubbed across the board, while the darker tone and poorly-staged action sequences alienated what made the original show popular. ABC put out three episodes in September before cancelling it on October 14, 2011.


The original Ironside ran for eight seasons. NBC’s remake ran for three… episodes. Blair Underwood was cast this year as the titular character, a tough and sexy detective who is shot on the job and is confined to solving crime in a wheelchair. Minor controversy arose when Underwood was cast as a paraplegic, though NBC insisted they needed an actor who could walk to accommodate the show’s flashbacks. Of course, all that pales in comparison to NBC’s panic when Ironside debuted to middling numbers and continued to lose viewers with each subsequent week. NBC saw the writing on the wall and, unwilling to commit, cancelled the show on October 18.