The seemingly abrupt cancellation of Krypton left fans of the odd-but-scrappy series blindsided. Then again, fans of comics often know the sting of cancellation.
Because of the much smaller lead time involved in comic book publishing, a well-known series can end quickly with a surprise announcement on social media (see: the end of The Walking Dead). And, every so often, they end in mid-story. In the late 1970s, when market forces turned against DC Comics’ expanding lineup, the company released two issues of Canceled Comics Cavalcade — a collection of completed stories from the many comic books it cancelled in 1978.
Looking at the last year, there are certainly enough now-cancelled television shows based on comic books to form a “Cancelled TV Cavalcade” all their own. A few shows, like Arrow and Legion, were (or are) able to end on the creators’ own terms. Others managed to complete their stories despite the presumption of another season. But still others might not have been so lucky.
Below, we examine the cancelled comic book shows of 2018 and 2019 to find out which fit best in a present-day version of Cancelled Comics Cavalcade.
(Photo by Steffan Hill/SYFY)
Where It Left Off: Brainiac (Blake Ritson) kidnapped baby Jor-El and took him to Earth. Nyssa-Vex (Wallis Day) found herself on a strange planet bracing for a Thanagarian Invasion and, possibly, an Omega Men intervention.
Cancelled Too Soon? Absolutely. In the season 1 finale, Superman ceased to exist and the show made no effort to restore him. Instead, it found its own story to tell with Seg-El (Cameron Cuffe) making his way back to Krypton while his grandfather Val-El (Ian McElhinney) led a resistance against Dru-Zod (Colin Samon). Across the 20 episodes of the series, Cuffe, Salmon, and actors like Georgia Campbell and Rasmus Hardiker breathed life into the characters, making them more than just weird footnotes in Superman’s backstory. The show also pulled off the most interesting, accurate, and terrifying version of Doomsday yet realized on screen.
Thanks to showrunner Cameron Welsh, we know the third season would’ve seen Brainiac raising Jor-El on modern-day Earth — a twist on the Superman: Red Son story we are shattered we’ll never get to see. Maybe it can be resolved on Lobo — the Krypton spinoff that may still make it to air, as it’s still being shopped around to networks — or a revived Krypton series itself. Stranger things have happened.
(Photo by David Giesbrecht/Netflix)
Where It Left Off: Despite putting Trish (Rachael Taylor) on The Raft — Marvel’s high security prison for super-powered people — and planning an escape from New York, Jessica (Krysten Ritter) decides to embrace her heroic self and defend her city.
Cancelled Too Soon? Oddly enough, no. The shape of Jessica Jones as a series was always defined by Jessica and Trish. Both aspired to be heroes and both suffered for it across the three seasons. That Trish’s fondest wish would curdle and set her against Jessica makes sense. At the same time, Jessica’s decision to turn Trish in to the authorities — and make Trish’s slide into vigilantism public — felt like the appropriate climax for this version of the series. And Jessica’s decision to go back to her office at the end has a sense of thematic finality to it. No matter what adversary she might have faced in a fourth season, Jessica’s doubts are behind her.
While the series might have found a way to continue has Netflix wanted another year, this feels like the ending showrunner Melissa Rosenberg always aiming toward.
(Photo by Brownie Harris/2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
Where It Left Off: Swamp Thing (Derek Mears) learned he was a plant who thinks he is a man, but decides to remain in physical form to both stay with Abby (Crystal Reed) and protect the swamp. Meanwhile, at the Marais PD, Jason Woodrue (Kevin Durand) completed his transformation into the Floronic Man.
Cancelled Too Soon? Most definitely. DC Universe’s Swamp Thing proved a high-quality series can be built around the character and other members of DC Comics’ horror gallery. The writing often felt like reading a DC Vertigo book from the 1990s and the performances never faltered — at least until the truncated ending, where slow burns for Daniel Cassidy (Ian Ziering) and Maria Sutherland (Virginia Madsen) suddenly went into overdrive to feel more “conclusive.”
Swamp Thing also proved a high-quality series based on the character is out of the financial reach of most streaming services. Maybe if another platform wanted Swamp Thing — and a few other characters like Madame Xanadu and the Phantom Stranger — as their only prestige DC show, the budget might actually work out.
(Photo by Amazon Prime Video)
Where It Left Off: AEGIS director Tyrannosaurus Rathbone (Marc Kudisch) is compromised by the squid hiding in his heart, not that The Tick (Peter Serafinowicz) or Arthur (Griffin Newman) noticed anything different about him. They were too busy heading off on patrol. Meanwhile, in space, Superian (Brendan Hines) plans to turn back the flow of time.
Cancelled Too Soon? Yes and no. Though it is clear creator Ben Edlund wanted to keep going, the final episode of season 2 works as a fine coda to the ideas established early in the first season. The Tick and Arthur end up as recognized heroes and Arthur’s family shed all their various secrets. Even Overkill (Scott Speiser) has found some acceptance. If not for the two cliffhangers regarding Rathbone and Superian, this would feel like a natural end of the story.
But then again, it is The Tick and we can never get enough of it — especially in this incarnation. And as Newman told us back in March, the show was nearing a place where it could introduce some of the classic characters from the cartoon and 2001 live-action series. The Tick always finds a way back to TV, though, so we imagine a new iteration will be here before too long.
(Photo by Netflix)
Where It Left Off: After both protecting and facing off against Mariah Stokes (Alfre Woodard), Luke Cage (Mike Colter) found himself in control of her family’s nightclub, Harlem’s Paradise, and her criminal enterprise. Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.
Cancelled Too Soon? Yes. Perhaps more than any other Marvel shows on Netflix, that hypothetical next season of Luke Cage had a clear direction in front of it: Could Luke turn Mariah’s poisoned chalice into a boon for the neighborhood? Or would the power consume him as it did Mariah, her cousin Cornell (Mahershala Ali), and the rest of her family before her? Those questions are so powerful that they echoed over into Jessica Jones’s finale thanks to Luke’s brief cameo. It set up a showdown between the two characters we will never see.
But beyond the crossover potential, we just wanted to see Luke in charge and seeing what self-imposed rules he would bend to be Harlem’s undisputed defender.
(Photo by Justin Stephens/Fox)
Where It Left Off: After ten years of relative calm, the criminal insane of Gotham City returned to raise havoc. But this time, things will be different as Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) has a new ally in the war on crime: the Bat-Man (David Mazouz).
Cancelled Too Soon? Gotham ended at just the right moment, which seemed to be the point of the final storyline. It was clear Jim’s leading role was coming to an end. It had to, as there were few ways left to compromise his integrity and still make him worthy of the Bat-Man’s friendship at the end. Also, most of the villains, like Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) and Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), were fully formed by the end of season 4 — meaning it was time to end that story and begin a legend of the Dark Knight.
(Photo by Alfonso Bresciani/AMC/Sony Pictures Television)
Where It Left Off: There are still a few episodes to go.
Cancelled Too Soon? This is the Goldilocks show — the creative team paced it out just right. The original Preacher comic book spanned 66 issues, five special releases, and a miniseries focused on the Saint of Killers. It was never really built to run that long. At the same time, it is something of a miracle that AMC gave the show four years to raise Hell and make Hitler an ongoing character. But a story flirting with the profane like Preacher can only last so long.
(Photo by David Lee/Netflix)
Where It Left Off: With Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) defeated and Matt Murdoch’s (Charlie Cox) soul intact, the Daredevil of Hell’s Kitchen found himself ready to reclaim his public identity and form a new law firm with Foggy Nelson (Elden Hensen) and Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll). Meanwhile, a broken Dex (Wilson Bethel) sees nothing but bull’s eyes.
Cancelled Too Soon? Despite the clearer creative direction of season 3 and the Bullseye stinger, Daredevil found thematic completion in its final moments by reuniting Nelson, Murdoch, and Page. Their friendship — and the way Matt tested it as Daredevil — was as much the story as Matt’s struggle against Fisk or The Hand. Sure, Foggy and Karen were always willing to help Matt, but his journey to be worthy of their friendship was something he had to finish in the most ridiculous and brutal fashion. The fact all three characters came out of the brutality of season 3 in tact makes it difficult to imagine how the series would go back to that blood-soaked well for a fourth. Like Jessica Jones, there could be a way, but we don’t think it would be as satisfying a story as the one presented in Daredevil’s final Netflix appearance.
(Photo by Allen Fraser/Syfy)
Where It Left Off: Marcus (Benjamin Wadworth) managed to recover Chico’s severed head, but he and Maria (María Gabriela de Faria) immediately find Chico’s father waiting for them with guns drawn. Meanwhile, Gao (Olivia Cheng) took Lin’s (Benedict Wong) daughter for an initiation.
Cancelled Too Soon? Yes. The show was only getting started. That said, while Deadly Class may not have been as satisfying as Krypton or Happy!, it nonetheless had a solid cast, and interesting setting, and a world in which Wong could get a fight scene all his own. Also, that cliffhanger is just a rough place to leave things. But let’s just pretend Saya (Lana Condor) bailed Marcus and Maria out of their current predicament.
(Photo by Nicole Rivelli /Netflix)
Where It Left Off: Frank (Jon Bernthal) left a trail of bloody corpses ranging from Billy Russo (Ben Barnes) to the leaders of a religious movement. He also saved Amy’s (Giorgia Whigham) soul. Madani (Amber Rose Rivah), meanwhile, transferred to the CIA and offered Frank a job, but The Punisher always goes his own way.
Cancelled Too Soon? In its Netflix form, no. One of the things that makes Frank so appealing also makes him wrong for a ongoing television series: He cannot change. As both seasons of The Punisher demonstrated, he is a killing machine who will only be at peace while plotting murders or executing people he perceives as the bad guy. There’s no journey for Frank — especially now that all of the people connected to his family’s execution are dead. The narrative weight falls on characters like Madani and Amy. But with Amy off in Florida and Madani an employee of “The Company,” their character arcs are at an end. Like Jessica Jones and Daredevil, the series completed its thematic throughlines. It also used every bit of plot it could wring from Frank’s time on Daredevil. All a subsequent season could do is pit him against the Gnucci crime family — or Annabella Sciorra‘s Rosalie Carbone — but it would be little else than violent scenes. Sure, there’s a catharsis there, but that’s only good for a handful of episodes before it becomes repetitive.
Because of his inflexibility, Frank is better suited as a support character who is not required to grow and change.
(Photo by Syfy)
Where It Left Off: God (Jeff Goldblum) told Happy (Patton Oswalt) to look out for the “half-zombie” of Nick Sax (Christopher Meloni). Six months later, Sax reappeared to get his revenge on Smoothie (Patrick Fischler), but it is unclear if death suits either of them. Meanwhile, Hailey (Bryce Lorenzo) is off becoming an assassin with Meredith (Lili Mirojnick) while Amanda (Medina Senghore) stews in the slammer.
Cancelled Too Soon? Yes and no. On the one hand, we’re pretty disappointed we’ll never see Happy and Nick’s Halloween reunion. On the other hand, something as wild as Happy! must burn brightly and fade quickly to maintain its unique character. Sure, there would be ways for the show to continue — there are more holidays to satirize — but the best destiny of Grant Morrison and Crank co-director Brian Taylor’s strange and wonderful TV show was always that of an all-too brief firework. If it had continued, we can’t imagine the show keeping its spark past Halloween.
(Photo by Linda Kallerus/Netflix)
Cancelled Too Soon? Ha, no. Despite a stronger second season, Iron Fist never fixed its key conceptual problem: Danny Rand — at least in his TV form — is a supporting character. Consider his much stronger guest appearance in the second season of Luke Cage, or the way Colleen and Misty Knight (Simone Missick) steal the series from him, and you see just how misguided this endeavor really was. That’s said, we’d happily watch all of these characters in a Heroes for Hire series played by these actors.
As Deadpool makes its way into theaters and our hearts later this week, here are 10 of our favorite couples from comic books adapted for movies and TV.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Dark skies by 4:00 p.m., temperatures below 30 degrees, and — best of all — crazed shoppers at every turn. Fortunately, there is no shortage of quality television to watch over the holidays, so to go with your December shopping list, Rotten Tomatoes has prepared your December bingeing list — a mix of new shows, returning shows, and what’s fresh on DVD and Blu-ray — some naughty, some nice!
What it is: The most recent addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Jessica Jones, about a broken superhero (Krysten Ritter) who runs her own P.I. business. Battling PTSD, our anti-hero finds herself struggling to defeat Kilgrave (David Tennant), a super-villain who has inflicted unconscionable harm upon countless innocents.
Why you should watch it: Marvel’s Jessica Jones is a dark, psychologically complex, and thoughtful meditation on what it means to be a hero. It is also engrossing, action-packed, compassionate, and visceral. Jones is binge-worthy for a number of reasons, but what elevates this well-executed comic adaptation is having a powerful female centered alliance at its core.
Where to watch: Netflix
Commitment: About 11 hours.
What it is: Jeffrey Tambor plays a father who wants to live his life as a woman and needs to tell his adult children.
Why you should watch it: Tambor’s turn as Maura is award-worthy, but what is most surprising is how it’s just one facet of this family dramedy. All the members of the Pfefferman clan are struggling with their own demons and each storyline is full and fascinating to follow. It’s a study of faith, family, and dysfunction that is well worth the day or two it takes to binge-watch it.
Where to watch: The complete first season is streaming on Amazon Prime now, with season two scheduled to drop on Dec. 11.
Commitment: 10 hours for both seasons.
What it is: A prequel to the AMC hit The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead begins in Los Angeles at the dawn of the zombie outbreak as the government employs survival tactics that fuel the apocalyptic fire.
Why you should watch it: Even though fans know what’s coming, somehow the prequel is even scarier than The Walking Dead. All of the shortcomings of the human race — fear, abuse of power, false trust — become factors in the death of society, as one already-dysfunctional family must stick together to survive. It’s not just zombies they must battle, though, but also the failing system that was designed to protect them.
Commitment: Five hours.
What it is: A group of five slacker friends — known collectively as “The Gang” — run an Irish pub in South Philadelphia and get into all sorts of predicaments because they lack both common sense and social graces.
Why you should watch it: Sunny isn’t a sitcom for everyone; its characters are self-centered, misanthropic, and frequently obnoxious. That said, their resilience in the face of countless defeats is strangely endearing, and their adventures are so outrageous and hilarious that it’s almost therapeutic to watch them scramble through each half hour. With season 11 set to premiere in early January, now’s the perfect time to catch up with the Gang’s insane antics.
Where to watch: The first nine seasons are available to stream on subscription services Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix, and you can rent or purchase episodes from all 10 seasons on Google Play, iTunes, PlayStation Video, Vudu, and Xbox Video.
Commitment:About 42 hours.
What it is: This BBC drama follows a brilliant Detective Chief Inspector (Idris Elba) who finds it difficult to strike a work-life balance as he struggles to toe the line between genius and madness.
Why you should watch it: Elba won a Golden Globe for his performance as DCI Luther, a sexy cross between Sherlock Holmes and Columbo, in this gritty character study that adds a new dimension to the cop show genre. Plus, fans of The Affair will enjoy Ruth Wilson in her role as the seductive serial killer Alice Morgan. Catch up in time for season four, which starts on Dec. 17.
Commitment: 16 hours.
What it is: Based on Blair Tindal’s tell-all book, Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music, this lighthearted comedy from Amazon Studios shows the inner workings of the contemporary fictitious New York Symphony, led by a young upstart conductor (Gael García Bernal).
Why you should watch it: What makes Roman Coppola’s adaptation of Mozart such a spritely binge is the commanding and hilarious performance by Bernal as Rodrigo (based on the Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel), along with memorable turns by Bernadette Peters as the elegant Symphony manager, Lola Kirke as the oboe-playing ingénue, and Malcolm McDowell as the ousted old-guard maestro.
Where to watch: Season one is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. Season two premieres Dec. 30.
Commitment: Five hours.
What it is: Criminal profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) assists the FBI in apprehending serial killers, but as the job begins to eat away at his mental health, he starts meeting with therapist Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), a cannibal who murders rude people and serves them at fancy dinner parties.
Why you should watch it: The third (and likely final) season of the critically acclaimed show comes to Blu-ray December 8. There really isn’t anything quite like Hannibal; it’s a crime procedural and a psychological thriller, filled with horror and just the right dash of romance and comedy.
Commitment: 27.5 hours.
What it is: Based on the award-winning BBC series of the same name, Showtime’s hit dramedy stars Oscar winner William H. Macy and tells the story of the scrappy Gallagher kids as they struggle to keep body and soul together despite the constant burden of a dysfunctional alcoholic father.
Why you should watch it: Shameless features a great cast, including a stellar Emmy-award winning performance by the ever-adorable Joan Cusack. Holidays have always been a time for dysfunctional family fun, and nobody does it better than the Gallaghers. Shameless comes back for a sixth season on Jan. 10 so now is the perfect time to binge.
Commitment: 60 hours.
What it is: In this western-sci-fi mash-up, humans, aliens, and hybrids all fight for their rights and acceptance, while a human lawkeeper bonds with his adopted Votan (alien) daughter in 2046 Defiance (formerly St. Louis, MO).
Why you should watch it: Defiance’s backstory is wonderfully complex and reads like a lesson in mythology. The humor is addictive and the scenery and creature designs are breathtaking. The show’s inter-species tension is a clear commentary on cultural struggles, but not presented as a lecture on contemporary acceptance. Rather, it throws intense action, soapy character interaction, and some sexy stuff at you. And Grant Bowler (Nolan) is still one hot leading man.
Commitment: 26 hours.
What it is: The residents and domestic staff of a grand English country estate deal with household intrigue and societal upheaval in the first decades of the 20th Century.
Why you should watch it: With its lavish setting and British accents, this might look like your typical PBS prestige show at first glance. But Downton Abbey gives equal dramatic weight to the household staff and the Crawley family. Indeed, what makes the show so compulsively watchable is its richly nuanced characters, each of whom are bound by societal conventions but occasionally finds a way to expand their limits.
Commitment: 43 hours.