The brightest stars always burn out the quickest. Sometimes great TV shows aren't discovered for how amazing they are until well after they've already been cancelled. The cult audience the show was able to generate is thus immensely loyal and still buys merchandise, watches old episodes, and attends conventions just for that show. There are dozens of these cult TV shows, but according to these IMDB user ratings, one - somewhat unsurprisingly - stands on top as the most beloved: the short-lived but intensely loved Firefly.
Priceonomics set out to find and rank cult TV shows that were cancelled before their time. However, the shows had to fit a set of criteria to narrow down the search. The rules were simple:
1. The show was cancelled after three seasons or fewer
2. The last episode aired no later than 2013
3. The show aired in prime time
4. The show was originally on an American network
With the guidelines in place, Priceonomics found that Firefly was by far the number one cult show with 190,192 user ratings on IMDB. Airing just one 14 episode season on Fox in 2003, Firefly followed the escapades of a team of space navigating rebels and their mission to survive their various adventures. Of course, there was a huge government conspiracy with plenty of space-faring action and lovable characters that helped the show build its massive following. The problem was that almost no one watched it while it was on the air, which led to a swift cancellation from Fox.
The Firefly fandom (who call themselves Browncoats) is still going strong to this day, with Wiki and Reddit pages devoted to the show still getting frequent visits. With only 14 episodes and one movie to its name, Firefly has an insane amount of user ratings. It's vastly higher than the other cult shows on the list, which is fascinating given its shorter lifespan compared to shows with longer seasons.
The other 19 shows that made the cut include Rome in the number two spot, followed closely by Twin Peaks. Other notable entries on the list include Veronica Mars, Deadwood, Lie To Me, Pushing Daisies, Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles, and Blue Mountain State. All of these shows are great in their own right, and it's interesting to see what ended up making the cut. If Arrested Development never came back on Netflix, it would absolutely be on this list.
Thanks to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, even the nichest of shows are finding a second life on the air. While it's unclear if anything on this list will come back from the dead (besides the ones already announced), there's more hope than ever that these lost gems make their way back to your television. Hey, executives. Maybe start with Firefly? Apparently, people really like it.