TV is filled with such a wide variety of shows in just about every genre nowadays that it can be easy to forget when other series actually came to an end. There are just too many awesome new options to dwell too much on shows that have already been cancelled. We've picked out 8 of the best shows from days gone by that ended way longer ago than we thought. Some were cable hits while others found their audiences on broadcast networks, but they were all great enough then to warrant recognition now. Get ready for some blasts from the past, and check out our 8 picks!
HBO debuted a show unlike anything else on the airwaves back in 2004 with Deadwood. The show was a western based on legendary historical characters, and it wasn't afraid to bust out some anachronistic F-bombs if the situation called for it. Timothy Olyphant and Ian McShane were stellar as Seth Bullock and Al Swearengen, and the show was actually still going strong when it was cancelled in 2006. There have been rumors of a TV movie or HBO reunion in the years since the series went off the air, but nothing has yet come of it. We can still cross our fingers and hope.
That '70s Show, 1998-2006
Fox landed a cast of largely unknown actors back in 1998 to create an unexpectedly hilarious sitcom set in the late 1970s. That '70s Show embraced the time period in everything from the fashion to the Circle to Eric Foreman's obsession with the newly-released Star Wars. Notably, the show survived shaking up some of its most established dynamics. Who could have guessed that Hyde and Jackie would be an interesting match? Or that Eric would movie to Africa? Or Fez and Laurie would marry? That '70s Show ran for eight seasons, launched the careers of Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, and Laura Prepon, and was overall a fun watch each week.
The West Wing, 1999-2006
The West Wing was a show that probably would not have worked without Aaron Sorkin at the helm. The drama followed the political action of the White House staff in a fictional Democratic administration, and the plots often revolved around the characters' frustration with various branches of the government. The show perfected the "walk and talk" method of delivering exposition, and it undoubtedly would have been a hard-to-follow mess without Sorkin in charge and a killer cast in front of the cameras. NBC garnered a lot of awards attention thanks to The West Wing, and it feels like just yesterday that the show came to an and.
Sex And The City, 1998-2004
HBO wouldn't be the premium cable juggernaut it is today without Sex and the City. The series starred Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, and Cynthia Nixon as a group of friends with different careers and different attitudes toward sex and romance, but they stuck together through thick and thin and created a legendary dynamic of female characters. The actresses returned to their characters twice after the series ended in 2004 for big screen sequels. The Sex and the City movie did well enough, but Sex and the City 2 was a critical flop, and we may never see the show return to TV. At least it had a solid run for its six seasons on the airwaves.
Dawson's Creek, 1998-2003
The entire television landscape of the last decade might have looked very different if not for The WB's Dawson's Creek. It wasn't the first teen drama, and it might not even be the best, but it popularized the concept of fast-talking teenagers dropping pop culture references every other sentence. We almost certainly never would have gotten The O.C. if not for the success of Dawson's Creek, and much of The WB's (and later, The CW's) programming might not be what it is today. Dawson's Creek also set a TV precedent in the series finale when - spoiler alert - the heroine didn't choose the main character at the end of the long-running love triangle. Although Dawson's Creek was no The West Wing, it was an impactful series that had some pretty great seasons.
Six Feet Under, 2001-2005
One of HBO's biggest critical hits of all time is Six Feet Under, which ran for five seasons and followed the stories of the Fisher family, who owned a funeral home in Los Angeles. The cast was unforgettable from start to finish, and the writing consistently played to their strengths. Six Feet Under has a legacy for producing one of the best-received series finales of all time, which was a major accomplishment considering all the expectations for the end of a phenomenal series. The characters weren't always likable and the relationships weren't always particularly tolerable, but they were compelling from beginning to end, and it's hard to believe that the final episode was more than a decade ago.
Veronica Mars, 2004-2007
Veronica Mars is a show that might have run for a lot longer than three seasons if it had aired on a different network. The mystery series started off on UPN, then moved to The CW. The lack of mainstream exposure (combined with the change of format that came with the CW move) meant that Veronica Mars fizzled out in 2007, and fans were left wondering for years what would have happened after the Season 3 finale cliffhanger. The first two seasons featured season-long mysteries that came to explosive ends, and it really should have lasted longer than it did. Even despite the movie tying up some loose ends, I know I'm not the only one who would be on board for a Netflix revival.
The Sopranos, 1999-2007
If Six Feet Under is remembered for its fantastic finale, The Sopranos may be best remembered for the finale that frustrated fans everywhere. That said, the six seasons of the show were largely well-crafted and wonderfully acted, and the stories of mobster Tony Soprano, his family, his therapist, and his fellow members of the mafia often made for unpredictable storytelling. All things considered, The Sopranos is another series that helped make HBO the prominent and well-respected network that it is today, and it definitely deserves to be remembered for more than its final moments.
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).