The end of the year is an ideal time to look back at the 12 previous months in celebrating and championing the biggest and the best things that happened. But it’s also as good a time as any to reflect on some of the bad times that happened, too, since there’s an abundance of eggnog and food around. And it’s here we’ll give a final farewell to some of the shows that didn’t get the chance to carry on through to 2016.
These are the 9 most disappointing cancellations of 2015, a year absolutely full of TV series coming to an end. To be clear, these are shows that were straight-up shut down by the networks, and not ones that ended in an amiable way. Torches are still burning over some of these.
For the past six months, Fannibals everywhere have been picturing NBC execs on the receiving end of Hannibal Lecter’s gourmand sensibilities, as the network’s choice to cancel the show in the middle of Season 3 was like a bonesaw to the skull. Season 3 was Hannibal’s most beautiful and boundary-pushing batch of episodes yet, and while they do serve as a fine closer for one of TV’s most artistic and brainy dramas, I can’t imagine there’s anyone in the world outside of NBC that thought this was the best time to send the show off. Creator Bryan Fuller gets some credit for not wanting to rush into putting Season 4 out for a different outlet, but the regret-filled rage will likely never subside.
For the most part, sci-fi fans rarely get to say that their favorite TV series lasted more than a couple of years, and not even genre-centric Syfy is dependable about giving its own series long lifespans. Defiance started out on rocky ground when it debuted in 2013, but it got better as time went on, and viewers grew very attached to the titular town and the humans and aliens that populated it. Created by Rockne S. O’Bannon, Kevin Murphy and Michael Taylor, Defiance felt like a show built to last, but it only made it through three seasons before Syfy brought the Arch down on it.
Sure, we’ve seen procedural dramas about medical examiners before, but Forever spun that concept by making its main character a 200-year-old immortal trying to figure out the secret to why he cannot die. Now that’s a hook. With Ioan Gruffudd as Dr. Henry Morgan and Judd Hirsch as his confidante (and more), Forever was a fun show that took on some difficult subject matter without ever taking itself too seriously. The show paired Sherlock-esque case-solving with an overarching plot involving another immortal stalking Morgan, and while it wasn’t making any grand and profound statements about life and death, Forever still deserved to make it beyond a single season. And I’m pretty sure the legion of fans who later tried to get the show back on the air agree.
Constantine is the kind of show whose cancellation is dealt with in stages. It starts out with anger, which turns into a vague mixture of appreciation and awe that the show existed to begin with, and then that slowly morphs back into rage as one considers it probably would have lasted longer on any other network but NBC. While the ratings for the occult-driven comic adaptation weren’t great, they weren’t significantly horrible for the awful Friday night slot, and Constantine developed a rabid fanbase fairly quickly. The cancellation came after months of “will they/won’t they” speculation, which drew out the pain, and all attempts to find the show a new home have come up empty. But maybe one day…
While ABC Family’s programming may not appeal to the cultural zeitgeist in the same way as shows from outlets like CBS or HBO, the network knows exactly how to appeal to its targeted demographics. Chasing Life was a good example, centering on a 24-year-old journalist who gets diagnosed with leukemia. Audiences really fell for April and her family and friends, although the ratings took a sizeable dip for Season 2, in which some pretty crazy things happened. The story was left on a pretty open note, and all hopes that Season 3 would get ordered were smashed just days after the season finale, when ABC Family announced the cancellation. Sure, fans can picture whatever ending they want for April, but that’s not quite as fun.
Admittedly, the 13 episodes in Season 1 of Backstrom weren’t as good as the sum of the show’s parts implied, but they were still good, and there’s no telling how much better it could have gotten had Fox not decided to cancel it a week after the season finale. As the grizzled and snarky Detective Backstrom, Rainn Wilson led a solid ensemble through a series of Special Crimes and other more personal circumstances. Based on the popular Swedish novels by Leif G.W. Persson and developed by Bones creator Hart Hanson, Backstrom fell victim to a viewer exodus, as the ratings dropped from 7.98 million for the premiere to just 2 million viewers for the finale. Understanding the cancellation doesn’t make it feel any less sucky though.
About a Boy
Successful book-to-film-to-TV adaptations are generally a rare thing, and About a Boy wasn’t exactly a project that was a small screen necessity. But with Friday Night Lights and Parenthood vet Jason Katims behind the development process, the NBC comedy quickly won over viewers with the chemistry between its quality cast members, the clever writing, and a solid emotional core. That said, audiences started tuning out as the season progressed, and the ratings during Season 2 got bad enough for NBC to yank it from the schedule. It stayed in limbo for months before the ax finally dropped and stopped fans from witnessing where Will and Fiona’s relationship was going. At least the rest of the season was later released on VOD.
The Bastard Executioner
FX seemingly knew what it was doing in greenlighting The Bastard Executioner, a series that should have appealed to fans of both historical fantasy-ish dramas and Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter. The show was definitely dense and deadly enough, and newcomer Lee Jones was the captivating lead to a large and talented cast, but viewers just weren’t that interested. The series premiere failed to attract more than 2.1 million people, and the numbers only got worse from there. It’s not likely that the story of Wilkin Brattle would have ever rivaled Game of Thrones in terms of popularity, but this far-reaching story could have lasted for at least as many years. Even the cancellation was interesting, as Sutter came out and officially threw in the towel himself.
A few years ago, I would have bet good money that CBS would never take CSI off the air, and that it would eventually outlast all of its spinoffs. But lo and behold, the network announced earlier this year that the long-standing ratings smash would be coming to an end, and they luckily gave creator Anthony E. Zuiker the chance to wrap everything up through a feature-length TV movie. That finale, which brought back long-gone characters, drew in bigger ratings than CSI had seen in years, which was perhaps a sign itself that the crime-filled procedural’s time was up. After 15 seasons, the disappointment from losing CSI is less about regrets over what might have been, and is more akin to an old friend moving away.
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Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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