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12 Best “Gone Too Soon” Television Shows

February 2, 2013

With several fan favorite shows coming to an end this year (30 Rock, The Office, Breaking Bad, probably Community & Happy Endings), it got me thinking about some of the best shows that had the plug pulled after just a few seasons.  So, I decided to rank my 12 favorite shows that lasted 3 seasons or fewer.  So, with that premise, here are my 12 favorite shows that were gone too soon.  A quick stipulation: current shows that haven’t made it past 3 seasons yet (Homeland, Game of Thrones, etc.) are not eligible for inclusion, because they could still surpass 3 seasons before they end.

12. The Dana Carvey Show (1 Season: 6 episodes)

The Dana Carvey Show only lasted six episodes, but featured some of the best comedic talent of the past 15 years.  Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert were both cast regulars, and the writing staff featured Louis C.K., Bob Odenkirk, Robert Smigel, and Dino Stamatopoulos.  Dana Carvey is one of my all-time favorite Saturday Night Live cast members, and several of the skits ended up getting featured on SNL once this show came to a close, including the famous cartoon “The Ambiguously Gay Duo.”  This show was often ahead of its time, and if you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend knocking it out on Hulu one weekend.  It is indeed worth it.

11. Bored to Death (3 Seasons: 24 episodes)
Bored to Death

Bored to Death never had the widespread appeal of some of its HBO counterparts, but it did feature some outstanding comedic actors along with a very original premise.  This quirky comedy told the tale of amateur private investigator and writer Jonathan Ames (played by Jason Schwartzman) and the adventures he gets into along with his friends, Ray (Zach Galifianakis) and George (Ted Danson).  Recurring actors included John Hodgman, Oliver Platt, Patton Oswalt, Mary Steenburgen, Kristen Wiig, Olympia Dukakis, and Heather Burns.  Galifianakis plays a more toned down character than his Hangover fans may be familiar with, but the main cast consistently delivered very funny performances. HBO has planned to make a movie based on the series, so fans can still look forward to that.

10. Freaks and Geeks (1 Season: 18 episodes)
Freaks and Geeks

Freaks and Geeks lasted only one season, but is memorable both as a reminder of the awkward jungle known as high school and as a launching pad for many very famous actors.  A highly ensemble cast that featured Linda Cardellini, John Francis Daley, James Franco, Samm Levine, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Martin Starr, Busy Phillips and Lizzy Caplan, this show captured many of the awkward moments of adolescence in great detail and accuracy (at least for most).  High school shows often suffer from going too many seasons, but that isn’t the case here, which may have helped it earn its cult classic status.  My one criticism is that I felt it was hyped up by my friends so much that by the time I watched it, I didn’t quite love it as much as those people, but maybe if I rewatch it a few times, it could move up this list for me.

9. Party Down (2 seasons: 20 episodes)

Party Down followed a catering company in Los Angeles and the various hijinks that ensued at their events.  Featuring Adam Scott, Lizzy Caplan, Ken Marino, Martin Starr, Ryan Hansen, Jane Lynch and Megan Mullally, this show often created huge laughs while also being able to pull off some sweet moments as well (anyone who watched the show knows that Scott and Caplan had some outstanding chemistry).  While most of the cast have gone one to other outstanding comedic shows, they worked extremely well together, and they are missed.  Fans of the show know that a movie has been teased almost immediately since cancellation.  We’ll have to see if that ever happens.

8. Lucky Louie (1 Season: 13 episodes)
Lucky Louie

Lucky Louie was the first series that starred Louis C.K., and while it isn’t as outstanding as his current show Louie, it still has some great moments.  While filmed in the traditional 3 camera sitcom style, this HBO series was not afraid to tackle tough issues in every episode.  In addition to the man himself, the show featured a great supporting cast including Pamela Adlon, Mike Hagerty, Laura Kightlinger, Jim Norton, Rick Shapiro, and Jerry Minor, along with a very memorable appearance from a pre-famous Emma Stone.  Any fan of Louie should watch this show; it feels almost like an alternate universe where he has some sort of happiness.

7. Da Ali G Show (2 Seasons: 12 episodes)

Da Ali G Show is probably more famous now because of the three movies that were spawned from the characters on the show, each portrayed by Sacha Baron Cohen.  Ali G was a British wannabe rapper, Borat was a man from Kazakhstan who was learning about American customs, and Bruno was a gay Austrian fashionista.  Each had hilarious moments on the largely improvised show, and while Borat was undoubtedly the best of the three films, the show was outstanding no matter which personality was present.

6. Firefly (1 Season: 14 episodes)

Firefly is Joss Whedon’s space western cult classic and it’s among the most ambitious television shows of the past decade.  Featuring a large ensemble cast that included Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin, Jewel Staite, Sean Maher, Summer Glau and Ron Glass, this show successfully blended both sci-fi and western genres in a way that has rarely been seen.  While it spawned a movie (Serenity) after its cancellation, fans have still been clamoring for more.  However, in the meantime, they can enjoy many Firefly alumni on television and film (Fillion stars on Castle, Baccarin is on Homeland, Tudyk features on Suburgatory, Whedon directed the highly successful The Avengers and will be behind a television spin-off of that series, S.H.I.E.L.D. and he also wrote the critical success The Cabin in the Woods.) 

5. The Office (UK) (2 Seasons: 14 episodes)
The Office UK

The original Office is an interesting case on this list.  While I’m sure many people will feel that I ranked this too low, I must go ahead and admit that I am a huge fan of the American version, and that fanhood could have biased me against this version for no fault of its own.  However, I did think this version had many highlights for sure.  Ricky Gervais and Mackenzie Crook bring hilarity through their constant awkwardness, and Martin Freeman plays a great straight man to their wackiness.  While the American version has far more heart than this one ever did, the original version allows those painfully awkward moments to land more forcefully.  It’s interesting that I include this one as a show that was gone too soon, considering it’s American counterpart would be on a list of shows that has gone on too long (possible new post idea….).  If only I could trade the last two seasons of the American version for two more of the original one.  As it is, we just have to watch these 14 episodes over and over.

4. Deadwood (3 Seasons: 36 episodes)

Deadwood is one of the best dramas that HBO has ever produced, which is saying something.  While The Wire and The Sopranos are generally the shows people first think of when they hear “HBO drama” (and rightly so), Deadwood is right there with those shows when it comes to entertainment value.  Ian McShane is delightfully evil as Al Swearengen, Timothy Olyphant is great as sheriff Seth Bullock (albeit not quite as great as his Justified character Raylan Givens), and the rest of the supporting cast is outstanding as well.  A very high budget led to the untimely demise of this great show, which ends with something of a cliffhanger, but the three seasons that were made are highly entertaining.

3. Flight of the Conchords (2 Seasons: 22 episodes)

Flight of the Conchords is a musical comedy show that uses the band’s unique musical and comedic stylings to maximum effect.  Starring Jermaine Clement and Bret McKenzie as the titular duo, this show also featured some great comedic talent in the supporting cast, including Kristen Schaal, Eugene Mirman, Rhys Darby, Arj Barker and David Costible, along with guest appearances from the likes of Aziz Ansari, Jim Gaffigan, Kristen Wiig, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Patton Oswalt, and Demitri Martin.  However, it is the songs that most people love the show for.  I would recommend Hiphopapotamus vs. Rhymenoceros, Business Time, Bowie, Leggy Blonde, Sugalumps, Hurt Feelings, Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor, and Carol Brown as the songs to listen to if you want to get a good idea of how the music on the show is, but you can’t go wrong with any of the songs.

2. Chappelle’s Show (2 Seasons:25 episodes/3 Seasons: 28 episodes)

You may be wondering why I categorized the number of seasons and episodes of Chappelle’s Show twice.  The answer is simple: some people count the “lost episodes” and some don’t, so I was trying to appease both.  Now, until recently, I had not watched the “lost episodes” because I didn’t want to watch a bastardized version of one of my all-time favorite shows.  However, I gave them a chance, and while none of those three episodes have a skit as classic as Rick James, Wayne Brady, Prince, Tyrone Biggums, or Clayton Bigsby, there are still some very solid moments, and it’s worth watching them.  The end of this show is well documented, but I can’t help but watch the show with a bittersweet feeling.  On the one hand, it’s so damn funny that I’m grateful for the episodes that were produced, but at the same time, the fact there are so few of them makes me wish this show was still on the air today.  Dave Chappelle is one of the funniest comedians of the past 25 years, and his show was one of the smartest, most creative television shows I have ever seen.  Also: CHARLIE MURPHY!

1. Arrested Development (3 Seasons: 53 episodes)

Arrested Development finishes first for a few reasons.  One: the 4th season hasn’t happened as of writing this post, so it still qualifies under the “3 season maximum” stipulation.  Two: It has one of the biggest followings ever for a cancelled show, so much so that they are producing the aforementioned 4th season and (allegedly) a movie.  Three: It’s one of the funniest and smartest shows to ever be on television.  The show was comprised of one of the best ensemble casts ever, featuring Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, Portia De Rossi, Will Arnett, Tony Hale, David Cross, Alia Shawkat, Jeffrey Tambor and Jessica Walter along with Ron Howard as the narrator.  This show featured outstanding wordplay and more running jokes than any other show I can remember.  This series gets better and better after every viewing, and if you haven’t watched it yet, you’ve made a huge mistake.


Hope you liked this post, and I hope you like what else I have to say.


From → Television

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