"Good shows are cancelled every year, smart shows, worthy shows."
-Josh Friedman, SciFiNow #46, p.101-Oh cancelled series, where for art thou? Friedman's line is sobering when it comes to the plethora of cancelled series. His point warranted a wistful look back at the best.
What qualifies for a cancelled show that was worthy and smart? I suppose the variables in play make it relative to a degree. But there are obvious important factors like writing, performance and direction. We aim to highlight the best of cancelled science fiction television.
Obviously a single season can be tragic.
Two seasons feels downright cold and not much better.
Three seasons, while certainly respectable, will cause some eyebrows to wince that it may have received the short-shrift.
Four seasons seems a mighty success, but there have been plenty out there whereby fans thought they had the potential to endure a bit more. Farscape or Enterprise anyone? As it stands those recipients of four seasons will not be considered here. Oh, put your crying towels away.
And five seasons plus, well, that's likely for the spoiled fans of The X-Files, Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. That's kind of a special category. Do they really have any right to bemoan the loss at all? Well, sure, but who's really listening at that point.
But for the sake of common sense it would seem to me that a series that reaches four seasons or more, relatively speaking, would be considered an unmitigated success story given how difficult it is to bring a pilot to order at all.
Enterprise, The 4400, Farscape, Stargate Atlantis, Falling Skies, Fringe, Battlestar Galactica, Lexx, Sanctuary, Continuum. I mean, you've done good kid. It was nice knowing you.
And without further adieu here are some of TVs cancelled science fiction series and their respective cancellation dates and episode numbers. This is clearly not a complete list. Series highlighted in blue note The Sci-Fi Fanatic BIG 10 Cancelled Sci-Fi TV Series for those series we wish endured longer TV histories.
Firefly (2002; 14 episodes).
Strange World (1999-2002; 13 episodes).
Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979; 24 episodes).
Defying Gravity (2009; 13 episodes).
Flashforward (2009-1010; 22 episodes).
Life On Mars (2008-2009; 17 episodes).
Invasion (2005-2006; 22 episodes).
Threshold (2005-2006; 13 episodes).
Surface (2005-2006; 15 episodes).
Alien Nation (1989-1990; 22 episodes).
Caprica (2010; 19 episodes).
Eleventh Hour (2008-2009; 18 episodes).
Dark Skies (1996-1997; 20 episodes).
Earth 2 (1994-1995; 22 episodes).
The Event (2010-2011; 22 episodes).
Harsh Realm (2009-2010; 9 episodes).
Odyssey 5 (2002; 19 episodes).
Starman (1986-1987; 22 episodes).
Planet Of The Apes (1974; 14 episodes).
UFO (1970-1971; 26 episodes).
Space: Above And Beyond (1995-1996; 23 episodes).
Terra Nova (2011; 13 episodes).
The Lone Gunmen (2001; 13 episodes).
Almost Human (2013-2014; 13 episodes).
Minority Report (2015; 10 episodes).
Charlie Jade (2005; 20 episodes).
Space:1999 (1975-1977; 48 episodes).
Stargate Universe (2009-2011; 40 episodes).
Helix (2014-2015; 26 episodes).
Jericho (2006-2008; 29 episodes).
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008-2009; 31 episodes).
Dollhouse (2009-2010; 26 episodes).
Thunderbirds (1965-1966; 32 episodes).
V (2009-2011; 22 episodes).
Star Trek: The Original Series (1966-1968; 79 episodes).
Defiance (2013-2015; 38 episodes).
Land Of The Lost (1974-1976; 43 episodes).
The Bionic Woman (1976-1978; 58 episodes).
Lost In Space (1965-1968; 83 episodes).
Seaquest DSV (1993-1996; 59 episodes).
Wonder Woman (1975-1979; 60 episodes).
Millennium (1996-1999; 67 episodes).
Equally, one could argue a few others did just fine for their era. Lost In Space, Wonder Woman and The Bionic Woman did fine. But I could never get enough of Land Of The Lost. Maybe one more would have been nice.
Though I've provided ten highlighted in blue, there are a few others that might have proved interesting like Threshold, Surface, Defiance (though the third season gave me mixed emotions) and Life On Mars. Oh well.
The series selected in blue are in keeping with this science fiction fan's desire to see the universe in play explored to a greater degree. This writer would have enjoyed seeing where the story, characters or mythology would have taken us. Those are essentially the variables in play for me regarding my choices.
And boy, is this writer ever so pleased that The 100 (2014-present), with its fourth season renewal does not make this hit list. The Superhero-dominant CW continues to have faith in The 100, its one, true, solid, shining, science fiction property and entertainment. Good, smart, worthy series can get picked up. It does happen.
My hope is that the same holds true for Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan's The Strain (2014-present) now in its third season, but planned for five, and The Expanse (2015-present) set to arrive with Season Two. Only time, and viewership, will tell.
Not exactly the most lethal or accurate of weapons now that I think about it. I'm not sure that's going to cut the mustard. We're going to have to do better. But hey, as a kid, you had my attention and the stories are still good!
Me want more Chaka too!