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Top 10 Most Tragic Geek TV Show Cancellations

A sad day today. CBS has announced its Fall line-up, and Jericho isn’t on the schedule. Crikey. As I mentioned last week, some of the most fun I’ve had yelling at the TV during this past season has been at Jericho and its scrappy hero, Jake. In fact, in honor of the show’s passing, I shall henceforth make any future references to actor Skeet Ulrich as “Jake, from TV’s tragically-cancelled Jericho“. I’ll never use the words “Skeet Ulrich” again, unless I am asked by doctors to give a scientific name to a newly-discovered affliction of the gall bladder.

Firefly Arrested Development Buffy The Vampire Slayer

UPDATE: Oh, thank my shiny spoons and forks! Jericho will be back for at least seven episodes!

With Jericho‘s demise near-death experience, and the on-the-bubble equally-tragic ‘cancelled’ status of Veronica Mars, I got to thinking* about other geek TV shows that ended before their time.

10. Buffy The Vampire Slayer Y-e-e-e-s, number 10. I can’t, in good faith, rank it any higher than that. Sure, it was a sad day when we all enjoyed our final, brand-new episode of Buffy. But let’s face it, by the time the end of Season 7 rolled around, Buffy had run its course on TV. Once Buffy had died (twice), defeated a god and “The First” evil, and caved her entire town in on the Hellmouth… where could we go from there? (Well, to comic books, apparently.) FYI, any goodwill that David Boreanaz created in the classic second season of BTVS has been squandered on Bones.

9. Jake 2.0 The little show that couldn’t. A concept doesn’t get much geekier than this: A somewhat-dorky computer analyst fuses with microscopic nannites, which grant him enhanced abilities. He saves the world on a weekly basis, thanks to the government spy agency that sends him on missions suited to his new technologically-driven powers. Esoteric? Yes. But it also had its charm. Jake kicks ass, but never loses his awkwardness with girls.

8. Push, Nevada Didn’t even survive an entire season. Invented the concept of revealing storyline secrets through “easter eggs” strewn throughout the show. (You’re welcome, Lost.) TiVo’s Instant Replay had never been so useful… until the Janet Jackson incident.

7. Deadwood There’s probably going to be a couple of made-for-TV movies, but the show was cancelled after three seasons. Each season was better than the previous. Makes you wonder if Gerald McRaney (also of tragically-canceled-Jericho fame) carries some sort of curse.

6. V When it comes to television miniseries in around the early-1980s, Baby Boomers probably think of Roots. My generation thinks of V. Apparently the original writer and director, Kenneth Johnson, is working with Warner Brothers to get a new series on the air. The question is… will it be a Rocky Balboa, or a Star Wars: Attack of the Clones?

5. Battlestar Galactica 1980 As with so many other shows with striking productions (including sets, costumes, special effects, and ensemble casts)… production costs helped to sink this one. At least the new series will make it to season 4.

4. Arrested Development When was the last time so many genuinely funny people (Jason Bateman… who knew?) got together on a show with such an original voice? If you say Desperate Housewives, go away from this blog, and never return again. We don’t serve your kind, here.

3. Freaks and Geeks Sigh. What was I saying about funny and having an original voice? I’m just glad all the kids (except for perpetual-second-rate-show-guest-star John Francis Daley / “Sam”) seem to have found their way to bigger-and-better things. Seth Rogan owns Summer comedies. See: Knocked Up, Superbad, and The 40 Year-Old Virgin.

2. Carnivale Two seasons… too expensive for HBO. How to describe? Ah, yes… as the French say, it had a certain… super-awesomenicity. Not many shows develop the fanatical fan-following that Carnivale had. Not many shows, except for…

1. Firefly The world was robbed of another Joss Whedon series, but gifted with the gem that is Serenity.

There you have it.

“But GWS, but GWS! What about Angel and The Screen Savers, dude? If we were chatting on IM, I would totally rag you out with a ‘super-frustrated’ emoticon face!”

But nothing. Angel jumped the shark in its early seasons, and The Screen Savers ran its course once our favorite faces departed, starting with Leo Laporte and Patrick Norton.

Oh, and about Wonderfalls I just wasn’t into it. “Boring” strikes me as the right word.

What do you think? Did I miss anything?

* “I got to thinkin’.” Nice. You can take the boy out of the South, but…

UPDATE: Hello, glimmer of hope! In one form or another, Veronica Mars may return! Help out.

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38 comments… add one
  • Cindi May 17, 2007, 9:18 am

    I, too, mourn the passing of Arrested Development, a truly great show. Nima, on the other hand, will be devastated by the loss of Battlestar Galactica.

    To read the fall line-up of new shows is to want to weep.

    Oh, and a trivia note: An episode of Veronica Mars was recently filmed on the grounds of my mom’s office building in San Diego. So six degrees.

  • Paul May 17, 2007, 10:15 am

    Putting the new BSG down is like taking care of a rabid dog. It’s best for everyone involved.

  • Firehawkv8 May 17, 2007, 10:37 am

    Space: Above and Beyond was another good one. It left a cliffhanger in the season/series finale. The show was ruined by Starship Troopers coming out and turned people off. Now we’ll never know what happend to Shane and Vamp when they went down…….

  • Great White Snark May 17, 2007, 11:44 am

    Cindi: Does that practically make me four degrees of separation away from Kristin Bell? I won’t be able to sleep tonight!

    Paul: BSG: Started strong. Now, not so much.

    Firehawk: Space: Never got into it, but how can you argue with character names like “Shane” and “Vamp”…

  • jeff May 17, 2007, 12:37 pm
  • Cindi May 17, 2007, 12:43 pm

    Let’s see. GWS->Cindi->Cindi’s Mom->Veronica Mars producer->Kristen Bell. So yeah, I guess 4 degrees. Sweet dreams.

  • Great White Snark May 17, 2007, 12:47 pm

    Jeff, I’m sure it’s way too late for that, but I still like the idea. Nuts, indeed!

  • Shannon May 17, 2007, 1:25 pm

    Just when Jericho was starting to really rock, it gets cancelled. I know it’s going to be tough but I am going to vow right here and now never to watch CBS again. Their viewership is going to seriously drop, anyway, now that they’ve pushed off Bob Barker. They’ll lose that whole 75-100 y.o. demographic who turns on the Price Is Right and then just never changes the channel, ever.

    I totally agree about Arrested Development, Carnivale and Firefly. Millennium was another good one, but the so-called retooling did that show in long before it was cancelled.

  • Great White Snark May 17, 2007, 1:38 pm

    I’d join you in your CBS boycott, but I still get a weekly dose of testosterone from The Unit.

    Totally forgot about Millennium. But I guess that should be a sign… not sure it would have made it onto my list.

  • Keith May 17, 2007, 2:29 pm

    Drive. I was loving this new Fox show, but it died by episode 4. Surface got one season then a DVD collection. How in God’s green Earth do you justify putting out a DVD for a series that just hangs dead in the air…Stoopid TV executives.

  • Great White Snark May 17, 2007, 3:21 pm

    I know. “Stupid TV execs!” has been my mantra this week. Drive was a project of Tim Minear, formerly of Joss Whedon projects. They just can’t seem to catch a break.

  • Cindi May 17, 2007, 9:46 pm

    Forgot to ask…why isn’t “La Femme Nikita” on this list? That was an awesome show. And (warning: shamless name-dropping ahead) I actually had dinner with Peta Wilson a few years ago. She was pretty cool. Wes Craven was there, too. Nice guy.

  • Great White Snark May 17, 2007, 10:26 pm

    1. Good call. Pretty solid show. 2. Solid name-dropping to accompany your solid reminder. Well played, lady. Well played.

  • Jason the TVaholic May 19, 2007, 3:55 pm

    GW Snark, I would definitely agree with Firefly, FOX really screwed that one up badly. Also, Arrested Development, another one that FOX couldn’t figure out what to do with? While on the subject of FOX, John Doe was a really good show that got the same one season treatment as Jericho. Also, anything FOX does with Tim Minear is usually pretty good, but these two should just stop working together already. Every project he works on for FOX, like this season’s Drive, previously mentioned Firefly and Wonderfalls, and The Inside, all get canned in a hurry. He even had a hand in a few episodes of Standoff this past season and that one disappeared not long after as well.

    As for other shows on your list, Jake 2.0 was a really fun show. Also, Deadwood was great, but a “Geek TV Show?” I think I need a definition of what a “Geek TV Show” is, in your estimation?

  • Great White Snark May 20, 2007, 5:21 pm

    First, I don’t make estimations, I make approximations. It’s a religious thing. Don’t ask.

    Deadwood is geek TV because you’re learning something while being entertained.

  • Deadwood returns as two, count ’em two, movies sometime in the near future — I never thought of it as Geek TV, tho. Shakespearean burlesque, maybe, or is that Burlesquian Shakespeare. I think work.

  • Great White Snark May 23, 2007, 10:37 am

    Burlesquian Shakespeare? You nailed it. As far as I’m concerned, this fully substantiates your title of Copywriting Maven.

  • Leyna May 23, 2007, 7:52 pm

    All I’m saying is, maybe you should check out “Dead Like Me.” It was a pretty awesome show… it ran for two seasons on HBO, before they decided it wasn’t worth the trouble.

    Oh, lamentations!

  • req'dName June 6, 2007, 6:23 pm

    U think Roots was in the 80s??????

    And I second the “Dead Like Me” nomination.

  • Great White Snark June 6, 2007, 6:30 pm

    Uh-oh. Roots was actually produced in the late 1970s. Someone better shackle me and take away my blogging privileges for presenting myself as a serious journalist of canceled geek television!

  • Anim8or November 3, 2007, 3:19 pm

    I would have had “Arrested Development” at number one. That series is one of the best, and I strap people down and force them to watch it on DVD when they say “what show?”.

    Sadly the network just never got behind it. It reminded me of “Family Guy”, that show was buried by fox, then became the most successful TV DVD release ever. The problem was that fox never got behind it. If you were a fan of “Arrested Development” you had to have TiVO or a PVR because they kept moving it around (like Family Guy), and never really sold the show correctly.

    Gob and Tobias are two of the best characters in the history of American TV. I don’t think I have ever laughed as hard as when I saw the Analyst/Therapist combined “Anal-rapist” on Tobias’ business cards.

    I still put on my daisy dukes and cry in the shower over that one.

  • skeetfan November 12, 2007, 12:14 pm

    I loved MIRACLES -the series, another Skeet Ulrich show that was even better than Jericho. It was along the lines of X-Files, just without the alien subplot (good thing). The writing was exceptional on that show and the acting was superb. Angus McFadyen of Braveheart was the other lead actor and the rapport between the two was phenomenal. I highly recommend it.

  • keith January 19, 2008, 5:03 pm

    No one ranks Futurama as belonging on this list?

  • John January 19, 2008, 6:35 pm

    The Crusade, Successor of Babylon 5.
    wish it had made it more than one season.

  • me January 19, 2008, 9:54 pm


    that’s all

  • Great White Snark January 20, 2008, 1:36 am

    Keith, technically, Futurama is (happily) un-canceled.

  • Uboat509 April 26, 2008, 8:01 am

    How can you have a list like this and not have Farscape on it? What about MST3K? Or Lexx?

  • Dave May 9, 2008, 5:48 pm

    BSG 1980? You have got to be kidding me – it’s a shame it was ever produced, not a shame it was cancelled. I’ve only seen the first two eps, but oh my god – awful. Perhaps you meant the original series, not the 1980 version?

  • Eli_Jansen June 5, 2008, 11:56 am

    Oh… i miss arrested development
    I can’t believe that people who ARE funny get cancelled… i don’t watch that much series, butthe ones that i fell in love with got cancelled…

  • psy-ko September 30, 2008, 8:59 pm

    Wow, I didnt know I was a geek! V was awesome! And BG1980, loved it! Another great but canceled Scifi was Forever Knight, at least they did let them give it somewhat of an ending. Outside the relm of sci fi though I have to vote for square pegs as being one of the wrongly canceled geek shows.

  • Hawk October 2, 2008, 3:22 pm

    I love Firefly and agree with it’s place on the list for the most part…but I think there’s one MAJOR show missing from the list an that’s Twin Peaks. It probably inspired shows like Lost as much as you claim Push, Nevada did (I’m just guessing as I’ve never seen Push, Nevada but I have seen all of Twin Peaks and Lost).

    Twin Peaks was awesome.

  • Soymaid October 4, 2008, 6:43 pm

    I agree with everything on this list (I mean, every show on this list I either love or don’t know at all, both of which support their inclusion). I wanted to add if I may two extremely-short run shows, very different, but equal for their place in my heart: Freaks and Geeks, and Clone High.

  • James October 9, 2008, 1:51 am

    Stargate atlantis!!!

  • Jinx October 10, 2008, 6:45 am

    OMG, what about “The Chronicle” and “Farscape”! Helloooooo? 2 of the smartest, best written shows on SciFi Channel – gone waaaay too soon!

  • Opie October 19, 2008, 7:34 am

    Along the same “Freaks and Geeks” line, you have to give a shout-out to “Undeclared.” Another Appatow gem that I’m still convinced was one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen.

    But when you think about it, had either Freaks and Geeks or Undeclared run it’s course, would we have 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad, Pineapple Express, Forgetting Sarah Marshall or even Kevin Smith’s upcoming movie (which I’m just going to assume will rock) Zack and Miri Make a Porno?

  • Tim October 30, 2008, 10:48 pm

    Definitely a good list… I was limited in my TV watching as a kid, so I missed many of these shows, but I agree with most of the shows on here. The only show whose cancelation truly devistated me, though, was Firefly. I never had much respect for Fox, but when they tried to kill firefly they only succeeded in killing themselves, in my eyes. Thank goodness for Serenity…what would all us loyal JW fans do without it?
    On the subject of Joss… I have to say I loved Buffy. I loved the first season, and I loved the last. But I was glad it was over. And I don’t think it should go on this list… an 8th season would have been a bad idea… and not that I didn’t love it, but perhaps the seventh season was a bad idea. I had the same reaction to Charmed dying… I’d enjoyed it, but it had to end before someone got hurt. :)
    Push Nevada was awesome… I really got invested in that show, and when it suddenly stopped I felt like all the hard work I’d done trying to keep up had been flushed down the toiled! That was real frustrating…
    The only other show that truly got me angry upon being cancelled, though it doesn’t qualify as Geek TV… is the Brittish parody of Friends, Coupling. That was a fun show…

  • joe bleaux October 23, 2010, 10:20 pm

    Is there a time limit on how far back you’re taking things into consideration? Where’s the original star trek series? That was canceled despite organized geek protests.

  • Jennifer December 2, 2010, 12:30 pm

    I think Pushing Daisies was canceled way too soon!

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