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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Guardian readers and Alfie Packham

‘I’ll never forgive the BBC’ – your favourite shows that got cancelled before their time

A brilliant, Mad Men-style drama … Ben Whishaw in The Hour.
A brilliant, Mad Men-style drama … Ben Whishaw in The Hour. Photograph: Joe Martin/BBC/Kudos

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

I felt like The Dark Crystal on Netflix was building up to something, by the end of the series the war had only just begun … and then it was cancelled. The production was impeccable, the sets, the puppets, it looked like nothing else on TV, and it had a lot of potential to improve. If you’re going to start something like that, and ask people to buy into this world, you really need to commit to at least two or three series, not pack it in after one. Adam Hyde, 39, Halesowen


‘Gutted doesn’t even cover it’ … Glow. Photograph: Ali Goldstein/Netflix

Glow on Netflix was such a fun, character-driven show about women’s wrestling in the 80s, with great attention to detail and excellent acting. The third season was a rollercoaster and ended with the stage fully set for an explosive final fourth season. Then Covid hit, and Netflix, for reasons still unknown, decided to cancel the entire series rather than wait for distancing regulations to relax. Gutted doesn’t even begin to cover it. I’m still bitter. Halina, 37, Derby

Vengeance Unlimited

It’s not a recent show, but I remember feeling really disappointed when Vengeance Unlimited was cancelled after just one season in 1999. Michael Madsen played a mysterious vigilante who would right the wrongs inflicted upon others, using a combination of physical violence/intimidation and psychological warfare. He had a self-appointed assistant, played by Kathleen York, who would bring the cases to his attention. Admittedly there was only so far such a premise could go, but the 16 episodes that were created still leave me hankering for more, nearly 25 years later. Robert Smith, Essex

Perry Mason

Perry Mason.
‘It had just hit its stride!’ … Perry Mason. Photograph: HBO/Warner Media/2023 Home Box Office, Inc. All rights reserved.

I’m horrified and disappointed that Perry Mason (the new HBO version) has been cancelled just as it hit its stride. I enjoyed season one but they knocked it out of the park in season two. It had fabulous performances and chemistry between Matthew Rhys and Juliet Rylance, a great script, and amazing production values. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that someone somewhere will pick it up. Lisa Trigg, 57, Cardiff

Becoming Elizabeth

Becoming Elizabeth on Channel 4 is an excellent Tudor historical drama with some superbly scheming characters. Turns out, medieval England was lot like Game of Thrones, without so many dragons. Henry VIII has just died, leaving a young Edward I in the hot seat. He’s not a healthy lad, though, and there’s a queue of successors ready to step up. It ends on a great cliffhanger, but with no second season, we are left with only a Wikipedia search to fill the gap. Paul Holme, Swindon


Any cancelled TV show list wouldn’t be complete without the cult space-western Firefly – one of the best what-might-have-been shows to be unceremoniously dumped by a network despite its obvious quality and dedicated following. It had a great cast, sharp writing, quirky but coherent world-building – and few shows or films can so effortlessly create a ship and crew of characters that all felt so well drawn and comfortable together that you could absolutely believe their lives continued beyond the show. In an era of big budget but low quality prestige TV, it’s refreshing to go back to a show that has such a profound sense of fun and camaraderie. Even after all these years, it’s still a travesty that Firefly was cancelled. Andy, Essex

The OA

The OA.
‘I fell in love with it’ … The OA. Photograph: Netflix

This wild ride finished on such a cliffhanger, with a great premise for the third series. The idea that certain people could “die” over and over, have a gander at the afterlife, then pop back and share what happened is, obviously, a bit bananas. Then there was the giant talking octopus, multiple universes accessible by flowers, supernatural beings, misfit teenagers and a really awful bad guy who kidnaps people to experiment on them (who was about to finally get some kind of comeuppance!) So it wasn’t for everyone. But those who stuck with it fell in love. Brit Marling was telling a fascinating, eerie and beautiful story and I’m still sad to think I’ll never find out more. Suzanne Stockton, 46, Manchester

Freaks and Geeks

Freaks and Geeks was one of the best coming-of-age shows I’ve ever seen. It’s similar to Stranger Things in having interweaving plots involving young teens, older teens and their parents. It has an unbelievable cast (Jason Segel, Linda Cardellini, Seth Rogan, James Franco, Busy Phillips), who have gone on to work on some great entertainment, and really cutting and realistic writing. It was cancelled after only 12 of the 18 first season episodes were aired. One view could be that this was a necessary evil, to allow the cast to go on to bigger and better things, but if AI ever gets to the point of making custom TV, the first thing I’ll be asking for is season two of Freaks and Geeks. Joe Scott, 26, Headingley, Leeds

The Hour

The Hour, broadcast about a decade ago, was a brilliant, Mad Men-style drama about the early days of current affairs programming at the BBC. It had a stellar cast including Ben Whishaw, Dominic West and Romola Garai. It was stylish, dark and gripping, and ended on such a cliffhanger, with the audience not even knowing if the main character was alive or not. I will never forgive the BBC for not giving us a third series. Alex, 41, London


‘Ravishing’ … Sense8. Photograph: Murray Close / Netflix

There were two brilliant seasons, and everything was set up for a third, but it was pulled by Netflix, and fans like myself were gutted. It was produced by the Wachowski sisters of The Matrix fame, and the photography was ravishing. Sense8 was simply a brilliant creative project, touching on gender, sexuality, consciousness and what it means to be alive. The series had passionate fans who desperately wanted a third season, but it was not to be. Susannah Clark, 70, South Northamptonshire

High Fidelity

The High Fidelity TV series had a mere 10 effortless, warm and witty episodes, with some exquisitely chosen music. I can only ask in the most earnest way: Hulu … why? As a teenager I adored the 2000 film starring John Cusack – though I was less charmed by that Rob’s selfish, entitled, shouty, misogyny-tinged search for answers. Zoë Kravitz’s Rob in the TV version is likewise selfish, entitled and of course a moody music snob, too, but it is a pleasure to spend time with this well-rounded, humanly flawed character. It’s a romcom that doesn’t go too heavy, but it’s done so well. Lucie Browne, Manchester


I have been a fan of David Fincher since before I was supposedly allowed to watch his films – Seven in particular. Mindhunter is as good as any of them, and the detail and suspense work so well in this long-form story. I was hooked from the first five minutes, as was almost everyone I’ve talked to about it. I still live in hope that it will be picked up somewhere. Alex Clough, 30, Edinburgh

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