It’s a sad fact that in the world of television, shows are often at the mercy of the networks. Despite the audience’s wishes, fan favorites occasionally get canceled before plotlines are resolved, or right as the show is beginning to find its stride. Brooke Horan Williams lists the following shows as perfect examples of tv shows that should have stayed on the air for at least a bit longer.
Futurama is one such show that actually ended up having a long history, albeit full of twists and turns. This is the only show Brooke Horan Williams can think of that has had a full four episodes written as series finales due to the show’s uncommonly turbulent renewal cycle.
During its original run, which began in 1999 at the turn of the century, Futurama was shuffled around time slots by Fox on an almost constant basis. During the course of one year, it ended up in three different time slots and was constantly being preempted for sporting events, with some episodes never being shown. This kind of behavior towards the series continued into its fourth season, with episodes being aired erratically and held over with almost no communication to the audience. In Brooke Horan Williams‘ opinion, this is the sole reason for worsening viewership numbers. During the production of the fourth season, Fox refused to purchase more episodes, leading to the show’s first cancellation.
In 2002, the show was picked up by Cartoon Network for its Adult Swim block along with Family Guy, another canceled Fox show that had received similar treatment. Whereas Family Guy gained renewed interest through the reruns and DVD sales leading to the show being picked up by Fox again (where it remains airing new episodes to this day), Futurama remained in syndication with no new episodes. This, plus DVD sales, helped Futurama become popular enough for four straight-to-DVD movies after Comedy Central began airing reruns in 2005. Eventually, Comedy Central picked up the show for new episodes, where it aired until 2013.
Another show, Brooke Horan Williams points out, that received similar treatment from the Fox network, is Firefly. Created by Joss Whedon, (perhaps best known for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Avengers), Firefly could best be described as a sci-fi western in space with an overarching storyline following the crew of a ship. Unfortunately, as already pointed out, Fox was not kind to the show regarding airtimes and even aired episodes completely out of order, which was a death blow for a show with a story that required weekly viewing to fully understand.
Much like Futurama, Firefly gained massive popularity through DVD sales, though unfortunately was never picked back up as a series. Its story was concluded in the film Serenity, released in 2005.
One legendary show that ended far too early, although in this case not because of the network, was Chappelle’s Show. Chappelle’s Show debuted in 2003 and instantly became a national sensation. Brooke Horan Williams points out that the show got too big for the star and writer, Dave Chappelle, to be comfortable with: he was being heckled at stand up shows by people shouting lines from the show and felt he was losing creative control of the process. Because of this, Chappelle himself decided to pull the plug.