Did you know thatÂ The Fresh Prince of Bel Air came back from the dead? It didn’t take Melisandre channeling to Lord of Light to resurrect this prince who was promised; rather, it was the result of NBC and Will Smith receiving scores of letters and calls begging for the network to bring their favorite show back to air when it was unceremonious axed after season four. The campaign was ultimately successful, which is a true testament to the power of fandom, but it also prompts the question: What about so many other amazing shows that were canceled before their time? On today’s episode ofÂ The Dan Cave, which I filmed on location at the iconic house fromÂ The Fresh Prince of Bel Air thanks to our partners at Zillow, I’m running down the best canceled TV shows that absolutely deserve another season… or four… and maybe a movie, too.
[brightcove video_id=”5589546130001″ brightcove_account_id=”3653334524001″ brightcove_player_id=”rJs2ZD8x”]
High school sucks, but it’s infinitely worse when you’re the clone of one of history’s greatest figures who is being raised to be exploited by the U.S. military. Created by Phil Lord, Chris Miller, and Bill Lawrence,Â Clone High gave us 13 glorious episodes about the high school hijinks of Abe Lincoln, Cleopatra, JFK, Joan of Arc, Gandhi, and so many more. It was a weird, subversive, and laugh-out-loud hilarious parody of the glut of teen dramas that flooded airwaves in the late ’90s and early 2000s. In other words, it was too pure for this world.
While the Marvel Cinematic Universe still has to wait until 2019 to get its first female-fronted solo film, Agent Peggy Carter has already been there and done that with two glorious seasons of killer espionage action set in the early days of the MCU. Not only didÂ Agent Carter provide valuable connective tissue between the past and present of the MCU, but it showed us a badass lady spy kicking butt, taking names, and not taking grief from enemies in the field and within her own department.
WhatÂ Friends was to the 1990s,Â Happy Endings should have been to the 2010s. This incredibly funny sitcom about a group of friends living in Chicago had more heart, humor, and pop culture puns per square inch than 90% of other comedies out there. In classic ABC fashion, ABC didn’t realize it was sitting on gold and sentenced the show to a premature demise. At least we’ll always have three glorious seasons of pitch perfectÂ MiseryÂ parodies, Madonna cover bands, and aptly named food trucks.
Some shows manage to transcend the medium of television and become works of art. Other shows inspire fanatical fanbases and feature gory murders that seem impossible to show on network television.Â Hannibal is somehow all of those things and more, and how it wound up on NBC remains one of life’s great mysteries of Laura. With all-star performances–especially by Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter and Hugh Dancy as Will Graham–Bryan Fuller’s reimagining of Thomas Harris’ novels developed a rich mythology, featured better food photography thanÂ Top Chef, and was a creepy-crawly delight to the bitter end. Except the bitterest part is that there’s so much more story left to tell. Fingers crossed some guardian angel out there will give it a long-awaited fourth season on a new platform.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
30 Rock wasn’t the only major network sitcom about the trials and travails of running a major network sketch comedy show; it was just the one that won. Unfortunately for Aaron Sorkin fans,Â Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,Â which looked like it would beÂ The West Wing for the world of late night TV,Â never quite found its footing. Yet like most of Aaron Sorkin’s oeuvre,Â in between the uncomfortably preachy parts, there was a great TV show struggling to find its voice.
Bryan Fuller is the king of creating cult hit TV series that are canceled before their time, andÂ Pushing DaisiesÂ is a prime example. The premise was simple: pie maker Ned gained the power to bring the dead back to life by touching them. There’s one catch, though–a second touch will kill them dead again. With great power comes great responsibility, and with a great premise came a great TV show full of a wonderful ensemble cast, oddball humor, and delicious-looking pies.
Are we having fun yet? I sure hope so, but it has been difficult without moreÂ Party DownÂ to watch. The wickedly funny show about a group of struggling Hollywood types working at a catering company while they try to make their dreams of being actors, writers, and owner-operators of all-you-can-eat soup restaurants was sadly ahead of its time. With a murderer’s row of talented comedians and outstanding guest stars,Â Party DownÂ took us from everywhere from Sweet Sixteens to murder acquittal celebrations to adult video awards, and beyond. The episode where they cater Steve Gutenberg’s 50th birthday party ranks among the greatest episodes of television of all time. So do yourself a favor and watch this show if it somehow flew under your radar.
Freaks and Geeks
The quintessential example of a show taken before its time,Â Freaks and Geeks managed to perfectly capture the angst of high school and tell a timeless coming-of-age story about growing up in a small town. Directed by Paul Feig and produced by Judd Apatow,Â Freaks and GeeksÂ starred a shocking number of future superstars like Seth Rogen, Linda Cardellini, James Franco, Jason Segel, Martin Starr, and more. Sadly, NBC only gave us 18 episodes before pulling the plug because, evidently, there was too much good in this world. At least we’ve got a behind-the-scenes documentary on the way!
The Wild West was a dangerous, dirty, deadly place and no television show managed to capture that better than HBO’sÂ Deadwood, and yes I’m includingÂ HBO’sÂ WestworldÂ in this assessment. The F bomb is used a staggering 2,980 times in the show, which is approximately 1.6 F bombs per minute, and probably the amount of times you’ll shout that same expletive while watching the sweeping saga ofÂ Deadwood‘s evolution from gold mining camp to thriving frontier town. Ian McShane is the gift that keeps on giving, and he is at his absolute best as the surly, violent Al Swearengen. Fingers crossed that the long-rumoredÂ Deadwood movie turns out to be more than just a snake in my boot.
The world gave us a modern version ofÂ My Fair Lady (orÂ Pygmalion if you’re nasty) starring John Cho and Karen Gillan that was legitimately great but needed time to build an audience, so naturally it was canceled after just 13 episodes because the very same world is a cruel, unfeeling place. Remember how much you liked Karen Gillan onÂ Doctor Who? Guess what–it wasn’t just because of the Weeping Angels. It’s because she’s an international treasure, and one who had great chemistry with John Cho to boot. Everyone who didn’t watch created a butterfly effect that led to the damnÂ Emoji Movie.Which of these canceled TV shows is your favorite? What would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.
Featured Image: ABCÂ
Editor’s note: This episode of The Dan Cave is sponsored by Zillow.Â With millions of photos of homes for sale and for rent, historical pricing data, and other tools for home buyers â€” Zillow: find your way home.
Want to watchÂ The Dan CaveÂ
before anyone else?Â Join Alpha
Â and get early access.Donâ€™t miss a single episode ofÂ The Dan Cave
! Subscribe toÂ this playlist
.Tired of getting kicked out of restaurants for being topless? Buy aÂ The Dan CaveÂ t-shirt
!Dan CaseyÂ is the senior editor of Nerdist and the author of books aboutÂ Star WarsÂ andÂ the Avengers. Follow him on Twitter (@DanCasey).