5 Must-See Cancelled TV Shows on Netflix

Netflix - 5 Cancelled TV Shows To Watch

The major television networks have been known to have a quick trigger finger with many TV shows, cancelling them too soon. In many cases, these cancelled TV shows were doomed because they were programmed to air on nights that aren’t conducive to their demographic, or they are shows that are too smart for a network TV audience.

Luckily, the fine people at Netflix came to our rescue!

Now, by watching these cancelled TV shows through improved Netflix live streaming, we’re able to watch some of the best shows you never knew about!

Did you know that “Family Guy” was cancelled in 2001, after just three seasons. But high ratings on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim and favorable DVD sales brought the series back to life in 2004. It’s now it its 11th season.

While I don’t expect that any of these cancelled TV shows will be “resurrected,” I do think some of these shows can help many people that aren’t happy with some current nights of television, or it can be a nice way for viewers that no longer subscribe to Cable TV to watch series they’ve never seen.

5 Must-See Cancelled TV Shows

Firefly (2002-03, 14 episodes)

Firefly - Cancelled TV ShowsSet in the year 2517, this show follows the renegade crew of the spaceship “Serenity.” The show takes a look at how these people survive traveling into the unknown reaches of the galaxy, while dodging the authorities and the assorted bad guys other worlds have to offer.

This show became such an underground hit on DVD, they decided to make a movie called, “Serenity,” taking place after the show’s final episodes. (By the way, “Serenity” is also available through Netflix’s Instant Streaming, so you aren’t left hanging high and dry like when the show originally got cancelled.)

Where Are They Now?
  • Nathan Fillion – THEN: Captain Reynolds. NOW: “Castle”
  • Gina Torres – THEN: Zoe, second in command on the ship. NOW: USA’s “Suits.”
  • Alan Tudyk – THEN: Serenity’s pilot. NOW: Dentist/neighbor on ABC’s “Suburgatory.”
  • Christina Hendricks – THEN: Saffron, con artist. NOW: Joan on AMC’s “Mad Men.”
  • Morena Baccarin – THEN: Space courtesan. NOW: Sgt. Brody’s wife, Jessica, on Showtime’s “Homeland.”
  • Ron Glass – THEN: Ship’s pastor. WAY BACK THEN: Det. Harris on “Barney Miller.”


Jericho (2006-08, 29 episodes)

Jericho - Cancelled TV Shows[Almost 30 episodes! And I'm considering it "cancelled too soon"!?! Stick with me.]

Who can’t resist a great yarn about a post-apocalyptic United States of America!?! This drama was about the lives of the residents of Jericho, Kansas, a fictional town left for dead after a series of nuclear attacks hit 23 major cities in the United States. (Don’t worry, I’m sure your city was spared … unless you are from Denver.)

The show was cancelled after lackluster ratings after one season, but a fan campaign convinced CBS into bringing it back for a seven-episode second season. Finally, it was cancelled after similar ratings.

Interesting note: “Jericho” was ranked No. 12 on TV Guide’s Top Cult Shows Ever. This was published in 2007 – before it got cancelled … twice.

Fans of Stephen King’s “The Stand” will enjoy this look at life after the destruction of government and the industrial/electronic world we live in.

Note: I got my mom into this show midway through, and she even went out and bought Season 1 on DVD. And then she nearly disowned me the day I called to tell her it got cancelled.

Where Are They Now?
  • Skeet Ulrich – THEN: Jake Green, son of the mayor. NOW: Law & Order: L.A.
  • Gerald McRaney – THEN: Mayor Johnston Green. WAY BACK THEN: “Simon & Simon,” “Major Dad”
  • Pamela Reed – THEN: Gail Green, wife of the major. NOW: Leslie Knope’s mother in “Parks and Recreation”


Kidnapped (2006-07, 13 episodes)

Kidnapped - Cancelled TV ShowsA rich New York couple’s son is abducted in the city in the very first episode, and FBI agents have to track down the criminals that did it, hoping to find the teenage boy still alive. This is a high-octane show with some really great shock moments. If you liked, Mel Gibson in “Ransom,” you’ll like this.

Viewers will also like this one for several reasons, including the fact that it has a series finale and that the cast is so incredibly strong.

NBC moved this show around to several different nights and time slots, the only way you could make sure to keep track was with a DVR. Eventually, after just five episodes, the network cut production down from 22 episodes to just 13. And – get this – the network chose to air the final eight episodes on their website. This was back in the mid-2000s when watching TV through your computer was not quite as easy and hassle-free as it is now. Finally, after lackluster ratings — no doubt because of the network’s mishandling – NBC chose not to renew it.

Where Are They Now?
  • Timothy Hutton – THEN: Conrad Cain, Father of abducted child. NOW: Nathan Ford on “Leverage”
  • Dana Delany – THEN: Ellie Cain, Mother of abducted child. NOW: Katherine Mayfair on “Desperate Housewives”
  • Jeremy Sisto – THEN: Ex-FBI operative Lucian Knapp. NOW: George on “Suburgatory”
  • Delroy Lindo – THEN: FBI Agent Latimer King. NOW (sorta): “The Chicago Code”
  • Mykelti Williamson – THEN: Bodyguard Virgil Hayes. NOW: “Justified”
  • Linus Roache – THEN: FBI Agent. NOW: “Law & Order: SVU”
  • Giancarlo Esposito – THEN: NOW: “Once Upon a Time” and “Revolution”


Life (2007-09, 32 episodes)

Life - Cancelled TV ShowsAgain, it’s tough to consider a show that was green-lit for 30-plus episodes as one that was cancelled too early, but for some reason, it just never seemed to grab hold. As a police procedural story, I think it’s one of the best created. Fans of the CSI and Law & Order franchises will like this, as well as those that like great stories and characters.

Charlie Crews, played by Damian Lewis (more on him in a sec), was an L.A. cop that was wrongfully accused of some murders. He was later exonerated for the murders – after 12 years of being stuck in the California prison system (not a happy place for a former cop!) He sued the city and was awarded millions as a settlement with the city.

Despite becoming filthy rich (this is where it gets good), he chooses to return to his job as a police detective. Some of the cops that he has to work with, he’s finding out, are corrupt and many other cops resent the fact that he has money now. (I haven’t ruined anything for you. This is all in the show’s pilot.)

Lewis is one of my favorite all-time unknown actors. You might know him as Capt. Winters, from HBO’s “Band of Brothers,” or as Jonesy from Stephen King’s movie, “Dreamcatcher.” He currently has your head spinning as Sgt. Nicholas Brody in Showtime’s “Homeland.”

And Sarah Shahi = hot.

Where Are They Now?
  • Damian Lewis – THEN: Det. Charlie Crews. NOW: Creepy Nicholas Brody in Showtime’s “Homeland”
  • Sarah Shahi – THEN: Det. Dani Reese. NOW: Kate Reed in USA’s “Fairly Legal”
  • Adam Arkin – THEN: Crews’ roommate and financial advisor. NOW: Adam Roth in “The Newsroom”
  • Brent Sexton – THEN: Officer Bobby Stark and Crews’ former partner. NOW: Stan Larsen in AMC’s “The Killing”
  • Donal Logue – THEN: Capt. Kevin Tidwell. NOW: Ernie McGillicuddy in USA’s “Royal Pains”


Life on Mars (2008-09, 17 episodes)

Life on Mars - Cancelled TV ShowsJust a brilliant concept for a show that left viewers that didn’t catch the first episode a little baffled, hence the low ratings. What a strong cast, though.

New York police detective Sam Tyler gets hit by a car in 2008, but he regains consciousness to find that he’s now in the year 1973. When he goes to his old precinct, they mistake him for a transfer, and he’s now a crime-solving police detective in the early ‘70s, trying to figure out why he’s stuck in this decade.

Some of the more interesting plot points that come up are when Tyler’s politically correct values as a 21st-century policeman are tested in early ‘70s New York City. He also can’t rely on ultra-modern technology to solve crimes, so he has to use his wits.

This was originally a successful show on BBC One that they developed for an American audience.

Where Are They Now?
  • Jason O’Mara – THEN: Det. Sam Tyler. NOW: Jim Shannon in (cancelled) “Terra Nova” and Jack Mara in CBS’ “Vegas”
  • Michael Imperioli – THEN: Det. Ray Carling. THEN AGAIN: Det. Louis Fitch in (cancelled) “Detroit 1-8-7.” WAY BACK THEN: Christopher Moltisanti in “The Sopranos”
  • Harvey Keitel — THEN: Lt. Gene Hunt. WAY BACK THEN: Charlie in “Mean Streets” and the Lieutenant in “Bad Lieutenant”
  • Gretchen Mol – THEN: Policewoman Annie Norris. NOW: Gillian Darmody in HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”


Watching TV shows on Netflix has become a nice hobby for a lot of people, most of which would like lower prices on the Cable TV service. But to watch these shows, you should also consider getting good High Speed Internet Service in your area. Enter your street address on that link to find out which services are offering the best deals.





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David Gonos has been writing online for over a decade, and he has been published on websites like CBSSports.com, FOXSports.com, MLB.com, NFL.com and SI.com. He discusses fantasy sports, television, beer, traveling, music, movies and food on his own website, when he's not at his day job, working as the content manager for DigitalLanding.com.


  • Daniel

    The TV show Awake should be on this list. Amazing, underrated show that had so much potential.


  • Joe McCraft


    (Firefly)You listed Christina Hendricks but left off Jewel Staite? Christina Hendricks was not a cast member…

  • David Gonos Post author

    Hendricks was on there, just not as a regular cast member. I didn’t mention Staite because up to the point that I wrote this last year, I had never seen her in anything of note.

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