Special Report

The Best TV Shows That Lasted Just One Season

The entertainment business is one that demands rapid results. Sometimes, amazing shows are canceled before they can really get a strong following or before their plots have time to properly mature. 

Since it started making its own content, Netflix has become infamous for releasing new series and canceling them after only a season or two. Of course, some are just plain bad, but the cancellation of others has created outcry amongst fans.

However, not all shows were meant to last longer than a season. Some series have certainly been dragged out longer than necessary with the promise of epic conclusions that never really materialize (looking at you “Lost”). Many shows on this list are animes that were only planned to have a single season, ending in a completed tale. “Cowboy Bebop” director Shinchirō Watanabe reportedly made sure to give the series a decisive ending so that he would not be tied to it for years to come. These shorter series can leave the audience wanting more but often that’s better than drawing out the story until it’s completely devoid of the charm and originality that made it so good in the first place. (100 best TV drama of all time)

Other series never had their story completely told and creators and fanbases have tried to keep them going in other forms. Sci-fi show “Firefly” didn’t do well when it first aired in 2002 and was soon canceled before even showing its entire first season. However, strong DVD sales of the completed first season spurred its creator to continue the narrative through the movie “Serenity.” (The best TV spinoffs of all time)

 The shows on the list tell two very different tales when it comes to the television series business. Some deserved a lot more episodes and storytelling but were canceled too soon because their financiers didn’t believe the numbers were going to work. Others pushed back against attempts to push stories past their natural conclusion. Unfortunately, making television series is an art which requires a considerable amount of money and labor. If the viewers aren’t there, shows can get the ax despite their artistic genius. 

Click here to see the best TV shows that lasted just one season

To determine the best TV shows that lasted just one season, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on audience ratings from the Internet Movie Database. TV shows that ran for only one season were ranked based on average audience review on IMDb as of January 2022. Only series with at least 25,000 votes were considered for inclusion. Data on number of audience reviews, episode count, and cast information also came from IMDb.

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