8 Awesome TV Shows That Ended Way Too Soon
This weekend sees the opening of “Veronica Mars,” the crowdsourced movie that follows up on the detective story that began on a UPN series in 2004. And it never, officially, ended; though the show’s third and final series wrapped up the mysteries of “Veronica Mars,” it hadn’t been intended as a series finale, and only became one due to the vicissitudes of the business. It was canceled. The “Veronica Mars” movie is the exact opposite of, say, “Sex and the City 2,” a movie that existed to slightly complicate the thuddingly specific details of that series’s neat-as-a-bow conclusion arrived at over a long run.
But some TV series don’t get the time to plan out their final episode or a movie to tell the tale in a new medium; the shows that follow ended their seasons inconclusively, only to be yanked off the air. Their accidental cliffhanger endings dangle on in perpetuity; fans can only guess at what would have happened next. Then again, maybe it’s not too late — we’d kickstart a movie to find out what happened to the “Freaks and Geeks” crew.
1. "Freaks and Geeks"
The terminally underwatched Judd Apatow comedy ended its first and only season with protagonist Lindsay ditching her plan to head to an academic summer program in order to chase the Grateful Dead. How would this have impacted the tenderly drawn relationships with her family, as well as her place within the burnout clique she’d joined? Imagining the fallout, at least, is close to as fun as is watching it, which we’ll never do -- all that we have is the gleeful final moment as Lindsay runs off for a summer of fun and freedom, heedless of what’s to come.
The series, about the rise of the aide to an absent-minded governor, culminated in an election between the aide and the governor. Exciting stuff -- not least because the series finale ended on a cliffhanger that the show’s cancellation never resolved!
“Benson” had been a spinoff of this broad parody, which ended a year before its creators had planned and thus featured a number of cliffhangers, including several characters in life-or-death situations. In our minds, they all survived!
Creator David Milch floated the idea of movies to continue the story of his abruptly cut-short Western series; they never came together. But Milch also did his best to tie up narrative threads as best he could given how many plotlines were up in the air. He’s said he suspected the series would be canceled after its third season and attempted to provide some measure of closure in the memorable final scene.
5. "Caroline in the City"
This NBC series about a cartoonist in New York was but one of the many beneficiaries of the ratings aura around “Seinfeld” and “ER.” When it was moved off Thursday night, things got ugly, and it was canceled after the fourth season, but before viewers found out whether Caroline decided to go through with her wedding after she spotted her true love sitting in the pews.
6. "Twin Peaks"
Like “Veronica Mars,” “Twin Peaks” got a movie after its run ended -- the only problem was that the “Twin Peaks” film, “Fire Walk with Me,” was a prequel, not a sequel. So plenty more was known about poor Laura Palmer, but we’ll never know what happened after Dale Cooper’s seeming psychotic break or demonic possession. The first season is the only worthwhile one, anyhow.
The supernatural shows that cropped up after the success of “Lost” were particularly apt to end without conclusiveness; they were both heavily serialized and generally unsuccessful. This one-season wonder promised to reveal, eventually, the meaning of a global event during which everyone on Earth had a vision of their future. The finale reveals that there’d, in fact, be another global flash-forward, but the effects of this doubling-down will never be known, as that’s all we got!
Another one-season-only “Lost”-alike, this show depicted a fellow living in two worlds, one in which he and his wife had survived a car accident, and another in which he and his son had. The show dared to ask which world was real life and which was a dream. NBC dared to risk viewer ire by never resolving the matter!