Lights out: 10 shows that ended too soon

With HBO pulling the plug on "Enlightened," we look back on some of the best series canceled before their time SLIDE SHOW

Topics: Television, slideshow, Enlightened, freaks and geeks, judd apatow, Joss Whedon, Firefly, undeclared, Comedy, Party Down, Drama, my so-called life, Veronica Mars, love monkey,

Lights out: 10 shows that ended too soon

To the dismay of Mike White and Laura Dern fans alike, HBO canceled its critically acclaimed dramedy “Enlightened” Tuesday evening. The show, which chronicled the cringe-inducing “recovery” of a business executive scrambling to put her life back together after an office meltdown, offered a searing critique of both the self-help industry and the corporate workplace. In 2012, it received a Golden Globe nomination for best television show in its category, and Laura Dern, who plays the show’s lead character, Amy Jellicoe, won best actress for a musical or comedy series.

Salon’s Willa Paskin described the sense of loss fans feel after losing a show like “Enlightened,” writing: “Show cancellations, like show plausibility, are a very personal thing: Some gut you or make you insanely angry, while leaving others totally sanguine.”

In memory of “Enlightened,” here are 10 other short-lived shows that left their fans wanting more.



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    Lights out: 10 shows that ended too soon

    "My So-Called Life" (1994)
    Twenty years before she starred in "Homeland,” Claire Danes won audiences over as high schooler Angela Chase in “My So-Called Life.” The show, which only ran for one season in 1994, is still hailed by critics as one of TV's finest coming-of-age stories. “This American Life” contributor Davy Rothbart described its appeal in Vulture, writing: “In high school, the only girl who really understood me was Angela Chase.”

    Lights out: 10 shows that ended too soon

    "Relativity" (1996-1997)
    ABC's 1996 show "Relativity" was a romantic comedy that explored the relationship and families of two 20-somethings who fell in love in Italy. Sadly, the show shared the same tragic fate as producers Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz's other critically acclaimed hit, "My So-Called Life."

    Lights out: 10 shows that ended too soon

    "Firefly" (2002)
    “Firefly” was one of legendary director Joss Whedon’s most beloved projects. He told the Toronto Sun about his ambitious space western that "I'll never really accept” that it’s over. Although he championed the 2005 movie “Serenity,” Whedon says he’d love to make another film based on the 2002 season-long Fox show.

    Lights out: 10 shows that ended too soon

    "Arrested Development" (2003-2004, 2013)
    Ron Howard’s comedy about the dysfunctional Bluth family, which may or may not be a retelling of Dostoevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov," was axed after only three seasons in 2006. Luckily, “Arrested Development” is coming back -- bringing guest appearances from just about every major comedian in Hollywood -- for a fourth season, thanks to Netflix. A movie is also rumored to be in the works.

    Lights out: 10 shows that ended too soon

    "Veronica Mars" (2004-2007)
    Series creator Rob Thomas fought to keep “Veronica Mars” alive as long as possible, but the film noir-inspired detective series starring Kristen Bell suffered a slow death in 2007. Thanks to loyal fans and a Kickstarter campaign, however, “Veronica Mars” will make her feature film debut sometime in 2014.

    Lights out: 10 shows that ended too soon

    "Love Monkey" (2006)
    Though it only had one season on CBS, “Love Monkey” made a strong impression on Chicago Tribune’s Sid Smith, who wrote that the hour-long show about four single men “may well be the smartest and most innovative network comedy-drama in many a year.” Unfortunately, viewership dropped dramatically during its eight-episode run, and CBS pulled the show in 2006.

    Lights out: 10 shows that ended too soon

    "Party Down" (2009-2010)
    The 2009 Starz comedy “Party Down” featured a star-studded comedic cast including Megan Mullally, Adam Scott, Martin Starr and Jane Lynch, but the talent wasn’t enough to keep ratings above water. Since its cancellation, the two-season show about aspiring Hollywood actors has become a cult classic (Entertainment Weekly rates it as one of the “26 Best Cult TV Shows Ever”).

    Lights out: 10 shows that ended too soon

    "Undeclared" (2001)
    “Undeclared,” Judd Apatow’s 2001 follow-up to “Freaks & Geeks,” was as hilarious as the latter -- and just as short-lived; after just one season, Fox canceled the coming-of-age sitcom about college students in the aughts. The show had celebrity pull, though, featuring cameos by Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell and Fred Willard, and starred such comedy lights as Jason Segel and Seth Rogen.

    Lights out: 10 shows that ended too soon

    "Freaks and Geeks" (1999)
    Writer and producer Judd Apatow told Vanity Fair in December that 1999’s “Freaks & Geeks” is “the best thing I have ever worked on.” The season-long show, which TV Guide recently ranked among the 60 greatest dramas of all time, served as breakthrough roles for household names Jason Segel, James Franco and Seth Rogen, who starred as high school misfits living in the Michigan suburbs in the 1980s.

    Lights out: 10 shows that ended too soon

    "Enlightened" (2011-2012)
    On March 19, HBO unceremoniously canceled “Enlightened” -- a show that demonstrated so much promise despite its low ratings. Salon’s Willa Paskin described it as “singular and truly great” and “thematically and tonally not like anything else on TV.” Laura Dern played Amy Jellicoe, a self-destructive business executive trying to get her life in order, and won a Golden Globe for her performance.

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Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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    Photos from the Happy Ending Salon

    On Wednesday, September 10th Amanda Stern partnered with Salon to relaunch The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. We had the pleasure of hosting authors Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, and Matthew Thomas, artist Edwina White, and musician Emily Wells. Moleskine, Greenlight Bookstore, and Plymouth Gin were event partners.

    Photos from the Happy Ending Salon

    On Wednesday, September 10th Amanda Stern partnered with Salon to relaunch The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. We had the pleasure of hosting authors Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, and Matthew Thomas, artist Edwina White, and musician Emily Wells. Moleskine, Greenlight Bookstore, and Plymouth Gin were event partners.

    Photos from the Happy Ending Salon

    On Wednesday, September 10th Amanda Stern partnered with Salon to relaunch The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. We had the pleasure of hosting authors Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, and Matthew Thomas, artist Edwina White, and musician Emily Wells. Moleskine, Greenlight Bookstore, and Plymouth Gin were event partners.

    Photos from the Happy Ending Salon

    On Wednesday, September 10th Amanda Stern partnered with Salon to relaunch The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. We had the pleasure of hosting authors Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, and Matthew Thomas, artist Edwina White, and musician Emily Wells. Moleskine, Greenlight Bookstore, and Plymouth Gin were event partners.

    Photos from the Happy Ending Salon

    On Wednesday, September 10th Amanda Stern partnered with Salon to relaunch The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. We had the pleasure of hosting authors Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, and Matthew Thomas, artist Edwina White, and musician Emily Wells. Moleskine, Greenlight Bookstore, and Plymouth Gin were event partners.

    Photos from the Happy Ending Salon

    On Wednesday, September 10th Amanda Stern partnered with Salon to relaunch The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. We had the pleasure of hosting authors Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, and Matthew Thomas, artist Edwina White, and musician Emily Wells. Moleskine, Greenlight Bookstore, and Plymouth Gin were event partners.

    Photos from the Happy Ending Salon

    On Wednesday, September 10th Amanda Stern partnered with Salon to relaunch The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. We had the pleasure of hosting authors Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, and Matthew Thomas, artist Edwina White, and musician Emily Wells. Moleskine, Greenlight Bookstore, and Plymouth Gin were event partners.

    Photos from the Happy Ending Salon

    On Wednesday, September 10th Amanda Stern partnered with Salon to relaunch The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. We had the pleasure of hosting authors Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, and Matthew Thomas, artist Edwina White, and musician Emily Wells. Moleskine, Greenlight Bookstore, and Plymouth Gin were event partners.

    Photos from the Happy Ending Salon

    On Wednesday, September 10th Amanda Stern partnered with Salon to relaunch The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. We had the pleasure of hosting authors Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, and Matthew Thomas, artist Edwina White, and musician Emily Wells. Moleskine, Greenlight Bookstore, and Plymouth Gin were event partners.

    Photos from the Happy Ending Salon

    On Wednesday, September 10th Amanda Stern partnered with Salon to relaunch The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. We had the pleasure of hosting authors Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, and Matthew Thomas, artist Edwina White, and musician Emily Wells. Moleskine, Greenlight Bookstore, and Plymouth Gin were event partners.

    Photos from the Happy Ending Salon

    On Wednesday, September 10th Amanda Stern partnered with Salon to relaunch The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. We had the pleasure of hosting authors Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, and Matthew Thomas, artist Edwina White, and musician Emily Wells. Moleskine, Greenlight Bookstore, and Plymouth Gin were event partners.

    Photos from the Happy Ending Salon

    On Wednesday, September 10th Amanda Stern partnered with Salon to relaunch The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. We had the pleasure of hosting authors Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, and Matthew Thomas, artist Edwina White, and musician Emily Wells. Moleskine, Greenlight Bookstore, and Plymouth Gin were event partners.

    Photos from the Happy Ending Salon

    On Wednesday, September 10th Amanda Stern partnered with Salon to relaunch The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. We had the pleasure of hosting authors Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, and Matthew Thomas, artist Edwina White, and musician Emily Wells. Moleskine, Greenlight Bookstore, and Plymouth Gin were event partners.

    Photos from the Happy Ending Salon

    OOn Wednesday, September 10th Amanda Stern partnered with Salon to relaunch The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. We had the pleasure of hosting authors Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, and Matthew Thomas, artist Edwina White, and musician Emily Wells. Moleskine, Greenlight Bookstore, and Plymouth Gin were event partners.

    Photos from the Happy Ending Salon

    On Wednesday, September 10th Amanda Stern partnered with Salon to relaunch The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. We had the pleasure of hosting authors Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, and Matthew Thomas, artist Edwina White, and musician Emily Wells. Moleskine, Greenlight Bookstore, and Plymouth Gin were event partners.

    Photos from the Happy Ending Salon

    On Wednesday, September 10th Amanda Stern partnered with Salon to relaunch The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. We had the pleasure of hosting authors Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, and Matthew Thomas, artist Edwina White, and musician Emily Wells. Moleskine, Greenlight Bookstore, and Plymouth Gin were event partners.

    Photos from the Happy Ending Salon

    On Wednesday, September 10th Amanda Stern partnered with Salon to relaunch The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. We had the pleasure of hosting authors Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, and Matthew Thomas, artist Edwina White, and musician Emily Wells. Moleskine, Greenlight Bookstore, and Plymouth Gin were event partners.

    Photos from the Happy Ending Salon

    On Wednesday, September 10th Amanda Stern partnered with Salon to relaunch The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. We had the pleasure of hosting authors Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, and Matthew Thomas, artist Edwina White, and musician Emily Wells. Moleskine, Greenlight Bookstore, and Plymouth Gin were event partners.

    Photos from the Happy Ending Salon

    On Wednesday, September 10th Amanda Stern partnered with Salon to relaunch The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. We had the pleasure of hosting authors Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, and Matthew Thomas, artist Edwina White, and musician Emily Wells. Moleskine, Greenlight Bookstore, and Plymouth Gin were event partners.

    Photos from the Happy Ending Salon

    On Wednesday, September 10th Amanda Stern partnered with Salon to relaunch The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. We had the pleasure of hosting authors Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, and Matthew Thomas, artist Edwina White, and musician Emily Wells. Moleskine, Greenlight Bookstore, and Plymouth Gin were event partners.

    Photos from the Happy Ending Salon

    On Wednesday, September 10th Amanda Stern partnered with Salon to relaunch The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. We had the pleasure of hosting authors Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, and Matthew Thomas, artist Edwina White, and musician Emily Wells. Moleskine, Greenlight Bookstore, and Plymouth Gin were event partners.

    Photos from the Happy Ending Salon

    On Wednesday, September 10th Amanda Stern partnered with Salon to relaunch The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. We had the pleasure of hosting authors Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, and Matthew Thomas, artist Edwina White, and musician Emily Wells. Moleskine, Greenlight Bookstore, and Plymouth Gin were event partners.

    Photos from the Happy Ending Salon

    On Wednesday, September 10th Amanda Stern partnered with Salon to relaunch The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. We had the pleasure of hosting authors Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, and Matthew Thomas, artist Edwina White, and musician Emily Wells. Moleskine, Greenlight Bookstore, and Plymouth Gin were event partners.

    Photos from the Happy Ending Salon

    On Wednesday, September 10th Amanda Stern partnered with Salon to relaunch The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. We had the pleasure of hosting authors Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, and Matthew Thomas, artist Edwina White, and musician Emily Wells. Moleskine, Greenlight Bookstore, and Plymouth Gin were event partners.

    Photos from the Happy Ending Salon

    On Wednesday, September 10th Amanda Stern partnered with Salon to relaunch The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. We had the pleasure of hosting authors Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, and Matthew Thomas, artist Edwina White, and musician Emily Wells. Moleskine, Greenlight Bookstore, and Plymouth Gin were event partners.

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