The television landscape is a brutal place in which shows that should have had a bright future never made it past the one season mark. There are also shows in which the creators felt that one season was enough to tell that story. Here you will find a mix of both as we pick the ten best shows that only lasted on season.
10. Freaks and Geeks
Judd Apatow and Paul Feig’s high school series has become more than what could be called a cult hit since it was cancelled. The show, which followed to groups of high school students: the titular freaks and geeks, boasted a stellar cast of future famous faces, and was one of the mo0st realistic, and funny teen shows of the last 25 years. It only lasted a season due to low ratings but that hasn’t stopped new generations of fans discovering the show.
9. My So Called Life
My So Called Life was Freaks and Geeks before freaks and Geeks, and was more of a drama that dealt with what it was like being a teenager. Starring Claire Danes as Angela chase, we see the struggles and contradictions of teenage life through her eyes. The show was a hard sell as it didn’t adhere to the easy answers of most dramas, but the real nail in the coffin was the fact that Danes didn’t want to commit to the show long term.
Another Judd Apatow effort, and much more of a broad comedy as Undeclared dealt with the, often hilarious hijinks of college life. Starring future stars Jay Baruchel, Charlie Hunnam, and Seth Rogen, Undeclared was a funny show that satirized many of the more ridiculous aspect of college. Unfortunately college shows never last long, and it was the same for Undeclared as it was cancelled after one season.
7. The Night of
The Night of was one of HBO’s home runs of 2016. It was original meant to be the next project of James Gandolfini but sadly he passed away before the start of shooting. The show, which was adapted from the British show Conviction, details the arrest and imprisonment of Nasir “Naz” Khan, played by Rogue One’s Riz Ahmed. The show was designed to be a one off, but due to its success there may be an opportunity for further instalments.
6. State of Play
The British show created by Shameless’ showrunner Paul Abbot, and directed by Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’s David Yates, is a pulsing political thriller starring The Walking Dead’s Paul Morrissey as a politician caught up in a conspiracy after the woman he had an affair with was murdered, and John Simm plays the journalist, and old friend trying to help him. The series was adapted into a film starring Russel Crowe and Ben Affleck, but the show is the version guaranteed to entertain the most.
Another John Simm miniseries here, as the brilliant actor plays another journalist who this time has to unravel a mystery to do with his father, who is played by Jim Broadbent. At only three episodes, the pacing is quick, and the story unravels in no time, but it’s the performances from Simm, Broadbent, and Broadchurch’s Olivia Colman that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
4. The Shadow Line
Another single season British drama, The Shadow Line charts the rise and fall of corrupt characters on each side of the line between police and the criminals they are either up against or in bed with. ~Again it’s the performances that are on point here in a star studded cast that includes, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Christopher Eccleston, Rafe Spall, and a chilling turn from Stephen Rea.
No one season wonder list would be complete without Firefly. It’s a testament to how fully formed the show feels, both in character, and world building that the show is still so popular. Nathan Fillion stars as Captain Mal who, along with his rag-tag crew are up for any job on any planet as long as it’s dangerous. You can still feel the influence of Firefly everywhere not least in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies.
2. Clone High
It’s hard to imagine that an animated show from Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence, and The Lego Movie directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, about a high school populated by clones of famous historical figures as teenagers wouldn’t be on air for more than one season. It’s like a particularly insane Rick and Morty episode crammed with JFK jokes. Low ratings, plus controversy over the show’s portrayal of Ghandi led to cancellation.
Flashforward was so high profile at the time of its release that it came as a huge shock when it was cancelled. Released right at the sweet spot when complicated genre mystery shows like Lost and Heroes were huge, it felt like Flashforward would be to. Alas, the show was a little too slow paced for some viewers, but the tale of how the whole planet collapsed and seen themselves in the future is worth a watch for its ambition alone.