Sometimes shows don’t make it because they’re not very good. Others get set up to fail for various reasons, including bad time slots, poor advertising, or production issues. These are some examples of great TV shows that never became popular for reasons other than being bad.
If you haven’t heard of it, Awake has a really interesting concept: a man is living two timelines at once, each with a major tragedy, and swaps between the two when he goes to sleep.
Unfortunately it wasn’t renewed for season 2 so the writers did their best to cap it off as a one-season show.
Dead Like Me
Imagine dying only to find out you have to go back to work. That’s what happens to the main character in Dead Like Me, who is now the grim reaper.
It was dark, witty, and all around entertaining. Sadly, Dead Like Me didn’t become popular enough and was eventually cancelled due to low ratings and rifts between the creator and studio.
By the same creator as Dead Like Me, the show Pushing Daisies is somewhat similar in concept and in lack of popularity (despite being really good). The main character, Ned, is able to bring the dead back to life when he touches them – a skill he uses to help solve crimes.
That concept is cool, but what really makes the show is that he also brings his childhood sweetheart back to life. If he touches her again, though, she’ll die forever, which leads to a lot of funny situations.
With a great cast, Party Down had the potential to be an amazing show. Unfortunately hiring some up-and-coming stars meant that several of the actors left the show after finding bigger gigs. Too bad, since Party Down was good!
This one actually held on for a while despite not being super popular. Although it looks like a FBI/mystery show, Warehouse 13 is actually a science fiction series. If you like that genre, definitely check it out.
Better Off Ted
Ted works at a company whose motto is “money before people” and Ted is caught in the middle of corporate pressure and morals. Sadly Better Off Ted never became popular, and a lot of critics argue it was ahead of its time in concept. Maybe it’s time for a reboot?
No happy endings here for this three-season comedy series. ABC cancelled it due to low ratings, but it still has a cult following even now.
Folks have described Galavant as a mix between Monty Python and a Broadway musical. Unfortunately a lot of folks missed this show, but it didn’t help that it came out at a time where people were moving away from cable TV and competed against football games and award shows during its timeslot.
If you’re an HBO show fan and haven’t seen Carnivàle you don’t know what you’re missing. Set in the 1930s, it brings fantasy and mystery together in a way that worked very well.
Unfortunately Carnivàle came out when HBO was still figuring things out. Since it couldn’t live up to the success of other recent shows ( The Sopranos and Sex in the City), it was axed prematurely.
The I.T. Crowd
When this comedy came out it was common for UK shows to never get popular in the US, but the I.T. Crowd still deserves a little more recognition than it gets. I guess we should be thankful, though – a US version like The Office probably wouldn’t be anywhere near as good.
This amazing show was created by J.J. Abrams (Lost) and has a super interesting sci-fi storyline. While it did run for a 5 seasons and garner a cult following, Fringe never became the a popular hit in the mainstream.
The same could be said for several Adult Swim shows like, but Sealab 2021 was unique because it ran for a few seasons, but was eventually cancelled without being one of the “core” shows that people think of when they think of Adult Swim.
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