Hundreds of new TV shows come out in any given year. Some resonate with audiences and are instant favorites, while others fall short and don’t live up to the hype. However, there are sometimes shows that are good but, for one reason or another, they never got the attention they deserved.
Nothing is more frustrating than investing in a good show and eagerly awaiting its next season only to hear that the show was canceled. Then, you’re left with all your unanswered questions about the show and an unsatisfying ending. Recent reboots have tried to capitalize on the cult fame of many of these shows, with everything from Arrested Development to Firefly getting their own revivals through streaming services after their untimely demise on network television.
Sadly, many good shows remain underrated and still haven’t gotten the fame they deserved, resulting in unsatisfying endings from sudden cancellations and no reboots on the horizon. Regardless, they are still worth the watch even if they never got their grand finale.
Updated on July 31st, 2023 by Darren Gigool: This article has been updated with additional content to keep the discussion fresh and relevant with even more information and new entries.
Originating from the British Isles, Utopia is a distinctive masterpiece penned by esteemed writer Dennis Kelly. The series came on to screens in 2013, the storyline unravels an enthralling narrative revolving around a group of individuals who accidentally discover a prophetic graphic novel depicting impending doom and global catastrophes. The intricate plot and eerily surreal story arc of the conspiracy thriller captivated audiences. Undoubtedly, the series warranted additional acknowledgment for its excellent narrative structure and aesthetics.
The unique cinematography of Utopia sets it apart—striking colors juxtaposed with bleak, austere backdrops, crafting an eerie yet visually striking ambiance. Paired with a compelling plot revolving around state conspiracies and biological warfare, the series maintained the viewers’ attention from commencement to conclusion. Utopia received praise from critics for its audacious storytelling and visual aesthetics.
9 Party Down
An American gem, Party Down is a disregarded treasure developed by the ingenious quartet—John Enbom, Rob Thomas, Dan Etheridge, and Paul Rudd. The comedic series showcased a peculiar ensemble of Hollywood aspirants employed by a Los Angeles-based catering service, delivering humor and satirical reflections on the entertainment industry.
Recognized for its incisive humor and memorable characters, Party Down was brought to life by a remarkable cast. The unique comedic perspective on the Hollywood dream was acclaimed by audiences and critics alike. Despite possessing a loyal fanbase, the series failed to capture widespread attention, thereby reinforcing its status as an undervalued classic. However, its standing as an unappreciated titan in television comedy remains unchallenged.
Fringe, an ingenious science fiction series, was the product of acclaimed creators J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci. Debuted in 2008, the series ventured into the strange and inexplicable, through the perspective of an unusual FBI team comprised of a scientific genius and his troubled son. This team investigates a range of ‘Fringe’ incidents, events, and phenomena, questioning the boundaries of reality and belief.
With its pioneering plot devices, Fringe shattered conventional storytelling norms. The show’s unwavering fanbase lauded its audacious narrative. The inclusion of surreal elements such as parallel universes and time travel, frequently propelled the series beyond the realms of creativity. Despite its merit, Fringe faced challenges penetrating mainstream popularity. Nonetheless, owing to a passionate fanbase, it remains a riveting and undervalued sci-fi spectacle.
Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal, an adaptation of Thomas Harris’s infamous novels, was broadcasted from 2013 to 2015. It illustrated the bone-chilling rapport between FBI special investigator Will Graham and his mentor, the deceptively sophisticated, cannibalistic psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
Although the series featured a suspenseful narrative that kept viewers glued to their screens, it didn’t gain substantial traction. Regardless, Hannibal was praised among enthusiasts for its eerily beautiful visuals, comprehensive character development, and its atmospheric storytelling. The characters were complex and thoroughly explored, with the series’ aesthetics alternating between captivating allure and stark horror, the show merged refined sophistication with absolute terror. Collectively, these elements elevate the series to the status of an overlooked television show worth exploring.
Galavant is an acquired taste, so it’s easy to see why this show wasn’t a huge success. This medieval musical comedy is filled with catchy songs by award-winning composer Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater, and is both cheesy and delightfully wonderful.
Join Galavant (Joshua Sasse) as he embarks on an epic musical quest to save his one true love, Madalena (Mallory Jansen), from the clutches of the sinister King Richard (Timothy Omundson). However, when Galavant has his heart broken by Madalena, he rediscovers love when he is least expecting it. The series was an odd combination of fantasy, action, melodrama, and musical that was not readily embraced by audiences at the time but remains a unique show to this date.
5 The Frankenstein Chronicles
As you probably have guessed, The Frankenstein Chronicles is based on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. In this adaption, Sean Bean plays investigator John Marlott, who makes the gruesome discovery of the body of a small child. Upon closer examination, he discovers that the body is actually various body parts arranged in a grotesque nature to resemble a body.
This discovery leads him on a quest to find the truth, a quest that could result in his life. As always, Sean Bean’s performance is top-notch in this period crime drama. The show is fast-paced and exciting, and the sets and costumes emerge its viewers into the world of the 1800s. However, despite The Frankenstein Chronicles’ quality, it only got two seasons and hardly any attention.
4 The Young Riders
Join the epic adventures of six orphaned pony express riders as they navigate life in the Old West and brave the difficulties of life. However, despite great acting and episode plots, The Young Riders only lasted three seasons. This could be because at the time of the show’s debut in 1989, Western shows had not been popular on network television for over a decade.
Therefore, the show may have struggled to resonate with audiences. Another reason could be because the show was sued for copyright infringement, due to its similarity with another Western show, Young Guns which had just debuted the year before in 1988.
Dark was Netflix’s first German original series and follows various characters as they try to discover the truth behind a recent child’s disappearance in their hometown of Winden. The show aired on Netflix in 2017 and was advertised as a darker version of the hit American show Stranger Things, though is undoubtedly more intellectually stimulating.
While the show is German, it was popular with non-German viewers as it was one of Netflix’s most-watched shows in a non-English language, as the show was met with critical acclaim and has an impressive Rotten Tomatoes rating and an audience score of 95%. Despite all this, the show never really received the popularity it deserved and ended after just three seasons. At times, the show’s concept can be a bit challenging to grasp and utterly bleak in certain moments. However, the show is still a masterpiece worth watching.
2 Cold Case
Cold Case is the longest-running show on this list, running for seven seasons from 2003 to 2010. While there is no shortage of crime and police procedural shows, Cold Case’s plot structure was different, as the team solved cold cases which had lied dormant for years. The show would open with a flashback of the past, showing the chain of events that would lead to a crime. It would then flash forward to the present day when something would happen that would make the Cold Case Unit of Philadelphia reopen the case.
Throughout the show, viewers would see glances of flashbacks of suspects in their younger days, thus showing two timelines at once. The show was exciting and suspenseful and featured wonderful chemistry between its two leads, Kathryn Morris and Danny Pino. Cold Case was canceled unexpectedly after seven seasons, and the show never got the proper ending it deserved. What’s even sadder is that fans cannot legitimately buy the show as it was never released on DVD or Blu-ray due to copyright infringement for the show’s use of songs.
Frontier comes in at the first spot as it’s probably the most underrated show on Netflix. On paper, the show should have been a major success, starring Game of Thrones heartthrob actor Jason Momoa and featuring a fast, action-filled plot. The show follows the feud between Momoa’s character, Declan Harp, and Lord Archibald Benton (Alun Armstrong) of the Hudson’s Bay Company.
While the first two seasons of the show were terrific, season three did lose some steam from the absence of one of the major characters, Captain Chesterfield, played by Evan Jonigkeit. It’s a shame that Frontier only made it to three seasons with a total of 18 episodes, as it is utterly thrilling. As of right now, Netflix hasn’t officially canceled the show. However, it’s been almost four years since the release of season three, so it’s very unlikely at this point.