28 TV shows that were canceled and never got the closure they deserved

28 TV shows that were canceled and never got the closure they deserved
·21 min read
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"Manifest" was canceled after three seasons. Craig Blankenhorn/NBC/Warner Brothers

"Manifest," a show about a plane that disappeared out of the sky and reappeared over five years later, was mapped out for six seasons, but it only lasted for three.

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Melissa Roxburgh and Josh Dallas as Michaela and Ben. NBC

"Manifest" was canceled by NBC in June 2021, the same week the series debuted on Netflix and audiences ranked it as the most popular show on the streaming service.

The show gave off similar vibes to "Lost" and "The Leftovers." It follows a group of passengers and crew who were aboard Flight 828 and presumed missing for five and a half years by the rest of the world, but when they land in 2018, they don't feel like any time has passed. After they return, they also begin experiencing "callings," or premonitions of the future.

The show was canceled after its third season, with no real resolution as to what happened with the plane, among other smaller cliffhangers. Showrunner Jeff Rake has said the show was supposed to have six seasons. Unless it finds another home, fans may never know what was really up with the plane, Ben's son Cal, and other mysteries.

"The Society" was canceled after just one season by Netflix, failing to answer the big question: What happened to the residents of West Ham?

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Kathryn Newton as Allie. Netflix

In "The Society," a group of high schoolers return from a field trip to find their town has vanished into thin air, including their parents and the rest of their families. They also discover the town has been surrounded by a dense forest, and the outside world has also seemingly ceased to exist.

While most of the season revolves around a "Lord of the Flies"-esque story of the teens trying to build a society, there's a running background mystery of what, exactly, is going on. The first (and only) season finale seems to imply the kids are in a parallel universe of some kind — we see the "real" West Ham, with a group of schoolchildren reading a plaque with the names of the missing teenagers.

The show was originally renewed for a second season in 2019, but due to the pandemic, the decision was reversed and it was canceled in 2020.

"Prodigal Son" ended with Bright stabbing his own father, but it's unclear whether he survived.

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Tom Payne and Michael Sheen as Malcolm Bright and Martin. Fox

"Prodigal Son" was about Malcolm Bright, a former FBI profiler turned NYPD consultant, who brought some special firsthand knowledge to his job — his father, Martin, is a serial killer known as the Surgeon who killed 23 people. The show saw Bright lean on his father for help understanding the minds of the murderers he profiles.

At the end of season two in 2021, Martin saves his son's life, only to turn on him in the end and attempt to kill him, but Bright, who had always been afraid of killing someone, stabbed his father first.

Fox canceled the series before the finale even aired, so we may never know what happened to Martin.

At the end of "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist," it seemed Zoey's musical gift had transferred to Max, but we may never know why.

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Jane Levy as Zoey. Sergei Bachlakov/NBC

"Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist" followed Zoey, a programmer who, after an accident involving an MRI machine and an earthquake, can hear people's innermost thoughts via song. Throughout two seasons, Zoey learned secrets she didn't want to know due to this "gift," and she had to deal with the consequences.

In the 2021 series finale, it's revealed that Zoey's musical gift had transferred to her best friend/boyfriend Max — he finally hears her sing a song to him for the first time.

Unfortunately, "ZEP" was canceled soon after season two concluded in 2021, leaving viewers to speculate what it meant for Max to hear Zoey's heart song.

"Pitch" was canceled after a critically acclaimed (but low-rated) first season, leaving viewers to wonder what happened to Ginny, her relationship with Mike, and her potential injury.

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Mark Paul Gosselaar and Kylie Bunbury as Mike and Ginny. Fox Network

"Pitch," the story of the first female pitcher in the MLB, has a stellar 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and was loved across the board by critics. Unfortunately, it couldn't find its audience, and Fox announced its cancellation in May 2017, a few months after the first season had wrapped.

For fans, this couldn't have come at a worse time. The season finale's last shot was of Ginny, the pitcher, entering an MRI machine after pitching a no-hitter and potentially injuring her elbow. Ginny and her will-they-or-won't-they relationship with Mike, the team's catcher, was also teetering towards a they-will by the end of the season — too bad we'll never know.

"No Tomorrow" ended with Xavier, an apocalypse truther, finally being taken seriously and announcing to the world that an asteroid was on course to collide with Earth ... and then it was canceled.

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Joshua Sasse and Tori Anderson as Xavier and Evie. The CW Network

"No Tomorrow" was about a girl (Evie) who meets a guy (Xavier) who believes the world is going to end in eight months and 12 days. They fall in love and decide to spend the rest of their "remaining" months together, checking items off their "apoca-lists." Hijinks ensue.

The first (and only) season of "No Tomorrow" ended in 2017 with Xavier being proven right by NASA and moving to Washington, DC, in order to save the world, while Evie meets a cute doctor. Obviously, the end of the world is a ridiculously huge cliffhanger, and The CW broke a lot of hearts when they canceled the show, even though they did end up releasing a three-minute epilogue tying up some loose ends.

"The Family" had more than a few twists and turns in its 12 episodes - the finale was no different.

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The titular Warren family. ABC Studios

"The Family" gave a look at what happens to a family after one of their kids is kidnapped and then returned years later. Of course, the show became much more complicated when it was revealed that Adam, the miraculously returned son, wasn't actually Adam at all, but a different missing boy named Ben. And that wasn't even the finale.

The finale set up two big cliffhangers back in 2016. First, that the real Adam, who had been presumed dead, was actually alive and well (and understandably angry at Ben). Second, that Willa, the morally dubious daughter of the Warren clan, murdered a journalist named Bridey because she was going to release all the dirt she had on the Warrens. Plus Bridey had been sleeping with both Willa and Willa's brother, Danny. Too much drama, perhaps?

"Finding Carter" ended with a beloved character confessing to murder, while another was left badly beaten on the side of a road.

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Kathryn Prescott and Alex Saxon as Carter and Max. MTV

"Finding Carter" started as a show about a girl, Carter, who discovered that the woman whom she believed was her mother was actually her kidnapper. Over the show's two seasons in 2014 and 2015, it evolved into a web of relationships, secrets, and lies, which is why it was so disappointing when the show got axed.

The second season's (and series') finale ended with Max, Carter's best friend, confessing to killing Carter's abusive ex-boyfriend, Jared. And if that wasn't enough drama, the finale also left Carter's brother, Ben, beaten up on the side of the road by a drug dealer named Rick, because Ben had agreed to testify against Rick in court.

"The Whispers" ended with the show's main character sacrificing herself to aliens in order to save her son (yes, really).

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Lily Rabe and Milo Ventimiglia as Claire and Sean Bennigan. American Broadcasting Company (ABC)

"The Whispers" was marketed as a show about kids and their not-so-imaginary friends, but it evolved into a conspiracy theory-heavy, alien-invasion drama.

The show's sole season ended in 2015 with main character Claire sacrificing herself to the aliens to save her son, Henry, from being zapped into dust ... or maybe she was transported to the alien's ship. We'll never know, because ABC canceled the show after the show's finale aired.

"Chasing Life" ended with its main character traveling to Italy ... to die.

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Italia Ricci as April. ABC Family

"Chasing Life" was about a leukemia diagnosis: It followed April's battle with cancer, her attempt to not let it affect her career and personal life, and how her disease affected the rest of her family.

The show's second and final season was emotional, with April's new husband, Leo, dying in his sleep soon after their wedding, and April finding out that her cancer had returned. In the show's 2015 finale, April is told that the clinical trial she is participating in has been ineffective, and that she could try chemotherapy and other avenues of treatment, but that they might not work. So April decides to move to Italy and live out the rest of her days drug-free. And that's it!

"Southland" faded to black and left its main character's fate in question after he was mistakenly shot by a fellow police officer.

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Michael Cudlitz as Officer John Cooper. TNT

"Southland" had a difficult journey: It was renewed for a second season by NBC in 2009, but the network then rescinded its renewal and canceled the show after producing six episodes. It was then bought by TNT, which renewed the show until its fifth season in 2013. That season ended with Officer Cooper getting into a physical altercation with his neighbors.

During the fight, the police show up and mistakenly take Cooper as an aggressor, shooting him twice. And so it ended.

"Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" ended with Lois and Clark receiving a mysterious Kryptonian baby from a time traveler.

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Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher as Clark and Lois. Warner Bros. Television

"Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" was the defining version of Superman for many '90s kids. However, the show's fourth season was running out of tension once Lois and Clark finally stopped dancing around each other and got married.

The fourth season finale's 1997 cliffhanger, in which Lois and Clark find a baby in their basement with a note claiming that it belongs to the two of them, wasn't supposed to be a series finale. The show had been picked up for a fifth season before being unceremoniously cut from ABC's lineup due to falling ratings.

"Bored to Death" had one big twist in its finale: The main character's girlfriend, Rose, turned out to be his half-sister.

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Zach Galifianakis and Jason Schwartzman as Jonathan and Ray. HBO

"Bored to Death's" premise — a struggling writer who moonlights as a private investigator — lent itself to many ridiculous scenes, only made more hilarious by its all-star cast, which included Ted Danson, Patton Oswalt, and Kristen Wiig.

The show's final season ended in 2011 with Jonathan, the struggling writer/private investigator, finally finding his dad (a sperm donor) and discovering that his father is also the father of his girlfriend, Rose, played by Isla Fisher. Audiences thought he was going to come clean about their shared heritage, but instead, Jonathan keeps it a secret and kisses her. Roll the credits.

"Flashforward's" inventive premise of characters seeing six months into the future wasn't sustainable in the long run. It was canceled after one season, but not before blowing up a building with a main character inside.

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Joseph Fiennes as Mark. American Broadcasting Company (ABC)

The series finale of "Flashforward" in 2010 had characters see years into their own future, instead of six months.

During this flashforward, Mark, one of show's protagonists, sees himself inside of the FBI headquarters as it explodes, potentially killing him. Or maybe he lived. We'll never know.

"Joan of Arcadia" was canceled right as it was implied that Joan's journey was just beginning, and that the first two seasons had only been preparing her for the real fight.

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Amber Tamblyn and Hilary Duff as Joan and Dylan. CBS

The first two seasons of "Joan of Arcadia" saw Joan communicating with God and doing his bidding in order to better herself and the world around her, though viewers never really knew why she could communicate with God or what the end-goal was.

That all changed in 2005 with the second season finale, when God informed Joan he had been training her to fight a battle against someone who could also speak to God but was using their powers for evil. Too bad the show was canceled, and viewers were left wondering, "What if God was one of us?"

"Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" took place four years after the events of "Terminator 2: Judgment Day." It followed Sarah and John Connor attempting to stop the creation of the destructive SkyNet.

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Lena Headey and Thomas Dekker as Sarah and John Connor. 20th Century Fox Television

A huge plot point for all of the "Terminator" movies is that John Connor is the chosen one who will defeat the evil software SkyNet. So when season two of "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" ended in 2009 with John traveling to a future where no one seems to know who he is, fans were understandably shocked.

Even more shocking? The show was canceled, and viewers were left wondering what exactly had happened in the past to completely change the future and wipe John from existence.

"Sliders" ended with the show's last remaining character injecting himself with a virus and "sliding" into a parallel universe.

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Cleavant Derricks and Kari Wuhrer as Rembrandt and Maggie. Fox Network

The concept of "Sliders" is a bit complicated. In every episode, the titular Sliders would "slide" into a new parallel universe, encountering alternate versions of themselves, aliens, and other wacky circumstances.

In the show's final episode, the only original Slider left — Rembrandt, a former singer with no scientific background — injects himself with a virus that would destroy the show's main antagonists, the Kromaggs (a type of alien). The show ended in 2000 with a virus-infected Rembrandt in a new universe, with no closure on what happened to him or the rest of the Sliders.

"Kyle XY" is best remembered as the show about the guy with no belly button, but it ended abruptly with an attempted murder, a surprising revelation, and no closure for the show's love triangle.

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Matt Dallas as Kyle. ABC Family

"Kyle XY" was about a teenage boy who wakes up in a forest with the abilities of a newborn and no memory of life before. While the show started off as one of the most successful ABC Family (now Freeform) shows of all time, the plot eventually shifted from sci-fi series to teen drama, causing viewership to drop.

The show's 2009 final season was just 10 episodes long, making it hard to satisfactorily wrap up the story. The last episode ends with Kyle choking Cassidy, the season's villain, before Cassidy reveals that the two are brothers. The final episode also didn't provide any closure for the show's main love triangle between Kyle, Jessi, and Amanda.

"Las Vegas" ended with a main character walking into his own funeral and no explanation.

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Molly Sims and Josh Duhamel as Delinda and Danny. NBC

"Las Vegas" was about a surveillance team in charge of a casino's security. While the finale looked like it was going to be a tribute to one of the team's fallen members, it ended in 2008 with a twist when the colleague they were all mourning walked into his own memorial service.

"My Name Is Earl" ended with the dreaded "To be continued..." and then never was.

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Ethan Suplee and Jason Lee as Randy and Earl Hickey. NBC

Low-level criminal Earl's life takes a turn when he wins the lottery. He decides to pay it forward and atone for the bad things he's done in the past.

The fifth and final season of "My Name Is Earl" ended in 2009 with two big reveals. The first was that Earl's adopted son, Dodge, was actually his biological son. The second was that Earl's other son, Earl Jr., who was assumed to be the result of his ex-wife's affair with Darnell, wasn't Darnell's.

According to the show's creator, Greg Garcia, he asked the network if they were safe to end the season on a cliffhanger, and NBC told him yes (clearly, they were wrong). While he's talked about how he would have ended the series, until a "My Name Is Earl" movie appears, it's all up in the air.

"The Dead Zone's" series finale left viewers with a jaw-dropping revelation: The apocalyptic future Johnny had been trying to prevent might actually be his fault.

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Chris Bruno, Anthony Michael Hall, and John L. Adams as Walt, Johnny, and Bruce. USA Network

"The Dead Zone" is based on the characters of Stephen King's novel of the same name but not the plot, so viewers couldn't even find closure in the book.

In the show, Johnny wakes up from a six-year coma to discover that he can see a person's past and future by touching them or objects related to them.

The show lasted six seasons from 2002 to 2007, which makes the lack of a real ending even more frustrating for devoted fans. Throughout the entire show, Johnny tried stopping a hellish future in which Greg Stillson, an evil politician, took power and turned the world upside down. By the beginning of season six, the apocalyptic future had been averted by the death of another character, but by the finale, the "bad" future was seen again by Johnny and his son JJ, who was revealed to have inherited his father's powers. It was also hinted at that the terrible future may have been Johnny's fault.

"Hannibal" ends with the show's two main characters flinging themselves off a cliff.

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Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy as Hannibal and Will. NBC

"Hannibal," a prequel to the events of horror classic "The Silence of the Lambs," was critically adored and quickly gained a cult following, but the numbers were never large enough to justify the show's high production costs.

The show ended in 2015 with Hannibal Lecter, a forensic psychiatrist, and his frenemy Will Graham, an FBI agent, defeating their nemesis, the Tooth Fairy Killer, once and for all. But in a final act of love and hate, Graham flings both of them off a cliff.

Arguably Marvel's best TV show to date, "Agent Carter," suffered from low ratings and was canceled after season two - it ended with a main character bleeding on the floor due to a gunshot wound.

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Hayley Atwell as Agent Peggy Carter. ABC

In a rare Marvel failure, "Agent Carter" was never able to find its audience, even though Peggy is clearly one of, if not the, best female characters in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The show revolves around Peggy Carter, a secret agent who needs to balance her work with life as a single woman in the 1940s.

The show's second season ended in 2016 with Peggy's nemesis-turned-friend Jack shot by a mysterious figure, who also stole a heavily redacted file filled with incriminating details about Carter.

"Popular," a perfect satire on the ridiculous plot twists of teen dramas, got to end on a ridiculous cliffhanger of its own: Queen Bee Brooke getting run over by drunk and jealous Nicole.

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Leslie Bibb and Carly Pope as Brooke and Sam. The WB

Ryan Murphy's very first entry into the teen dramedy playing field (he was previously known for "Nip/Tuck") was near perfect, but "Popular" was sadly canceled after just two seasons on The WB.

The show revolved around two teenage girls — one super popular (Brooke), one very much not (Nicole) — who are forced to get along when their parents get engaged.

Season two ended in 2001 with Brooke fleeing prom after forcing her (and her step-sister Sam's) love interest Harrison to choose between the two before getting hit by a drunk driver, who turned out to be an angry and jealous Nicole.

Fans never found out who Harrison chose, or if Brooke survived the car crash.

No one expected "Moesha," a sitcom, to end the way it did, with one of the girls in Moesha's dorm pregnant, Myles abducted, and Moesha deciding whether or not to move in with her boyfriend.

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The cast of "Moesha." United Paramount Network (UPN)

"Moesha" was about the life of a middle class African-American family, but, in an unexpected soapy plot twist, ended with a character in potentially mortal peril, a surprise pregnancy, and a longtime couple in serious trouble. Not your typical sitcom.

According to Entertainment Weekly, some of these plots were supposed to be resolved in the "Moesha" spin-off "The Parkers," but the cross-over never materialized.

Fans are still angry about "Moesha's" 2001 cancellation more than a decade later. The show's titular Moesha, actress and singer Brandy, even apologized for the show's unresolved ending in 2014.

"Clone High" was beloved by fans, but its controversial portrayal of historical figures reportedly got the show axed before it could provide a satisfying conclusion.

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Abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi in "Clone High." MTV

"Clone High" had an inventive premise: a shady organization, the Secret Board of Shadowy Figures, clones historical figures and observes them as teenagers in high school. All your favorites are there: Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Cleopatra, and many more.

However, the show's portrayal of Mahatma Gandhi as a party boy offended the people of India, who orchestrated a hunger strike to protest "Clone High," which reportedly got the show canceled in 2003.

The finale ended with Joan of Arc and JFK post-coital in the school's meat locker, where they are discovered by Abe, who realizes he's in love with Joan (who has been in love with Abe the entire time). Before anyone has time to react, all the students are frozen by the school's principal in order to save them from the Secret Board of Shadowy Figures.

A reboot was announced in 2020.

"Mork and Mindy" was canceled after a steady decline in ratings, leaving the fate of its two main characters up in the air.

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Robin Williams and Pam Dawber as Mork and Mindy. ABC

This unlikely spin-off of "Happy Days" lasted four seasons before getting the boot in 1982, two years before "Happy Days" ended. It revolved around Mork, an alien, and his friend-turned wife, the human Mindy.

"Mork and Mindy" ends with Mork discovering that his new friend, fellow alien Kalnik, is evil and trying to kill him. In order to save his and Mindy's lives, he outs himself to the world as an alien, and the two escape using magical shoes that allow them to time travel. But they end up stranded in prehistoric times ... and that's it. Viewers never find out if Mork and Mindy ever returned to their own time.

"Terra Nova," a time-traveling epic about what will happen to Earth when it becomes too populated, was canceled after just one season, leaving viewers to wonder what became of the citizens of Terra Nova.

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Jason O'Mara as Jim. Fox

"Terra Nova" is a bit complicated to explain — essentially the Earth becomes overcrowded and almost inhospitable by the mid-22nd century, so technology is developed to help citizens travel back 85 million years to inhabit the untouched Earth in a settlement called Terra Nova. The show's conflict arises from a rebel group called the Sixers, who are helping an evil corporation travel back and forth in time to exploit the past-Earth's natural resources for usage in the future. Phew.

The series' sole season ended in 2011 with the main character, Jim, destroying the portal to the past and narrowly making it back to Terra Nova. However, even though the portal was seemingly destroyed, an artifact from the 18th century was found in Terra Nova, left behind by the Sixers, suggesting that another portal to a different time period had opened up. What would that mean for the people of Terra Nova? Fans will never know since Fox gave the show the boot soon after.

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