It’s been a rough year for TV show cancellations, with coronavirus-induced production delays and tighter budgets forcing networks to make tough decisions about their upcoming programming slates. Early 2020 saw a bunch of fan-favourite shows cancelled and by mid-year, a whole platoon of other shows joined the TV pile. Nobody was safe, from Jim Carrey’s Kidding to Netflix’s coming-of-age drama I Am Not Okay With This.
These are the saddest TV cancellations of 2020, and the shows we’ll miss the most.
Penny Dreadful: City of Angels
Penny Dreadful: City of Angels was a strange follow-up to the original Penny Dreadful series. Rather than focus on the League of Extraordinary Gentleman-style mash-up of horror icons that made the original so compelling, it chose to tell a fairly self-contained story about a fight between a deity and a demoness in the racially-charged landscape of 1930s Los Angeles.
Its cancellation isn’t surprising given its lack of fan support and how far it drifted away from the Penny Dreadful name, but it’s a major shame the cancellation of this series finally quashed any hope of Penny Dreadful continuing in future.
GLOW was originally set to get a fourth and final season to wrap up the loose threads left behind in season three, but coronavirus put an end to these plans. With the challenges of filming during a pandemic delaying production, Netflix chose to axe the series instead. This decision left fans with a cliff-hanger ending and a bunch of unresolved developments, including Ruth and Sam’s burgeoning relationship.
It’s never easy to see your favourite shows disappear, but GLOW‘s cancellation is particularly disheartening. It was one of the most heart-warming, insightful and interesting shows on TV, but it appears a true ending for the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling is now firmly out of reach.
From Castle Rock to Haven, The Outsider, The Stand and more, Stephen King has been quietly building himself a massive TV empire over the last few years. Sadly, three of four of these shows are now cancelled (although Haven arguably ended on its own terms) with Castle Rock being the latest King show to get the axe.
After an excellent first season and a good-to-great second, Castle Rock looked set to continue weaving new Stephen King-inspired tales at its own pace, but the self-contained nature of every season likely led to the decision to cancel it. Season two concluded at the perfect place (despite suffering the loss of Bill Skarsgård as a series regular), but it’s sad to think there won’t be more original tales coming out of this mystery-filled show.
Altered Carbon bit the dust in August this year after two solid seasons of cyberpunk-filled goodness. It explored the meaning of living, what it was to be conscious and how our experience of reality might change in the future. Despite the interesting ideas it explored, it appears audiences just weren’t that interested. According to The Verge, the cost to produce it didn’t match up with its audience numbers.
Genre shows usually require larger audiences to stay afloat due to their larger budget commitments, and it’s likely for this reason the show was quietly shelved. When Altered Carbon was good, it was great — and it certainly deserved another chance to explore the unknowable future.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina only got two seasons before a decision was made to end it, but it made the most of what it had. Kiernan Shipka was fantastic as witch-in-training Sabrina, and the show blended horror-fantasy with teenage relationship drama excellently. While it often delved into cheesy territory and wasn’t nearly as scary as it aimed to be, it was always entertaining — and that’s all good TV shows really need to be.
It’s likely the dip into Satanic territory towards the second season turned viewers away, but there was still potential to salvage Sabrina’s story and get back to all the fun, witchy-goodness that makes the character such an icon of TV. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t meant to be.
I Am Not Okay With This
I Am Not Okay With This tells the story of Sydney Novak, a young girl navigating high school and her newly developed telekinetic powers. The first season was a intriguing coming of age story that evolved into something larger in its closing moments, opening the door for Sydney to become part of a stranger, superpower-filled world. With the cancellation of the show’s second season due to coronavirus, we won’t see how her story ends or whether she escapes the consequences of her actions.
While ‘teens with telekinesis’ has become a staple of the sci-fi/fantasy genre, Sydney’s story felt realer than most thanks to an incredible performance from It‘s Sophia Lillis and great writing. Without coronavirus we would have gotten a follow-up season, but it appears we’ve now seen the last of this show.
Kidding seemed to slip under the radar for TV viewers across the globe, and this lack of popularity led to its cancellation after just two seasons. During its run, it was critically acclaimed for its sense of imagination, deep storytelling and for Jim Carrey’s excellent portrayal of Jeff Piccirillo — but even its accolades weren’t enough to save the show from falling to the TV cancellation hammer.
Showtime didn’t provide reasons for this decision, but it’s likely a lack of viewership contributed. If you’ve never checked out Kidding or you’re a fan of Jim Carrey’s work, this is one show you should absolutely check out. It’s rare Carrey performs with a straight face but when he does, everyone should sit up and pay attention. The work he lent to Kidding is some of his all-time best.
The Dark Crystal: The Age of Resistance
The high cost of production on The Dark Crystal: The Age of Resistance is likely what led to the decision to cancel it, but it doesn’t make the sting of loss any easier. This Netflix show was an incredibly high-concept continuation of the 1982 Jim Henson film, The Dark Crystal. It’s set in the mythical world of Thra and brought to life through a combination of physical animatronics and CGI.
While it delighted old fans and new with its slick production values, excellent world-building and enthralling performances, the grim reality of a show like The Age of Resistance is it’s very expensive to make. Each puppet and set needs to be designed and handcrafted, and CGI played an important part in bringing all the action to life. As much fun as it was, it was always destined to be a short-term experiment.
You can still visit the world of Thra in the Dark Crystal comics, but for now the story playing out on the TV screen is over.
The Venture Bros.
After seven seasons and 17 years on air, it felt a lot like The Venture Bros. would go on forever — but everything ends eventually.
Despite getting an order for an eighth and final season in 2018, it was announced in September the show wouldn’t actually be returning. This was despite the scripts already being partially written, and with no further explanation for fans.
While the Adult Swim Twitter account said it wanted to continue working with the team to conclude the cartoon’s storyline, at this stage The Venture Bros. remains dead in the water. (There is some minor buzz out of HBO Max, but nothing solid just yet.) It was a long and good run for the show, but the Venture crew deserved far better than this end.
Here’s hoping plans to revive it eventuate into something bigger.
How to support your favourite shows
Coronavirus will likely continue playing havoc on TV shows in future, with big budget sci-fi and fantasy productions being directly in the firing line for trigger-happy networks. The knock-on impacts of the pandemic will be felt for many years to come, with these TV show cancellations just the tip of a very unfortunate iceberg.
If you’ve got a favourite show still airing, make sure to be vocal about your support for it online. Share it with your mates or post about it on Twitter.
You might not think you’re making an impact, but shows like Lucifer, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Veronica Mars, Arrested Development and The Expanse were all saved by the actions of fans. Heck, if fans can manifest the Snyder Cut of Justice League actually existing, there’s always the possibility your favourites might return in some form.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, it’s likely networks will still have many tough decisions to make. These cancellations likely won’t be the last for the 2020 TV slate.
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