Netflix has been having an amazing run thus far with many of its original series receiving accolades, including Emmy nominations and wins. But not every series Netflix touches turns to gold. And those that don’t make the grade end up on the cutting room floor.
While the streaming service does not typically release viewership numbers, it’s safe to say that the series Netflix canceled this year did not pull in the numbers it had hoped. Or, in some cases, the shows simply ran their course. Nonetheless, some of the recently canceled series might be worth watching to decide for yourself.
One of the biggest surprise cancellations of 2020, GLOW was already in production on its fourth season when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Considering this show about women’s wrestling pretty much required hand-to-hand contact in a time when that was stridently discouraged, Netflix decided to simply put a not-so-shiny bow on an extremely shiny show after three seasons. Despite the unplanned ending, GLOW is a great watch — no conclusion needed.
This modern take on Lord of the Flies lasted just one season after Netflix renewed, then changed its mind on a second season. The first season, following a group of Connecticut high schoolers who return from a camping trip to discover all of the adults have disappeared, received strong reviews. Unfortunately, fans will have to live with just one season and a heck of a cliffhanger.
I Am Not Okay With This
Netflix appeared to have a hit on its hands with this satirical twist on the superhero genre in which a teenage outcast suddenly discovers superpowers that she is extremely not okay with. The fantasy hailed from the team behind another Netflix twisted teen hit, The End of the F***ing World, and was expecting to get a second season before the pandemic hit.
Teenage Bounty Hunters
Although the first season received great reviews, Teenage Bounty Hunters didn’t quite resonate with audiences enough to justify a second season. The teen action-comedy starred Maddie Phillips and Anjelica Bette Fellini as ordinary teenage twins who just so happen to moonlight as bounty hunters.
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
The Emmy-winning fantasy series from the Jim Henson Company works pretty well as a single season, so it’s not too surprising that it didn’t get renewed for a second. Still, with extraordinary puppet work and a compelling plot that expanded an already classic story, it’s unfortunate that Netflix didn’t invest more in this award-winning show.
One of Netflix’s most ambitious shows, Altered Carbon is a cyberpunk noir epic based on Richard K. Morgan’s classic novel of the same name. Joel Kinnaman stars in the first season as Takeshi Kovacs — or, that is, the body of Takeshi Kovacs. You see, in the future, humanity has conquered death by uploading their consciousnesses to hard drives called “stacks” that are inserted into bodies, called “sleeves.” Kinnaman plays an upgraded sleeve, inhabited by Kovacs after a wealthy businessman boots him up after centuries on ice in order to solve a murder. The story continues in season 2 with Anthony Mackie playing Kovacs, but Netflix opted not to pursue a season 3. You can, however, delve even deeper into the world with a new animated series.
Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj
Patriot Act was in some ways Netflix’s Daily Show, except with a more intense focus on individual issues. Host Hasan Minhaj has an incredible knack for explaining complicated, controversial issues with compassion and caustic wit for both sides. Patriot Act was widely acclaimed and beloved, which is why it provoked an outcry from comedy fans when it was surprisingly canceled in August 2020.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Both a spin-off of The CW’s currently-airing Riverdale and a revamp of a classic ’90s TV character, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina stood strong for four seasons before Netflix gave it the ax. While some fans hoped to see an epic crossover event between Riverdale, Sabrina, and another upcoming spinoff, Katy Keene, it appears they’ll be disappointed.
Turn Up Charlie
One would think that with Idris Elba behind this series, both as a co-creator and star, it would be ratings gold. But sadly, Netflix put an end to the British comedy after just a single season of eight episodes. The series tells the story of Charlie, a disc jockey and lifelong bachelor who somehow ends up becoming the nanny for the bratty daughter of his famous friend Sara (Piper Perabo). It premiered in 2019 and was criticized for poor writing and predictable plot twists. But Elba’s performance might make it palatable.
Merry Happy Whatever
Even Dennis Quaid couldn’t save this 2019 comedy, which only lasted a single season of eight episodes. Quaid played Don Quinn, a conservative patriarch and deputy sheriff who is never happy with the partners his kids bring home. Most recently, that includes his youngest daughter Emmy’s (Bridgit Mendler) new beau, a struggling musician named Matt (Brent Morin). The series takes place over a one-week period during Christmas, as the title suggests. Ashley Tisdale also stars as Kayla, Don’s closeted middle daughter.
Another one-season series, this supernatural drama premiered in January but the cancellation was announced just two months later. The story centered around Fred and Deloris, who Netflix describes as “globetrotting monster hunters.” While residing in upstate New York, the couple and their two teenage children attempt to hide their true identities along with the existence of a secret organization to which they belong. The reviews aren’t promising, with the Rotten Tomatoes aggregate critic rating at 33%. But given that not many weighed in with their opinions, it could very well be that the series got buried by algorithms, and subscribers didn’t dig deep enough to find the show.
Based on the novel series by Jonathan Maberry, Ian Somerhalder stars in this sci-fi horror about a physician-scientist Dr. Luther Swann and his best friend Michael Fayne (Adrian Holmes) who are struggling to deal with a deadly outbreak and a potential war between humans and vampires. Tackling climate change and a virus that turns people into vampires sounds like a recipe for success, but it wasn’t enough. Viewers didn’t bite, and the 2019 series only lasted one season of 10 episodes.
With a lot of promise and decent reviews, why did this 2019 series get canceled after just one season? Some speculate that it was due to outcry by deeply religious communities that felt the series delved too deep into controversial religious content. Another reason could be the expense of filming in so many locations around the world. Nonetheless, the story about a mesmerizing young man who calls himself Al-Masih (Mehdi Dehbi) and proclaims to be the messiah won’t continue. The first season centered around Al-Masih presumably performing miracles and amassing a large group of followers. However, some non-believers, including CIA officers Aviram Dahan (Tomer Sisley) and Eva Geller (Michelle Monaghan), didn’t buy his presumed act and believed he was a con man, though even they had their doubts.
AJ and the Queen
RuPaul’s Drag Race has been tremendously successful, but he couldn’t replicate that experience with this comedy-drama, which premiered in 2020 and was canceled after a 10-episode first season. In it, RuPaul stars as Ruby Red, a drag queen who travels across the U.S. in her RV, doing club gigs along the way. All the while, she is accompanied by AJ, a tough, orphaned 10-year-old stowaway with whom she strikes an unlikely friendship. The series meant well and was applauded for its themes of love and acceptance. But it just didn’t pull in the numbers to keep going.
This dark comedy-drama is based on the 2014 New York Times article “The Pageant King of Alabama” by Jeff Chu. Teenager Patty Bladell (Debby Ryan) has dealt with weight issues, but when an accident and mandatory three-month liquid diet lead to her quickly shedding pounds, she seeks revenge on those who bullied her for being overweight. Meanwhile, she’s noticed by a civil lawyer and beauty pageant coach who are convinced they can turn her into a beauty queen. The series faced controversy when it was released in 2018, including a Change.org petition calling for a cancellation and accusing the series of “fat shaming.” Despite the abysmal reviews (by critics, at least) and public outcry, the show lasted for two seasons.
It took just a month for Netflix to cancel this 2020 drama about a young ice skater named Kat Baker (Kaya Scodelario) who, after getting injured and believing her career is over, gets a second chance to work as a pairs skater. But she has a history of mental illness in her family that she is trying to hide from others. While battling to keep this a secret, she and her bad boy partner Justin (Evan Roderick) try to fight their way to the Olympics.
Netflix tried its hand at the musical genre with this drama, debuting in 2019, about love stories connecting various people in Los Angeles through, you guessed it, music. Characters range from Sam (Paul James), a widower with a son, to Nelli (Callie Hernandez), the aspiring artist, and Joanna (Jenna Dewan), a social worker and former dancer. After 10 episodes, however, the music fizzled out and the show was canceled. Interestingly, however, it seems that while critics gave it a failing grade, audiences seemed to love the show.
The most successful of the series on this list, this adult animated comedy-drama reached its end this year after six seasons, with the final season having streamed in January. The show is about an anthropomorphic horse named BoJack (Will Arnett), a once-successful sitcom star struggling to return to the Hollywood scene. The star-studded cast also includes Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, and Aaron Paul. The series earned two Primetime Emmy Award nominations through its run. A review from Rolling Stone called it “phenomenal” and named the show among the 50 best of the 2010s.