TV Shows Gone Way Too Soon.

by ripjarvis | created - 20 Jun 2015 | updated - 31 Aug 2015 | Public

A listing of TV shows with great potential that vanished in a puff of stupidity on a Network's part.

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1. Firefly (2002–2003)

TV-14 | 44 min | Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi

Five hundred years in the future, a renegade crew aboard a small spacecraft tries to survive as they travel the unknown parts of the galaxy and evade warring factions as well as authority agents out to get them.

Stars: Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin

Votes: 219,401

No series is a better example of this list. Like others before it, but far surpassing most of them in fan support, this wonderful SF/Western/Comedy/Adventure show will be the subject of discussion on adoration long after everyone involved has passed on and no one ever watches television anymore. Fans can tell you everything about every main character and most of the sideline folks in this one. How could any Network (even Fox) be dumb enough to not see the phenomenon in the making here. When it was released on DVD it outsold almost anything, it even made a decent showing as a big screen movie, but even that wasn't enough. Now everyone has moved on and even if Fox smartened up it would be impossible to get it back on the air. But there is FanFik, Filk Songs, conventions and cosplay that will remind us all of what could have been. I could think of no other show in recent memory that would be better to start this list. If you haven't seen it, stop now and go watch it. I promise you a good time.

2. Star Trek (1966–1969)

TV-PG | 50 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

In the 23rd Century, Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise explore the galaxy and defend the United Federation of Planets.

Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols

Votes: 63,938

No show in history has generated so much. An animated series, 4 follow-up series all well watched, though the last 2 were questionable hits. None of them ran a shorter time than the original one did. And let's not forget the feature films. And merchandising! It has become part of our culture moreso than anything since the original Sherlock Holmes stories. Flip Phones, talking, inter-reactive computers, and so much more. If you say, "Look, he's wearing a Red Shirt!" everyone in the room has a good chance to know what reference you're making. But, with so much else to see, some folks don't go back to the pre-CGI beginning to see the quality of writing and performance that started it all. Were they all 100% magnificent? No, nothing that comes out of the cookie-cutter factory line that is weekly series American television is. Some of it is downright dumb. But, when placed side-by-side with what was on the air at the time, it is impossible that it was pushed off the air by "Lost in Space" (a children's show at best) If you get a chance to see well preserved copies of the original shows, you will be well served to watch them. This is a monument to what can be done in the medium that has been (and mostly rightly so) "A Vast Wasteland"

3. Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974–1975)

TV-PG | 51 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A newspaper reporter investigates strange supernatural occurrences in Chicago.

Stars: Darren McGavin, Simon Oakland, Jack Grinnage, Ruth McDevitt

Votes: 3,458

If you are a fan of "The X-Files" you should know that this show could be considered its father. None of that would have been possible if not for this show. A gutsy (some might say annoying and a little crazy) reporter refuses to step away from the impossible answers for things going on around him. He sees vampires and werewolves and even stranger things and cannot stop at "Swamp Gas" as an explanation. As he did in the two groundbreaking TV movies, he investigates beyond what the people in power are willing to do and finds that the world is more magical and more terrifying that anyone is willing to credit. Week after week he finds robots and ghosts and aliens and is the only one willing to stand between them and the innocents that they might hurt. All this while looking like "he just came off a road company of 'The Front Page.'" There is humor in equal portions to the horror and silliness as well. Get your bag of popcorn and sit back. This one is going to be a ride!

4. The Invaders (1967–1968)

51 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

David Vincent, an architect returning home after a hard, hard, day parks his car in an old ghost town in order to rest for a while before continuing on home. Suddenly, in the middle of the ... See full summary »

Stars: Roy Thinnes, Kent Smith, Max Kleven, William Windom

Votes: 1,937

If "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" was the father of "The X-Files" then this show was, without question the mother. An architect is driving home, late one night. He has been traveling far too long, so he stops at a diner, but it is closed. He decides to sleep there rather than chance going on. He is awakened from his sleep by the impossible. The landing of a flying saucer. He cannot deny what he has seen. He goes to the authorities and they call him insane. And then things start happening. The more he talks, the more it seems that the aliens are among us and doing anything to keep him from talking. People start dying. Apartments start burning down. It becomes impossible to tell who the undercover aliens are, except for one thing, some of them have a problem with their hands, some of them cannot bend their pinkies. That's not a lot to go on, but it is all he has. And when they are hurt they are consumed in an otherworldly fire. Now it is on. It is not a fight he wanted, but it is a fight that David Vincent (Roy Thinnes) is going to fight. Alone against the world if he has to, but he is going to tell the world that the Invaders are here. And they want our world!

5. The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (1993–1994)

TV-14 | 45 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

A bounty hunter rides the Old West, fighting bad guys, many with futuristic-type gadgets.

Stars: Bruce Campbell, Julius Carry, Christian Clemenson, Comet

Votes: 7,021

Long before Joss Whedon's "Firefly" here was a Science Fiction Western! It was Bruce Campbell's Magnum Opus for Sam Raimi. It had action, swashbuckling, humor and always their tongue was never far from their cheek. It has a cast of more than able back up actors who were always on their toes, bringing the story right up to the moment, but never over playing it or making it hard to buy. You were right there for every twist and turn and always on the edge of the seat, either yours of theirs. As they searched for a magical orb and a despicably awful bad guy the heroes roamed the west always finding a new adventure to take up some time during their quest. It was a quest that could have taken up a couple of more years, but it was cut short. Very sad.

6. Joan of Arcadia (2003–2005)

TV-PG | 60 min | Drama, Fantasy

A teenage girl is visited by God, disguised as everyday people, and is given assignments and tasks that eventually have a positive outcome on people's lives.

Stars: Amber Tamblyn, Joe Mantegna, Mary Steenburgen, Jason Ritter

Votes: 8,412

This show had the prerequisite group of "Scoobys" following a mixed up girl, plus they had God, in his or her many forms, telling her what to do. It was a strong show, it asked questions and then questioned our answers. Every show took its time and developed stories that we could get behind, and characters who made up a more than believable family. This one had all the parts of a decade of shows, but someone got scared of "Saying Too Much" that might get them assailed by angry people of "Faith" while never doing or saying anything against religion or its prefects. Some things just make executives at networks uncomfortable. This show was really one of those things. But it was also thought provoking and certainly the start of many worthwhile discussions. It should have been allowed to start many more.

7. Legend (1995– )

60 min | Western, Sci-Fi, Adventure

Ernest Pratt, a dime-store novelist in the old west, lives with his scientist friend Professor Janos Bartok in the small town of Sheridan, Colorado. The people of Sheridan mistakenly ... See full summary »

Stars: Richard Dean Anderson, John de Lancie, Mark Adair-Rios, Jarrad Paul

Votes: 241

A writer of wildly successful penny dreadful novels about a western hero named Legend (played in a role of a lifetime by Richard Dean Anderson) is often mistaken by the public as the character he has created. That wouldn't be a big deal except that a) His hero creates wonders to fight his enemies, devices that are beyond steampunk brilliant. b) Those who think he is legend always come to him for help with impossible dilemmas. The drunken and lazy author would like to help, but, he is pretty worthless. Until he meets another fan, a scientist named Janos Bartok (played by Star Trek the Next Generations Q - John de Lancie) Bartok is obviously based on real life genius Nikola Tesla. He and his assistant are always coming up with inventions that make the wild dreams of Legend come to life. But even then the hesitant author Ernest Pratt must live up to the heroic actions of his books. It is a wonderful mixture of Western Adventure, Steampunk Magic and Science Fiction Wonderment. That this show only lasted 12 episodes is a crime against nature.

8. Life (I) (2007–2009)

45 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

A former police officer returns to the force after having been wrongly imprisoned for years.

Stars: Damian Lewis, Sarah Shahi, Adam Arkin, Brent Sexton

Votes: 31,175

Police Detective Charlie Crews (Damian Lewis) is framed for a rack of crimes and put in a maximum security prison for life. We all know what prison is like for a cop. While fighting to survive Charlie develops an understanding of Zen and it helps him get by. And then the frame-up is discovered and Crews is freed. His settlement with Los Angeles is $50 million, and his badge back! He soon becomes the wealthiest man to become a cop since "Burkes Law." His new attitude doesn't fit with a lot of cops who don't trust him or were in on the frame and are afraid it will be trailed back to them. So he gets a young female detective as his partner. She is unsure, but soon gains a respect and trust for the outlandish methods of Charlie and they start closing cases no one else would touch. Wile in stir Charlie also met a white collar embezzler who became his friend Ted Earley (Adam Arkin) when he is sprung, Charlie makes him his accountant and lets him come live in one of his mansions with him. Now, it seems, the Russian Mob has targeted Charlie Crews. That they would dump this show is insane. They did let them sort of tie up loose ends, but it still deserved a few more seasons.

9. A Nero Wolfe Mystery (2001–2002)

TV-PG | 46 min | Action, Drama, Mystery

Genius detective Nero Wolfe and his right-hand man, Archie Goodwin, solve seemingly impossible crimes.

Stars: Timothy Hutton, Maury Chaykin, Colin Fox, Bill Smitrovich

Votes: 1,384

This one was a tutorial in class. First of all it is totally honorable of one of the great Detectives ever created. Rex Stout's sedentary sleuth is one of the classics, with his sidekick Archie Goodwin being among the great narrators in literary history. This show proves that Archie could have been a superior gumshoe on his own, it was just that, faced with the genius of Wolfe, he had to bow to the master. The pair of them! That is what it was all about. They are one of the most magnificent marriages to ever be translated to television. Slick, sassy and full of humor the show only lasted two abortively short seasons on A&E TV, but they are exquisite as they are. But the world deserves more of them and the other aspects of the show. Fritz, the live in cook and diplomat, Inspector Cramer and his lacky Stubbins, not to mention the under appreciated Saul Panzer along with Ollie and Fred Durtz. Again, there have been stories written about all of these supporting characters taking a lead role, and they are all good. But it is the pair, Nero and Archie, they are the cocktail for which there is never enough. Once you get into the Brownstone, from which Nero rarely set foot, once you have been up to the Orchid Rooms or had Fritz's food, or anything else that makes up this wonderful world, you will be hooked and you will be sad that there was no more. Thank goodness there are so many books!

10. The Cape (2011)

TV-14 | 60 min | Action, Drama

Vince Faraday is a cop who has been framed for murder, leading him to fall off the grid and become the super hero known only as "The Cape."

Stars: David Lyons, Keith David, Summer Glau, James Frain

Votes: 8,026

This was, again, another show that was just getting its legs when they pull them out from under them. The origin of any superhero takes time. You are creating a world, the good guys, the bad guys, the bad good guys, the good bad guys all are aspects that don't erupt, full born like a mythic creature. They must be given time to show you why the deserve to exist. This story of a policeman who was supposed to be dead (a comic book staple going back to Wil Eisner's "The Spirit") and the wrongs he must come back to right. The teachers who will take him from being an ordinary good man to an extraordinary superhuman (an odder group of Yoda's you couldn't ask for) these are all things that need time to accept. Even the back up intelligence person or team (Hello "Oracle" straight from Gotham City) is something that takes awhile for us to be willing to give credence. Just as the mold was hardening into a powerful reality, they decided it just wasn't working and the pulled the plug. They should have given it another couple of weeks to find its audience. Justice would have been done!

11. Odyssey 5 (2002–2004)

60 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

After witnessing the sudden implosion of Earth from orbit, a group of five Odyssey astronauts is sent five years back in time by an alien force to find the cause and prevent the disaster. A vast conspiracy stands in their way.

Stars: Peter Weller, Sebastian Roché, Christopher Gorham, Leslie Silva

Votes: 2,666

Five Astronauts are in orbit in the Shuttle when something happens, the world is destroyed. The explosion is so strong that they are thrown into space, hopeless and about to die also. Then an alien ship draws them in. The occupant saves them and tells them that he has been traveling across space finding world after world mirroring the death that the Earth has just experienced. He, so far, has been helpless to aid any of them. He says that time travel is impossible, but he can send their consciousness back five years and, with them knowing what has happened, maybe they can investigate and find and stop whatever happened before it can kill everyone. They take up the campaign to save their home and the deeper they get into the journey the more they find that it is the work of an entity, and maybe they CAN stop it. This show had all the ear-marks of becoming the new "X-Files" before it was shot down by the network. But what survives on DVD is certainly exceptionally exciting. Damn, we lost another good one.

12. Tru Calling (2003–2005)

43 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

A university graduate working in the city morgue is able to repeat the same day over again to prevent murders or other disasters.

Stars: Eliza Dushku, Shawn Reaves, Zach Galifianakis, A.J. Cook

Votes: 13,897

What if you got a job at the coroner's office. Not looking like a lot of fun already, right? Now, one night, one of the corpses sits up and says, "Help me!" See, they weren't supposed to die. But, right after you found out that you find yourself waking up 24 hours earlier? You know who they are, know how they died and that it was wrong. Can you save them? That's the whole point behind this show. Eliza Dushku was just coming off "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and A.J. Cook had not signed on to "Criminal Minds" and no one even knew who Zach Galifianakis was yet. But they are all here in this nice little adventure, complete with action and a lot of humor. You could even catch "HIMYM's" Colby Smuthers among others, this was like a episode of "Who's gonna be a star." To bad this one had to die before that could happen. Or before they could tell someone, "Help Me!"

13. Dead Like Me (2003–2004)

TV-14 | 60 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

After being hit on the head by a toilet seat, a young temp clerk becomes a grim reaper in death.

Stars: Ellen Muth, Callum Blue, Jasmine Guy, Mandy Patinkin

Votes: 37,351

Here's an afterlife no one ever told you to expect. Ever wonder who gathers all those souls and hustles them into the great beyond? What if you got drafted for the job? And what if you were a "Don't Give a Damn" kid, over teen age, but not teen attitude? And the learning curve is pretty wide. There are ideas here, dealt with in a wonderful fantasy/comedy, that would bog down most serious dramas and still win awards for daring. Family relationships, good and evil, karma or not to karma, plus Frankenberry Cereal Boxes and more. What could have been morbid and cold is treated with humor and warmth. It is an affecting piece that will never leave you the same after you have viewed it. And you will view it more than once, since you are going to want to show it to others, just to show them how cool you are for discovering this little gem.

14. Hack (2002–2004)

60 min | Crime, Drama

When corruption charges strip him of his job, his family and his pride, former cop Mike Olshansky forges a new identity as a Philadelphia cab driver, patrolling the city as a roving vigilante who works with local police.

Stars: Andre Braugher, David Morse, Matthew Borish, George Dzundza

Votes: 805

What if you were about to chuck it all and then you found out you were a hero, whether you wanted to be or not? What if, while driving the streets in your cab, the former Police Detective in your soul made you help the people you met? This is the format of this show. And, for at least the first season (second season is good, but they started fiddling with it, I think because they thought they were going to be cancelled and they were trying to make it more of what the network wanted and thereby sank the whole thing) this is magic. This is the most realistic take on the Batman mythos anyone has ever pulled off. Now, he is broke, so no millionaire weapons or such, but the heart of a man who must help innocent victims searches the streets like Don Quixote with a baseball bat. You will, I am sure, get caught up in this one.

15. Pushing Daisies (2007–2009)

TV-PG | 44 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

A pie-maker, with the power to bring dead people back to life, solves murder mysteries with his alive-again childhood sweetheart, a cynical private investigator, and a lovesick waitress.

Stars: Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride, Jim Dale

Votes: 50,550

Now this is a fairy tale. It is one of the most lop-sided, bizarre fairy tales ever created, but it is just that. A boy is totally isolated, but he is happy. Then he finds that death has made him more isolated still. He finds that if he touches someone newly dead, he can bring them back to life. If he touches them again they die again, this time forever. If he doesn't touch them again someone, nearby, will die for them. The kindly narrator (Jim Dale of "Pete's Dragon" and the Harry Potter audio novels) tells us of the first time he used his power on a human was to bring back his mother. Of course, this is all well and good, until we find the one who died because he didn't touch his mother again, is the father of the girl he loves afar. Then he accidentally touches his mother again and she dies again, and Charlie (the girl) still is without her father. The boy is still isolated for life and takes up being a baker of pies. A P.I. finds out about his power and decides that resurrecting a person might be a good way to find out who killed them and collecting rewards. So they go into business together, until they find one of the murder victims is Charlie. When he brings her back he cannot bring himself to let her pass again, so begins the meat of the story. And it is a wonderful story. How does he lives with the girl he loves without ever touching her? Who else might find out his secret? And, who are all these murderers? Who wants pie?

16. Dollhouse (2009–2010)

TV-14 | 44 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

A futuristic laboratory has erased the identities of lost young people, and now imprints them with the temporary identities they need to fulfill assignments for clients.

Stars: Eliza Dushku, Harry Lennix, Fran Kranz, Tahmoh Penikett

Votes: 43,374

Joss Whedon created many series, and this is one of the most engrossing. Imagine someone being able to "upload" a life into you. All the abilities, traits, idiosyncrasies of others, not just a whole person, but a created person. Then that person could be for hire to incredibly rich people. For dates, impossible jobs, anything their wealthy little minds desire. After the job is done they come back to the Dollhouse, have their minds wiped and get ready for the next job. To be sure, things will go wrong. Crazy wrong. It builds from interesting adventures to mind dazzling conundrums that will have you on the edge of your seat each and every episode. It comes to a mind-bending climax and should have gone on for another couple of seasons to go one even farther beyond what we might have expected. This one should be the beginning of a series of films, but we'll see. First get through the boxed set and imagine where you would have gone with it. You would have opened up areas of new adventures that had never even been considered on TV before.

17. The Dresden Files (2007– )

60 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A Chicago-based wizard works as a private investigator.

Stars: Paul Blackthorne, Valerie Cruz, Terrence Mann, Raoul Bhaneja

Votes: 8,310

Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden has a massive fan base, that alone should have promised a long run, but there are those who cannot allow something like this to survive. The show wasn't perfect, but it was so much better that so many copies that have shown up since then. A P.I. Wizard in Chicago is such a good premise that that alone should have promised a long run. What killed it? The "That's not Harry as I saw him!" people? Maybe. The "Fantasy is Anti-Christian" mob? Perhaps. Whatever it was, the show was gone after only a handful of episodes. There haven't even been made for TV films to follow it up. So, all you fans, back to the books. At least you have that.

18. Dark Skies (1996–1997)

60 min | Adventure, Drama, Mystery

In 1960s America, a young couple struggle to expose the truth about a hidden alien invasion, while a secret government organization follows its own agenda in dealing with the threat.

Stars: Eric Close, J.T. Walsh, Lackos, Megan Ward

Votes: 1,599

It was like "The X-Files" Deja Vu. Someone took history and inserted all the conspiracy theories you could imagine and somehow made it work. The Roswell crash, the alien abductors, the Kennedy Assassination, the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, they were all there and more. It was a great ride through American's past, with horrors around every corner. And the stories were made perfectly believable, never beyond the realm of the possible. The show was just getting to the peak of realizing its potential when they yanked it from the air. It could still be running, since there are always new conspiracy theories being created and taken to heart. This dark heart of America was just being explored for the first time, and then it was cut short. This show deserved more of a chance.

19. Wonderfalls (2004)

TV-PG | 60 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

Jaye Tyler is a loner living in Niagara Falls who, after graduating college, has fallen into a care-free comfortable rut living in a trailer park and working as a retail clerk in the Falls ... See full summary »

Stars: Caroline Dhavernas, Katie Finneran, Tyron Leitso, William Sadler

Votes: 11,530

Quirky is a word thrown around alot in movie and TV reviews, usually because the writer can't think of just the right word to use. In this case it is the best word to use. Imagine a Niagra Falls gift shop, where one girl, a girl who wants more than anything else to be elsewhere. Imagine that girl hating everything about her life and yet still forced to live and work in impossibly boring surroundings. Now imagine that the curios in that shop are now talking to her. Giving her advice. And it all turns out to be sage advice and changes her life for the better. How do you describe a show like that? Quirky seems to fit. And it is delightfully so. The man who gave you the wonderful "Pushing Daisies" and "Dead Like Me" Bryan Fuller produced this one also. That was before you brought you the acclaimed "Hannibal" series. There is adventure, there is humor, but first and most importantly there is magic. We could all use a little more "Wonderfall" type magic in our lives.

20. Space: Above and Beyond (1995–1996)

60 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

The Earth is embroiled in a desperate war against alien invaders, and this series focuses on one squadron of Marine pilots involved in it.

Stars: Morgan Weisser, Kristen Cloke, Rodney Rowland, Joel de la Fuente

Votes: 6,908

Science Fiction has always been used as a way of showing something we know, but putting it in terms that are easier to deal with from the days of "Gulliver's Travels." The worlds Gulliver went to were aspects of our world, just put in a light that showed the silliness that we don't always see. Lilliput was where Swift showed us the insanity of politics. "Space: Above and Beyond" showed us the experience of going to war in a new light. Going through training, encountering an inhuman enemy, being afraid of the other side and a bit a fear towards our own. What happens is that we start seeing them and ourselves in a new aspect that highlights the reality that we couldn't usually do in dealing with wars we were in the midst of at the moment. The "Bugs" in this series are just what we make of our earthly enemies, inhuman monsters that had to be destroyed. The closer we get, the more we understand. While they are undoubtedly alien, they are mortal creatures just like us. As we began to understand that the show was taken off the air. Maybe someone was afraid of what we were starting to see. Unhealthy, eh?

21. Police Squad! (1982)

TV-PG | 24 min | Comedy, Crime

Sight gags and non-sequiturs dominate this spoof of police dramas. The six episodes formed the basis for the very successful "Naked Gun" film franchise.

Stars: Leslie Nielsen, Alan North, Rex Hamilton, Ed Williams

Votes: 13,254

Sure, it spawned several feature films, but the TV series format was where it was spawned. A direct child of all those Quinn Martin cop shows, it was possibly the most unique TV series ever put on the air. Sure, it only lasted 6 episodes and those were so full of non-sequiturs as to make the network censors scratch their heads wondering if that was a dirty joke they just heard of just some more of the silliness that they didn't get. This was so powerful that it created a new career for Leslie Neilson who had lived as Mr. Serious for so many years, and now was released on the world as Mr. What-the-Hell-Did-He-Just-Say for a couple of more decades. You may have had enough from the Naked Gun movies, but I wanted more direct spoofs of TV as only this crew could make them. Frank Drebin catches Richard Kimble! Drebin joins Jack Bauer to take on Atom Bomb Terrorists! The chances for parody were endless. But as someone once said, Satire is what closes on Tuesday. But "Police Squad" should have been the exception to that rule.

22. Salvage 1 (1979– )

60 min | Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi

Harry runs a salvage operation, in which he and his partners reclaim trash and junk and sell it as scrap (or as other things). Harry also has a home-made spaceship which he sometimes uses to reclaim junk satellites.

Stars: Andy Griffith, Joel Higgins, Trish Stewart, J. Jay Saunders

Votes: 265

The Pilot movie "Salvage" (1979) was a hit the quality of "The Night Stalker." It was the height of the water cooler discussion the next morning all across the country. A Junkman assembles a team to take himself to the moon and salvage all the junk left up there from the space race. It was the ultimate American dream of the 1960-1070's. Putting together your own rocket and actually going to the moon. What kid of that era had not thought about it. Now, put a face like Andy Griffith at the head of the project and you had a winner. And it was. Sure, the Government stood in the way, but we were in the midst of an unpopular war and the Nixon debacle, they were the enemy now. Now, after that was done, what else was there out in the world, that this kind of crew could find? What other treasures awaited? Bigfoot? Orbiting gold satellites? Robot warriors the people in power didn't want us to know about? How about bringing icebergs to drought stricken areas? Or finding a way to get cheap gas to the people? All of these were real story lines on the show, each one better than the last. But this was a time when ABC was the third network for a reason. This show, the biggest potential they had had on the air in years and they moved it around, pre-empted it so often that the show could never find an audience, or, really an audience could never find it. The same way they did with another short lived show that could have been golden "The Greatest American Hero." So, we wuz robbed again, and I, for one, will never forgive the idiots that took this one away from us. This should have been on for years.

23. Quark (1977–1978)

30 min | Comedy, Sci-Fi

The misadventures of an outer space garbage collector and his crew.

Stars: Richard Benjamin, Tim Thomerson, Patricia Barnstable, Cyb Barnstable

Votes: 445

At the dawning of the "Star Wars" era Buck Henry (who had given us "Get Smart" with Mel Brooks) gave us one of the best Science Fiction Comedy Series ever with this one. Quark, with the wonderfully Quirky Richard Benjamin and Tim Thomerson, was the story of a intergalactic Garbageman and his equally weird crew. There was a pair of Playboy Quality Centerfold Clones, a crazy male/female mixture who could be either at any time, especially changing during crisis situations. There was also an Evolved Plant man, a robot who made C3PO look over developed and stable.The jokes flew fast and furious, but the network was afraid the folks wouldn't get it, so they didn't give it to them. Ah, well. Another potential flushed. And what is to become of all that outer space garbage? Send it to the Network Vice-Presidents.

24. The Greatest American Hero (1981–1983)

TV-14 | 60 min | Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi

A teacher is asked to be a superhero using a special alien suit with powers he can barely understand or control.

Stars: William Katt, Connie Sellecca, Robert Culp, Michael Paré

Votes: 3,745

It came too late to be pulled along by "Batman" and too early to get a lift by the Marvel Universe movies, but it should have been just as bit a hit as either. It had a strong Science Fiction premise (Aliens come to Earth to find a man to be their champion, sort of like the Green Lantern Corps, one for each sector of space, given incredible powers to wield in the name of justice. Unlike Green Lantern the champion isn't given a ring, but a Uniform that bestows Superhuman abilities) The flaw in the scheme is that the unsuspecting school teacher who gets the suit loses the instruction manual and has to figure out how it works on his own. An FBI agent comes along and decides he is the right one to help the hero save the world, even though neither of them likes the other one. And, of course, there's a girl. But, add to that, his class of misfits is also part of the picture. There is strong humor, but that takes nothing away from some real thrills in the adventure. As a kid tells him when he is trying, but failing, to fly, "Hey, Mister, you're supposed to take 3 running steps and then jump. (Like Superman!)" Well, that's what we should all do before watching this show, take three running steps and then jump, and fly along with The Greatest American Hero. You'll be glad you flew.

25. The Rogues (1964–1965)

50 min | Adventure, Comedy, Crime

The cousins St. Clair and Fleming are con-men so successful they no longer need to con. They can be persuaded, however, to use their skills: in a just cause, where a mark deserves it very, very much.

Stars: Robert Coote, Gig Young, Charles Boyer, David Niven

Votes: 264

You can't find this one for sale anywhere, but some of the episodes are available on You Tube. It will reward you to look. Long before "Leverage" was even thought of, back in the 1960's came this wonderful story about a family of very high-end con artists (emphasis on the word "Artists") With an incredible cast: Charles Boyer, Gig Young, David Niven, Robert Coote and Gladys Cooper. Any one of them could carry a show, but this one was where they just got to hang out and play. They were there to help people, but they also kept some of the money for themselves, to fund a rather lavish life style. That aspect of the show may have been what sunk it. "You cannot reward criminal activity!" it was probably written in some byline somewhere. The show, one of the only one of its kind ever too air, never made a second season. But if you can find episodes to watch, you will be rewarded to watch their criminal activities. What they did, they did better than anyone else.

26. The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne (2000– )

Horror, Sci-Fi, Adventure

The fantastic steampunk adventures of the future science fiction writer and his friends, the Foggs and Passepartout.

Stars: Francesca Hunt, Michel Courtemanche, Chris Demetral, Michael Praed

Votes: 242

I've often lauded "The Wild, Wild West" as one of the creators of the modern idea of SteamPunk. This was another great example of that genre. The famous author and friends herein fought would be world dominators, vampires, monstermakers and assorted other threats to humanity. And it was done with fun, wonder and more swashbuckling than you have seen since your last Erroll Flynn film festival. It lasted a little over one season, but it took us, in a dirigible, of course, to the very ends of the Earth. Anywhere that offered amazing adventures for us to become a part of, and to see the origins of future heroes that would build their resumes on the ground broken by Verne. So sad this one left so early.

27. Sledge Hammer! (1986–1988)

30 min | Action, Comedy

The adventures of a deranged and dumb police detective who always looks for the most violent solution to any problem.

Stars: David Rasche, Anne-Marie Martin, Harrison Page, Leslie Morris

Votes: 5,278

Okay, I know that parody doesn't have a long life. Parody of a single film series has an even shorty span, but this one was so brilliant that it could have lasted another season at least. When you take something like the "Dirty Harry" franchise there is a lot of room for jokes and situation and they had a mad time creating a universe where John Wayne and Dirty Harry were both central spirits, and neither of them was, well, efficient? Sledge, as the single central figure was more than a buffoon, he was a Shakespearean fool. Those around him were constantly in awe of his madness, and yet drawn along with him and it. When you watch the show you are amazed that another line of his BS. somehow turns out to be finding ground and solving a case. This and "Police Squad" were the great police comedies ever.

28. SGU Stargate Universe (2009–2011)

Not Rated | 43 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

Trapped on an Ancient spaceship billions of light-years from home, a group of soldiers and civilians struggle to survive and find their way back to Earth.

Stars: Robert Carlyle, Louis Ferreira, Brian J. Smith, Elyse Levesque

Votes: 43,685

The franchise of "Stargate" is one that has spanned many years, and this was the only real failure (if we leave out the awful animated series "Stargate Infinity" ewww) Well, let me tell you, if you watched the show it had elements unique to the series, and was growing a real fandom when it was yanked. Imagine being thrown past the edge of the known universe and left on your own. Sure, you can compare it to "Star Trek Voyager," but there was a system set up for that crew to function in those circumstances. Here the military was only a part of those present and needed to survive. Scientists were not always part of the military setup and they were not given to getting along. There were sub plots that were as important as the main one, that of getting home. And on top of that Rumplestilskin was on board!

29. Surface (2005–2006)

60 min | Adventure, Mystery, Sci-Fi

A marine biologist, an insurance salesman and a teen-aged boy find their lives fundamentally changed by the emergence of a new, and often dangerous, species of sea life, while government agents work to keep the affair under wraps.

Stars: Lake Bell, Jay R. Ferguson, Carter Jenkins, Leighton Meester

Votes: 9,229

Talk about a cancellation that left you underwater! A boy finds an underwater creature that should not exist. They become friends and through him the kid finds that something big is going on among the monsters brethren. The adults have no idea how to deal with a)The Kid b)the Monster and c) What is going on under the surface of the world's oceans. And what's going on is massive. How many shows dealt with the complete wiping out of the human race? And that should have been just the beginning. The special effects were believable and the characters were sympathetic. The story unwound at a speed that kept you watching all the way through and found you right up there in the church tower with our heroes. And then, fade out, nothing. Very few shows left us hanging the way this one did. Wow, talk about disappointment! Who lived, who died, and who would survive? Damn NBC!

30. Tenspeed and Brown Shoe (1980– )

60 min | Crime, Drama

A con-man and a accountant-wanna-be private eye team up to fight crime.

Stars: Ben Vereen, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Romanus, Larry Manetti

Votes: 331

This is an example of mixing genres and doing it well. It has elements of old fashioned parlor mystery, plus lots of con games and more than its own share of humor. An White, Clueless Accountant (Lionel "Brownshoe" Whitney) who plays Clue because he has always wanted to be a Private Eye, meets up with a hip black hustler (E. L. ("Early Leroy") "Tenspeed" Turner ) and somehow they click. The pilot movie is still one of the best out there, ever. Unfortunately, BTW, if you buy the DVD box set of the show, it doesn't contain that film. Why? Don't ask me. But the episodes will still contain the charm that made the show worth watching, even when it was pre-empted out of existence. But Goldblum and Vereen are wonderful throughout and make the show something you will treasure.

31. The Tick (2001–2002)

23 min | Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi

The story of superhero The Tick, based on the popular comic book.

Stars: Patrick Warburton, David Burke, Liz Vassey, Nestor Carbonell

Votes: 4,257

As a follow up to one of the most delightful animated series in quite awhile, this live action show was unlike anything we've seen before. It has that "Batman" era "Camp" but goes beyond that. It has a wackiness that carries it along like a freight train full of insanity towards the wreck that you cannot look away from, nor do you want to. BTW: This show is constantly being talked up as one that is coming back. If that is true, hooray. If not, boo to all of them who lied to us about it. One final word: SPOON!

32. The Norliss Tapes (1973 TV Movie)

72 min | Horror

An investigative reporter stumbles onto an artist that has made a pact to come back after his death to sculpt a statue of a demon using human blood and clay. Once the demon is awakened he will be granted immortality.

Director: Dan Curtis | Stars: Roy Thinnes, Don Porter, Angie Dickinson, Claude Akins

Votes: 979

Dan Curtis who brought us "Dark Shadows" and "The Night Stalker" was behind this morsel that only showed up as a pilot film, but was aimed as another in his buffet of the supernatural. Norliss is a reporter/researcher who specializes in the occult. Now he has gone missing. His friends are worried about him, since he had been hinting that he was working on something world shaking when he vanished. In his room a tape recorder is found and a cache of tapes are piled around it. Trying to understand what has happened, they start to listen to one of the tapes. Now we go to the story he narrated on that tape, a battle with the forces of evil magic. We now understand that the truth about what has happened to David Norliss is somewhere in this pile of magnetic reels. Each week we will listen to another and find yet one more clue. Would that we could have had the chance.

33. Chaos (2011)

60 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

Rogue CIA agents battle the bureaucracy.

Stars: Freddy Rodríguez, Eric Close, James Murray, Carmen Ejogo

Votes: 2,415

This little CIA comedy/thriller was only given 6 episodes, and yet on re-viewing they are tight, funny and just as good as a lot of the theatrical films they make fun of in doing their thing. The cast is strong, the stories piled fun upon politics upon explosive action. What CBS was thinking when they let this one go is hard to say. Maybe they didn't like the idea of us thinking that there might be a faction of the agency who were there for the ideals they were originally drawn into the spy game to uphold, I don't know. But this one deserves to at least be edited back into a TV movie and see what kind of response it gets, maybe then they will understand what a gem they threw away.

34. The Chronicle (2001–2002)

48 min | Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi

A young, highly qualified reporter can't find work with a major paper and signs on with a tabloid. There he learns that all the tabloid stories including aliens, big foot, and reincarnation are true.

Stars: Chad Willett, Rena Sofer, Reno Wilson, Jon Polito

Votes: 307

Based on the delightful "News from the Edge" series of novels, this one was really the one that got away. A delightful young cast found that they lived in a world of sketchy journalism. Yes, one of those "Weekly World News" kind of check-out line rags. BUT - the one they printed was all true! There were aliens, Elvis lived, and even more impossible things were going on and they were up to their necks in weirdness. A young reporter was ready to go to one of the top papers after graduation, instead he had to survive at The Chronicle until a real job came along. Only he found out there were things going on that he never would have believed if he hadn't experienced them first hand. It was a joy. And the Science Fiction Channel, were many shows go to die because they have been cancelled elsewhere, was the one to create and then chop off in its infancy. This one should have been around for a long time.

35. Nowhere Man (1995–1996)

44 min | Action, Drama, Mystery

Bruce Greenwood stars as documentary photographer Thomas Veil who, in the course of one evening, seemingly has his whole existence erased, in the compelling one-hour drama Nowhere Man. It ... See full summary »

Stars: Bruce Greenwood, Megan Gallagher, Marvin LaRoy Sanders, Sam A. Mowry

Votes: 1,515

Here was one of those shows that TV tries to do every now and then, and usually not this well. A photographer known for breaking news with his pictures wakes up one day and no one knows him. He remembers a lot of what has happened, but there are gaps just before you vanished from everyone's memory. Even his wife doesn't recognize him. He knows this has something to do with the set of photos he had included in a showing that was just about to open, but that is off also, since no one has ever heard of him, why would they give him a show? When he sets out to find out what happened, suddenly there are men with guns trying to kill him. He opens up a little bit of the story with each episode, but that only reveals even more mystery. Just as we start to know, just as his wife admits she knows who he is, just on the verge of getting to the truth, those men with guns start killing those around him. It was proving to be a truly exciting mystery show, then they killed it. I think the men in the show got to the network.

36. The Others (2000– )

TV-14 | 60 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

College student Marian Kitt is terrified to discover that she has the power to see into the "other side." Word of Marian's vision spreads to Professor Miles Ballard, a student of paranormal... See full summary »

Stars: Julianne Nicholson, Gabriel Macht, Missy Crider, Bill Cobbs

Votes: 582

This one was beautiful. A group of individuals, all having some kind of psychic power, get together in a college town to try to help each other understand what their gifts were about. Not a government agency, just friends. The newest member is a college girl who would really rather not have this happening to her, but she also seems to be one of the most powerful "Other" yet encountered. Forces seems to be drawn to her, and the group circle around her to aid her growth and doe their best to keep her safe. Everyone of the friends is a unique individual and adds color and spice to the story. But, the network didn't know how to handle the show. So they cancelled very early. I think the folks at the show knew early and so, in the last episode, they killed everyone off (of course, had the show gone on, they would have found a way to save everyone) sort of as a way of saying "Screw You" to the Network Brass. I felt personally attached to this show and would have watched it for as long as they let me. They didn't let us watch for very long.

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