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8 most surprising TV show cancellations of 2023

Some shows run their course and come to a natural end. Among the ones that fell into that category this year are Sex Education, Doom Patrol, and Reservation Dogs. Other shows are canceled to no one’s surprise. The most notable of those shows this year is The Idol, which was marred with controversy from the get-go. Sometimes, shows are canceled and revived due to fan pushback, like Warrior Nun, which was canceled in December 2022 after two seasons, but will be brought back as a film trilogy.

It really catches fans off guard when a show cancellation happens even when the series is well received and hasn’t had the chance to resolve its stories. The reasons run the gamut, from low viewership to high production costs and other issues behind the scenes. This year, a few shows may have become victims of the writer’s strike. Whatever the case, these eight show cancellations in 2023 were surprising. Interestingly, while Netflix is notorious for prematurely canceling shows fans love, none of the shows on this list are from that streaming service.

The Mysterious Benedict Society (2021-2022)

Tony Hale in The Mysterious Benedict Society pointing a finger at kids.

Based on the popular children’s book series of the same name by Trenton Lee Stewart, The Mysterious Benedict Society has an all-star cast that includes Tony Hale as the titular characte,r along with Kristen Schaal, Ryan Hurst, and guest stars like Haley Joel Osment. It was a wonderful show for tweens and teens that brought the characters from the books to life. The story is about Mr. Benedict, who recruits young children to help him stop the dangerous Dr. L.D. Curtain (also played by Hale) from using children to send subconscious messages through them.

The Mysterious Benedict Society received positive reviews andwas dubbed a perfect show to watch with the family. But it became one of many shows pulled from Disney+ in May as part of a larger cost-cutting measure. So, it’s not even available to stream anymore.

The Mysterious Benedict Society is not available to stream, rent, or buy.

The Great (2020-2023)

The Great on Hulu
Ollie Upton / Hulu / Hulu

Fans were shocked when The Great was abruptly cancelled by Hulu after its third season. The announcement came mere months after season 3 concluded. The alternate history satirical comedy-drama centers around Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia (Elle Fanning) and her work as the longest-ever reigning female rule for the country. Central to the plot, however, is her fractured relationship with her deviant husband, Emperor Peter III (The Menu‘s Nicholas Hoult), and her schemes to kill him.

With a Certified Fresh Rotten Tomatoes score for its second and third seasons and numerous Primetime Emmy Award nominations, it’s baffling that The Great will not continue. It’s unclear why the decision was made, but the series did not end on a cliffhanger, which at least gave fans some closure to the story.

Stream The Great on Hulu. 

The Peripheral (2022)

Chloe Grace Moretz wearing a futuristic gaming headset in a scene from The Peripheral on Amazon Prime.
Amazon Prime Video / Amazon Prime Video

The Peripheral received decent reviews and was fueled by a fabulous lead performance by Chloe Grace Moretz, along with an original story. For those reasons, fans were expecting that The Peripheral would return for a second season. The sci-fi series counts Westworld creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy as its executive producers and is loosely based on the William Gibson book of the same name. Moretz is Flynne, a talented video gamer who poses as her ex-military brother to play a virtual game with a supposed dangerous mission. But she soon realizes the mission is all too real and takes her into a future world.

The first season ended in October 2022 and the show was actually renewed for a second season in February 2023. However, the lengthy, record-breaking writers’ and actors’ strikes led to delays and, much to fans’ dismay, Amazon Prime Video eventually made the decision not to move forward with the show after all.

Stream The Peripheral on Amazon Prime Video. 

Home Economics (2021-2023)

Home Economics on Hulu

With so many sitcoms nowadays being remakes, sequels, or revivals of old ones, Home Economics was a refreshing new concept. The story is about three adult siblings and their respective families, each of which  is at a different economic position in their lives. The youngest troublemaking son, Connor (Jimmy Tatro), surprises everyone by making a fortune in private equity. Eldest son Tom (Topher Grace) is suffering from writer’s block and unable to come up with his next big book idea. Middle child Sarah (Caitlin Mcgee) and her wife, meanwhile, can barely support their adopted kids. But the trio come together in hilarious fashion, even if jealousy, differences of political opinion, and typical sibling rivalry get in the way.

Despite the talented cast that also includes Karla Souza and Sasheer Zamata, Home Economics didn’t make it past three seasons. The sitcom faced competition from more successful ABC sitcoms like Abbott Elementary and The Conners, both of which were renewed by the network.

Stream Home Economics on Hulu. 

Blindspotting (2021-2023)

A woman and man sit at a kitchen tablet looking upset in a scene from Blindspotting on Starz.

There were high expectations for this series given the cult status of the movie for which it serves as a sequel. Blindspotting picks up six months after the events of the film. Ashley (Jasmine Cephas Jones) and her son move in with her boyfriend Miles’ (Rafael Casal) mother and half-sister after he winds up in prison. This naturally leads to chaos and tensions.

The comedy-drama lasted two seasons. It holds a 100% Rotten Tomatoes approval score from critics who say it “exceeds its source material” and appreciate the show’s comedic flair and its ability to be both poignant and funny. Blindspotting is yet another show that may have been a victim of the writer and actor strikes.

Stream Blindspotting on Starz.

Fatal Attraction (2023)

A man and a woman look at each other awkwardly while another woman looks on in a scene from Fatal Attraction.
Michael Moriatis / Paramount+

With veteran actors Joshua Jackson, Lizzy Kaplan, and Amanda Peet in the lead roles of this show based on the well-known film from the 1980s, fans expected more from Fatal Attraction. The erotic psychological thriller stars Jackson as Dan, a deputy district attorney who gives in to temptation and has an affair with a new hire named Alex (Caplan). When he realizes his mistake and tries to end things, however, he discovers that Alex has no desire to do so. What’s more, she makes a concerted effort to insert herself into his life and befriend his wife, Beth (Peet).

The mixed reviews for Fatal Attraction were a good indicator that the show didn’t live up to the 1987 movie of the same name, which starred Michael Douglas and Glenn Close in the lead roles. But there were critics who praised the series for its modern interpretation of the story and the more complex handling of the theme. Nonetheless, Paramount+ decided to pull the plug.

Stream Fatal Attraction on Paramount+.

The Problem With Jon Stewart (2021-2023)

Jon Stewart sitting behind a large desk, hands turned up and a surprised expression on his face in The Problem With Jon Stewart.
Apple TV+

This was a completely unexpected cancellation. The Problem With Jon Stewart ending had nothing to do with ratings or viewership numbers. It all came down to creative differences between Stewart and the executives at Apple, allegedly pertaining specifically to his coverage of artificial intelligence and China. Plans for a third season came to a screeching halt in October when the show was officially cancelled.

The Problem With Jon Stewart was Stewart’s first big project since leaving The Daily Show. The current affairs show focused on a different hot topic or issue in each episode, and was paired with a companion podcast. Through the first two seasons, Stewart covered hot button topics like health issues among war veterans, U.S. government bailouts, gun violence, democracy, and the incarceration epidemic.

Stream The Problem With Jon Stewart on Apple TV+. 

The Horror of Dolores Roach (2023)

Justina Machado as Dolores Roach in The Horror of Dolores Roach, looking up in a dark room, a candle behind her.
Amazon Prime Video

While The Horror of Dolores Roach wasn’t as heavily promoted as some of the bigger shows this year, it was widely praised by critics, who particularly singled out the performance by Justina Machado. She plays the title character, who spent 16 years in prison for a crime she didn’t commit. Now released, she’s trying to put her life back together. She moves in with an old friend and begins working as a masseuse in the basement of his empanada restaurant. But the situation becomes out of her control, turning dark and downright disgusting.

The dark comedy horror series, based on the one-woman off-Broadway play Empanada Loca, had the power of the popular Aaron Mark Spotify podcast of the same name behind it. But that and positive reviews weren’t enough to save the series from cancellation.

Stream The Horror of Dolores Roach on Amazon Prime Video.

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Christine Persaud
Christine has decades of experience in trade and consumer journalism. While she started her career writing exclusively about…
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