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10 Netflix shows that were canceled too soon

Many of the great Netflix original series have lasted for quite a few seasons. But sometimes, even a great show gets the ax before it plays out the way fans think it should. From cancellations prior to a satisfying ending to premature cancellations of shows that had actually been well-received, fans are puzzled by some of Netflix’s decisions.

Among the many Netflix shows that were canceled too soon are titles across every genre, including expensive productions, prequel series to old favorites, and shows that were or may eventually be resurrected in some fashion. It’s not over till it’s over, after all. But these shows never got the chance to complete their runs.

The Society (2019)

A boy grabs a girl in The Society.
Netflix

A victim of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Society was renewed for a second season, but that was eventually scrapped due to the forced production delays. Had the series been released at a different time, however, The Society would likely have continued.

The premise has vibes similar to shows like Class of ’07 and Betwee,  as well as elements of teen dramas like The Wilds. It’s about a group of teenagers who return to their hometown from a field trip, only to find everyone gone. There’s no escape either since a dense forest surrounds the town, implying there’s nothing left in the outside world. The teens are left to fend for themselves and develop their own functioning society, with limited resources. But raging hormones, immaturity, and teen angst makes this easier said than done.

Stream The Society on Netflix.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)

The three main characters from The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, standing together.
Kevin Baker / Netflix

Despite receiving rave reviews, this prequel to the Jim Henson movie The Dark Crystal did not manage to make it beyond a first season. Set on the planet Thra, the story follows Gelflings Rian, Brea, and Deet, voiced by Black Bird‘s Taron Egerton, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Nathalie Emmanuel, respectively, as they start a rebellion against their rulers. The Skeksis are threatening their planet, and it’s up to these three to save it.

It came as a shock when The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance was canceled given the high praise it received for being an epic fantasy adventure with heart. The reason may have been that the series only appealed to an older audience who remembered the original 1982 film, or maybe the younger generation simply didn’t get it. Reportedl,y there have been talks of bringing the show back dating as far back as 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic might have thrown a wrench into those, but as recent as early 2022, Halle Stanford of The Jim Henson Company commented to Variety that they are “ready to jump” at any chance of a return.

Stream The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance on Netflix.

The Get Down (2016-2017)

Two young men smiling in red jackets, one with his hand to his chest in a scene from The Get Down.
Netflix / Netflix

It was reportedly the high price tag of production that led to cancellation of this series, which was well-received by critics and audiences. But The Get Down likely didn’t pull in enough viewership to warrant such a hefty price tag. Set in the South Bronx in the 1970s, this musical drama chronicles the rise of hip-hop and disco music culture. At the heart of the show is a group of teenagers, each dealing with their own strife, hopes, and dreams.

The performances and cinematography are particular standouts of The Get Down, though the show did receive criticism for its purported “meandering narrative.” Icons of the music business served as producers, including Nas, Grandmaster Flash, Kurtis Blow, and DJ Kool Herc,and fans of the music and culture were disappointed with the show’s cancellation after the two-part first season.

Stream The Get Down on Netflix.

Santa Clarita Diet (2017-2019)

Drew Barrymore in Santa Clarita Diet, her mouth covered in blood, looking terrified.
Erica Parise / Netflix

Zombie shows tend to perform well (ahem, The Walking Dead and all of its spinoffs) despite an influx of them over the last few decades. Santa Clarita Diet was quite liked by viewers and critics, so it came as a surprise when Netflix canceled the comedy horror series after just three seasons.

Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant are hilariously lovable married real estate team Sheila and Joel, whose lives are upended when Sheila mysteriously starts exhibiting zombie-like symptoms. She has odd cravings for human flesh and her personality slowly shifts from upbeat and sweet to primal and impulsive. The leads and story were both praised, but be warned that there’s some gore, too.

Watch Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix.

GLOW (2017-2019)

Image via Netflix

When production shut down on the show due to the pandemic, it simply never picked back up. Despite being renewed for what would be a fourth and final season, Netflix reversed the decision and pulled the plug on GLOW. Netflix canceled the show after it went on hiatus and the August 2019 release of season 3 became the last we would see of the show.

A compelling, female-centric story, GLOW centers around a group of women who, through various life circumstances, decide to pursue careers in wrestling. They become the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW) and set out to prove that hands-on contact sports aren’t just for men. Set in the 1980s and starring Alison Brie and Mrs. Davis‘ Betty Gilpin, GLOW is fictional, but it is loosely based on the real women’s professional wrestling circuit of the same name.

Watch GLOW on Netflix.

Sense8 (2015-2018)

Characters from Sense8 hiding behind a car.
Image via Murray Close / Netflix

One of the most talked-about Netflix show cancellations, some believe it was Sense8’s expensive production budget that led to the premature cancellation. The sci-fi drama required filming in various locations around the world due to its unique story about a group of people from around the world who are all connected to one another. They are all sensates who are cosmically linked and can take over one another’s bodies.

Sense8 was applauded for its depictions of identity, sexuality, and gender, as well as its  wider focus on empathy and accepting one another despite differences. Hailing from The Wachowskis, fans believed there was so much more story to tell. Online petitions and the hashtag #RenewSense8 were created to urge Netflix to save the show. It worked and the streaming service released a two-hour special to conclude the story.

Watch Sense8 on Netflix. 

1899 (2022)

A crowd looks at a mysterious figure in 1899.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

So many fans were disappointed when Netflix canceled 1899 mere months after its first (and only) season debuted, despite both fan and critical praise. A period mystery-science fiction series from the creators of the excellent show Dark, 1899 includes dialogue in English, as well as several other languages, most notably German.

The story is set in titular year year when a group of European emigrants are traveling to the U.K. on a steamship. Their goal is to start new lives in New York City, but getting there is easier said than done. As the most expensive German series of all time, the production costs measured against viewership might have had something to do with the cancellation. This is yet another show that led to social media frenzy to help save it, including a Change.org petition.

Watch 1899 on Netflix.

Warrior Nun (2020-)

Warrior Nun Season 2 | Official Teaser | Netflix

In an interesting twist, Warrior Nun is one of those shows that was indeed canceled, but a fan campaign to bring it back actually worked. After streaming for two seasons, series creator Simon Barry announced in late June that the fantasy drama would be back in some capacity, likely a third season.

Portuguese actor Alba Baptista narrates the series as Ava Silva, a 19-year-old orphan and quadriplegic. When she discovers she has supernatural powers, Ava joins an ancient order of warrior nuns fighting to banish demons from Earth. But she must also balance the powerful forces of both heaven and hell, which are after Ava and desperate to control her.

Watch Warrior Nun on Netflix.

Inside Job (2021-2022)

A woman riding a piece of machinery in a warehouse with strange creatures on the floor in a scene from Inside Job on Netflix.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Combining adult animated fun with a typical workplace sitcom vibe, Inside Job had a unique position in the TV landscape, but it wasn’t meant to last. Even the top-notch voice cast including Lizzy Caplan, Christian Slater, Tisha Campbell, and Bobby Lee, along with a strong list of guest voice actors like Ana Gasteyer, Henry Winkler, and Star Trek‘s Zachary Quinto, couldn’t save the show.

Executive produced in part by Bojack Horseman director Mike Hollingsworth, Inside Job tells the story of a world where conspiracy theories (think the Earth is flat and the moon landing never happened) are actually real. It’s up to a shadow government organization called Cognito, Inc. and its tech geniuses and reptilian shape-shifters to keep the truth under wraps. The absurdity of the show’s storylines and mocking of reality drew comparisons to shows like Futurama, but Inside Job did not manage to enjoy the same level of success.

Watch Inside Job on Netflix.

Archive 81 (2022)

A woman holds a camcorder in Archive 81.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

There were high hopes for Archive 81 thanks toits compelling premise about a young man who is hired by a secretive company to help them restore video footage. A grad student named Melody was working on a documentary project about an apartment building that burned down. The mysterious organization, for unknown reasons, needs her research.

Based on the podcast of the same name, the supernatural horror series reportedly brought in solid viewership numbers when it premiered in January 2022. But Netflix dropped the ax on Archive 81 just two months later. Some sources speculate that it was a lack of potential momentum that led the streaming service to decide that Archive 81 would not have staying power.

Watch Archive 81 on Netflix. 

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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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