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8 TV Shows Canceled in 2023 That Were Destined for Greatness

These series had the potential to revive genres, engage teen viewers, and put Hollywood through the wringer.
  • Clockwise: Perry Mason, Vampire Academy, The Company You Keep, Ziwe (Photos: HBO/Peacock/ABC/Showtime)
    Clockwise: Perry Mason, Vampire Academy, The Company You Keep, Ziwe (Photos: HBO/Peacock/ABC/Showtime)

    Along with showers and flowers, the spring is usually a time for culling, as networks and streamers opt to cut some shows loose and mull over their options with others. We know it's coming; we understand that this is the way the business (regrettably) works. But this year's TV cancellations really sting, as many of these series showed considerable promise or had evolved into gripping stories. Again, we see this happen every year, but 2023 was full of shows that were poised to revive genres, shake up the (very white) status quo, or just give younger viewers a reason to look up from their For You Page. Though there's probably another wave or two of cancellations coming, we've highlighted eight canceled shows that had the most potential — shows that could have been contenders, iconoclasts, or "the next great."

    Most Potential to Be the Next Great Teen Drama: Vampire Academy (Peacock)

    Vampires have always been a staple of the teen drama landscape, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to First Kill. Peacock’s Vampire Academy was the latest entry into the subgenre, helmed by The Vampire Diaries alum Julie Plec and Marguerite MacIntyre. Based on Richelle Mead’s YA novels, the series followed best friends Rose Hathaway (Sisi Stringer), a dhampir (half-vampire, half-human) training to be a guardian, and Lissa Dragomir (Daniela Nieves), a moroi (benevolent vampire) princess next in line for the throne, as they navigate St. Vladimir’s messy politics. Tensions rise when Strigois (feral, murderous vampires) threaten to invade the school, and the teens must find a way to keep each other and their loved ones safe.

    Vampire Academy blended thrilling political intrigue with classic teen drama, which made for great popcorn TV. Unfortunately, these vampires don’t get to be immortal, and it’s a shame that a show with such a unique premise and a majority cast of color won’t get a chance to finish their story. — Dianna Shen

    Most Potential to Bring Romance Back to Broadcast Dramas: The Company You Keep (ABC)

    Though we can still find a great will-they/won’t-they on Abbott Elementary, the cancellation of The Company You Keep has left broadcast TV mostly bereft of head-turning romance. Unlike cable and streaming series like The Idol or Sex/Life, this ABC drama relied on the scintillating connection between its two leads, played by Catherine Haena Kim and a fully de-dead-dad-ified Milo Ventimiglia, who play a game of cat and mouse in and out of the bedroom. Watching the dynamic between con man Charlie (Ventimiglia) and straight arrow Emma (Kim) turn from strangers to lovers to quarry and hunter was more titillating than most of what's happening on shows operating free of standards and practices. Along with filling the Whiskey Cavalier-shaped hole in our hearts, this show also gave us Tony Shalhoub in a turtleneck — what more could ABC have asked for? — Danette Chavez

    Most Potential to Be the Next Great Hangout Comedy: Grand Crew (NBC)

    All the best hangout comedies have two undeniable qualities: electric chemistry among the ensemble and writing that is at times nonsensical but always hilarious. Grand Crew had both in multitudes. The core group of Noah (Echo Kellum), Nicky (Nicole Byer), Sherm (Carl Tart), Anthony (Aaron Jennings), Wyatt (Justin Cunningham), and Fay (Grasie Mercedes) were intoxicating to watch, especially in the show's silliest moments, like when the crew started speaking to each other telepathically or when an episode would recreate an Usher music video. Part of the show’s magic is that any grouping of the ensemble cast worked — until NBC handed down the cancellation decision, the possibilities for team-ups and shenanigans seemed endless. — Brianna Wellen

    Most Potential to Make “Prestige Procedurals” a Thing: Perry Mason (HBO)

    Alas, poor Perry Mason cut down by HBO just as it stopped fighting its procedural nature (and the Max rebrand/platform merger with Discovery+ began in earnest). We’ll admit that the term “procedural” is just as likely to strike fear in the hearts of viewers as it is to assure them of what they’re about to watch, thanks to the trend toward serialization in recent years. But this Matthew Rhys-led drama was made for episodic storytelling, even as it gradually built toward the resolution of a long arc in Season 2. Indeed, Perry Mason had all the trappings of prestige TV, including a soulful lead performance, high production values, resonant themes, and an atmosphere that seeped into your bones.

    It not only could have been a contender, it could have been a prestige procedural — which seems oxymoronic at first glance, but is potentially one of the most powerful TV hybrids. A show that’s eminently watchable and exceptionally well made, deploying satisfying conclusions at regular intervals? The Good Fight might have gotten there first, but Perry Mason was set to walk in that Paramount+ series’s footsteps. — Danette Chavez

    Most Potential to Reinvigorate Late Night: Ziwe (Showtime)

    The template for late-night talk shows is so tired: monologue, desk bit, interview, musician or comedian, repeat. Networks are satisfied to slide any white guy named David or Stephen or Jimmy in, it doesn’t really matter who, and call it a day. With her self-titled show, Ziwe Fumudoh was a shining light in the late-night wars. She turned the format on its head, balancing being entertainingly antagonistic and effortlessly charming with ease. Unlike in the traditional setting, which is designed to gas up any celebrity with something to promote, Ziwe would set her guests up to fail. The premise led to some of the most mortifying moments committed to cable television, but that was always part of the fun. — Brianna Wellen

    Most Potential to Be the Next Big Teen Adventure Show: National Treasure: Edge of History (Disney+)

    Considering the years of hype leading up to National Treasure: Edge of History, it's surprising how quickly Disney+ pulled the plug on the sequel series. The charming spinoff introduced a new crew of adventurers led by resourceful DREAMer Jess Valenzuela (Lisette Olivera), who, like Nicolas Cage before her, discovers she has a personal connection to a trove of lost Pan-American artifacts. Jess' search sends her on a journey through parts of history that have traditionally been ignored or left on the margins (like Elvis' Cherokee ancestry), storylines that complicate the films' emphasis on white male figures. Of course, the teens also encounter their fair share of romance along the way, and while it's not quite Outer Banks levels of sexy, it's cute in its own Disney+ way. It's disappointing that these treasure-mances will end here, but with a third National Treasure film still in development, perhaps this won't be the last we see of Jess and her friends. — Claire Spellberg Lustig

    Most Potential to Join The Other Two in Sending Up Hollywood: Reboot (Hulu)

    If The Other Two is TV's best funhouse-mirror depiction of the lunatic requirements of fame in the entertainment industry, then Reboot had the potential to hit those kind of heights from inside the belly of the beast. The best joke in Reboot's premiere episode was simply an exhaustive list of TV's recent history of rebooting once-beloved shows, and from there, the show went on to skewer the process of making TV in 2023 from pretty much every angle. The writers’ room scenes, in which Rachel Bloom and Paul Reiser oversaw a generational clash in styles, were fertile ground for the show's biggest laughs. And given how comfortable creator Steve Levitan was with the show going meta (there were plenty of jokes at Hulu's expense), this was exactly the kind of show that would have incorporated the current WGA strike into its storylines, and after that first season, it's exactly the kind of show that could have done such a storyline justice. — Joe Reid

    Most Potential to Be the Next Great Workplace Sitcom: American Auto (NBC)

    Ana Gasteyer finally got the starring vehicle she always deserved with American Auto. The Justin Spitzer-created sitcom channeled all the best parts of Superstore into a workplace comedy that mercilessly poked fun at the incompetent members of the C-suite at Payne Motors, an auto company in Detroit. The NBC series hit its stride in its second season, allowing its lesser-known ensemble cast — Harriet Dyer, Humphrey Ker, Michael Benjamin Washington, Tye White, and series MVP X Mayo — to shine brightly. In the wake of the series’s cancellation, Spritzer revealed where things would have gone from here: CEO Katherine Hastings (Gasteyer) and Payne Motors “finally finding success and taking the world by storm.” Based on the trajectory of the narrative so far, the higher they rose, the harder they would have hilariously fallen. Knowing what was in store makes the loss hurt that much more. — Brianna Wellen

    TOPICS: Canceled TV Shows, ABC, Disney+, HBO, Hulu, NBC, Peacock, Showtime, American Auto, The Company You Keep, Grand Crew, National Treasure: Edge of History, Perry Mason, Reboot, Vampire Academy, Ziwe, TV Cancellations