Some television shows get the ax after just one season. Generally, you as a fan are devastated when it happens, but later realize it’s a blessing. Especially if the season of television is perfect, you really only want one season. We can think of several (dozens of shows, in fact) that would have benefitted from ending after their first run. You know shows like True Detective that wasn’t all that great, to begin with, and it just progressively worse with each new, unfortunate installment. No thanks!
Fortunately for many who don’t want to spend an eternity invested in a multi-season plot, there are plenty of shows that manage to be wonderful and potent in just a single season. This excludes miniseries of course, and those are always delightful. These are beloved shows with tons of potential that ended too soon or just soon enough!
Cuffs (2015) – 8 Episode Season
Cuffs is a pretty standard British police procedural that did excellent character development and had a lot of heart. The show follows the exciting challenges of being a first-responder and questions the veracity of such procedures. The show was canceled after its 8-episode first season, disappointing many fans who were invested in the rich characters the show managed to bring to life. Cuffs is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Trophy Wife (2013) – 22 Episode Season
Malin Akerman is completely hilarious and loveable as Kate Harrison in Trophy Wife, a broadcast comedy that ran for an entire season before being canceled. Don’t worry, though. It’s broadcast so you have 22 episodes of television to binge your way through. Kate is a former “party girl” who ends up with a man who has a somewhat established family with kids and two ex-wives. It’s a very funny show that’s best when it slows down and takes time with each of the wonderful characters. The show is streaming on the ABC app or you can rent it.
Tell Me You Love Me (2007) – 10 Episode Season
Apologies for the random clip, but we couldn’t dig up an old trailer for this show. Tell Me You Love Me is a show about three couples who all attend the same couples therapist. There’s tons of drama that digs around in the dirty laundry of the couples we’re watching. It’s funny at times and also profoundly sad at other moments. This short-lived drama is perfect for anyone who’s ever wanted to be a fly on the wall watching someone else’s marriage crumble. Yikes! You can find this show streaming on HBO Max.
Bunheads (2012) – 18 Episode Season
Legend of screen and stage, Sutton Foster is an absolute delight in the family-friendly dramedy, Bunheads. For fans of Gilmore Girls and the The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, the same creator made Bunheads! The show follows Michelle (Foster) a new-to-town dance teacher with a Las Vegas showgirl past. It’s a charming gem that only ran for one season with 18 episodes. Bunheads is streaming on both Hulu and the Freeform app or available to rent.
Wonderfalls (2004) – 14 Episode Season
If you loved Pushing Daisies and/or Bryan Fuller‘s style, you need to check out Wonderfalls. The show tells the story of Jaye, a young woman who works in a souvenir shop in Niagara Falls. After the figurines in the store begin speaking to her, she is forced to break out of her shell and interact and help people. It’s wonderfully weird and funny. The show only ran 14 episodes and each one is a joy. As far as we know, this show is not streaming (officially) but you can find episodes online.
My So-Called Life (1994) – 19 Episode Season
Aw. Baby Claire Danes won a Golden Globe for this! My So-Called Life has some of the most ardent fans that still rave about this show 25 years later. The show follows Angela Chase (Danes) as she navigates the challenges of high school life, growing into adulthood, and dealing with the usual teenage stuff like parents and her social life. The show is moving and Danes is really spectacular in it. You can find My So-Called Life streaming on Amazon Prime or available to rent.
I Love Dick (2016) – 8 Episode Season
I Love Dick is not going to be for everyone, but it is a truly amazing show that Kathryn Hahn completely kills in. Hahn can do no wrong, but she’s just especially excellent in this show. Oh, and Kevin Bacon. The show follows a middle-aged couple from their NYC home to a residency in Marfa, Texas. Chris (Hahn) becomes obsessed with her husband’s colleague, Dick (Bacon) and creates an art project, which ends up being a series of letters that begin with “Dear Dick…” If you didn’t think you needed a show about female sexuality, think again! This show was criminally underrated and we hope you give it a try. All 8 episodes are available to stream on Amazon Prime.
The Get Down (2016)
We’re still not over The Get Down‘s cancelation. It’s been almost five years and it still stings! The show is set in 1970s New York City, in the Bronx, and follows a group of ridiculously, insanely talented teenagers who try to navigate their complex lives while hip-hop, punk, and disco are all born within and around them. The show was created by Baz Luhrmann and it possesses his signature baroque sensibilities making each musical number a breathtaking feat. If you love music and art and rock-solid performances, give this massively entertaining show a shot. All 8 episodes are streaming on Netflix.
Freaks and Geeks (1999) – 18 Episode Season
If you have somehow made it this far in life without watching an episode of Freaks and Geeks, we don’t know how you did that, but we are impressed. This show. This show! All of your faves were cast in this grungy gem including Busy Philipps, Linda Cardellini, Seth Rogen, Jason Segal, Lizzy Caplan, and a few dozen more wonderfully talented individuals.
The show is about different high school cliques and wanting to fit in, but not feeling like your piece of the puzzle has a place. It’s everything and you should rewatch it. If you have not seen it, give it a shot. It will inject nostalgia right into your brain. The show disappeared from Netflix in 2018 and you can’t find it anywhere until NBC launches its Peacock streaming service.
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Watchmen (2019) – 9 Episode Season
The first and only season of Watchmen is a completely perfect season of TV. There’s nothing else like it. When creator, Damen Lindelof announced that the show would actually just end, fans were stunned. It’s a critically acclaimed series and HBO seemed poised to move ahead with another season. However, Lindelof bowing out seems to have put an end to it. That said, who knows what could happen? Watchmen is not typical superhero content. The show deals with themes like systemic (and structural) racism, police misconduct, multi-generational trauma, and so much more.
Regina King kicks butt and stars as Angela Abar AKA Sister Night. She discovers hard truths about her past all while battling masked vigilantes and plots to change the entire trajectory of planet Earth. It sounds nuts, but it’s a deeply rewarding and powerful show. It’s one of the best things you can watch on HBO Max right now.
Are you ready for a good binge that’s not too short or too long, but that’s just right? Check out these 10 one-season wonders right now. You’ll thank us later.
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
- 1 Cuffs (2015) – 8 Episode Season
- 2 Trophy Wife (2013) – 22 Episode Season
- 3 Tell Me You Love Me (2007) – 10 Episode Season
- 4 Bunheads (2012) – 18 Episode Season
- 5 Wonderfalls (2004) – 14 Episode Season
- 6 My So-Called Life (1994) – 19 Episode Season
- 7 I Love Dick (2016) – 8 Episode Season
- 8 The Get Down (2016)
- 9 Freaks and Geeks (1999) – 18 Episode Season
- 10 Watchmen (2019) – 9 Episode Season
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