There are three constants in life: death, taxes, and your favorite television shows getting canceled before their time. It may be hard to imagine, when looking through the history books, that those people in the black-and-white photos had feelings about TV shows, too. Which is why it's essential to take a trip down memory lane and check out all the TV shows canceled the year you were born that were mourned by audiences in their day. Luckily for you, you now have this list of famous shows canceled by year to help you mourn alongside them.
Nowadays, it's increasingly common for shows like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones to end on their own terms. In contrast, many series from the 20th century kept going until their child stars had completely outgrown their roles, or until audiences flat-out stopped watching.
- Photo: Warner Bros. Television
If you were born in 1970, you might be more familiar with the 2008 film version of Get Smart starring Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway. Years before Carell was turning his breakout stardom from The Office into box office sales, your parents were laughing along to Don Adams's portrayal of secret agent Maxwell Smart. The show, created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, was intended to parody spy movies like James Bond and stand in contrast with the more bland television programs of the day.
Cancellation does not necessarily mean it's really the end for a show; Get Smart continued to find more and more fans in syndication and solidify its standing as a cultural touchstone.
- Photo: CBS
The Beverly Hillbillies was a hit with audiences, but never quite found its footing in the hearts of critics. The show was about a group of "hillbillies" who made a fortune after striking oil and moved to Beverly Hills to live amongst the wealthy. Possibly surprising no one, reviewers didn't consider the show to be exceptionally highbrow, although others argued they were missing the point, and that The Beverly Hillbillies was quite subversive. The joke wasn't on the title characters themselves, but instead on the snobby residents of Beverly Hills.
This show came to an untimely demise in what was dubbed the "rural purge." In an attempt to restructure the lineup, CBS canceled all shows with "rural" themes, or as Rolling Stone chief TV critic Alan Sepinwall put it, "Anything that was not in a city with brick or concrete, bye-bye."
- Photo: ABC
Bewitched was about a young witch named Samantha Stephens, played by Elizabeth Montgomery, marrying an ordinary mortal man and experiencing the hijinks that come from her attempts to live a regular life as a suburban housewife. The show ran for 254 episodes and went through some significant changes during the run, including the recasting of Samantha's husband.
Herbie J. Pilato, an author and Bewitched expert, claims the show didn't end due to low ratings but instead went off the air because of behind-the-scenes issues with Montgomery's real-life husband and Bewitched producer, William Asher. Domestic troubles or not, the end of the show found the writers simply repeating plots from earlier seasons, so it's no surprise the show came to an end.
- Photo: CBS
Mission: Impossible is another TV program that has been overshadowed by a more recent incarnation, but the original 1966 show had an impressive run of seven seasons, totaling 171 episodes. The cast featured quite a talented roster, including Leonard Nimoy and Sam Elliott.
Although the show left enough of a cultural impact to spawn a television reboot in 1988 and the popular Tom Cruise-led movie franchise, its low ratings ultimately led to its cancellation in 1973.