10 Forgotten TV Series That Deserve a Second Chance

10 Forgotten TV Series That Deserve a Second Chance
Image credit: ABC, HBO, FOX, NBC, FX, AMC

Yes, these shows are extremely underrated, but it doesn't mean they're not worth checking out.

1. Rubicon (2010)

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Here's a one-season wonder for you: Rubicon, a slow-burning thriller on AMC.

This intelligence drama, brimming with conspiracy theories, followed an analyst at a New York think tank (played by James Badge Dale) after he stumbles onto a global conspiracy. It was smart, sophisticated, and more intricate than a Swiss watch.

Tragically, it got axed after one season due to low ratings. The show was named after the phrase "crossing the Rubicon," referring to an irrevocable point of decision. Ah, the irony.

2. Terriers (2010)

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Terriers was a comedy-drama about two best friends (played by Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James) operating an unlicensed private investigation business in San Diego.

A critical darling with a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the show was unfortunately canceled after its first season due to low viewership. Maybe it was the misleading title (there are no dogs in the show) or perhaps the unique blend of noir-ish mystery, buddy comedy, and emotional depth was too ahead of its time.

But one thing's certain: Terriers was a hidden gem that never got its rightful moment in the spotlight.

3. Happy Town (2010)

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This ABC drama had all the hallmarks of a gripping mystery series: a small town with a dark past, an eerie atmosphere, and a great ensemble cast including Amy Acker and Sam Neill. Set in Haplin, Minnesota (nicknamed "Happy Town"), the residents' lives are disrupted when a horrific crime echoes events from five years ago.

Despite the promising setup, the show was axed after just six episodes. But with the recent resurgence of small-town mystery dramas, it seems like the perfect time to revive Happy Town and finally unravel all its secrets.

4. Kings (2009)

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Kings, a modern-day reimagining of the biblical tale of King David, is one of those high-concept series that never found its footing.

Set in the fictional kingdom of Gilboa, it's a political drama starring Ian McShane as the charismatic and ruthless King Silas. The plot follows a young soldier named David (a pre-Homeland Damian Lewis) who rises to fame after saving the king's son (pre-MCU Sebastian Stan, so basically the show's worth a watch for its cast alone).

To create the unique look of Gilboa, the series was shot on location in New York City, including an extensive shoot at The New York Public Library. Kings received positive reviews from critics, yet failed to garner a significant audience.

5. Firefly ( 2002)

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When it comes to forgotten series, no list would be complete without mentioning Firefly. Created by Joss Whedon, Firefly was a space western drama about a ragtag crew of misfits navigating the fringes of society in their spaceship, Serenity.

The series, featuring Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk among its ensemble cast, was praised for its character development and narrative complexity, but was prematurely canceled after one season.

Despite a dedicated fan base (known as "Browncoats") and a movie sequel titled Serenity in 2005, Firefly has yet to see a proper revival. But hey, in the words of Captain Malcolm Reynolds, "I aim to misbehave", and perhaps, just perhaps, the time is ripe for a Firefly resurgence.

6. Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000)

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How about a show where the almighty James Franco was but a humble ensemble player? Freaks and Geeks, set in the 80s, was a teen comedy-drama that followed two distinct groups at a Michigan high school: the burnout "freaks" and the not-so-popular "geeks."

This Judd Apatow creation served as a launching pad for actors like Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and Linda Cardellini. Even Shia LaBeouf and Lizzy Caplan had minor roles on the show before they hit the big time.

The show, rated a mighty 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, was loved by critics but struggled to find an audience, leading to its early cancellation.

7. My So-Called Life (1994-1995)

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My So-Called Life, a teen drama that captured the angst-ridden world of adolescence, starred a young Claire Danes as Angela Chase, a 15-year-old navigating the trials of high school and teenage life. A then-unknown Jared Leto played Angela's love interest, the rebellious Jordan Catalano.

My So-Called Life portrayed complex issues like alcoholism, child abuse, homophobia, and teenage self-identity with honesty and nuance, a rarity for its time. Sadly, despite its relevance, the series was canceled after one season.

8. Undeclared (2001-2002)

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Here's another one from the Apatow vault that failed to gain traction despite its potential. Undeclared was a witty sitcom about college life, following a group of freshmen at the fictional University of Northeastern California.

With an ensemble cast featuring Jay Baruchel, Charlie Hunnam, and Seth Rogen, it showcased the humorous ups and downs of university life. But like Freaks and Geeks, it suffered an early cancellation.

If you've never watched it, you're missing out on one of television's most accurate (and hilarious) depictions of college life.

9. Carnivàle (2003-2005)

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Carnivàle, an HBO drama set during the Great Depression, was an enchanting mix of supernatural elements and historical context. The story, centered around a traveling carnival, followed Ben Hawkins, a farm boy with healing powers, and Brother Justin Crowe, a preacher with a sinister agenda.

It was a complex show with a deeply woven narrative, perhaps too dense for a wider audience, leading to its cancellation after two seasons. Yet, with an 83% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this mystical masterpiece surely deserves a second chance.

10. Pushing Daisies (2007-2009)

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Pushing Daisies was a whimsical dramedy that followed Ned, a pie-maker with the ability to resurrect the dead with a touch, and his resurrected childhood sweetheart, Chuck.

This bright, colorful, and quirky series was created by Bryan Fuller, the man behind Hannibal. Despite critical acclaim and a cult following, the show was canceled after two seasons due to low ratings.