15 TV Shows That Ended in 2017, Ranked by How Much We'll Miss Them

tv shows canceled in 2017
Evan Lockhart/Thrillist

Great television is a paradox. The shows that stick with us, that last, are reliable, yet unpredictable. They sketch characters who feel familiar enough that, for 30 minutes or an hour, we'll invite into our homes, knowing they could easily snap and reinvent themselves if and when needed. It's not enough to pummel the small screen with movie-sized special effects or recruit famous faces who we've followed on Facebook for years; TV worth committing to needs to get under the skin... and still feel like meeting up with old roommates.

What we're saying is: Producing a perfect TV show is an art and investing in one is a heavy-lift. These are 15 series that cracked the code, went out with a bang in 2017, and will be dearly missed.

REd Oaks
Amazon Studios

15. Red Oaks (2015-2017)

From start to finish, Red Oaks was severely underrated -- even by Amazon standards. This intelligent-yet-raunchy '80s-style comedy set in Red Oaks, a fictional country club in a sleepy New Jersey suburb is like if Wet Hot American Summer was a TV series directed by John Hughes. The show stars David (Craig Roberts), a young NYU student back for summer to teach tennis lessons at the club, but characters like Nash (Ennis Esmer) and Wheeler (Oliver Cooper) hijacked every scene they're in with hilarity, humanity, and just the right amount of off-color jokes you'd expect to find in any classic '80s teen movie. -- Alex Robinson


14. Bones (2005-2017)

The forensic analysis of decaying corpses and shattered skeletons does not scream "comfort" television, but for 12 seasons and 246 episodes, Bones, the Fox procedural about the clinical team-up of FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) to forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan (Emily Deschanel), supplied people with the warm embrace of a by-the-books thriller series like NCIS and CSI, but Advanced Placement credit. Bones was firmly in network prime time's mystery-of-the-week genre, but it was snappy, creator Hart Hanson never missed an opportunity to up the show's gag-worthy game (if Breaking Bad's body-disposal process made you gag, watch the Bones Season 6 episode where, after being stabbed to death, a woman's body melts after 24 hours of tanning bed exposure), and stars Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz brought the biology and the chemistry. While Brennan and Booth's romance felt predestined from minute one, the will they/won't they was as real and detailed as any of the gruesome investigations. -- Matt Patches

The Get Down

13. The Get Down (2016-2017)

The Get Down tried to tell the story of the origins of hip-hop in New York City in the 1970s. It tried to simultaneously blend that narrative with the phasing out of disco, with a sprinkling of Donna Summer-like characters. It tried to talk about drugs, domestic violence, and the church -- all in only 11 episodes (six in Part 1 and five in Part 2). But really, all of that could have been pushed aside in favor of its great core narrative that centered on a group of young black men -- each interesting in their own right -- with nothing but a microphone and a dream. It was one of the few shows that gave young black actors agency on a show that was actually about them -- unapologetically black. Add to that nuanced performances from newcomer Justice Smith, Shameik Moore, and Jaden Smith, whose character’s gay kiss in the first half of the season was fascinating to watch as he represented the in-between of hip-hop, psychedelics, and graphic art (this show was never content with just doing one thing). Yes, The Get Down was ambitious, but it was also fun, unexpected, and heartfelt. For that, this Netflix Original won’t be forgotten. -- Candice Frederick

Comedy Central

12. Workaholics (2011-2017)

Over the course of seven seasons, fans watched buddies Adam (Adam Devine), Ders (Anders Holm), and Blake (Blake Anderson) get themselves into ridiculous, often unnecessary trouble. The Comedy Central series, created by the three stars and filmed in their actual, former office, was sometimes gross, usually weird, and always hilarious, with a particular fixation on smoking pot and keeping it "sleazy." The guys called it quits in March after an impressive 86 episodes with a finale that paid homage to all that came before. The show was never about anyone actually learning anything -- they weren't those sort of characters -- so it felt appropriate to watch one final absurdist escapade that ended with them on the roof of their house drinking beers and inhaling weed. It wasn't a grandiose climax, but everyone got their moment, including Waymond, the strangest of all the secondary characters who appeared throughout the series. Workaholics was, in fact, Comedy Central's longest running live-action scripted series, a notable feat when you consider that it wasn't really a show about anything except doing weird shit. And if that's not enough, the creators can rest easy knowing they officially coined the slang "tight butthole." -- Emily Zemler


11. Bloodline (2015-2017)

There are run-of-the-mill, dysfunctional family stories -- you know, the ones where someone throws a wine bottle across the dinner table, narrowly missing someone’s head -- and then there's Bloodline, where the characters wish they had it that good. Instead, the Rayburn clan spent three seasons covering up a murder by committing more murder, while their increasingly controlling detective brother (Kyle Chandler) tried to erase all evidence of their crimes from the eyes of law enforcement. The darkness of Bloodline -- which included an alcoholic brother (Norbert Leo Butz), a mother (Sissy Spacek) harboring a bevy of fucked up secrets, and a lawyer sister (Linda Cardellini) who found herself sinking deeper into the drama she tried to avoid for so long -- made you want to root for each of these characters, even when they were doing the absolute worst things. Because you knew that beyond their utter hopelessness, recklessness, and general awfulness, they at least wanted to be better people. And they tried to be... just in all the wrong ways. -- CF

Pretty Little Liars

10. Pretty Little Liars (2010-2017)

Freeform's adaptation of Sara Shepard's novel sparked for an audience of a certain age that hungered for its own melodrama, and turned the relatively unknown female leads -- Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale, Shay Mitchell, and Sasha Pieterse -- into household names (at least, households with high schoolers). Wading into controversial territory like bullying and sexuality while never sacrificing the soapiness that put it on par with spiritual predecessor, Desperate Housewives, Pretty Little Liars' ability to leave one puzzle piece missing from each episode made it an instant page-turner. The disappearance of a local teenager, the paranoia of one local girls clique, and the emergence of "A," the show's central villain, was just the beginning. The show wasn't perfect -- by the end, the suspect well ran dry and the motivation for someone to torment our favorite young ladies all those years later became more and more baffling -- but after seven seasons of (repeatedly) asking "who is A?", you couldn't help but secretly love that batshit, twist ending that came out of nowhere. (No, we won't spoil it.) We will miss the show, but in a way, we're glad it's over; don't you think they've been through enough already? -- Jackie Freiberg

Bats Motel

9. Bates Motel (2013-2017)

Bates Motel, a small-screen remake of Psycho, one of the most iconic films ever,  was the show that wasn't supposed to be good. And it wasn't good -- it was great. Not only did we see how Norman Bates (amazingly played by Freddie Highmore) became the deranged serial killer he famously turned out to be, but we also learned about his mother Norma (the always dependable Vera Farmiga), who was evidently not the innocent rocking chair-bound woman she was assumed to be from the film. The awakening for both was chilling; as the series progressed, Norman slowly but steadily gained more confidence in his own depravity. We see him try to make friends, live a normal life, and even go to parties. But not even his brother Dylan (Max Thieriot) can help him once he starts collecting bodies. Bates Motel was a smart show that never tried to compete with the original film. Rather, it complemented the events of the movie by offering an uncomfortably close look inside the mind of one of the most horrifying characters to ever exist. -- CF

The Mindy Project

8. The Mindy Project (2012-2017)

Doctor Mindy Lahiri was the OB-GYN of your dreams. She was a food-crazed, eccentrically-dressed New Yorker who somehow managed to be, at all times, both a hot mess, and a fully-equipped medical professional. She was a woman of color in a male-dominated work place, she’s a single mom, and she keeps glazed donuts in her desk drawers. It’s hard not to like her, or her show, which swung between Lahiri’s personal life and the Shulman & Associates office (not that they were ever entirely separate). Without ever taking itself too seriously, The Mindy Project navigated through app-dating, apartment-hunting, professionalism, and financial stress. And at the end of 117 episodes of failed relationships, new medical practices, and bedazzled yellow pantsuits, the finale left Lahiri as the last of her single friends, sitting on the couch with the father of her child (her ex-husband). Not a neat finish, but a hopeful one -- she has a high-powered job, a non-traditional family, and a glorious West Village apartment. As Kaling has put it: "challenged, but content." The Mindy Project will naturally be missed for all of its witty social commentary and slapstick humor, but the real tragic loss here is Lahiri as a dimensional, hilarious character. -- Eliza Dumais


7. Girls (2012-2017)

For its final season, Lena Dunham's darkly funny, brutally perceptive comedy refused to become the cheery celebration of friendship it was often mistaken for. Instead, Dunham and the show's writers zeroed in on the flaws of their characters and picked at them like scabs, opening old wounds along the way. There were moments of triumph -- the Elijah-centric episode "The Bounce" was particularly joyful -- but the most lasting image came at the end of the Dunham-penned "American Bitch," an endlessly relevant (and richly complex) examination of toxic sexual power dynamics in the arts. For a show that was always more satirical and self-aware than many of its detractors were willing to acknowledge, the ending was a fitting rebuke to expectations. -- Dan Jackson

Halt and Catch Fire

6. Halt and Catch Fire (2014-2017)

I'm reluctant when I hear I have to sit through a batch of so-so episodes of a show to get to wonderful ones, a reputation held by Halt and Catch Fire's initial first season. But catching up with the series turned out to be one of the best pop culture decisions I made all year. The quietly brilliant series, a dramatization of the PC boom of the 1980s, followed Cameron (Mackenzie Davis), Donna (Kerry Bishé), Joe (Lee Pace), and Gordon (Scoot McNairy) as they navigated the waters of the tech world, first in Texas and then in California, and pursued innovation. The story explored "work-life balance" by acknowledging it's impossible to separate the two. "I am a partner by trade and a mother and a sister by design, and I am so proud to be on this journey with you," Donna tells a group of professional women gathered at her home in the finale. (Then Cameron fell into the pool, a sign that there will always be hiccups.) Even as we watched Halt's characters fumble, even when tragedy struck, the series was never cruel. The core group got angry at one another and acted foolishly, but always returned to a place of (sometimes begrudging) mutual respect. Halt was quite literally beautiful, comprised of gorgeously composed shots and fascinating uses of light, and it was spiritually nourishing. That's not because it offered up any big answers. Rather, it followed Joe's lead and asked questions. -- Esther Zuckerman

Vice Principals

5. Vice Principals (2016 - 2017)

Neal Gamby is not Kenny Powers, and Vice Principals is not Eastbound & Down. When the first season of Danny McBride and Jody Hill's high school revenge comedy debuted last year, it felt like critics and audiences wanted the show to be more like the pair's absurdist baseball masterpiece, which aired for four seasons on HBO and birthed a rabid fan base of Kenny-quoting fans. But Vice Principals is less vulgar and more patient. Anyone who stuck around for the hilarious (and even subtle!) second season, where McBride's Vice Principal Gamby hunted down his would-be assassin from last year's cliffhanger, found that out. Of course, "subtly" in McBride's comic world still means a wild tiger running through a school, a vicious brawl between warring administrators, and a singularly unhinged performance from series MVP Walton Goggins. He wouldn't have it any other way. -- DJ

Difficult People

4. Difficult People (2015-2017)

Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner's sitcom wasn't for the thin-skinned. Hell, it wasn't for the thick-skinned. Bitter, pop-obsessed, this Hulu series' hijinks dealt in a hyper-specific strain of New York brutality that would send anyone in on the joke into stitches. Did we need another series where two struggling comedians try to make it big? We did when it involved the infiltration of a coke-addicted, MRA children's show writer's room. The marvel of Difficult People was that, between skin-crawling observations of subway behavior and deep-cut Nocturnal Animal references, Klausner, who wrote most of the show with Big Gay Sketch Show alum Scott King, squeezed in another New Yorkism: ball-busting sweetness. In the end, besties "Billy" and "Julie" stuck together, clung to their abrasive loved ones -- Julie's mom (Andrea Martin); their no-bullshit boss (Gabourey Sidibe); Matthew (Cole Escola) uber-gay master of disguise; as Julie's PBS drone boyfriend (James Urbaniak) -- and figured out the meaning of their life. And fuck you if you didn't like it. -- MP

The Carmichael Show

3. The Carmichael Show (2015-2017)

From the beginning, comedian Jerrod Carmichael's NBC show used the traditional multi-cam sitcom format to tackle topics that often go unexplored on major networks: the Black Lives Matter movement, transgender issues, and gun control. In the show's third (and final) season, the Carmichael family took on consent, mass shootings, and the stigma around group sex with its typical brashness. Over 32 episodes, the show's writing staff leaned on its deeply funny characters -- and hilarious comedic actors like David Allen Grier, Loretta Devine, Tiffany Haddish, and Get Out's Lil Rel Howery -- to take aim at big ideas, but instead of feeling like an unwanted Facebook post from your crazy uncle, it was like a real conversation. We'll miss dropping in on them every week. -- DJ

Orphan Black

2. Orphan Black (2013-2017)

For five seasons, Orphan Black did what so few shows have done before: dedicated every working storyline to the complicated infrastructure of female autonomy. The show had big ideas and big-enough execution; Tatiana Maslany starred as Sarah Manning, a sluggish British import living in Toronto who discovers she's one of many clones scattered around the world -- soccer mom Alison, biologist Cosima, and sociopath Helena, to name a few -- all of whom are being hunted by the mysterious Neolution corporation. The series bid adieu this year, with a final season that never quite matched the beauty of earlier efforts, but that retained the show’s heart and kooky science DNA. With Sarah captured by Neoulution, Cosima stranded in a strange island civilization called Revival (along with her assumed-dead lover Delphine), clone-gone-bad Rachel spiraling out of control, Helena heavily pregnant with implanted twins, and Alison struggling to see where she fits in, the season was all over the place, and occasionally hard to follow. But it knew it was a challenge, and remedied the many spinning yarns by tying them up in the first few minutes of the final episode, using its remaining hour to pay tribute to the family the clones had created. Orphan Black loved its very strong, very different women. -- Lindsey Romain

The Leftovers

1. The Leftovers (2014-2017)

It's fitting that a series about sudden departures would leave a hole in the television landscape. Though it was never a zeitgeist-seizing hit like producer Damon Lindelof's madcap sci-fi adventure Lost, and it didn't gobble up awards with the same ferocious appetite as HBO's other flagship shows like Game of Thrones or The Sopranos, The Leftovers belongs in the conversation with the best television shows of the modern era. Even with a truncated, eight-episode final season, which required the show to rush across the globe from Texas to Australia, The Leftovers remained punch-drunk on the storytelling possibilities of television as a medium. The series took huge risks and occasionally belly-flopped, but it moved with so much velocity it was hard to notice the missteps. From Nora's Wu-Tang tattoo to Matt's spiritual revelation on an orgy cruise ships, the show kept its eye on the absurd and its structure episodic, even as it barrelled towards a breathtaking finale that combined the stoned grandeur of 2001: A Space Odyssey with the brittle intimacy of a Mike Leigh movie. It was strange, funny, and moving, anchored by incredible performances from the show's emotional core of Justin Theroux and Carrie Coon. In some alternate dimension, The Leftovers might have ran for eight seasons, mutating and growing into something even more beautiful and bizarre, but all things must end. Let's just be grateful for the time we had. -- DJ

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