The most frustrating TV cancellations of all time

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As evidenced by the horrified reactions to a spate of high-profile TV cancellations last week, few things irk a telly addict more than the premature loss of a beloved show.

That was seconded by the overwhelming response when we asked members of our Screen Babble group on Facebook to name their choices for the most frustrating TV cancellations of all time.

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What followed was a procession of long-simmering outrage over cliffhanger pain and unfulfilled promise. Here are the shows it really hurt to lose.

One season wonders

Perhaps the most notorious example is the much lamented culling of Joss Whedon sci-fi series Firefly, which was given the chop before it had even finished its first season.

"It had everything - excellent story lines, exceptional characters, top-class Joss Whedon humour and a funky looking space ship," says Karen Dunn. "So they cancelled it."

"One of the most inventive and original science fiction series ever and it got canned after only one series," adds a similarly disbelieving Steve Wilkins. "Whoever thought that was a good idea was crazy."

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Chris Slinn sums it up as "a show with so much potential, screwed over by people who didn’t know how to market it".

But Firefly isn't the only promising show to get just one season.

Vicky Hope points to high-concept thriller FlashForward, which "totally sucked me in and [made] me really excited for a season 2, which never got made".

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Fellow mystery thriller Alcatraz also left Rachel Mould hanging. "We really thought it was going to be one of those shows that took off. Sadly it wasn't. It's a shame as there were at least a couple of ways they could have gone over a few seasons."

Donald Grant, meanwhile, was aghast that ITV period dramas Jericho and The Halcyon were both cancelled by ITV after one series - "both of which had cliff hanger endings".

Cut down in their prime

Even acclaimed, beloved dramas that have got into their stride aren't immune though. Just look at the case of HBO's lauded Western ensemble Deadwood.

Ian McShane's gloriously ruthless, foul-mouthed saloon owner pours a drink (Photo: HBO)

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"I enjoyed that series so much," says Alex Garnett. "Can’t beat a bit of Ian McShane."

Gus White adds that the loss of Deadwood was "made even more frustrating as they dangled the carrot of a feature length movie at us" (a carrot they're still dangling, by the way).

Marc Collins argues that Manhunter/Silence Of The Lambs prequel show Hannibal was "killed off in its prime" despite "wonderful chemistry, stunning visuals and an incredible cast".

Sue Dougall flags up Wire In The Blood, with Jez Garrett adding it was the "most underrated British crime drama"; while Tony Bufton feels another ITV detective/serial killer show, Whitechapel, deserved better than being axed on a cliff-hanger.

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Caryl Gibbs suggests cancelling Arrested Development originally was a "blunder" (it has since been resurrected by Netflix), and Sarah Jeory still "mourns the loss" of gothic Victorian fantasy Penny Dreadful. "Definitely should have had more than three seasons. All the performances are outstanding."

Naomi Fletcher has two choices of ones that got away. Tru Calling ("it ended just as people were finding out about Tru's powers and it could have got better and better") and Lie To Me with Tim Roth ("there was a whole will they/won't they storyline that they kind of tried to wrap up in the final episode, but it just didn't work and left me feeling very disappointed").

The ones you never got to know

Some promising shows are pulled from broadcast so quickly, they barely have time to register. But they retain some ardent fans.

Deb Aldred salutes Graceland, a short-lived show about agents from different US crime-fighting organisations living under one roof and solving cases.

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Jez Garrett recommends a drama called Quarry too, which "still works well as a story with a satisfying end", but left him wanting more.

"It had a great storyline (Vietnam veteran can't get work, so ends up working for a bad guy), the always excellent Peter Mullan, superb cinematography and a killer soundtrack."

Gareth Maddieson thinks Doctor Who spin-off Class "deserved better". "Not much promo on its initial debut on iPlayer, then dumped on a post-news slot Monday nights with double bills. Seemed to have potential but we'll never know now."

Another missed BBC opportunity, The Fades, is highlighted by Janet Marshall. It was a supernatural show starring Get Out's Daniel Kaluuya with a "great concept and strong cast".

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And then there's this one...

Paul Eyles, despite its rock-bottom reputation, still has eyes for the much-derided TV soap Eldorado.

"It still hurts 25 years later. I'm serious! Never missed an episode..."

Just some of the other shows lamented by Screen Babble members:

Wayward PinesThe Sarah Connor ChroniclesBrooksideDark SkiesCSI: New YorkHome FiresPushing DaisiesVeronica MarsTerra NovaCommunityIn The FleshStar CopsCriminal Minds Beyond BordersRaised By Wolves

• Which TV shows were you gutted to lose? Have your say by joining Screen Babble on Facebook

[Main images: HBO, Showtime, Fox]