7 Short-Lived Television Shows That Were Still Crazy Influential

TV hasn’t always been the haven of sex, swearing, and death that it now is. As the medium evolves, it’s become wildly influential over our culture. And shows don’t even have to run a long time to make an impact — I’ve got a solid list here of shows that ran for only a season or two, yet still remain very popular and influential.

Star Trek

I got into an argument with a friend of mine, a loud, aggressive person and seeks only to make those around her feel foolish (I’m kidding, she’s great), who insists that Star Trek doesn’t belong on this list because it ran for four seasons. However, I, the writer of this stupid thing, am putting it here. Yes, Star Trek ran for almost 80 episodes, but it was on the verge of being cancelled before each of those seasons, and is also the biggest cult television show in the history of television. Its fans essentially created the modern fan and “-con” experience. People learn its stupid made-up languages, for God’s sake! 80 episodes does not seem like it would be nearly enough to make something like that happen.

Party Down

Starz’s fairly solid little comedy block probably wouldn’t have been possible without Party Down, the network’s beloved-by-an-incredibly-small-number-of-people first-ever comedy. I mean, the cast is absolutely stacked; every single star of this show went on to be leads in another television show, and most of them have also gone on to star in movies as well. Fans still clamor for a Party Down movie to wrap the series up, even though the final episode (after two seasons) actually leaves things on a pretty final note.


Firefly didn’t even finish its first season on television, so it’s impressive that it spawned comic books, novels, a movie, and even a licensed board game. The entire cast is still popular at comic-cons, to the point that people have learned to tolerate deplorable human being Adam Baldwin. On top of all of that, Adam Tudyk actually threw the Firefly cast a party after the show was axed, celebrating the fact that they didn’t have to work for FOX anymore.

Freaks & Geeks

A seminal television show about the high school experience, Freaks & Geeks came into its inaugural season with high critical praise, only to flop with viewers,. Eventually, a bunch of its episodes were burned off on the TV dead zone known as Saturday nights. Its creators, Judd Apatow and Paul Feig, are currently two giants in the film world, and the cast consists of several future movie stars and is rounded out by at least consistent working actors. This was quite a feat in the late ’90s, when TV actors almost never crossed over into film.

Sports Night

I don’t like Aaron Sorkin projects. The only time I enjoy his work is when it’s directed by someone even more stubborn than he is, which results in them playing down some of his worst Sorkin-y elements (The Social Network is a good example). All that to say, I hate Sports Night. It remains hugely popular, despite running for only two seasons, and every time Aaron Sorkin unleashes another Hellish television experience on us, the lead up to the show’s premiere always had speculation that he’ll recapture the Sports Night magic. God help us if he does.

Twin Peaks

Yeah, it makes sense that people would get excited about a new season of Twin Peaks after 20 years, but you can really tell that this show remains popular due to the fact that people went nuts simply when it started streaming on Netflix. It is very good, and very weird, and there’s probably a moment for everybody to have an anxiety attack over. It’s currently on Netflix, and I highly recommend you see what all of the fuss is about.

My So-Called Life

My So-Called Life only ran for one season because it quickly became obvious that Claire Danes was going to be a movie star, but it does have one serious knock against it; it introduced the world to… Jared Leto.

If you can think of some more influential but short-lived TV shows, for the love of god, LET US KNOW on Twitter @Smosh!

Will Weldon
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