It doesn’t happen that often, but every once in a while, Emmy voters will give the networks the middle finger by rewarding a show that’s been canceled with an Emmy nomination, as if to remind the network suits of what terrible decisions they make. “If you’d only kept the show around for a second season,” they’d imply, “you could at least promote the series by saying that it was Emmy-nominated.”
For these 12 series, sadly, the only place they got to tout their Emmy noms was on the DVD box.
The Ben Stiller Show
Here’s a rare case where not only was the variety show — which featured the talents of Ben Stiller, Janeane Garofalo, Andy Dick, Bob Oedenkirk and David Cross — nominated for an Emmy after it was canceled after 13 episodes, but it actually won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing.
The 1982 spoof of police procedurals, which spawned the Naked Fun film series, was canceled after only six episodes aired, but it didn’t stop Emmy voters from nominating Leslie Nielsen for Best Actor that year.
Freaks and Geeks
Freaks and Geeks was canceled after only 18 episodes aired. However, NBC was so bad at programming Geeks that those 18 episodes were actually spread out over two years, so Paul Feig ended up being nominated in the Best Writing category in BOTH years, though the show lasted less than one full season.
The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien
I like to believe that the nominations for The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien for Outstanding Variety Series, writing, directing, and art direction was a middle finger to Jay Leno, who took back The Tonight Show after Conan sat in the chair for only one season.
The year after being canceled, Joss Whedon’s cult sci-fi series was nominated and won in the category for best visual effects.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
The Aaron Sorkin series was canceled after its first season, but it still picked up four Emmy nods in casting, cinematography, directing and guest actor (Eli Wallach). It also won for guest actor John Goodman.
My So-Called Life
The ABC teenage drama ran for only one year, but it picked up nominations in several major categories, including writing, directing and for outstanding actress (Claire Danes).
The NBC series, recently canceled, is the newest addition to this club, picking up an Emmy nomination yesterday for best production design.
The confounding, slow-burning AMC series snagged an Emmy nomination for Best Title Sequence after it was canceled.
Like Firefly, the Fox series picked up a nomination for best visual effects after its cancellation. Unlike Firefly, it didn’t win. It lost to Game of Thrones.
Life on Mars
The British version of Life On Mars ran for a planned two seasons, landed 10 BAFTA nominations, and had a spin-off (Ashes to Ashes). The American version ran for one season and landed a nomination for cinematography.
The ABC series — which was actually based on a British TV pilot — technically ran for two seasons, but it only aired 14 episodes before being canceled. Not only was it the first cyberpunk series to run in the United States, it picked up five Emmy nominations, and won three: for art direction, sound editing and sound mixing.