There are 180 television programs in our database of TV shows featuring lesbian, bisexual, queer and trans characters that only lasted for one (1) mere season on this earth. Of those, around 40 are limited series — shows like Little Fires Everywhere, Mrs America, Tales of the City and The Bisexual — that never intended to exist past their first season, which leaves us with 140 TV shows with queer women and/or trans characters that were cancelled after one season. But the rest are all shows that got born, crawled into the world, won us over with their queer storylines, and then got cancelled. We have nearly 700 TV shows in our database, which means around 20% of the queer-inclusive shows we’ve tracked are cancelled after one season.
Statistically speaking, this doesn’t necessarily mean that queer-inclusive shows are cancelled after one season more often than shows that don’t have LGBTQ+ characters, although it’s difficult to determine what numbers to compare our numbers to (and our science is imprecise — “shows Autostraddle tracks” isn’t necessarily a quantitative body we can compare
difficult to get comparable numbers (instead we have patches of information like that 68% of network shows are cancelled before a second season, and that Netflix cancels 11% of the shows it releases in any given year). But those cancellations tend to hit our community hard, especially when their hosts so consistently fail to promote their shows to queer audiences or advertise with queer media and often intentionally obscure their LGBTQ+ content from promotional materials. Not a single one of the shows on this list has advertised their show on Autostraddle.com — and in fact, Netflix and Prime Video have never directly purchased advertising from our website.We rarely see networks make obvious financial investments in promoting their queerest shows, in mainstream media or with queer media. We often see queer content obscured in marketing materials due to some kind of internalized network homophobia, leaving queer media and audiences in the dark until we simply watch the entire show ourselves and initiate the gay word-of-mouth ourselves.
This list focuses on shows cancelled after one season, but when it comes to shows with LGBTQ+ women and/or trans leads, we’re especially prone to getting an axe after season two or three, like One Mississippi, Take My Wife, Vida, Lip Service, Work in Progress, Batwoman, Pose, Gentleman Jack, Faking It, Betty, Dickinson, Feel Good, Sense8, Trinkets and Hightown. The list of queer-centered shows with long runs is a short one:The L Word, Orange is the New Black, Wentworth, The Fosters and Transparent.
Often the shows that get cancelled after one season are objectively bad, or didn’t exactly win over LGBTQ+ audiences to begin with: Heathers, Skins (US), Katy Keene, Q-Force, The Purge or Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists. But sometimes a show gets ripped out of our hands and we’re a little bummed about it.
Here are just some of the many shows cancelled after one season.
Queer as Folk (2022) – Peacock
A cast of queer people led by queer creatives, telling the stories of queer and trans people of color — the Queer as Folk reboot was a revelation, especially for its central romance between a queer trans woman and her non-binary partner who just gave birth to twins. But now we will never see those twins grow old!
Paper Girls (2022) – Prime Video
This heart-tugging edge-of-your-seat adaptation of the comic book series about a group of misfit late ’80s paper girls who get caught in a time-hopping adventure had barely begun to touch the outer edges of the queer storyline promised by its source material in Season One. It also spent a great deal of its eight-episode first season building up its complicated premise and establishing characters, and now TO WHAT END? After clearly giving the show an incredibly small budget for a sci-fi franchise — and putting it on a schedule to compete with Stranger Things (which costs $40 million an episode) and The Sandman — Prime Video barely gave this show a month to breathe before axing it!
First Kill (2022) – Netflix
The cancellation of this “sweet (and sometimes bloody) story of firsts — first times, first kills, and first loves” from Netflix did not land well with its already passionate fandom who’d all witnessed its regular presence on Netflix’s weekly Top 10 (peaking at No.3 in its first full week of release). Its showrunner blamed Netflix’s lackluster marketing for the program, and a source told The Daily Beast that its few ads portraying it as “mostly a lesbian love story” may have hindered its reach. Maybe it would’ve been a more successful angle if they’d placed the lesbian love story advertising in lesbian media. But, First Kill was the rare show that had a PR team that actually told us ahead of time the show would be gay and made a concerted effort to secure coverage.
Resident Evil (2022) – Netflix
Panned by critics, this adaptation of the popular video game series apparently didn’t “appear to pull in the franchise’s existing fanbase in a way that earned a Season 2 renewal,” but it did have “a sociopathic lesbian CEO to die for.”
Naomi (2022) – The CW
The CW did a ton of axing this spring and Ava DuVernay’s Naomi, which Natalie described as “here and queer (and absolutely gorgeous),” joined fellow notably queer supernatural titles Legends of Tomorrow and Batwoman in getting said axe, after being “in a constant battle to find an audience, especially online.” Unlike the comic upon which it was based, Naomi introduced the audience to all of Naomi’s friends, including her queer pal Lourdes, who had feelings for Naomi.
4400 (2021 – 2022) – The CW
Shelli wrote that this reboot of The 4400 is “queer, Black and incredibly dope” and boy was it, but it too was cancelled in The CW’s Summer 2022 Chop-a-Thon. In the new series, 440 people from all over the world — and all different time periods — literally fall out of the sky into Detroit, Michigan, and have to figure out who they are and what they’re doing here, including a Black trans man yanked out of his thriving queer Harlem Renaissance community. Queer actress Kausar Mohammed is a computer whiz stealing the heart of cop Keisha Taylor. It’s also a show we discovered on our own — The CW made no visible effort to market the show at all, let alone to LGBTQ+ audiences.
Queens (2021 – 2022) – ABC
This show that Carmen says “was bad in the fun and enjoyable way” starred the one and only Brandy Norwood in a musical drama about the estranged 1990s music group “Nasty Bitches,” now in their 40s, getting a second shot at fame. Amongst them was queer character Jill Da Thrill (Naturi Naughton) and the show has a Black queer woman writer writing a Black queer woman charaacter!
Genera+ion (2021) – HBO Max
My lord this show was so very queer and weird and had such a specific style and fresh point of view. When announcing its cancellation, HBO Max said that it was “very proud to have partnered with Zelda and Daniel Barnz to faithfully and authentically represent LGBTQ youth with such a diverse group of characters and layered stories.” Luckily we had a chance to celebrate the show in the 2021 Autostraddle TV Awards, as it was so sparsely celebrated elsewhere.
The Republic of Sarah (2021) – The CW
In a small New Hampshire town, the citizens band together to declare its independence to dodge a mining company who wants to tear their town up to get to what’s underneath it. Once again the lesbian character is unfortunately a cop! Amy “AJ” Johnson (Nia Halloway) is sleeping with the mayor’s wife. Low ratings and bad reviews sealed its fate.
I Know What You Did Last Summer (2021) – Prime Video
The body count at the end of this show’s first season was pretty high so who knows what a Season Two would’ve entailed, but I really enjoyed this absolutely awful series that had lots of queer text and subtext, and a very fun queer villain, Margot (Brianne Tju). But mostly bad reviews ensured that absolutely nobody will know what they did this most recent summer.
High Fidelity (2020) – Hulu
“As Robyn “Rob” Brooks, Zoe Kravitz fully ascended into exactly the kind of actor I’d always hoped she would be,” wrote Carmen in her write-up of Rob as one of her favorite TV characters of 2020, “part ironic smart ass, part quiet rock star swag, and charismatic beyond description. More than that, she’s comfortable taking up space on screen in ways that we haven’t been able to enjoy from her before.” She notes that “over 10 episodes and five hours, Zoe Kravitz never loses her audience” — but Hulu took it right out of our hands and Carmen was NOT HAPPY.
I Am Not Okay With This (2020) – Netflix
A “coming-of-age Black comedy” didn’t market itself as queer, just as a new Stranger Things, so I was genuinely delighted to turn it on and see that this time, the boyish weirdo protagonist with a reluctant smile and hidden depths actually turned out to be queer! Based on a graphic novel, this show was quirky and fantastic and did strong work in portraying the pain of losing a parent as a teenager… and of course was swiftly cancelled after only seven brief episodes.
Teenage Bounty Hunters (2020) – Netflix
I do feel like this list is quickly becoming me simply complaining over and over again about how streaming networks absolutely refuse to give LGBTQ+ press a heads-up about queer-inclusive shows, let alone market to their readers, but once again we have another memorable scenario in which this happened! Valerie called Jenji Cohan’s tight female-fronted comedy “a Godsend of a Queer Romp” and we were all pretty pissed when it got axed the same day as G.L.O.W.
Party of Five (2020) – Freeform
This reboot of the ’90s classic re-positioned its story to be one of a family struggling to keep it together after their parents are deported to Mexico. Reviews were strong, but the numbers weren’t high enough to earn a second season because Freeform had to pay a licensing fee to an outside studio (Sony Pictures Television) to produce the show. “I’m remiss that Freeform didn’t give Party of Five and Lucia, in particular, more time to grow [a queer] community,” wrote Natalie in an End-of-Year list.
The Vagrant Queen (2020) – Netflix
The Vagrant Queen’s slow burn building between its queer characters finally caught fire in its penultimate episode… just in time for it to get summarily cancelled! The show had strong reviews and built a passionate fanbase, but apparently just didn’t hit its numbers. Elida, who played a queer lead, told Digital Spy, “”I’m proud of what we did. We created a sci-fi show with a Black lead, and it also included LGBTQ+ relationships and it was led by women writers and women directors. Of course I’m proud of that. It is unfortunate that it was cancelled after the first season, but I’m hoping that it’s just one little detour and it’s, in the grand scheme of things, a huge step towards inclusion and diversity and representation.”
Utopia Falls (2020) – Hulu
Hundreds of years in the future and New Babyl, the last living colony on earth, has divided into different sectors for specific industries, from which 24 candidates are chosen to compete in The Examplar performance competition. Six of these candidates are followed by the show’s narrative, including sexually fluid Brooklyn 2, played by queer queen Humberly Gonzalez, and dancer Sage 5. Utopia Falls was cancelled “following the critics’ half-hearted response to the first season.” We were not amongst those critics because again, nobody on their PR team reached out to LGBTQ+ press.
Away (2020) – Netflix
This show was actually very bad, mostly because it was centered on these milquetoast white people instead of the far more interesting characters of color who surround them! One of those characters, Dr. Lu Wang, had a big gay secret, and her storyline was unsurprisingly one of the show’s most fascinating and redeeming aspects. It was incredibly popular on Netflix and the creators intended it to run for three seasons, but Netflix still axed it due to poor critical response and its high cost of production.
The Baker and The Beauty (2020) – ABC
Adapted from Israel’s highest-rated scripted series ever with a mostly Latinx cast, The Baker and the Beauty follows a Cuban-American baker who enters a whirlwind romance with an Australian supermodel — his younger sister Natalie is queer and played by queer actor Belissa Escobedo — and was one of Netflix’s top-ranked shows when it was picked up by the streaming network in 2021. Unfortunately, Fox had already axed it in June 2020.
Pure (2020) – Channel 4 / HBO Max
This British dramedy gave a really nuanced, full-fledged look at OCD through its protagonist, 24-year-old Marnie, who lives with obsessive, unwanted sexual thoughts. and had a really fun lesbian character, Amber, who worked at a women’s magazine with Marnie. Channel 4 said the show “would not be returning” but they were “incredibly proud of the show and the immensely talented creative team who created it.”
Dare Me (2019- 2020) – USA
‘Dare Me is one of the most underrated television shows from the past year, and I will seize every opportunity to shout that at people!!!!!” wrote Kayla of this dreamy, creepy thriller following a group of cutthroat cheerleaders in a small midwestern squad, all under the thrall of their new coach Colette. Based on a 2012 Megan Abbott novel, this show kicked the bucket the day USA decided to cancel literally all of its scripted content at once!
Stumptown (2019-2020) – ABC
Adapted from a comic book series, Cobie Smulders starred in Stumptown as “Bisexual Dirtbag PI Dex Parios,” a military vet struggling with PTSD struggling to support her brother and get herself out of debt, while turning to alcohol and sex as a coping mechanism. Stumptown was in fact renewed for a second season, but after suffering some COVID-19 production delays, it was axed from the fall 2020 ABC schedule and yadda yadda yadda, the network dropped it and the studio tried shopping it elsewhere but never did it.
Abby’s (2019) – NBC
“In the year 20BiTeen, fresh on the heels of the year 20GayTeen, in this, the Golden Age of Gay Television, there has never been a queer show like Natalie Morales’ Abby’s, which lands on NBC this Thursday,” Heather Hogan wrote of Abby’s in anticipation of its premiere. “Morales is the first openly queer woman and the first woman of color to play an openly bisexual main character on a network sitcom.” Unfortunately, this moment of glory didn’t last long.
BH90210 (2019) – Fox
BH90210 had an interesting approach to its reboot — the cast were playing fictional versions of themselves, the actors from Beverly Hills 90210 who’d reunited to shoot a reboot of Beverly Hills 90210. So it was very meta on a few levels? But also Gabrielle Carteris and Christine Elise having a thing was like my entire life coming full circle in a way that I apparently found more delightful than others and it was just ultimately a really great later-in-life bisexual storyline!
Everything Sucks! (2018) – Netflix
I’ll tell you what there is probably no cancelled-after-one-season show we have devoted more words to than Everything Sucks! This cute ’90s story was about a bunch of teenagers learning about themselves through the video arts, starring a passionate closeted lesbian Tori Amos fan who falls for that rebellious girl with the obnoxious boyfriend who eventually falls for her right back. Kate and Emaline, may you live on forever in our dreams of what might have been, walking down the lightly-crowded hallways with Angela Chase and Jordan Catalano. “Because we were seeing a much low completion rate of the whole season, we realized that it is very unlikely that we would be able to grow the audience,” said Netflix of the cancellation, “[or to] move a whole new audience through the show and have a large enough audience to justify a season two.” Still, this show was undeniably inexpensive to produce!
Champions (2018) – NBC
Mindy Kaling’s NBC sitcom (which also starred Josie Totah as a talented and ambitious gay theater-kid) boasted one of 2018’s few non-femme non-thin lesbian characters, but only got ten episodes in the sun. Although the show got middling reviews, it was praised for “tackling comedy about gender, race and sexuality with a confidence that is truly refreshing” and it’s also notably rare for a show to launch with both a gay boy and a lesbian character from the jump.
Danger & Eggs (2017)
Trans showrunner/animator Shadi Petosky’s series, co-created with Mike Owens, focused on the adventures of “a young masc lesbian on her topsy-turvy adventures with her anthropomorphic egg friend” and aimed to be overtly rather than subtextually LGBTQ+, with queer voice actors on board like Stephanie Beatriz, Jasika Nicole and Angelica Ross, plus a huge list of guest stars like Jazz Jennings, Tyler Ford and River Butcher. Petosky felt comfortable at Amazon, still in its Transparent prime, but still recalls “there were little arguments, and battles, and suspensions” throughout, and she had to enlist GLAAD to help advocate for what she knew the show needed.
I Love Dick (2017) – Prime Video
Devon, the butch Latinx artist and aspiring playwright living in the trailer behind the house where the protagonist and her husband are having their artists retreat, was a dreamy romantic who captured our hearts with every glance of her yearning eyes. She starts out lighting a joint with her shirt off, later delivers a twangy and romantic coming-of-age story unlike any seen on television before, and later still brings the town’s dedicated citizens and pretentious visiting artists together for some very inventive theater. Devon, Devon, Devon.
Gyspy (2017) – Netflix
Yes, Gypsy not only had a terrible name, it was a pretty terrible show. But… but we couldn’t tear ourselves away from it, just the same, and Season One’s finale opened the door for so many subsequent mysteries we’ll never get the chance to understand or solve. It was sexy and atmospheric and the lead character, Jean Holloway, was bisexual in addition to being the worst therapist in the history of modern medicine. Plus there’s a lot more to Sidney than meets the eye. How much more??? WE WILL NEVER KNOW.
Still Star-Crossed (2017) – ABC
As an astute YouTube commenter noted on a clip of Princess Isabella saying goodbye to her dear “friend” Helena from Venice, “THE SHOW WAS GONNA BE GAY BUT WE WERE ROBBED.” This Shondaland project addressed the Romeo and Juliet story with a racially diverse cast, including Isabella of Verona, played by Iranian-American actress Medalion Rahimi. This made her the fourth-ever regular Middle Eastern queer female character on American television. Alas, it was not to be, with only seven episodes before we experienced the sweet sorrow of parting.
Grandfathered (2016) – Fox
A selfish rich bachelor played by John Stamos owns a successful L.A. restaurant managed by Annelise, a gay lady who we all loved about ten times more than we loved the show itself. Annelise could have very easily become a trope, the super-capable and competent black woman who exists only to manage the lives and provide guidance to the white people around her, but Grandfathered managed to sidestep that and give her her own storylines and life outside the restaurant. Ironically, the audience felt the same way about John Stamos’s character that Annelise did: bewildered and annoyed at the inability of another rich white dude to grow the fuck up. And so the show ended after one season.
The Family (2016) – ABC
“Willa was always a churn of anxiety and calculation and Alison Pill played her brilliantly,” wrote Ali Davis in our Best/Worst LGBTQ Characters Round-up in 2016. “You could always see Willa thinking, holding back a storm of emotions, and wanting the exact woman she shouldn’t. And which of us hasn’t done that last one? I had huge problems with The Family, but I still hold out hope that one day Willa will get spun off into the series she deserves.”
Marry Me (2015) – NBC
“Kay is just the best,” wrote Heather. “She’s sweet, she’s smart, and she’s funny as hell. And Marry Me didn’t shy away from the sex part of her sexuality. She came out by simply announcing that she got a blast on Boobr and was going to “go get it, get it and forget it.” She identified as a “soft butch lipstick flannel queen,” y’all. She was perfect! Unfortunately, NBC pulled the plugs before it really had a chance to find its footing.
One Big Happy (2015) – NBC
Ellen DeGeneres’s stab at a palatable lesbian sitcom was a resounding flop that seemed to want to balance out the impact of a lesbian protagonist by watering down everything else about the show, like the plot, which involved the lesbian having her straight male best friend’s baby. But Heather found the finale to be “really, truly wonderful.” “For all the nagging I did about this show falling into ’90s sitcom tropes,” she wrote, “it really whacked me in the heart with a brand new thing in the finale.” Alas, six episodes was all she wrote.
The Returned (2015) – A&E
The Returned was an adaptation of a French series by the same name, produced by the same guy who did Lost. Sandrine Holt (The L Word) played Dr. Julie Han and Agnes Brucker (Breaking the Girls) played her on-and-off girlfriend Deputy Nikki Banks. Although the basic concept of this show is oddly common (the dead are back! why are they back!), I still loved it, and felt deeply that we deserved like three more seasons of creepy dark complicated episodes.
Super Fun Night (2015) – ABC
Super Fun Night had a lot of potential — three genuinely weird girls decide to get off the couch and live real lives, because fat girls and nerdy girls and lesbians deserve fun! But then every. single. joke. was at the expense of their identities (how many “omg I’m so fat my outfit broke” jokes does one need, really?) and eventually it all ended up playing into the exact mold it had promised to bust. Flavorwire eventually described it as “nothing more than a freshman attempt at sitcom writing that needed to go through a couple more drafts before being put on the air.” But! Lauren Ash’s Marika, and her cute coming out story, were a rare highlight of the show, and maybe if it had gotten those extra drafts, we could’ve seen even more of her journey.
Go On (2013) – NBC
“Anne gave us a story we don’t see too much — what happens when love ends, as Anne experienced following the death of her partner,” Lizz wrote. “But Anne did so with her signature quick wit and got a cute young girlfriend and was taking real steps towards reconciling the grief she felt towards her late wife with her attraction towards a new woman. Plus honestly I’d watch Julie White roll silverware for three hours, she’s that good.”
Underemployed (2012) – MTV
Unfortunately for the entire world, Sophia Swanson was a kickass character stuck on a lousy show with a bunch of self-interested assholes that obviously got cancelled. But fortunately, Sophia Swanson was an unexpected ray of light on an otherwise-heteronormative world — and, at least for the first few episodes, she was positioned as the story’s narrator. Plot devices bungled by other lesbian storylines were delightfully subverted in Underemployed and for the first few episodes, she was been granted ample screen time to grapple with her newfound sexuality, coming out to her friends and parents, and dating a woman for the first time.
The Playboy Club (2011) – NBC
Friends, I was so excited for this one! A show about a Playboy-branded nightclub in the ’60s had made one of its Bunnies, Alice, a closeted lesbian in a lavender marriage with a gay man. Together, they’d joined the Chicago chapter of The Mattachine Society, one of the earliest LGBT Rights groups in the world, and we were promised exploration of this subplot over the course of the season. Unfortunately, it was cancelled after just three (honestly not great) episodes and we never got to see any of this early history play out.
Cashmere Mafia (2007-2008) – ABC
Cashmere Mafia featured the one and only non-heterosexual lead on the 2007-2008 network television slate, but she burned very briefly — the show that aimed to “follow the lives of four ambitious women, longtime best friends since their days at business school, as they try to balance their glamorous and demanding careers with their complex personal lives by creating their own ‘boys’ club'” only aired seven little episodes before getting the chop.
Wonderfalls (2004) – Fox
A Republican immigration attorney and closeted lesbian who came out to her younger sister — the show’s protagonist — in the very first episode, Sharon also managed a minor romantic storyline in the show’s only season (only the first four episodes made it to air, but the entire first season was released on DVD and later aired on Logo). “While she clearly has flaws, Sharon is a realistic, well-rounded, and sympathetic character,” Sarah Warn wrote of her at the time, “no minor accomplishment considering the only other lesbian characters on primetime network TV this season have storylines that are either boringly and insultingly stereotypical (ER) or non-existent (Two and a Half Men).” The show, often compared to Pushing Daisies, had positive reviews and a passionate fanbase — in today’s TV climate it definitely would’ve been given a longer shot at success, or a different network pickup. The AV Club later declared the show “foreshadowed Bryan Fuller’s yearnings for Hannibal and American Gods,” two current shows to also feature queer women characters.
The Ellen Show (2001) – NBC
The final season of Ellen’s first sitcom pushed the lesbian conversation forward in ways we’d never see again for over a decade, and in some ways, her two subsequent projects seem to settle on a kind of overcompensation for that relative radicalism that prevented them from ever finding their own voice. After many years feeling locked out of the industry, her return to primetime comedy marked the first time a sitcom focused on a lesbian lead character from its inception. Ellen’s big return found her character returning home after her internet startup goes bust to make lots of small-pond jokes and revisit the Billie Jean King and Charlie’s Angels posters covering the wall of her childhood bedroom. Sarah Warn wrote that “the failure of The Ellen Show at that time probably had more to do with the fact that it just wasn’t as funny as it should have been with the creative talent it possessed,” while acknowledging,”looking at the series with 2006 eyes, it’s not as un-funny as the critics back in its day alleged.”
Courthouse (1995) – CBS
Co-produced and written by Gina Price-Blythewood (who also made Love & Basketball and The Secret Life of Bees), Courthouse featured the first-ever black lesbian couple on television. Unfortunately, it only lasted 11 episodes and left behind not a single episode for me to recreationally view with my own eyeballs and apparently their lesbianism was “toned down” before broadcast. Still, I bet it was really something!