As the saying goes, good things don’t come easy (and often). While there has been an increase in the production of television series in recent years, only a handful are so spectacular that they will leave you with a long-lasting impression of them.

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Sometimes, audiences find hidden gems that become their favorite shows, but they don’t last as long as they should. Some widely-beloved television series in this category include Sherlock, True Detective, and PEN15.

Updated on December 22nd, 2022, by Hannah Saab:

There’s no shortage of incredible shows that never make it past a few seasons. While some of them manage to wrap up their well-written storylines and give satisfying endings, others clearly deserve more episodes and are likely still on fans’ minds.


‘Mr. Robot’ (2015 – 2019)

Available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

Rami Malek in 'Mr. Robot'

Mr. Robot is a drama thriller series that follows Elliot (Rami Malek), a cyber-security engineer by day and a vigilante hacker by night while also having to deal with social anxiety disorder, dissociative identity disorder, drug abuse, and clinical depression. While juggling all these, he gets recruited by a mysterious anarchist known as Mr. Robot to join his team of “hacktivists”, and together they attempt to encrypt the financial data of the largest conglomerate, E Corp.

Despite only running for four seasons (45 episodes) from 2015 to 2019, Mr. Robot was well-received and consistently garnered an approval rating of 89% or above on Rotten Tomatoes across all four seasons. Variety’s Sonia Saraiya praised Malek’s performance by writing, “It’s Malek’s soulful eyes and silent pathos that give Mr. Robot its unexpected warmth, as the viewer is lured into Elliot’s chaos and confusion.” The series was also highly praised by Rotten Tomatoes for its noir visuals and its “seductive blend of reality and fantasy”.

‘Sherlock’ (2010 – 2017)

Available to stream on Crackle.

sherlock his last vow image
Image via BBC

Based on the classic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” detective stories, the Sherlock television series ran for four series (13 episodes). With the help of his flatmate, Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman), a consulting detective with exceptional intellect, Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) solves mysterious crimes in modern-day London.

With the series’ intricate writing and the actors’ performances, Sherlock became a critically-acclaimed series and received positive reviews from film critics and the general audience. Averaging around 11.82 million viewers, the third series of Sherlock became the most-watched drama series in the UK since 2001. The series was also nominated for 42 awards and won 24 awards from the BAFTAs, the Primetime Emmy Awards, the Critics’ Choice Television Award, and more.

‘True Detective’ (2014 – )

Available to stream on HBO Max.

Image via HBO

True Detective is an anthology crime drama series that spanned over three seasons (24 episodes), with each season focusing on different characters and narratives altogether. The first season, which was deemed most successful and highly rated, starred Matthew McConaughey as Detective Rustin “Rust” Cohle and Woody Harrelson as his partner, Detective Martin “Marty” Hart. The second season focused on two other detectives, played by Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams, and criminal/entrepreneur Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn), while the third season starred Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff.

Despite a mixed reception for the second season of the series, the first and third seasons received positive reviews. The first season was described as “a captivating and offbeat tweak of a well-worn genre” and McConaughey and Harrelson’s performances exceeded the “enormously high” performance expectations of the “golden age of TV acting.” And in 2019, creator Nic Pizzolatto confirmed the return of the fourth season of True Detective, with Barry Jenkins as the producer, and Jodie Foster and Kali Reis playing the roles of the leading detectives.

‘Sense8’ (2015 – 2018)

Available to stream on Netflix.

 Bae Doona, Max Riemelt, Brian J. Smith, Miguel Ángel Silvestre, Tuppence Middleton, Tina Desai, Jamie Clayton, and Toby Onwumere in Sense8

Sense8, which ran for two seasons (24 episodes), is a science-fiction drama that follows eight strangers who come from different parts of the world, and later discover that they are “Sensates”; humans who are mentally and emotionally linked to each other. The series was praised for its depiction and representation of the LGBTQ community and the rarely discussed areas in issues such as identity, sexuality, gender, and politics. Empathy and diversity are, however, the most prominent and celebrated themes of the series.

In recognition of Sense8’s depiction of the LGBTQ community, the series received nominations from the Dorian Awards, the Saturn Awards, the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, and more. But despite being a well-received show with a passionate audience, Sense8 was canceled because it did not have a large enough following to support the high production costs it needed to keep it going.

‘Mindhunter’ (2017 – 2019)

Available to stream on Netflix.

Holden Ford holds a crime scene photo while bill tench observes. courtesy netflix

Netflix’s Mindhunter is a psychological crime thriller that follows FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany). The two FBI agents initiated a research project which consisted of visiting and interviewing imprisoned serial killers to study their psychology they believe will solve ongoing cases. Throughout two seasons, Agents Ford and Tench interviewed notorious serial killers such as Edmund Kemper, Montie Rissell, Dennis Rader (the BTK killer), David Berkowitz (Son of Sam), Charles Manson, and more.

With an approval rating of 96% for the first season and 99% for the second season on Rotten Tomatoes, the series was well-received and named among the best television shows of 2017. Mindhunter was also nominated for many awards including one nomination for the Primetime Emmy Awards, and a win for Jonathan Groff in the category of Best Actor in a Drama / Genre Series for Satellite Awards.

‘Pushing Daisies’ (2007 – 2009)

Available to stream on HBO Max.

PUSHING DAISIES main cast sit inside bakery for a promo photo

Pushing Daisies was created by Bryan Fuller, whose notable works include Hannibal, American Gods, and Dead Like Me. The series focuses on Ned (Lee Pace), a pie-maker with an ability to revive the dead by touching them. However, if Ned touches a resurrected person or objects a second time, they will die with no chance of being revived again. Together with his deceased childhood crush Chuck (Anna Friel), colleague Olive Snook (Kristin Chenoweth), and private investigator Emerson Cod (Chi McBride), Ned uses his gifts to solve murder cases.

With an impressive approval rating of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, the series was not only highly successful in incorporating its quirky concept into a seamless and heartwarming storyline but also visually pleasing. Many have compared the style of the series to that of Tim Burton due to its prominent use of colors and shapes, and symmetry. Michael Weaver, the cinematographer of Pushing Daisies, told Variety that as a team, they decided the visuals should “feel somewhere between Amélie and a Tim Burton film – something big, bright, and bigger than life.” Although it only ran for two seasons, the series was nominated for 57 awards and won 18, of which seven were from the Primetime Emmy Awards.

‘Flowers’ (2016 – 2018)

Available to purchase on Amazon Video and Apple iTunes.

Still Image of Flowers

Flowers is a British black comedy-drama that stars and is written and directed by Will Sharpe. The series focuses on the Flowers family, a dysfunctional family consisting of a depressed father Maurice (Julian Barratt), the overthinking wife Deborah (Olivia Colman), competitive son Donald (Daniel Rigby), and musician daughter Amy (Sophia Di Martino). When Shun (Will Sharpe) writes a heartwarming letter to Maurice, a children’s author, he gets invited to the UK to work as an illustrator for Maurice. Cultural differences aside (Shun is Japanese), the Flowers welcome him and embrace him as family.

Sharpe wanted to incorporate Japanese humor into a British show while at the same time trying to portray a more in-depth Asian character rather than just the presumed stereotypical Asian seen in a lot of movies and television series. Although funny, the underlying tone and theme of the series surround the topic of mental health and suicide. Through Flowers, Sharpe shows a rare depiction of people who struggle with mental health and the darkness that persists in these people’s lives.

‘PEN15’ (2019 – 2021)

Available to stream on Hulu.


Hulu’s PEN15 is a cringe comedy television series about two middle schoolers, Maya Ishii-Peters (Maya Erskine) and Anna Kone (Anna Konkle) who try to navigate middle school as best as they can. Maya is a shy but funny Japanese-American girl, while her best friend, Anna, finds solace in music while trying to cope with her parents’ divorce.

At the time of filming, Erskine and Konkle were 31 years old but played “13-year-old social outcasts in the year 2000, surrounded by actual 13-year-olds, where the best day of your life can turn into your worst with the stroke of a gel pen.” The series’ first season received an approval rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, while the second season holds an admirable 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. PEN15 was also nominated for the Primetime Emmy Awards, Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, Writers Guilds of America Awards, and more.

‘Broadchurch’ (2013 – 2017)

Available to stream on PBS Masterpiece Amazon Channel.


Broadchurch is a British crime drama series that ran for three seasons. The series follows an investigation led by Detective Inspector Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller (masterfully played by Olivia Colman) about the murder of an 11-year-old boy, Danny Latimer (Oskar McNamara), whose body was found at the town’s local beach. The series not only showed the investigative side of the murder case, but it also showed the pain and grief that the Latimers endured, while dealing with the media at the same time.

Despite being an extremely well-received series with a high viewership in the UK, Broadchurch didn’t do as well in the US. It was, however, nominated for several BAFTA Awards, of which the first series won Best Actress for Olivia Colman, Best Supporting Actor for David Bradley, and Best Drama Series.

‘Killing Eve’ (2018 – 2022)

Available to stream on Hulu and AMC+.

Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer in Killing Eve

Killing Eve is a British spy thriller series that follows Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), a British intelligence investigator whose mission is to capture a psychopathic assassin, Villanelle (Jodie Comer). However, Polastri and Villanelle deter from their original goals and instead form a mutual obsession with each other.

While the first and second series were rated at 96% and 92% on Rotten Tomatoes respectively, ratings for the third series stood at 80%, and ratings dipped down by the fourth series with an approval rating of 56%. Despite the ratings, however, the overall series was included in many “Best TV Shows of 2018” lists by countless publications and critics. The series was particularly praised for its brilliant writing and performances, and for exploring relationships and sexuality within the LGBTQ community.

‘Money Heist’ (2017 – 2021)

Available to stream on Netflix.

Image via Netflix

With three action-packed seasons made up of 41 episodes, Netflix’s Money Heist managed to become a global phenomenon that would amass mask-wearing fans everywhere. It’s centered on a group of robbers who infiltrate the Royal Mint of Spain and the Bank of Spain, while delivering a powerful message about authority and the power individuals can hold.

What really became the highlight of the series are the characterizations of its endearing thieves, all led by the brilliant mastermind, the Professor (Álvaro Morte). It’s impossible not to feel invested in their personal (often emotional) stories, which make the heists fade into the background as the main characters’ personal struggles unravel.

‘Big Little Lies’ (2017 – 2019)

Available to stream on HBO Max.

The main characters of Big Little Lies in a circle looking worried.
Image via HBO

Based on the eponymous 2014 novel by Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies is an award-winning series composed of just two seasons (14 episodes). Set in California, the show follows five women (played by Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, and Zoë Kravitz) as they become involved in a murder investigation that turns their peaceful town into a dangerous circus.

More than a series about friendship, some of its storylines delve into some serious and heavy themes like abuse and depression. Fans are undoubtedly hoping to see its powerhouse cast reunite, but it’s unlikely considering how the show was originally intended to be a one-season miniseries that won’t be making a comeback.

‘Russian Doll’ (2019 – )

Available to stream on Netflix.

russian doll

Created by and starring Natasha Lyonne, Russian Doll is a mind-bending comedy-drama series that revolves around a game developer who finds herself stuck in a time loop. Nadia Vulvokov (Lyonne) soon discovers that she’s not the only one there, and soon partners up with Alan Zaveri (Charlie Barnett) to figure out exactly what’s happening to them.

The critically-acclaimed series has two seasons (15 episodes) worth of wild antics from Nadia and Alan, who each react to and approach their time loop situation differently. Comedic moments soon give way to surprising emotional depth, which is further explored in the second season. As fans eagerly wait for any news about Russian Doll season 3, it’s worth re-watching Nadia’s journey so far.

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