To Be Continued: 6 Cancelled TV Shows That Came Back As Books

Posted by Jamie Canaves

image via Janet Cho

As fans of television and books there are things we’ve become accustomed to: the common book-to-TV/film adaptation and, sadly, the common “ratings game” that puts any and all of our favorite television shows on the cancellation plank. So what happens when we reverse the first model and attach it to the second? Our beloved characters come back to life nestled safely between a book’s covers! 

Here are 6 television shows that lived on as novels or comics, listed in order of cancelation date.

Clarissa Explains it All—The always fashionable ‘90s teen able to explain—well, it all. Clarissa did so while navigating school, parents, a pesky younger brother and a best friend who always invited himself over through her window. Sadly, this show wasn’t canceled because of ratings or lack of fans but rather Kriegman, creator, explains “Clarissa, at nearly 17, was too old for their viewers.” Can I get a Stephanie Tanner How Rude! If 20+ years later you still miss Clarissa you’ll be happy to know she’s coming back in a YA sequel Things I Can’t Explain, “about knowing it all in your teens and then feeling like you know nothing in your twenties.” *Patiently awaits for Fall 2015 release.*


Buffy the Vampire Slayer—I’ll let Bernadette on The Big Bang Theory explain the charm of this show “Well, there was action, it was funny. I mean, you do get that usually the monster chases the pretty girl, but this time the pretty girl chases the monsters?” While the comics originally began as extensions of the show, allowing for even more vampire and demon butt-kicking, the final comics were written by Joss Whedon, the creator, and continued after the series ended, essentially becoming the show’s unaired eighth season.


Angel—Where there is Buffy there is Angel, the brooding vampire with a soul who got his own spin-off show that ran after Buffy, allowing for crossover episodes. Not only were Angel’s fans not prepared for his cancelation even Joss Whedon was upset, explaining in an interview “…I felt we had hit [our stride] in our fifth year – and then we got cut down. With “Buffy,” I was ready to end. “Firefly” – I went into such a state of denial, it caused a film. But with “Angel,” it was like ”Healthy Guy Falls Dead From Heart Attack.” Thankfully for fans, and the creator, Angel was able to continue its story with the comic series Angel: After the Fall which picks up at the series finale. Looks like I’ll be reading both Buffy and Angel’s comic series once I finish my on-again, off-again binge watching—Team Spike! Don’t judge me.


Veronica MarsThe show begins with her as a high school student who spends most of her time as a detective trying to solve her best friend’s murder and all the mysterious things that cross her path—usually in the form of someone asking for her help. This fantastic female-lead noir show was unfortunately canceled after a network change (UPN became The CW) but fans weren’t having it. Determined to see the show continued as a movie, even after the studio passed, hungry-for-more-Mars (the character not the chocolate or planet) fans funded the movie in less than a day on Kickstarter. Happy to give the fans even more after the movie released in 2014, and because a character this great needs to live on, Rob Thomas continued the series with two novels: Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line and Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell. I’ll be reading the books as soon as I can decide whether or not to get the first as an audiobook—Kristen Bell is the narrator!


Life on MarsOriginally a BBC UK series adapted into a US series about a detective involved in a modern day car accident that causes him to wake up in the 1970s. What?!—Is he dead and a ghost-detective? Dreaming in a coma? Or time traveled and can’t get back to present time without discovering the reason why he was sent back? The blend of police procedure, sci-fi, drama, great characters, and the central mystery of how/why Sam Tyler got back to the ‘70s made me a loyal fan…until ABC canceled it, leaving me once again deprived of a fictional character I loved. Turns out British fans hadn’t gotten enough either because a sequel show, Ashes to Ashes, was created. And while fans were happy, it still wasn’t enough, now they wanted to know what happened in the eight-year plot gap between the two shows. Enter a four book series giving fans what they wanted. Being that the original British version is like the-book-is-always-better, I’ll be watching the BBC Life on Mars and then getting my book on.


MonkA quirky show about a former detective with a severe case of OCD who is capable of solving any mystery while equally driving everyone around him nuts in the process. Even though the show had a great eight season run before its series finale, it seems fans couldn’t get enough of Mr. Monk, and a series of novels began halfway through the show and continued with five more books after the series ended. Still miss Monk, Sharona, Natalie, or Captain Leland Stottlemeyer saying things that aren’t “place the lotion in the basket”? Maybe it’s time to read into Mr. Monk’s world.  

My shortlist for shows I wish were also on this list are Pushing Daisies, Fairly Legal, The Oblongs, Freaks and Geeks, and a few David E. Kelly shows—maybe not that short. Which of your favorite canceled television shows would you like to see continued as books or comics?