In 1994, My So-Called Life hit TV screens and has since earned a spot as one of the most influential series of its decade. However, it ended after just one season—and without a proper finale. Millennials and Gen X’ers still feel the pain of losing the pivotal story too early, especially since it was one of the first shows to focus on real teenage angst. So why did ABC pull the plug after only 19 episodes? Apparently, one of the lead stars was mostly to blame.
In 2016, series creator Winnie Holzman admitted to Elle that the network was uneasy about her show from the very start. Execs weren’t sure who their target audience was, and they were uncomfortable with heavy themes. So, they were ready to shut it down at the first sign of trouble. That trouble came when lead star Claire Danes said she was done.
When the actress signed up with My So-Called Life, she was still in high school. And she had aspirations of going to college. It wasn’t long before she realized that juggling classes and a high-profile filming schedule was nearly impossible. So she and her parents decided she couldn’t star in a second season.
Claire Danes Dropped Out of ‘My So-Called Life’
Holzman considered moving forward without Claire Danes, but she realized the story couldn’t continue without the future Emmy winner. And because the network also wasn’t interested in taking a chance, she said goodbye to the My So-Called Life without a fight.
“When I realized that Claire truly did not want to do it anymore, it was hard for me to want to do it,” Holzman said in a separate interview, per The Things. “The joy in writing the show was that everyone was behind it and wanted to do it. And I love her. So part of the joy and excitement and happiness would have gone out of me if she had not been on board 100 percent.”
Holzman admitted that she had a hard time letting go at the time. But looking back, she’s happy with her choice. Had ABC ordered another season, she wouldn’t have given it her best. The creator also feels like there is something poetic about the premature ending.
“There was a rightness in how short the season was,” she continued. “This was a show about adolescence and sort of ended in its own adolescence. There was an aura about how short the series was like all things that die young. The show ended at a point that it was still all potential.”
You can watch the entire short-lived classic on Hulu.
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