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Show stoppers: Why good shows still get canceled

I can't stop watching the television series "Friday Night Lights," which ran for a mere five seasons from 2006-2011 but was plagued by poor ratings amid glowing reviews from critics.
As much praise that was heaped on the television series, the show didn't really find much of an audience during its initial run. Not since its arrival on Netflix has the show started to gain a new generation of fans who are enjoying the drama that just happens to be about high school football.
The remarkable writing and acting of the ensemble cast of "Friday Night Lights" made the revelation that the show struggled mightily to stay on the air even harder to grasp.
Here's a show that is intoxicating, suspenseful, topical and poignant all in the same breathe but barely scratched out a million or so viewers every week.
So that brings up a valid question: How do good television shows find a way to get canceled.

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"Friday Night Lights" is just one of many series that sink rather than swim but no one is really sure why that happens.
Take "Freaks and Geeks," "Arrested Development," "My So Called Life" or the most recent NBC show, "Community." All of these shows had passionate fan bases that turned them from flops into cult shows that, in some cases, resurrected (Development) or are now talked about and looked upon as true gems when it comes to television.
Some shows really haven't done anything wrong, either but rather the onus is on the network for not giving a show much consistency in the eyes of the audience. "Community" is one show that comes to mind, given the number of times it was moved on the NBC schedule. The show's lack of staying power and ratings can be traced back to never finding a home that stuck.
"My So Called Life" didn't even finish shooting one season before it got axed, but today's teenagers are finding the show on cable television in the form of reruns and genuinely love the show. "My So Called Life" could easily have been labeled "ahead of its time" given that it tackled serious topics in the mid 1990s, perhaps a little too much for ABC at the time.
It also didn't help that "Life" was going head to head with another little show being pushed by NBC, "Friends." "Friends" was a lighthearted, ensemble cast with funny interaction and terrific writing, and "Life" was a bit of a brooding, downer in comparison. But years later, "Life" has new life with new viewers who weren't even alive when the show originally aired.
So, in essence, network decisions, timing and marketing play a huge role in television shows and whether they can last beyond a few episodes. Most short lived series deserve to be ripped from the airwaves as most of them are just downright terrible.
For the aforementioned ones that weren't bad by any means, you have to think that some factor aside from quality played against their favor.

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