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21 Cult TV Shows With the Most Passionate Fans

From Trekkies to Whovians and everything in between.

It's one thing for a show to have a lot of fans, it's another thing for it to have a fandom. When it comes to cult TV shows, many of them have fans that are so passionate that they've changed the trajectory of a series, made being a fan of the show a pastime of its own, or even caused its impact to live on for decades despite being short-lived. Fans of cult shows have led online protests that brought shows back for more seasons, and they've made their love for their favorite show so well known that conventions in honor of the series exist. Whether it's a comedy that fans are always begging their friends to watch or a long-running science fiction series that has been captivating audiences for years, cult shows really run the gamut. Read on to find out about 21 of them and to see where your own loyalties lie.

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Doctor Who

David Tennant and Ncuti Gatwa on Doctor Who

You know they're a passionate fanbase when they have their own name, and fans of the British science fiction series Doctor Who are known as Whovians. Doctor Who is about a time traveling hero from another planet called the Doctor, who faces off against various enemies with the help of (usually) human companions. Multiple actors have portrayed the Doctor over the years, as the lore includes that the character can become an entirely different person (but with the same memories) when they're on the verge of death. So far, there have been 15 Doctors in the lead role (currently the show stars Ncuti Gatwa) and over 40 seasons of Doctor Who—it originally ran from 1963 to 1989 before being revived in 2005.

Twin Peaks

a screenshot from Twin Peaks

In the early '90s, Twin Peaks ran for two seasons, which were followed by the prequel movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. People continued to be so interested in the David Lynch show that it returned decades later for a third season in 2017. There have also been several Twin Peaks books published over the years to keep fans satiated.

The show starts with an investigation into the death of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), a popular high school student, led by FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan). But while that's a straightforward premise, the show gets much more surreal from there.

Freaks and Geeks

Linda Cardellini on Freaks and Geeks

Freaks and Geeks only ran for one season from 1999 to 2000, but it gained—and continues to gain, thanks to streaming—loyal fans who can't believe it didn't last longer. The show is centered around a Michigan high school in the early '80s, particularly siblings Lindsay (Linda Cardellini) and Sam Weir (John Francis Daley). Lindsay joins the clique of "freaks" at the school, who are rebellious outsiders. Her little brother Sam is one of the "geeks." The series is known for helping launch the careers of several actors, including Seth RogenBusy PhilippsJames Franco, and Jason Segel.


Charlie Hunnam and Jay Baruchel on Undeclared

Soon after Freaks and Geeks ended, the executive producer of that show, Judd Apatow, created Undeclared. And like Freaks and Geeks, it made a major impact on its audience even though it only lasted for one season. It also features some of the same cast members, including Phillips, Rogen, and Segel, this time as college-age characters. Jay Baruchel stars as Steven, a freshman finding himself at a fictional California university.


Yvette Nicole Brown and Gillian Jacobs on Community

The phrase "six seasons and a movie" has become a mantra for fans of cult TV shows, and it originated with Community. The line is spoken on Community about a show-within-the-show, but fans soon applied it to the comedy itself. The sitcom about an unlikely group of friends at a community college did end up running for six seasons despite never doing well in the ratings. In fact, it's final season aired online on a now defunct Yahoo! streaming platfom rather than on NBC. And fans are getting that movie, too. It's currently in the works.

RELATED: The 25 Best Animated TV Shows Ever Made.


Jorge Garcia on Lost

The sci-fi series Lost captivated audiences when it aired from 2004 to 2010, and continues to win over new fans on streaming. The show is about a group of people who are stranded on an unknown island following a plane crash. This isn't any ordinary survival scenario, though. There are surreal occurrences aplenty as the group tries to figure out where they are and who is there with them. The mystery inspired superfans to tune in every week and to come up with theories of their own. They're also still debating that finale.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Sarah Michelle Gellar on Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The WB

Sarah Michelle Gellar stars in Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a California teenager who finds out that she is a slayer—someone who is destined to ward off evil in the form of vampires and demons. And since Buffy's hometown lies on top of a portal to another reality, supernatural forces abound. On top of Buffy's seven seasons, fans have quite a bit of related content to take in, too, such as the spinoff series Angel, a comic book continuation, and the 1992 Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie on which the late '90s show is based.

The X-Files

Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny on The X-Files

Fans of The X-Files have 11 seasons and two movies worth of their favorite characters, Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny). The pair are FBI special agents, who work on cases involving the supernatural and the extraterrestrial, which the government is keeping secret from the public. While there is plenty of talk about aliens and invasions, viewers particularly love watching the friendship-turned-romance between Scully and Mulder play out.

Pushing Daisies

Lee Pace and Anna Friel on Pushing Daisies

Pushing Daises is a show that fans still wish would come back since it only aired for two seasons from 2007 to 2009. This one has a high-concept premise: Lee Pace stars as Ned, a man who has the power to bring people back from the dead if he touches them. But, if he touches them a second time, they die for good. Also, if he brings someone back for longer than a minute, someone else dies.

Ned teams up with an investigator named Emerson (Chi McBride) to bring murder victims very briefly back to life so that they can reveal how they were murdered. This situation becomes even more complicated when Ned brings his childhood crush, Chuck (Anna Friel) back to life, but then cannot ever touch her again.

Happy Endings

a still from Happy Endings

Fans are also still mourning Happy Endings, which was on TV for three seasons from 2011 to 2013. The show is about six friends living in Chicago, the dynamics between them, and the issues they run into in their dating lives and careers. Jane (Eliza Coupe) and Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) are siblings; Jane and Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.), are married; and Alex and Dave (Zachary Knighton) were previously engaged.

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The Comeback

Lisa Kudrow on The Comeback

A cult sitcom that did eventually return is The Comeback, which stars Lisa Kudrow as Valerie Cherish, a washed-up actor filming a reality show about her life. She also begins starring on a sitcom called Room and Bored, but finds that she's not treated the way she was during her heyday on a hit early '90s show and subsequently tries to save face in front of the reality cameras. The first season of The Comeback aired in 2005, and it was revived for a second season nearly a decade later in 2014.

Veronica Mars

Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars
Warner Bros. Television

Kristen Bell stars in Veronica Mars as a high school student, who follows in her father's (Enrico Colantoni) footsteps as a detective after the murder of her best friend, Lilly (Amanda Seyfried). Veronica doesn't stop with the investigation into Lilly's death, though. She begins taking on other cases in high school and in college during the show's first three seasons, and as an adult during a fourth season that aired in 2019—13 years after the original run concluded.


Jared Padalecki on Supernatural
The CW

Clearly, there are both very short-lived cult shows and those that run for many years— Supernatural is one of the latter. The series ran for 15 seasons from 2006 to 2020 and follows the Winchester brothers, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles), who have been trained by their father, John (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), to fight supernatural creatures and meet demons, angels, and other hunters as the show goes on. There is also a spinoff prequel series, The Winchesters, about John Winchester (Drake Rodger) and Sam and Dean's mother, Mary Campbell (Meg Donnelly) when they were younger.

Battlestar Galactica

a still from Battlestar Galactica

The sci-fi show Battlestar Galactica premiered in 1978 and ran for one season. It then came back for one more season in 1980 as Galactica 80, and then it came back for a longer run from 2003 to 2009, which was particularly acclaimed. There are also additional spinoffs, books, comics, and games for fans to geek out over.

The premise of the original series is humans fleeing intelligent robots called Cylons, who want to kill mankind on a spaceship called Battlestar Galactica. The reboot series sees humans living in a new colony in deep space where Cylons continue to be a threat.

Star Trek

a still from Star Trek: The Original Series

Fans of Star Trek make up one of the most well-known fandoms, which dates back to long before the invention of the internet: Trekkies. Star Trek: The Original Series premiered in 1966 and is about space travelers in the 23rd century sent to learn about outer space, other planets, and the beings that inhabit them. As the opening of each episode explains, the crew aboard the USS Enterprise "boldly go where no man has gone before." Today, there have been a dozen Star Trek series and over a dozen movies, plus plenty of supplemental content in other formats.

RELATED: The Most Hated TV Characters of All Time.

My So-Called Life

Claire Danes on My So-Called Life

Similar to Freaks and Geeks, My So-Called Life is a high school-centered show that lasted for only one season but gained a strong following. Claire Danes stars as Angela Chase, a teenager dealing with usual issues, such as crushes, friendships, and school. But, on top of her personal problems, the show also tackles larger issues that spoke to teens of the '90s, including drinking, drug use, and violence at school.

Mystery Science Theater 3000

a still from Mystery Science Theater 3000

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is both a comedy series and a showcase for B movies. The concept is that a man (series creator Joel Hodgson in the original run) is stuck on a space station and being forced by mad scientists to watch B movies in order to find out which ones will drive a human insane. As Joel and his robot friends watch movies like Mitchell and Invasion of the Neptune Men, they make sarcastic commentary. There are also funny scenes on the space station peppered in.

The show first ran from 1988 to 1999. It then returned for two seasons in 2017 and 2018, and then again in 2022. The main reason the show was able to return in recent years was crowdfunding, showing just how passionate the fanbase still is.

The Twilight Zone

Jordan Peele on The Twilight Zone

Viewers are welcomed into the "Twilight Zone" with each episode of this science fiction and fantasy anthology series that first aired from 1959 to 1964. The standalone stories all feature a new cast of characters thrust into a frightening and sometimes supernatural situation, often with a cruel twist ending. Following the initial run, the show has been brought back several times, most recently in 2019 to 2020 when it was hosted by Jordan Peele.

Monty Python's Flying Circus

a still from Monty Python's Flying Circus

The sketch comedy group Monty Python came to fame with the TV show Monty Python's Flying Circus, which aired in the U.K. from 1969 to 1974. They then gained more fans when the series started being shown in the U.S. Monty Python are known for their particular brand of absurdist humor, which is also on display in the several movies they made, including Life of Brian and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Terry Crews and Andy Samberg on Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Universal Television

The passionate fans of Brooklyn Nine-Nine were responsible for the show getting three more seasons after it was initially canceled. After five seasons, the sitcom about police detectives in New York was canceled by Fox. But, after fans protested online, the show was picked up by NBC and continued running for several more years.

The Other Two

Drew Tarver and Heléne York on The Other Two
Comedy Central

This last one might not quite be a cult show yet, but it's well on its way. The comedy series The Other Two is about the two older siblings, Cary (Drew Tarver) and Brooke (Heléne York) of a young Justin Bieber-like pop star who goes by ChaseDreams (Case Walker). Both Brooke and Cary want to be famous themselves, so the show—which becomes increasingly ridiculous—is about their struggles to make their own dreams come true on the back of their little brother's fame. After premiering on Comedy Central, the show then moved to Max, as word of mouth praise spread.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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