The nature of television can be tragic. No matter how beloved a series might be, if it doesn’t have great ratings, it will possibly get axed. But it isn’t always the end. On rare occasions, cancelled TV shows come back to life bigger and better than ever. What can resurrect a dead show? Sometimes it’s fan pressure, sometimes it’s DVD sales, sometimes it’s the hard work of dedicated producers, but however it happens, it’s always nice to spend a few more seasons with our favorite characters.
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Seth MacFarlane’s animated sitcom wasn’t always the smash hit it is today. In fact, FOX didn’t seem to know what to do with the show for the first three years of its run. After a series of disastrous time slot changes, FOX cancelled Family Guy in 2003. That would have been the end for most shows, but Family Guy had a second coming when strong DVD sales and high ratings in syndication convinced FOX to renew the show in 2005. Ever since, its remained a ratings powerhouse and cultural mainstay, even spawning two in-universe spin offs, American Dad! and The Cleveland Show.
Baywatch almost ended after one season, but lead actor David Hasselhoff just couldn’t let the campy TV drama die. He assumed the role of executive producer and revived the series in 1991. This time, the show was a huge hit and ran until 2001 – that’s an additional ten years of glorious slow motion lifeguarding.
Like Family Guy, FOX had a difficult time finding a time slot for Matt Groening’s futuristic comedy series. Despite widespread critical acclaim, the show was cancelled in 2003. High ratings in syndication and a successful movie series led to a series revival in 2008. The show officially ended in 2013, but the cast and crew have expressed interest in reviving the series again in the future.
Star Trek is one of the earliest examples of a franchise being revived by strong ratings in syndication. Although The Original Series never returned to television, Star Trek lived on through a number of highly successful movies and spin-off series. It is now regarded as one of the most important cultural icons of the 20th century.
Charles In Charge
The quirky Scott Baio sitcom under-performed in its first year, leading CBS to cancel the program in 1985. However, Charles in Charge was able to find its audience in syndication and is now considered a classic of the era.
The UK’s longest running science fiction series stalled in the 1980’s. In 1996, the BBC produced a television movie, leading to renewed interest in the series, though it would not return to television until 2005. After its revival, Doctor Who once again became a pop culture phenomenon, and it remains a cornerstone of British television to this day.
The witty “riches to rags” tale of the Bluth family may have been the critics’ darling, but it failed to find a mainstream audience and was cancelled after just three seasons. The show obtained legendary cult status as one of the funniest and most intricately written comedies of all time, leading to its groundbreaking revival on the online streaming service Netflix.
Beavis and Butt-Head
The 90’s wouldn’t have been the same without Beavis and Butt-Head. But their 2011 revival proved the lovable idiots could crack wise for a whole new generation. Although the revival only lasted one season, series creator Mike Judge has expressed interest in continuing the exploits of America’s favorite slackers.