Canceled TV Shows That Fans Brought Back From the Dead
The close connection audiences feel with the television shows they love is one of those surprisingly strong bonds. Who knew you could adore a cast of characters so much? When a show is canceled — whether due to low ratings, poor viewership or a combination of factors — a small but loyal fanbase can sometimes rally around the program and convince the network to revive it. Other times, after many years off the air, fans persuade producers to make more episodes. It's happened many times before.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013-2018, 2019- )
After the success of The Office and Parks and Recreation, you might think that NBC would be more than willing to support a third program from writers Dan Goor and Michael Schur. Instead, their followup — the Andy Samberg-led buddy cop comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine — went to FOX.
Community (2009-2014, 2015)
After so much praise for Rick and Morty, it’d seem safe to assume that Dan Harmon has always been a hot commodity. This is only somewhat true; after having written for multiple different programs, Harmon finally got the chance to run a show of his own: Community on NBC.
The Comeback (2005, 2014)
In the years after Friends, any of the show's stars could have landed any project they wanted. They were all household names, they were all on top of the world and they could've gone in any direction. It's admirable that Lisa Kudrow chose to stick with a small show on HBO for her first post-Friends finale offering.
Doug (1991-1994, 1996-1999)
One of the more endearing cartoons to come out of the ‘90s, Doug is a show about a very imaginative (but frequently hapless) kid who's new in town. Given how original the program was, Doug had maintained a pretty loyal following in its three years on Nickelodeon.
Futurama (1999-2003, 2008-2013)
Matt Groening has it made. As the creator of the most successful and longest-running cartoon in history, The Simpsons, it seems like any network would probably do whatever it takes to work with him on an original series. Still, this demand wasn't enough to keep Futurama alive on FOX.
Gilmore Girls (2000-2007, 2016)
When showrunners and executive producers Amy Sherman-Palladino and and Daniel Palladino left Gilmore Girls before the start of its seventh season, many saw the end of the road for the sweet mother-daughter dramedy. They were correct.
24 (2001-2010, 2014, 2017)
24 is a lot of things — dramatic, exciting and over-the-top, just to name a few — but the thing that made it so unique was its structure. Each season took place over the course of 24 hours, with each episode covering one of those hours. It was enough to entertain fans for almost a decade.
Family Guy (1999-2003, 2005- )
Believe it or not, there are some incredibly popular shows that didn't really get a chance to thrive until they were canceled and revived. Despite its popularity, Family Guy is actually one of these shows. If FOX leaders had had it their way, the Seth MacFarlane cartoon would've been canned after just a few years back in 2003.
A.P. Bio (2018-2019, 2020- )
When it was announced that Glenn Howerton would be leaving FX's long-running comedy It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia for a new show called A.P. Bio on NBC, many fans were less than thrilled. Two seasons in, NBC wasn't impressed with the numbers and decided to scrap the program to allow Howerton to do what he pleased.
American Dad! (2005-2014, 2014- )
Family Guy isn't the only Seth MacFarlane cartoon that FOX decided to cancel. With the show managing to last almost a decade on the air without any troubles, the network decided it couldn't afford to continue investing in American Dad!'s declining viewership. It canceled the show in 2014, hoping for no hard feelings from fans.
Arrested Development (2003-2006, 2013-2019)
FOX is known for plenty of great cartoons, but it also used to develop all kinds of excellent sitcoms (Arrested Development being one of the most beloved). Still, the network couldn't afford to keep the show around long.
Good Eats (1999-2012, 2019- )
A docu-series hosted by Alton Brown that profiles all kinds of unknown aspects about the most popular types of foods, Good Eats was informative as well as entertaining. Thirteen years must've been enough for Brown and Food Network, though, because it canceled the show in 2012.
Cops (1989-2013, 2013- )
Premiering all the way back in 1989, there's no doubt that Cops played an integral part in the development of the reality TV genre. Following police officers as they patroled their precincts for over 20 years, FOX canned the show in 2013, along with the similarly structured true crime series America's Most Wanted.
The Killing (2011-2012, 2013, 2014)
AMC's The Killing wasn't ashamed to admit that it relied very heavily on a similar plot and structure to David Lynch's cult classic series Twin Peaks. Unfortunately, this admission meant that the show was destined to be short-lived.
Lucifer (2016-2018, 2019- )
Taking its central concept from the Neil Gaiman comic The Sandman, FOX's Lucifer is yet another DC Comics property that struggled to find its footing at the beginning before finally finding the right ground to establish itself. Unfortunately for this particular program, that meant getting canceled first.
Designated Survivor (2017-2018, 2019)
Kiefer Sutherland is no stranger to getting canceled. After all, one of his biggest roles — Jack Bauer, the lead on 24 — ended in multiple cancelations. It's the same sort of treatment he received with ABC's Designated Survivor. Despite a decently sized audience, the network brought the show to an end after two seasons.
Medium (2005-2009, 2009-2011)
Hailing from a family of talented actors, Patricia Arquette would be a welcome addition to any television program — especially after all her hard work on NBC's Medium, which followed Arquette as a mother with supernatural abilities. Although the show lasted for four solid years, the network had seen enough.
Mythbusters (2003-2016, 2017- )
Without fail, anyone who's seen Mythbusters is quick to recall the information hosts Adam and Jamie discovered whenever applicable. Whether it’s James Bond gadgets or just some old wives' tales being discussed, Mythbusters' ability to contest modern myths was always a blast.
Nashville (2012-2016, 2016-2018)
As ABC's musical drama series in the same vein as the soap operas that basic cable networks air during the daytime, Nashville was a primetime series that followed a group of country musicians — from aspiring to established — in the country music capital of the U.S.
The Mindy Project (2012-2015, 2015-2017)
After gathering a fanbase during her years as a standout character on NBC's The Office, writer and actor Mindy Kaling was given the opportunity to helm a show of her own over on FOX. Called The Mindy Project, it followed Kaling as she played an OB/GYN navigating life and love in New York City.
Prison Break (2005-2009, 2017)
Like 24, Prison Break was one of the formative shows of the mid-2000s. A gritty, no-holds-barred look at the prison system through the eyes of a man wrongfully given the death sentence, the show was a hit...until its viewership dropped off surely and steadily.
Twin Peaks (1990-1991, 2017)
Some might argue that Twin Peaks wasn't revived — that David Lynch planned to bring the show back from the very start, dating all the way back to the line in the original series when Laura promised she'd see Cooper again in 25 years. Still, this doesn't change the fact that ABC axed the original series in 1991.
One Day at a Time (2017-2019, 2020- )
Every once in a while, something amazing happens on TV. A once-in-a-lifetime show comes along, a network cancels it and a streaming service gives it a second chance. When it comes to One Day at a Time, though, the opposite is true — Netflix made it, canceled it and then let a TV network save it.
Unforgettable (2011-2014, 2015-2016)
No matter the reason, sometimes a canceled TV show is brought to a close and it’s for the best. A network might not be canceling it to be mean or to hurt fans' feelings — it might just be canceling the show because it's not performing well. This was the case with CBS's Unforgettable.
The X-Files (1993-2002, 2016, 2018)
A spiritual successor to the esoteric supernatural elements of David Lynch's Twin Peaks, The X-Files combined crime procedurals with science fiction to create something truly memorable. It was absolute 1990s perfection — a statement made all the more true by the fact that the show was canceled in the early 2000s.
Timeless (2016-2017, 2018)
Timeless might be about a group of people who are constantly changing history through time travel, but NBC's sci-fi drama never could bring that same timelessness into the real world. With the show canceled in 2017, fans demanded it come back to wrap things up. NBC (reluctantly) listened.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008-2013, 2014, 2020)
When Walt Disney took over Lucasfilm back in 2012, the studio was quick to truncate any and all Star Wars activity in an attempt to reassess the franchise's official timeline. Of course, this meant bringing Star Wars: The Clone Wars to an end.
Southland (2009, 2010-2013)
A move from NBC to TNT doesn't seem like much of a step up, but it actually proved to work incredibly well for the former's short-lived cop drama Southland. Canceled after just one month on NBC, TNT snatched up the rights and any unaired episodes and took them as its own.
Scrubs (2001-2008, 2009-2010)
Scrubs hopped around quite a bit during its nine-year, 10-season run. From NBC to ABC, from J.D.'s perspective to the interns', the medical dramedy often hailed as one of the more medically accurate programs to air on primetime was never steady for very long.
Reba (2001-2006, 2006-2007)
Starring country music legend Reba McEntire but really having nothing to do with country music at all, Reba held a steady fanbase of sitcom supporters for five years during its run on the now-defunct WB network. When the channel announced it'd be transitioning to the CW and purging many of its shows, fans couldn't stand the thought of Reba ending.