12 Canceled Shows That Returned to TV


When a beloved TV series is canceled, its fans often protest and campaign for its return to television. Sometimes these pleas fall on deaf ears—but other times, TV executives believe that fresh episodes of a defunct TV series could strengthen their network’s appeal to new viewers. There is no formula that determines why some canceled TV shows return to television, but it’s believed that it has something to do with whether or not their audience is growing, its DVD sales are high, and if their creative teams are available to make new episodes.

As long as TV networks resurrect beloved shows, then there’s always a chance for your favorites to return one day. Keep the faith, Firefly fans! Here are twelve once-canceled shows that eventually returned to TV.

1. Arrested Development (original series run 2003 – 2006; returned 2013)

Despite winning an Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series in 2004, Arrested Development had a hard time finding viewers. After three high quality seasons, the series was still struggling in the ratings, and Fox canceled it in 2006.

When Arrested Development was released on DVD, audiences eventually found what made the zany misadventures of the Bluth family so special and demanded more episodes of the series. The online streaming service Netflix resurrected Arrested Development in 2013—the new season was put online on May 26—and is meant to serve as a prequel to a full-length feature film.

2. 24 (original series run 2001 – 2010; returns 2014)

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Each episode of the drama 24 followed one hour of Counter Terrorist Unit agent Jack Bauer's (Kiefer Sutherland) life in real time as he foiled assassination attempts on the President, disarmed nuclear and chemical weapons, and unmasked corporate and government conspiracies. After eight seasons and a TV movie, 24 was canceled in 2010—but Fox announced at its upfronts this year that the show would return with a 12-episode season, which will premiere in May 2014.

3. Charles In Charge (original series run 1984 – 1985; returned 1987 – 1990)

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First airing in 1984 on CBS, Charles In Charge struggled to find viewers and as a result the TV comedy had middling ratings. It was canceled after one season, but returned two years later in syndication. The TV comedy followed Charles (Scott Baio), a college student who worked as a live-in babysitter for a suburban family in exchange for room and board.

When the series returned, Charles’ old family, the Pembrokes, had moved to Seattle, and a new family, the Powells, allowed Charles to live in their home to take care of their children.

4. Baywatch (original series run 1989 – 1990; returned 1991 – 1999)

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The action drama starring David Hasselhoff as southern California beach lifeguard Mitch Buchannon only aired for one season in 1989 before NBC canceled it after low ratings. But Hasselhoff still felt that Baywatch had potential as a TV series, so he re-tooled it with its creator and executive producer for syndication.

Re-launching in 1991, Baywatch became a pop culture phenomenon around the world and spun off other TV series including Baywatch Nights, Baywatch Hawaii, and Baywatch Down Under.

5. Futurama (original series run 1999 – 2003; returned 2008 – 2013)

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Futurama was an animated science fiction TV series from Simpsons co-creator Matt Groening and TV writer David X. Cohen that aired on Fox from 1999 to 2003. It was initially canceled after four seasons, but was later re-launched after high DVD sales and four best-selling direct-to-video films. After high syndication ratings on the Cartoon Network, Twentieth Century Fox announced Futurama would return to TV with regular episodes on Comedy Central in 2009.

All good things must come to an end, because Futurama was later canceled again in 2013 after low ratings; the finale is due to air September 4. Groening and Cohen are currently exploring options to continue to tell Futurama stories.

6. Family Guy (original series run 1999 – 2002; returned 2005 – present)

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The Seth MacFarlane-created animated series started off as a seven-minute pilot pitch to Fox in 1998. After some development, Family Guy premiered in 1999 and was automatically dubbed a Simpsons knockoff.

Throughout its original series run, Family Guy proved its worth as a pop culture staple, but was later canceled in 2002 after low ratings. Fox considered bringing the animated TV series back after high DVD sales and high syndication ratings on Adult Swim. In 2005, Family Guy returned as the centerpiece for Fox’s Animation Domination Sundays with The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, and American Dad.

7. Beavis and Butt-Head (original series run 1993 – 1997; returned 2011)

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One of the most controversial animated TV shows of the 1990s, Beavis and Butt-Head was at the forefront of MTV’s transition from music video outlet to original programming. The series centered on two heavy metal-loving, dim-witted, and socially awkward teenagers who spent most of their time making fun of the music videos showcased on MTV, while getting into strange misadventures during those rare moments when they actually left the house.

The series was canceled in 1997, but was resurrected in 2011 with episodes from its creator Mike Judge.

8. Jericho (original series run 2006 – 2007; returned 2007 – 2008)

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The action science fiction drama Jericho was canceled after one season due to poor ratings. Fans of the series were so outraged with CBS’s decision to cancel Jericho that they sent network executives nearly 40,000 pounds of peanuts to protest. This forced CBS to re-consider renewing Jericho for a second season.

Why peanuts? The season one finale featured a cliffhanger where the fictional town of Jericho, Kansas was under siege from a neighboring community, which led the series’ protagonist Jack Green (Skeet Ulrich) to respond with only one word: “Nuts.”

The fan protest gave the show a stay of execution, but Jericho was canceled again after its second season. Fans of the series can still enjoy Jericho with its seasons three and four adapted into comic book form.

9. Leave It To Beaver (original series run 1957 – 1958; returned 1958 – 1963)

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This iconic prototype for 1950s idealized white suburban life was, surprisingly, a low ratings performer when it premiered in 1957. As a result, CBS canceled the series after one season—but the show re-emerged on ABC the following year. There, Leave It To Beaver enjoyed five solid seasons before actors Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow wanted to focus on their educations: Mathers entered high school, while Dow entered college.

10. Fame (original series run 1982 - 1983; returned 1983 - 1987)


Cashing in on the success of the 1980 film, NBC launched a series by the same name but set at a slightly differently-named school due to royalty issues. Fame was axed by NBC after one season, but it lived on—not forever, but for four more years in first-run syndication.

11. My Three Sons (original series run 1960 - 1965; returned 1965 - 1972)

Wikimedia Commons

The heartwarming series featuring Fred MacMurray as a widower raising three boys debuted on ABC in 1960 to solid ratings that only increased during its five year run. But by 1965, ABC had to decide whether to invest the extra bucks necessary to film an aging sitcom in color. Complicating matters was the fact that William Frawley, who played Bub O’Casey, was deemed too ill and uninsurable to continue in his role. ABC’s decision to put MacMurray and his family out to pasture proved to be CBS’s gain: After My Three Sons moved there in 1965, it remained in the Top 20 until it ended in 1972.

12. Mystery Science Theater 3000 (original series run 1988 - 1996; returned 1996 - 1999)


The little cow-town puppet show (as described by co-creator Joel Hodgson) started out on Minnesota’s UHF station KTMA in 1988 with Joel and his robot pals sitting in a shadowy “peanut gallery” making snarky comments at cheesy old movies. In 1989 the fledgling Comedy Channel (later Comedy Central) added the show to its sparse line-up of original programming. Comedy Central nixed the show in 1996, but Crow T. Robot, Tom Servo and company got a new lease on life when the SciFi Channel (now SyFy) picked up the show for an additional three seasons.

Always Fits
Revisit Your Teen Years With Vintage Sweet Valley High Editions
Always Fits
Always Fits

The '80s and '90s were a special time to be a reading-obsessed child. Young adult series like The Baby Sitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High were in their prime (and spawning plenty of spinoffs and blatant knockoffs), with numerous books a year—Sweet Valley High creator Francine Pascal published 11 books in her series in 1984 alone.

You can't find original Sweet Valley High books on the shelves anymore (unless you want to read the tweaked re-release versions published in 2008), but fans of Jessica and Elizabeth no longer have to trawl eBay looking for nostalgic editions of their favorite installments of the series. Always Fits, a website that sells gifts it describes as “nostalgic, feminine, feminist and wonderful,” has tracked down as many vintage teen series from the '80s and '90s as it can, including a number of Sweet Valley High books.

A stack of Sweet Valley High books
Always Fits

The collection of books was sourced by the Always Fits team from vintage shops and thrift stores, and covers editions released between 1983 and 1994 (the series ran until 2003). While you can’t get a shiny new copy of books like Double Love, you can pretend that the slightly worn editions have been sitting on the bookshelf of your childhood bedroom all along.

Each of the Sweet Valley High books comes with an enamel pin inspired by the cover for one of the series's classic titles, Secrets. Unfortunately, you can’t pick and choose which installment you want—you’ll have to content yourself with a mystery pick, meaning that you may get In Love Again instead of Two-Boy Weekend. Hopefully you’re not trying to fill in that one hole from your childhood collection. (You may not be able to get Kidnapped by the Cult!, but it appears that Crash Landing!, with its amazingly ridiculous paralysis storyline, is available.)

The Sweet Valley High book-and-pin set is $18, or you can get a three-pack of random '80s books for the same price.

10 Things You Might Not Know About Love Connection

Between September 19, 1983 and July 1, 1994, Chuck Woolery—who had been the original host of Wheel of Fortune back in 1975—hosted the syndicated, technologically advanced dating show Love Connection. (The show was briefly revived in 1998-1999, with Pat Bullard as host.) The premise featured either a single man or single woman who would watch audition tapes of three potential mates discussing what they look for in a significant other, and then pick one for a date. The producers would foot the bill, shelling out $75 for the blind date, which wasn’t taped. The one rule was that between the end of the date and when the couple appeared on the show together, they were not allowed to communicate—so as not to spoil the next phase.

A couple of weeks after the date, the guest would sit with Woolery in front of a studio audience and tell everybody about the date. The audience would vote on the three contestants, and if the audience agreed with the guest’s choice, Love Connection would offer to pay for a second date.

The show became known for its candor: Couples would sometimes go into explicit detail about their dates or even insult one another’s looks. Sometimes the dates were successful enough to lead to marriage and babies, and the show was so popular that by 1992, the video library had accrued more than 30,000 tapes “of people spilling their guts in five-minutes snippets.”

In 2017, Fox rebooted Love Connection with Andy Cohen at the helm; the second season started airing in May. But here are a few things you might not have known about the dating series that started it all.


According to a 1986 People Magazine article, the idea for Love Connection came about when creator Eric Lieber spied an ad for a video dating service and wanted to cash in on the “countless desperate singles out there,” as the article states. “Everyone thinks of himself as a great judge of character and likes to put in two cents,” Lieber said. “There’s a little yenta in all of us.”


Staff members would interview potential contestants and rate them on a PALIO score, which stands for personality, appearance, lifestyle, intelligence, and occupation. Depending on the results, the staff would rank the potential guests as either selectors or selectees.


John Schultz and Kathleen Van Diggelen met on a Love Connection date, which didn’t end up airing. “They said, ‘John, she’s so flat, if you can’t rip her up on the set, we can’t use you,’” he told People in 1988. “I said, ‘I can’t do that.’” However, they got married on an episode of Hollywood Squares. As the article stated, “Their son, Zachary, became the first baby born to a Love Connection-mated couple.”


Mike Fleiss not only created The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, but he’s also responsible for reviving Love Connection. “I always had a soft spot for that show,” Fleiss told the Los Angeles Times in 2017. He said he was friends with Lieber and that the show inspired him to “venture into the romance TV space.” “I remember it being simple and effective,” he said about the original Love Connection. “And I remember wanting to find out what happened on those dates, the he said-she said of it all. It was intriguing.”


Lou Martini Jr., then known as Louis Azzara, became a contestant on the show during the late 1980s. He and his date, Angela, hit it off so well that they couldn’t keep their hands off one another during the show. Martini famously talked about her “private parts,” and she referred to him as “the man of my dreams.” The relationship didn’t last long, though. “I had just moved to LA and was not ready to commit to anything long-term," Martini commented under the YouTube clip. "The show was pushing me to ask her to marry me on the show!" If Martini looks familiar it’s because he went on to play Anthony Infante, Johnny Sack’s brother-in-law, on four episodes of season six of The Sopranos.


During the same Entertainment Weekly interview, the magazine asked Woolery what the show’s “love stats” were, and he responded with 29 marriages, eight engagements, and 15 children, which wasn’t bad considering 2120 episodes had aired during its entire run. “When you think that it’s someone in our office putting people together through questionnaires and tapes, it’s incredible that one couple got married, much less 29,” he said.


In a 1993 interview with Entertainment Weekly, the interviewer asked him “Would you ever have gay couples on Love Connection?” Woolery said no. “You think it would work if a guy sat down and I said, ‘Well, so where did you meet and so and so?’ then I get to the end of the date and say, ‘Did you kiss?’ Give me a break,” he said. “Do you think America by and large is gonna identify with that? I don’t think that works at all.” What a difference a quarter-century makes. Andy Cohen, who is openly gay, asked Fox if it would be okay to feature gay singles on the new edition of Love Connection. Fox immediately agreed.


When asked about the show's winning formula, Lieber once said: “The show succeeds because we believe in honest emotions. And, admit it—we’re all a little voyeuristic and enjoy peeking into someone else’s life.”


In the first sketch during In Living Color's pilot—which aired April 15, 1990—Jim Carrey played Woolery in a Love Connection parody. Robin Givens (played by Kim Coles) went on a date with Mike Tyson (Keenan Ivory Wayans) and ended up marrying him during the date. (As we know from history, the real-life marriage didn’t go so well.) The audience had to vote for three men: Tyson, John Kennedy Jr., and, um, Donald Trump. Tyson won with 41 percent of the vote and Trump came in second with 34 percent.


In 1986, People Magazine interviewed psychologist and teacher Dr. Richard Buck about why people were attracted to Love Connection. “Combine the fantasy of finding the perfect person with the instant gratification of being on TV, and the two are a powerful lure,” he said. “There’s a magical hopefulness to the show.”


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