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In the wake of CBS reversing its decision to bench Hondo’s S.W.A.T. team, TVLine is taking stock of more than six dozen cancelled series that similarly cheated death and returned to air.
The reasons for resuscitation are wide-ranging, from the network that decided, “Hey, it is worth it to produce My Three Sons in color!” to the fans of Jericho who truly drove CBS nuts. There are many instances of, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” — something NBC perhaps should have considered before gift-wrapping for CBS what would turn out to be nearly 50 seasons of JAG/NCIS goods!
For the sake of clarity:
* We have excluded proper revivals of series that originally ended on their own terms, such as Mad About You, Murphy Brown, Psych, 24, Will & Grace and The X Files.
* We also ignored spinoffs of previously ended series, such as The CW’s 90210 and Melrose Place offshoots, and sequel series like Fuller House, Girl Meets World, Leverage: Redemption and Raven’s Home.
* No reality-TV.
Scroll through seven decades of TV history below, then hit the comments and tell us which resurrection most pleased you.
Three days after the family drama aired its series finale, the brand-new CW network decided to pick the series up for an 11th season, albeit with a trimmed budget and tweaked cast.
When the series about a high-tech helicopter pilot was grounded by CBS after three seasons, basic cabler USA Network swooped in with a Season 4 order, though with a revamped cast.
Six years after NBC rescinded on a verbal commitment for Season 5, ABC hosted the TV-movie Project: ALF, which attempted closure without any of the human cast appearing alongside the titular E.T.
ALL MY CHILDREN / ONE LIFE TO LIVE
After ABC in one fell swoop scrubbed both of the venerable daytime dramas from its roster, upstart Prospect Park would — for a short while — give them an online home, with dozens of cast members returning.
Four months after it was cancelled at CBS, the legal drama scored a Season 3 pickup at OWN. The series resumed its run, now on basic cable, in June 2022.
Five months after being unceremoniously axed by Showtime (in January 2022), the one-and-nearly-done Rust Belt drama starring Jeff Daniels and Maura Tierney was rescued by Amazon Freevee (fka IMDb TV).
Less than two months after NBC expelled the Glenn Howerton/Patton Oswalt comedy, Peacock swooped in with a Season 3 order. A fourth season followed before class was dismissed indefinitely.
More than seven years after its original, three-season run came to a premature (if perfectly serviceable) close, Netflix reunited the cast — in theory, if not all in the same episodes — for a 15-part revival in 2013. A fifth (and, by all accounts, final) season, split in two parts, followed in 2018 and 2019.
Having sunk versus made a splash in the ratings, the lifeguard drama lasted but one season on NBC. Star David Hasselhoff and producers promptly rescued it through syndication, where it ran an additional 10 seasons and even spawned the [shudder] Baywatch Nights offshoot.
BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD
MTV’s dimwitted duo returned for an eighth season in 2011, only to disappear again for another 11 years. They resurfaced on Paramount+ in 2022 with the movie Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe, to be followed by a streaming-only Season 9.
THE BIONIC WOMAN
The Six Million Dollar Man spinoff began its 60 mph run on ABC, but was cancelled after Season 2. Shortly thereafter, NBC came to Jaime Sommers’ rescue and offered Bionic Woman a new home for its third, and ultimately final season.
Initially axed after a seven-episode freshman run, Fox just months later revived the comedy for a 13-episode Season 2. Alas, only five Season 2 episodes aired before the series was yanked again.
Barely 30 hours had passed since Fox asked Jake Peralta & Co. to turn in their badges when rival network NBC stepped forward to rescue the acclaimed comedy. It survived an additional three seasons (noice!), ending with Season 8 in September 2021.
After one, low-rated season, NBC cancelled the Lawrence Brothers comedy. A deal was ultimately struck to move the show to The WB, where it survived one more season.
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER / ROSWELL
After a Tabasco-fueled fan campaign successfully steered the OG Roswell into a firmer sci-fi direction, ratings waned even further, leading to cancellation. Buffy, then in Season 5, was also done at The WB (see “series finale” promo). UPN ultimately stepped in as the new home for both cult series, which survived for one and two more seasons, respectively.
CAGNEY & LACEY
Born of a successful TV-movie, the iconic cop drama was cancelled by CBS not jus once (after Season 1, in part because Loretta Swit replacement Meg Foster rubbed viewers the wrong way), but twice, even after Sharon Gless stepped in for Foster. But a new, summer burn-off time slot for its final episodes actually nudged ratings up. That, combined with Emmy buzz, earned the series a reprieve, and it ran a total of seven seasons.
CHARLES IN CHARGE
Clobbered by tough competition and then a last-ditch move to Saturdays, the Scott Baio sitcom lasted just one season on CBS. Nearly two years later, the series was revived (albeit with a tweaked cast) in first-run syndication, where it ran for an additional four seasons.
Cancelled after one season on HBO, Valerie Cherish would eventually rise again, nine years later, for an eight-episode Season 2.
This cult comedy ran for four seasons on NBC (five, if you count the “gas leak year”). #SixSeasonsAndAMovie then came ever so close to reality when Yahoo! Screen (gosh, remember Yahoo! Screen?) extended the Greendale Human Beings’ enrollment by 13 episodes.
Just months after ABC shortened the Courteney Cox comedy’s Season 3 run, signaling imminent cancellation, TBS rode to the rescue of Abed Nadir’s favorite sitcom, uncorking another three seasons. We’ll drink to that!
Akin to how it would later pluck Friday Night Lights from the ashes, DIRECTV extended this FX thriller’s run from what would have been just three seasons to five.
THE DANNY THOMAS SHOW
Originally titled Make Room for Daddy, the ABC sitcom was cancelled after four seasons, at which point CBS swooped in and used it to fill the I Love Lucy-shaped hole on its Monday night schedule. The series would survive for an additional seven seasons.
At long last… f—ing closure. Thirteen years after HBO erased Deadwood from the map, the acclaimed western came galloping back onto the television landscape for a two-hour wrap-up movie in 2019.
The Kiefer Sutherland political thriller was twice impeached. Cancelled at ABC after two seasons, Netflix would step in and offer the hour-long drama a third term. But one month after Season 3 was released, the axe was dropped again.
When the introduction of Mr. Drummond’s new wife Maggie and stepson Sam failed to goose ratings, NBC pulled the plug on the aging Gary Coleman comedy. ABC came to the rescue with a Season 8 order, but ratings continued to slide and the series was cancelled again.
DROP DEAD DIVA
Six weeks after it was announced that the dramedy would end with Season 4, Lifetime reversed course and ordered Season 5. A sixth season followed before the series dropped dead for good.
Midway through its third season — and barely two weeks after Syfy announced the space saga’s cancellation — Prime Video announced that it had picked up the series for Season 4. It would go to be renewed for Seasons 5 and 6, before it ended in January 2022.
After NBC gave its adaptation of the music-driven 1980 film the hook following its sophomore year, producer MGM sold it into first-run syndication, where it lived, no, not forever, but another four seasons.
In one of TV’s biggest comeback stories, Fox cancelled the Seth MacFarlane ‘toon in 2002 after its third season — only to be spurred by DVD sales to bring it back in 2005. When it returned, Peter informed the family that they’d been cancelled, then proceeded to list off the 29 (!) shows Fox axed before ultimately bringing them back.
The poster child for #CancelledTooSoon, the sci-fi western was grounded after just 11 of its 14 episodes aired. Two years later, cheated fans would be rewarded with the big-screen follow-up Serenity.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
NBC was poised to sack the acclaimed high school drama after its sophomore year, until a co-production deal with DIRECTV allowed the series to tackle three more seasons.
Fox produced 84 episodes of the Matt Groenig ‘toon before letting the series fall out of production. Comedy Central, after seeing success with syndicated reruns, commissioned a straight-to-series DVD follow-up, and then a total of 52 more half-hour episodes, until the series’ true finale aired in September 2013. Or so we thought. The fan-favorite animated series is returning, this time on Hulu, in 2023.
Following its three-season run on The CW, the Girlfriends spinoff was saved by BET, where it would transition from a multi-camera sitcom to a single-camera dramedy, and play on for another six seasons. A sequel series would later land on Paramount+.
After four seasons, Maxwell Smart had completed his last mission for NBC. Agents 86 and 99 then made the jump to CBS for a fifth and final season.
THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR
Based on the 1947 film of the same name (which itself was adapted from R. A. Dick’s 1945 novel), the half-hour comedy faced stiff competition — both during its one-and-done run on NBC (where it went up against CBS’ My Three Sons and the first half of ABC’s The Lawrence Welk Show), and during a second season on ABC (where it faced CBS’ Family Affair).
Nine-and-a-half years after its WB/CW run ended, Netflix would check in on the titular mother-daughter duo. Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life gave creator Amy Sherman-Palladino a chance to end her show as she saw fit, having departed the original series ahead of its seventh and final season.
Four years after the original series died on the vine (and three seasons after it should have), NBC ordered Heroes Reborn, a limited series with a largely new cast that only lasted for its original 13-episode run.
One-and-done for NBC, the military procedural found a new home on CBS, where it would run for nine more seasons and spawn NCIS and thus far three spinoffs of same, which have collectively amassed 40 seasons.
In one of the most cited (and rare) instances of a successful #SaveOurShow campaign, fans of the dystopian drama inundated CBS with nuts upon learning of its axing after just one season. Laying witness to the most concerted and impressive fan campaign to date, the Eye ordered a seven-episode Season 2, if only to offer proper closure.
The Killing done got killed three times! First, AMC pulled the plug on the rain-drenched drama after Season 2, only to reconsider and rescind that decision. Once AMC axed it for good, production partner Netflix picked up a short fourth season, to offer closure.
LAST MAN STANDING
More than a year after ABC cancelled the costly Tim Allen comedy, Fox revived it for a seventh season. Two more seasons followed, before the Baxters bid viewers a proper goodbye in May 2021.
LAW & ORDER
NBC in 2010 pulled the plug on the original Dick Wolf procedural, when it was just one season shy of surpassing Gunsmoke as TV’s longest-running primetime drama. (L&O spinoff SVU would eventually break said record.) Twelve years later, the OG was revived for Season 21 (and later, Season 22).
LEAVE IT TO BEAVER
The classic CBS sitcom almost had a one-and-done run, but ABC stepped in to give the Cleavers a home for five more seasons (until Jerry Mathers’ desire to retire from acting and attend high school helped dictate its end).
When A&E put the modern western crime drama out to pasture after Season 3, Netflix lassoed it in for three more seasons. Its six-season run concluded in November 2017.
Five weeks after getting burned by Fox — and following a buzzy #SaveLucifer hashtag campaign — the supernatural-tinged procedural received a 10-episode, Season 4 order from Netflix, marking the streaming giant’s first “resurrection” of a freshly cancelled show in more than three-and-a-half-years. It later commissioned a fifth and, at the time, final season, but later reversed course and ordered a sixth and actual final season.
MAGNUM P.I. (2018)
Seven weeks after CBS dropped the axe on the Jay Hernandez-led reboot, NBC said aloha with a 20-episode order for Seasons 5, in July 2022.
In its NBC incarnation, the classic Vicki Lawrence comedy lasted all of two seasons. Two years later, the series was revived via first-run syndication, where it survived an additional four years.
Two months after the NBC drama was cancelled, Netflix ordered a 20-episode fourth and final season, to be split in two parts and begin streaming in late 2022.
When NBC rescinded on a Season 6 order, CBS, which already produced the paranormal Patricia Arquette procedural, offered the series a new home. It was cancelled again after Season 7.
THE MINDY PROJECT
No sooner had Fox broken up with the rom-com did Hulu ride in on a white horse to offer the lovelorn OB/GYN a total of three more seasons.
In December 2022, HBO Max cancelled the 1970s-set comedy, reversing its previous decision to renew the series for Season 2 earlier that year. Exactly one month later, that cancellation was then reversed when Starz stepped in to become the show’s new home.
MY THREE SONS
When ABC after five seasons refused to underwrite the cost of airing the classic black-and-white family comedy in color, CBS gave it a new home for nearly half of its 380-episode run.
After burning hotter than the hood of a pick-up in July during its early ABC run, the country music drama cooled enough by the close of Season 4 to hear the sad song of cancellation. Weeks later, CMT offered the series a new place to hang its hat, where it aired for two more seasons.
ONE DAY AT A TIME (2017)
Axed by Netflix after three seasons, this beloved reboot was revived by Pop TV. In doing so, ODAAT would become the first streaming original to be saved by a linear-TV network. Unfortunately, the revival would prove short-lived: It lasted six episodes (and one animated special) before the series was cancelled for good.
When NBC scrubbed the oft-zany sudser after eight years, DIRECTV brought it back from the dead not unlike many a soap opera villain, with barely 10 days passing between its broadcast-TV swan song and its satellite service continuation.
Nearly eight years after its original four seasons-and-a-DVD “movie” run ended, the Fox thriller returned with a nine-episode Season 5, in which Wentworth Miller’s Michael Scofield came back from the “dead” and reunited with his brother Lincoln and more of the Fox River 8. Though a sixth season was “in development” as of early 2018, Miller said in late 2020 he is dunzo with the franchise.
It was widely assumed that the long-running Showtime drama was a lock to return for an eighth and final season. One year later, the premium cabler ordered a wrap-up movie, affording fans of Liev Schreiber’s titular fixer a proper goodbye.
After it returned to boffo ratings, 2018’s Roseanne revival was promptly renewed for a 13-episode Season 11… then “un-renewed” after Roseanne Barr was fired for making bigoted remarks on social media. One month later, the franchise was salvaged with a newly commissioned spinoff, The Conners, which picked things up where Roseanne‘s first (and only) revival season left off — minus its title character (R.I.P., Roseanne Conner).
SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH
After ABC balked at the alleged $1.5 million per episode licensing fee for Season 5, Viacom struck a deal for Sabrina Spellman to enter her college years on The WB. The ex-TGIF sitcom ran for three seasons on the younger-skewing network, ending with Season 7.
Cartoon Network pulled the plug on the animated action-adventure series after four seasons. Twelve years later, it would return for a fifth and final season to bring the Japanese samurai’s narrative to a close.
Following a fan outcry over its untimely cancellation, the Jane Austen drama was renewed for Seasons 2 and 3 in May 2021. The eight-part ITV series — based on Austen’s final, unfinished novel — made its stateside debut on PBS in early 2020. The revival was made possible by streaming service BritBox, which boarded the show as a co-producer and is set to premiere the series as a BritBox Original in the UK.
When NBC after seven seasons called a time of death for the hospital comedy, ABC took out the paddles and revived it for what was thought to be an eighth and final run. There would ultimately be a Season 9, which transitioned to a med school setting and featured only sporadic appearances by original cast members.
Less than one month after cancelling the ambitious, globe-spanning drama after two seasons, Netflix announced that it would return for a two-hour wrap-up special, which was released in June 2018.
The Tia-and-Tamera Mowry sitcom began its life on ABC. But once it was moved off the TGIF lineup in Season 2, ratings nosedived and the series was cancelled. That’s when it made the jump to The WB, which offered audiences four more seasons of sibling synchronicity.
Cancelled by Fox after three seasons, the series would find a second life on the Sci Fi network (now known as Syfy), where it finished out its run with Seasons 4 and 5.
After NBC postponed and then outright cancelled the cop drama’s second season in October 2009, TNT stepped in to give the six unaired episodes a home, as well as eventually order a Season 3… and 4… and 5.
STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS
Cartoon Network pulled the plug on this animated offshoot after five seasons. A sixth season comprised of unaired episodes debuted on Netflix in 2014, but did not wrap up the series arc. It would ultimately return for a seventh and final season in 2020, now on Disney+.
After five seasons, the cult classic blasted off Showtime and onto the Sci-Fi network (now known as Syfy), where it would spend half of its 10-season run.
STEP BY STEP / CLUELESS
ABC, in order to make room for a Clueless sequel series, shelved Season 6 of the Suzanne Sommers/Patrick Duffy comedy until March 1997. A few weeks later, ABC cancelled them both. Shortly thereafter, CBS outbid ABC on a ninth season of fellow TGIF mainstay Family Matters, and a seventh season of Step by Step was packaged with Family Matters as part of a $40 million deal. (Clueless, meanwhile, was rescued by UPN, where it lasted another two seasons.)
One year after series creator George Olson announced that the paranormal drama would not return for a second season, Syfy announced that it’d reversed its decision. A sophomore run is expected in 2023.
Was it something Shemar Moore said…? Not 36 hours after CBS decided that Hondo’s team would be deployed no more — and during which time series front man Moore urged the network to “wake up and realize they made a mistake” with that cancellation decision — it was announced that S.W.A.T. would instead be back for a shortened seventh and final season. “We have listened to our viewers and their outpouring of passion for S.W.A.T.,” Amy Reisenbach, President of CBS Entertainment, and Katherine Pope, President of Sony Pictures TV, said in a joint statement. “We are pleased that we found a way to bring it back and give closure to the show’s storylines and characters, which audiences deserve.”
ABC determined that the acclaimed comedy had run out of gas after four seasons, cancelling it in the spring of 1982. Without missing a beat, NBC stepped in and not only gave it a jump-start but kept it in the same Thursday time slot that fall, where it aired for one more season.
Just days after powering down the Lifeboat and breaking fans’ hearts, NBC “went back in time” and rescinded the freshman drama’s cancellation. “We heard the fans,” said a Peacock network insider, “and didn’t want to be on the wrong side of history.” Five weeks after the time-travel drama was again cancelled, NBC commissioned a two-hour wrap-up movie that aired in December 2018.
TUCA & BERTIE
Less than one year after Netflix cancelled the critically acclaimed ‘toon in 2019, Adult Swim commissioned a 10-episode second season, which debuted in 2021. It was cancelled again after Season 3.
Twenty-seven years after the original pop-culture sensation made its splashy debut on ABC, Showtime revisited Dale Cooper, Audrey Horne et al via an 18-part revival.
Four weeks after it was cancelled by Netflix, the Darren Star comedy starring Neil Patrick Harris was picked up for Season 2 at Showtime (in February 2023).
More like unkillable. CBS cancelled the Marilu Henner-inspired procedural after one season… only to weeks later backtrack and order a Season 2. CBS axed the series again, after Season 3, at which point it found a new home, if for only one more cycle, on A&E.
A landmark Kickstarter campaign (that fetched $5.7 million) helped continue the sassy sleuth’s story on the big screen, nearly seven years after the UPN/CW series wrapped its three-season run. Hulu would later commission an eight-episode, limited series revival for summer 2019.
The onetime Cartoon Network series would be revived for a third season on the DC Universe streaming service in 2019, six years after its initial cancellation. It then made the leap to HBO Max for Season 4, upon DC Universe’s demise.
ZOEY’S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST
Three months after NBC pulled the plug on the musical dramedy, The Roku Channel ordered a feature-length wrap-up movie, titled Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas, which was released in December 2021.
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