6 Shows That Found Life After Cancellation

Most of the time when a television show is cancelled, it’s the end of the road. Occasionally the show’s creators will breakdown their plans and provide some sort of closure, even if only being minimal. But with some shows, like Unforgettable, which returns from cancellation on July 28, get a whole other chance at telling their story on television. Other times, shows find their fortune through literature or comics. Here are six television shows that have lived on in one way or another.

6. Family Guy

Family_Guy_Logo.svgFamily Guy, the hit animated series on Fox, might be one of the luckiest shows on television. It’s hard to imagine that a show with such a following could ever be cancelled, but that happened in the early months of 2002. The cancellation was most likely due to the fact that the ratings dropped substantially each year, a fact that also made selling the series difficult. Eventually the rights to air reruns were sold to Cartoon Network and it dominated on the channel. The show also sold millions of DVD copies, which rekindled Fox’s interest in the series. Fox ordered more episodes soon after and the rest is rich, television history. Since returning, the series has spawned a spin-off titled, The Cleveland Show. Seth MacFarlane, the creator, also created American Dad! which airs on Fox as well. He also directed the hit 2012 film, Ted.

5. Arrested Development

Arrested_DevelopmentAfter years of being dead, the famous series was revived by Netflix earlier this year. Arrested Development followed Michael Bluth and his dysfunctional family. The interesting plot and great cast are reasons that the series received rave reviews during its original run. Despite season 4 garnering slightly worse reviews compared to the previous seasons, seeing the band back together was nice given that many put it on their list of shows cancelled too soon. The future of the series is still shrouded in mystery, but it is a safe bet that Netflix will continue the series in one way or another. The biggest feat, in terms of its return, was the fact that the series had been off the air for almost 10 years, a feat that is only surpassed by the Doctor Who hiatus that lasted over 15 years.

4. Jericho

Jericho.tvseriesJericho, like many promising shows, opened to huge viewing numbers. Those numbers slowly dwindled as the post-apocalyptic series showed life after nuclear attacks left America in shambles. It was depressing when CBS announced that they would not renew the series and it led fans to do a strange thing. Fans of the series sent the network 20 tons of nuts, enough to get the network to renew the series for a second season. The second season run was short, but received much better reviews.

Sadly, better reviews were not enough to save the series as it was cancelled once again. But not even that was the end for the series as now there are Jericho comics that extend the story further. There have also been countless rumors of TV movies and another potential pick up. At the moment, though, most of those rumors have been denied, leaving only the comics to satiate any Jericho hunger.

3. Southland

imdbSouthland, a series about LA cops, premiered in 2009 on NBC and received great reviews. Before the series was to air their second season, NBC cancelled the program. TNT purchased the series not long after and ran it for 4 more seasons. The cop drama was filmed documentary-style and was just as gritty as shows like Cops. While TNT eventually cancelled the series, Southland was able to survive for several more years thanks to the cable network. The series originally opened to huge viewing numbers but the end of the series was only able to hold on to 1.89 million viewers. Despite that, the show still earned much applause as being more realistic than other cop dramas on television. Southland also had the fortune of end the series while still getting great reviews.

2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Long_way_home_tpbBuffy the Vampire Slayer is often listed as one of the best television shows of all time. The series featured a strong female protagonist, cool vampires and it was overall a great mix of action and dark comedy. The show lasted seven seasons, which might look like enough time to tell compelling stories, but many fans disagreed and were devastated when the series ended. Running parallel to Buffy toward the end was Angel, a series that followed Buffy’s vampire lover as the main protagonist. That series continued for one year after the cancellation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and was met with the same disappointment when the cancellation had been announced. Angel featured many characters that were popular in the original series and became a great way to revisit your favorite heroes and villains. Since Angel’s cancellation, Buffy has moved to both comics and books, proving that even Vampire Slayers don’t die.

1. Firefly

FireflyopeninglogoBefore directing the hit summer flick, The Avengers, but after his success with Buffy, Joss Whedon created another show named Firefly. Firefly was a Space Western that followed a renegade crew abroad the Serenity, a Firefly class ship. The show garnered several million viewers but was cancelled before the first season’s conclusion. The series seemed all but dead until the film Serenity was released worldwide. The film, like the series, failed to meet expectations which has made its television or theatrical return doubtful. That being said, the series still lives on through comics and the occasional Firefly reunion at conventions. There have also been countless Firefly mini-reunions on other television shows. These include Gina Torres and Adam Baldwin guest starring in two separate episodes of Nathan Fillion’s Castle and a handful of the cast mates also appeared in Joss Whedon’s take on the Shakespeare classic, Much Ado About Nothing.

Now there are countless other shows that have lived on from cancellation, but these are six noticeable shows that were fortunate enough to have at least one more adventure. Those adventures might not have lived up to expectation, but sometimes seeing your favorite character again make you look past that.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Posted on by
I attend college in hopes to one day work in film or theater, but until then I write reviews on the subjects I love.

Want to write about TV or other art forms?

Create writer account

24 Comments

  1. arcanda
    0

    I have always been an avid critic of weekly television shows. Most are terrible. In fact I have always avoided Television for the fact that I might be trapped in a room with a person that might find it necessary to share their favorite series with me. Unintentionally I knew they would be forcing me to bare an unrelenting barrage of badly rendered special effects, badly placed sarcasm, charmless charm attempts, and of course all around plot chasm. Undoubtedly I was more than surprised to find the most perfectly crafted Television show of all time. Jericho! I find myself in shock and awed by this series! Jericho is perfect! Totally addictive! The fact that it actually existed and it took Net Flix to introduce it to me 6 year after its inception is a true let down. All I can say is this show was the real deal. CBS I am bitch slapping you up side the head. “POW!” Too bad I couldn’t get another 12 episodes, but no… they had to go and mess it all up…

    • Austin Bender

      I enjoy television shows but many grow to follow the same boring formula. Jericho might have survived if it were on a cable channel nowadays as those kind of shows really thrive there. For a while there was a rumor that Netflix was going to produce another season, but I think they denied it.

  2. Kelsey Clark

    Yeah cool list. Its hard to remember that Family Guy was cancelled. I totally agree with having Firefly and of course, Buffy, at the top of the list. Joss Whedon is amazing and I think he is slowly getting recognition.

    • Austin Bender

      It’s hard to imagine a Joss Whedon show getting cancelled now that he is such a big name. Hopefully Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has the same quality as his previous shows.

    • Gemma Mary-Louise

      I didn’t even know that Family Guy was cancelled! Goes to show how strong it is now (not to mention my favourite- American Dad), quite fascinating really. I haven’t really heard of the others, but still an insightful read.

  3. Jon Lisi
    Jon Lisi
    0

    Good idea for a list and some great choices. I think you can also make a case for shows like Freaks and Geeks et al, which never return for another season per se, but find many people discovering the original series through Netflix.

    • Austin Bender

      That is definitely a show that was cancelled too soon and in a way it has found life thanks to Netflix. Man, another season would still be great, though.

  4. Camille Brouard

    Great article, I literally had no idea about Family Guy so that was really interesting to read about.

    I am watching Buffy as I type! I’m absolutely addicted to it, currently on Season 6. I love how the show has ‘matured’ alongside the characters during the plot’s progression, Season 5 in particular really gripped me… mostly because Spike returned!

    Firefly is next on my to watch list 😀

    • Austin Bender

      Buffy is great as it did keep evolving, which is rare in television as they tend to try and stick to the same demographic.

      Firefly was great and the movie was fantastic.

  5. Amy Grant

    Very interesting article, I think Family Guy has become one of the most successful after cancellation although I have to say I think The Cleveland Show was a spin-off too many, I do like American Dad! though. I’m glad you didn’t mention the Friends spin-off Joey, that was a major disappointment that just tried to replace the old cast.

    • Austin Bender

      Joey was the kind of spin-off that basically killed the Friends franchise. Friends was good, Joey was bad, really bad.

      I’ve only seen one episode of The Cleveland Show, I didn’t like it.

  6. Andy Cashmore

    I wasn’t aware Family Guy was cancelled at one point. To think of a television world without that, American Dad and Cleveland Show (the latter which I was never a huge fan of).

    Firefly always screams out to me on lists like this. I’m personally afraid to start watching it in case I love it like many of my friends have and then be disappointed that there isn’t more/I don’t get satisfactory closure.

    • Austin Bender

      Firefly will rip your heart out if you do fall in love with it, but the film is decent closure, not enough closure, but closure nonetheless. There can never be enough closure.

  7. Ashleigh Simpson

    I’ve been meaning to get into Firefly for a while too, I’ve seen the first episode and that was enough to get me interested! Great article, really easy to read, and very interesting! I too wasn’t aware that shows like Family Guy were once cancelled, they’re so popular!

    • Austin Bender

      Firefly is great for many reasons, but the biggest is the cast chemistry which was evident from the first episode. It is hard to believe that Family Guy was once cancelled, everyone in the US and in most parts of the world have heard of it. I’m glad you enjoyed the article. 🙂

  8. Thomas Currington

    Great list! I didn’t realise Arrested Development got cancelled. I’ve only just started watching it, well done on not giving any spoilers.

  9. Kevin Wong

    Absolutely agree with Firefly, a lot of the people I know who are fans of it discovered it through netflix, not from watching it back in 2002

  10. Brett Siegel

    It’s such a shame that Angel couldn’t bounce back in the same way that Buffy and Firefly did. It was truly hitting its creative stride when it was canceled back in Season Five. For some reason, Angel seems to be the black sheep of the Whedonverse. I don’t know if it’s the darker tone, the cop procedural design, or its inconsistent nature, but it never seemed to achieve the passionate fandom of other Whedon shows. I think Season Five of Angel rivals the best of Buffy and it’s too bad we never got a Season Six or a movie (or a Faith spinoff for that matter). That said, the ending they did come up with should go down as one of the great series finales of all time.

  11. Jessica Eve Kennedy

    Firefly’s cancellation still hurts. There’s not an episode of that show that I didn’t enjoy. And it’s so rare that you get group of characters that big who are all unique, all bringing something different. There were so many stories untold in that universe.

  12. Really glad about Buffy and Arrested Development. Southland is also criminally underrated!

  13. Nilson Thomas Carroll

    I’m under the impression that the fourth season of Arrested Development just doesn’t live up to the magic of the older seasons. It’s a shame, and definitely a wasted opportunity with such a great cast and loyal fanbase, but the show missed its mark when it made Michael no longer the straight man. It just lost its moral edge.

Leave a Reply