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Top 10 Fan Campaigns That Worked

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Nick Spake. Sometimes a million voices can make a difference. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 fan campaigns that worked. For this list, we’re taking a look at successful campaigns that were instigated by dedicated fans to save a popular franchise in entertainment. We have only the fans to think for bringing some of these classics back from the dead. If there’s anything these campaigns taught us is that fandom can change anything. Special thanks to our users kenn1987 for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Transcript
Script written by Nick Spake.

Top 10 Fan Campaigns That Worked


Sometimes a million voices can make a difference. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 fan campaigns that worked.

For this list, we’re taking a look at successful campaigns that were instigated by dedicated fans to save a popular franchise in entertainment.

#10: “Arrested Development” (2003-06; 2013)

Universal critical acclaim and an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series couldn’t save our Bluths. Low ratings dogged the witty show, and after a shortened second season, it was almost sent to that big banana stand in the sky. Speaking of bananas; that’s exactly what loyal fans sent to network execs, imploring them to keep this dysfunctional family on TV. And it worked: “AD” got a third season, albeit a short one, before it left the air in style. Several years later, fans’ prayers were answered again when Netflix brought the comedy back for a fourth season. Now if we could just get that movie, we’d official blue ourselves.

#9: “Futurama” (1999-2003; 2008-13)

Yet another Fox series that got cancelled far too soon, Matt Groening’s “Futurama” was carelessly shuffled around the network’s schedule throughout the years and ended its initial run after four seasons. Fans simply couldn’t accept a future without Fry, Bender, Leela and the gang, though, and campaigned for a revival – mainly through their DVD purchases. When Comedy Central acquired the show’s syndication rights, the original “Futurama” team reunited to produce four straight-to-DVD movies and eventually 52 new episodes. “Futurama” officially concluded in 2013 with the episode entitled, “Meanwhile,” leaving the characters on the perfect final note.

#8: “Twin Peaks” (1990-91)

After a wildly successful first season, the network brass strong-armed “Twin Peaks”’ creative minds solve the mystery of who killed Laura Palmer in the middle of season-two. The show quickly stalled, and when it was put on hiatus fans banded as COOP, or Citizens Opposed to the Offing of Peaks, to write letters and in some cases send stale doughnuts to the network. While COOP couldn’t stop ABC from cancelling the beloved drama, they did convince the network to air the final six episodes of season-two. Almost 25-years and a feature film later, Showtime announced that “Twin Peaks” would finally continue as a limited series with David Lynch directing every episode. That’s damn fine news.

#7: “Mass Effect 3” (2012)

“Mass Effect 3” delivered everything fans could want from this epic trilogy’s conclusion… except for the final ten minutes, which many complained made no sense and lacked any free choice. Outraged fans initiated an Internet campaign to “Retake Mass Effect” and raised $80,000 in only two weeks for their cause. While BioWare refused to change the ending outright, they did release an extended cut several months later. The cinematic epilogue provided some much-needed closure, depicting the aftermath of the final battle, Shepard’s crew mourning the loss of their commander, and hope for the future.

#6: “Veronica Mars” (2004-07)

When “Veronica Mars” was cancelled in 2007, a group of fans known as “Cloud Watchers” began a campaign that included several bizarre elements, which included sending over 10,000 Mars Bars to the CW in protest. The candy bar campaign wasn’t enough to bring Veronica back for a fourth season, but the fans – later calling themselves Marshmallows – didn’t stop there: in 2013, creator Rob Thomas and star Kristen Bell launched a Kickstarter to make a “Veronica Mars” feature film. The campaign raised $5.7 million, surpassing their goal of $2 million in just 11 hours. A year later, the “Veronica Mars” movie was released to critical and fan acclaim.

#5: “Operation Rainfall” (2011-13)

“The Last Story,” “Pandora’s Tower,” and “Xenoblade Chronicles” are all phenomenal games. Apparently they were too phenomenal for us silly North Americans as for years these role-playing titles were only available in Japan, Europe, and Australia. However, through Operation Rainfall and its letter-writing, email and phone call campaign as well as its pre-ordering of the games on Amazon, Nintendo of America was at long last convinced to bring the three titles across the world to the Wii console. Now the only Nintendo game that’s missing from our library is a 3D remake of “The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask”…oh hey, way to go Operation Moonfall!

#4: “Family Guy” (1999-2003; 2005-)

“Family Guy” was practically given a death sentence when Fox pitted it against the likes of “Frasier,” “Friends,” and “Survivor” on Thursday nights. Although the network didn’t realize what they had on their hands, loyal fans certainly did. After the animated series was cancelled not once but twice, it gained a cult following through reruns on Adult Swim and record-breaking DVD sales. Fan support helped Fox to see the error of their ways, resulting in the Griffin family’s resurrection. Since then, Seth MacFarlane’s inappropriate cartoon has become one of Fox’s flagship shows.

#3: The Death of Sherlock Holmes (1893-1901)

Fan campaigns seem like a modern concept, but the idea can actually be traced back to the late-1800s when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle killed Sherlock Holmes in his 1893 story “The Final Problem” due to his desire to focus on what he called his more serious writing. In response, readers canceled their subscriptions to Strand Magazine, the periodical wherein the story was first published, and took to the streets wearing black armbands. Doyle revisited Holmes in the 1901 prequel story “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” and officially resurrected him in “The Return of Sherlock Holmes.” But even if Sherlock had remained dead, the character would’ve lived on in popular culture for decades to come regardless.

#2: “Firefly” (2002-03)

As you might’ve noticed, Fox has prematurely cancelled a lot of great shows. But the network made what was perhaps their biggest booboo ever when they gave Joss Whedon’s “Firefly” the axe. Although it only aired for three months, “Firefly” was still on long enough to spawn a following of loyal Browncoats. Fans tried everything to save this short-lived sci-fi adventure, from a letter-writing campaign, to funding an ad in Variety Magazine to pleading with UPN to adopt the show. While the show was cancelled, their efforts eventually paid off as they motivated Universal Studios to let Whedon make the feature-length continuation, “Serenity.”

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

- “Jericho” (2006-08)

- “Roswell” (1999-2002)

- “Paranormal Activity” (2007)

- “Friday Night Lights” (2006-11)

#1: “Star Trek” (1966-69)

Believe it or not, “Star Trek” wasn’t an overnight cultural phenomenon. As a matter of fact, NBC wanted to bring the starship Enterprise’s voyages to a conclusion after only two seasons due to low ratings. Trekkers across the nation spoke out, and in an unheard of move mailed tens of thousands of letters to NBC to save “Star Trek.” Miraculously, the series was renewed for a third season, though its budget was slashed and it was dumped on Friday nights, leading to its final cancellation the next year. Nevertheless, “Star Trek” continued to flourish through syndication. This amounted to spinoff shows, movies, and merchandise, boldly going where no franchise has gone before.

Do you agree with our list? What other fan campaigns paid off? For more entertaining Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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