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Top 10 Cancelled TV Shows Saved By Fans

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
Why do good shows get canceled? Sometimes those shows never come back, but other times fans are able to jump in and rescue the show at the last minute. Sometimes shows get fully canceled but rebooted or brought back by a different network or as a movie simply because fans demanded it. So join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for TV shows and TV show franchises that fans rescued. Written by Nathan Sharp
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Hell hath no fury like a fan scorned. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten canceled TV shows saved by fans.

For this list, we’ll be looking at television shows that were canceled but revived due to fan outcry or intervention. We’ll also be including shows that spawned a franchise, even if the show itself never came back to air.

#10: “Veronica Mars” (2004-07)

“Veronica Mars” was a critical darling for UPN that unfortunately never received the viewership it deserved. Despite successfully making the transition to The CW and improving in the ratings, The CW decided to cancel the show after its third season. Rumors soon surfaced that series creator Rob Thomas was going to write a movie to tie up the dangling story threads, and a Kickstarter created by Thomas and Kristen Bell soon surfaced with a goal of $2 million. The goal was reached after just ten hours and the campaign eventually raised over $5 million. The film was released in March 2014, although it failed to recoup its budget.

#9: “Cagney & Lacey” (1982-88)

TV revivals aren’t a new phenomenon. “Cagney & Lacey” was quickly canceled after just six episodes due to low ratings and the supposedly problematic personalities of the characters, with a CBS official infamously referring to them with a homophobic slur. CBS gave the show a second chance, with Sharon Gless brought in to replace Meg Foster. However, the show was canceled again, prompting a massive letter-writing campaign. A combination of the campaign, the show’s accolades, and increased numbers for the final episodes resulted in CBS changing their minds. “Cagney & Lacey” subsequently became one of the most celebrated shows of the ‘80s.

#8: “Family Guy” (1999-2003; 2005-)

“Family Guy,” as of 2018, is still going strong.. However, Fox, early on in the show’s run, moved its airdates around without notice and eventually placed it in a highly competitive timeslot. Due to the poor ratings, Fox canceled the show at the end of its third season. However, the reruns were a huge hit on Adult Swim, and the first and second season DVD became the second highest-selling TV DVD of all time. Interested in the show’s newfound popularity, Fox ordered new episodes in May 2004, making “Family Guy” the rare show brought back primarily by the success of its DVD release.

#7: “Sense8” (2015-18)

By 2015, Netflix was well-known for its original and diverse content, and “Sense8” was meant to be their flagship science fiction program. It wasn’t. The first season received middling reviews, and while the second was considered an improvement, the damage was already done. In a rare move, Netflix cancelled the series in 2017. And while Netflix doesn’t release viewer numbers, they must have been pretty poor, because Netflix seemingly rarely cancels anything. This upset the show’s small but hardcore fanbase, and various online petitions and hashtags were created to save the show. Netflix eventually relented, and a two-hour series finale is set to release in June, 2018.

#6: “Timeless” (2016-)

Sometimes shows are brought back after a lengthy and hard-fought campaign. Sometimes the demand is so high and feverish that it only takes a few days. This is one of those instances. While “Timeless” received relatively strong viewer numbers, it was canceled by NBC after just one season. A fan campaign was quickly launched, and Sony tried to convince NBC of the series’ potential as a popular family-friendly drama. NBC relented and reversed their decision after just a few days, saying, “We heard from the fans and didn’t want to be on the wrong side of history.” Power to the people!

#5: “Jericho” (2006-08)

Some shows, like “Family Guy,” go on to live long, healthy lives after revival. Some, like “Jericho,” not so much. The first season of “Jericho” faltered in the ratings and CBS canceled the series. Fans, however, didn’t let the show go quietly, as they created a massive campaign that quickly got the attention of CBS executives. “Jericho” was subsequently brought back as a midseason replacement during the 2007-08 TV season. However, the show debuted to its lowest ratings yet and it was again canceled. CBS publicly noted the show’s devoted fanbase, but reiterated their view that that the numbers were simply too low to continue production.

#4: “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (2013-)

If the “Timeless” renewal was fast, then that of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” was at damn-near lightspeed. While “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” has consistently enjoyed strong reviews, its viewer numbers have always been on the low side, and Fox canceled the show after five seasons. However, the Internet went absolutely ballistic upon hearing the news. It seemed as if you couldn’t go to a single website or social media platform without hearing about the cancellation in some form. The fervent backlash was heard, and NBC ordered an additional thirteen episodes the very next day. The show is set to return as a midseason replacement in the spring of 2019. Nine Nine!

#3: “Community” (2009-15)

Despite its success, “Community” was always somewhat of a niche show. Its fast pace, layered and rapid-fire jokes, and somewhat surreal tone kept it from truly massive mainstream success. And while the show seemed to always be on the chopping block, it managed to survive for five seasons on NBC, despite the very rocky fourth season without Dan Harmon. Its cancellation greatly upset the show’s enthusiastic fanbase, who began flooding social media with the hashtag #sixseasonsandamovie. Perhaps swayed by the ardent fans and potential for success, Yahoo! ordered a thirteen-episode sixth season for its Yahoo! Screen service. And while that didn’t last, perhaps we’ll see that destined movie one day.

#2: “Firefly” (2002-03)

No, “Firefly” never returned to television (and that’s a damn shame), but it DID spawn a franchise, and that’s good enough for us. “Firefly” was doomed from the start, as the intended pilot was replaced by another episode, guaranteeing that viewers were well confused. Fox further aired the episodes out of order, and even the fans who so desperately wanted to follow the show were left perplexed. The show was cancelled after eleven aired episodes. However, it saw plenty of post-cancellation fan campaigns, accolades, and strong DVD sales, ensuring that the “Firefly” brand continued in the form of a movie, a video game, and various comics.

#1: “Star Trek: The Original Series” (1966-69)



Believe it or not, there was a time when “Star Trek” didn’t dominate popular culture. While the show aired on NBC for three seasons in the late ‘60s, viewers didn’t flock to it, and it was canceled after seventy-nine episodes. It flew under the radar until it began to air on broadcast syndication in the ‘70s, where it quickly attained cult classic status. Fan demand resulted in “Star Trek: The Animated Series,” which ran for two seasons on NBC in the early ‘70s. The subsequent attention that the show received spawned additional comics, games, TV shows, and movies; and the “Star Trek” brand has since become synonymous with the science fiction genre.
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