Netflix is a champion for the underdog. The streaming service has resurrected a number of TV shows that were canceled for one reason or another by major networks like Fox and A&E and less successful ones too, such as the now-defunct WB. While some of the revivals only lasted an additional season on Netflix, others have withstood the test of time. One show gained such a massive following after airing on Netflix that the streaming service added five additional seasons to the program’s lineup and a spin-off! But we’ll get to that later…
Check out our favorite canceled shows that Netflix brought back to life.
Full House originally aired on ABC from 1987 through 1995. The premise was simple: a widower named Danny Tanner, played by Bob Saget, raises his three daughters with the help of his brother-in-law Jesse Katsopolis (John Stamos) and best friend Joey Gladstone (David Coulier). Candace Cameron, Jodie Sweetin, and twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen played his daughters.
The series was massively popular among fans and did so well in the ratings that it stayed on the air for eight seasons. It also gained viewers when it aired in syndication. Even though it was still popular, execs canceled the beloved show because production costs kept rising.
Fuller House (Sequel)
Fuller House is a sequel to Full House and centers around Danny’s daughter DJ, who in a twist of fate is a widow with three sons. Nearly all of the original cast members have appeared on the show as either regular cast members or special guests. However, neither Mary-Kate nor Ashley Olsen revived their roles as Michelle Tanner.
Series creator Jeff Franklin told TVLine he stopped asking them to return: “The door is open, but I’m not going to be calling them anymore to invite them. They just don’t seem interested in coming. It’s been three years of invitations, so they know the door is open.”
The Fox comedy Arrested Development aired for three seasons from 2003 to 2006. It centered on the dysfunctional Bluth family and the lineup included actors Will Arnett, Alia Shawkat, Michael Cera, Tony Hale, Jessica Walter, Jason Bateman and Portia de Rossi.
The show was created by Mitchell Hurwit who had no intention of it running past three seasons. He noted, “I had taken it as far as I felt I could as a series. I told the story I wanted to tell, and we were getting to a point where I think a lot of the actors were ready to move on.”
Arrested Development (Seasons 4 & 5)
Critics loved the series, but it had only moderate ratings. By the third season, viewership dropped from a peak of 6.2 million to 4 million. After the show was moved to another time slot on Mondays, only 3.43 million viewers tuned into the season three finale.
In 2011, Netflix expressed interest in continuing the series. The show aired its fourth season on the streaming service. While the company does not reveal the viewership numbers from its series, Arrested Development did well enough to warrant a fifth season. Production started in August 2017, and the new season is expected to air in 2018.
Gilmore Girls aired for seven seasons on the WB and CW from 2000 to 2007. Lauren Graham starred as single-mother Lorelai Gilmore and Alexis Bledel played her daughter, Rory. The show created by Amy Sherman-Palladino focused on their lives in the small town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut.
While critics loved it, the show had a modest following, but ratings were good enough for the network. In fact, the series was the WB’s second-highest rated show during its fifth season. Sherman-Palladino left the series when it transferred to its new network, the CW. Graham and Bledel’s contracts ended following the seventh season, and the series was canceled.
Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life
Many fans didn’t like the series finale and were disappointed that showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino had not written its send-off episode. In 2009, Amy said she was interested in writing a “Gilmore Girls” film to get closure and to finish the characters’ stories the way she always planned.
When the cast and crew reunited at the 2015 ATX Television Festival, it created a huge demand for a comeback. Thus, Netflix decided to air a “revival” with Amy on board consisting of four 90-minute episodes. All major cast members made an appearance, and there’s talk that Netflix may air a second revival.
The sci-fi series Black Mirror aired on the British Channel 4 in 2011. The second season (or “series” as they say in Britain) ran in 2013. The show is very dark and often focuses on modern society and how people interact with new technologies.
Each episode is self-contained and is either set in an alternate universe or the near future with the show regularly being compared to the Twilight Zone. Fans from all over the world have watched it, including people from the United States, Australia, Israel, Sweden, Spain, Poland, and Hungary. In 2012, it was one of China’s most talked about programs.
Black Mirror (Season 3)
The show was generally well received by critics and fans during its first two seasons. Even celebrated horror author Stephen King praised the series. It won an award for Best TV Movie/Miniseries at the International Emmy Awards. In 2015, Netflix made arrangements to air the third season, contracting 12 episodes.
They later decided to divide the 12 episodes into two seasons. The third aired in 2016. Filming on the fourth season started in summer 2017. Once the series aired on Netflix, Americans gobbled it up. The show earned Emmy Awards for Outstanding Television Movie and Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special.
Mystery Science Theater 3000
This sci-fi comedy series initially launched in 1988 on KTMA in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Series creator Joel Hodgson plays a janitor who is trapped by a couple of mad scientists. Against his will, Joel is made to watch numerous B movies while the scientists plan to take over the world. Joel and his robot sidekicks offer amusing commentary as they critique each of the films on the big screen.
Comedy Central picked up MST3K, and it aired on the network until 1997. The Sci-Fi channel then picked it up for an additional three seasons before it was canceled in 1999.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return (Season 11)
By season eight, the entire cast had been replaced. The production company Best Brains, Inc. felt limited under the Sci-Fi channel with the variety of films they could use. Conflicts between the two parties ultimately resulted in the show’s cancellation. Joel Hodgson spent years trying to bring back MST3K. After securing rights to the series, he launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2015. He set a goal of $2 million for three episodes and secured funding in a week.
Hodgson cast entirely new actors for the new season but kept the same style of the original series. Fourteen new episodes were released on Netflix in April 2017.
The Canadian series Degrassi first launched as an after-school special in the late ’70s. In the ’80s it was turned into a full series. The show centered around a group of teens who dealt with all sorts of issues like sex, pregnancy, date rape, drug abuse, homosexuality, self-harm, suicide, abortion, domestic violence, and racism.
The show was given a reboot in 2001 and titled Degrassi: Next Generation. Americans watched it on TeenNick and MTV and people in 140 other countries also tuned into the popular show. The final season aired in 2015 and its predecessors were The Kids of Degrassi Street, Degrassi Junior High, and Degrassi High.
Degrassi: Next Class
The first season of this Canadian teen drama originally aired on January 4, 2016, on F2N in Canada. It debuted internationally on January 15, 2016, on Netflix. It’s the fifth incarnation of the Degrassi franchise. The show was originally conceptualized as being the 15th season of Degrassi: The Next Generation, but that changed before filming even began.
Linda Schuyler, one of the franchise’s original producers, explained, “There’s a new generation, Generation Z, who weren’t even born when we started that show. That was a very sobering fact…We’ve done a lot of research into Generation Z and decided we need a reboot.”
Billed as a modern western/crime drama, Longmire premiered on A&E in summer 2012. The show is based on author Craig Johnson’s best-selling series, the Walt Longmire Mysteries.
The TV series stars Robert Taylor as Absaroka County, Wyoming, sheriff Walt Longmire. He solves crimes with the help of his staff and friends and butts heads with a rival tribal sheriff from an Indian reservation. Both fans and critics enjoyed the show. The series has received several award nominations over the years. Although ratings were good, in 2014 the network announced it was canceling the program following its third season.
Longmire (Seasons 4, 5 & 6)
“Longmire” is credited with having A&E’s number-one original-series premiere ever with a total of 4.1 million viewers tuning in. After A&E announced the show’s cancellation, Netflix swooped in and picked up the series.
They filmed 10 episodes for the series’ fourth season on location in New Mexico and the new season premiered in September 2015. One month later, the streaming service revealed Longmire would be back for a fifth season. They filmed the season in June 2016 and aired the 10 episodes in September 2016. Season six, the final season, was filmed in spring 2016. It has yet to air on Netflix. To fans delight, a rumor of a Longmire film has also made the rounds.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
George Lucas created the animated TV series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and it was produced by Lucasfilm Animation. Cartoon Network launched the show in October 2008.
The series takes place in the Star Wars universe during the years between the big-screen films Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Critics generally praised the show, and it turned into the network’s most-watched series premiere of all time. Around 3 million people tuned in to the first episode. But nothing lasts forever. Lucasfilm announced in 2013 that Star Wars: The Clone Wars would soon be coming to an end.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Season 6)
In 2014, Netflix streamed the sixth and final season of the series. The service also added the previous seasons to its catalog so viewers could catch up if they hadn’t seen it. The Clone Wars series was supposed to leave Netflix in March 2016 but remained on the streaming service.
However, in September 2017 all six seasons of Star Wars: The Clone Wars were dropped by Netflix. No reason was given for the move, but earlier this year Disney announced that it would pull all of its titles from the streaming service by 2019 because it is planning on starting its own streaming platform.
Trailer Park Boys
The Canadian series Trailer Park Boys is a continuation of the 1999 similarly-titled film. The show kicked off in 2001 on Showcase and is the network’s highest-rated series. It centers on the residents of a trailer park, some of whom are ex-cons, in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
It aired in several international markets, including Australia, Spain, Ireland, Iceland, New Zealand, Israel, Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal, Germany, Bulgaria, and Poland. The three lead stars are so beloved by fans they’ve even gone on tour with Canadian rock band Our Lady of Peace and Guns ‘N’ Roses. The show even spawned three movies, which aired in in 2006, 2009 and 2014.
Trailer Park Boys (Seasons 8 Through 11)
The series finale of Trailer Park Boys aired in December 2008 on Showcase, but the stars of the show weren’t ready to let it go. The guys who played Ricky LaFleur (Robb Wells), Julian (John Paul Tremblay) and Bubbles (Mike Smith) bought the rights to the show and produced content online on their network dubbed Swearnet.
Then they partnered with Netflix in 2014. Season eight aired in 2014, followed by season nine in 2015. Season 10 aired in 2016. They also produced a spin-off. Trailer Park Boys: Out of the Park: Europe, which launched on Netflix in October 2016. Season 11 aired the following spring & season 12 is underway.
The Danish TV show Forbrydelsen (or The Crime) inspired AMC’s The Killing. It premiered on the network in 2011 and centered on homicide detectives Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) and Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) as they solved crimes in Seattle, Washington.
Fans might not know that the show’s cancellation and renewal are a bit complicated. In 2012, AMC said they were not renewing it for a third season. Then AMC announced it was shopping it around to other networks. In 2013, AMC and Fox Television Studios revealed the series was renewed for a 12-episode third season. Cast members Billy Campbell, Michelle Forbes, and Brent Sexton did not come back.
The Killing (Season 4)
AMC canceled the series for good in 2013. Two months later, Netflix revealed it was picking the show up for an abbreviated fourth season—six episodes to be exact. Showrunner Veena Sud and executive producers-writers Dawn Prestwich and Nicole Yorkin stayed on board, as did stars Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman.
The show has been compared to David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Most critics liked the first season, although many were irritated by the finale. The pilot episode was AMC’s second-best original series premiere after The Walking Dead. Viewership dropped quite a bit during season two, thus precipitating its cancellation.