Television shows go through a process many people are familiar with involving the creation of a pilot episode. These are made after a concept is pitched to a network using a small amount of money as a sort of proposal episode in the process of getting the green light for production. If all goes well, a pilot is picked up by a network and given a series order for an upcoming season. While this can be an arduous process requiring months of work, it generally works out with series that test well with something the fans can enjoy. In other cases, it can result in a pilot being passed on with no series every being ordered with the actors and crew moving on to other projects.
In many cases, the public never hears of these pilots or they don't get as much attention as a fleshed-out series. Occasionally, the public is aware and those pilots that are passed on leaving a hole in our future television schedule we desperately wanted to be filled. The SyFy network is notorious for producing series they either cancel way earlier than they should have or they pass on pilots the people desperately wanted to see. This list compiles the latter with a focus on series the fans were waiting for with bated breath, only to find out the network saw the pilot and gave it the "Meh" treatment.
This list is all about the "if only," as fans of science fiction missed out on these 20 Abandoned Syfy Shows We’ll Never Get To See.
For the 2002 pilot season, SyFy began development of a remake of ABC's 1960s series, The Time Tunnel. The new series was being written by John Turman, best known as a co-writer for 2003's Hulk as well as his work on Ben 10: Alien Swarm and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. The series would have taken a darker, grittier look at the original content, similar to other series popular on the network at the time.
In the pilot, an experiment with a new type of energy called "hot fusion" caused a "time storm" that swept 240 minutes through the past causing significant changes in the timeline. It starred David Conrad, Dion Luther, Andrea Roth, and Tawny Cypress. While the quality isn't great, you can watch the full pilot episode on YouTube. SyFy tried to revive the series again in 2005.
Heroes Anonymous is a six-issue miniseries published by Bongo Comics Group about a group of superheroes who band together to form a superhero support group. The series was developed into a pilot for the 2005 pilot season over at SyFy but failed to achieve a series order. There is little information about the pilot other than its premise was to be "a live-action drama that focuses on twenty-something superheroes who form a support group."
The Heroes Anonymous comics were published from 2003-2004 by Bill Morrison and Scott M. Gimple.
The only names attached to the project were executive producers Lawrence Bender (Pulp Fiction), Kevin Brown (Roswell) and Karl Schaefer (The Dead Zone). It is unknown if the comic book creators, Scott Gimple and Bill Morrison, were attached to the project for writing. This might have been a good show, but it barely made it out of the development phase.
Barbarian Chronicles was pitched for SyFy's robust 2005 pilot season as a half-hour animated series created by Brendon Small, the creator of the sitcom Home Movies. The series was proposed as a cross between Curb Your Enthusiasm and Lord of the Rings, it would have been presented as an ensemble comedy set in a world of fantasy including magic and swords.
David Letterman's Worldwide Pants Inc. and Small were set to executive produce the series, but it failed to achieve a series order. Unfortunately, no episodes were produced and there is very little information regarding the series online.
Kyra was the brainchild of David Twohy, the screenwriter and director of The Chronicles of Riddick and Riddick. The series was meant to follow the adventures of the character Kyra, played by Alexa Davalos in The Chronicles of Riddick. The pilot was pitched by Twohy for the 2004 pilot season, but as you may have already guessed, it was not picked up.
The pitch was made for a made-for-TV movie about the character with the potential to develop the project into a series in the future. Twohy reportedly wrote a script, but no other names were announced as being attached to the project. It is unknown if Alexa Davalos would have reprised her role or if it would have gone to a different actress.
The 2003 pilot season was presented with a made-for-TV movie called Dead Rail, written by Brian Smith. The premise for the film involved a bullet train making its inaugural run to Las Vegas. On board was a detective who had to overcome his past to destroy hostile aliens. The film was to be produced by Glow Worm and was announced as one of the network's 22 new original films for the 2004-05 season.
Dead Rail would definitely fit in with Syfy's cheesy movie line up, so we're surprised that the network turned down the idea.
It is not known why the network decided not to continue production of the film, but it sounds like it would have been classic "cheesy" SyFy. The network has made some of the best-worst movies of all time and this one could have easily made the list. No cast members were announced so it's anyone's guess who might have starred in it.
Alien Blood was announced as one of SyFy's 22 original films for the 2004-05 season, but it never saw the light of day. Given its premise, it's one of those films that could have been really, really bad or possibly, really good. The premise of the movie centered on, an alien army that invades Earth. The aliens demand that 1 million humans be sacrificed. However, a group of misfits come together to stop the aliens.
Though the film was announced, there is little to no information online as to who would have starred in it or even who was tagged to write it. UFO Films was standing by to produce, which may indicate the level of intensity we could have seen. The production company previously released such classics as Cold Fusion, Roboshark, and Lake Placid vs. Anaconda.
This 2002 project saw a man out of time in a made-for-TV-movie that doesn't sound as horrible as the network buyers must have thought. The premise involves a modern-day fight promoter who is inexplicably transported back in time to 95 CE in the city of Rome. As a fight promoter now living in a time with the great Colosseum of Rome, you know he got into some trouble!
The script was written by Sam Egan and it would've been directed by Mario Azzopardi with executive producing credits going to both men, as well as Matt Loze. There was no casting information announced for the project nor are there any images online. We're not sure how much development went into the project before it was finally axed by the network.
These days, Marvel Comics series are all over television, but back in 2003, they were rare in live-action form. Brother Voodoo was pitched to SyFy as a live-action series and it had a lot of big names behind it. Avi Arad and Rick Ungar were on tap to be the executive producers, with Hans Rodionoff tapped to write the screenplay. The series was to be based off the comic character of the same name and would have loosely followed the premise from the books.
We wouldn't be surprised if Netflix adapted Brother Voodoo into a television series or a movie in the near future.
The series was intended to function as a two-hour backdoor pilot/television movie about the adventures of Jericho Drumm. Drumm is a voodoo priest and doctor who returns to New Orleans following after his brother loses his life. Back in his hometown, he is pulled back into the dangerous subculture of black magic.
The intelligently titled On The Seventh Day was intended to be a seven-hour miniseries that was pitched to the network for its 2002-03 season. The story was set in the year 2850 where overcrowding had forced the government to do something drastic. In order to handle the overflow of humans on the planet, all citizens were frozen in cryogenic suspension and would be released only one day a week. This presumably left a little elbow room for the people who weren't sleeping on their assigned days.
The miniseries was written and would have been executive produced by Gary Sherman, whose work in the horror genre is well known. He is most famous for directing Death Line, Dead & Buried, and Poltergeist III. Sadly, the project met its end in the development/pitch phase and never saw the light of day.
1000 Days was a planned Marvel Comics live-action backdoor pilot/made-for-TV-movie, which was meant for the 2003-04 season on SyFy. The series would have been based on the Marvel Comics series Strikeforce: Morituri, which was about soldiers in the near-future who were significantly enhanced with superhuman abilities, but lost their life after only 1,000 days of receiving the "upgrade."
The series was to be written by Art Marcum and Matt Holloway under Reveille Productions and Marvel Studios. It had the backing of studio heads Avi Arad and Rick Ungar, but never made it past the development phase. This series was given the initial go-ahead alongside Brother Voodoo, which was similarly given a pass by the network.
The Twelve was initially scheduled by SyFy to premiere in December 2005, but it never made it far into development before getting the ax. It had some big names behind it with Martin Scorsese and his wife, Barbara De Fina, set as executive producers via Cappa/De Fina Productions. The Twelve was planned as a miniseries consisting of an unknown number of episodes based on a concept by David Pirie.
Martin Scorsese is a revered director, so it would be interesting to see what he could do with a Sci-Fi property.
The idea behind the miniseries revolved around an FBI agent who learns that the world will come to an end on the twelfth day of Christmas. Whether or not this agent was going to stop this catastrophe or simply Grinch their way through to the end remains unknown, since the project never flashed on anyone television screens.
Dallas Campbell, best known for his work on The Gadget Show and Bang Goes the Theory, was set to anchor this half-hour reality series in 2005 before the network gave him the pass. The series would have been presented in a reality-television setting, where Dallas was placed into a series of science fiction related challenges that he would have to overcome.
It is not known how far this project went into development before the network passed on it, but it's probably a good thing seeing as Dallas' career only improved in the following years. Some of the challenges involved applying to NASA to become an astronaut and working alongside the Raelians to attempt some personal cloning. R.J. Cutler's Actual Reality Pictures was set to be the executive producer of the series.
You know those shows about paranormal events where people go into scary situations to try and prove/disprove the presence of the supernatural? This series was meant to be just like that, but with a spin. Seriously Baffling Mysteries was pitched as a 30-minute spoof documentary hosted by Jonathan Frankle with the tagline "Jonathan Frankly goes in search of the paranormal on a shoestring budget."
Instead of dealing with paranormal issues on screen, the series was meant to focus on the production crew and the dysfunction seen behind-the-scenes. The series failed to achieve enough interest to warrant a full pilot episode. The series planned to deal with issues relating to the make-up artist's negotiating for a raise via a voodoo doll and other apocalyptic events surrounding monsters messing up production.
John Ridley signed on to write an adaptation of his best-selling novel, Those Who Walk in Darkness, for the 2005 pilot season and SyFy was initially on board with the project. The book takes place in the near-future where Metanormals are hunted down and captured by a special elite team of S.W.A.T. members the series would have followed. Metanormals are genetically enhanced people with superhuman powers.
While John Ridley's novel wasn't adapted into a live-action tv series, it found its place as an animated film.
The series promised to be a high-octane action/sci-fi epic, but it never made it out of the script phase. The series was optioned by SyFy, but it isn't known if their passing on development means another studio could one day pick it up. Unable to continue production with a live-action series, Ridley was able to get an animated adaptation produced in 2003 with voice talents provided by Lil' Kim.
Terrible burns are serious business and scientists are always on the lookout for new methods of treatment. In Tomorrow's Child, a young girl is disfigured and nearly perished in a terrible accident. The doctors bring her back from the brink of losing her life by applying a "skin" of extraterrestrial origin to her body. Not only does she return to life, she comes back with strange and interesting powers.
When the government learns of her newfound abilities, the series turns into a "run for your freedom" affair. The girl must travel across America, in search of others like her while learning how to use her new abilities and discovering their origin. The series was to be produced by NBC Universal and Horseshoe Bay Productions but never made it beyond the scripting phase.
Urban Arcana was based on the Hasbro/Worlds of Wonder role-playing game of the same name. It revolved around an undercover detective, Sean Mayhew, as he seeks to protect all of humanity from an invading force of pan-dimensional creatures. These creatures have somehow crossed into the human world and must be stopped at all costs!
Urban Arcana tagged Aron Coleite, famous for Crossing Jordan, to write alongside Gary A. Randall and Rockne O'Bannon who were to be the executive producers. Fox Television Studios was initially on board, but SyFy passed on the project for their 2005-06 season and it never made it out of the scripting/development phase.
Long before video games had detailed graphics, they look like the real world, there was Myst! In the early '90s, Myst was one of the most beautifully-rendered video games on the planet and it also presented some rather difficult puzzles. Mandalay Television Pictures opted to adapt the classic game to television back in 2002.
While there isn't much information surrounding the Myst TV adaptation, it would have been interesting how a story would have been developed based on the game.
The show was planned as a four-hour miniseries based on the game. It wasn't specified exactly how it would be adapted, but it would likely have involved someone being trapped on a beautiful and mysterious island full of puzzles they needed to solve. If that doesn't sound exciting to you, you might just be a SyFy executive because they ultimately passed on the project.
Joe Haldeman's The Forever War is considered to be some of the best science fiction ever written about a millennium-long interstellar conflict between humanity and an alien species. The book(s) followed the combat tour of William Mandella, who would return to Earth after each battle only to find that hundreds of years had passed thanks to the time-dilation effects of space travel.
Everything was different and he found himself being something of an outcast in a story that parallelled the Vietnam War and how soldiers felt returning from that conflict. The series was initially picked up for development in 2002, as a four-hour miniseries written by John Fasano. As you've probably already guessed, it never saw the light of day and didn't make it out of the scripting phase.
Roger Zelazny's hit series The Nine Princes of Amber follows the adventures of Prince Corwin as he makes his way across multiple realities through 10 books. The series is often considered one of the best in the sci-fi/fantasy genre and would have made for interesting television akin to the likes of Game of Thrones and The Dark Tower series.
The Chronicles of Amber was set to launch as a four-hour miniseries back in 2002 for the 2003-04 series on SyFy, but it never made it out of the scripting phase. Richard Christian Matheson was set to write the miniseries with Tom Patricia tagged as the executive producer. This is a series that may one day see production given the enormous fan-base behind the books, but it seems SyFy has no interest.
Of all the series on this list, Tremors is probably the one most fans are disappointed to not see. Unlike many series on television today, this was intended to be a continuation of the original film making it a sequel of sorts. They even got Kevin Bacon to come back and reprise his role as Valentine McKee, which is something he never did in any of the film sequels.
There is a possibility that the Tremors television series could be picked up by another network, especially with Kevin Bacon reprising his role as Valentine McKee.
The pilot episode was directed by Vincenzo Natali with Andrew Miller writing the pilot, eventually taking on the role of show-runner when it got picked up. Unfortunately, SyFy reportedly passed on the pilot on April 28th, 2018. As of the writing of this article, the pilot is being shopped around to other networks, but none have picked up the project.
Which of these would you have liked to see? Let us know in the comments!