Netflix is changing how people watch television, and with that, it is changing what television shows are available and how they are available. Once upon a time, when a show was cancelled on a major network, it meant that the show had run its course. There were rare examples of shows that were revived or continued in alternative mediums, such as comic books or movies, but for the most part, if a show was finished on network television, it was finished for good.
However, with the rise of Netflix and other online television providers, there is a significant change in how people watch television. Since Netflix is a subscription service, it does not need to schedule its shows around broadcast schedules, and it can produce television content that is designed to be binge-watched, rather than having new episodes released once a week. Additionally, Netflix’s success has meant that it has enough money that it can invest in saving shows in danger of being cancelled or reviving old fan favorites — if the appeal of the show would convince fans to buy a subscription, then they are valuable investments for Netflix. Netflix adds new content each month, and so viewers have a variety of options to choose from.
The shows on this list are only shows that Netflix has revived; there are other examples of shows that were revived by other internet television services, including Community (2009) on Yahoo, Ripper Street (2012) on Amazon, and The Mindy Project (2012) on Hulu.
Whether it’s an added season of a recent show or a reboot of a beloved classic, here are the 12 Times Netflix Revived Your Favorite Show.
12. Degrassi: Next Class
Degrassi first appeared as after-school specials in 1979 before appearing as a full series through the 1980s. Following a group of teenagers, the show explored a number of social issues and topics that teenagers faced while growing up. The Canadian show was first rebooted in 2001 as Degrassi: Next Generation by MTVCanada and was distributed in the United States on TeenNick and MTV. However, in 2010, after nearly a decade, the series ended.
Netflix partnered with Canada’s Family Channel to reboot the series as Degrassi: Next Class, which featured a new group of teenagers facing a new set of challenges. Stefan Brogren, who originally played the character of Snake in the 1980s, now plays a grown-up version of his character, Principal Simpson. Fan-favorite characters making a return to a series as older, more mature versions of themselves is always a sure-fire way to rope in fans of the original series, as evidenced by the following reboot.
11. Fuller House
Full House (1987-1995) tells the story of a widower, Danny (Bob Saget), and his friends Jesse (John Stamos) and Joey (Dave Coulier), who move in to help him take care of Danny’s three daughters after the death of his wife. The show helped to make Saget, Stamos, and the Olsen twins — who took turns playing Danny’s youngest daughter, Michelle — household names.
Fuller House (2016) shares a similar, albeit reversed, premise. In the reboot, D.J. Tanner-Fuller, the eldest daughter of Danny, is left a widow and enlists the help of her sister, Stephanie, as well as her friend Kimmy, to raise her three sons. The other actors and characters from the original show all play roles in the new revival — with the noticeable exception, that is, of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s Michelle. Fuller House, despite mixed reviews, is returning for a second season on Netflix.
10. Gilmore Girls
Gilmore Girls (2000-2007) is one of the most hotly anticipated and highest profile revivals in recent memory. Netflix announced that it would release four 90-minute episodes in late 2016 with almost all of the original cast returning to reprise their roles, including Lauren Graham as Lorelai, Alexis Bledel as her daughter, Rory, and Melissa McCarthy as her best friend, Sookie.
The beloved show, which first aired on The WB, chronicled the lives of Lorelai and Rory as they made their way in the world. While the previous series finale sent off the Gilmore family with a certain amount of closure, the new show will return to a later chapter in the characters’ lives, with each of the four episodes corresponding to a season over the course of a calendar year.
9. The Killing
Based on the Danish television show The Crime, The Killing (2011-14) tells the story of two homicide detectives in Seattle, Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) and Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman). The show’s history was troublesome and it faced getting cancelled after each of its four seasons. The first two seasons were distributed by AMC, which initially announced that it would cancel the show after its two year run. But after Netflix made a bid for the series, AMC decided to move ahead with a third season. AMC did cancel The Killing after the third season, and Netflix distributed the final and fourth season of the show.
Unlike many crime procedural shows, which feature plot lines that are contained in a single episode, The Killing‘s cases last through the season, and even spill from one season to the next. These season-length and even series-length stories are more easily told on an online platform like Netflix, which allows the viewer to watch the story seamlessly.
8. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
You’re probably thinking: what is Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015) doing on this list? This show started on Netflix! But while it’s true that Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt first aired on Netflix, it was originally being produced by NBC. After NBC dropped Tina Fey’s comedy about the aforementioned Kimmy (Ellie Kemper), a woman who was kidnapped by a cult leader (Jon Hamm) and grew up in a bunker, Netflix swept in and picked up the show. Since then, the first season charmed audiences and critics, as Kimmy moves to New York City and gets her first job with Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski) and her first apartment with her roommate Titus (Tituss Burgess). The success of the first season paved the way for the the second season, which was just released on Netflix this past month. Without Netflix, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, with its strange premise and cast of characters, would have never made it to fan’s screens.
Netflix is apparently confident in the show’s performance, and renewed Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt for a third season before the premiere of the second season.
7. Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp
Wet Hot American Summer (2001) was a comedy film that satirized 1980s teen romantic comedies. The cast of the film featured up-and-coming heavy hitters like Elizabeth Banks, Bradley Cooper, Amy Poehler, and Paul Rudd. While the movie did not perform well, and received negative reviews from critics, it gained a massive cult following over the years. Additionally, many of its stars went on to prominent careers in Hollywood.
In 2015, Netflix managed to reassemble all that talent and release a prequel television series called Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (2016). Most of the original cast returned for the out-of-nowhere revival, alongside a few other well-known actors, including Jon Hamm, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, and Michael Cera. The reboot of the show was successful enough that Netflix has just ordered another series, called Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later.
6. Arrested Development
Arrested Development (2003) — as the omniscient narrator would say at the beginning of each episode — was the story of a wealthy family who lost everything and the one man who had no choice but to keep them together. That man was Michael (Jason Bateman) and that family, the Bluths, was quite the cast of characters: his manipulative mother, Lucille (Jessica Walter); his father, George (Jeff Tambor), the crooked businessman-turned-prison-mate; his brothers Gob (Will Arnett), a failed magician, and Buster (Tony Hale), a phobia-filled graduate student; his selfish sister Lindsay (Portia de Rossi) and her never-nude husband Tobias (David Cross); his son, George Michael (Michael Cera), who is in love with his cousin Maeby (Alia Shawkat).
Arrested Development is easily one of the funniest shows on television, but when it aired on Fox, it struggled to find a consistent viewership. However, when Netflix attained the rights in 2011, fans rejoiced — the new episodes were released in 2013, and a fifth season and possible upcoming movie is in the works. Did we mention that it might be a murder mystery?
5. Black Mirror
Black Mirror (2011-) resembles The Twilight Zone in that each episode is a self-contained story about an alternate universe. Except, unlike The Twilight Zone, which dealt in parallel universes that were often fantastical or otherwise removed from our own lives, Black Mirror looks at the not-too-distant future and how advances in technology affect the lives of people. Black Mirror is dark science fiction, but it always seems uncomfortably close to reality (and not just because the first episode has some strange similarities to a particular rumor about British Prime Minister David Cameron). While characters do not reoccur over episodes, it features performances by a number of talented and well-known actors, including Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter), Domhnall Gleeson (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Tuppence Middleton (Sense8), and Jon Hamm (Mad Men), who apparently has made it his life’s work to appear in every single series Netflix revives.
Initially, the show aired on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom, with its episodes later streaming on Netflix. Netflix is producing and has exclusive distribution rights for the upcoming third season.
4. Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday
Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) was a character that began on the stage before starring in films and in a television series called Pee-wee’s Playhouse (1986-1991). The television show won fifteen Emmy awards, and Reubens would appear on talk shows as his character, who subsequently was vaulted to an iconic status.
In 1991, Reubens was arrested at an adult theater, which made studios and producers pull Pee-wee’s Playhouse reruns from the air. Pee-wee was quiet for a while, but in 1999, rumors that a new movie was in the works started working their way around. The idea for a Pee-wee movie floated in development hell for some years, but eventually, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday was picked up by Netflix, finally getting released this past March. The film, produced by Judd Apatow, follows Pee-wee on an adventure in New York City that involves the Amish, a bank heist, and a flying car (but not in that order).
Longmire (2012-), which began on the A&E network, is somewhere between a crime procedural and a cowboy show. It follows Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor), a sheriff in Wyoming, who’s dealing with the death of his wife while trying to keep the peace between the various locals, as well as the inhabitants of the nearby Cheyenne reservation. Fans of Battlestar Galactica (2004) will recognize his deputy, Vic Moretti, is played by Katee Sackhoff, who also played Starbuck.
A&E cancelled Longmire at the end of its third season, despite its generally positive reviews and steady viewership. However, Netflix chose to renew the production for a fourth season. This experiment turned out to be successful, as Netflix renewed Longmire in 2015 for an upcoming fifth season.
2. W/ Bob and David
Mr. Show With Bob and David (1995-1998) was an HBO sketch show starring, you guessed it, Bob (Odenkirk) and David (Cross). In other words, Tobias Funke from Arrested Development and Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul got together to make fun of things. Unsurprisingly, the two decided that nothing was sacred or safe, and the fast-paced and adults-only show made a point of finding humor at the expense of religion, politics, popular culture, and just about everything else.
Netflix ordered four half-hour episodes of W/ Bob and David (2015) that reunited the Mr. Show collaborators to create more irreverent comedy. They also developed a special “making of” episode aptly and tautologically titled Behind the Making of Scenes. Hilarity — obviously — ensues.
1. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008-2012) is an animated adventure show that originally aired on Cartoon Network. The show weaved together characters from the Star Wars films, including Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor) along with new characters like Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) and Asajj Ventress (Nika Futterman). Exploring the trials and tribulations of the Clone Wars, with the Sith and Jedi facing each other as well as the Separatists fighting the Republic, the show helps to solidify Anakin’s character and trajectory in the films.
The final season of The Clone Wars only aired on Netflix, and if Netflix had not stepped in to distribute the show, then the final season would not have been made available to Star Wars fans. The Clone Wars might be the best thing to come out of the prequels, and its influence definitely affected Star Wars: Rebels and will be essential viewing for the next big screen adventure, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Did we miss your favorite show — or do you have a favorite show that you want Netflix to save? Let us know in the comments!
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