Before the age of Netflix, TV series used to die and stay dead. Fans silently mourned the loss of their favorite shows but ultimately moved on with their lives, because that’s what healthy humans did in the age before the internet. But now it’s 2015 and we have more ways to watch television than ever. Best of all, TV fans are no longer required to be “healthy humans” because, as Netflix has showed us, if we obsess over it enough, our dearly departed favorite TV shows may crawl out of their static-filled graves and be given new life.
As shows like 24, Arrested Development, The Mindy Project, and Twin Peaks have shown us, what’s dead may never die; as long as we all agree to never shut up about our collective disappointment in their cancellation.
With that golden rule of TV revival in mind, let’s take a look at the 10 Cancelled TV Shows that Netflix needs to Renew right now in the form of a season’s worth of satisfyingly, binge-able content.
10 The Comedians
While The Comedians is the freshest cancellation on this list, it still stings to those of us who loved watching the dysfunctional pairing of Billy Crystal and Josh Gad week after week. Lasting only a season before FX pulled the plug, The Comedians was filled with outstanding performances and seasons of story potential; potential that we’ll never get to see. Though viewers may have initially been turned off by another Curb Your Enthusiasm or Episodes-style behind-the-scenes comedy, the series quickly proved to be a fresh and stylish departure from the expected; splicing in hilarious scenes from the show-within-the-show and focusing on the dramatic and sometimes emotional core of the characters. What resulted was a tonally rewarding show with equal parts low-brow fart jokes and emotionally rich storytelling.
If Netflix were to revive The Comedians, not only would they get one of the best written and performed shows from the 2015 season, but they could also mine humor from the network change. Since the fictional Billy and Josh show at the center of The Comedians aired on FX, a potential Netflix revival could see Billy and Josh cancelled, then picked up at the 11th hour by Netflix, riding in on its steed of low buffer times and good decisions. Netflix wins, fans of the show win, and new audiences would be treated to one of the sharpest comedies in recent memory.
There’s perhaps no show on this list with fans as die hard as Firefly fans. The epic space western was created by geek god Joss Whedon and brought heart and humor to a genre usually saturated in black tones and consumed by an all-encompassing seriousness. With a stellar ensemble cast and a cult fanbase that rivals actual cults (seriously, they're called "browncoats"), Firefly is the example par excellence of TV shows that were cancelled too soon, which is why it would make a great candidate for a Netflix revival.
Though the world of Firefly was expanded upon with Serenity (a feature film based on the series), a role-playing game and a comic series, a true revival would make fans salivate with glee. Ready-made for a bigger budget and a binge-worthy release, a revived Firefly would establish Netflix as the ultimate home for fanboys. Ignoring all obstacles and odds against new episodes, if Netflix and Whedon managed to come together for this one, the new Firefly series could go the route of Star Trek when it was revived in 1968 after its initial cancellation; which is to say it could spawn an empire and last for generations to come. That's just the kind of show Firefly is.
8 Freaks and Geeks
Distilling Freaks and Geeks down to its basic components makes its cancellation look like the biggest mistake in the history of television. There’s Paul Feig, the A-List writer/director of Bridesmaids, Spy, and the upcoming Ghostbusters reboot, as the creator. Emperor of Hollywood and Ruler of the R-Rated Comedy Judd Apatow himself as executive producer. And a cast that includes Linda Cardellini (Bloodline, Mad Men), John Francis Daley (himself a pretty big deal after being tapped to write the upcoming Spider-Man Reboot), and other names whose credits need not be listed, including James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and Martin Starr. Not to mention guest-appearances by Lizzy Caplan, Ben Foster, Shia LaBeouf, Leslie Mann, Ben Stiller, and Rashida Jones. And those are just credits. The show itself would be worth renewing if none of those people did anything noteworthy ever again.
When you look at the series as a piece of art, you get a show so emotionally raw, so subtly hilarious, so astoundingly true to life that it physically hurts when you consider that it lasted only 18 episodes. If Netflix was to revive Freaks and Geeks, they could go the route of the recent Wet Hot American Summer revival by rounding up the massively successful cast and crew, throw them together for a few episodes, and letting the magic happen.
Another recent addition to this list, Hannibal lasted only 3 glorious seasons before being cut up and turned into a Saturday night stew by NBC this past summer. Created by Bryan Fuller, an expert at making gone-too-soon television (Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls), Hannibal started out as ordinary as any cannibal-centric crime procedural could… before quickly jettisoning the initial concept and letting all hell break loose - in the best way possible.
Hannibal was perhaps the most gorgeous show in the history of television, featuring direction and cinematography that were so intricately planned that the show stopped feeling like a weekly dose of stories and started feeling more like an experimental art piece. Hannibal was comprised of music and imagery and performances and dialogue so deeply disturbing and infinitely complex that its three season tenure on NBC is still an astounding feat to consider.
Moving to Netflix after Bryan Fuller finishes his pressing duties on Starz’ American Gods would allow the cast and crew to continue the Hannibal story in a way that we’ve never seen. Allowing nudity, gore, and profanity (in a typically beautiful Hannibal way) would elevate the series to a Game Of Thrones-level scope and caliber. Not to mention that if Netflix wants to seriously push its burgeoning 4K service, it couldn’t beat having a flagship show like Hannibal to show off just how beautiful streaming can really be.
6 Happy Endings
None of us want to live in a world without Dave’s V-necks, and yet that’s where we’ve all lived since ABC cancelled Happy Endings in 2013. Granted, the show lasted longer than any on this list with a total of 57 episodes. But dammit, 57 episodes isn’t enough time to fully appreciate Max and Brad’s bar-mitzvah hyping skills or just how much meat Alex can put into her tiny body. We're talking about food, by the way. Any true Happy Endings fan would know that.
Happy Endings combined the best of comedy by throwing its Friends-esque characters into It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia-like situations and listening to the Arrested Development-style layered banter unravel. It was everything you could love about comedy, all wrapped around the most likable group of actors working today. But speaking of working today, 2015 brought the cancellation of nearly all of their post-Happy Endings gigs, including Casey Wilson’s (and showrunner David Caspe’s) Marry Me, Elisha Cuthbert’s One Big Happy, Zachary Knighton’s Weird Loners, and Eliza Coupe’s Benched. Adding to that, Damon Wayans Jr. left New Girl and Adam Pally left The Mindy Project, so that’s 6/6 Happy Endings cast members that now have no full time TV commitment. So, what do you say Netflix? Care to revive another future classic?
For a while back in the mid 2000s, Jericho was a shining beacon of post-cancellation hope. When CBS cancelled the very un-CBS-like serialized drama after one season, fans rallied together and created a “Save Our Show” campaign that was soon copied by nearly every other TV fanbase of cancelled shows, by mailing peanuts ("nuts" was the last word uttered on the show before it got cancelled) to CBS executive in New York and Los Angeles. When CBS finally relented, a second season was ordered; only to suffer worse ratings than the first and be cancelled all over again.
Subsequent attempts to revive the show, which focused on a small town of survivors after a nuclear attack on major American cities, have been met with brief flashes of interest over the years, including a rumored Netflix revival and a potential movie. Though “Season 3 and 4” have since been released in comic book form, fans of the show refuse to give up hope that one day their beloved series will return. Even though it’s been nearly a decade since the show premiered and brought with it a glut of serialized television to network TV, Jericho is the one show on this list you’d be a fool to ever count out of any survival race.
4 Party Down
Never heard of Party Down? Neither did anyone else, apparently, considering its series finale was only watched by 74,000 people. Nonetheless, it’s time you and everyone else has heard of Party Down. Why? Because it’s got Cable TV Comedy pedigree, complete with nudity and swearing. It’s got stars who have gone on to headline some of TV’s top shows, including Adam Scott, Lizzy Caplan, Martin Starr, Ken Marino, Jane Lynch, and more. It’s created by Rob Thomas, John Enbom, and Dan Etheridge (all of varying degrees of Veronica Mars fame), and Ant-Man himself, Paul Rudd. It’s also laugh out loud funny, soul-crushingly dark, and pitch-perfectly absurd; all at the same time.
Since its 2010 cancellation, Party Down's creators and stars have teased a movie, but as of yet nothing’s materialized. Though everyone involved is exceptionally busy, any amount of Party Down would be a welcome treat, since the original run managed to poise itself as one of the best comedies in TV history in only 20 episodes. So Netflix, take note; we don’t need copious amounts of a revived Party Down, we’ll take anything you give us!
3 Pushing Daisies
Bryan Fuller has done it again, but unlike Hannibal, Pushing Daisies only lasted two seasons, leaving mountains of untapped story potential in the charming tale of a pie maker and his ability to bring the dead back to life for 60 seconds with a single touch. Over the course of two seasons, Pushing Daisies channeled fantasy and horror, camp and drama, emotion and humor, all to the tone of a breathtakingly imaginative and visually appetizing series.
Fuller has spoken in the past about potential avenues for a Pushing Daises revival, including a Kickstarter-fueled mini-series or film and even a Broadway musical. But if Netflix were to pick up the series, it would hopefully keep the atmosphere and the charm that turned the show into a cult hit, and re-imagine the procedural elements into a more refined serialized story. Without needing to appeal to the ABC grind of incorporating a new mystery each week, a revived Pushing Daisies could focus on the complex characters and the rich mythology that the show always hinted at but never fully uncovered. Also, a revival would have the added benefits of being a word-play-generating machine, with such potential taglines as “Back From The Dead,” “Revivals Have Never Been So Fitting,” and “Pushing Daisies Is No Longer Pushing Daisies.”
2 Sports Night
Aaron Sorkin’s first television show is all but lost to history, having aired on ABC with an unfortunate laugh track and a dramedic (it’s gotta be called something) tone that would not be popular with audiences until a decade later. Sports Night is yet another Sorkin show about the personal and professional lives of the cast and crew of a fictional TV show. His only half hour show, Sports Night lasted two incredible seasons before being thrown to the dust by ABC because it had no idea what else to do with it.
Starring Josh Charles, Peter Krause, Felicity Huffman, and Joshua Malina, a Sports Night revival would be a welcome addition to 2015’s golden age of television. With a sincerity that only Aaron Sorkin can muster, along with his trademark dialogue and tonal shifts that leave all other entertainment feeling hollow and pointless, Sports Night could shed its late '90s look and take on a whole new persona. With some of the best actors in the business delivering the lines of a post-Newsroom Sorkin, Sports Night can go from a kick-ass show that was smarter and funnier than anything on TV when it first aired, to a kick-ass show that’s smarter and funnier than anything that’s on TV now.
1 Terra Nova
Did Terra Nova deliver on its promise to show Jurassic Park-level entertainment mixed with Lost-caliber mythology? Not really. Did it have potential to do this if given more than one season and a higher-than-FOX-would-allow budget? For the sake of argument, let’s say yes.
After an insanely expensive pilot promised an epic series to come, viewers understandably started abandoning the show in the weeks that followed, realizing that not every episode could be an all-out dinosaur-fest. But with a Netflix revival and some of that House of Cards money thrown its way, Terra Nova could potentially rise from the ashes and fulfill the promise that it once made.
Did we miss any show that obviously should be brought back? Are there any character that you're dying to see, once again? Let us know in the comments below!
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