The plot twist is the thing of sweeps week legend. It's when couples finally get together or when they inevitably break up. It's when majors characters' stories are forever changed, for better or worse. It's when TV shows often leave the legacies that go on to define them.
However, not every planned bombshell actually sees the light of day. Sometimes a writers' strike will force showrunners to change the direction that they plan for their series. Other times, at the last minute, the crew will realize that they are about to make a massive mistake and flip the script.
This isn't always a good thing, though. Sometimes the changes really do end up saving the show, but other times, the planned plot twists simply would have destroyed everything the series had built.
In some cases, the canceled plot twist would have been a wonderful addition to the series' lore if only the writers had been able to carry out their plans. For example, how innovative and groundbreaking would an interracial Jim and Pam have been? However, a terminally ill Sam Malone would be devastating.
From missing out on Chandler and Monica to Ted Mosby settling down with Victoria, here are the 9 Canceled Plot Twists That Would’ve Hurt Iconic Sitcoms (And 7 That Would’ve Saved Them).
16 Hurt: Monica And Chandler Were Meant To Be A Fling On Friends
Nobody can agree on whether or not Ross and Rachel were meant to be together. Some found them romantic and realistic, while others felt that the relationship was toxic and doomed from the start.
Monica and Chandler, on the other hand, have typically been considered one of the better aspects of Friends. They were supportive and respectful of each other.
However, they almost didn't happen.
The writers had initially planned for Chandler and Monica to simply get together in London and never speak of their fling again.
It was a funny joke that would stay in London. However, when the characters popped up out of bed, the audience roared for over a minute, proving to the cast and crew that Mondler was here to stay.
15 Saved: DJ And Steve Were Never Supposed To Break Up On Full House
Obviously, Fuller House is doing just fine, having been renewed for several seasons on Netflix already. However, it hasn't been without its criticisms.
Many have wondered just why DJ had to suffer the exact same fate as her widower father. For such a family-friendly show, the Tanners have lived a rather sad existence. If the Full House showrunner had his way, things would have been very different.
Creator Jeff Franklin revealed that DJ and Steve almost never broke up. While the drama of the will they/won't they between grown-up DJ and Steve seems silly, it's a way to bring him back into the picture.
Producers wrote the break up into the series after Franklin left, but he's now trying to fix what was undone 20 years ago.
14 Hurt: The Depressed Worker Was Almost A Bigger Focus On The Office
There was a good reason for the documentary crew to hang around the Scranton branch on The Office. Dunder Mifflin wasn't great when it came to treating their employees properly and failed to catch the warning signs before an employee took his own life.
The cameras were there to watch how the rest of the employees dealt with the incident.
Fans of the show loved it for its irreverent, over-the-top humor. So, it's likely a good thing that the original plan to focus more heavily on that sad incident was eventually scrapped.
The writers had initially planned to focus more on the dark subject matter before bringing in lighter storylines. This means that Pam and Jim getting together could have taken even longer.
13 Saved: Victoria As The Mother On How I Met Your Mother
Cristin Milioti was utterly adorable as Tracy McConnell on How I Met Your Mother. Viewers absolutely loved her and were devastated when her life ended all too soon.
However, the final episode of this long-running series was incredibly unpopular for a lot of reasons.
Aside from Tracy's sad situation, viewers felt that the story gave too many unearned and unrealistic happy endings and that it had torn away years of character growth for most of the cast.
Had the series been canceled before the writers were able to build to the unpopular ending they had always had in mind, Ted's bakery owner girlfriend Victoria had been chosen to become the fabled mother as a contingency plan.
12 Hurt: Hugh Grant Was Going To Play A Con Man On Two And A Half Men
Maybe Hugh Grant as a sneaky con man would have been a good idea. The plan was for the British actor to trick Jon Cryer's Alan Harper into giving him a place to stay while he's in Malibu as an ambassador.
However, this was actually going to be a lie that Alan fell for hook, line, and sinker.
Grant came close enough to actually signing a contract but ended up pulling out of the show in the end.
While falling for a scam like this is right in line with something tht Alan would have done on Two and a Half Men, it can't be denied how much Ashton Kutcher brought to the series.
Kutcher's Walden Schmidt essentially revitalized the series, bringing in higher ratings and saving a show that had been presumed doomed after Charlie Sheen left.
11 Saved: Ellen DeGeneres Almost Didn’t Come Out On Ellen
It's painful to say that if Ellen DeGeneres had never come out on Ellen, the show would have likely lasted much longer than it did. However, it's also absolutely true.
After coming out in her sitcom during "The Puppy Episode", DeGeneres' career came to a grinding halt. The actress found herself without work for quite some time. Reports claimed guest that star Laura Dern suffered the same fate, though for a shorter period.
Unfortunately, the network wasn't exactly supportive of DeGeneres' plan to come out on the show.
Instead, it was suggested that her character simply buy a puppy. While it was far better for society and the culture of Hollywood for things to play out how they did, a puppy definitely would have kept Ellen from suffering any undeserved backlash.
10 Hurt: The Pit Wasn’t Going To Be A Park Until The Series Finale Of Parks And Recreation
Turning a pit into a park was the mission that drove the entire series run of Parks and Recreation. Even after the park was successfully built, the characters still frequently recognized that this had been the project that brought them all together and drove them forward in their careers and lives.
This is why it was so important that this story not take too long.
Because government decisions in real life take a long time to resolve, the writers wanted to slow down the process of building the park until the very last episode of the show.
Had this happened, the characters would not have had the ability to achieve the amazing things that they did. The pit was important, but it was only a stepping stone in these brilliant characters' careers.
9 Saved: The Janitor Was Going To Be A Figment Of J.D.’s Imagination On Scrubs
To be perfectly honest, Scrubs could have gone either way with the cantankerous janitor and it likely would have worked.
Having the angry staff member specifically pick on the often self-centered JD made for fun television, and it was a detail that perfectly fit the tone of the show.
However, the canceled plot twist probably would have fit just as well.
Early in the show, the janitor never interacts with anyone except for JD. This was a completely intentional choice.
The writers had planned a big reveal where we discover that the janitor was simply a figment of JD's imagination. This also would have fit well with the tone of the show.
However, a writers' strike forced plans to change.
8 Hurt: Josh Meyers Was Almost Eric Instead Of Randy On That ‘70s Show
Topher Grace leaving That '70s Show is often regarded as the moment when the show started going downhill.
The moment Josh Meyers showed up as Randy is considered even worse. Randy was by far the least popular character in the series, so it sounds odd to say that things could have gone worse than they did. However, they really could have-- and they almost did.
The writers had seriously considered pulling a Darren-- or, for viewers too young to remember the magical replacement of the Bewitched character, a Becky from Roseanne.
Meyers was going to be brought on to replace Grace as Eric Foreman, with the explanation that Africa had completely changed his face somehow.
7 Saved: Jackie Almost Lost A Baby On Roseanne
It sounds insane to hope for such a tragedy to play out on a well-loved TV show, but if any show-- or character, for that matter-- could have pulled off a storyline about the loss of a pregnancy, it would have been the formidable Laurie Metcalf's Jackie on the original run of Roseanne.
Fans of the show have long applauded the series for its ability to broach controversial and heavy subject matter.
According to writer Joss Whedon, an episode was planned in which Jackie would reveal her choice to terminate a pregnancy. Whedon was shocked that the script had even been written.
However, the subject was eventually changed to focus on Jackie feeling unsupported by her sister, instead.
6 Hurt: Lilith Was Almost A One Night Stand On Cheers
Lilith Sternin and Frasier Crane were in a toxic relationship. There's absolutely no way to deny this fact. However, the toxic relationship proved to be an incredibly popular aspect of Cheers.
The dynamic between the two was so much fun for viewers that the result was a spin-off that defied the odds and became one of the most popular TV series of all time.
However, all of this almost didn't happen.
Writers initially planned for Lilith to only appear in one episode as someone who Frasier could complain about and never see again.
The plan was for Frasier to go on one bad date with Lilith and then meet the love of his life, who would be played by Jennifer Tilly. When the writers realized how great the two were playing off each other, plans changed.
5 Saved: Pam And Jim Were Almost An Interracial Couple On The Office
Michael and Holly, Leslie and Ben, Pam and Jim-- viewers may argue over their favorite TV love stories, but the same names seem to pop up on a frequent basis.
So, obviously, Pam and Jim are doing just fine and there's really no reason to change them. However, had the producers followed their original plans, one aspect about the infamous couple would've been completely different.
Watching Jim Halpert pine over Pam Beesly made for fine television. However, watching a white Jim Halpert pine over a black Pam Beesly would have been groundbreaking.
While interracial couples are starting to see more representation on TV and in movies, they are still far and few between-- especially back in 2005 when the series debuted.
4 Hurt: Elaine Was Almost Had Mental Illness On Seinfeld
For a show about nothing, Seinfeld covered a lot of topics including bigotry, disabilities, racism, and women's rights.
The key to the show's success was its It's Always Sunny approach wherein the main characters were relatively terrible people who had to be educated on the proper ways to behave in polite society.
The characters were narcissistic, but they weren't ever really in any danger of going too far off the rails... well, all except Elaine, apparently.
At one point, the writers considered having Elaine purchase a weapon to prove to Jerry how simple such a task would be.
She was supposed to brandish the weapon in a dangerous manner and threaten to harm herself.
Thankfully, Julia Louis-Dreyfus refused the storyline and it was scrapped.
3 Saved: An Episode Was Going To Address Kneeling Football Players On Black-ish
Fans of Black-ish flock to the show for its no-holds-barred take on controversial subjects. The series isn't afraid to discuss race or politics.
Police brutality may seem like a dangerous subject in this day and age, but the series hasn't shied away from it. Nor did they steer clear of the election and a number of other sticky subjects-- well, all but one.
An episode tackling kneeling football players was planned earlier this year but was ultimately pulled from the schedule.
According to series creator Kenya Barris, neither he nor the network could agree on the direction that the episode should go, which resulted in both parties being disappointed with the finished product.
2 Hurt: Peggy Almost Had A Baby On Married With Children
Everything about this story is just incredibly sad. The decision for Peggy Bundy to become pregnant later in life, with two already mostly grown children at home, was meant to be a sweet thing.
The writers of Married With Children wanted to celebrate Peggy actress Katey Sagal's real-life pregnancy, so they simply wrote it into the show. When Sagal lost the pregnancy, though, the writers were forced to rewrite everything.
It's hard to imagine that a new Bundy baby would have helped the story. Bringing children into established franchises is an often risky move.
Viewers no doubt would have found the story to be cheesy and ratings would have likely suffered for it.
1 Hurt: Sam Almost Got A Disease On Cheers
For a feel-good show where everybody knows everybody else's name, Cheers could certainly get dark when it wanted to. An example of this can be seen in Diane-- though she wasn't very likable, literally everything that could go wrong in her life absolutely did. Or basically everything to do with Frasier and Lillith's horribly toxic relationship.
So, it shouldn't exactly come as a surprise that Sam Malone was intended to contract AIDS.
However, according to the show's writers themselves, the episode was way too heavy to be funny. A coincidentally timed writers' strike resulted in the episode being pulled before it could air.
This was likely a good thing, considering the long-lasting and serious implications that this would have had on the comedy series.
Are there any other canceled plot twists that almost hurt or saved iconic sitcoms? Let us know in the comments!