When it comes to television nostalgia, there are currently plenty of options to choose from: Boy Meets World made its way back via Girl Meets World; Degrassi is still going strong with The Next Generation (despite cancelation rumors); and Full House will soon be returning with Fuller House. The Wonder Years, however, is a different story.
For Kevin Arnold and his coming-of-age story, Fred Savage, the face behind the iconic character (the “voice” and narration belonged to Home Alone’s Daniel Stern) has nothing but disappointing news and earnest truths when it comes to the prospects of the series ever returning for any sort of reunion show or reboot. In short: it’s never going to happen – and there are many reasons why.
While speaking to People at the ATX Television Festival, Savage mentioned that the chance of a Wonder Years reunion are, “…zero. Never.” He then went on to explain why:
"The show was about a time in your life. The show was about this finite moment in your life that has a beginning and an end, and I think that’s what makes people long for that time in your life.
"You can’t really go back to it. You can’t all be 12 again, and that’s why that time in our life is so special and why all of the memories still stay with us and warm us and haunt us and all those things – because we can’t go back to it."
Outside of Savage’s sentimentalities – which are most certainly true – there’s also one big problem: The show reveals what happens to everyone in the series finale, and it doesn’t make for a sequel.
Check out the final moments of the Wonder Years series finale below, along with a written version of the final narration.
[Spoilers for The Wonder Years series finale, “Independence Day”:]
“Our past was here, but our future was somewhere else – and both knew, sooner or later, we had to go.”
Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage): “It was the last July I ever spent in that town. The next year, after graduation, I was on my way.”
Paul Pfeiffer (Josh Saviano): “So was Paul; he went to Harvard, of course – studied law. He’s still allergic to everything”
Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar): “Winnie left the next summer to study Art History in Paris. Still, we never forgot our promise. We wrote to each other every week for the next 8 years. I was there to meet her when she came home, with my wife and my first son – 8 months old.”
Jack Arnold (Dan Lauria): “As for my father: We patched things up.”
Norma Arnold (Alley Mills): “She did well – businesswoman, board chairman; grandmother; cooker of mashed potatoes.”
Karen Arnold (Olivia d’Abo): “Karen’s son was born that September. I gotta say, he looks like me – poor kid.”
Wayne Arnold (Jason Hervey): “The Wayner stayed on in furniture, wood seemed to suit him. He took over the factory two years later, after Dad passed away.”
When you look at how the husband and wife co-creators Neal Marlens and Carol Black chose to end the series, you see that there really isn't anywhere that The Wonder Years can go without destroying its legacy. Unlike Boy Meets World or Full House, The Wonder Years actually told a story which had a beginning, middle and end; there were no three-camera setups, or comedians doing “warm-up” for a studio audience - ushered in after waiting in line all day. They wanted to tell a specific story which spoke to many people, and they accomplished it when the show ended.
There are, of course, many other reasons: Fred Savage is an extremely respected television director from shows such as It's Always Sunny and Modern Family – a 'circle' which is difficult to break into, and even more difficult to gain respect in. The “Wayner” Jason Hervey is busy producing television with Eric Bischoff like WGN’s Outlaw Country and Nick-at-Nite’s See Dad Run. Daniel Stern is an accomplished artist, as well as president and founder of many charitable foundations and institutions throughout California - and a cattle ranch owner. Not to mention that the 70s premise of the show means that all of the characters in the cast will need to be 40, 50, 60 years old, respectively.
The cast aside, when it comes to Marlens and Black TV shows and reunions, there’s a simple rule to follow: they will do it if there’s reason to. Take their other hit show, Growing Pains, for example – which reunited for a TV movie in 2000 and 2004 – because the show was set up in such a way that it could return and continue.
When it comes to the story of The Wonder Years, however, perhaps it’s best to leave things as they are, as great memories.