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See the TV shows that defied the odds and got a second life after cancellation

Shaun Harrison
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Although the action thriller signed off after eight seasons in 2010, Fox decided it needed Jack Bauer to save the day (and the network's ratings) one more time. Despite multiple attempts to launch a 24 movie during the intervening period, the project never came together. When executive producer Howard Gordon pitched a London-based, 12-episode miniseries to Fox, the stars finally aligned and 24: Live Another Day was born. The question remains: Is this the final chapter of 24? Based on its ratings performance and creative revitalization, we wouldn't rule out a few more "Dammit!"-filled days in the future.
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Arrested Development

The cult comedy was canceled in 2006, but grew in popularity over the years thanks in large part to DVDs. Despite creator Mitch Hurwitz' initial statements that he "had taken it as far as I felt I could as a series," Arrested was revived by Netflix in 2013. While the entire cast and many favorite guest stars returned, the actors' busy schedules led to fewer shared scenes between the stars. Hurwitz's unconventional format for the revival was also a hard break from what fans were used to and resulted in some barely lukewarm reviews. However, Hurwitz is currently hard at work on a sequel film to the disappointing fourth season.
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The Killing

This rain-soaked murder mystery has the distinction of being brought back from the dead twice. Despite earning early critical raves, the long, winding investigation of Rosie Larsen's murder eventually turned off audiences and AMC canceled the show after its second season. The network later brought the show back for a third season in 2013, featuring a wicked performance by Peter Sarsgaard and a new mystery. The show won back some of its detractors, but it wasn't enough to keep AMC from canceling the show a second time, which allowed Netflix to swoop in and order a six-episode "final" season. We'll believe it when we see it.
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Dallas, which originally premiered as a five-part miniseries on CBS in 1978, lasted 14 seasons and generated several made-for-TV movies, no to mention one of the biggest cliff-hangers ever. Nearly two decades later, TNT ordered a new continuation of the series that would feature original stars Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing) and Linda Gray (Sue Ellen), but also follow their now-adult children, including Bobby’s adopted son, Christopher, and J.R. and Sue Ellen’s son, John Ross. Although the Ewings taught their children well about backstabbing and bed-hopping, the updated series has recently slipped in the ratings, particularly after Hagman’s death in November 2012.
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Family Guy

Family Guy was unceremoniously axed in 2002 following lackluster ratings in its shortened third season. (Fox had also threatened to cancel it the year prior, but ended up ordering an additional 13 episodes). But the irreverent cartoon picked up a cult following thanks to DVD sales and syndicated reruns on Adult Swim, and Fox revived it in 2004. In their first episode back, Seth MacFarlane didn't pull any punches, writing jokes that referenced how many new projects at Fox had failed in the time Family Guy was off the air. Now, a decade later, the show still isn't afraid to bite the hand that feeds it and routinely skewers the network.
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Doctor Who

It's the longest-running science-fiction program ever, so it doesn't come as a surprise that there have been a few hiccups in programming since its premiere in 1963. The series went off the air in 1989 after its 26th season due to low ratings, especially since it was airing opposite the eminently popular Coronation Street. An American made-for-TV movie version in 1996 reignited interest in the franchise, and the revival went into full swing on BBC in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston playing the Ninth Doctor. Although many of the series' original stars have passed, its 50th anniversary in November 2013 reunited several Doctors, including Fourth Doctor Tom Baker.
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Star Trek

Beam me up, Scotty — to syndication, that is! During the sci-fi series’ three-year run on NBC, Star Trek never garnered particularly big ratings, but the show’s wealthy, well-educated male viewers and extremely passionate fan base kept it alive. In Season 3, NBC moved the show to a dismal late Friday timeslot and reduced the show’s budget, causing creator Gene Roddenberry to step back, and soon Star Trek was canceled. The show gained a larger audience in syndication than it did on NBC and the cast was later reassembled for six movies. Additionally, the franchise produced five sequel series which were produced over five decades, and Star Trek was rebooted for the big screen with a new cast in 2009.
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Drop Dead Diva

The drama, which tells the story of a vapid woman who dies and comes back to life in the body of an overweight, brilliant and charitable lawyer, struggled in the ratings during its first four seasons. Lifetime then axed Diva after the network and producing studio Sony were unable to come to an agreement on ways to cut costs. But less than two months later, the show was brought back to life for Season 5. The show is currently airing its sixth and final season.
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So many hits, so little room. Despite decent ratings, CBS canceled the Poppy Montgomery drama after one season in May 2012, which network Entertainment President Nina Tassler called a "difficult" decision. A month later, CBS renewed it for a summer 2013 bow and the show performed well enough that it earned an early pickup for Season 3. The resurrection meant a reboot for the series, which traded its gritty Season 1 tone for a lighter feel, and has also benched the unsolved murder of Carrie's sister Rachel to be more accessible to new viewers.
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Matt Groening's irreverent sci-fi companion to The Simpsons — about a pizza delivery guy who is cryogenically frozen and revived two millennia later — aired on Fox from 1999 to 2003 before ceasing production. Comedy Central aired the reruns through 2007, after which it decided to air four direct-to-video films as 16 new half-hour episodes, which constituted a fifth season. The cable network then went on to order two more seasons before it shut down production completely in September 2013. Groening still holds out hope that another network will pick it up.
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After being canceled due to poor ratings in 2007, a peanut-fueled fan campaign convinced CBS to revive the show for a seven-episode sophomore run. Unfortunately, ratings were even worse the second time around and Jericho was canceled yet again. However, the show managed to live on through two "seasons" worth of comics. While there has been talk of a film adaptation, as of February, Netflix was considering adding the series to its growing list of revived shows.
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All My Children

Like One Life to Live, AMC got the ax after more than 40 years so that ABC could cut costs and focus on cheaper daytime programming. Both shows were revived by The Online Network in 2013 and broadcast new episodes via Hulu and iTunes. The revival failed to bring back several key members of the cast, most notably Cameron Mathison and longtime star Susan Lucci. After episodes were reduced from five to two times a week, AMC aired its final online episode on Sept. 2, 2013. Following a dispute between Production studio Prospect Park and ABC over licensing of AMC and OLTL, AMC cast members revealed two months later that the show would not be returning.
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One Life to Live

After nearly 44 years on the air at ABC, One Life to Live (along with All My Children) was canceled in 2012. Both shows were revived by The Online Network in 2013 to be broadcast via Hulu and iTunes, and the streaming versions premiered on April 29, 2013. However, the revival never really got off the ground, plagued by several personnel and contractual problems. OLTL aired its final online episode on Aug. 19, 2013, and has been on indefinite hiatus since. Production studio Prospect Park announced in September 2013 that it was suspending production on the series until a lawsuit with ABC (regarding the use of OLTL characters on the network's only remaining soap, General Hospital) is resolved.
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Beavis and Butt-head

Mike Judge’s beloved animated series about two idiotic, rock-loving high school delinquents was an instant hit for MTV. It originally ran for four years and even spawned a movie, 1996’s Beavis and Butt-head Do America. In 2010, MTV announced plans to bring back the series because of its popularity and to give the network an excuse to play music videos again like the good ol' days. The new episodes debuted to strong ratings, which fell quickly over the season due to a competitive timeslot. But we still have to ask: When is Daria coming back?
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7th Heaven

Due to burgeoning production costs and the forthcoming shutdown of The WB, the drama's 10th season was supposed to be its last. But three days after a whopping 7 million viewers tuned in on May 8, 2006, for the initial series finale, the newly formed CW renewed 7th Heaven. Alas, it wasn't the same. A reduced budget meant many cast members were MIA for much of the season (Stephen Collins and Beverley Mitchell are the only stars who've appeared in every episode of the series), and low ratings on Sundays — where it moved after anchoring Mondays for 10 years — spelled doom.
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Breaking In

This Christian Slater workplace comedy seemed to have nine lives. The project did not get a series pick-up at the time of Fox’s upfronts in May 2010, but the network ordered seven episodes of the sitcom five months later. After failing to break through with viewers, Fox canceled the show in May 2011, but then reversed its decision four months later and ordered a second season, which included the addition of Will & Grace alum Megan Mullally. Ratings were still low and Breaking In got the boot again in May 2012. Sadly, this time there was no belated reprieve for this lovable group of smart, but socially awkward misfits.
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Fear Factor

NBC's answer to Survivor, the stunt and dare reality show — where eating bull's balls was the norm — steadily declined in the ratings as it faced tough competition against American Idol and was canceled in 2006. After airing in syndication, the show was resurrected in 2011 for a short run, but lacked fanfare and stirred up controversy. One episode featuring contestants drinking donkey semen and urine was pulled by the network.
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Despite Fox’s best efforts, this sci-fi series — about a group of travelers who slide between parallel — worlds managed to slide back onto the airwaves after multiple cancellations. First, the series failed to earn a Season 2 renewal, but was later picked up after much fan protest. Fox canceled the show again following Season 3, but The Sci Fi Channel resurrected it a little over a year later. Original cast members Sabrina Lloyd and John Rhys-Davies did not return after Season 3, and the series star, Jerry O’Connell, as well as his real-life brother, Charlie O’Connell, both did not appear in the show’s fifth and final season, which ended on a cliff-hanger before getting canceled.