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'Futurama' and 9 Other Shows That Beat Cancellation

by Chris Harnick, posted Jun 23rd 2010 5:00PM

It's a miracle! 'Futurama' is back from the dead. Or maybe it's just been thawed out of its cryogenic freeze? Whatever the case, it's back -- with the original voice cast -- on Comedy Central (Thu., June 24 at 10PM ET) and fans are happy.

Canceled in 2003, 'Futurama' got four straight-to-DVD flicks, the last one came out in early 2009. Fan interest was renewed and Comedy Central aired the films as episodes before green lighting the series for new episodes. Yes, Matt Groening is bringing Fry, Leela, Bender and the rest of the bang for new adventures in space. The cast is signed for 26 episodes. In the one hour premiere, the Professor attempts to resuscitate the crew with his birth machine after a devastating crash.

While 'Futurama' fans are celebrating this victory, it's important to point out that this sci-fi cartoon is not the only show to survive cancellation. What other shows have defied the orders of studio executives? Well, read on to find out!

Family Guy'Family Guy'
Fox produced three seasons of 'Family Guy,' often shuffling it around its schedule, once placing it up against powerhouses 'Survivor' and 'Friends.' The show was officially canceled in 2002. However, the series saw strong DVD sales and success in syndication on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. In 2005, Fox reversed its decision and brought the series back for a fourth season. It's still going strong and spun-off the Cleveland Brown character into his own show that has been green-lit for a second and third season.

You've got to love fan campaigns. They can save a show from cancellation one day, not even register to a network the next or even bring back a show entirely. In 2007, CBS officially canceled 'Jericho,' prompting fans to stage a digital uprising and flood the network with more than 20 tons of nuts (a reference to a scene in the finale). CBS listened and the fans got an 8-episode second season shown as a midseason replacement. But, where were the fans? The second season averaged roughly 6 million -- down from the first season's 9 million.

7th Heaven'7th Heaven'
After 10 years the Camdens said goodbye to TV as the WB also ended its run as a network. The original series finale was seen by 7.56 million viewers, the highest numbers on the WB since January 2005. However, The CW, the hybrid of the WB and UPN revived the show for an 11th and final season. The show slumped in ratings and ended without much fanfare.

Another WB castoff, 'Roswell' lasted for two seasons on the network. After a ratings decline during season 1, the WB brought in Ronald D. Moore -- yes the man later responsible for 'Battlestar Galactica' -- to beef up the sci-fi elements of the series. Ratings continued to decline and it was canceled in 2001. But, UPN picked up the series when it got 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' as a packaged deal from 20th Century Fox.

The seventh season of 'Scrubs' on NBC was a casualty of the WGA strike. Series creator Bill Lawrence and star Zach Braff both indicated that the seventh season would be the last, but the studio, ABC Studios, began chatter with its sister network ABC. The series wrapped its shortened season and picked up by ABC for an eighth. Season 8 was expected to the show's last, but ABC had other plans and it was renewed for a ninth season with a shift in focus to younger doctors. The series was officially canceled in May 2010.

One of the latest shows back from the dead, 'Southland' premiered on NBC in April 2009 to decent numbers -- 9.72 million viewers. The series was picked up for a second season of 13 episodes and then NBC abruptly canceled it in October 2009 even though six episodes had already been produced. TNT, known for its procedural shows, swooped in and saved the series and has renewed it for a third season.

CBS's long-running Naval drama wasn't always CBS's. The series premiered on NBC in 1995 but was canceled after placing 77th in the ratings, a number NBC would probably be glad one of its shows ranked at. CBS quickly picked up the series and nine seasons and two spin-offs later it's one of the most successful franchises on TV.

Doctor Who'Doctor Who'
The first series of 'Doctor Who' ran from 1963 until 1989. In 1996 Fox and the BBC co-produced a TV movie as a backdoor pilot but American audiences were lukewarm to the project. It wasn't until 2005 when the good doctor returned with a full season, a direct continuation of the original series and TV movie. That's one long-running franchise.

Originally an NBC show, 'Baywatch' premiered in 1989, but was canceled after one season due to low ratings and its studio going out of business. Series star David Hasselhoff and the executive producers revived the show in syndication, a move that made it the most watched show in history with 1.1 billion viewers a week worldwide. Not bad for a show ditched after one season.

Tell us: What show were you happy to see come back from cancellation?

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Wish "Life" would have been saved so it could have made this list.

June 28 2010 at 9:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

At one point Sci-Fi Channel was the king of series rescue. They picked up Mystery Science Theater 3000 for three more years after Comedy Central ended the experiments. They kept Sliders afloat for two years after FOX pulled the stopper. The Outer Limits and Stargate SG1 were both Showtime rejects before Sci-Fi gave them a new home.

June 24 2010 at 12:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Anyone notice that a lot of these shows were on NBC and they canceled them? Once they hit another network they succeeded. Way to go NBC, no wonder you suck as a network. Hold on to your shows a bit longer and you might find a fan base for them.

June 24 2010 at 8:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
thom, boise id

How about Designing Women!

June 24 2010 at 1:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brett Alan

Charles In Charge being rescued by syndication (with a mostly new supporting cast) after being canceled by CBS.

June 24 2010 at 12:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Being an avid soap fan, three shows came to mind and I was glad to see them before they disappeared.

LOVERS AND FRIENDS disappeared for a few months in 1977 and returned as FOR RICHER FOR POORER, both times on NBC.

THE EDGE OF NIGHT was dropped from CBS but returned with a 90-minute debut on ABC - and the show ran 9 more years.

SEARCH FOR TOMORROW was also dropped by CBS but in 1982. NBC picked it up and it ran for 4 more years.

June 23 2010 at 11:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I Wish Futurama's Professor Farnsworth would create a device that removes the memory of season 9 of Scrubs. My Finale will always be the end for me.

June 23 2010 at 11:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

And you people call yourself TV fans? How about the third season of the original Star Trek?

June 23 2010 at 8:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mike's comment
Chris Harnick

Never said it was a complete list of all shows that came back from the dead...that's where you guys are supposed to chime in with comments to get the discussion going.

June 23 2010 at 8:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Dollhouse anyone?

June 23 2010 at 6:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Adrian's comment

Torchwood--I just wish we didn't have to wait until 2011 for the next season!

June 23 2010 at 7:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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