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The Real Reasons These Shows Aren't Returning To TV

It's hard to keep a good show down. Just look at Full House, or Twin Peaks, or The X-Files, all of which have returned to television in recent years. Don't forget about Will & Grace or the Gilmore Girls, either. And that's without even mentioning soft reboots like Dallas, Dynasty, MacGyver, and The Tick, or the return of animated classics like Samurai Jack and Rocko's Modern Life.

Today's airwaves are littered with revivals of TV's past hits, including upcoming projects like Murphy Brown, Charmed, and Magnum P.I. Heck, even the female-led police procedural Cagney & Lacey is getting a second lease on life. So is your favorite series coming back? Don't hold your breath. The following shows might've been fan favorites in past, but the past is where they'll stay. Here's why.


Over the course of 10 seasons, the characters on Friends went from a group of coffee-chugging roommates and acquaintances to a family — quite literally. Chandler and Monica, played by Matthew Perry and Courteney Cox, respectively, got married in season seven and adopted twins in the series finale. David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston's Ross and Rachel, television's most famous will-they-or-won't-they couple, had a baby together in season eight and got together for good at the end of season 10. Lisa Kudrow's Phoebe married Paul Rudd's Mike during Friends' final season, and while Matt LeBlanc's Joey was still single in the series finale, he reconnected with his extended family in his spinoff show, Joey.

All that coupling off is why we won't ever see Friends return to television, at least according to Kudrow. When asked about a potential Friends revival on Today, she shot down the idea of the gang returning to TV."The thing we liked about that show is it was like 20-somethings and they were their own family," Kudrow said. "Now they have families ... So what are we going to watch?" She's right, of course. The last time we saw them, Chandler and Monica were headed to the suburbs, and Joey relocated to Los Angeles. The group was fractured, settled down, and much, much older. Those aren't the kind of people Friends was about, and it would make for an awfully dull reunion.

That hasn't stopped the Friends cast from getting together in private, of course. "We had such a good time," Kudrow said. "We were laughing nonstop." That's great for them. We just wish we'd been invited too.


If you follow pop culture at all, you're probably aware that Lost had a very divisive ending. After six seasons that hinged on unexplained mystery, the show wrapped up with a metaphysical and spiritual conclusion that raised more questions than it answered and left many dangling plot threads unresolved. It's an effective emotional climax but not a satisfying one plot-wise, and it pissed off many of Lost's most dedicated fans.

Still, that's the ending that Lost co-creators Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse came up with — give or take a spare volcano — and they're sticking to it. That's why, Lindelof says, a Lost reunion or sequel series isn't in the cards. "We worked so hard to end that show and to give [the survivors] some level of closure," Lindelof told TVLine. "To come back and say, 'Well, that wasn't the real ending,' would be frustrating." You may not like it, but Lost is over, and the finale is what it is. Lindelof and the rest of the staff don't seem interested in adding to it further.

In the same interview, Lindelof gave his blessing to a reboot — provided that the new showrunners don't use any of the same characters — but ABC president Channing Dungey has said there's nothing in the works. At least Lindelof seems to have learned his lesson. The finale of The Leftovers, which Lindelof also oversaw, is one of the best final episodes of all time, and proves that you can provide emotional resolutions while giving the audiences the answers they want at the same time.


It's easy to forget that Firefly, Joss Whedon's outer-space western, only lasted for 14 episodes. After all, the DVD set containing the whole series sold over 500,000 copies, which is remarkable for a show that tanked in the ratings. It got a feature film spinoff in Serenity. It's the setting for a popular board game and an award-winning tabletop role-playing game. Firefly-inspired "Jayne hats" are a fixture at every sci-fi and comic book convention on the planet (and an unexpected source of controversy), and when series star Nathan Fillion joked that he'd buy the rights to the franchise for $300 million, fans raised over $1 million to help him do so before voluntarily shutting down the campaign.

That's a lot of love for a television series that very few people watched during its initial run, and Firefly pops up all the time on lists of shows that fans want to see return to TV. Too bad. It ain't gonna happen. While Whedon seemed amicable to the idea of returning to Firefly back in 2007, more recently, he's changed his tune; in short, he doesn't think there's any way that a revival could meet fans' lofty expectations. "Even if it's exactly as good as it was, the experience can't be," he told the Hollywood Reporter. "You've already experienced it, and part of what was great was going through it for the first time. ... Somebody has to move on."

Still, if you're dying to know what happens to the Serenity's crew next, you have options. Dark Horse has released a number of comics based on Firefly and Serenity, including two miniseries — Leaves on the Wind and No Power in the 'Verse — that take place after the movie. Both series are Whedon-approved (they're written by Joss' brother, Zack), and fully count as canon.


Jerry Seinfeld isn't the same man who co-created Seinfeld, the '90s sitcom that's arguably the greatest TV comedy — if not the greatest TV show, period — of all time. When Seinfeld and Larry David sat down in a Korean deli in 1988 to hammer out The Seinfeld Chronicles, the comedian was only 34 years old, and was best known for his appearances on Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show. These days he hosts the Emmy-nominated webseries Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, makes regular appearances on talk shows, has a $100 million deal with Netflix, and owns 46 different Porsches.

He's also married and has three children, which he says has fundamentally changed his stage persona. While the Seinfeld of the '90s was a serial dater who seemed reluctant to settle down, Seinfeld's been with his wife, author and philanthropist Jessica Seinfeld, for almost 20 years. Material about family life is "half my show now," Seinfeld told Entertainment Weekly. The comedian's priorities and his material are different than they used to be, and even if Seinfeld wanted to return to TV, he'd bring a very different sensibility with him.

Not that Jerry is interested in reviving his biggest hit, of course. When ET asked Seinfeld about a possible reunion, he responded by simply asking, "Why?" Besides, the Seinfeld cast already teamed up for an arc on Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm, which depicts scenes from a (sort of) fictional Seinfeld reunion. It's a weird and quirky way to give the fans what they want (sort of), but as Jerry noted, "We would never do the type of thing that these shows usually do." Something strange, subversive, and self-deprecating, however? That's Seinfeld's style all the way.

Freaks and Geeks

Freaks and Geeks is set during a very specific time period — the school year that spans 1980 and 1981, if you want to get technical — but its themes are universal. That's why it remains a fan favorite nearly 20 years after its sole season hit the airwaves. Everybody's been a teenager, after all, and almost everyone remembers how awkward, confusing, exciting, and — occasionally — fun high school can be. If a universal experience exists, puberty is probably it.

But maybe that's no longer true. Judd Apatow, Freaks and Geeks' executive producer, certainly thinks so. While Freaks and Geeks was set two decades in the past, the high school experience depicted on screen wasn't that different from what real-life students went through in the late '90s. Widespread internet access didn't exist yet. Neither did cell phones or social media. "The world has changed so much," Apatow said at a Television Critics Association event. Too much, perhaps. The everyday life of a teenager has changed dramatically since Freaks and Geeks aired, and the show's low-tech storylines may no longer apply in today's world.

In addition, Apatow added, "My inclination is that we said all we had to say," and he likes the show's ending. Besides, at this point, the show's cast is much too old to reprise their old roles, not to mention much more famous. James Franco, Seth Rogen, Linda Cardellini, Busy Philipps, Jason Segal, and the rest are all big stars these days, and getting them all together to return Freaks and Geeks to TV is an expensive proposition — too expensive to ever really happen, most likely.

Tales from the Crypt

For most of the shows on this list, a potential return to TV is pure fantasy. For Tales from the Crypt, it almost happened. In 2016, TNT announced that director M. Night Shyamalan, who made his name on creepy, twist-filled genre fare like The Sixth Sense, Signs, and The Visit, would spearhead the return of the gruesome and spooky anthology series.TNT executive Kevin Reilly said Tales from the Crypt would borrow stories from the old EC Comics that inspired the program. Despite rumors to the contrary, the show's malformed host, the Crypt Keeper, was all set to reprise his starring role, too.

In early 2017, Shyamalan's Tales from the Crypt got its own teaser trailer, although the video didn't consist of much more than Shyamalan talking alongside a few vague and moody images. It didn't take long for trouble to follow. That April, TNT reported that Crypt had been delayed due to a "complicated" issue with the rights to the franchise. The following summer, the network pulled the plug on the show completely.

"We lost so much time, so I said, 'Look, I'm not waiting around four years for this thing,'" Reilly told Deadline, explaining his decision. Instead, TNT offered Tales' timeslot to Ridley Scott, who developed sci-fi programming that's scheduled to debut in 2018. Horror programming could still come to TNT without the Tales from the Crypt branding, but fans hoping for a true reboot are out of luck: if a big cable network like TNT can't figure out the rights situation after over a year of work, it's highly unlikely that anyone else will, either.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

In the mid-to-late '80s, Will Smith (alias "The Fresh Prince") made a name for himself with clean, teen-friendly hip-hop tracks like "Girls Ain't Nothing But Trouble," "Parents Just Don't Understand," and "Summertime." Those latter two songs earned Smith and his partner, Jeffrey "DJ Jazzy Jeff" Townes, a pair of Grammy awards, including the first ever awarded for a rap song. Then the IRS came knocking. Smith was forced to fork over about $2.8 million worth of unpaid taxes.

Thankfully, right about that time, NBC decided to build a sitcom around the charismatic young rapper. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air starred Smith as a street-smart teen who finds himself butting heads with his wealthy suburban relatives, particularly his uncle Phil, after relocating from Philadelphia to Los Angeles' affluent Bel-Air district. The show catapulted Smith to mainstream fame, and before long he was the most bankable star in the world and one of the most powerful actors in Hollywood.

Smith owes a lot to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but don't expect him to return to the role that made him famous. Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Smith's preppy cousin Carlton, told reporters that "a Fresh Prince reunion will never happen." Not only has the Fresh Prince cast moved on to other things, but James Avery, who played Phil, passed away in 2013. Without Smith's main foil, Ribeiro said "there is no reason to do" a reboot. Smith seems to agree, telling E! News that The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air will return to TV "when hell freezes over."

The Golden Girls

Over the course of its six-season run, The Golden Girls scored a whopping 68 Emmy nominations, winning 11. It spawned three spinoffs, became famous both for delivering laughs and tackling still-controversial social issues, and is regularly counted among the all-time best TV series.

It's not coming back. While the show's still popular (heck, the cast just got their own set of action figures), Golden Girls creator Susan Harris told Entertainment Weekly that it won't return. While Betty White is still one of America's most beloved comedians, The Golden Girls' other three leads — Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty, and Rue McClanahan — are no longer with us. "Golden Girls would not be Golden Girls without that cast," Harris noted, and she should know. After The Golden Girls ended its run, Harris developed The Golden Palace, a spinoff starring three of the four ladies. With Bea Arthur missing, the show didn't work; with Getty and McClanahan missing too, there's simply no chance.

As an alternative, former Golden Girls writer Stan Zimmerman has worked up a spiritual sequel to the show called Silver Foxes, which shares more than a few similarities with its source material. Foxes focuses on four gay men, not four women, and would be set in Palm Springs, Florida instead of Miami. Zimmerman even says there's a one-line part for White, if she wants it. The only problem? "We cannot get one network executive to read it," said Zimmerman, blaming ageism and homophobia in Hollywood for Silver Foxes' failure to launch.

The West Wing

It's been a wild and crazy couple of years in American politics, and many West Wing fans are yearning for the relative calm of the Bartlet administration. Sure, The West Wing is complete make believe, but there's still something comforting about watching a competent and well-intentioned president and his staff address the issues of the day with humility and grace, even if they're mostly fictional.

The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin's been thinking the same thing, and he told The Hollywood Reporter exactly how he'd bring the show back in the modern day. Sorkin's West Wing reboot would start with actor Sterling K. Brown, star of The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story and This Is Us, as President of the United States. "There's some kind of jam, an emergency, a very delicate situation involving the threat of war or something," Sorkin continues, "and Bartlet, long since retired, is consulted in the way that Bill Clinton used to consult with Nixon."

That's a solid premise, so why isn't it happening? Because The West Wing is more than just Martin Sheen's Jed Bartlet. Throughout the show's seven-season run, Bradley Whitford's Josh Lyman, Richard Schiff's Toby Ziegler, Janel Moloney's Donna Moss, and Allison Janney's C.J. Cregg were all just as important, if not more so, than the president himself. Yet, in Sorkin's proposed reboot, there's no room for them. Bringing back The West Wing without those characters borders on sacrilege, and until Sorkin can find a way around that problem — something that's not likely, given his busy schedule — any revival is dead in the water.