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Television Revivals And Reboots That Were Canceled Before Hitting The Screen

Reboots, remakes, and revivals of our favorite TV shows have been gaining steam over the past decade, with some of them proving big hits. Whether it's the long-awaited return of David Lynch to his mind-bending masterpiece, "Twin Peaks," or "Fuller House" on Netflix, they've been coming fast and furiously. But TV revivals are nothing new, and reboots of classic hits go back decades.

For every relaunch we get though, there are probably a dozen more that never hit the airwaves. They're usually announced with great fanfare, and get fans whipped up into excitement, often bringing back the original casts, only to fizzle out as studios try to bring them to the screen. Sometimes they're canned during development, as studio executives are unable to make heads or tails of how to bring back a classic. Other times it's after a pilot episode is filmed, and reception isn't good, and it never sees the light of day.

In fact, you may have heard when some of them were announced, and either forgotten they were even being prepped, or you didn't even know they'd been canceled. But we've combed through the trades, looked back at previously announced remakes, and found some big relaunches that were canceled before hitting the screen.

Lizzie McGuire

Even though it aired for just two seasons and 65 episodes on The Disney Channel in the early 2000s, "Lizzie McGuire" may be one of the most important pre-teen shows of all time. Not only did it bring actress Hilary Duff to prominence, but it was an obsession for an entire generation for its clever wit and sheer fun factor. So you can imagine millennials' excitement when in 2019 it was announced that Duff would reprise her role as the titular McGuire for a revival that was planned to debut on Disney+.

Per the announcement, published by The Hollywood Reporter, most of the original cast would return, including Hallie Todd, Robert Carradine, and Jake Thomas. In fact, they had already assembled for a read-through of the pilot script, which centered on a now-30-year-old McGuire dealing with a turbulent new life in New York City. But problems cropped up almost immediately, with showrunner and series creator Terri Minsky being fired after filming just two episodes, with reports that Disney felt the new series was too "adult" (per People).

Not long after, the entire reboot was shut down, with Duff citing creative differences over what kind of content Disney wanted for the streaming service. "She had to be 30 years old doing 30-year-old things," Duff later told Women's Health. "She didn't need to be doing bong rips and having one-night stands all the time, but it had to be authentic. I think they got spooked."

L.A. Law

From legendary producer Steven Bochco — who'd created the groundbreaking "Hill Street Blues" — came the legal drama "L.A. Law" in 1986. Among its main cast included a number of big names including Corbin Bernsen, Harry Hamlin, Jimmy Smits, and Blair Underwood. Future legends like Bryan Cranston, Don Cheadle, Lucy Liu, and Steve Buscemi are just some of the names who passed through its doors by the time it closed up shop in 1994. In 2020 though, it was announced that the show would be making a return.

Within a year, the "L.A. Law" revival got a pilot order with Blair Underwood starring and serving as producer. According to reports, the series would have seen the old law firm reorganized under a new name as it established itself as the home for the most controversial legal cases. Within a matter of weeks, Bernsen was officially added to the cast, as was original star Jill Eikenberry. But in May 2022, after the pilot had been shot, the network pulled the plug, with Deadline claiming that it didn't meet the studio's expectations.

"Unfortunately, the pilot just did not come together as we had hoped it would," said ABC head honcho Craig Erwich. While the network had no further plans to retool or try again, 20th Television, the studio behind the project, was still hoping to shop the pilot in an effort to find it a new home.

Star Trek

Today, most would recognize the original "Star Trek" series as a historic, landmark TV show. But running from 1966-1969, it was never really much of a hit; not until the 1970s when it became a smash in reruns. So when Paramount was prepping to start their own TV network a decade later, the time felt right for a "Trek" revival. A sequel series, "Star Trek: Phase II," was then announced as the anchor of the new network. 

Almost the entire original cast was signed up to reprise their roles, with the lone exception being Leonard Nimoy, who refused to return and cited conflict with the studio over the merchandising of his likeness. Forging ahead at warp speed, sets were constructed, costumes and props fashioned, and more than a dozen scripts developed, including a two-part feature-length opener titled "In Thy Image." But at the last minute, the deal to launch Paramount's TV network collapsed, and "Phase II" was nixed (per the Los Angeles Times). 

But unlike so many others, "Star Trek: Phase II" is one failed revival that got a second life. The same year it was due to start production, "Star Wars" hit theaters, and Paramount decided to put "Star Trek" on the big screen to capitalize on the box office popularity of science fiction. Repurposing the sets from the proposed series, "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" went into production in 1978 based on the show's originally planned two-hour premiere (as chronicled by The Hollywood Reporter).


The 1986 series "ALF" was a mix of sci-fi and slapstick comedy, swirled together into a delightful family sitcom that ran for four seasons. The series told the story of the Tanner family, who adopt a wise-cracking, cat-eating alien creature named Gordon Shumway who crash lands on Earth. Famous for being canceled before it could resolve its series, it got a movie to wrap up the ending six years later but continued to live on in pop culture for decades.

Then in 2018, with TV revivals like "Magnum P.I." and "Roseanne" all the rage, Warner Bros. announced that "ALF" would also be making a comeback. That August, a piece in The Hollywood Reporter declared the series in development, though it wasn't said if it would be a sequel or a clean slate reboot of the series.

Unfortunately, despite all the hype online from outlets like MovieWeb, the development barely lasted three months, and in November of the same year, the series was dead (per TV Line). In February of 2022 however, it was announced by Deadline that the original "ALF" series would be coming to streaming thanks to new rights-holder, Shout! Factory, who were also planning some form of "new 'Alf'-related content."


The Canadian franchise, "Degrassi," is one of the most popular teen sagas in TV history. Since the launch of the original in 1979, "The Kids of Degrassi Street," it spread across the globe, including the U.S., with a number of spin-offs. This includes "Degrassi Junior High" and its longest-running series, "Degrassi: The Next Generation," in 2001, which ran for an incredible 14 seasons. Following a short-lived follow-up, "Degrassi: The Next Class," the franchise languished for a few years until a much-publicized revival was announced in early 2022.

Developed with the idea of being a new teen flagship for the HBO Max streaming platform, it was to have been a 10-episode season and planned to debut the following year. Franchise creators Linda Schuyler and Stephen Stohn issued a statement (relayed by CBC) saying that they'd be passing the torch to "Degrassi: The Next Generation" writers, Lara Azzopardi and Julia Cohen, who would develop the new series.

But fate unfortunately intervened, and the merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery Inc. in April of 2022 threw a spanner into the works. Complicating the revival was that the newly formed company WarnerDiscovery was taking a hatchet to their upcoming slate of projects, most notably ditching the already-filmed "Batgirl." As fans of "Degrassi" feared, the revival was a victim of the same corporate cuts, as revealed by Variety in November 2022.

Murder, She Wrote

"Murder, She Wrote" is not only one of the best murder mysteries in television history but perhaps the most unique. Not just because it starred the incomparable Angela Lansbury, but because the investigator in question isn't a grizzled crime fighter or super genius sleuth. Instead, she is a middle-aged writer who takes it upon herself to solve the crimes that the police can't beat. Running for an astonishing 12 seasons, the series was a ratings hit and made Lansbury an icon.

Flash forward to 2013, and NBC revealed they had greenlit a reboot of the series with an all-new star and story. This time, "Murder, She Wrote" would star Octavia Spencer as an amateur crime solver. According to Deadline, the series was planned to be "a light, contemporary procedural in the vein of 'Bones' or 'Fargo'," with Spencer's lead character an aspiring mystery writer and hospital administrator. There was also word that Lansbury had been approached to appear.

But in early 2014, the reboot was given the kibosh, despite a commitment to film a pilot. Apparently, NBC executives got nervous about rebooting such an iconic series, and for her part, Lansbury was pleased about the decision to scrap it. "I knew it was a terrible mistake," Lansbury told BBC. "I didn't want to sully the memory." But her relief was no shade on Spencer, who she lauded, saying "Octavia Spencer is a superb actress. She had no business being put into a situation that she couldn't win."

The Saint

Before he was James Bond, actor Roger Moore starred in the hit 1960s action-adventure series, "The Saint." Based on a series of novels, it followed the escapades of Simon Templar, a mysterious hero who rights wrongs like a modern-day Robin Hood. It ran for more than 100 episodes and returned in 1978 for an abbreviated single-season reprisal, with a new star. Decades later, "The Saint" came to Hollywood and was rebooted as a big-budget movie starring Val Kilmer. But over the years, there have been a few more aborted attempts to bring him back to television.

The first was a 1987 TV movie that failed to get a new series off the ground. The next was announced as in development in 2010 (via Digital Spy), with "Mission: Impossible II" star Dougray Scott signed up to play Simon Templar. But Scott was wise to temper expectations, saying "I don't think it's going to happen anytime soon." Alas, it never did, but three years later another project came about, this time "Rome" star James Purefoy in talks to play the lead role. 

Once again though things soon fell apart, with creative differences apparently scuttling the project. "In the end they weren't going to do the kind of 'Saint' I wanted to make," Purefoy told The Express. "We had a great script that was cool, classy and dead sexy. Now I think it's going to be more like 'Knight Rider' – and I didn't want to do that."


While most people remember the '90s for TV comedies like "Seinfeld," "Friends," and "Home Improvement," that was just the tip of the sitcom iceberg. One of the many other hits that decade was "Coach," which ran for nine seasons and centered on Hayden Fox, a college football coach. The series starred Craig T. Nelson, who young readers might now best as the voice of Mr. Incredible in Pixar's "The Incredibles." But while it might not be as famous as the biggest '90s hits, it still became the subject of reboot talks in 2015, with NBC announcing a revival with Nelson returning.

As noted by Entertainment Weekly, the series would have seen Fox — now retired — enlisted by his now-grown son to help coach a Pennsylvania school's new football team. What was surprising about the "Coach" relaunch though was that it was ordered straight to series, with a 13-episode commitment. Most of the cast — with the notable exception of Shelly Fabares, who played Fox's wife — were all signed up to return, but by August of that year, the reboot was off. 

According to Deadline, who pronounced the series DOA, there had been rumors during production that the show wasn't passing muster. Journalist Nellie Andreeva heard talk from inside the studio that the response to the show internally wasn't great, with some feeling it felt dated. While the studio said they'd attempt to shop the series around, as of 2023, the relaunch seems officially kaput.

Xena: Warrior Princess

Though a spin-off itself, "Xena: Warrior Princess" was arguably more popular than its parent series, "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys." It was a beloved fantasy series all its own, even making Lucy Lawless a superstar as well as a bonafide LGBTQ icon. Given the show's popularity and the rise in big-budget fantasy since "Game of Thrones," it should come as no surprise that reboot rumors began swirling in the summer of 2015, with a report by The Hollywood Reporter.

By December of that year, original series producers Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert were officially signed up, with Entertainment Weekly reporting that Javier Grillo-Marxuach would serve as writer and producer. Lawless hadn't yet joined them, but there were high hopes she'd board the project. "We'd love to have Lucy be a part of it," NBC exec Bob Greenblatt told The Hollywood Reporter. "If we felt that her presence didn't overshadow the direction we take with it. I'm not sure how she could be part of it if she wasn't playing Xena, and I don't know if that's a direction we'll ever go." 

But two years later it was reported the project was canned. Grillo-Marxuach put the blame on the network's reluctance to explore the character's LGBTQ identity and her same-sex relationship with her sidekick, Gabrielle. "There is no reason to bring back 'Xeno' if it is not there for the purpose of fully exploring a relationship that could only be shown subtextually in first-run syndication in the 1990s."


In the early '90s, "NYPD Blue," by legendary producer Steven Bochco, became one of the hottest cop dramas on television. The show pushed the boundaries of edgy content on prime-time network TV, with enough foul language and even some nudity that a number of stations across the country refused to air episodes of the series (per the Los Angeles Times). In 2018, nearly 15 years after it went off the air in 2005, Fox announced a reboot.

Revealed just months after the death of Bochco, it would be the producer's son Jesse who would spearhead the relaunch. According to The Wrap, the younger Bochco would direct all 10 episodes of the show's first season, and he'd recruited two of the original show's writers, Matt Olmstead and Nick Wootton, to pen them. But neither of the lead characters would come back, with the show being propelled instead by the shocking death of Dennis Franz's character, Andy Sipowicz. In a bold move, the show would focus on his son Theo, an unproven cop, out to solve his father's murder. Several original supporting cast members would return while actor Fabien Frankel had nabbed the lead role of Theo Sipowicz. 

But about a year after its announcement, the "NYPD Blue" revival was killed too, and the cast was all released from their deals with the network. No reason was given in the report from Deadline, but while there were hopes of finding it a new home elsewhere, it has yet to happen.

Lost in Space

Along with iconic classics like "Star Trek" and "Doctor Who," the outer space family adventure, "Lost in Space," helped define science fiction in the 1960s. It told the story of a family of space explorers who lose their way and must contend with all kinds of danger, including a villain in their midst. Though the series was the subject of a rebooted big-budget box office flop in the late '90s starring Matt LeBlanc, it did get a successful revival in 2018 on Netflix.

But back in the early 2000s, the show was the subject of an earlier reboot attempt that never saw the light of day. Unlike most on this list, however, the pilot episode was not only filmed, it can be found online, though it never did air on television. Filmed in 2004, the revival gave "Lost in Space" a contemporary facelift, with Hong Kong director John Woo helming, though it bears almost no resemblance to his more successful work. The cast was led by Jayne Brook but is probably most notable for including future TV star Adrianne Palicki, who has appeared in a few failed pilots over the years, including "Wonder Woman" and "Marvel's Most Wanted."

Unfortunately, the pilot was an absolute disaster, being neither a clever reinvention nor anything like a John Woo film. Too many liberties were taken with the original story — with the reboot involving a devastating alien war story — and it was quietly buried.


An underrated office sitcom, "Workaholics" debuted on Comedy Central in 2011, the brainchild of comedians Kyle Newacheck, Adam DeVine, Blake Anderson, and Anders Holm. The show grew a fervent fan following for its offbeat humor and mix of stoner antics with classic work-based comedy tropes. In short, it was completely unpredictable and effortlessly hilarious. After a lengthy seven-season run, the show came to a close in 2017, and the comedians moved on to other projects, joining other new shows and movies including "Game Over, Man!," "Woke," and "What We Do in the Shadows." 

But in 2021, the foursome surprised fans with the announcement that "Workaholics" would be returning with a direct-to-streaming movie, with the tease that it might even lead to an all-new series (per Vulture). Over the next two years, the revival slowly began coming together, with a script in place and plans to air the movie on the Paramount+ streaming platform all coming together. But in a shock to everyone — even the show's own cast — the movie was abruptly canceled in January 2023. 

What makes its sudden scrapping most shocking however is just how close it came to becoming a reality. According to DeVine, they were just weeks away from filming when Paramount+ dropped the movie at the 11th hour, claiming it no longer fit their global strategy. However, the four "Workaholics" creators have since revealed plans to shop the movie around, so there still is some hope.