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The Real Reason Why These Stars Didn't Return For The Reboot

Every era has some kind of defining TV craze. In the '80s, it was family sitcoms like Growing Pains and The Cosby Show. In the mid-2000s, viewers loved dark dramas about anti-heroes, like The Sopranos and Breaking Bad. The biggest thing going on television right now: reboots, remakes, and revivals of old, familiar favorites. Over the last few years, refreshed versions of shows like The X-Files, 24, and Dallas have all proven successful. 

Naturally, these shows hit the air with characters looking and acting a little bit different; such is the effect of time. Others arrive without that little something that made the original iteration click — like a major character. Proving that you can never quite go home again, lots of reboots lack such a notable presence. Here are some rebooted shows that, for whatever reason, couldn't get the entire original cast (or at the least all of the actors that are still alive) on board.

Molly Ephraim was the First Woman Leaving

In 2017, ABC canceled the relatively well-rated Tim Allen sitcom Last Man Standing, sparking rumors that the decision was politically-motivated, as the show is one of the few on the air with a decidedly conservative viewpoint. (A more likely reason: the show had grown too expensive for the network to continue broadcasting it.)

After the success of the similarly conservative-oriented Roseanne revival in the spring of 2018, Fox wanted in, and announced that it would revive Last Man Standing for its fall schedule. Main stars Allen and Nancy Travis quickly signed on to reprise their roles as Mike and Vanessa Baxter, respectively. Most of the other actors on the family sitcom agreed to return, too, but not Molly Ephraim. The actress portrayed the Baxters' middle child, Mandy, but in the new version, the similarly named Molly McCook got the job. Ephraim couldn't do it — after Last Man Standing ended, she moved on and couldn't look back. According to show executive producer Matt Berry, Ephraim "got involved in some different things," and when the show returned, "she was not able to do it. It's unfortunate. We love her deeply. She's a big part of who we were."

That's a pretty cut-and-dried reason, and yet both Ephraim and McCook endured some online harassment from bitter fans over the switch. Ephraim ultimately had to delete her Twitter account.

The Olsen Twins didn't say "You got it, dude!"

Perhaps the definitive network sitcom of the 1990s, Full House found a huge audience when it returned on Netflix in the form of a continuation called Fuller House. Mirroring the show's original premise of a widowed dad enlisting the help of family and friends to raise his daughters, Fuller House finds the now-grown and widowed mom D.J. Tanner (Candace Cameron-Bure) leaning on Full House staples like sister Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) and best friend Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber). 

Every major character from Full House has shown up on Fuller House, notably Danny Tanner (Bob Saget), Uncle Jesse (John Stamos), and Joey (Dave Coulier). Noticeably gone: youngest Tanner daughter Michelle, portrayed by twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, long before they became fabulously wealthy fashion magnates. The show explains their conspicuous absence in its very first episode — Danny mentions that Michelle can't come to visit because she's very busy "In New York, running her fashion empire." Then the entire assembled cast stares at the camera to ensure that the audience gets the joke.

But that's not really why the Olsens were no-shows. According to Fuller House executive producer Robert Boyett, Ashley Olsen was too nervous. "Ashley said, 'I have not been in front of a camera since I was 17, and I don't feel comfortable acting.'" That would have left the role entirely to Mary-Kate Olsen, who said no because "the timing is so bad."

A mysterious disappearance on Twin Peaks

A brief pop culture sensation in the early '90s which became a cult favorite following its original two-season run, Twin Peaks was positively legendary by the time Showtime revived the David Lynch co-creation in 2017. It seemed like nearly everyone in Hollywood wanted a piece of Twin Peaks: The Return, from former cast members (like Kyle MacLachlan, Sherilynn Fenn, and David Duchovny) to fans-turned-participants (including Laura Dern, Michael Cera, and Matthew Lillard). Notably absent from the show's staggeringly long 217-name cast list: Lara Flynn Boyle. On the classic series, Boyle played Donna, best friend of the slain Laura Palmer. 

Boyle faded from Twin Peaks under mysterious circumstances. Reportedly, Boyle was dating MacLachlan at the time, but didn't get along with Fenn, who played a love interest to MacLachlan's character. She then persuaded MacLachlan to ask writers Lynch and Mark Frost to split up the fictional couple. That's all very scandalous, and could explain why Boyle didn't show up in the 1992 Twin Peaks prequel movie Fire Walk With Me (Moira Kelly portrayed Donna) or the recent revival series.

Randy Jackson didn't want to change jobs, dawg

Randy Jackson may not have been the most famous member of the American Idol judges panel when the show began in 2002 (that would be Paula Abdul), nor was he the breakout star (that's all Simon Cowell), but he was the longest-serving judge, far outlasting Abdul, Cowell, and the brief tenures of people like Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, and Ellen DeGeneres.

Just two years after the talent contest ended its 15-season run on Fox, American Idol returned to the air, on ABC. And with that came an entirely new set of judges: Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan. How come Randy Jackson, Idol veteran, didn't reclaim his spot on the table's far left side? He wasn't asked...because producers wanted him to host the show. "They wanted me to take Ryan Seacrest's job," Jackson told Entertainment Tonight. Jackson just couldn't take a job from "his friend." (Seacrest ultimately returned to Idol.)

Not very Raven

That's So Raven was one of the biggest hits the Disney Channel ever produced. Starring force of nature Raven-Symoné as a bumbling psychic teenager, the 2003-2007 series was so popular that the channel taped 100 episodes, running right past its own house-imposed rule of a 65-episode limit for shows. A decade later, fans still wanted more, leading to the 2017 reboot Raven's Home. The premise: characters Raven and her BFF Chelsea (Anneliese van Der Pol) are now divorced adults living in Chicago and raising their kids together (and one of Raven's kids inherited her psychic gifts).

On the original That's So Raven, the action focused on Raven, Chelsea, and their friend Eddie, portrayed by Orlando Brown. Eddie hasn't shown up yet on Raven's Home, and that could be due to Brown's off-screen behavior. In 2016, he implied in a rap song that he'd had a sexual relationship with Raven-Symoné, which culminated in an unplanned pregnancy that the actress terminated. He later claimed the latter part wasn't true, but doubled down on the former in another interview, describing their romantic entanglements in great detail. That tacky behavior, along with his arrest on drug and domestic abuse charges in 2016, may have made Brown not welcome at Raven's Home.

Will and Grace but not Rosario

NBC's most highly touted and promoted show of its new fall season in 2017 wasn't a new show at all: It was a revival of the 1998-2006 comedy Will & Grace. (Never mind that the original series ended with a time jump decades into the future.) The show's core cast of Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Megan Mullally, and Sean Hayes all agreed to return to play Will, Grace, Karen, and Jack, respectively. One actor wasn't up for another round of antics, however: Shelley Morrison, who'd portrayed Rosario, Karen's droll and long-suffering maid in more than 60 episodes.

"Shelley has decided to retire," Will & Grace co-creator Max Mutchnick told reporters at a Television Critics Association event. "It was with a heavy heart that she gave us that information and that we received it, but it is the way that it goes. It is a choice that she has made." Writers then closed the door on any possible comeback for Morrison — the show killed off Rosario.

The other absent Roseanne star

Before he starred on the number-one show on television in the '90s, NBC's medical drama ER, George Clooney had a minor, recurring role on the number-one television show in the late '80s: the ABC comedy Roseanne. From 1988 to 1991, Clooney appeared occasionally as Booker Brooks, the foreman at the plastics factory where Roseanne (Roseanne Barr) worked, and later boyfriend to Roseanne's sister, Jackie (Laurie Metcalf). While Metcalf and co-star John Goodman went on to have acclaimed careers, Clooney became an A-list mega-star, certainly the most famous Roseanne cast member of all. 

When ABC decided to reboot the 1988-1997 series, Barr reached out to Clooney to see if he wanted to reprise the role that helped launch his career into the stratosphere 30 years ago. He politely declined. "Well, George Clooney didn't want to come on — so that was a bummer," Barr said on Howard Stern's satellite radio show. "But he lives in Italy."

Relax, Max, your services won't be required

Nearly everyone that ever appeared on Gilmore Girls during its 2000-2007 run came back to the tiny town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut, when the series returned with four made-for-Netflix movies in 2016. Creators Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino left the series prior to its final season, so the films offered them a chance to end Gilmore Girls the way they wanted, as well as wrap up any loose ends. Central characters Lorelai (Lauren Graham), Rory (Alexis Bledel), and Emily Gilmore (Kelly Bishop) got a happily-ever-after (or at least a clear path forward), but the most glaring omission from the reboot was Max Medina (Scott Cohen), Rory's high school English teacher and Lorelai's boyfriend turned (briefly) fiancé. 

The decision to exclude him was entirely a creative one. Sherman-Palladino couldn't figure out a reasonable way to bring back the character. "One person I didn't figure out how to get in was Scott Cohen, whom we love so much," she told Entertainment Weekly. "We had so much story. We left storylines on the cutting room floor before we started."

Here's the story of the fake Jan Brady

Reboots are not a modern invention. The Brady Bunch never stayed dead for long after its original sitcom form ended in 1974. America's favorite blended family returned for The Brady Brides (Jan and Marcia get married to two guys and they live in a house together) and The Bradys (an hour-long drama where the now grown Brady kids face problems like infertility and workplace affairs). But the wackiest iteration of all: The Brady Bunch Variety Hour (1976-77), a garish variety show hosted by the cast of The Brady Bunch...in character. 

Jan, the constantly miffed, Marcia-resenting middle daughter was there, but original cast member Eve Plumb did not sign on for the singing, dancing, hokey comedy sketches, and rhinestone-covered costumes. A young actress named Geri Reischl, who looked nothing like Plumb, filled in admirably. Producers pitched it to Plumb as a special, but there was some fine print she couldn't abide. "I enjoyed doing The Brady Bunch series and I wanted to do the special," Plumb said in 1976, "but there was a built in option for 13 more shows and possibly five years. I am 18 now and I feel I can grow both professionally and personally."