Whenever “cancellation season” (aka early to mid-May) rolls around, there are plaintive cries for someone, anyone, to “save” a beloved show. But who has TV history shown us to most often be listening?
Yes, Netflix tends to be the “go-to” savior, based in large part on the streaming giant’s early-years penchant for stocking its shelves with new seasons of cancelled, established shows. Yet it has been almost three years since Netflix rescued a freshly cancelled U.S. series (Lucifer, which Netflix itself “un-cancelled” after Season 5). So it’d be wise to not put all “Save our show!” eggs into that one basket.
TVLine looked back on more than 60 instances of shows that after being cancelled came back in some form (be it new seasons, a closure-offering TV-movie), dating back to at least the late 1950s and as recently with this month’s resurrection of Sanditon. And while it’s a common knee-jerk reaction to count on Netflix (or Hulu, or Amazon…) to ride to the rescue — which indeed happened in 24 percent of the cases — the fact is that slightly more often, in 26 percent of the comebacks, it was the original network that wound up “saving” its own cancelled show.
That said, a network is more likely to “un-cancel” a show that it doesn’t own, by striking a deal for a lower licensing fee with, for example, Warner Bros. TV (which then in turn typically trims its show’s budget). But if the cancelled show was produced in-house, you can assume that any interest/means to “save” it — for example, by moving it to the company’s sister streaming service — were already explored and dismissed.
In the list below, TVLine reviews the variety of saviors that have stepped up over the past 60 years, noting some well-known examples of their rescue efforts — and how much you should hope for any of them to give your forsaken favorite a new home.