Some say that we are currently in the golden age of television. With network sitcoms still thriving and plenty of streaming services acquiring countless new shows on a weekly basis, there’s no end in sight. A recent trend that has delighted audiences is the resurgence of classic sitcoms with most of their original cast members. Roseanne’s recent return generated tens of millions of viewers and there are even more comebacks in the works. In this article, we’ll look at some of the most popular shows that ended too soon and need a second chance.
Over the last several years, a lot of sitcoms have succesfully come back. The prematurely cancelled Arrested Development was resurrected on Netflix, with new episodes coming soon. The streaming service also revived Gilmore Girls and Full House, which is now Fuller House. And that’s not the only family show to switch things up, with Boy Meets World becoming Girl Meets World. Other classics, like Will & Grace, returned to network television. Plans for future reboots include Murphy Brown and even The Office, which will be discussed soon. But first, let’s address the elephant in the room…
Seinfeld is maybe the most popular sitcom of all time. After struggling to find its footing over the first few seasons, it became the most-watched comedy series of its era. Creating countless catchphrases, which are still referenced today, the show struck a nerve with audiences. Seinfeld’s greatest strength was arguably its commentary on everyday things that were happening at the time, making it the perfect candidate for a comeback. It would be amazing to see how these hilarious characters reacted to all of the changes that have taken place over the last couple decades.
And there’s plenty of incentive for everyone involved, seeing as it led in the ratings for most of its run. Fans got a taste of what the show might look like today when all the characters were features is a few episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, a show created by and starring Larry David, who also wrote and produced Seinfeld. The original show also featured guest stars that have gone on to do big things, many of whom will be discussed later in this article. From Bryan Cranston, James Spader and Brad Garrett to Debra Messing, Courtney Cox and Teri Hatcher, among many others.
The Office wasn’t the same after the departure of the brilliantly hilarious Steve Carell. Some would say that didn’t even matter because the American version wasn’t as good as the original. Either way, both iterations of this classic sitcom were met with critical and commercial acclaim, and fans would be happy for one, if not both, to come back. While NBC’s take on the show did a good job of dealing with its star’s absence for the last couple seasons, audiences are dying to see Michael Scott reunite with his Dunder Mifflin employees.
And while they’re at it, why not bring back the mega-successful comedian Ricky Gervais to revisit the role that made him rich and famous. He resurrected the character for the Netflix movie David Brent: Life on the Road, giving fans a taste of what he’s up to now. But there’s good news for fans of the remake. Rumors have been recently circulating that there are actual plans to bring back the NBC version. If for nothing else, it gives Carell another chance to win a well-deserved Emmy for his performance.
It’s almost impossible not to hear the theme song in your head when thinking of Friends, the hugely successful sitcom that ran for a decade on NBC. The show launched the careers of its cast members, who all went on to do big things after the show ended. But it could be said that none of them fully stepped out of the shadows of their original characters, making it even more appropriate for the show to return.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Will Smith might be the biggest star in this article, making his humble beginnings on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air even more impressive. His recent rendition of the classic theme song on The Tonight Show proves the sitcom is still close to his heart. While James Avory (Uncle Phil) has since passed away, fans would still love to see the rest of the cast come back, if for nothing else than to witness The Carlton Dance one more time.
Freaks and Geeks
Before Judd Apatow became one of the most successful comedy figures of the 21st century, he created Freaks and Geeks, which tragically ended after only one season. The cult classic preceded Apatow’s hilarious films like The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up. Freaks and Geeks saw the arrival of James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segal and many others who have continued to work together since, making the potential of a comeback even more possible.
After the previous entry was cancelled, Apatow and some of the other producers went from high school to college with Undeclared, a sitcom with a similar premise that even featured some of the same actors. Unfortunately, it also followed the Freaks and Geeks path by ending too soon, although it lasted a bit longer than its predecessor. Many of the cast and crew have been very successful since the show, which could mean big things for a reunion.
A lesser known sitcom in the same vein as the last two entries is Party Down. With a similar sensibility and tone, the cult classic has created high demand for some sort of comeback, with fans even being willing to settle for a movie. The show, which originally aired on Starz, would be perfect for any of the streaming services that would allow it to be as crazy as it was the first time around.
Eastbound & Down
HBO has always made great shows, including Eastbound & Down, which launched the highly successful comedy career of its star Danny McBride. Many of its co-stars and behind-the-scenes people have also gone on to do big things. With help from Will Ferrell, this sitcom ran for a hilarious four seasons, but fans want more, and if there’s any justice in the world they’ll get it.
Flight of the Conchords
Another great HBO comedy was Flight of the Conchords, a hilarious musical featuring funny songs and characters. Fans not only tuned it to the sitcom, but also frequented the band’s sold out shows all over the world. Jermaine Clement and Bret McKenzie also put out multiple albums, which they would hopefully do again if the show returned.
Clone High is arguably the most obscure entry in this article, as well as its only animated sitcom. While not many know about this single-season show, they would certainly recognize many of its voice actors and actresses. Most notably are the creators Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who went on to make The Lego Movie, 21 and 22 Jump Street and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
Malcolm in the Middle
During the entire run of Breaking Bad, fans couldn’t help but make connections to Brian Cranston’s previous role as the father on Malcom in the Middle. The hugely popular sitcom ran for six years and received multiple awards. As fun as it was to watch the family, and especially the kids, grow up on screen, fans really want to see what the characters would be doing today.
Another classic family sitcom is Family Matters, which introduced the world to the iconic Steve Urkel, maybe the most famous nerd in the history of television. The show lasted almost ten years and covered a lot of ground through the lives of the Winslow family. It has since been recognized as one of the longest-running sitcoms with a predominantly African American cast.
Mad About You
Two of the biggest stars to ever come together for a sitcom are comedian Paul Reiser, who now stars on Netflix’s Stranger Things, and Oscar-winner Helen Hunt. A fun fact about Mad About You is that it is actually connected to previous entries Friends and Seinfeld. Actress Lisa Kudrow’s character made her first appearance on Mad About You, which also referenced Kramer, before later appearing on Friends.
3rd Rock from the Sun
One of the weirder premises featured in this article is the one for 3rd Rock from the Sun, which saw a group of aliens pretending to be a family in the suburbs so that they could observe human behavior. While lead John Lithgow was doing well before the sitcom, it introduced the world to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who has gone on to become one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. Fans would love to see this crazy cast reunite.
A sitcom with a similar title to the previous entry is, of course, 30 Rock. This critical success saw Tina Fey, Tracey Morgan and Alec Baldwin, who are all Saturday Night Live regulars, playing some of the funniest characters ever to be seen on network TV. While the sitcom had an impressively long run, audiences definitely need more of the show’s behind-the-scenes adventures.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
Another sitcom that showed what it’s like to work for a television production was Studio 60, which starred Friends alum Matthew Perry as well as many others who went on to have successful careers. Most notably though is the show’s creator and writer Aaron Sorkin, the man behind The West Wing, Moneyball, The Social Network and The Newsroom. Studio 60 is Sorkin’s only TV show not to air for more than one season.
My Name Is Earl
My Name Is Earl was on TV long enough to attract a loyal fanbase, but not long enough to satisfy their interest in the sitcom’s hilarious characters and situations. The show ran for four seasons on Fox and starred Jason Lee. It was not only funny, but also promoted a positive message of karma and good deeds, which would be nice to have back today.
One of the funniest comedians of all time is Martin Lawrence, who starred on his sitcom that was one of its network’s highest-rated shows during its original run. While Lawrence went on to star in many mega-successful movies, he has since not been around as much as fans would like. Bringing this show back would not only mean a comeback for Martin himself, but also the show that helped launch his career.
While Tim Allen has starred in multiple television shows, all of which have achieved varying levels of success, none are more iconic that Home Improvement, the one that put him on the map. This award-winning sitcom was one of the most watched of its time, making its return even more logical. Fans got to watch the family grow over eight years and would be so excited to see where the characters have ended up.
Married… with Children
Ed O’Neill, the star of Married… with Children, went on to the even more successful sitcom Modern Family, which shouldn’t take anything away from his first big show. He played Al Bundy is what is still the longest-lasting live-action sitcom on Fox, and the first to be broadcast in the network’s primetime programming slot. A reunion would be huge, as it definitely has a similar tone to Roseanne.
Just Shoot Me!
Just Shoot Me! was a ratings leader through much of it’s seven season run. It consistently won its time slot, which is impressive considering it moved around a lot. The sitcom, which featured David Space in one of his many successful shows, was created by Steven Levitan, who also created the aforementioned Modern Family.
The Drew Carey Show
The host of the daytime staple The Price Is Right is none other than Drew Carey, who also had a hugely popular sitcom. For several of its season The Drew Carey Show ranked among the Top 30 programs. Another of its stars was former late night host Craig Ferguson, who fans would also love to see back on television.
While Scrubs star Zach Braff has a new sitcom on ABC, it’ll be hard to beat the one that made him famous. Scrubs took the hospital format from a lot of dramas and made a comedy, gaining a big fanbase and lasting for almost a decade. It was created by Bill Lawrence, who has also been a part of a lot of other shows in this article.
Doogie Howser, M.D.
Another classic medical comedy is Doogie Howser, M.D. which introduced the world to the then-young Neil Patrick Harris. The sitcom followed the titular character, a teenage physician who balances the challenge of practicing medicine with the everyday problems of teenage life. As great as the premise was, it would be cool to see the character as an adult.
With current reality television heavily adopting what Desperate Housewives fictionalized, now is the perfect time for a comeback. The sitcom won a ton of awards and during its first five seasons it was rated amongst the top ten most-watched series. In 2007, it was reported to be the most popular show in its demographic worldwide.
Everybody Loves Raymond
There aren’t many sitcoms in this article that can compete with Everybody Loves Raymond. It received critical acclaim, won awards and scored high ratings, consistently making it into the top-ten rankings. The show, which starred Ray Romano, ran for nine years and produced 210 episodes. Not only should this sitcom come back, but also its spin-off…
The King of Queens
Kevin James was originally an actor and writer for Everybody Loves Raymond, so when he got his own show it made sense to do a crossover. It had almost the exact same run, only falling short by three episodes but also lasting nine seasons. The finale marked it as the last American live-action sitcom that premiered in the 1990s to end its run.
While it’s common now for movie stars to have their own TV shows and sitcoms, it wasn’t when Brooke Shields starred in Suddenly Susan. She had appeared on a lot of television programs, which probably helped her prepare for her role as a glamorous San Francisco magazine writer. Her fans would surely watch a comeback.
There aren’t many stars in this article who are as beloved as Michael J. Fox, who sadly had to step away from the limelight due to his battle with Parkinson’s disease. After starring in the legendary Back to the Future series he was on the hugely successful sitcom, Spin City. To see him return to his Emmy-winning role would be amazing.
Caroline in the City
Another sitcom with City in the title that also needs to return is Caroline in the City, which even starred someone else who was in the Back to the Future movies. Lea Thompson played the titular role on the show that was a part of NBC’s “Must See TV” Thursday night lineup, and surely its millions of viewers would love another season.
William Shatner will always be known for playing Captain Kirk, but his role on the popular Boston Legal definitely gave the Star Trek character a run for his money. Along with James Spader, the sitcom ran for five seasons, 101 episodes, won awards and drew one of the richest viewing audiences on television. Creator David E. Kelley also created the next show that needs to come back…
Ally McBeal was also a legal show that took place in Boston, with a big difference being that its main character was a female. Calista Flockhart starred in the award-winning, critically-acclaimed series that ran for five seasons. It was an instant hit, and even featured Robert Downey Jr. towards the end of its time on air. And it would be so cool to see the dancing baby again.
Another popular female-led sitcom that deserves to return is The Nanny. Fran Drescher starred in the Emmy-winning show’s 146 episodes. It even spawned several foreign adaptations, loosely inspired by the original scripts, but none could compete with the CBS version. Fans all over the world would tune in for its comeback.
NBC’s Wings not only starred the hilarious Tim Daly and Steven Weber, but also featured Oscar-winner Thomas Haden Church and Emmy-winner Tony Shalhoub, who would go on to be Monk in another show that should return. Wings ran for eight seasons and while it’s not a spin-off, it does take place in the same universe as Cheers, and by extension, Frasier…
Bored to Death
Before we get to Cheers and Frasier, let’s look at a lesser known Ted Danson sitcom. After Cheers he starred in Becker, which was also very popular and successful, and after that he was a supporting character on HBO’s Bored To Death. The show achieved a cult following that would love a comeback, but honestly any of these shows could return…
Cheers is one of the longest-running and most successful sitcoms in this article. The show earned a top-ten rating during eight of its eleven seasons, including one season at number one. During its run, Cheers became one of the most popular series of all time and has received critical acclaim from its start to its end. A comeback would be massive, seeing as it’s where everybody knows your name…
Cheers spin-off Frasier starred Kelsey Grammar and featured guest appearances from the Cheers cast including the now massively famous Woody Harrelson. It taken place after the main character returned to his hometown of Seattle and had a classic theme song that Grammar himself sang. Frasier is maybe the most critically-acclaimed sitcom in this article, and it’s surprising that it hasn’t come back yet.
Two and a Half Men
A sitcom that was as popular as it was controversial was the mega-hit Two and a Half Men. The success of the series led to it being the fourth-highest revenue-generating program for 2012, earning $3.24 million an episode. It regularly brought in high ratings before and after star Charlie Sheen had a very public meltdown. He and Ashton Kutcher, who took over, should both come back.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Joss Whedon has created, written and directed so many classics, from Angel and Firefly/Serenity to Toy Story and the first two Avengers movies. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which starred Sarah Michelle Gellar, received critical and popular acclaim, frequently being listed as one of the greatest TV shows of all time. It led to hundreds of tie-in products, including novels, comics, and video games, making it the perfect candidate for a comeback.