Decade in Review: 10 TV Reboots and Revivals That Bombed

MURPHY BROWN- AWOL - Murphy In The Morning - Dec. 13 - Publicity -H 2018
David Giesbrecht/2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Think scoring the rights to mega-popular or beloved existing IP is a ticket to breaking through the Peak TV clutter? Think again: The 10 series from the past decade below proved that just because audiences might be familiar with a property doesn't mean that they'll find viewers — no matter how creatively good (or bad) the new series is.

Will & Grace and The Conners (nee Roseanne) continue to deliver (somewhat diminishing) ratings for NBC and ABC, respectively, but for every instant (albeit, in this case, fading) hit there's another reboot (or five) with even worse following behind.

The Muppets (2015-16, ABC)

Helmed by The Big Bang Theory co-creator Bill Prady and featuring the beloved Jim Henson puppets, this "comedy" had plenty of star power on its side. But the sitcom, a mockumentary about the behind-the-scenes goings-on at a late-night talk show hosted by Miss Piggy, failed to catch on with audiences, rapidly shedding viewers by the millions after an explosive premiere. Co-creator and showrunner Bob Kushell was ousted in November 2015 as part of a creative overhaul, but the rebooted final six episodes from new showrunner Kristin Newman ultimately couldn't draw the crowd ABC expected after the rapturous reception of its pilot presentation, which earned a rare standing ovation from a crowd at San Diego Comic-Con. The Muppets finished its freshman season with a 1.9 rating among adults 18-49 and 5.3 million total viewers. (Numbers, it's worth noting, that would be celebrated and likely rewarded with a renewal by today's standards.)

Melrose Place (2009-10, The CW)

After the success of The CW's rebooted 90210, which would ultimately run for five seasons, a new version of the teen soap's companion drama seemed like a no-brainer. But despite nabbing original stars and franchise favorites Heather Locklear, Laura Leighton, Thomas Calabro, Josie Bissett and Daphne Zuniga for the reboot, which followed the adventures of a new group of hot 20-somethings, mixed reviews and low ratings meant it didn't last longer than its 18-episode first season.

24: Legacy and 24: Live Another Day (2017 and 2014, Fox)

Jack Bauer returned for a ninth series of real-time adventure 24, titled Live Another Day, in 2014, but the new series in the now-franchise, Legacy, took place three years later and followed war veteran Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins) as he enlisted the help of the Counter Terrorist Unit to figure out who was hunting down the ex-Army Ranger and his squad mates. Though Fox canceled the series following a massive post-Super Bowl debut — ratings decreased from 17.6 million viewers and a 6.1 rating among adults 18-49 to a season-ending 6.3 million total viewers and a 1.7 in the demo — executive producers Howard Gordon and Brian Grazer were already in talks with the network to develop a new anthological take on the franchise that would allow for the creation of new storylines and characters in every incarnation. Those chances, however, are gone as rights to the franchise now sit with Disney. Jackie Bauer, anyone?

V (2009-11, ABC)

The reboot of this 1983 miniseries followed an alien invasion — the "V" stands for visitors, in case you forgot — by a malevolent group of extraterrestrials led by Morena Baccarin's Anna, who promises advanced technology but in fact has sinister ulterior motives. Also starring Elizabeth Mitchell and Scott Wolf, the series had just 6.9 million average viewers in its second season, though fans blamed ABC's scheduling for the dip.

Murphy Brown (2018, CBS)

On the heels of TV's latest reboot frenzy, CBS brought back Candice Bergen's groundbreaking (fictional) TV journalist for a new season, this time splitting the attention between the titular character and her 20-something son, Avery (Jake McDorman), a reporter for a Fox News-like right-wing network. While creator Diane English was optimistic about a potential renewal given the show's newfound timeliness in the Trump era, CBS opted to wait and see how its 2019 pilots turned out before ultimately canceling the series after its 11th overall season. 

Heroes Reborn (2015-16, NBC)

Technically, NBC rebooted sci-fi superhero series Heroes as an event miniseries from creator Tim Kring following a new group of ordinary people who discover they have special abilities. But Kring told THR that he did have ideas for ways he could continue the story, despite the fact that he conceived Reborn as a closed-ended series. By the time of its cancellation, Reborn had halved the number of viewers who tuned in to the reboot's premiere. (And it hasn't been reborn again. Your move, Peacock.)

Uncle Buck (2016, ABC)

ABC reimagined the John Candy 1989 classic with a new cast that included Mike Epps as the titular character, James Lesure and Nia Long. But after poor critical reception and so-so ratings — the series fared decently in the typically lower-rated summer period, averaging a 1.0 among adults under 50 — the network opted not to bring it back for a second season (with apologies to John Hughes).

Heathers (2018, TV Land-turned-Paramount Network)

The troubled adaptation of the '80s black comedy classic was yanked from multiple networks on multiple dates before ultimately airing as a five-night Halloween binge (read, burn-off) on Paramount Network. Originally developed for TV Land before moving to Paramount Network, the series was pulled from its first airdate after the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, then scrapped completely and shopped to other networks, then brought back over five nights in October 2018. The series was edited for content and ultimately aired in the U.S. as nine episodes instead of 10, and a planned second season of the anthology — with complete script — was scrapped. Efforts to shop the second season failed as networks and streamers realized that blowing up a school is never a good idea on TV.

Charlie's Angels (2011, ABC)

Before the latest (and not so greatest) reboot of the retro series hit theaters, ABC teamed up Minka Kelly, Rachael Taylor and Annie Ilonzeh as the titular crime-fighting trio in what many expected to be breakout star-making roles. The drama lasted just four episodes on the air before ABC yanked it after less than spectacular ratings, and only eight of its original 13-episode order were produced. Sorry, Bosley.

Four Weddings and a Funeral (2019, Hulu)

Mindy Kaling's reverence for rom-coms made her an obvious choice to oversee Hulu's reimagining of the 1994 Richard Curtis classic, which put the love story between an African American woman and a British Pakistani man at its center. Mixed reviews noted that there was only a tangential relation to the original film, and Hulu has no plans to bring back the dramedy, which was initially billed as a miniseries. We'll consider this wedding as having ended in divorce.