19 TV shows that found a second wind after they ended

The cast of "Friends."
The cast of “Friends.”

Reisig & Taylor/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Image

  • These TV shows found new life after they ended, whether by cancellation or not. 

  • “Friends” was one of the most popular shows on Netflix in 2018 — more than 20 years after it premiered.

  • The strong DVD sales of “Firefly” led to a follow-up film.

  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Whether they ran for several successful seasons or were canceled after one, these TV shows found a second wind and renewed popularity after they ended. For example, even though it’s been off the air for 16 years, “Friends” is more popular than ever.

Here are 19 shows that found renewed popularity after their end.

“The Office” was the most popular show on Netflix in 2018, five years after it ended in 2013.

"The Office."
“The Office.”

NBC

Michael Scott would be proud. It was the most-watched show on Netflix in 2018, with 52 million minutes streamed, according to Deadline. The streaming site will be sure to miss the show when it leaves in 2021 for NBCUniversal’s new streaming service, Peacock. 

“Friends” followed closely behind as the service’s next most popular show.

"Friends."
“Friends.”

Getty

It was also one of its most expensive. Netflix paid $100 million to keep the sitcom until the end of 2019.

The show is now available on the HBO Max streaming service. The service is also producing a special that will reunite the cast.

Netflix already has a replacement for “The Office” and “Friends,” with the popular sitcom “Seinfeld.”

"Seinfeld."
“Seinfeld.”

Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Who knew a show about nothing would prove to be so long-lasting? The 1998 series finale of “Seinfeld” was viewed by 76.3 million people.

Twenty-two years later, the show maintained its cultural presence through syndication, and recently, through streaming services. While it didn’t produce crazy numbers for Hulu, Netflix is hoping for it to be their next powerhouse, paying $500 million for a six-year deal starting in 2021. 

“Parks and Recreation” was the third-most popular show on Netflix in 2018.

"Parks and Recreation."
“Parks and Recreation.”

NBC

Often paired with the similarly styled sitcom “The Office,” the NBC comedy originally aired from 2009 to 2015. The show accounted for 2.3% of Netflix’s total viewership in 2018, though it was frequently on the verge of cancellation while it was on the air.

And “That ’70s Show” was No. 7 on the streaming service a decade after its end.

"That '70s Show."
“That ’70s Show.”

Fox/Facebook

The ’70s-based sitcom went off the air in 2006 after showing the characters finally making it to 1980. The show accounted for 1.2% of Netflix’s total viewership in 2018.

Canceled after three seasons, “Arrested Development” found a second life on Netflix.

"Arrested Development."
“Arrested Development.”

Fox

Considered by some to be the greatest comedy of all time, the show had abysmal ratings when it aired on Fox in the early 2000s.

The show found a second wind with strong DVD sales and scenes that became memes online. The growing popularity led Netflix to resurrect the series for two more seasons, though these were less well-received. 

“Gilmore Girls” also found a new audience on Netflix.

"Gilmore Girls."
“Gilmore Girls.”

The WB

Going off the air in 2006, the mother-and-daughter show ran for seven seasons. The show found renewed interest on Netflix, where it accounted for 0.77% of all streams in 2018.

The streaming service brought back the show with a revival called “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life,” which had an estimated 5 million viewers.  

“Freaks and Geeks” became popular after it ended due to its star-studded cast.

"Freaks and Geeks."
“Freaks and Geeks.”

NBC

The show is a bit like looking into a celebrity yearbook. It starred plenty of young future stars, like Seth Rogen, Linda Cardellini, James Franco, and Jason Segel.

Canceled after one season, the show found new life on streaming services like Netflix, and is now considered one of the greatest high school shows of all time.

First airing in 1985, “The Golden Girls” is more popular than ever thanks to repeated syndication.

"The Golden Girls."
“The Golden Girls.”

NBC

The adventures of Blanche, Dorothy, Sophia, and Rose continue to captivate younger audiences despite some of them not even being born when the series aired.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the show is popular due to its universal themes. In the past few years, there has been a wave of merchandise for the show, with brands selling everything from T-shirts to Chia pets to Funko “Golden Girls” figurines.

The long-running sitcom “Frasier” also found new interest through syndication and Netflix.

"Frasier."
“Frasier.”

Hulu

The sitcom, a spin-off of “Cheers,” followed the exploits of radio host and psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane and his family and friends. The show found new life over a decade after it went off the air, as a soothing binge option on Netflix. In 2018, it accounted for 0.5% of all Netflix views. 

Canceled after one season, “Firefly” finished its storylines in a feature film.

"Firefly."
“Firefly.”

Fox

The show became a poster child for a show canceled when it was in its prime — only 14 episodes of the series were produced.

Strong DVD sales and fan campaigns helped showrunner Joss Whedon find the backing to make the 2005 film “Serenity.”

“Family Guy” was canceled in 2002, but proved too popular to stay away for long. It was brought back three years later.

"Family Guy."
“Family Guy.”

Fox

Strong DVD sales and high syndication numbers on Adult Swim led Fox to reconsider the cancellation, and the network brought the show back for a fourth season in 2005. In 2020, “Family Guy” is still on the air. 

When it first aired on HBO, “The Wire” had lower ratings than its contemporaries, but continues to find new audiences today.

"The Wire."
“The Wire.”

HBO

Everyone has a friend that tells them, “You have to watch ‘The Wire'” — and it seems like people are finally listening. According to WarnerMedia, “The Wire” nearly tripled its audience in the last week, as people are home quarantining.

It’s frequently called one of the best TV series of all time, though it didn’t attract huge audiences. When it was on the air, the show averaged 4 million viewers. In comparison, “The Sopranos” averaged 18.2 million. 

 

Netflix turned “Breaking Bad” into the cultural phenomenon it is today.

"Breaking Bad."
“Breaking Bad.”

AMC

After moving the previous seasons of the saga of Walter White to Netflix, the show’s final season produced its highest ratings ever, including 10.3 million viewers for the finale.

Since it aired, the show has found more popularity through glowing reviews and word of mouth. A sequel movie for Netflix, “El Camino,” earned 6.3 million views last year.

Off the air for over 50 years, “The Andy Griffith Show” continues to find new audiences everywhere through syndication.

"The Andy Griffith Show."
“The Andy Griffith Show.”

CBS

The show revolved around a small town sheriff, his deputy, and his son (a young Ron Howard in his first starring role).

According to TV by the Numbers, reruns of the show account for 3.6 billion minutes of audience engagement in 2010.  

The 1966 series “Star Trek” spawned a media empire ranging from books, to TV series, to multiple films.

"Star Trek."
“Star Trek.”

NBC

Airing in the 1960s, the series was canceled after only three seasons.

Through syndication, the show found a new audience, which formed conventions and viewing parties around the show. In 1979, the first film based on the series was released — there have been 13 movies and eight TV shows in the “Star Trek” universe, all based on a three-season-long show in the ’60s.

Canceled after two seasons, “Twin Peaks” found new audiences and earned a movie and a television revival along the way.

"Twin Peaks."
“Twin Peaks.”

Showtime

The original show’s cliffhanger left audiences infuriated at their TV screens for 25 years. Since then, the show has taken an almost-mythical status, influencing shows like “Bates Motel” and “Riverdale.”

A prequel movie was released in 1992, “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.” Twenty-five years later, Showtime resurrected the property in 2017 with a sequel show called “Twin Peaks: The Return,” which proved to be successful for its streaming service. 

Thirteen years after it was canceled, “Deadwood” finally got the conclusion that it deserved.

"Deadwood."
“Deadwood.”

HBO

Like many shows before it, the western was canceled on a cliffhanger, but audiences never gave up hope on a conclusion. The show proved popular enough in the 13-year interim that HBO brought it back for one last hurrah with a sequel film, “Deadwood: The Movie” that tied up loose ends.

First going off the air in 1989, “Doctor Who” regenerated itself into a completely new show.

"Doctor Who."
“Doctor Who.”

BBC One

The British show captivated audiences for 26 seasons but was canceled in 1989, but a series of books and audio story spin-offs proved interest for the property was still alive.

In 2005, a revival of the show launched with 10 million viewers tuning in. So far, an additional 12 seasons plus multiple Christmas specials have been produced. 

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