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The 21 Most Successful TV Revivals Ever

Some of these reboots and revivals even improved on the original shows.

Reruns are an essential part of television. Sometimes, though, simply airing an episode again isn't enough. Every once in a while, a show will get brought back as a reboot or revival series, sometimes decades after the original series ended—and that happened a lot amid the start of the streaming era.

The exact shape these revivals can take differs. Sometimes they bring back the original cast and continue the story where the previous finale left off or catch up with characters in the present day. Other times, the new show is more of an updated remake of the original series. They're not always a great idea, but occasionally, they are.

Read on to learn about 21 of the most successful TV revivals ever. These are the shows that were worth bringing back, either because they got critical acclaim and improved on the original or drew in huge audiences—though the best ones did both.

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And Just Like That…

And then somebody at HBO started to wonder… Could Sex and the City be revived as a new TV show? Indeed it could, as the landmark comedy that helped define the late '90s and early '00s returned, after two feature-length films, as And Just Like That… in late 2021. It doesn't quite capture the heights of the original show—how can it when one of the four main characters, Samantha, is absent because Kim Cattrall didn't want to participate?—but it's still fun to watch while drinking a cosmopolitan.

Arrested Development

Mitchell Hurwitz's '00s sitcom got incredible acclaim but very low ratings, making it a beloved cult classic for years after its 2006 cancellation. Thankfully, the people who loved Arrested Development really, really loved it, and wouldn't stop talking about it, prompting Netflix to bring the show back for two new seasons. Season 4 (released in 2013) and Season 5 (released in 2018) aren't quite as perfect as the original run, but they feature the original cast—including Jessica Walter, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, and Jason Bateman—and plenty of the clever humor that made fans fall in love in the first place.

Battlestar Galactica

The original Battlestar Galactica aired in the late '70s, and it's a charming, though not especially ambitious, sci-fi series from the era. The 2004 reboot, from showrunner Ronald D. Moore, was a highlight of what's known as the "golden age of television." The four-season series follows the last surviving remnants of the human race on the titular spaceship as they try to avoid the Cylons who wiped out the rest of mankind. It's a serious show, grappling with themes such as terrorism, the ethics of insurgency, and religion—but it's got plenty of sci-fi space action, too.

The Comeback

Friends star Lisa Kudrow's 2005 HBO comedy The Comeback came back itself for a second season nine years after its first. The comedy's sophomore outing follows Kudrow's Valerie Cherish as she attempts to reboot her acting career… again. It's a great send-up of the entertainment industry, and it will make you hope that they make a third season because there's a lot more to make fun of these days.

The Conners

It's a testament to how good The Conners is that the ABC sitcom was able to survive—and indeed thrive—after it had to reinvent itself without Rosanne Barr, previously the title character. Rosanne was of course an acclaimed sitcom that originally aired in the '80s and '90s, centering the stand-up's character, a working mother, in a way that few other contemporary series would. However, shortly after the 2018 Rosanne revival began, Barr was fired over some offensive tweets, and the show was rebooted as The Conners, focusing on John Goodman's Dan Conner and Laurie Metcalf's Jackie.

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Doctor Who

The Doctor famously regenerates, but none of the iconic sci-fi character's incarnations have been as important as the 2005 relaunch of the British series featuring Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor. The BBC show was on the air from 1963 to 1989, but it wasn't until the new millennium that Doctor Who's TARDIS reached new heights globally. David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi, Jodie Whittaker, and Ncuti Gatwa have all played the time-traveling alien in the nearly 20 years of sci-fi adventures that have followed since the reboot launched.


Life was like a hurricane in Duckburg in the beloved Disney Channel cartoon, which premiered back in 1987. That was still the case three decades later when the show got a reboot, which allowed a whole new generation to experience the adventures of Scrooge McDuck and his three nephews. The reboot has the added benefit of actually being able to feature Donald Duck as a character, as Disney wouldn't let him make anything more than cameo appearances in the original show.

Family Guy

It's easy to forget, now that Seth MacFarlane's animated series has been making cutaway gags for a quarter-century, that Family Guy was actually canceled after just three seasons. However, strong DVD sales prompted Fox to bring it back in 2005, just two years after its initial axing. The Griffin family has been going strong ever since. This reminds me of the time that… [insert joke here].

Fuller House

Let's get this out of the way: Neither Mary-Kate nor Ashley Olsen appears in Netflix's five-season revival of the beloved ABC comedy Full House, which originally ran from 1987 to 1995. However, just about everybody else from the TGIF family sitcom shows up in one way or another for this series, which follows a grown-up D.J. (Candace Cameron Bure) as she raises her family in her iconic childhood San Francisco home.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life

The 2016 miniseries A Year in the Life wasn't just a check-in on how Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel) were doing years after the original Gilmore Girls ended in 2007. It also marked the return of series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, as she hadn't been involved in the final season. Given that, it feels like a proper ending—and who could say no to a return to Stars Hollow?

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The original iCarly, which aired on Nickelodeon from 2007 to 2012, followed Miranda Cosgrove's Carly Shay and her friends as the teens became unexpectedly popular following the launch of Carly's web series. In 2021, Paramount+ premiered a series that brought the original cast and characters together again, almost a decade after fans last saw what Carly, Sam, Freddie, and Co. were up to. It's a funny and surprisingly successful return.

Lost in Space

The 2018 Netflix reboot of the old '60 sci-fi romp Lost in Space took a page from Battlestar Galactica's book and made this a much more serious—and less cheap-looking—affair. The Robinson family is stranded while on their way to colonize the Alpha Centauri system, forcing them to band together in an attempt to survive. Perhaps the most notable change from the '60s show is the reimagining of the Robinsons' helpful robot as an alien creature young Will Robinson forms a bond with.

Mystery Science Theater 3000

Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K, to fans) began life as a scrappy puppet show on a Minneapolis TV channel in 1988, but the rest of the nation soon realized how good the premise was. An average guy named Joel (and then later Mike) were forced to watch terrible old genre movies, but he and his robot friends would get through it by making fun of them the entire time. The original MST3K aired on Comedy Central and later Syfy before finally getting canceled in 1999. It was brought back for two seasons of new movies and new riffs on Netflix in the late 2010s, and there are more episodes still on the Gizmoplex, a streaming site for just MST3K.

One Day at a Time

Norman Lear's CBS sitcom had audiences laughing and feeling seen in the '70s and '80s, as the show followed a divorced mom raising two daughters by herself and touched on a lot of issues that weren't commonly seen on TV. That spirit carried over to the 2017 Netflix reboot, which saw Lear return. Once again, the show centered on a single mother and her family, and it had space to seriously address topics including mental health, racism, inequality, and more, in addition to providing the laughs. The show was beloved to the point where CBS rescued it for a fourth season after Netflix canceled it after three, though hopes that a fifth season might happen never came to fruition.

The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder

The original Proud Family was a relatively rare thing in the early 2000s: a cartoon centered on a Black family with a predominantly POC supporting cast. Animation in general has gotten more diverse in the years since The Proud Family's Disney Channel heyday, but it's still nice to see Penny and her family and friends return for Louder and Prouder, the Disney+ reboot that premiered in 2022. Two seasons are available to stream; a third season is in the works.

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Queer Eye

Netflix's 2018 revival of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, which made waves when it first debuted in 2003, was if anything an even deeper series. A new "Fab Five" is here to advise people (not just men) in need of a lifestyle spruce up. In the best episodes of the show, though, the revelations that come from this are much bigger, insightful, and emotional than the makeover.

Samurai Jack

Genndy Tartakovsky's Samurai Jack, an artful, hyper-stylized, and extremely cool Cartoon Network series about a samurai who travels to a dystopian future in the hopes of defeating his ancient foe, didn't get a chance to wrap up its story when it ended in 2004. Back then, even cartoons as ambitious as this tended to be more episodic in nature rather than telling a serialized story to completion. Luckily Samurai Jack got a chance to finish its story in 2017 with a fifth season that aired on Adult Swim and benefited from some mature elements not present in the original run.

She-Ra: Princess of Power

The '80s She-Ra: Princess of Power series was a spinoff of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. It's a good cartoon for that era of television. The Netflix reboot, created by the great queer cartoonist ND Stevenson, is something special, balancing sci-fi fantasy action with deep, complex characters and helping to set a new benchmark for queer representation in mainstream animation.

The Twilight Zone

Rod Serling's iconic sci-fi and horror anthology series The Twilight Zone has actually been brought back three times since the black-and-white original ended in the mid-'60s. First CBS brought it back for two seasons in 1985, then UPN took a stab in 2002 with Forest Whitaker taking Serling's narrator role, and most recently, Jordan Peele helmed a 2019 revival. None of the revivals have produced an episode as good as some of the original Twilight Zone's many masterpieces, but they're great anthology genre stories all the same.

Twin Peaks: The Return

The third season of David Lynch's acclaimed mystery series, dubbed Twin Peaks: The Return, came 25 years after the show's initial cancelation on ABC and the 1992 movie, Fire Walk With Me. It is as experimental and genre-bending as you'd hope to see from Lynch, perhaps even more so, as the Showtime series aired during the age of peak TV, by which time audiences were more used to the sort of ambitious, complex TV storytelling the original Twin Peaks pioneered, meaning Lynch was free of the network notes that marred the sophomore season decades prior.

X-Men '97

The new Disney+ series picks up where X-Men: The Animated Series left off when it ended its original run in, you guessed it, 1997. In addition to having an iconic theme song, the '90s cartoon was some of the more complex superhero storytelling that you could find on TV at the time, but the new series, which continues the story, is even more ambitious and even audacious. It's no small feat to update something like X-Men in a way that makes it feel modern but still in the spirit of the original, and the changes that the new show does make, like higher quality animation, are all good mutations.

James Grebey
James has been an entertainment journalist for more than a decade, writing and editing for outlets like Vulture, Inverse, Polygon, TIME, The Daily Beast, SPIN Magazine, Fatherly, and more. Read more
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