Will & Grace’s return has paid dividends for NBC this fall, and has escalated the industry’s efforts to revive or reboot other classic TV shows. Monday night, news broke that NBC is in talks to bring back The Office, though Steve Carell would not be involved.
Expect even more shows to return in the coming months: The X-Files is back on Fox for a second season of new episodes beginning Jan. 3, while ABC will revive Roseanne on March 27, two weeks after its March 11 relaunch of American Idol.
However, not all revivals are created equal: Fuller House continues to be a hit for Netflix and S.W.A.T. has been strong for CBS, but other recent efforts have struggled. Fox canceled 24: Legacy after just one season, while Dynasty is one of The CW’s lowest-rated shows (though its lucrative global Netflix deal could keep it on the air). And some of these upcoming shows, particularly Roseanne, have buyers worried: “Just because a program was good in the past doesn’t mean it’s going to work in the future,” one buyer told Adweek in September.
Still, as last night’s Office news proved, that won’t deter networks and studios as they mine their libraries for other titles and IP (intellectual property) they hope will still connect with TV audiences the way The X-Files and Will & Grace have. Given those parameters, here are 10 shows that might be ready for a comeback, either as a revival or reboot:
The Good Doctor’s success this fall, along with the continued popularity of Grey’s Anatomy, shows that there is still a strong appetite for medical dramas among audiences. During the last decade, several freshman medical dramas were overhyped to buyers as “the next ER,” but none were able to live up to that billing. Perhaps it’s time for NBC to return to County General Hospital, especially given that 2019 will mark the 25th anniversary of the show’s debut and a decade since the show went off the air.
The WB family drama, about a doctor who relocates to a small Colorado town after his wife’s death, boasted a cast that included Treat Williams, Emily VanCamp and Chris Pratt. When much of that cast reassembled at the Television Critics Assocation’s summer press tour to celebrate the series, now streaming on CW Seed, it was clear that there were still stories left to be told among that group, especially now that This Is Us has put a spotlight back on family dramas.
In Living Color
Fox attempted to bring back this groundbreaking sketch comedy series in 2011, working with creator and star Keenen Ivory Wayans for a reboot that never got off the ground. With SNL on a ratings high over the past two seasons, Fox should take another stab at reviving the show that launched Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx and Damon Wayans—as well as former Fly Girl Jennifer Lopez.
Law & Order
The original Law & Order has been off the air since 2010, though it remains a syndicated staple. While executive producer Dick Wolf has his hands full with the Chicago franchise, as well as the last remaining Law & Order spinoff, SVU, NBC may want to considering reviving the series, which could probably end up running for another two decades. Dun dun!
Steven Bochco and Terry Louise Fisher’s envelope-pushing legal drama was on the air for eight seasons, finally ending its run in 1994. NBC could bring back a couple of original cast members—the list includes Harry Hamlin, Corbin Bernsen, Blair Underwood, Susan Dey and Jimmy Smits—and create a new firm that, like its predecessor, tackles hot-button issues each week.
As Matthew Fox’s Jack Shephard famously said of the show’s island, “We have to go back!” This is one case where there’s no need to revisit any characters from the ABC drama, which went off the air in 2010, but the idea of a magical island—one that calls to a new group of people—offers infinite possibilities.
The NBC sci-fi series, about a physicist (Scott Bakula) who leaps through time, temporarily taking the place of other people to help fix history’s mistakes, ended in 1993. Bakula has a full-time job on NCIS: New Orleans, but he could pass the baton to someone else—how about a woman this time?—to continue the story.
Sex and the City
For all the recent talk about a potential third movie that was scuttled by Kim Cattrall’s refusal to return as Samantha, the truth is that this story was always at its best as a TV series, not a movie franchise. That’s where the story should continue, as a limited series (next year will mark the 20th anniversary of its HBO debut). As for Samantha, either recast her or have the character sit this go-round out.
ABC’s late-’80s drama doesn’t resonate now as much as some of the other shows on this list, in part because it’s not available on any streaming services. But it could return either as a continuation of the original story (after all, those characters’ kids would now be … thirtysomething), or starting over with a new batch of thirtysomething actors stepping into the roles.
The West Wing
Aaron Sorkin’s White House drama is seemingly referenced daily, usually in contrast to the current administration. Whether the original cast is brought back for a limited series, or just a few alums return for a show focused on a new West Wing administration, Sorkin might be the only person up to the task of crafting a presidency more dramatic than the one we are currently living under.