TV Show Reboots Ranked from Average to Terrible
Why take a risk on something completely new if you can breathe new life into an old fan favorite? That seems to be the mantra of most TV execs these days. Thanks to streaming platforms — and the TV networks hoping to compete with them — reboots are everywhere.
While you’re undoubtedly happy to see some familiar faces return, there are plenty of retreads you could certainly do without. From the passable to the horrible, we take a look at a mix of reboots that have potential to improve (we hope) and others we’re glad got the axe.
30. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018) | Renewed
Based on the Archie Comics series of the same name, Sabrina: The Teenage Witch was a successful, heartwarming ‘90s sitcom. But in true Riverdale spirit, Netflix rebooted the franchise as a gritty teen drama that focuses on forcing Sabrina to choose between her mortal life and the world of witchcraft.
Although the goth-glam style looks great, CAOS has room for improvement. Witches have always been aligned with taking down the patriarchy, but Sabrina’s brand of feminism feels a little watered down. Sure, magic and misandry are fun, but CAOS needs to nix the savior schtick and give supporting characters agency over their own stories.
29. Will & Grace (2017) | Renewed
When Will & Grace debuted in 1998 on primetime television network NBC, the sitcom was considered groundbreaking. By centering on the friendship between Will (Eric McCormack), a gay lawyer, and Grace (Debra Messing), a straight interior designer, the show was credited with educating audiences and "normalizing" gay folks.
However, despite queer writers and producers helming the project, the show was always criticized for its stereotypical depiction of gay characters — and the 2017 revival reiterates those limitations. Will & Grace does little to expand its portrayal of the queer community and still feels like its largely made for a straight audience.
28. The Conners (2018) | Renewed
Centered on the working-class Conner family, the original Roseanne featured storylines about abortion, sex education, queer relationships and more. The bold approach set it apart from other family sitcoms in the late ‘80s and ‘90s.
Although the initial reboot of Roseanne fell apart after ABC swiftly fired creator and star Roseanne Barr for making racist comments, The Conners emerged from the wreckage. Despite taking cues from the original series, the show is off to an uneven start, but it's at least buoyed by the knockout ensemble cast of comedy greats.
27. Charmed (2018) | Renewed
Like the original ‘90s series, Charmed follows the lives of three sisters who discover they are The Charmed Ones — a trio of witches destined to protect humankind. Instead of recasting the original characters, this reboot tells the story of three Latinx sisters. Although all three sisters are portrayed by women of color, only one of the actresses (Diaz) is Latina.
The showrunner has acknowledged this casting choice, telling REMEZCLA, "They’re multiracial — the family is. It’s part of the storytelling that we’re going to be getting into." This is undoubtedly frustrating, especially given Hollywood's track record with creating opportunities for Latinx actors.
The showrunner's acknowledgment of Charmed's missteps helps demonstrate that this earnest CW reboot has the potential to improve, and tell important stories, as it finds its footing.
26. Twilight Zone (2002) | Cancelled; Re-Rebooted in 2019
Twilight Zone creator and host Rod Serling called the viewer’s trip into the titular dimension "a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination." The 2002 reboot of the classic show revealed those very boundaries.
Attempting to win over old and new audiences, the show remade a few iconic classic episodes and cast big-name stars, such as Jason Alexander and Katherine Heigel. Forest Whitaker even took over hosting duties. Nonetheless, it only ran for one season. (Hopefully, the 2019 Jordan Peele helmed reboot fares better.)
25. The Muppets (2015) | Cancelled
It’s not easy being green. Apparently, it’s also not easy finding a new platform. Debuting in 2015, The Muppets was a sitcom that parodied the mockumentary style popularized by shows like The Office. Kermit took on the role of producer for Miss Piggy’s late night talk show, a la the Late Show with David Letterman.
Although a critic for The Wall Street Journal praised the series — "How come no one thought of this before?" — most other critics panned the show, with one reviewer for Variety calling it "something of a mixed bag." Unfortunately, the one-season show’s approach of using more adult humor didn’t quite work for longtime fans.
24. Murphy Brown (2018) | Cancelled
Debuting in 1988, Murphy Brown ran for 10 years. The titular star — played by Emmy-winner Candace Bergen — became one of television’s most enduring characters, thanks to her sarcasm, ambition and ethical mindset. Unfortunately, 2018’s one-season revival of the show was cancelled after just 13 episodes.
Although a feminist, Emmy-winning show (18 in total) seems like the perfect candidate for a reboot, it didn’t quite pack the same punch as it once did. The consensus on Rotten Tomatoes summed things up: The show’s "dated messaging tactics feel heavy-handed and smug."
23. Arrested Development, Season 4 (2013) | Ongoing - Season 5 Released in 2018–19
Despite glowing reviews from critics, Arrested Development’s low ratings led to cancellation in 2006. The Fox series was picked up years later by Netflix, which distributed a new season in 2013, marking one of the platform’s first exclusive releases.
This time, each episode focused on a different character, meaning the cast was generally split up. A critic for Variety wrote, "This Arrested revival plays a bit like a reunion special, where the individual cast members come out and take their curtain calls. ...there’s a sort of awkwardness."
22. Fuller House (2016) | Renewed
Developed by Netflix, Fuller House is a sequel to successful sitcom Full House. Premiering in 2016, the show centers on the now-grown Tanner sisters who still live in that San Francisco Victorian. At first, it was universally panned. (Everywhere you looked — a burn to hold on to.)
A critic for The Hollywood Reporter wrote it was "a mawkish, grating, broadly played chip off the Full House block." The same reviewer went on to say, "It’s doubtful that there will be a more painful 2016 TV episode than the Fuller House pilot." Despite all the negativity, Fuller House has lasted a (surprising) five seasons.
21. Prime Suspect 1973 (2017) | Cancelled
The original version of this police procedural ran from 1991 to 2006 in the UK, with each season focusing on a different case. Helen Mirren won two Emmys for playing detective Jane Tennison. In 2017, showrunners debuted a follow-up to the beloved British drama.
Titled Prime Suspect 1973 (or Tennison), the show served as a prequel to the original, focusing on Jane (Stefanie Martini) as she solves her first murder case. Unable to capture Jane’s character as well as the original series, the prequel was cancelled after a single season.
20. Dallas (2012) | Cancelled
The beloved prime-time soap opera Dallas was rebooted in 2012, just over two decades after the original series ended. Despite a well-reviewed sophomore season, the reboot was cancelled by TNT in 2014, proving that not all things get better with age.
Apart from the nostalgia factor, the soap didn’t have much going for it. One critic for the Miami Herald wrote: "Like its ancestor, the new Dallas is self-consciously a trashfest, an endless cycle of betrayals, confrontations, reconciliations and re-betrayals."
19. 90210 (2008) | Cancelled; Re-Rebooted as BH90210 (2019)
The original Beverly Hills, 90210 from the ‘90s is often credited with creating the entire teen soap genre. The collaboration between Sex and the City’s Darren Starr and producer Aaron Spelling kicked off its own franchise, which includes several spin-offs — Melrose Place, for one — and reboots.
The first reboot occurred in 2008 simply as 90210. Initially, it was met with harsh criticism, with reviewers saying its "unimaginative material" seemed to have (ironically) borrowed from other teen soaps, including Gossip Girl. Nonetheless, 90210 developed a fan base and stayed on air for five seasons.
18. 24: Legacy (2017) | Cancelled
The original 24 had a lot going for it, including star Keifer Sutherland and an inventive storytelling gimmick. Each season took place over a single day, and each episode portrayed an hour in that day. The concept meant incredible cliffhangers and marathon viewings (made possible at the time by DVD sets from Blockbuster).
Taking place three years after the original, this spin-off recycled the real-time narrative technique, but featured a new cast. While reviewers called star Corey Hawkins a perfect successor to Sutherland’s throne, this retreading is lacking in invention and urgency.
17. Prison Break (2017) | Cancelled
Fox initially turned down Prison Break, feeling it didn’t have any longevity to it. However, buoyed by the successes of 24 and Lost, the network eventually signed off on the show, and Prison Break became hugely popular.
Over the course of four seasons, the plot thinned, and the twists became outrageous, leading to a cancellation in 2009. Less than a decade later, Fox relaunched the series in 2017, but the network’s initial worries came back to haunt them: There just wasn’t enough there to rekindle the spark of the first two seasons.
16. Knight Rider (2008) | Cancelled
Debuting in 1982, the original Knight Rider starred David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight, a crime fighter assisted by KITT, his artificially intelligent car. Knight Rider’s cult following even gave rise to its own fan convention, KnightCon, so a reboot seemed like an obvious choice.
NBC rebooted the show in 2008, casting Justin Bruening as Knight’s estranged son Mike Traceur. During development, characters were cut, episodes were slashed and the show’s focus was retooled to be more character-driven. However, it was all for naught — Knight Rider was cancelled after one 17-episode season.
15. Charlie’s Angels (2011) | Cancelled
Crime drama Charlie’s Angels debuted on ABC in 2011, 30 years after the original series of the same name came to a close. After the series’ fourth episode aired with exceptionally low numbers, ABC cancelled the series immediately. In fact, the show was so cancelled that its eighth and final episode went unaired in the U.S.
The franchise doesn’t seem ready to return to television anytime soon, but it’s being rebooted — yet again — as a 2019 film. The third film in the series will continue the early 2000s-era movies, which starred Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu as the titular characters.
14. MacGyver (2016) | Renewed
The character MacGyver uses his wit — and whatever items are lying around — to weasel out of just about any bad situation. Unfortunately, he walked right into the first bad situation with the 2016 reboot of the 1980’s hit.
USA Today joined the scores of critics panning the rehash, calling the show a "factory-made retread that is less MacGyver than MacGyver: Impossible." Other reviewers have pointed out the blandness of the show’s hero and the laughable stakes as major faults. However, despite the overwhelming negativity, MacGyver was renewed for a fourth season.
13. Melrose Place (2009) | Cancelled
Melrose Place was a primetime soap that aired in the ‘90s for a whopping seven seasons. The series was the second in the Beverly Hills 90210 franchise and nabbed a spot on Entertainment Weekly’s "New TV Classics" list. Unfortunately, creators just couldn’t replicate this show’s initial success.
The first spin-off, Models Inc., tanked after one season, and the 2009 continuation, also titled Melrose Place, was also cancelled after a single season, despite moderate reviews. It was a true shame for the show that a New York Daily News critic once called a "deliciously sleazy drama."
12. The Returned (2015) | Cancelled
This 2015 A&E series is an adaptation of the 2012 French series Les Revenants, an Emmy-winning supernatural show that revolves around a small town whose dead reappear. Lacking in atmosphere, this reinvention just doesn’t live up to the accomplished French series.
Also lacking in mystery, the series feels like a shot-for-shot remake of the original. As one reviewer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote "...[the] language barrier reason for remaking the French version ... [is] still not enough creative justification for this identical, second version of the same show to exist."
11. The Odd Couple (2015) | Cancelled
Starring Matthew Perry as a couch potato and Thomas Lennon as his extremely tidy roommate, 2015’s The Odd Couple tried to recapture the magic of the original sitcom. As it turned out, this derivative show was extremely one-dimensional.
As you can imagine, these unlikely roommates mock one another again and again — and again and again. This made for very stale comedy that reached a swift expiration date. Luckily for them, the laughter was canned.
10. American Idol (2018) | Renewed
After a 15-season run on Fox from 2002 to 2016, American Idol had its last encore — until it was revived by ABC in 2018. Long-time host Ryan Seacrest was joined by an all-new panel of judges: Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan.
Idol launched the careers of Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood and kicked off an era of reality television centered on talent competitions. These days, however, even Clarkson has chosen to leave Idol behind in favor of The Voice. This one’s a no from us.
9. Heroes Reborn (2015) | Cancelled
Well before Marvel built its cinematic universe, NBC’s sci-fi drama Heroes took superhero drama and made it compelling and accessible for audiences that didn’t read comic books. In 2015, creator Tim Kring tried to recapture that magic with a mini-series, Heroes Reborn.
Reborn isn’t a direct continuation. Kring said, "This is not the fifth season. This is actually the 10th season." Despite this fresh approach to a reboot, the show was panned for its overreliance on special effects and melodrama.
8. Get Smart (1995) | Cancelled
Network execs thought the relative success of the 1989 reunion movie Get Smart, Again! meant it was time to revive the ‘60s-era series. Although the antics from 1965’s Get Smart were beloved by audiences, the comedy in the 1995 reboot of the same name just wasn’t enough to captivate viewers.
The show aired just seven episodes, and viewership was so low during those broadcasts that star Andy Dick signed on to another acting gig before the official cancellation. No other television attempts have been made since, but a film version starring Steve Carrell and Anne Hathaway hit the silver screen in 2008.
7. Bionic Woman (2007) | Cancelled
In the 1970s, sci-fi action series The Six Million Dollar Man spawned a spin-off called The Bionic Woman. The show focused on ex-tennis player Jaime Sommers, who receives superpower-like abilities after an accident requires her to receive bionic implants to survive.
In 2007, the series was rebooted as Bionic Woman and revolves around a bartender who is turned into an android-like agent in the wake of an accident. Work on the show halted during the Writers Guild of America strike, leading to a short eight episodes and eventual cancellation.
6. Mockingbird Lane (2012) | Cancelled
Mockingbird Lane was pitched as a "re-imagining" of the 1960s sitcom The Munsters. It aired in 2012 a few days before Halloween as a television special, with the option for a series order. The hour-long special played out like a failed pilot — and, in the end, that’s just what it was.
NBC passed on it, with execs saying, "We just decided that it didn't hold together well enough to yield a series." Not super funny, not super scary — Mockingbird Lane just wasn’t enough of any particular thing to stand out.
5. Wonder Woman (2011) | Never Aired
From Supergirl to Batwoman, most of the CW’s lineup features superhero action shows based on DC Comics. Back in 2011, however, DC couldn’t quite find its footing. Wonder Woman, which was a hit on ABC in the ‘70s, thanks to star Lynda Carter, seemed like the perfect show to reboot.
However, with terrible production value, the show felt dated before it even debuted. Alan Sepinwall, a TV critic, called the pilot "embarrassing … [It] was all I had feared, and more." Luckily, the series never aired.
4. Ironside (2013) | Cancelled
The original Ironside was an eight-season crime drama that added to star Raymond Burr’s enduring legacy. In the show, Burr played Robert T. Ironside, a police consultant who is paralyzed from the waist down. Unfortunately, the 2013 reboot starring Blair Underwood was widely panned.
NBC cancelled the remake after airing just four episodes. Called "atrociously clunky" by USA Today, Ironside also received criticism for not casting a disabled actor in the titular role.
3. Roseanne (2017) | Cancelled
In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Roseanne was lauded for being the antithesis to the traditional family sitcom. Unfortunately, the show’s creator and star, Roseanne Barr, turned away from the progressive stance that made her series so beloved.
In the wake of a phone call from the president — who had called to congratulate Barr on her reboot’s ratings — Barr posted a racist tweet. Though this wasn’t Barr’s first offensive action, ABC fired her as a result of the reprehensible post. However, the network salvaged the reboot, rebranding it as The Conners.
2. Skins (2011) | Cancelled
This American remake of the UK teen drama of the same name featured a cast of amateur young actors. The UK version of Skins was a global phenomenon that lasted seven seasons, but the MTV version crashed and burned after just 10 episodes.
Several advertisers withdrew from the project amid child pornography accusations — most of the Skins cast members were under 18. Instead of acknowledging this head on, MTV said the inevitable cancellation was because "[the show] did not connect with a U.S. audience as much as we had hoped." Yikes.
1. Heathers (2019) | Never Aired
Instead of going the traditional movie remake route, Paramount decided to reboot the 1980s dark comedy classic Heathers as a TV series. In an inversion of the original, the "traditionally" bullied characters are the titular bullies. Showrunners clearly missed the satire memo.
A critic for Birth.Movies.Death. writes, "The show goes on to paint Generation Z’s penchant for radical progressivism and technological interconnectivity as not only strange and laughable, but also as a main reason for the issues that plague their generation." How very (unintelligent).