7 TV show comebacks that actually worked

Ian Sandwell
Photo credit: Netflix/Showtime / BBC

From Digital Spy

When it feels like all of your childhood favourites are being rinsed for reboots that are rarely as good as the originals, it's always a pleasant surprise when a comeback turns out to actually be good.

Often it's down to the original cast and crew all being involved, and their having a decent enough reason to return – such as a compelling idea, or even a notable anniversary – but even then, comebacks are greeted with an air of trepidation and sometimes for good reason.

But we've decided to be positive and highlight the TV show comebacks that worked. (We've focused on narrative continuations of the original shows, so no reboots allowed.)

1. The League of Gentlemen

Comedies are an especially tricky beast to revive given how quickly standards of what is acceptable are always evolving. It was a big challenge facing the politically incorrect The League of Gentlemen when it came back for its 20th anniversary specials, as well as not feeling dated for its sketch format.

Largely it succeeded as it followed familiar ground, but in surprising and often poignant ways. It was a comeback well aware that over a decade had passed, giving fans what they wanted, but acknowledging that some of its original humour wouldn't work nowadays. It wasn't perfect and arguably could have been a stronger two episodes than three, yet it was better than most fans had dreamt of.

2. Futurama

Matt Groening's other animation Futurama actually had two comebacks (technically) as its four direct-to-video movies proved so successful that it got two further seasons of 26 episodes each.

The consistency never quite hit the heights of the show's original four-season run, but without seasons six and seven, we wouldn't have the brilliance of 'The Late Philip J Fry', 'Game of Tones' or the utterly gorgeous season finale 'Meanwhile'. No Futurama fan would be able to hear the words "go around again" without bursting into tears.

3. Only Fools and Horses

While Only Fools and Horses wasn't officially finished, it was still five years after its seventh series and three years after its last special ('Fatal Extraction') that its sublime Christmas trilogy was aired in 1996, consisting of 'Heroes and Villains', 'Modern Men' and 'Time on Our Hands'.

Attracting huge audiences of over 20 million per episode, they showcased the best of the classic British sitcom, delivering some of the most iconic TV moments ever and ending on a perfect note as the Trotters earned a fortune of £6.2 million from an ancient watch. The three Christmas specials from 2001-2003 ruined that brilliant ending, so we choose to ignore them.

4. Twin Peaks: The Return

Arriving 25 years after Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, it's possible that even the most ardent Twin Peaks fan would have given up hope that they'd ever see Agent Dale Cooper again, or have any of the mysteries of the original series solved.

But David Lynch did come up with the goods and it was everything fans had hoped for, while also potentially attracting new fans into its weird world. Baffling, compelling, violent and sprawling, it was defiantly Twin Peaks and we couldn't be happier. It's definitely a TV series though, NOT a movie.

5. Gilmore Girls

Almost a decade after we left Stars Hollow, Gilmore Girls made its triumphant return in four 90-minute episodes that were enough for fans to forget completely about that dodgy final season without creator and writer Amy Sherman-Palladino.

It was a comeback to satisfy every fan with pretty much every character making an appearance and the fast-paced dialogue as fresh and slick as ever. It was like Lorelai and Rory had never been away and with rumours of another season not going away, we might be welcoming them back yet again.

6. Doctor Who

OK, so we've bent our own rules slightly here as the original cast didn't come back, but in the case of Doctor Who, the show has always been reinventing itself since it started back in 1963 and its 2005 comeback (after 16 years away) with Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor was a continuation of the show, and not a reboot.

And since it's still going strong over a decade later, you can't call its comeback anything other than a success. Retaining original fans of the show while opening it up to a whole new audience, it shows no sign of stopping anytime soon, especially as we've just welcomed our very first female Doctor. Exterminate? Not bloody likely.

7. Will & Grace

A 10-minute presidential election special was just the start of Will & Grace's successful return to the screen. Its ninth season aired in 2017, 11 years after its final episode, and has proved a winning return, largely due to the fact that its cast remain as good as they've ever been.

Like The League of Gentlemen, it's also a comeback that acknowledges the time that has passed, while retaining the spirit that made it such a beloved show in the first place. NBC were so impressed that a tenth season is already in the works. It's a hit, honey.

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