Everything old is new again. At least, that seems to be the motto for television executives who keep trying to tap into our nostalgic feelings by rebooting old TV shows. Original hit shows like Full House, Gilmore Girls, Prison Break, and The X-Files have all returned to our screens in recent years, with most of the aging cast coming along for one last ride.
Those shows came and went with minimal success. The X-Files reboot, which was only a six-episode miniseries, barely made a dent in pop culture, although Fuller House managed to be a cheesy success for Netflix — so much so that they decided to make a second season, and a third is on the way.
As networks and streaming services compete for eyeballs, we have some suggestions about what other shows should make a come back. We tried to focus on shows that could stand on their own today, rather than simply reassembling stars two decades later. In some cases, entire new casts would be required to reboot the same show concepts. In other cases, the show could return the same way it left us.
Fuel up the nostalgia wagons and check out our picks for 90s show that need to make a comeback!
Animated series Doug was a stable of children cartoons during the 90s, first appearing in 1991, then switching networks from Nickelodeon to ABC in 1997 after a couple of years off the air, and finally concluding in 1999. The coming-of-age story of 11-year-old Doug Funnie, along with his pal Skeeter Valentine and his crush Patti Mayonnaise, was incredibly popular at the time. The TV series even spawned a movie (Doug’s 1st Movie) and a video game for the Game Boy Color (Doug’s Big Game). It was so good, that it was nominated for an Emmy award in four different years, although it never managed to bring home the prize.
We think the show could return in one of two ways — a simple continuation of the original series, with a teenage Doug doing teenage things. Alternately, a reboot could feature a grown-up Doug, married to Patti, trying to raise kids of their own. Bonus points if Billy West returns to voice the main character.
9. Saved by the Bell
With stars Mark-Paul Harry Gosselaar, Mario Lopez, Elizabeth Berkley, and Tiffany-Amber Thiessen all in their 40s now (plus Dustin Diamond in and out of jail), it wouldn’t make sense to have any of the original cast be a part of this potential reboot (except maybe in a cameo role). But presumably, Bayside High and The Max still exist and a new class of trouble makers could populate it.
The original show was recognized for being more than a mere sitcom, tackling hard issues like drug use, homelessness, women’s rights, and environmental issues. While it would be hard to find another lead character with the same charisma as Zack Morris, complete with his huuuuuuuge 90s cell phone, we’d love to a rebooted version of Saved by the Bell to watch.
Sadly, Dinosaurs only aired for four seasons (plus a fifth “lost” season that aired in syndication only) in the early 1990s before being canceled. Perhaps a series featuring a family of puppet dinosaurs tackling real-world issues was simply too much for the audience to handle. It’s too bad, though, because similar shows would soon flourish, with South Park also using the “goofy animated show with real social messages” trick to great success.
Earl worked for an evil corporation called WESAYSO (get it?), who had a demanding CEO named B.P. Richfield. Throughout the series, the company puts profits ahead of both the environment and employee well-being, which eventually contributes to a global ice age (and the extinction of the dinosaurs). Naturally, WESAYSO doesn’t seem to notice the impending chilly apocalypse, with Richfield mentioning that profits are through the roof as they sell blankets, heaters, and hot chocolate mix. Typical corporate behavior.
7. Nickelodeon Guts
This show was genius. It was American Gladiators for kids, but without the steroid-infused gladiators trying to murder the helpless contestants. Instead, the show featured teenage (or pre-teen) teams of three competing against each other in various “extreme” challenges, usually modeled after sports (or sometimes combining them).
Each show concluded with The Crag, a race up a fake climbing mountain, complete with obstacles like avalanches, blinding snow, or “nuclear flying crystals.” Plus a Crag Troll. The whole thing was ridiculously fun to watch and was presented in true Nickelodeon style. Fun fact: Backstreet Boy A.J. McLean appeared on an early episode of Guts, winning a silver medal.
6. Rocko’s Modern Life
Rocko’s Modern Life is another show that was probably ahead of its time. It aired on Nickelodeon, but it was only barely aimed at a young audience. The show featured, at times, mature themes, crude humor, innuendos, and satirical social commentary. It was South Park before South Park existed. The show even had numerous scenes censored, changed, or removed entirely, sometimes before the episode aired, but sometimes only after a view complained.
In 2016, Nickelodeon announced they were bringing Rocko back for a one-hour television special. But that’s not enough. The climate is perfect for a full reboot, this time focuses directly at adults, complete with the mature jokes that snuck past censors during the first run.
5. Bill Nye The Science Guy
We don’t have the data to prove it, but we’re willing to bet that more millennials learned about science from Bill Nye than they did their local high school teacher. The quirky smart guy with a fashionable bow tie had an incredible knack for taking boring science topics and somehow making them engaging and fun. His show aired for five seasons and 100 total episodes from 1993-1998.
These days, Bill Nye has turned into a steadfast science defender, in a strange time where people (important people, like politicians), seem to deny the obvious science on several important issues. We’re happy that this is one show that IS getting a reboot, although not exactly in the same format. Bill Nye Saves The World is on Netflix and is more of a talk-show. However, Nye and his guests will still tackle issues like climate change, alternative medicine, video games, and sex from a scientific point of view. They will also refute popular science myths, like those in the anti-vaccination crowd.
After Alicia Silverstone and Stacey Dash scored a smash movie hit with the 1995 movie Clueless, it was adapted into a TV series for ABC. Even though Silverstone didn’t stick around, the show managed to survive for three seasons with a recast lead, doing reasonably well as part of ABC’s “TGIF” Friday night line-up, which included other nostalgic favorites like Boy Meets World, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Family Matters.
The show proved to be incredibly popular at first, although ratings eventually declined enough for the show to get axed. We think someone needs to reboot Clueless with a modern cast, with modern storylines, and bring that Valley Girl slang back into fashion.
3. Fraggle Rock
Fraggle Rock is one of the oldest shows on this list, making its debut in the early 80s. However, the lovable puppets, developed by the late Jim Henson, didn’t vanish after the last episode was produced in 1987. The show continued in syndication in a total of 95 different countries, running well into the 90s and beyond.
The show, which Henson himself described as a “high-energy, raucous musical romp” full of silliness, used the puppet inhabitants of Fraggle Rock as an allegory to real-life issues. The show alluded to prejudice, religion, and social conflict, which is part of why Fraggle Rock is so fondly remembered. Although Henson passed away almost three decades ago, Fraggle Rock is one of his most endearing creations and would probably have a huge following if it made a comeback.
Whatever happened to Gargoyles? The much-beloved animated Disney (yes, Disney) series only ran for three seasons (although Season Two was broken into two 26-episode volumes, for a massive total of 52 episodes), but the stone creatures were a mini pop culture phenomenon for a while. It spawned multiple comic books, a mountain of merchandise, and even a video game.
For a show aimed at children, Gargoyles was surprisingly mature. It featured dark themes, Shakespearean references, and unlike most cartoons at the time, a continuity between episodes that allowed for story arcs to go longer than other 30-minute shows usually allowed. In a sense, it was a true dramatic series in the form of a children’s cartoon.
The last episode aired in 1997, but a comic book with the same name carried on the storyline from 2006 to 2009. Disney should get those stories animated and back on the air.
1. Are You Afraid of the Dark?
There’s a reason that horror movies continue to be one of the most popular film genres — people love to be scared. And while the latest Rated R slasher flick might not be appropriate viewing for the kids, Are You Afraid of the Dark? bridged the gap perfectly for younger audiences seeking the same frights.
Originally airing on Nickelodeon in the U.S. and YTV in Canada, the series featured a group of teenagers telling scary stories around a campfire, often dealing with paranormal creatures. The show ran for five seasons from 1992 until 1997, before actually being revived once already in 1999 and running another two seasons. We think someone should get a new cast of Midnight Club members together and continue on the tradition of telling spooky stories.