Reboots have been at the forefront of pop culture for so long, you might be nostalgic for a time when every other film or TV show wasn’t trying to cash in on the reputation of an established brand. Just last week, Warner Bros.’ second attempt to turn the Mortal Kombat video game series into a film franchise arrived in theatres and on HBO Max — 25 years, two films, and a TV series later. A few weeks ago, the same studio dropped Godzilla vs. Kong (not to be confused with 1962’s King Kong vs. Godzilla), bringing together two long-lived giant monster for a little franchise fisticuffs.
And these are but two of the many mainstream reboots that are currently in the works. And in a world where reboots and remakes are the norm, it’s hard to keep track of what classics from your childhood have or might soon be making a reappearance. Here are 25 rebooted TV shows and movies from across the past decade and a half that might have slid under your radar.
MacGyver is a resourceful free agent who can make something out of anything. Quick, need a bomb made out of paperclips and baking soda? Mac is your man. The television show originally premiered in 1985, starring Richard Dean Anderson in the title role, and lasted seven years. In 2016 it was rebooted with Lucas Till as U.S. government agent Angus MacGyver, and it has been humming along for almost as long as the original. Unfortunately, the current season will be its last, with the finale airing April 30.
Mystery Science Theatre 3000
For more than three decades, Mystery Science Theatre 3000 has been the little cable access TV show that could. The exceedingly simple premise — a man trapped in space is forced to watch (and mock) bad movies alongside his robot co-hosts — has transitioned through three hosts, two cable networks, and a major streaming service since it debuted on a local Minneapolis TV station in 1988. After two years on a shoestring budget, the show ran on Comedy Central for seven seasons (before being cancelled), moved to the big screen (where it flopped, though through no fault of its own), and later found a home on what was then The Sci-Fi Channel for three seasons (cancelled again). A few years ago, creator Joel Hodgson launched a hugely successful Kickstarter that resulted in two more seasons released directly to Netflix, which, uh, later cancelled it a third time. Yet currently, Hodgson is running another Kickstarter that seems poised to ensure the show’s future for many more years to come.
Murphy Brown was a newsroom comedy following middle-aged TV journalist Murphy Brown (Candice Bergen) in her career at the fictional magazine FYI. The show had a long run, airing from 1988 to 1998 — a definitional decade for working women — and garnered criticism from then-Vice-President Dan Quayle when Bergen’s character became a single mother in 1992). In 2018 the show aimed to make a comeback. Rather than a traditional reboot that recasts or reimagines a series, Bergen reprised her role, with the show picking up the plot 10 years later. Unfortunately, due to low ratings, the reinvigorated series was cancelled again after just one season.
Will and Grace
For eight seasons, the sitcom Will and Grace followed the lives of titular best friends (and ex-lovers) Will Truman (Eric McCormack) and Grace Adler (Debra Messing). The show was groundbreaking for its foregrounding of Will, a self-identified gay man, and made stars out of Messing, Megan Mullally (who played Grace’s brash best friend Karen) and Sean Hayes (as the loud and proud Jack McFarland), following the foursome through the trials and tribulations of relationships, career stresses, and life in New York City.
The show aired from 1998 to 2006 and was rebooted in 2017. Much like Murphy Brown, the new W&G picked right up with “season nine.” All the main cast actors reprised their roles for the continuation, which came to an end (again) in 2020 after three seasons.
Full House was one of the defining hits of ABC’s vaunted ‘90s TGIF lineup. The story of single dad Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) raising his three kids with the help of his brother-in-law Jesse Katsopolis “Uncle Jesse” (John Stamos) and best friend, Joey Gladstone (Dave Coulier), the show spawned the superstar careers of Mary Kate and Ashely Olsen twins as Michelle (a legacy that continues into the present day via Wandavision, starring the twins’ younger sister Elizabeth Olsen).
The original aired from 1987 to 1995 and was rebooted in 2016 on Netflix. In the new version, the oldest of the Tanner children, D.J (Candace Cameron Bure), leans on her sister Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) and best friend, Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber) to help her raise her three young boys following the death of her husband. Fuller House did pretty well for Netflix, lasting five full seasons, with the final instalment (minus the participation of Lori “Aunt Becky went to jail Nebraska” Laughlin) released just last year.
Created and produced by Steven Spielberg, Amazing Stories debuted in the ‘80s as a series of unconnected short films. Each tale was filled with science fiction and wonder, and the family-friendly show aimed to get kids (and their parents) to think differently about the world around them. In 2020, the series was rebooted by Once Upon a Time producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis for Apple’s new streaming platform. Although the new series continued the exploration into action-adventure and sci-fi, it did not live up to the reputation of the original 1985 series, receiving mixed reviews. Apple TV+ has yet to announce whether it will be back for another season.
Ghostwriter was a ‘90s television series following a group of young kids who solve local mysteries with the help of a blue ghost that only communicates through writing. The series promoted literacy, engaging kids in the hunt for clues and follow Ghostwriter’s written hints to solve the crime. The original aired in 1992, and in 2019, Apple TV+ released a remake that twists the narrative; now, the teens are helping ghosts solve unfinished business on earth. The series did exceptionally well with critics, earning a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a daytime Emmy. There are currently two seasons available, though due to the pandemic, we’re waiting on news of a possible season three.
While you may have been excited about the return of ‘90s cartoon hit Animaniacs, the buzz died down quickly after its release on Hulu late last year, continuing the pop culture savvy antics of Yakko, Wakko, and Dot, kooky cartoon siblings living in the water tower on the Warner Bros. studio lot. The updated version, which peppers the show’s signature anachronistic comedic flair (which borrows references from across decades of pop culture) with gags about social media, the current political climate, and the rise of reality TV, dropped most of the original’s side characters to focus on the Warners and would-be world-conquering lab mice Pinky and the Brain. Reviews were mixed, with critics liking it more than viewers, but the reboot has already been green lit for two more seasons — with season two arriving later this year.
The original Magnum P.I starred Tom Selleck as suave private investigator Thomas Magnum, whose services are enlisted by a famous author in exchange for housing in the writer’s multi-million dollar mansion in Oahu, Hawaii. Somehow, Magnum constantly found himself involved in major crimes, and the series leaned into being a small-screen version of a blockbuster action-adventure thriller. The show ran for eight years before it went off the air in 1988. In 2018, a remake starring Jay Hernandez hit CBS and has been doing well; it was recently renewed for a fourth season.
In this cheesy ‘80s hit, a futuristic, artificially intelligent car named KITT teams up with former police officer Michael Knight (David Hasselhoff) to fight crime. KITT can drive itself and make calculated decisions in the moment — a key element in the partnership against crime in this sci-fi thriller. The show has actually seen a few remakes since its original 1982-1986 run. In 1992 Hasselhoff reprised his role for the film Knight Rider 2000, set in a future where guns are banned and Knight is asked to investigate a fatal shooting. Another reboot made its way to the small screen in 2008; billed as a continuation of the original series, it starred Justin Bruening as Mike Traceur, a new crime-fighting partner working alongside KITT. NBC aired 17 episodes, cancelling it after one season amid declining ratings (a similar fate befell an attempted reboot of The Bionic Woman around the same time).
Currently, Spyglass films is developing yet another remake of the popular series, in partnership with Atomic Monster’s James Wan and Michael Clear. There are no specifics on the film’s premise, production dates, or cast, but the AI and detective duo will certainly be back.
Before she was caught in the purgatory of The Good Place, Kristen Bell moved through several iterations of her iconic breakout role as young (and then not-so-young) private investigator Veronica Mars. The original series premiered on UPN (remember UPN?) in 2005 before moving to The CW, where it was cancelled after its third season, despite a massive fan campaign. Those efforts weren’t for naught, eventually leading to a Kickstarter that funded a 2014 movie intended to round off the truncated storylines. But oops, the attention that generated resulted in Hulu bringing the show back for a proper (if shortened) fourth season in 2019. We should probably let it stop there — though critics cheered the revival, some fans found the idea that Veronica Mars is still stuck in her high school trauma rather bleak.
Created by filmmaker Michael Mann, this stylish crime drama following undercover Miami Dade police officers Detective James Crockett (Don Johnson) and Detective Ricardo Tubbs (Philip Michael Thomas) was a defining hit of the ‘80s, and one of the first cop dramas to cater to a modern audience via its flashy style, popular music, and cool cars. The series first aired in 1984 on NBC and went on to run for six years. Mann later rebooted it as a film starring Colin Farrell and Jamie Fox as Crockett and Tubbs, and a new series, entitled Miami Vice Legacy, is in development with Vin Diesel and Fast and Furious writer Chris Morgan at the helm. The series is being developed under Diesel deal with Universal, but no further details are forthcoming.
Hawaii Five-O was one of the longest-running police dramas on television, airing on CBS from 1968 to 1980. The show followed Det. Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord), head of a special police task force located in Honolulu, Hawaii, and it was as popular for its theme song as it was the presence of charismatic detectives Danny Williams (James MacArthur) and Chin Ho (Kam Fong). In 2010, the series was rebooted, and the new take did almost as well as the original. Starring Alex O’Loughlin as Steve McGarrett, Scott Caan as Danny Williams, and Daniel Dae Kim as Chin Ho Kelly, the show said its final goodbye just last year after ten seasons on the air.
A team of lifeguards in Los Angeles do more than save drowning swimmers — they also solve major crimes. The original television series, which starred David Hasselhoff and infamously launched the career of Pamela Anderson, enjoyed a long run, from 1989 to 2000. In a 2017 film remake, Dwayne “The Rock’’ Johnson played a new Mitch Buchannon, taking on beach justice with the aid of High School Musical star Zac Efron, extremely buff. The remake understands the (perhaps unintentional) comedy inherent in the original, incorporating it into its crime-solving plot lines, but despite the major stars, critics savaged it and audiences were indifferent.
Suspense thriller 24 broke the procedural mould by filming in “real time”, with each minute in the every episode representing a minute in the show, with each season taking place over the course of a day. This made the stakes of the show higher and tension even more palpable, as counter-terrorist agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) raced to defeat ever-greater threats to world peace. The series went on to have nine seasons and two Jack Bauer-centric spin-off iterations (24: Live Another Day, 24: Redemption) before being rebooted in 2016 with a new character, military hero Eric Carter, played by Corey Hawkins. The series lasted just one season and 12 episodes, so we should probably call it 12 (even if the last episode did include a 12-hour time jump)
Dynasty follows the soap opera lives of the Carrington family, wealthy oil tycoons living in Denver, Colorado. The juicy saga was a slow burn success, and ended up airing for eight years, from 1981 to 1989. The CW reboot remake the drama series with an all-new cast and enough melodrama to last more than four seasons. It began airing in 2017 and shows no signs of slowing down; the season four premiere is set for May 7.
Another soapy ‘80s nighttime drama, Dallas follows yet another oil-rich family’s tale of greed and deceit as cutthroat businessman J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman) uses his power and influence to manipulate people to get what he wants. The smash hit original aired from 1978 – 1991. In 2012, TNT revived the show as a modern family drama continuing on from the original storylines, but the reboot only lasted three seasons and 40 episodes.
The much maligned Sylvestor Stallone film Judge Dredd was hated by fans of the titular comic for straying from the source material, even as it followed the basic premise of a dystopian future in which the police serve as judge, jury, and executioner on the streets (an idea that feels like less than science-fictional in 2021). Stallone plays the title character, accused and convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, but doesn’t really cash in on the possibilities of the central idea.
The film received a spiffy update in 2012 with Dredd, starring Karl Urban, which more closely follows the graphic novel storyline. The remake also stars Lena Headly as Ma-Ma, leader of a futuristic drug ring, whom Dredd must find and prosecute. The well-reviewed remake fared no better than the original at the box office, though many fans are still pining for a sequel.
In the year 2084, Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a construction worker with an average life who dreams of adventure on Mars. After Quaid decides to take a virtual vacation to the Red Planet with the help of travel company “Rekall,” his life is turned upside down as he is drawn into an interplanetary espionage plot and must figure out which of his memories are real and which may be fabricated. The 2012 remake stars Colin Farrell as Quaid, who is still a construction worker — but instead of a virtual vacation, he goes to Rekall already suspecting his life is not what it seems. The film was said to be a fresh interpretation of the original Philip K. Dick short story; nevertheless, it doesn’t offer much new, and opened to not so great reviews and mediocre box office. (Though in my opinion, it was entertaining enough as a retelling of the 1990 film.)
The first film in the National Lampoons brand, National Lampoon’s Vacation sees overzealous father Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) attempt to give his family the vacation of their lives with a road trip to the beloved theme park Wally World. A series of unfortunate events occurs on their trip, and hilarity ensues. Several sequels followed, to diminishing returns. The 2015 continuation stars Ed Helms as Clark Griswold’s son Rusty, who wants to give his family the trip he remembers from his childhood. It goes about as well as you’d expect, and the film works better than you might imagine.
Speed Racer is a classic anime that first premiered in the late ‘60s. The series aired from 1967 to 1968, following teenager Gô Mifune on his quest to be the greatest professional racecar driver in the league. In 2008, the show received a live action remake directed by the Wachowskis and starring Emile Hirsch. The film follows Speed (Hirsch) in his efforts to fill his late brother’s shoes as a world-renowned racer. The film did not do so well with critics, but had a stellar cast and beautiful special effects, and is now often called a prescient classic.
The Power Rangers are no stranger to a reboot. The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers began as an early ‘90s Japanese import and has seen more remakes, reboots, and continuations than any show or film in this list. The Power Rangers are average kids given special abilities to protect the earth from the evil villain Zordon and his followers. The first big screen version premiered in 1995 to less than favourable reviews. In 2017 the remake got a big upgrade in the form of improved effects, a more serious tone, and a villain played by Elizabeth Banks, but despite some good reviews, it didn’t do well enough to merit a followup.
The Hulk we know in today’s Marvel Cinematic Universe went through many iterations before Mark Ruffalo’s defining take as the Jekyll and Hyde character of Bruce Banner/The Hulk. First there was the 1977 live action television series The Incredible Hulk starring Lou Ferrigno. Then there was Hulk, an artsy adaptation from award-winning filmmaker Ang Lee starring Eric Bana released in 2003. That film was not well-liked by audiences and was not counted as canon in the connected universe of the many Marvel films that have followed — including 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, which starred Edward Norton. Norton is a huge fan of the character but still couldn’t make his portrayal work well enough to stick around; though his film is technically part of the MCU proper, the title role was recast for 2012’s The Avengers, which turned out to be a very good move.
Anti-hero Frank Castle is a military operative who turns vigilante after seeing his family murdered. He vows to find the killers and avenge their deaths while inadvertently saving others along the way. The Marvel comic was originally made into a film in 1989 with action star Dolph Lundgren as the determined vigilante, and rebooted in 2004 in a film starring Thomas Jane; neither did well. A quasi-sequel, 2008’s Punisher: War Zone, was also poorly received critically and flopped in theatres, but has since developed a cult following. In 2017, Jon Bernthal took up the Punisher mantle for a Netflix original series that aired for two seasons. The rights to the film and TV character have since returned to Marvel, meaning there is a high probability we will see Frank Castle again in some form.
The Mummy has been adapted to film a number of times across the decades. The 1932 original starred Boris Karloff as our lovesick mummy. In 1999 Brendan Fraser took up the adventuring mantle as Rick O’Connell, who, along with archaeologist Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz), unwittingly unearths the mummy Imhotep and a rash of deadly plagues.
After a trilogy and a few spinoffs, the series was rebooted again in 2017 with Tom Cruise as tomb raider Nick Morton, who awakens (and forms a psychic bond with) a vengeful mummy Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella). The film was meant to be the first in a linked series of films called the Dark Universe, but it did so poorly it killed the franchise in the cradle.