11 TV Shows From the '80s That Fans Fought to Keep on Air (PHOTOS)

Margeaux Baulch Klein | Feb 15, 2016 TV


Television networks have a long history of cancelling TV shows prematurely, before they get a chance to develop their potential. But sometimes a show hits a nerve, and fans fight to keep it on air. As far back as the '80s, fans of shows such as Fame rallied to save their favorite programs and give them a second life.

Click through for 11 times that fans helped resuscitate a fledgling TV series.


Image via Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

  • 'Cagney & Lacey'


    Image via Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

    Groundbreaking for its time, Cagney & Lacey was a drama about two female cops in NYC that aired on CBS in 1982. However, after six episodes, the network cancelled the show, claiming that they were uncomfortable with the "aggressive nature" of the female leads. A public outcry over the cancellation resulted in CBS renewing the show. After another season, CBS tried to cancel the show again, only to be met by a bigger outpouring by fans who wanted to keep the show on the air. Cagney & Lacey ended up running for seven seasons, thanks to the efforts of its viewers.

  • 'Designing Women'


    Image via Columbia Pictures Television

    A sitcom about four women working at an interior design firm in Atlanta, Designing Women had a loyal fan base that was outraged when CBS moved the series around to different time slots before slating it for cancellation after one season. Inspired by the Cagney & Lacey letter-writing campaign, fans wrote the network and demanded the show be renewed. It ran for six more years.

  • 'Quantum Leap'


    Image via Universal Television

    After its second season, NBC moved Quantum Leap to a Friday night time slot, effectively writing the show off. However, fans of the sci-fi series, which featured Scott Bakula as a time-traveling scientist, started a letter-writing campaign to convince NBC to move it back to its original Wednesday time slot. 

  • 'Doctor Who'


    image via British Broadcasting Corporation

    You can't kill Doctor Who. The beloved British sci-fi show originally ran for over 20 years before being cancelled by the BBC in 1989. By then it was a cult favorite, and fans refused to give up on the show. As a result, the show was revived in 1996 as a TV movie and as a series again in 2005.

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  • 'Our World'


    Image via American Broadcasting Company

    When ABC cancelled Our World, a news program similar to 60 Minutes, in 1987 after one season, fans sent over 20,000 letters to the network in attempt to save it. Alas, their efforts were unsuccessful, and the show never returned.

  • 'Taxi'


    Image via Paramount Television

    A beloved TV show that launched the careers of actors such as Danny DeVito and Tony Danza, Taxi had a loyal following until 1982 when ABC decided to cancel the series after the ratings dropped. Sensing an opportunity, NBC picked it up for a fifth and final season, giving the show's fans what they wanted.


  • 'Baywatch'


    Image via National Broadcasting Company

    With its cast of beautiful women in skimpy red swimsuits, Baywatch quickly became a fan favorite when it first aired on NBC in 1989. Low ratings prompted the network to cancel the show after the first season. However, with the support of Baywatch's fans, the show's producers successfully rallied for a second season—a smart move, considering that the show would become a hit over the course of the next 10 years.



  • 'Fame'


    Image via Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

    Rumor has it that NBC execs informed the cast of Fame that they were cancelled in 1983 by telling everyone to meet on the street and not letting them back into the building. Though it won major awards and was a fan favorite, the show was cancelled after one season. But while it didn't "live forever," as the song puts it, it returned for four more years.

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  • 'Matlock'


    Image via Viacom Productions

    A legal drama starring Andy Griffith, Matlock originally aired for six seasons on NBC in the late '80s. After cancellation, the show then moved to ABC and ran for three more seasons. Despite being off the air for over 20 years, the series still has an active Facebook fan base.


  • 'In the Heat of the Night'


    Image via Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

    A series about a police officer who returns home to Mississippi, In the Heat of the Night was saved by fans' support after it was cancelled by NBC after five seasons. It moved to CBS, where it ran for three more seasons, allowing the show to reach the 100-episode requirement needed for syndication.

  • 'Diff’rent Strokes'


    Image via National Broadcasting Company

    Who didn't love Diff’rent Strokes? The series aired for seven seasons on NBC before being cancelled and picked up by ABC for one more season. Reportedly, the show's star, Gary Coleman, was still being sought for autographs by Diff’rent Strokes fans up until his death in 2010.


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