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"Because it's probably the greatest picture ever made."
Alan Ladd, Fox's Head of Production during the making of Star Wars, when asked why it was so expensive to make.

Studios turn down good scripts, networks cancel, screw over, or fail to pick up good shows, and publishers refuse to publish great books all the time. Usually, the suits a) never liked it b) liked it but it was too expensive to produce, c) liked it but didn't think enough it would get a large enough audience, or d) they just didn't get it.

Sometimes, a movie, show, book, or video game is an iffy bet, at best. But sometimes a Studio/Network/Publisher (or more accurately a visionary Executive at said organization) realizes that this work is simply brilliant and will make sure the product has all the resources to fund it, promote it, and make sure it gets made. This loyalty stands even when the movie has passed its budget twice, or the series is number 10,371 in the ratings. When the product is a hit, such boldness and support can result in Moments of Awesome for those Executives who defied the predictions of failure from their colleagues and instead stuck by the creators of the work.

The quote above comes from Alan Ladd, Jr., the Fox executive whose unwavering faith in Star Wars helped that movie get made when even its own cast and crew had doubts about it. Fox demonstrated similar patience when Titanic ran way over budget, failed to meet schedule deadlines, and encountered myriad problems in filming.

Sometimes, a network or studio will destroy a good product and learn from its mistakes. Fox built up a reputation for never sticking with its shows due to Profit, Arrested Development and Firefly. (Though Arrested Development was given second and third seasons and a cushy timeslot, making it a case of this trope as well.) However, the network turned around and poured tons of money into promoting and producing House, Bones, and 24, shows that were big gambles and have since become massive hits. Even more dramatic, Fox even went back and Uncanceled a show they had previously screwed, twice, - Family Guy, one of their biggest hits, with sister show American Dad already in its sixth season and direct spin-off The Cleveland Show in its second. They even gave a second season to Dollhouse, a move which surprised many, though the show was canceled before the second season finished its run (which many feel was done just to avoid what happened last time).

Where TV is concerned, sometimes Network to the Rescue can result in, or be the result of, an un-canceling, as was the case with Stargate SG-1's move from Showtime to Sci-Fi where its ratings soared and it became a cult-hit on par with Star Trek.

Speaking of Star Trek, Network to the Rescue is not quite the same as a network grudgingly taking back a show because they just don't want to upset viewers, as happened with Star Trek: The Original Series (or Jericho). Both shows came back, but were dumped shortly after for good. No, a production entity has to willingly believe in and be fully committed to the product's success and be willing to put up with quite a few bumps in the road to success; as was the case with Paramount's commitment to Star Trek: The Next Generation. Paramount gave the series the kind of budget that back then only action movies had and stuck with it even though the first few seasons were blah.

This trope doesn't apply to sure bets or things that are relatively low-risk. For instance, while Fox performed a Studio to the Rescue for the first Star Wars; by the time they decided to make the prequels, it was a foregone conclusion that they would make tons of money.

Compare with Adored by the Network. Contrast with Screwed by the Network. And note which article has the most examples (though this may not be a case of Accentuating the Negative as much as networks simply screwing over shows more than saving them).


Examples

Anime/Manga


Comic Books

  • Superman was rejected by every comic strip syndicate & comic book publisher twice when editor Sheldon Meyer convinced the publishers of DC Comics to take a chance on it. Result: the Man of Steel is now one of DC's historical icons.
  • George Herriman's Krazy Kat was weird, surreal, and incredibly unpopular among the general public in its time. However, William Randolph Hearst (yeah, that one) loved it and ran it in all his newspapers, eventually giving it a full-page colour spread in the Arts & Drama section. It sometimes ran in his papers only because of his direct order. When Herriman died, Hearst canceled the comic, even though it was common practice to hire a new cartoonist after the death of the author-- Hearst didn't want anyone messing with Krazy.
  • Mike Grell's Warlord. Carmine Infantino (editor in chief of DC at the time) cancelled it after the third issue, after promising Grell a one-year run. When Jeanette Kahn, a fan of the series, took over as publisher and found out it was cancelled, she reportedly told her editors "Well, I just cancelled Carmine. Put it back on the schedule." The book was later made monthly, and at one time was the top selling title for DC.

Film

  • Many Lord of the Rings fans were convinced that no movie studio could do the books justice. However, New Line Cinema took a chance on Peter Jackson's unorthodox and expensive approach to making the movies and actually stunned everybody with three good movies.
    • Originally, Peter Jackson tried to sell the project as two movies. When he shopped it to New Line, they said, "Why do you want to do this as two movies?" He got ready to lay out his arguments for why you couldn't possibly do justice to LotR in one movie, which had been the request of a previous studio; then they said, "This should be three movies."
  • Jaws was so stressful to make back in 1974, that most of the cast were ready to quit on director Steven Spielberg. However, legend has it has Richard Dreyfuss among others believed in him, as did Universal executive Richard Zanuck. They were handsomely rewarded for their faith.
    • Richard Zanuck wasn't an executive at Universal, he was formerly a executive at 20th Century Fox, but by the early 70s, he was a producer, a role he still is very much in.
  • With "happy" sci-fi like Star Wars and Superman nobody thought a dark, depressing, and outright horrific sci-fi could be made. Nevertheless Fox took the chance on little-known British director Ridley Scott and a movie simply called Alien.
    • It should be noted that both Star Wars and Superman were both cases of Network to the Rescue themselves. As noted above, it was Alan Ladd's faith that saw Star Wars even make it to film. Likewise, Warner Brothers stood and backed Richard Donner's direction of the Man Of Steel movie even though it was the most expensive movie they'd made to that point, the star was a complete unknown, and the effects work was, in many ways, just as revolutionary as anything Star Wars did. Both were hits, and launched their respective genres.
  • Paula Parisi wrote a book called Titanic: And the Making of James Cameron. You get an idea of how close that movie came to not even being made. But Fox executive Bill Mechanic among others truly demonstrated balls of steel.
    • Many years later, Mechanic took a chance on Henry Selick (who had become a pariah in Hollywood after James and the Giant Peach and Monkeybone flopped) and a small animated feature based on a book. The result was Coraline, which became the highest-grossing stop-motion animated feature of all-time.
  • Speaking of Titanic, Fox also held firm for another wildly over budget and risky movie by James Cameron that was met with heavy skepticism all the way up to its release. It was in its time, the highest grossing movie of all time, only recently being upstaged by Avatar.
  • As detailed on that page, this is pretty much the reason District 9 exists.
  • It is a well-known fact that up until very recently, stage-plays aimed at Black audiences were considered amateur fluff at best. Tyler Perry wrote and directed plays centering on Black themes that achieved box-office success on-par with the more mainstream fare. Nevertheless, he had a hard time getting Hollywood studios to make movies based on them. Lionsgate Entertainment stepped in and started producing them, with low budgets, but giving Perry wide control over the projects. Each movie generated considerable profits but the kicker was when both Why Did I Get Married and Madea Goes To Jail opened at the top of the box-office. Lionsgate and Perry came out huge winners.
  • Producer Joel Silver backed the making of The Matrix even though cyber-movies like Johnny Mnemonic and Strange Days had both failed miserably. Also, no one had even heard of the Wachowski brothers, nor did anyone think that Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, and Carrie Moss had any kind of "star-power". Oh well, luckily for us, Joel Silver saw it differently...
  • A case where the Power of Friendship overlaps with this trope: When Robert Downey, Jr. was constantly in and out of drug-related rehab, producers were unable to find insurance on him, and thus he wasn't cast in movies anymore. Mel Gibson, a personal friend of Downey since Air America, personally paid the insurance on him when he starred in his movie, The Singing Detective. Downey's performance in that movie ignited the huge comeback that climaxed with A Scanner Darkly, Iron Man, and his surprise Oscar nomination for Tropic Thunder.
  • Even though the 2009 reboot of Star Trek was a success, remember that at the time Paramount went ahead with it, the Trek franchise was in a rut; at the time the new movie was announced, Star Trek Nemesis flopped badly at the box-office, and Star Trek Enterprise had just been cancelled due to poor ratings.
    • Similarly Star Trek VI the Undiscovered Country was living in the shadow of the flop of The Final Frontier and the new restricted budget literally made the film impossible to make until a new head came in at Paramount, who knew director Nick Meyer personally and agreed to provide as much money as it would take so that the film could be made.
    • Paramount has a considerable track record as a Studio To The Rescue. Consider the case of Forrest Gump above. Or, more famously, The Godfather. Back in 1970, gangster movies were action flicks like the James Cagney version of Public Enemy, not slow character dramas with lots of talking. And you certainly didn't make one with a completely unknown (and eccentric) director, a washed-up star, and a ton of people no one even heard of. Paramount did it; and the rest is history.
      • Not as much network to the rescue as a producer to the rescue. Paramount had been bought out by Gulf+Western and they were considering to actually close down the studio. Robert Evans fought a lot to get the Godfather made, but boy did it pay off.
  • The Iron Giant was saved and primarily backed by Pete Townshend Of The Who. Why? He liked the story.
    • There's more to it than that. He loved the original book, The Iron Man. He even made a record out of it. It's among his favorite books. So of course he liked the story, he'd always loved it. But by the time the movie was made, he actually had the rights to it.
  • After Firefly was canceled by Fox, Universal Pictures swooped in to fund a movie sequel to the series, and Serenity was born.

Literature

  • Much like the Beatles example below, Bloomsbury, a British publisher, took a chance on the first Harry Potter novel after 8 other publishers turned it down. I bet those eight publishing companies feel pretty dumb right now.
    • And even they would have turned it down if it weren't for the fact that one of the editors took the manuscript home and his daughter read it and asked for more. The publishers were all focusing on critically analyzing it from their perspective rather than thinking what the kids would want. The entire first chapter of the series consists of telling instead of showing, something one's English teacher would drill into them as bad, but that kids don't care about.
    • Good point, but that can apply to almost any example here. Remember it takes a Network to the Rescue sometimes, for the work to reach an acceptable level of quality. In this case, Bloomsbury specifically gave Rowling several thousand pounds in advance for her to produce the first drafts of the book.
      • Word of God says that the main reason she was told "no" so many times was because of the length of the novel. Those publishers are probably kicking themselves now.
  • Dr. Seuss can top that: his first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was rejected by almost 30 publishers before Vanguard Press published it.
  • Dune was rejected by science fiction publishers and was finally picked up by Chilton. Yes, the publisher of the auto repair manuals.
  • Ex-pimp Iceberg Slim tried to sell his autobiography, Pimp: The Story of My Life, to major publishers back in the 60s, and had no success in doing so until pornographic novel publisher Holloway House decided to take a chance with it. It became insanely popular with the black community and Slim went on to create several more fiction-based titles based around the pimp experience.
  • Tom Clancy's first book, The Hunt for Red October, was roundly rejected by just about every fiction publisher. Clancy took a long shot and submitted it to the Naval Institute Press. He had published nonfiction articles through the NI and thought the subject matter would appeal to them. The NIP took its own long shot, publishing the book as their first and only novel - which remains by a long shot their most popular publication ever.
  • When trying to Publish The Help, author Kathryn Stockett was reject 60 times until literary agent Susan Ramer agreed to represent her. Not only did it spend over 100 weeks on the best seller list, but it was also made into highly successful movie.

Live Action TV

  • NBC is gaining a big rep for being the Network to the Rescue. It has stuck with a lot of shows that aren't ratings giants, like The Office and My Name Is Earl (Though Earl was canceled after the 2008/09 season). Another example is all the promotion they've put into Heroes.
    • This is probably the result of NBC not having a lot of hits to begin with, so standards for renewal are lower. But a real case of them coming to the rescue recently is for shows like Chuck and ~30 Rock~, which are not ratings giants.
      • More like "Subway To the Rescue", but nevertheless, NBC heard the fans and renewed Chuck.
      • Same for Parks and Recreation. Despite the consensus that it grew the beard in Season 2 and escaped the notion of it being a pale knock-off of The Office, the viewing audience dipped below 5 million, startlingly low for a show on broadcast TV. Nevertheless, the loads of critical praise Season 2 has received was a key factor in NBC renewing the show despite the declining ratings that show no signs of improved life.
    • Hill Street Blues did a lot of things that are commonplace in a cop show today, but sure weren't back in 1980 when it was created. Things like the shaky-cam, imperfect heroes, cut-up dialogue, etc. The ratings of its first season weren't good, but Hill Street Blues later won a truckload of Emmys and is generally considered one of the best, if not the best, cop show of all time.
    • Hill Street Blues is not even the most prominent example of a network coming to the rescue simply because an exec thought a show was quality work and deserved airtime. In its first season, Cheers finished dead last in the ratings. The major network exec at the time kept it on the air until it could find its audience because he thought it was Too Good to Last.
    • Another big one for NBC is Friday Night Lights. It was a constant ratings disappointment in its first two seasons, but gained enough fans among the network executives that it was saved by an experimental schedule of having the next season be only thirteen episodes, which would first air on Direc TV in the fall and then on NBC itself in the spring. It was such a success that two more similarly constructed seasons were ordered towards the end of it. Notably, those three seasons are essentially being constructed as one long epilogue, with a large part of the focus going toward giving each character a three or four episode arc to send them off the show.
    • NBC rejected Seinfeld after the pilot bombed in audience testing, but NBC exec Rick Ludwin liked it and took money out of his personal corporate budget to finance more episodes and talked the network into airing it as a summer replacement series. It got good enough ratings that they picked it up full-time in the middle of the next season.
    • Actually, Star Trek fits this trope. The first pilot for was turned down by both CBS and NBC, but the latter network did something unheard of in the 1960s (and still fairly rare today) and asked Gene Roddenberry to do a second pilot episode.
      • And later it was more like Network's Biggest Figurehead to the Rescue when Lucille Ball made vague threats to execs that convinced them to bring it back for season 3.
    • Late Night With Conan O'Brien: The show didn't start off well for the first few years, but NBC stuck with it and were rewarded with the highest rated late night lineup along with Jay Leno. Unfortunately, when they gave Conan The Tonight Show, they didn't give him much of a chance.
    • The Tonight Show With Jay Leno: In contrast to Conan O'Brien being Screwed by the Network. Unfortunately for Leno, this led to a lot of backlash. Conan meanwhile, was rescued by TBS.
  • The pinnacle of NBC's balls of steel (at least in the 1980s) is none other than The Cosby Show. When the show's producers Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner approached ABC with the concept, they balked, claiming audiences would NEVER "buy the idea of a wealthy, affluent, well-to-do Black family". In addition, Bill Cosby was no star in film or television, and back then, stand-up comics didn't get shows that revolved around them (unlike today with, Seinfeld and Everybody Loves Raymond and the like, which owe their success to Cosby). NBC, however, harbored no such misguided notions and went ahead with it anyway.... and scored a major financial windfall in the process. The Cosby Show ranked number one in the Nielsen ratings five years in a row, and in the process, many other NBC shows, a lot of them heretofore struggling in the ratings, became hugely popular among viewers as well. All this gave NBC much needed revenue to avoid going bankrupt. ABC, for their part, saw many of their once mega-successful programs take a tremendous nosedive in the ratings, which in turn, led to a huge decline in revenue, causing the network to be bought out by a company only a tenth of their size, Capital Cities Communications. If you listen closely, you can hear the ABC execs banging their heads to this day....
    • To be fair, ABC learned from their mistakes and went ahead with another sitcom about a well(ish)-off Black family and their eccentric, nerdy neighbor.
      • Unfortunately, however, the part about the family got seriously lost in translation as the eccentric, nerdy neighbor became more and more of a fan favorite and got more and more episodes written about him, to the detriment of characters who were actually part of the family, some of whom ended up just vanishing into thin air.
    • The NBC attitude about race seems to be another legacy of the legendary Brandon Tartikoff. When Miami Vice was being cast, he insisted on the show having significant roles for Blacks. Also he allowed Stephen J. Cannell to build The A-Team around Mr. T. None of the other networks were this insistent on handing out parts to non-whites.
  • CBS managed to get one over on NBC after they dumped JAG after the first season. 9 years of solid ratings and 2 wildly successful spin-offs (NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles) later, CBS is still laughing all the way to the bank.
  • Similar thing happened with ~M*A*S*H~, which was not a hit out of the gate.
  • Fox initially did this with The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Then, after a drop in ratings, they moved it to the Friday Night Death Slot midway through the second season, and, according to a deluge of on-site news reports, axed it.
    • Similarly, Fox surprised a lot of people by renewing Dollhouse, despite low ratings in the Friday Night Death Slot. Of course, knowing that they would be crucified in effigy for giving a Joss Whedon show just half a season a second time probably had a lot to do with it.
  • The pilot for Lost was the most expensive ever; and none of the actors in it were major stars. In fact, one executive was fired for even giving it the go-ahead. However, ABC stuck with it, since going back would mean a loss of millions. Also ABC head Stephen McPherson thought it had 'some potential'. Lost is now considered one of TV's greatest dramas, if you know what's going on.
    • Another example: after the show started stalling -- and losing viewers -- during the second and third seasons, showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse began to bargain with ABC for an unprecedented concept: a set end-date several years down the line. ABC agreed, and starting with the second half of season 3, Lost has been steadily gaining steam in terms of answers. Unfortunately, the show continues to lose viewers, and on a recent edition of the podcast, Lindelof quietly speculated that the show might have been canceled by now if the above agreement hadn't been hammered out.
  • Law and Order wasn't expected to be a hit, but NBC stuck with it, and it enjoyed a twenty year run before being canceled. Two of its American spinoffs (Law and Order Special Victims Unit and Law and Order: Criminal Intent) also enjoyed long, successful runs, but a few others (Law and Order Trial By Jury, Conviction, Law and Order LA) were canceled after one season.
  • Doctor Who. Come on, it's practically the Avatar of television!
    • In 2004, the general perception of Doctor Who was that it had run its course and wouldn't fit in to the new TV landscape especially in light of the failure of the TV movie (in America, not the UK, where the movie predictably performed well) produced by... that's right, Fox! But The BBC took a chance and commissioned a new series headed by Russell T. Davies. The general perception has swung to the other way since.
      • Doctor Who, back in '63, got the "second pilot" treatment before Star Trek did. The same could also be said of ABC's Life On Mars--it got a second pilot (albeit with a new cast save for Jason O'Mara and a relocation from San Francisco to New York City) after ABC executives nixed David E. Kelley's pilot.
  • First Mystery Science Theater 3000 got screwed by Comedy Central after a change in leadership. Then the Sci Fi Channel came to the rescue. Then Sci Fi screwed them as well, again, after a change in leadership.
    • After 10 seasons on the air (not even counting the KTMA season). As Kevin Murphy said on the Lord Of The Rings Riff Trax, "I'd like to fail like that."
    • Another, even earlier case came when MST was on the Comedy Channel before it merged with Ha! to form Comedy Central. Ha! wanted to remove MST from the line-up, but Comedy Channel considered it the "flagship of its fleet" and refused to merge unless it remained. Not only did they keep it on, they gave it a contract for three 26-episode seasons.
  • Scrubs was ditched by NBC after the seventh season and given a proper final season on ABC. Which was successful enough to warrant a ninth (and what would turn out to be final) season.
  • After several networks passed on it, HBO took a chance on a script about a middle-aged guy, his dysfunctional wife, his dysfunctional business partners, his shrink, and his homicidal mother. Today, it's known as The Sopranos.
  • Believe it or not, Fox (seriously this is becoming a Running Gag) actually rejected the concept of American Idol numerous times before they finally decided to make a go of it and were rewarded with the highest rated program of the 2000's (Of course, a lot of people tend to complain that they actually did run with it and are still supporting it instead of their pet show...)
  • The BBC was planning to end Blake's Seven with the third season finale, which saw the main villain killed off, the heroes' spacecraft destroyed and them marooned on a distant artificial planetoid. The cast and crew believed the show was over and started looking for other projects. Then, whilst watching the Season 3 finale at home, the head of BBC Drama found he and his family were enjoying it so much he rang up BBC Television Centre and told the continuity announcer to say that the show would be back the following year, which was the first anyone on the show's production team knew about it. Possibly the shortest-notice network to the rescue in history?
    • Ironically, the far darker and more memorable Season 4 finale wasn't supposed to be the final episode of the show, merely the cliffhanger into a fifth and final season. The BBC decided to call it a day at that point, despite the extremely strong ratings (besting Coronation Street, Britain's biggest soap opera, in the ratings with over 10 million viewers). Your Mileage May Vary on whether the cancellation was an aversion of this trope however, as Gareth Thomas had emphatically declined to reprise his role as Blake except for a one-off appearance in the finale (in which he was thoroughly McLeaned at his own insistence) and there weren't many more places to go with the story arc without turning it into a Franchise Zombie.
  • Warner Brothers were quietly supportive of Babylon 5 throughout the first four years of its run, repeatedly not canceling it and in fact giving it modest budget increases between seasons simply because a lot of the network executives apparently just really liked it, to the extent of not even giving production notes after the start of the second season and just letting the production team get on with it. They were rewarded by moderate ratings increases and a high profile among SF fans, arguably higher than that of rival series Deep Space Nine which cost more than twice as much to make. When they were faced with the task of canceling the show due to a complex international co-funding agreement with the PTEN network collapsing, they encouraged the TNT cable network to come on board and save the day, ensuring that the show got to its planned ending. Warner Brothers eventually reaped a strong reward: international, VHS and DVD sales have seen the show make more than five times its budget back in profit since the show ended.
    • B5 also had an example of a foreign network coming to the rescue. The first season didn't quite make enough money for Warner Brothers to justify renewing it. Then Channel 4 (pleased with the ratings they were getting) contacted WB to buy first run rights in the UK for any future seasons.
  • Recently there have been two cases where this has resulted in transforming Dueling Shows into Complementing Shows:
    • Medium was canceled by NBC and rescued by CBS... which put it right after Ghost Whisperer...
      • And now in a case of irony, Ghost Whisperer's been cancelled but Medium will remain.
    • Southland was also canceled by NBC and rescued by TNT... which already has the Darker and Edgier cop show Dark Blue.
  • When John Cleese and his gang went together to create their show, they went to the BBC. The interview went basically with the interviewer asking every possible question in the book, and the gang replying with that they didn't quite know ("Will you have any music?" "Oh, we never really thought about that..." "Alright, so what's the name?" "Oh, well, we haven't come to that quite yet...." "Any guest stars?" "Oh, that's a good question..."), John Cleese himself stating that "they must have made the worst impression any group ever made". They still got 13 episodes to prove they were epic, and, well, we all know how that worked out: we got Monty Python's Flying Circus.
    • Related to this, when studio execs were hesitant to fund Life of Brian, George Harrison stepped in with a few million pounds and carte blanche for the Pythons to do whatever they want, purely because he was a Python fan and wanted to see the movie. Eric Idle later described it as "the most expensive movie ticket ever purchased."
  • As much flak as Fox gets for Screwed by the Network we must remember that they themselves were one of the premier examples of Network to the Rescue. After all, they backed The X-Files. And this was at a time when if anyone was going to back Science Fiction it had to be the Star Trek mold, which it certainly wasn't. And no one involved was a name, not the creator, not the producers, and least of all the stars.
  • While CSI and its spin-offs are mainstay hits on TV, there was a time when a forensics-based Police Procedural was considered geeky Science Fiction at best. CBS took the chance on it, only after much hand-wringing and after the other major networks passed.
  • When networks either turned it down or imposed stupid limits on Star Trek: The Next Generation, the studio decided to make it syndicated, and renew it despite a poor first season. The studio gave the producers of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine almost complete freedom to deconstruct a gigantic franchise.
  • Although Castle started off slow, and it would've been easy for ABC to cancel it, the network stuck with it, and has even renewed it for a third season. In the process the seem to have broken the Fillion Curse.
  • Disney acquired the rights to Power Rangers as part of a larger buyout, and while they continued the show they never really knew what to do with it. It eventually got to the point where they stopped airing reruns, scheduled the show in a routinely-preempted Death Slot, and gave up on new episodes in favor of Re Cut old ones. Then Saban, the original owner of the franchise, came in and bought the rights back specifically on the grounds that Disney was wasting its potential.
    • Which it was. This is actually a case of this going incredibly well. Since the move to Nickelodeon, ratings for the show have more than tripled. In fact, Samurai, which airs at noon on Saturday, has actually outperformed the prime-time schedules for both Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel.
  • When Glee was initially picked up, no one thought it would work simply because there had been so many other musical shows that had failed miserably, but FOX had total faith in it. The show is a ratings giant and had been nominated for 19 EMMYS. Look who's laughing now!
  • CBS rejected the first pilot of The Big Bang Theory but liked some of the ideas in it enough to ask them to do a second pilot, ultimately leading to a giant hit for the network.
  • Red Dwarf was rejected by BBC London multiple times, and would never have seen the light of day if BBC Manchester hadn't decided to give it a shot. Hilarity Ensued.
    • Eight series later, it became another cancelled-at-a-cliffhanger series as the Beeb dropped the series entirely. It wasn't until a decade later that digital channel Dave commissioned new episodes. It was a pretty good partnership for both the channel and the franchise, to put it lightly.
  • After NBC canceled both daytime and primetime editions of The Price Is Right in 1963, ABC stepped in and picked it up. But due to the network's budget issues and low affiliate numbers, it was canceled after two years. ABC had better success in 1968 nabbing Let's Make a Deal from NBC.
  • Fred Silverman, who was CBS's then vice president for programming, canceled The $10,000 Pyramid in 1974 after only a year as NBC's Jeopardy! (which NBC programmer Lin Bolen tried to mercy-kill by slotting it against Pyramid and failed) was beating it. Five weeks later, ABC Entertainment president Martin Starger nabbed Pyramid and it not only had a six-year run on ABC but a nighttime version and an Emmy win. The real kicker, however, was that Silverman later replaced Starger in 1975, causing him to now see the program as an awful ink blot on an otherwise distinguished career at CBS. In addition, even before ABC picked up the daytime version, Bud Grant, CBS's then vice president for daytime programming, actually disagreed with the cancellation decision and before he carried it out, he gave series creator and executive producer Bob Stewart the phone number for Viacom, a syndication firm founded by CBS, and suggested to him that he have them help stage the weekly nighttime version in the first place. Pyramid later did a Take That against Silverman during the show's Grand Finale with a mock category named "Hit Shows on NBC-TV", a not so subtle jab at the fact that Silverman, now working as president and CEO of NBC, was green lighting flop after flop on the network. Silverman was not amused and, presumably in retaliation, swiftly cancelled another show from Bob Stewart that was airing on NBC at the time, Chain Reaction.
  • The CW canceled The Game after three seasons. BET picked it up, and when they premiered the fourth season nearly two years later, it ended up being the biggest sitcom telecast on cable in history, drawing over 7 million viewers.
  • When Due South premiered in 1994 on CBS, it was continually shifted around on the network's schedule and had episodes pre-empted (this, despite the fact that the show was at one point garnering better ratings than Friends in the U.S., and the fact that, until Flashpoint came along in 2009, South was the highest-rated Canadian-made program on American television). CBS ended up cancelling (then un-cancelling) the show three times before they pulled the plug aat the end of the second season, but the Canadian television station CTV (along with foreign investors) picked up the rights to the show and co-financed it for two more seasons.
  • Family Net put the musical anthology The Venue in the Friday Night Death Slot in January 2011 with the intention to drop its Saturday Night slot the very next month. They apparently listened to the fans and kept the Saturday Night airing due to the popularity. However, they took it off the air altogether in favor of Live at Oak Tree.
  • Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle underwent a mix of rescued/screwed by the BBC. According to Lee, he was summoned by the Beeb to produce a series with no need to do a pilot. He was in two minds, not wanting his manager's studio to make the show, but a BBC in-house studio. By the time he got around to telling the BBC, they now wanted to see a pilot, and eventually cancelled the non-existent series they commissioned in the first place. A couple of years later, the BBC again asked Leeto produce a new comedy series... thankfully this got made.
  • For Your Love was originally aired on NBC and cancelled after six episodes, it was then picked up by the WB and ran for another four seasons, it's rather surprising that they stuck with a show that so few people seemed to watch, you rarely ever hear FYL mentioned when people are talking about WB shows(not to mention the WB was almost as infamous as FOX for cancelling shows left and right), they even renewed the show after it suffered a 70% ratings decline during the third season. Though it did kinda get screwed during it's last couple of years on the network as it was regularly shifted around the schedule and six episodes of the fifth season(including the series finale) were not aired, though TV One later picked up the series for reruns and aired the missing episodes.
  • Subverted with Airwolf. USA Network tried to rescue it from CBS' cancellation but had No Budget to do so: they were forced to use stock footage to cover up the fact that they didn't actually have the helicopter. The fact that said footage was painfully obvious and that they couldn't afford any of the show's stars didn't help matters. The show was dead for good at the end of that season.
  • Happy Endings, in a way. The ratings were so bad that Damon Wayans Jr. was already filming a pilot for a new show. The show managed to get a renewal for a second, much to everyone's surprise. The show has even been renewed for a third season.
  • Cougar Town was cancelled by ABC while airing the third season, shortly after TBS picked up the rights to the show and the fourth season will premiere on the network in fall 2012.

Music

  • George Martin, A&R man of the Parlophone division of EMI, signed The Beatles after all the other British record companies had rejected them. That's right, all the other record companies, including Parlophone's parent company, EMI. It paid off...
    • This happened repeated times for them. People were shocked when they decided to stop doing live shows and instead just do studio albums. People were even wary of Sgt. Pepper, but Martin gave their full support and it did pay off.
    • A bit of a zig-zag: The "Paul is dead" myth has yet another story as to how it developed. EMI had qualms about the public accepting the Beatles' 1966 song "Paperback Writer" because it wasn't a typical pop song about love and romance. Brian Epstein, the boys' manager, thought of drumming up publicity for it by having one of the Beatles "die." George and Ringo refused, and John offered to take part but since he was a practical joker, everyone would have caught on. So Paul was the one who "died." At that point, all he cryptic clues that have led people to believe to this day that the McCartney out today is either a twin brother or a highly-trained lookalike were strategically planted.
  • Kanye West got turned down by label after label who didn't believe his brand of hiphop would sell (in the words of one executive "No one's gonna wanna buy a CD from a rapper who looks like Carlton") and everyone else just told him to stick to producing. Then in comes in Dame Dash and Roc-A-Fella.
  • Michael Jackson's first concert in Malaysia was almost not to be. Due to a bunch of religious zealots who were offended by his "crotch-grab" move, the show almost got canceled as the ministry of the state he would be performing in revoked his performance permits amidst the complaints and the original sponsor pulled out. A new sponsor quickly stepped in just as things looked bleak, and he got a new venue at a different state. The concert was a success.
  • On a few occasions in Country Music, a major label has picked up an independently-distributed song after it started making waves, and helped the song rise to prominence with the resources an indie couldn't provide on its own. This first happened when Curb Records picked up Perfect Stranger's "You Have the Right to Remain Silent" in 1995 several weeks into its chart run, but has since happened with other acts including Eli Young Band (whose "When It Rains" spent 30 weeks just under the top 40 before Universal Republic picked it up from independent distribution) and Gloriana (picked up by Warner/Reprise from the independent Emblem Music Group several weeks into the chart run of "Wild at Heart").
    • Little Big Town had a similar rescue: their independent label, Equity, closed right after A Place to Land came out, so Capitol picked up the band and re-released the album with some new songs.


Professional Wrestling

  • WCW's Eric Bischoff rejected Steve Austin's new character idea of him being a hardass, take-no-prisoners redneck Anti-Hero, telling him, "Yeah, Steve, we could have you run around in your plain black tights and your plain black boots, but that just wouldn't be marketable." Then Bischoff canned Austin after having hired Hulk Hogan and a veritable entourage of his buddies, feeling that Austin would never go anywhere. ECW head Paul Heyman, on the other hand, was convinced that Austin would be a huge star, and so called him up and said, "You know, I have a TV show. Wanna come on it and bitch about Bischoff?" Which he did, and WWF's Vince McMahon happened to see his work there, saw the same potential Heyman saw, and immediately brought him in. The rest is a long history of alcohol-fueled ass-whoopin', and that's the bottom line, 'cuz Stone Cold said so!
    • Similarly, "Mean" Mark Calaway was dropped by WCW. Vince McMahon gave him a call and said he had an idea for character. They had a meeting but nothing came from it. Later on, Calaway answered the phone and Vince apparently said "Am I speaking to the Undertaker". Calaway said "Yes!", and the rest is history.
      • Hulk Hogan was actually the one who started this, informing Vince about Calaway after Calaway had a bit role in Suburban Commando.
  • A much better example of this trope is none other than Ted Turner himself. An ardent fan of professional wrestling (often saying that "wrestling built the Superstation"), he bought the company that would later be known as World Championship Wrestling for the sole purpose of preventing Vince McMahon from attaining a complete monopoly on wrestling on television. It wasn't an investment or a way to make money: he kept WCW around because of his love for the business. It was often said that no matter what hardships WCW went through, it would never close down as long as it had the weight, power (and money) of Ted Turner behind it... a statement that was sadly proved all too true after Ted Turner's company merged with AOL, removing Ted from power. It didn't take long for WCW- by this time making massive losses- to be shut down, ironically by being absorbed into the WWF (which later became WWE).

Tabletop Games

Video Games

  • After Activision in 2008-2009 decided not to publish certain videogames, such as the Ghostbusters game and Brutal Legend[1]; other companies stepped in. Atari rescued Ghostbusters, and Electronic Arts published Brutal Legend.
  • Was anyone expecting Tatsunoko vs. Capcom to be published internationally, as most people don't know what a Tatsunoko is? Capcom USA went the extra mile and dealt with the crazy licensing issues involved in getting characters from Tatsunoko Production.
  • Red Dead Revolver was originally being developed by Capcom but was dropped. Rockstar Games bought the game in 2002 and completed it while giving it a Spaghetti Western feel. It did well enough to warrant the sequel, Red Dead Redemption.
  • Sakura Taisen, being largely a Dating Sim series, has long been labeled a holy grail of localization, with plenty of hardcore fans in the West who knew there was little reason anyone should give the games a chance. Enter NIS America, who in April 2010 decided to give the US the fifth game in the series. Which was originally released in 2005. On the Play Station 2, a system that has been long since succeeded by the PlayStation 3. And they even went through the trouble of having it ported to the Wii, a much more relevant system in this generation when it comes to games with such graphic quality.
  • Atlus, and recently NIS America are really the patron saints of this, at least in the RPG world. So many great, niche games which you would never expect to come to the States do so because of these companies.
    • The same goes for XSEED. Their announcement of localizing the Ys games made them heroes in the eyes of the Ys fandom (and the fact that they did a great job with the localization definitely doesn't hurt).
  • Tell the truth: were you still betting on Duke Nukem Forever ever coming out? Randy Pitchford and Gearbox Software really were, and after 14 years of Development Hell and the closure of 3D Realms, they're delivering the goods by rescuing the game and making it to ship.
    • Not only that, but they gave the game no big announcement prior. They just showed up at PAX with a playable demo to show that yes, it was real.
    • Though for how (in)famous the game was, it was only a matter of time before someone bought it at some price.
  • Back in 2007, a little title called Hotel Dusk: Room 215 was released to positive reviews and fairly good sales worldwide. Flash forward to 2010, and its sequel Last Window sees release in Japan... only to flop and for its developer Cing to go bankrupt soon after. Despite this, Nintendo of Europe still translated Last Window for its markets, despite Hotel Dusk not selling as well there. Nintendo of America, on the other hand...
  • Nintendo has a history of this with Dragon Quest. They localized Dragon Quest I in North America and used their magazine Nintendo Power to market the heck out of it. The results were apparently good enough to convince Enix to translate and publish the next three games themselves there. About two decades later, after Square Enix failed to generate strong sales for the previous two DS games, Nintendo published and marketed Dragon Quest IX around the West to great success. Their publishing of Dragon Quest VI a year later seems a strong sign of their devotion to keeping Dragon Quest relevant in Western markets.
    • It hasn't all been perfect, however. Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 got an Updated Rerelease in Japan, Joker 2 Professional, which added an absurd 500 new monsters, doubled the length of the story mode, rebalancing the Multiplayer, etc etc. Nintendo picked up the Joker 2 translation after Square Enix canceled it -- stating that they (Square Enix) feel Dragon Quest is dead outside of Japan. Unfortunately, due to some bad timing, Nintendo decided to stick with the original translation rather than spend more time on the update. What's worse, as the Japanese playerbase has moved to Joker 2 Professional, this means there will be no interaction between the Western fanbase and the Japanese fanbase on the multiplayer mode. There's a (very slim) chance we'll see Joker 2 Professional later, but with the 3DS coming into it's own (with its own Dragon Quest Monsters game announced), it's highly unlikely.
    • Speaking of Nintendo, after considerable bombardment due to Operation Rainfall, NoA decided to give Xenoblade Chronicles a release on American shores, but needed a sample size to ensure that future Rainfall games might be worth the effort. Say what you will about them, but GameStop volunteered for at least the alpha batch. As a result, they are scheduled to carry the game on its 04/03/2012 release exclusively until further notice. If you still think to pirate the game after that date, please reference Ezekiel 25:17.
  • A third installment of the True Crime series from Activision was being produced by United Front Games. The first sandbox GTA-style game to be set in Hong Kong, the game's footage looked very promising and there was quite some anticipation for it, until Activision made the extraordinarily wise decision to cancel the game two months before its release on the reason that "it wasn't good enough". The game was screwed and thrown into the same heap as Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk Pro Skater, which were also canceled at the same time. The game seemed doomed until Square Enix took the game under its wing, renaming it Sleeping Dogs since they couldn't buy the rights to the game's original franchise but letting the game remain as it was; even giving the developers extra months to refine the gameplay. As of this writing, Sleeping Dogs is slated for a late 2012 release.

Western Animation

  • Though its quality is disputable, Adult Swim at one point started airing a promo in which they say Squidbillies has been getting low ratings... and how clearly the reason was that the viewers were morons and hadn't yet given this wonderful show a chance. That's why now they're airing it every single night instead of once a week, to get us to watch it and see how great it is.
  • Cartoon Network saved Adventure Time when Nickelodeon decided to throw it away, despite the original short's popularity.
  • FOX's (gasp) treatment of Futurama was very... bad. It managed to get four seasons before being cancelled, but reruns on Adult Swim kept it alive. Then, Comedy Central bought the rights to the show and revived it.
  • CBS felt Scooby Doo had run its course in 1976 and canceled it a month before the fall season. ABC programming head Michael Eisner wasted zero time in getting Scooby, who had a 13-year run on the network.
  • The Critic was cancelled by both ABC and FOX. The latter was truly offensive because the series was getting strong ratings in a post-Simpsons slot. (It was theorized that new executives hated the show and wanted it gone, as well as FOX not owning it and having less interest in it succeeding.) UPN attempted to invoke this trope by wanting to pick it up for a third season, but FOX prevented that. Comedy Central eventually came to the rescue by securing rerun rights and rerunning it for years. While this didn't revive the show (outside of a brief webisode run), it did keep the series from fading into obscurity and made it a cult hit - earning it an eventual DVD release.

Notes

  1. because CEO Bobby Kotick did not deem them to possess money-printing values
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