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A Treatise of Schemes and Tropes This a Useful Notes page. A Treatise of Schemes and Tropes

A subtrope of Vindicated by History that deals specifically with television. Some shows keep going for decades until one can't help coming across an episode of it while flipping through channels. Other shows get only one or two seasons before cancellation, but those one or two seasons are so awesome that eventually someone decides to give them a repeat broadcast ... and that repeat becomes an established tradition of reruns for that particular show. Each passing generation will then give the show an appreciation that it wasn't given in its day.

Sister Trope to Vindicated by Cable.

Contrast Better on DVD, which saves those 15- or 20-season mammoth shows from becoming Deader Than Disco.

Examples of Vindicated by Reruns include:
  • The Honeymooners lasted 39 episodes. Despite Jackie Gleason's status as one of the biggest TV stars of the 1950s, The Honeymooners was one of those concepts which somehow just didn't fly. Now it's one of the most remembered and celebrated sitcoms of its era, with a more prolific rerun history than any other series ever broadcast.
  • The Addams Family faced heavy competition from The Munsters, suffered in the Nielsen ratings, and was cancelled at the end of its second season. Before too long, however, reruns propelled Addams Family into its current status as a pop culture phenomenon, surpassing Munsters in its appeal to modern audiences.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series lasted three seasons. (Five had been planned and were integral to the show's concept.) It was a modest ratings success until NBC developed the habit of switching its timeslot around. Eventually in the third season, Trek lost its audience and NBC cancelled the show in 1969. An immense fandom emerged not too long afterwards, demanding the return of Trek to the airwaves. It did, and in time was joined by an animated series, four spin-off series and no fewer than 11 theatrical feature films.
  • Police Squad! aired 6 episodes before ABC cancelled it for "requiring the viewer to pay too much attention" ... Those 6 episodes survived a brief period of obscurity and became extremely well-regarded in VHS/DVD release for their zany, unpredictable comedy.
  • Twin Peaks gained notoriety in the press for being the most thought-provoking (to say the least) detective series on TV, but failed to gain a strong audience during its 2-season run. Like many of David Lynch s works, it has gradually carved itself a place in history.
  • News Radio was jerked around by NBC basically being subjected to every trick in the book except for the Friday Night Death Slot until it was finally cancelled in 1999 due to the drop in quality due to the untimely death of Phil Hartman who was one of the most important characters on the show. Through syndication, however, it was discovered by others and now is regarded as the great TV show it really was.
  • My So-Called Life.
  • Judd Apatow struggled to find an audience with two TV classics before jumping to the movies and hitting the jackpot.
    • Freaks and Geeks, the teen sitcom which starred James Franco and Seth Rogen and in time became a syndication favorite, alienated critics and was a ratings flop in its initial airings in 1999.
    • Undeclared.
  • Some more recent shows picking up a posthumous fanbase in syndication:
  • The Three Stooges are a rare example of this trope not to originate on television itself. When the Stooges' short films first appeared as curtain-raisers to full-length features by Columbia, they were regarded as little more than a second-rate slapstick sideshow. However, when these short films began appearing on TV in the late 1950s, the Stooges became legendary.
  • A fair number of Looney Tunes animated shorts that weren't fully appreciated in their original big-screen showings were kept alive with the advent of The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show, and obscure characters such as Tasmanian Devil and Michigan J. Frog have joined Bugs and Daffy as comedy legends.
  • Party Down was not a major success in the ratings (due to it being an early foray into scripted series by Starz) but managed to become a huge success on Netflix Instant Viewing and got star Adam Scott a lot of notice for his performance. A third season was considered due to the cult success but Starz forgot to renew the cast's contracts in time, leading production to cease. A movie is in the works though.
  • WKRP in Cincinnati used to be the unwanted child of MTM Productions to the point where Mary Tyler Moore herself said publicly that she wouldn't watch it and the CBS kept moving it around the schedule so much that the series only lasted four seasons. However, in syndication, it grew to be considered one of the great Sitcoms of all time.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam performed so badly the first time around that the series was initially cut down to 39 episodes, only to be brought up to 43 to wrap up the series. When it was shown in reruns, the show became a hit (combined with model sells), giving a greenlight for a movie. When the movie became a hit, the rest is history.
  • Clerks the Animated Series- grossly mismanaged by ABC, only 2 episodes ran (and not even in proper order). Runs on Comedy Central and [adult swim], plus a fairly thorough DVD, have made it a Cult Classic.
  • Sherwood Schwartz is very grateful for this trope, as daily syndication took two of his first-run flops (Gilligans Island and The Brady Bunch) and made them unlikely cultural touchstones for a generation.
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