While we all have our favorite shows that we love to watch, let’s face it, we often miss the old ones. Some television shows have been more than entertainment, they’ve become a part of who we were. Here are ten shows that, while they have been long cancelled and off the air (well new ones, most popular shows are almost always in syndication or at least available on Netflix), they are still a part of the cultural lexicon. And it’s not just about the random pop culture reference here and there, we use catch phrases from these shows all the time. And those phrases are so popular, they’ re not just in the Urban Dictionary, but in printed dictionaries as well.
But, it’s not just about words. It’s about the characters we see ourselves in. This is especially true of one of the shows on this list. While it only ran for 94 episodes, plus two films and a third rumored, women still ask themselves which of the four main characters they are most like. But it’s not just the ladies; it’s the men who often think they are wise guys, like the cast of another one of the shows on the list. But, their wives and goomas might think differently. There’s one thing all the shows on the list have in common, everyone wishes they were still on the air. We can always hope for spinoffs or reunions, at the very least.
People still won’t shut up about Lost. The show ran on ABC from 2004 to 2010. It was the kind of show you absolutely had to watch from the beginning, or you would be totally lost (no pun intended) in the plot. But, that device built a loyal audience, who is mostly still reeling with disappointment from the anticlimactic ending. While the series was great as a whole, the writers definitely got lost writing that final episode. As for a spin off? Yes, no, maybe. Rumors of one have flooded the Internet for years, but as of now, nothing is confirmed.
Seinfeld ran on NBC from 1989 to 1998, but even in 2015, the show is still culturally significant. From the real Soup Nazi, aka The Original Soupman selling his canned soups at supermarkets nationally, to a still popular Seinfeld tour in New York run by Kenny Kramer, who was the inspiration for the character, this show is still relevant and frequently talked about today. And it goes without saying everyone still uses Seinfeld catch phrases like “not that there’s anything wrong with that,” “sponge worthy,” “real and spectacular,” and “double-dipping.” Who could forget the term “re-gifter?” But, perhaps he biggest question of all is when the show will finally have a reunion?
8. Sex and the City
Sex and the City ran from 1998 to 2004 on HBO, followed up by movies in 2008 and 2010. We can only hope a third movie, even 5 years after the last one, which wasn’t even that good. Carrie Bradshaw is the single every girl, but with a more glamorous job, better boyfriends, killer shoes and a wardrobe that costs more than the GDP of several countries combined. Even today, all single women ask themselves if they are a Carrie, Samantha, Miranda or Charlotte. The show stood the test of time and spoke to women in a way no other show has. Just last week, a reporter ran into Ron Livingston, who played Jack Berger on the show and asked him to pose for a picture with a post-it note. The photo went viral.
So no one told you people would still care about Friends (clap, clap, clap clap, clap). The NBC sitcom ran from 1994 to 2004, but even eleven years later, people still won’t shut up about Rachel and Ross, the quirks of Central Perk and wonder how Monica ever afforded her cool apartment in the West Village (if you don’t remember, it was rent-controlled). While the spinoff Joey wasn’t successful and only lasted for two seasons, everyone is still obsessed with the careers of all the cast members, some of whom have been more successful than others. There’s also not a month that goes by when a cast member isn’t asked about a reunion.
6. Breaking Bad
The only thing bad about Breaking Bad was a word in the title. The show, which ran from 2008 to 2013, came to an end just two years ago, but everyone is still vying for their favorite science teacher turned meth kingpin, Water White. Breaking Bad was shot and took place in New Mexico, which is still benefiting from the show with a popular tour in Albuquerque. The spinoff Better Call Saul, about White’s attorney, is debuting in February this year. And although Water White is dead, a reunion isn’t totally out of the question and the cast has been known to be very generous to its fans. Hopefully, producers won’t meth up and the spinoff will be just as good as its predecessor.
5. The Sopranos
Who knew a mob boss killer with a family and therapist, could be the object of affection for so many viewers? Like Goodfellas and The Godfather trilogy, The Sopranos will live on as a mafia classic. The show not only made the late James Gandolfini’s career, but also the careers of the large supporting cast of wise guys, who have all gone on to play similar characters. For example, Steve Schirripa, who played Bobby Baccalieri, has a line of pasta sauces and has written books based on his goomba character. Although the show ended in 2007, The Sopranos tour is still a popular tourist attraction in New Jersey today.
4. The Wire
The Wire ran on HBO from 2002-2008. This infamous show about the Baltimore drug scene is still referred to as one of the most real depictions of drug life on television. Most of the cast were actually local hires, and real life cops and criminals played versions of themselves. There are websites still dedicated to self-guided Wire tours for Baltimore tourists (but be careful if you take one). Slate recently had a retrospective of the show, with photographs of the locations 7 years later. HBO has also just started to air the show again after a hiatus, hopefully hooking a whole new audience.
3. Freeks & Geeks
Judd Apatow has taken over the universe. But, back in 2000, his show Freaks and Geeks became a cult classic when it was cancelled after just two seasons. Many of the stars of the show, including Seth Rogen, James Franco, Linda Cardellini, Jason Segel and Busy Phillipps, went on to have huge careers working with Apatow in Knocked Up, Pineapple Express and lots of other hit films. 14 years later, after being confronted by Seth Rogen, Garth Ancier, the executive responsible for canceling the show, apologized for his mistake on Facebook saying, “In the writers room at SNL tonight, still taking some mild abuse for canceling Freaks and Geeks 14 years ago… once again, Judd Apatow and cast, sorry!”
The Oprah Effect still lives on. Oprah Winfrey is one of the most successful women in the history of the world (not just television). The Oprah Winfrey Show ran from 1986 to 2011, with 4,561 episodes produced. Oprah went on to start her OWN channel which, while it isn’t as successful as many people, including Oprah has anticipated, it’s only made fans miss the days of her classic show even more. Catch phrases made popular by Winfrey are still used today. “Aha moment,” even made the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary in 2012. Perhaps Oprah will have another aha moment and bring back her old show!
1. Family Guy
So, if you’re wondering why Family Guy is on the list because it’s still on television, you might have forgotten that the show has been cancelled multiple times. It was cancelled after the second season, but then brought back a year later. Then, just after the third season, Fox pulled the plug again. It went on a two year long hiatus, but the network brought Family Guy back after DVD sales and the ratings for the syndicated reruns on Adult Swim went through the roof. New episodes aired three years after the show had been cancelled for the second time. Now, 15 years after the show first aired, it’s still going strong and probably wont be cancelled again any time soon.
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