The long-lost American commercials for Banjo-Kazooie, Secret of Mana, and Jet Set Radio Future have been recovered on YouTube after years of people searching for them (heck, some people didn't even know that JSRF had an American ad). Banjo-Kazooie took 14 years to be recovered (aired in 1998, uploaded to the internet in 2012), Secret of Mana took 17 years (aired in 1993, recovered in 2010 from a French VHS that had French subtitles), and JSRF took 9 years (aired in 2002, recovered in 2011). View each commercial below:
The English-language version of The Mysterious Cities of Gold was believed to have been lost after the dubbing studio went bankrupt. However, DVD editions of the entire collection were finally released in 2008, and the whole show is currently streamed on Netflix instant.
It was announced that the Revolutionary Girl Utena series will be released by The Right Stuf International - through Nozomi Entertainment - across three DVD sets (using the show's remastered Region 2 DVD release as the video base), as well as the movie.
In Australia, Madman Entertainment successfully licensed the Digimon Adventure dub and put out a pair of boxsets constituting the series' complete run. No word on whether they'll follow up on any of the other Digimon series currently lacking full dub releases, nor on any such thing for the rest of the world.
They're YTV's copies, featuring a logo on the openings. 'Sly', an executive at Madman, said this was the best quality one available to them. They don't seem to be missing any scenes, but what happened to the clean originals?
And to solidify Adventure's rescue, both Adventure and Adventure 02 are on Netflix, in both English and Japanese.
As of May 2014, Tamers has been added as well.
For the longest time, only half of Samurai Pizza Cats was available on a hard-to-find DVD box set. This box set had a good 26 episodes (most series only run that long), but the second season had some of the funniest episodes of the series. There was also almost no merchandise in the US. Cue frustrated fanbase. Until Discotek announced the license of both the dub and original version in two complete box setsnote 52 for the dub, 54 for the sub which includes the two clip episodes. Cue happy fanbase. (Even moreso after since the below Power Rangers announcement came the same day.)
The anime version of Bobobo Bo Bobobo experienced this when it had a one-run on Toonami in 2005, and only two DVD sets were released in the states. The company that was distributing them went under rather quickly and without notice. But in 2012, S'more Entertainment officially released the anime in two box sets (divided into 38 episodes each) in the states.
Gundam Unicorn is now no longer the only title to be rescued. Sunrise has made a deal with Right Stuf to distribute almost all other Gundam titles, including the original Mobile Suit Gundam. This deal also includes unreleased titles, meaning that Turn A Gundam will finally be getting a long-awaited U.S. release.
Yoroiden Samurai Troopers, better known as the Toonami-classic Ronin Warriors, was picked up by Discotek Media, along with the OVAs. Unfortunately, they currently only have plans for the japanese dub of the anime due to issues that need to be cleared first (though the OVA will have its own english dub included).
Funimation also managed to license Eureka Seven, another one of Bandai Entertainment's non-Sunrise shows (this one in particular was made by Studio Bones). Not surprising, considering that Funimation has previously released its sequel series.
IGPX, an original series co-produced by Production I.G and Toonami, initially had its DVD release handled by Bandai Entertainment and, like many other Bandai shows listed here, went under when Bandai halted production. To add insult to injury, Cartoon Network wrote the show off as a financial failure, which prevented it from ever airing on the channel again. It was sort of rescued when Toonami was able to take advantage of the complex structure of its production deal and "un-write off" the show, allowing them to air reruns on the revived Toonami on [adult swim]. The show was then definitively rescued when Discotek Media announced that they managed to license it for a 2015 DVD rerelease.
New Video Group, the same company who is currently responsible for rescuing and distributing the Digimon series, is now also rereleasing the Yu-Gi-Oh! Classic series on DVD, in bothvolumes and season sets.
Dragon Ball Z is probably the last thing you'd expect to see on anything related to the Keep Circulating the Tapes trope, since Funimation has released and rereleased the series so many times that you can fill an entire shelf with the series alone. However, their latest rerelease deserves a mention. Named Dragon Ball Z: Rock the Dragon Edition, it's a DVD release of the original 1996 Ocean dub that was co-produced by Funimation and Saban Entertainment and never received a release until now, containing the 53 episodes (comprising the Saiyan Saga and the Namek Saga) and the three movies that were dubbed and broadcasted on Toonami before Funimation completely took over and made their own dub from scratch.
Although, want to watch the series in Japanese, and in its original screen format? Too bad, because FUNi has only delivered a consistent release of the entire series that satisfies these demands precisely once; The Dragon Box sets, which were a limited release and are long since out of print. (The old single-DVDs were uncut and bilingual starting with the Captain Ginyu-episodes, but that still left sixty-odd episodes that were only available in edited format. The "Ultimate Uncut" line was set to fill this gap, but it was cancelled after only releasing 21 episodes.) The only readily available version of the series is FUNi's "remastered" season-sets, which are cropped to 16:9 and have gone through excessive filtering to get rid of the (quite prominent) grain on the footage, and as a result have suffered considerable detail loss. The more recent Blu-ray-releases are an improvement over the DVD-sets, but even they do not offer anything even close to what the show originally looked like.
Transformers Armada, the first part of the Unicron Trilogy, aired on Toonami back in the early 2000s and received several DVD releases from Rhino Home Video. Said releases have unfortunately gone out of print, but recently, Amazon has added a pre-order page for a DVD rerelease of the complete series. The distributor, according to a couplearticles commenting on the subject, is Gaiams Americas, who provides most of the distribution for Shout! Factory, who currently handle most of the recent Transformers DVD releases.
The second installment in the Unicron Trilogy, Transformers Energon is also set for a DVD rerelease from Shout! Factory. Much like its predecessor, it too was given a release by Rhino Home Video, which eventually went out of print. Hopefully, this means that the third and final installment, Transformers Cybertron, will get the rerelease treatment as well.
After over 10 years of the first four seasons being out of print and the final season not being licensed at all, Viz Media announced the rescue of the original Sailor Moon anime at Anime Central 2014, with plans for a DVD and Blu-Ray rerelease featuring an all-new uncut English dub, and a streaming run on Neon Alley and Hulu.
Although Viz has decidedly made this rerelease US-only. The series remains completely out in the Arctic cold in Canada.
The English dub of the Japanese puppet series Star Fleet (or X-Bomber as it's known in Japan) for many years was only accessible from fan circulation. The entire Japanese dub had been released to laserdisc in the 90's and DVD in the early 2000's, the English version mostly disappeared after syndication ended in the late 80's/early 90's. The circulation mostly relied on tapes released in the 80's in the UK and US (where the show never even aired). All these tapes were cut up, losing much of its material to be made into hour-long episodes in the US or in the UK's case, the compilation films "The Thalian Space Wars" and "Space Quest for F-01"; which were greatly incoherent, cramming much of the series' story arc into a single hour and a half. The tapes in the US were usually the go to as they suffered less cuts, spanning the entire series, although with the 24 episode combined into 8 compilation tapes. In 2009, Fantastic Films released the first DVD release of the English series with all the episodes intact from their analog broadcast masters.
The Marvel/Miracleman comic was long considered to be inextricably Screwed by the Lawyers, due to notoriously complex legal wrangling between multiple camps over the rights to the characters and stories. The rights were acquired by Marvel in 2009, but only for the original 1950s/1960s Marvelman stories, the scripts from the Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman stories, and the rights to use the characters in new stories. While this meant that the Gaiman stories could be reprinted, Neil's run completed, and new Marvelman stories published, the Moore stories were still off-limits due to Marvel having to renegotiate with the artists, and a reprint without the Moore stories was considered infeasible since they were the ones that most people wanted to see. Marvel finally managed to come to an agreement with the artists and start releasing the Moore run, initially in serial comics form, in 2014. However, Moore refused to allow his name to be used on the comics, causing him to be credited only as 'The Original Writer'. According to Moore, this was because he had come to believe that the originalMarvelman creator Mick Anglo had been cheated out of his rights, and that it had been wrong for Moore to write about the character.
Flex Mentallo was originally introduced in an issue of Doom Patrol as a parody of the well-known "Insult That Made a Man out of Mac" comic-strip bodybuilding ads by Charles Atlas. Later on, in 1996, he got a mini-series of his own, written by his creator Grant Morrison and drawn by Frank Quitely. Some time after the mini-series came out someone (reportedly a fan who thought they'd be flattered) informed the Charles Atlas company about Flex, and they promptly sued DC (the publisher of Doom Patrol and Flex Mentallo) for trademark infringement. Since Flex, as an obvious parody, was legally considered to be a case of Fair Use, the lawsuit was settled in favour of DC. However, even though the creative team of Morrison and Quitely later released some critically praised and popular series (All-Star Superman being the best known of them), DC took many years to collect the Flex Mentallo mini. The origin story of Flex (where the Charles Atlas connection is much more obvious than in the mini-series) was actually collected in a 2006 Doom Patrol trade paperback, so clearly there was no remaining legal obstacle, but it took until April 2012 for the mini-series to be collected.. Only 16 years after it originally came out.
The legal problems over Flex are probably why it took until the mid-2000s for the Morrison Doom Patrol run itself to get a proper trade paperback series, despite its high reputation.
IDW has scored the reprint rights to the original Mirage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and has begun putting out definitive collections: five-six hardcovers that collect the core "canon" of the series (the issues that Laird and Eastman did together) and a softcover line for the filler stories done by other creators in TMNT #15-18, 22-44).
The Sam & Max comic collection, Surfin' The Highway, was printed in 1995 and went out of print. For years second hand copies were going for a substantial amount of money. However, in 2008, with the success of Telltale's Sam & Max games, the company was able to rerelease it. As Steve Purcell works for Telltale, the rerelease was greatly expanded.
Suicide Squad, a popular late-1980s series which had super-villains being sent on black-ops missions in exchange for a full pardon for their crimes, remains uncollected and plans for a black-and-white Showcase Presents reprint were scuttled by issues involving royalty rates for DC Comics published from 1976-96. These royalty rates also have screwed other Showcase titles such as Jonah Hex (Volume 2 can't be released because the issues that would be collected would contain issues published in this timeframe) and scuttled plans for Showcase volumes collecting "Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew" and "Who's Who in the DC Universe".
More specifically, DC royalty rates from this time period were for a fixed amount rather than a percentage of the cover price. Showcase Presents reprints a lot of issues at a low cover price, and the fixed amounts would make it unprofitable, so DC has to renegotiate everything.
While a color TPB ultimately DID come out for the first nine issues, the second volume (effectively collecting everything in the aborted Showcase Presents volume) was cancelled a week before it was to come out and DC basically once again shelved the series.
The series has finally been completely re-released digitally. It's not a printed edition, but it's at last available.
Several studios, such as MGM, Universal and Warner Bros. , have established "Archive Series" or "Vault Series" to release burn-on-demand DVD-Rs of older movies and television shows that aren't cost-effective to put out as regular releases but for which there is demand among old-film aficionados and fans of various actors, actresses and directors involved with said shows. Two examples: the 1979 Peter Sellers version of The Prisoner of Zenda and the 1977 Marty Feldman/Ann-Margret spoof The Last Remake of Beau Geste are available through Universal's "Vault Series". (These releases most often are on DVD-Rs which some drives may have problems with, but nowadays unless you have a cheaper brand dvd player you shouldn't have a problem)
The delay of the DVD release of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension is one of the strangest stories in the industry. Producer David Begelman made a shady career for himself as an executive at several major Hollywood studios, including Columbia Pictures and MGM. During this period, he was the target of multiple lawsuits and criminal prosecutions for embezzlement and fraud (including a notorious check-forging scandal that exploded after actor Cliff Robertson discovered that fake checks had been made out in his name, which eventually led to Begelman's being fired from United Artists), and successfully blackmailed Judy Garland with illicitly obtained medical photos. After being fired from those studios, he ran an independent company, Sherwood Productions, where he backed Buckaroo Banzai. Due to some legal chicanery, he ended up the sole owner of the rights to the film, and because of a falling-out with the writer and director over financial issues, refused to allow any further use of the property. This included blocking a planned television series, a sequel film, and the later DVD release. During this time, Laserdisc copies of the film were selling for well over $100. It took Begelman's bankruptcy and subsequent suicide for the rights to devolve to his largest creditor, Crédit Lyonnais bank, and then to Polygram Entertainment where executive Steve Gelber (a Banzai fan) pushed for a DVD release; it was finally released in 2002 under MGM's distribution. Begelman's obfuscatory and legally-questionable bookkeeping practices continue to prevent any further development of the Banzai property — such as the long-awaited sequel, or a soundtrack album — as no one is really sure who owns the various rights involved.
TRON lapsed into this after its 20th anniversary DVD release went out-of print several years ago. In 2010, when the sequel TRON: Legacy hit theaters, the film was reaching prices of up to $215 on Amazon, and even Netflix was having availability problems (the lack of re-release at such a propicious time was questioned, raisedtheories, and boosted piracy). But at least it got a re-release, on both DVD and Blu-Ray, when Legacy hit shelves in 2011.
Due to rights problems (including song copyrights), Hellzapoppin has never been released on VHS or DVD in America. It did get a UK DVD release in 2007, though.
For nearly 20 years, a copy of Johnny Got His Gun was fairly difficult to acquire. Why? Well, Metallica wanted to use footage from the movie for their video of "One" back in 1988, and found it simpler to just purchase all the rights to the movie...and then do nothing with it. Only in 2009 was a DVD release made.
Nosferatu was like this for a long time due to claims from the Stoker Estate. Both are now in the public domain, ending the dispute.
It's worth noting that because of the dispute, all copies of the film were ordered to be destroyed; were it not for those dedicated bootleggers, the film would not have survived at all. To those collectors and reprinters, wherever you may be — the fans and historians of the world salute you.
Moonwalker didn't get a Region 1 re-release for a long time, for obvious reasons. It was finally released internationally on Blu-Ray in 2010, albeit with some of the violence in the "Smooth Criminal" segment trimmed.
The underrated 1981 made-for-TV thriller Dark Night of the Scarecrow, having only been released on VHS in the mid-1980s, was finally released on DVD in September of 2010.
Similarly, the widely panned 1962 remake of State Fair just barely beat Flower Drum Song to DVD. It did not receive a release until 2005, when its predecessor turned 60.
The 1995 teen comedy Angus was a title demanded by fans to be released on DVD since the format's inception. It was finally released as a launch title for the Warner Archive in 2009.
The 1980 PBS made-for-TV adaption of The Lathe of Heaven was unavailable after the rights expired in 1988. A DVD was finally released in 2000, albeit with a cover version of The Beatles song used in the original.
The Legend of Billie Jean spent years in release limbo with no shot of ever getting a DVD release, despite massive fan demand. It was finally released in November 2011 through Sony Classics On Demand with an audio commentary.
Static, the first feature-length film by One Hour Photo writer/director Mark Romanek, saw its theatrical debut in 1985. Was not made available on DVD despite a fairly strong cult following; and the existence of VHS and Laserdisc versions; both becoming increasingly difficult to find in good condition. Word of God was that, while Romanek didn't view it as an Old Shame, he considered it an inferior sophomore effort (if he acknowledged it at all), and therefore not worth re-releasing. Romanek eventually relented, and it was officially released on DVD by Telavista in 2007.
The 1927 classic, Wings was announced for release in 2011 on DVD and Blu-Ray by Paramount. Before this announcement, it had been the only film that has won best picture at the Oscars that hadn't been released on DVD.
The original widescreen version of West Side Story inexplicably disappeared from DVD shelves in the mid-2000s. All the DVDs produced during the remainder of the decade presented the movie in Pan and Scan, although movie boxsets contained the uncropped version. Widescreen DVDs finally became available again in 2011, in honor of the movie's 50th anniversary.
The African Queen only got a DVD release in 2010, as both the rights to the film jumped from hand to hand and the original negatives for restoration were hard to find.
ET The Extraterrestrial came to DVD in 2002 with the 20th Anniversary Edition included on Disc One, and the original version included on Disc Two. A while later, Universal stopped selling this DVD with the second disc, making the original ET a rarity. In 2012, Universal announced that they will finally start selling the original ET again, on Blu-Ray and DVD. Interestingly, this release will not include the 20th Anniversary Edition, turning it into a rarity. (Although no one seems to mind as much.)
Electric Dreams, starring Lenny Von Dolen, Virginia Madsen, and Bud Cort. It's a love triangle between a man, a woman, and a computer. Made in 1984, the VHS copies of this movie (all of which are apparently former rentals) cost enough to buy a supercomputer. There's only one discernable reason given why this movie remained out of print until 2009 (but even then only released in Region 2): they thought nobody would buy it (well, we didn't say it was a bad reason).
For 28 years, the only way that you could see the film White Dog was through the occasional repertory screening or a bootleg copy taken from the few television airings of the film. Until 2010, when The Criterion Collection came to the rescue and released a DVD.
The 1977 nuclear-war thriller Twilight's Last Gleaming was in DVD release limbo for years after numerous announcements followed by cancellations from former rights holder Warner Bros. In 2012, Olive Films released it on DVD and Bluray, making a legal DVD copy now possible.
Alfred Hitchcock pulled Vertigo, The Man Who Knew Too Much (the remake), The Trouble with Harry, Rear Window, and Rope from legal circulation starting in the 1970s. Fans turned to the black market to watch them, unless Hitchcock's estate managed to destroy the distributor's print. Rear Window and Vertigo became especially valuable. After Hitchcock died, Universal bought distribution rights to these movies, and then gave each a long-awaited theatrical re-release. They also give them official home video releases on several formats.
The Vanilla Ice starring camp classic Cool as Ice was given a DVD release in 2011 after much fan demand (along with people wanting to see if it was that bad).
The Iron Petticoat, a 1950s film featuring the only on-screen performance of Bob Hope with Katharine Hepburn, was suppressed by Hope shortly after its original theatrical release, as he had bad memories of the making of the film, including fights between him and writer Ben Hecht (Hope insisted on having him and his gag writers write schtick for the movie, and Hecht resisted.) Hope had ended up with all rights to the movie, and sat on it for the rest of his life. It was only in 2012 that his estate relented and allowed the film to be released on Blu-Ray and for TV broadcast.
At Long Last Love is a legendarily awful 1975 musical starring Burt Reynolds and Cybill Shepherd. The movie was so hated that director Peter Bogdanovich took out ads in several newspapers throughout the country, apologizing for the film and saw to it that the movie was never released on video in any format. Bootlegs were hard to find but did exist, and those who saw them can't seem to agree if the flick is So Bad, It's Good or just unwatchably awful. (There was no lip-synching — the actors had to sing while filming. And these actors weren't known for their singing.) This film is of historical interest regardless; aside from the star power, Bogdanovich was one of the great auteur directors (he did The Last Picture Show). Eventually it surfaced legally on Fox Movie Channel from time to time, then appeared on Netflix Instant for a while, and finally got a Blu-Ray release in 2013.
After its original theatrical release, Its A Mad Mad Mad Mad World had its Intermission dropped and was cut to 159 minutes for worldwide distribution with the edited footage discarded. Some of the discarded film was eventually found in an abandoned warehouse, and roughly 20 minutes of footage were re-edited back into place for the VHS release. The movie couldn't be digitally converted with the extra footage — which was still in 70mm format — so DVD releases used only the general release 159-minute cut, at most using some of the cut scenes as bonus features. But in 2014, The Criterion Collection brought out a set with both the general release version and a 197-minute cut that incorporates the surviving cut material.
The films of Alejandro Jodorowsky were unavailable for many years due to a bad partnership Jodorowsky had with manager and producer Allen Klein. For years fans had to circulate bootlegs. This changed in 2007, when El Topo and The Holy Mountain became widely available for the first time on DVD.
Considered to be a forefront for the Disaster Movie genre, The High and the Mighty, starring John Wayne, was in this trope for a couple of decades. After a decade-long string of television repeats, it was stricken off the airwaves in 1985 due to multiple royalty issues and a constantly delayed restoration due to years sitting in the vault surviving water damage and having one copy of the movie lost, making a near pristine restoration of the film nearly impossible. After a year of remastering and an extra three months to correct audio issues, the fully restored and remastered film finally made a rebroadcast on AMC on July 2005, 20 years since its most recent showing on television, and a DVD release followed just a month later.
For a long time Sir Terry Pratchett's first novel, The Carpet People, was out of print and almost impossible to find second hand due to a tiny original print run. However, eventually his publishers got so fed up of having to tell people there was no demand for it that it was reissued. Technically, it was reissued as a new Author's Cut, since Pratchett wanted to fix a lot about the novel. So you can read the special edition, but good luck finding the original.
Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute has previously not been released in the States because of issues with the publishers. But as of 2012 it is scheduled to be released sometime in 2013.
For over a century, James Scarth Gale's account as a missionary of an early 20th century Korea, The Vanguard: A Tale of Korea, was only available in its original 1900s printing. But in 2013, a Korean publisher created a modernized and bilingual (Korean and English) edition for sale in Christian bookstores, making this almost forgotten and historically important work available for purchase again.
While many English versions of Jules Verne's more obscure books are only available in their original century-old prints, one such book, Sans dessus dessous (literally "Topsy-Turvy") was retranslated and republished in 2012 as The Earth Turned Upside Down. As an added bonus, the new translation is much better than the original English one, which, as with other English versions of Verne's books from the time, was reviled by scholars and the knowledgable public for its low quality.
Only three first-edition copies still exist; for nearly half a millennium, these copies have passed from person to person through Europe. But there are many later copies, and the book is still in print (you can find it on Amazon.com).
The Myth-O-Mania books went out of print in the mid-2000s, but re-appeared in 2011 with a different publisher, updated covers, and even some new stories.
As with movies, several studios now make various TV miniseries for which there's not enough demand in the market at large to justify regular release but which are of interest to fans and collectors available through their burn-on-demand DVD archive series.
The Adventures of Pete & Pete got around this by replacing any protested music cues with clips from their house band Polaris on the DVDs. Unfortunately, the "Nick Rewind" DVD series was discontinued (after it was designed, but) before the last season set was released.
However, the fact that most of the music was independently owned and the musicians involved enjoyed working on the show makes it so that the number of replaced music cues can be counted on one hand.
American Gothic was one of the most campaigned-for shows for a while, until it was finally released on DVD in 2005 (R1) and 2006 (R2).
Ally McBeal fans in the United States either had to trade tapes, import the British DVD series set from the UK, or be content with a five-episode "Best Of Season 1" compilation for many years because of a flop of a syndication deal where FX took a nearly $2 Million bath every time they aired an episode (they stopped after two years and nobody else dared to air it again), and the sheer fact that all the music rights used on the show were not negotiated at all before the rise of TV on DVD, not to mention that Vonda Shepard would be looking at quite the sweet DVD royalty check for being the house singer on the show. Thankfully, the long wait was worth it — in October 2009, Fox released the full series in a Region 1 box set with no music cuts whatsoever.
The circumstances surrounding the holdup of the 1960s Batman TV show were numerous, even compared to other works. The prints of the series are owned by 20th Century Fox, but the characters are owned by DC Comics, which is owned by competitor Time Warner. Fox went to court in 2008 to battle Warner Bros. . regarding rights issues with the then-unreleased Watchmen adaptation, of which the acquisition of the rights to the Batman series was a key sticking point. Even besides that, there were still many other factors. This includes clearance rights for the cameos in each episode (some of which were fictional characters from other shows like Lurch and Colonel Klink), music rights, writers' residuals, a prior lawsuit that was filed by the Dozier estate (of Charles Dozier, the creator of the series) for residuals, and copyrighted designs that were unique to the series. Things had gotten so bad that Adam West basically said "screw it" and gathered up the remaining living writers, producers, and actors in order to produce his own Behind-The-Scenes DVDs about the series in the form of roundtable discussions of each two-part episode; before that, another company issued Batmania, a 2-DVD set featuring screen test footage, interviews and other content that can only be described as "DVD box set bonus features, without the box set". Ultimately, WB managed to clear the rights for a home video release in 2014... just in time for Batman's 75th anniversary!
Bill Nye the Science Guy is now available on a number of DVDs, but as they are classroom-licensed releases they cost $25 or $30 for one thirty-minute episode. Those looking to save money ought to check their public library for these.
Boy Meets World's third season sold worse than expected on DVD, leading Buena Vista to indefinitely delay later seasons. Fortunately, Lionsgate acquired DVD rights, and managed to release the whole series.
The Belgian TV show Buiten De Zone was finally released on DVD in 2010, after the last of the music negotiations (over the music from Twin Peaks) had concluded. The show, which ran for 2 seasons starting in 1994, still has a huge fan following and has achieved a cult status in Flanders. Bart de Pauw, one of the creators, was a soundtrack buff and used music from hundreds of films like James Bond, Aladdin, Indiana Jones, and even Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Acquiring all 380 (!) music licenses while keeping the price at a reasonable level was a huge undertaking.
1987 - Present British BBC kids show Chuckle Vision suffered this as due to a bad schedule episodes over 20 minutes were not shown after 2004, but Barry Elliot anounced the BBC picked it up for a DVD release.
Crime Story has been released, but with knock-off tunes in place of the original early-1960s pop numbers underscoring the action. It just isn't the same.
The civil rights documentary miniseries Eyes on the Prize was once unavailable on DVD because it includes a lot of music and film footage that was licensed only for a limited time. The license was renewed in 2006, thanks to additional funding from the Ford Foundation. The funding to remaster and rebroadcast the series for PBS came with the stipulation that the DVD release be available for purchase only to schools and libraries, not individuals. However, as of 2010, it is now available to the general public for purchase on the PBS website.
The Eyewitness educational video series of The Nineties was once only available on DVD via obscenely-expensive copies from teachers' sites; one had to hope that they might be available in a local public library collection for checking out. But episodes have since been made available at a lower price point through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, etc.
Family Matters qualified for this for almost a decade until they finally released the first season on DVD. A second season was released in February 2012, more than two years after the first season was issued, giving hope to fans that the remaining seven seasons will eventually be released.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air got Seasons 1-4 (of six) out on DVD, then got stalled...by music rights for the last two seasons. When it originally got made, the amount of licensed songs used was relatively small, but increased during the course of its run. As Warner cleared music rights, fans ended up having to wait six years for a fifth season DVD, and 11 more months for the last season.
In the early 1980s, ABC had a late-night sketch show called Fridays that was meant to rake in the same success that NBC had with Saturday Night Live. When it first premiered, it got flak for being a shrill, unfunny clone of SNL, but when SNL hit the wall in the early 1980s due to bad writing, a mediocre new cast, and the incompetence of new showrunner, Jean Doumanian, Fridays was revered as the new, edgy sketch show with a crazy young cast of comedians and a lot of new sketch ideas not even SNL would think to do (to name a few: a Bob Hope/Bing Crosby "Road To..." movie that takes place in an El Salvadoran torture chambernote with a catchy, yet Anvilicious song about how the American government set up their relations with El Salvador so that way Reagan can instigate another Vietnam War, a sketch about a human couple dining at a restaurant catering to zombies, a variety show starring ultra-conservative televangelists, a Marx Brothers-esque take on the Iranian revolution, and a 17-minute Rocky Horror Picture Show parody that mocked Ronald Reagan's inaugaration). Naturally, ABC at the time felt this was all inappropriate and confusing, so a lot of sketches got cut in reruns, the show was moved to midnight from its cushy 11:30 spot and ratings dropped. After an unsuccessful stint as a primetime sketch show, Fridays was canned. It did air Edited for Syndication in the 1980s on the cable channel USA, but those reruns were gone just as quickly as they premiered. Home video and DVD release was impossible as Larry David and Michael Richards refused to sign for it, and the only way for people to see Fridays was either on the videos they taped the episodes on in the early 1980s or seeing clips of sketches on YouTube. Now it's 2013, and Shout! Factoryhas finally saved Fridays from obscurity by releasing it on DVD.
Fans of The Glass House had to make do with the DVD that only contained the 2002 best-of episode and the six "Double Glazed" specials and the (very) early morning reruns of Seasons 8 and 9 in 2009-10, as the ABC did not have the rights to replay earlier episodes and did not say if full seasons would ever be released. The first five seasons (spanning 2001-2002) have been released in full on the iTunes Store, but the ABC currently have no plans to release seasons 6-9 in any form.
F/X: The Series skipped the VHS format altogether and finally landed on DVD after 15 years, much to the relief of fans who pleaded with its production company to release the two seasons of the show.
Happy Days: Slowly but surely for the first four seasons. The first season was issued in 2004, and it was nearly three years before Season 2 was released. Seasons 3 and 4 were issued during the next 18 months, but nothing since December 2008. Music licensing, slow sales ... no official word has been given as to what the hold up is for the remaining seven years.
And Shandling's follow-up, The Larry Sanders Show, had all its seasons released in Fall 2010 after its post-Season 1 run was in release limbo due to a dispute between Shandling and Brad Grey, his former manger and producer of the program.
From Sweden is the show Kenny Starfighter, a big cult classic over here. There was a VHS release in 1997 when it came out, but had major rights problems. It wasn't until 2006, before the movie came out, that the show did eventually see a DVD release.
La Femme Nikita: Season 2 was released and then unreleased, pulled from store shelves, when one of the featured bands demanded more money for the use of their song. Instead, the song was replaced, the DVDs re-released and they got nothing.
Little Muppet Monsters was like this for over 20 years. Beyond the first episode, Muppet fans had no way to gain copies of the three aired episodes. In 2008, a Muppet fan came forward saying he had all three episodes that aired on CBS. He made copies for the Muppet fan community and they are now very easy to find.
All seasons and episodes of Malcolm in the Middle have been recovered on Netflix. However, there have still been no DVD releases of the show except for Season 1.
Mamas Family initially had only a Season One box set with edited, syndicated versions of its episodes to its name, but it received a full-series, uncut DVD release in Fall 2013 via StarVista Entertainment. However, music rights issues still resulted in some scenes being edited or cut completely—most notably, Vicki Lawrence and Imogene Coca's duet of "Ain't Misbehavin'" in the episode "Gert Rides Again" and Vicki's performance of "Harper Days" (to the tune of "Happy Days are Here Again") in "Mama For Mayor."
The Mary Tyler Moore Show had Season 1 put on DVD in 2002. Thanks to disappointing sales of that set, it took three years for Season 2 to be released, and it ultimately took eight years to get all seven seasons on DVD.
Max Headroom suffered this in part. Although the original TV movie was released on DVD, the subsequent two-season series had not been, and was only partially available in edited form on VHS and Japanese Laserdisc releases. Despite the existence of a substantial online market in bootleg compilations, a DVD release was not available until Shout! Factory released the full series in 2010.
The Shout DVDs include the American TV series, but not the original TV movie. Granted, the pilot is a condensed version of that film, but....
Music rights are also the reason it took forever for Miami Vice to get a video release (the DVDs were first — it never got analog video releases), and why there were lengthy delays between each season's box set. Still, the episodes were completely unabridged...well, save for a sequence cut from the Season 4 episode "By Hooker, By Crook" because it was deemed to be excessively disturbing. It showed a prostitute being tied up and murdered while Crockett has sex with another woman.
In an interesting case, however, while you can now find most episodes online (completely legally, through Hulu and Netflix), there are one or two episodes that are withheld from the internet for apparent rights issues.
The short-lived Nickelodeon sitcom My Brother And Me. After years of circulating the tapes, at least three episodes aired on The 90s Are All That in early 2014...and then the complete series became available as an Amazon MOD title that June.
A slightly different issue arose for My So-Called Life: It wasn't that there wasn't a DVD released for it; it was that it was so rare that the cost to buy it was prohibitive (there were sets for $200 on eBay). Luckily, a new DVD release came out, which dropped the price from prohibitive to merely expensive.
The Name of the Game. Season 1 of the late 60's anthology series with Gene Barry, Tony Franciosa, and Robert Stack has an August 2014 release date.
They also made sure to release current series on DVD via Lionsgate ensuring that this doesn't happen again for the time being, however this is almost played straight with Super Samurai's Halloween episode, Trickster Treat which is only available on Shout factories expensive Limited edition note This was limited to 2000 sets sold for $650 and only open to Orders in the US and Canada. However as of this writing (July 2014) there are still sets available and for international shipping as well, and reduced to the price of $500.. Legacy set.
Before Anchor Bay released the eight episodes of Profit onto DVD—four of which hadn't even seen broadcast in the USA—the show's creator circulated the tapes/DVDs himself!
And the Anchor Bay set is now out of print so fans are still having to circulate the tapes.
Red Dwarf took so long to appear on DVD that Buffy the Vampire Slayer made jokes about it (although a two-series-a-year blast from 2002 resolved that one eventually).
Buffy itself was out in Region 2 long before Region 1 got a release.
It took until 2010 for The Red Green Show to get a DVD release. Before then, the only consolation was a 48-episode Stuffed & Mounted set with scattered episodes from the first ten seasons (except 2). Keep in mind the show ran from 1991 to 2006.
The full run of Remington Steele has been released, albeit with many edits to the soundtrack, most noticeably in the episodes "Steele Trying" (in which the entire soundtrack of Tony Bennett songs has been replaced) and "Steele on the Air" (in which Laura Holt is seen driving and singing along to the radio; Laura is singing "Girls Just Want to Have Fun", but the radio is playing something else).
Small Wonder: Shout! Factory released Season 1 to retail stores on Region 1 DVD in February 2010. Season 2 was released directly to fans in June 2010.
Reruns of Soul Train started in November 2009 on BET's rebranded Centric network, with DVD sets available from Time-Life. Selected segments are also available through Comcast On-Demand.
The State had been released on iTunes, but all of the music had to be pulled for rights issues. Most of it was replaced with just close enough soundalikes, but on at least one sketch all of the audio had to be completely redone due to the lack of original masters, using looped actors' dialogue, fake Marvin Gaye music, and canned laughter.
(Eventually) averted. Viacom finally got all the rights to every episode settled (mostly by replacing the original music)... and then decided not to release it on DVD anyway. Thankfully, campaigning by the show's stars managed to convince them otherwise, and a complete series box set is now available. Only one short segment had to be cut because characters were singing a Pearl Jam song that could not be cleared. Still, at least it got here before Daria.
After years of being forgotten in its (small) fanbase's memory, Van Pires of all series actually got a DVD release in 2007.
The first season of the 80's War of the Worlds TV series was only released on DVD after 15 years of waiting and pleading by its small fanbase. It took another five years to get the second (and final season) on the format as well. Talk about a long wait!
Witchblade, released but with music rights problems.
In February 2011, The Paley Center for Media in New York, NY announced that it had received a verified copy of the CBS broadcast of Super Bowl I, donated to the Center in exchange for having it restored and archived. It was thought that there were no existing copies of either the CBS or NBC broadcastnote At the time, CBS had the NFL broadcast rights and NBC had the AFL rights.. The owner reportedly offered the tape directly to the NFL: they first tried to assert its exclusive copyright to claim the tape, then offered $30,000 for the tape (most experts say the tape is worth at least $1 million). It's assumed it is only a matter of time before the tape (which is missing a chunk of the third quarter and the entire halftime) is broadcast publicly.
Until the end of 2007, The Man From UNCLE was a perfect example of this trope. About 40 episodes had been released during the 1990's on VHS, but promised DVD release kept getting put off for various reasons (one of the most cogent being that it was difficult to nearly impossible to find high-quality master tapes for the first season, and another being the long-running legal ruckus surrounding the Harlan Ellison-penned third-season episode "The Pieces of Fate Affair"). Anchor Bay announced plans to release the series on DVD, which fell through, and it was finally left to Time-Life, under license from Warner Bros. (which, convolutedly, had acquired the license from MGM) to release the series in an acclaimed box-set version in late 2007.
Barney Miller: After the Season 1 DVD set came out, it took four years for Season 2 to be released, then another year for Season 3. Finally, Shout! Factory issued a deluxe complete-series box set for the show in October 2011.
The Alien Nation TV series aired from 1989 to 1990, and ended on a heart-wrenching cliffhanger. It was quickly released on VHS. The cliffhanger, and numerous unresolved sub-plots, were eventually resolved in made-for-tv movies that aired from 1994-1997. Only the first two were ever released on VHS; leaving more hanging plot threads with no resolution for fans who hadn't managed to see the movies when they originally aired. The series was given a full DVD box-set release in 2006; but it took another two years for the movies to be released, finally giving fans the entire story. However, the parody advertisements that were part of the original series airing have yet to be released in any format.
Parker Lewis Can't Lose took its sweet time to move onto DVD, mostly due to music licensing issues,but it's out now.
In Britain companies like Network DVD are a godsend for people looking for rare archive shows, sometimes even going so far as to track down missing videotapes. A couple of examples:
The Arthur Haynes Show: Haynes was a huge star in the 50s and 60s, with a popular sketch show written by Johnny Speight, yet after his untimely death in 1966 he was almost forgotten about until surviving episodes from his shows began to be released in 2011.
The Strange World of Gurney Slade was a surreal 1960 series starring singer/actor Anthony Newley. It seems to have been too surreal for mass appeal, and it wasn't until 2011 that modern audiences got a chance to view it on DVD and judge for themselves.
Tutti Frutti, a 1987 six-part comedy-drama about an ageing Scottish rock band starring Robbie Coltraine, Emma Thompson and Richard Wilson, was unavailable to purchase for more than twenty years, allegedly due to copyright issues over a slightly reworded version of the title song (Coltraine sings "here's the rub, she makes me sleep in a tub"). These were finally settled and the DVD was released in 2009.
Intensity, a two-part miniseries from 1997 based on the Dean Koontz book of the same name, starring John C. McGinley from Scrubs was released as a DVD-R title in 2012.
For decades, the 1957 version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella (starring a young Julie Andrews) was thought lost since it was only broadcast live (except in the West Coast). Until the black and white kinescope of the West Coast broadcast (the live version was in color) was found and given a DVD release in 2004. The same version has also aired on PBS.
After a while TNT stopped airing reruns of ER, replacing it with Supernatural. It's not particularly easy to come across episodes online but thankfully complete season sets have been released.
For a long time, Saludos, an 80's PBS series like Sesame Street that taught children Spanish, was very hard to find. You can now find it in high quality on this website.
If you try to buy Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella on DVD, you could find the original version, with Julie Andrews, even though it only aired on TV once since its initial performance. You could also find the 1997 Wonderful World of Disney remake. What about the first remake, which starred Lesley Ann Warren and became the most popular version after numerous re-runs and VHS releases? Sony pulled the DVD out of print after a few years. Fortunately, Shout! Factory has announced that they would release a new DVD of the special in September 2014.
Negativland's single U2, where both tracks were essentially Voice Clip Songs featuring Casey Kasem having obscene temper tantrums between takes of an episode of American Top 40 set to instrumental covers of U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For". It was quickly pulled from record stores due to a lawsuit by Island Records (both for unlicensed samples and the fact that the cover misleadingly had "U2" in much bigger letters than the band name). It then continued to stay out-of-print due to Casey Kasem, who understandably was embarrassed by his ranting. Averted in that the band themselves put both sides of the single up for free download on their website, and later started distributing a bootleg album containing 11 different versions of the song, which is surprisingly still available.
Bob Dylan once performed a rather...famous concert at the Royal Albert Hall in the UK. For many years, a near-perfect recording of that concert circulated in one form or another, until it was officially released as part of the "bootleg" series of CDs.
Cult band The Enid's first two albums In the Region of the Summer Stars and Aerie Faerie Nonsense (1976-7) had to be be remixed and partly re-recorded in 1984 when the original record company wouldn't return the 2-track masters to the band. Because of this the original mixes were only available on vinyl until 2010 (and only given an official release because somebody had bootlegged the vinyl versions).
For years, Garth Brooks' TV concert specials were either hard or impossible to find. "This Is Garth Brooks" (1992) and "Garth Live From Central Park" (1997) were released on VHS in 1992 & 1998 respectively, but both went out-of-print relatively quick, while "This Is Garth Brooks II" (1994) saw its planned VHS release canceled, and "Garth Brooks Ireland & Back" (1998) was long forgotten after its initial NBC airing (save for a rare CMT rerun in 2002). All four specials were finally released on DVD in a box set in 2006, albeit with several edits made to all of them (and "Ireland & Back" being retitled "Garth Brooks Live From Dublin")
In December 1987, Prince asked Warner Bros. Records, his label at the time, to scrap the release of The Black Album a week before its release date. However, by this time over 500k were pressed on vinyl and preview copies had gone out. Most copies were destroyed, with the few remaining being the source for "the most bootlegged album of all time". In 1991, Warner planned a greatest hits package which would have included the album as a bonus disc. However, it was scrapped when Prince delivered Diamonds and Pearls to the company. Finally in 1994, during Prince's feud with the same label, the album was legitimately released. Prince was paid around $1 million for its release. Ironically, it's now out of print.
For the longest time, a Jeff Buckley documentary titled Amazing Grace was completely unavailable to fans. The documentary had won numerous awards and was one of the most accurate documentaries about Buckley's life. Due to copyrights issues rumors of it being released on a DVD spiked up and then soon fizzled out. Then, in 2009, it was officially released on a special edition of Grace Around The World. However, these special editions are quickly running out and odds are the documentary will fade back into this trope.
His much-bootlegged Oct. 20, 1972 show in Los Angeles, California was given an official release in 2008 as Live Santa Monica '72 after a grey market disc circulated in record shops for over a decade.
A 1976 concert that was recorded and broadcast on radio's The King Biscuit Flower Hour was another popular bootleg. Two tracks were officially released on the 1991 Rykodisc reissue of Station to Station, but it wasn't until 2010 that an EMI special edition of the album included the whole show (Live Nassau Coliseum '76), save for a chunk of the lengthy instrumental jam on "Panic in Detroit"...but the complete version of that was made available as a digital download bonus track.
At the Turn of the Millennium bootleg, region-free DVDs editing together material from the two VHS tapes covering two of the Sydney, Australia shows from 1987's Glass Spider Tour could be found at even legitimate retailers. Virgin/EMI finally released an official version of this in 2007, and the special edition release even added 2 CDs of a concert from earlier in the tour.
Jean Michel Jarre's pre-Oxygène works were once only available as rare first-edition singles and albums from times before he became famous. These have been selling for outrageous prices for decades now. Some of them became part of the Rarities bootleg LP series, but these are sought-after rarities themselves today. However, the Les Granges Brûlées soundtrack was remastered and re-released as a whole on CD in 2003, and the 2011 Greatest Hits AlbumEssentials & Rarities contains one CD with super-rare stuff like "La Cage", "Erosmachine", several Deserted Palace tracks, and even Jarre's very first recording, "Happiness Is A Sad Song".
For a while, The Smashing Pumpkins fans were surprised to hear that Siamese Dream actually had a lyric sheet. The lyrics were hand-written on a series of family photo-style pictures which comprised the insert artwork. The first pressing gave each song/picture its own page in a thick booklet, however this was changed to a small foldout which the pictures were scattered all over, rendering the lyrics almost entirely illegible and forcing the listener to go to this new-fangled Internet thingy to know what they were. It wasn't until 1999 that Virgin finally re-issued the album with its original booklet insert, readable lyrics and all.
For years, Paul McCartney released the Thrillington album under the pseudonym Percy "Thrills" Thrillington only on vinyl. It's an orchestral version of his Ram album. It hasn't gotten an official CD release until 2012 as part of an deluxe edition box set reissue of the Ram album.
Microdisney's B Sides "Harmony Time" and "Money for the Trams" finally appeared on CD in 2013, after 28 years being only available on vinyl and cassette (and rips). The master tapes were said to be lost, hence why they weren't on the 90s CD issues, which were rare and long out of print anyway. For the 2013 reissues, the technology had improved so that they were able to use very clean vinyl rips which they fixed up digitally.
The Dead Milkmen albums Soul Rotation and Not Richard, But Dick both were out of print for years - these were the only two albums the band themselves didn't own the rights to, and Hollywood Records let them fall out of print, presumably because they weren't among the label's higher selling acts. In 2013, Hollywood Records re-released the two albums as digital downloads on itunes and amazon.com. As far as physical copies go, your options are used copies on cd or cassette, which are pretty reasonably priced, or unopened "new" ones, which are decidedly less so.
Country Music singer T. Graham Brown's debut single "Drowning in Memories" was never put onto an album for many years, and was thus extremely hard to find. However, in 2007, he reacquired the rights to all of his material for Capitol Records (1985-1991) and put every one of his singles for the label on the album Deja Vu All Over Again: The Best of T. Graham Brown — including "Drowning in Memories".
TORG was out of print for several years, with only about a quarter of the line available in PDF - and of those books, only one had been added since 2005. In 2014, the game's current owners, Ulisses Spiele, made most of TORG's back catalog available online through DriveThruRPG, aside from the original boxed set.
"Greatest Hits"-type releases are made to combat this phenomenon. However; these were actually based off how well the game sold initially, regardless of critical and/or fan reception. There are exceptions; such as Final Fantasy Tactics which was re-released due to fan demand.
Some people decide to watch a Let's Play for this reason.
Star Control 2 is long out of print, and was unlikely to ever see rerelease as the sequel (which did not involve the series creators) proved to be a Franchise Killer. Fortunately, SC's creators were nice enough to make the game Open Source in 2002, and a lovingly made fan version called The Ur-Quan Masters (the title "Star Control" is still under trademark) is freely downloadable.
And then Atari re-released it on GOG.com along with the original.
The Wii compilation Data East Arcade Classics was a bit of a surprise, since Data East had been defunct for almost a decade by the time of its release. (Most of Data East's assets are handled by a company called G-Mode, who pretty much solely exist to archive their old game library. However, the rights to a few Data East games, including Karnov, are held by a different company.)
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together: The SNES version of this classic game never made it to the West due to it being released around the same time the Playstation came into existence, and the PS1 re-release (which did get localized) was super-rare even at launch, not to mention being a notoriously shoddy port (and for English-speaking gamers, a notoriously even-worse translation). Sixteen years later, Square Enix released an enhanced remake of the game, overjoying fans and enraging speculators the world over.
Leisure Suit Larry: Since the collection shipped on just one CD, they had to use the floppy version of Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape Up or Slip Out instead of the talkie CD version, and Leisure Suit Larry: Love for Sail is missing entirely, so as far as Al Lowe is concerned, the definitive Leisure Suit Larry compilation is still the Ultimate Pleasure Pack, which includes the talkie version of Larry 6, as well as Love for Sail and Larry's Casino.
GOG.com's version of the collection eventually included talkie version of Larry 6 (after initially claiming that they couldn't make it run well enough on modern computers), and at the same time as that, they released Larry 7 as a separate purchase (after a claim from Codemasters that they didn't own the rights to it).
For PC gaming, Steam offers some old games that are either abandonware or will have compatibility issues if people try to run from the original.
For the longest time, late-entering fans of the Pikmin series had an extremely tough time getting a hold of it. The Gamecube version went out of print, and the game is so well-loved used copies would almost never pop up anywhere. If you were lucky to find the sequel at a local Gamestop, the cost was $40. Amazon had a minimum asking price for $60 used. A Wii version was released in 2009 to the European and Japanese markets, but not in the U.S. Finally, in 2012, Nintendo finally re-released the Wii version under Nintendo selects with enhanced controls for a much more reasonable $20. The fandom rejoiced.
ICO and Shadow of the Colossus sold poorly on the PS2, and are some of the rarest games on the console. But then in Fall 2011, Sony released a compilation pack for the PS3 containing both games on one disc, with loads of bonus features, and the UK release of ICO instead of the American release (which had easier and altered puzzles than the UK/JPN versions). This pleased both those who had played the games before, and those who never got to play them due to their rarity.
Remember the old BIONICLE games on the LEGO website? Remember how cool they were? Now remember how sad you were when they were taken down? Cry no more, Bionicle fans, the Bionicle Online Game Archive has full working versions of every Bionicle game released online by LEGO, ever. The Bionicle creators and LEGO have turned a blind eye to the website, so no links to it here, but rest assured Google is a very helpful friend.
LEGO has a reputation to take games off their web pages, but leave the SWF files buried in the FTP. As such, once they're removed, they still have a chance of being recovered. In most cases the Wayback Machine will do the trick, but an interesting case was the LEGO Island Comic Adventures. While they were somewhat functional on the Wayback Machine, they usually froze on some minigames. They were thought to be lost forever, until a fan from BZPower finally found the sources and put them up for download.
The Living Books series was thought to have gone past its prime, gradually disappearing from store shelves when they weren't agreeing with modern operating systems well. Also, somewhere along the way, a few of the licenses expired during the shelf lives, such as The Berenstain Bears and Sheila Rae, the Brave, and their prices soon shot way up. Enter 2012, when Wanderful Storybooks was formed to rescue all the games to put them on modern tablets and computers, as well as finally breaking No Export for You and making all the foreign translations purchasable worldwide. They have also rescued the Berenstain Bears, Little Monster and Arthur games, though there is still yet to be a word on the other expired licenses.
System Shock 2 was for the longest time almost impossible to find on any modern PC digital distribution method. However, finally the game has seen a full rerelease through GOG.com, which along with being configured to work effortlessly on modern machines, includes tons of extra stuff to boot.
In a strange -though brief- case of circulating the tapes, Rare's original Donkey Kong Country trilogy were mysteriously delisted from the Virtual Console in November 2012, with Nintendo giving no reason as to why. Nintendo owns all the rights to the games (in contrast to the majority of Nintendo games developed by Rare, which are unavailable through legal means), new Donkey Kong (Country) games continue to be produced for their consoles, and Rare's Donkey Kong Land trilogy was released on the 3DS Virtual Console (albeit exclusively in Japan, though a European release was later announced), so the removal of the games was certainly not because of licensing issues. Thankfully Nintendo announced an October 2014 re-release of all three Donkey Kong Country games on the European Wii U Virtual Console -of course, it remains to be seen if North America and Japan will also receive the games-, but it's still odd that one of Nintendo's biggest franchises could see their games fall under such a situation (despite the time period of their lack of legal availability being nowhere near as severe as other entries in this list).
After its unfortunate initial performance in 1995, EarthBound saw no re-release in America for nearly two decades, not even on the Virtual Console. Its Masterpiece demo in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and its appearance in a Nintendo Direct press release regarding the Wii U virtual console (losing its position to - of all games - Punch Out Featuring Mr. Dream), were even explicitly removed from international versions! Rumors abound as to why this was this was the case, the most common ones involving legal issues over its music, but nothing was ever confirmed by Nintendo and plenty of arguments against those theories surfaced too. note The real reason for it being kept from a Western re-release for so long was actually due to concerns involving its frequent use of flashing and flickering effects, which had to be blurred in the Virtual Console release At any rate, it became very rare to find someone who actually played the game on a console rather than just emulating it. Being a very famous game, during the years where it was difficult to find, it was selling for anywhere between $80 and $200, making it a true standout. Finally, after plenty of patience and plenty of waiting, Nintendo at last announced its release for the Wii U virtual console, later making good on their promise in July 2013. There is still no word on its sequel, but this is certainly a step in the right direction.
The Red Star had been this for the longest time, until a recent PSN re-release.
Radiant Silvergun was notorious for running for at least 150 USD after the game went out of print. It was finally rereleased on Xbox Live Arcade for the low low price of 800 Microsoft Points (10 USD in the United States).
Recca was not only Japan-only, it wasn't even a consumer title—it was only available at special events, hence the full title of Summer Carnival '92 Recca. However, it was finally officially released for the consumer market in the form of a Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console title in December 2012 for Japan and September 2013 for North America.
Space Harrier received a Master System port, and its sequel received a Genesis port, and that was it. As years passed, the series got many references in other video games, such as Bayonetta (which has a whole segment that plays like Space Harrier, complete with a pop remix of the main theme) and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (which has a remix of the main theme in the final race track), but no sign of a port or remake. Because of these references and homages, fans constantly demanded some kind of re-release of the series, and so Sega finally listened and released a 3DS port of the first game in late 2013.
Chu-Teng, a sequel to the similarly obscure Eastern Mind from the same creator as LSD, was for a long time considered the most obscure game ever and a lost video game. A massive investigation began in 2013 to find it, but Osamu Sato himself told them he didn't own a copy and the only collector known to have it refused to upload the content. Eventually someone revealed that they had a copy in their attic and uploaded the game. However, it turned out to be a disappointment - while it still had the experimental soundtrack and Sato's characteristic weirdness, the gameplay had switched from exploration to a more linear Fetch Quest style (although it's arguably better to know what the game is like).
Grim Fandango is known for being notoriously hard to obtain, as there have been exactly zero re-releases, and the game suffered from extremely low sales (it was released during the same time as the more anticipated titles of '98). Thankfully Double Fine, during Sony's E3 2014's press conference, announced that they were working on a remaster of the game for Sony systems (PS4 and PS Vita) and computers (PC, Mac, and Linux), planned for an early 2015 release.
Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii originally went out of print in record time thanks to its really good word-of-mouth advertising. It eventually received a port to the 3DS's hardware revision due to its popularity, opening it up to the audience that couldn't get it in time.
Sam and Max Hit the Road. Outside of its CD-ROM re-release in 1995, the game did not receive another re-release (except in Europe). Not even on Steam or Good Old Games (GOG chose to put the Telltale series on their service instead). The only way to play it was to buy a used copy, or to illegally download it... Until October 2014, when GOG made it available again.
The Homestar Runner shorts "Marshmallow's Last Stand" and "A Jumping Jack Contest" were removed from the site for unknown reasons, but they have been recovered on numerous other websites, and on the Homestar Runner: Everything Else Vol. 2 DVD.