Network to the Rescue
aka: Saved By The Network
"Because it's probably the greatest picture ever made."
—Alan Ladd, Jr.
, Fox's Head of Production during the making of Star Wars: A New Hope
, 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 20th Century 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
. (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 Bones
and House, M.D.
(although the last-named came from Universal
), 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!
completing its eighth season in 2013 and direct spinoff The Cleveland Show
making it to four (before it
got the axe). 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 JAG's
move from NBC
after its first season (1995-96) to CBS
, where it stayed on the air for nine more seasons
and spun off a popular show which in its tenth season (2013) became the highest rated prime-time drama
. Not to mention that the spin-off has a successful spin-off of its own
Network to the Rescue is not quite the same as a network grudgingly
, or reluctantly
, taking back a show because they just don't want to upset viewers, as happened with Star Trek: The Original Series
). 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 only theatrical action movies had back then, 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).
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- The Pets.com sock puppet suddenly disappeared along with the company in November 2000. Two years later, 1-800 Bar None got the rights to use him in their commercials.
- The Big O pretty much flopped in Japan, and for a long time it seemed like the season one cliffhanger would leave viewers hanging. Fortunately, the show was much more popular in America, and Cartoon Network paid a chunk of the cost to make the second season happen. This would later come back to bite the show when Cartoon Network began its Network Decay, and they ended up screwing up the airing of a couple episodes (including accidentally airing a repeat over the finale) and ended up canceling the show before a reportedly expected third season, despite it having paid off financially.
- The dub of Digimon Frontier was aired at six every morning for a few years before the creation of Jetix finally gave it a more favorable timeslot, meaning now people would actually know it existed.
- Psyren was this in manga form, while it didn't test very well in Japan, Shounen Jump knew it would do well in America, and thus allowed the Mangaka to finish the story, some one-hundred and seventy chapters later.
- How about Company To The Rescue? After Bandai Entertainment decided to no longer be involved in the home video department, it seemed that their most notable show in their lineup, K-On!, was likely not getting its second season released. Enter Sentai Filmworks licensing the second season only a month later, and releasing it in two 13-episode sets instead of separate volumes, and including the same english dub cast, to boot.
- Happens In-Universe in Haiyore! Nyarko-san, where the manga anthology Shonen Blood, was saved by an alien publishing company after its original cancellation. Making this slightly odd, Shonen Blood did exist in the real world, and did get cancelled after six issues; no word on its being rescued by aliens, however.
- When it comes to anime Nicktoons is on a ROLL! Examples include...
- When DBZ Kai was licensed by Funimation fans had hoped that Cartoon Network would air the show and were quite shocked when they decided to pass on it. Then Nicktoons announced that they would air it. It not only proved to be a HUGE success for them, it also made Viacom consider airing anime on their channels. Then when the Buu Saga came around Nicktoons passed...and got saved by Toonami on [adult swim]
- After two episodes of Digimon Xros Wars, Nickelodeon re-airs the first episode and outright pulls the show from its schedule. Luckily, Nick Toons picked it up.
- The entire anime industry owes a lot to an unsung hero in the form of of Television Station Affiliate WNEW (Now known as WNYW), back when Fred Ladd made the very first English dubbed anime release (Astro Boy) they gave it a chance on Syndication and it was quite succesful for them.
- Sandy Frank geared up to begin pre-selling Battle of the Planets for the upcoming Fall television season. He and Jameson Brewer fine tuned the pilot a little more, including tightening edits and removing a little more footage. With those changes complete, Frank was ready to set out on his lengthy sales tour. At this time in television sales an independent producer like Sandy Frank would hand carry a copy of a prospective show to television stations across North America. This took a lot of planning, time and effort and Sandy Frank was directly involved in the majority of this direct selling process. After nearly a year of preparation, Monday, May 15, 1978 marked the first day Battle of the Planets was officially offered to national program buyers. May was also the month Sandy Frank officially hired most of the Battle of the Planets staff for the series. Even though their work would not start right away, he wanted them committed to the project when and if it got the go-ahead.The prospect of going out to sell Battle of the Planets didn't seem like it was going to be a daunting task. After all, what television station would want to turn down a program that could reach the same target audience as Star Wars? As it turned out, quite a few stations were willing to say no and pass on Battle of the Planets at that point. Various reasons were given, none of which seemed satisfactory to Sandy Frank. Why with all the positive points the show had going for it, was it continuing to get turned down outright? Less than a month into the series sales and with only a handful of commitments to show for his efforts, Sandy Frank knew he needed answers. Was the program a serious misstep in his calculations? Was it simply not the kind of thing that could attract young viewers? Was there a missing factor that would interest buyers? A break in the sales schedule was taken so some professional test screenings could be arranged and analyzed.The Battle of the Planets pilot episode was audience tested in New York City and Los Angeles by the ASI Market Research Company. The New York test took place on Sunday, June 11, 1978 with three separate age groups consisting of a mix of boys and girls. The age groups were 6 - 8, 9 -11 and 12-15 year olds. Each of the three groups were shown the pilot at different times and their reactions and comments to it were recorded live to audio tape.The research gathered answers to all kinds of questions ranging from how well the characters were liked by the children, if they liked Battle of the Planets more or less than other shows airing at the time, what they felt could be changed to make the show better, even to where they thought it should air on TV schedules.The Los Angeles audience research was conducted by ASI on both Sunday, June 11 and Saturday, June 17, 1978. In these instances two age groups of mixed boys and girls were tested on each date, consisting of 6-11 and 12-15 year olds. The mothers of the youngsters were also included in these tests to gauge their reactions. Again, all group reactions were recorded live to audio tape.All of this research was done in reaction to the slower than expected pre-sales of the pilot. But Battle of the Planets did exceptionally well with its audience testing and Sandy Frank was provided with the knowledge that he was indeed on the right track. Now all he had to do was convince buyers. With a solid product, a popular genre and newly acquired excellent test data, Sandy Frank was ready to head back out on the sales circuit by late June. Now feeling that Battle of the Planets couldn't be ignored, he was anxious to use the new information he'd collected to bolster his presentations.The pre-sale for Battle of the Planets continued for the next month but still with minor success. A sale or two here and there was not going to cut it. Sandy Frank had a mid-August deadline in mind at which time he would either have a series to produce or he would have to cut the Battle of the Planets crew loose and thank them for their hard work. With his deadline fast approaching, he wasn't anywhere close to sure that his new venture was going to work out. A good many TV stations across North America were still needed to purchase Battle of the Planets before it could get the green-light for full series production.The best case for Battle of the Planets would have been to have started off with a small number of sales to a few major market stations. This would have been a benefit because as the major stations went, so went the smaller ones. If a few large stations purchased the show then sales would have cascaded down through the many smaller outlets and the series' production would have been quickly ensured. But that didn't happen. Naturally, the larger major market stations were the hardest to crack. Every production company out there was hitting the major stations up each season to purchase their new lineups. Since their airtime was limited, stations tended to go with what they knew would work and Battle of the Planets was a risk not many were willing to take.Potential buyers actually quite liked what they saw, but they weren't ready to commit to such a different-looking program - and one that was primarily a drama on top of it. Most afternoon children's programming was made up of repackaged comic cartoon series and shorts like Woody Woodpecker and other similar characters. Programmers were hesitant to change a working strategy that pulled in solid viewer numbers for a single untested program. So Battle of the Planets' very uniqueness was also proving to be its ruin in sales. "All of this creative production is all well and good, but it doesn't mean a thing if TV station program buyers don't see the future beyond Bugs Bunny and Tom & Jerry reruns," Sandy Frank once lamented.All of the time, effort and money that was put into buying Gatchaman and assembling a crew to get the English-language pilot ready was dangerously close to being for nothing. If it didn't sell its first time out, Sandy Frank probably would have attempted to sell it one more time at a later date. But the first time is always the most probable in TV sales, and if Battle of the Planets didn't sell at that point, it was likely to become a property that couldn't be developed. Certainly not in the way it ended up happening. But since he was shrewd enough to acquire the other worldwide rights, it was probable Frank would have sold Gatchaman "as-is" to international buyers who could have adapted the original Japanese programs to their own broadcast standards. Either that or he could have sold the rights to another company, or possibly even back to Tatsunoko Productions.With the deadline threatening to kill the show and a good number of sales still needed, Battle of the Planets' savior came in the form of major New York station WNEW. In mid-July Sandy Frank convinced New York City's WNEW (one of the first TV stations in the US) to commit to air Battle of the Planets. WNEW was extremely influential in the business and many of their competitors kept a close eye on what the station did.When the powerhouse Metromedia Group got wind of the WNEW deal, they jumped in almost immediately and also picked Battle of the Planets up. With Metromedia's national affiliation of major market stations on board and the previous sales that had been made, Battle of the Planets now had more than the minimum number of sales it needed to be produced.These last minute major deals opened the floodgates and made the final weeks of the show's pre-sales window extremely active. They also gave Sandy Frank a lot of breathing room and something to tout on the series' behalf. He continued to sell the show, but now it was far easier. Some stations that had previously turned him down now came back asking if it was too late to get the show for their markets (for many, because of the Metromedia deal, it was).This turnaround took Battle of the Planets' pre-sales from the edge of disaster to a nearly unprecedented success. By his Tuesday, August 15, 1978 pre-sale deadline, a good seventy-five major market stations were pre-sold including forty-four of the top fifty, which encompassed seventy-four percent of homes across the nation. Sales on the series continued regularly after the pre-sale deadline and Sandy Frank was kept busy hopping back and forth across the country for a time, but only the stations that signed up before August 15, 1978 were set to receive Battle of the Planets for its debut later in the year.It is not too much of a stretch to suggest that had Battle of the Planets not sold in North America, the second Japanese animation boom in the US could have taken many more years to occur, and probably would have been handled much differently. Without Battle of the Planets, it is quite probable there never would have been a Star Blazers, Robotech or beyond.
- 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, and arguably the best known hero in all of fiction.
- 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.
- 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. In fact, it was New Line who suggested that they make three movies rather than the two that Jackson was requesting.
- 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 producer Richard Zanuck. They were handsomely rewarded for their faith.
- With "happy" sci-fi like Star Wars: A New Hope and Superman nobody thought a dark, depressing, and outright horrific sci-fi could be made. Nevertheless 20th Century Fox took the chance on little-known British director Ridley Scott and a movie simply called Alien.
- Star Wars: Alan Ladd's faith that saw Star Wars even make it to film.
- Warner Bros. stood and backed Richard Donner's direction of Superman 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.
- 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. This paid off, literally, as Titanic became the second-highest-grossing film of all time, and fourth when adjusted for inflation.
- 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.
- As detailed on that page, this is pretty much the reason District 9 exists.
- It is a well-known fact that 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. Or, more famously, another of its Best Picture-winning blockbusters, 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 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. He loved the original book, The Iron Man and even made a record out of it. Also, after Warner Bros.' poor marketing of the film caused the film to flop at the box office, they made up for it by giving the film a big boost when it was released on video, where it became a big seller. Later, Ted Turner happened to see it as an in-flight movie and, declaring it one of the greatest films of all time, helped give it a great deal of fresh publicity by airing it frequently on Cartoon Network, further cementing its cult status.
- After Firefly was canceled by Fox, Universal Pictures swooped in to fund a movie sequel to the series, and Serenity was born.
- Bloomsbury, a British publisher, took a chance on the first Harry Potter novel after eight other publishers turned it down. 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.
- 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 rejected 60 times until literary agent Susan Ramer agreed to represent her. Not only did it spend over 100 weeks on the bestseller list, but it was also made into a highly successful movie.
- Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 was rejected by countless publishers but ended up being saved by, of all people, Hugh Hefner, who paid his last $450 to have the novel serialized in issues 2-4 of Playboy. The two men remained friends until Bradbury died in 2012.
- 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 hip-hop 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 Damon Dash and Roc-A-Fella, resulting in one of the biggest hip-hop artists of all time. (OF ALL TIME!)
- 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), Zac Brown Band (picked up by Atlantic several weeks into the run of "Chicken Fried") 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.
- Curb also tried to do the same thing with Andy Gibson's "Wanna Make You Love Me" after R&J Records closed its doors, but instead, the single just ended up stalling at #27 for several weeks before faling off.
- Similarly, Blake Shelton was the last artist to release a single for Giant Records — specifically, his debut single "Austin". The label closed while the song was climbing, so parent company Warner Bros. Records stepped in and continued promoting the single — getting it all the way to a five-week run at #1.
- Warner struck again in 2008 when Raybaw Records, a division owned by the songwriting clique MuzikMafia (Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson, James Otto, Shannon Lawson, etc.), closed in March. Warner distributed all of Raybaw's material, so they picked up Otto's then-current single "Just Got Started Lovin' You", pushed the song all the way to #1 — in fact, it was the biggest hit of the year — and releasing his album. However, as for his other Warner Bros. singles…
- A few months prior to Blake Shelton's case above, Virgin Records closed its Nashville division right after Chris Cagle hit Top 10 with "Laredo", the second single from his debut album. Most of the Virgin roster, including Cagle, was moved to Capitol Records, who re-issued the album with some new tracks. One of said tracks, "I Breathe In, I Breathe Out", became his only #1 hit in early 2002.
- Big Bang Bar was a Physical Pinball Table under development at Capcom Pinball when the company closed its pinball division, leaving only fourteen prototypes in existence. Then in 2004, Gene Cunningham of Illinois Pinball Inc. announced that he was buying the rights from Capcom to produce a "remake", eventually releasing 191 more machines in 2006.
- WCW's Eric Bischoff rejected "Stone Cold" 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. While filming Suburban Commando in April-August 1990, Hulk Hogan told Vince McMahon about Calaway, who had a bit role in the film. Vince gave him a call and said he had an idea for a 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.
- 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).
- Dungeons & Dragons was the only real option for roleplayers for years. With the guiding hands of Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, the granddaddy of all RPGs inspired Final Fantasy, and gave rise to popular novels featuring characters such as Drizz't Do'urden. However, the good times weren't meant to last — things started falling apart after Gygax sold the company to Lorraine Williams, who proceeded to milk the franchise dry by oversaturating the market with new settings (such as Spelljammer, which has become a Cult Classic), and launched disastrous rip-offs of their biggest competitor, Magic: The Gathering. Eventually, this and her terrible attitude towards fans, where she would have TSR sue fans for ''even talking about D&D on dedicated forums'' caught up with the company, killing TSR. Suddenly, the makers of MTG, Wizards of the Coast, decided to rescue D&D by buying it out. Why? Not only would it give Wizards something to fall back on if Magic ever stopped selling, but Peter Adkison was a big fan of D&D, and wanted to ensure its survival. More of the story can be found here. It's perfect for bringing up around grognards who are complaining about how Wizards is ruining D&D through 4E.
- PhyrricVictory: The grogs do have a point though; Wizards bought D&D but then were promptly bought by Hasbro. Now, with a corporation breathing down their neck, they turn out 4th Edition, probably one of the most divisive editions in D&D's history.
- Games Workshop has been producing Warhammer and Warhammer40000 for thirty years at this point, but aside from a relatively brief run with Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and a few "unofficial supplements" that would allow for 40K runs, little to nothing was done for decades. Then, to great acclaim, GW announced the opening of Black Industries, an imprent of their Black Library branch focused entirely on creating tabletop roleplay games. The second edition of the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay system was finally released, and shortly afterwards they released Dark Heresy, the first official 40K roleplay game. Then... Black Industries was unceremoniously closed as GW decided to focus on miniatures. Within months, however, GW announced a new partnership with Fantasy Flight Games, who have increased the library for the 40K roleplay to 5 main lines with numerous supplements each, as well as produced almost two dozen supplements for Fantasy.
- Atari rescued Ghostbusters: The Video Game after Activision decided not to publish it.
- Brütal Legend was first to be published by Vivendi, but then they merged with Sierra, so Double Fine went to Activision, who dropped it too, so then it was picked up by Electronic Arts. Disappointed by the game's sales, EA killed the sequel, which nearly drove Double Fine to bankruptcy.
- On the topic of Double Fine, Psychonauts was picked up by Majesco after being dropped by Microsoft.
- 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 PlayStation 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 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). They are also responsible for the North American release of The Last Story.
- Because of the success of The Last Story in North America (it's XSEED's best published game), XSEED has went and got the North American publishing rights for Pandora's Tower, the final game in the original set of three games wanted by Operation Rainfall.
- 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.
- Nintendo has a history with this in general, being the rescuers and the rescuée at some point or another:
- Most visible with the Dragon Quest series. 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 Re-release 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.
- Nintendo Power also saved Mega Man 6, at least in North America. Capcom had decided not to export the game, as the NES was nearing the end of its life cycle, but as Nintendo had run a contest to design Robot Masters for the game, with two winning entries actually being used, Nintendo went ahead and published it. It didn't make it to Europe, however - not until the 3DS Virtual Console release.
- 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...
- After considerable bombardment due to Operation Rainfall, NoA decided to give Xenoblade 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 carried the game on its 04/06/2012 release exclusively. If you still think to pirate the game after that date, please reference Ezekiel 25:17. And as noted above, the last two OP Rainfall games eventually came over to America, courtesy of XSEED
- It was revealed that Nintendo was a major reason why Eternal Darkness was so good.
- Nintendo is publishing Bayonetta 2, which no one else wanted to publish because of the not-so-high sales of the original and because Sega's financial situation made them nuke the project.
- Nintendo has also stated that they want to do this with several Japanese games that their original publishers have no intention of releasing worldwide. The first of these is Bravely Default, a Square Enix RPG.
- Devil's Third, a Mature-rated shooter/hack-n-slash hybrid action game from Tomonobu Itagaki (of Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden fame) was saved by Nintendo after the game's original publisher, THQ, went bankrupt in 2013.
- 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. They were rewarded hansomely, as the game sold over 180,000 copies within the first few weeks of it's release.
- Final Fantasy VII. When it was released, Square didn't even have a North American distributor (their earlier releases had been done on a contract basis). Sony picked up the distribution costs, as well as spending $100 million to promote the game in the US.
- To make a long story short (view the Video Games page of Screwed by the Network for the full story), Jet Set Radio Future got very little advertising in the states: Some beta footage in an Xbox commercial, and a commercial for the game itself that didn't get much airtime. Once Sega realized how poorly the game was selling, they packaged JSRF with Sega GT 2002 on one disc and sold it with Xbox units during the Holiday season of 2002, as a way to boost sales. While it still didn't sell exceptionally well, it really did help increase sales, and used copies of the JSRF/Sega GT bundle sell much cheaper than JSRF on its own.
- After the 3D Sam & Max: Freelance Police title was cancelled by LucasArts in 2004, LucasArts fired a great majority of their "creative division", and most of them went on to form Telltale Games. Telltale picked up the cancelled 3D game and completely remade it into the episodic Sam & Max: Season 1 (or Sam & Max Save the World! as the console versions are called), with excellent results.
- Dungeon Fighter Online was horribly butchered by Nexon NA. Hackers and glitches ran rampant, extended and emergency maintenances that took forever and fixed nothing were common occurrences, there was little to no advertising and the game went a very long period with absolutely no updates, eventually leading to Nexon NA shutting down the game, apparently for not making as much money as their other games. Almost a year latter, Neople, the game's developer, decided to produce the game themselves and are, as of writing, running an alpha test, without Nexon NA's involvement.
- 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, and allowed the creators much more latitude in adding some mature content to the series.
- Phineas and Ferb was originally pitched to Nickelodeon in 1992. It ended up airing its pilot episode on the Disney Channel in 2007.
- FOX's treatment of Futurama was very... bad. It managed to get five seasons before being cancelled, but reruns on Adult Swim kept it alive. Then, Comedy Central bought the rights to the show and revived it. And then canceled it a year later.
- CBS felt Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! 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 (and Spin-Off Babies show) 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.
- The Proud Family was originally presented to Nickelodeon but they rejected it. After 2 years it finally aired on Disney Channel and ended up being quite popular for them.
- Even though it was only reruns, Garfield and Friends debuted on Cartoon Network around the same time that CBS cancelled the series. After Cartoon Network stopped airing Garfield, Nickelodeon picked the show up. And then after Nickelodeon stopped airing it, Toon Disney picked it up.
- The same thing occurred in 2006, too. After Toon Disney stopped airing it, Boomerang picked up Garfield... but used the DVD versions of the episodes.
- The first season of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was, believe it or not, hardly the poster child for Adored by the Network that it is now; the show aired during the day on Friday, when most of its target demographic was at school, and was barely advertised, with the much more adored Transformers Prime getting plenty of attention (and inexplicable logo bugs during the show counting down to the next airing of that series, which probably wasn't effective to the show's true audience of young girls). This all changed shortly after the first season finale, when the Hub's schedule changed... And the Ponies moved to a much better timeslot on Saturday morning, which they've kept since, and have only gathered more support and airtime from there, as well as a steady stream of advertising, becoming one of the network's flagship programs.
- In the U.K. and the Nordic countries, the show was being horribly screwed over by their national feeds of Boomerang. However, the show has recently moved to Tiny Pop, a preschooler channel in the U.K. that gives the show and to the Nordic versions of Nickelodeon, which have taken advantage of the fanbase and given much more love.
- American Dad! will leave FOX in 2014 and will air new episodes on TBS.
- Beware the Batman was barely advertised at all on DC Nation, eventually put on hiatus for no reason other than to make room for more Teen Titans Go! episodes, and then delayed. On May 10th the show was moved to Toonami on [adult swim].