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  • The Honeymooners was a spinoff of The Jackie Gleason Show, that didn't fare too well against competing shows. The 39 episodes it managed to air before cancellation are today regarded alongside I Love Lucy as quintessential 1950s television and the foundation of the modern sitcom.
  • The Addams Family was not very successful in its original run, but a hit in syndication.
  • The Brady Bunch failed to crack the top 20 when it was on the air; it is now considered one of the most beloved sitcoms in history.
  • Star Trek:
    • The original Star Trek was canceled after three seasons due to poor ratings. Then the studios started doing demographic studies, and it turned out the show they just cancelled was actually one of their top shows among the best demographics. The show was given loads of syndication reruns, which earned it loads of more fans over the years. Soon there were plans of reviving the series (which became the films), and the rest is history.
    • On a smaller scale, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was initially mocked for "not going anywhere" and people tended to watch the more "exciting" spaceship-set Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager instead...but it has since earned the best critical reviews of any Star Trek series and has become a kind of franchise Ensemble Dark Horse, with more people listing it as their favorite series now than when it aired. This is usually because of the fact that the setting was stationary, letting the creators add more depth and introduce serialized story arcs — common now, but rare at the time.
      • Later, Nana Visitor (Kira) would recall that Armin Shimerman (Quark) told her something along the lines of, "They don't get the show now, but in ten or fifteen years, they will." Prescient.
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    • Voyager itself has become an example of this trope in the 2010s, with many people revisiting the series in light of the Darker and Edgier and arc-based sci-fi (including Star Trek: Discovery) that has become the norm, and finding the things Voyager was criticized for during its initial airing — an over-reliance on Status Quo Is God and a comparative lack of moral dilemmas or interpersonal drama — to actually be strengths in retrospect, since it means the show doesn't fall victim to The Chris Carter Effect or Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy.
    • While Star Trek: Nemesis is still seen as one of the weaker Trek films to be produced, Trek fans that despise the more action-oriented J. J. Abrams films have elevated this film's status, focusing on Patrick Stewart (as usual) and Tom Hardy executing otherwise poorly-written dialogue quite effectively, especially since Hardy's breakout performances in Inception and The Dark Knight Rises have put him on the map in his own right.
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    • In-universe, the high-warp engine designed by Henry Archer with Cochrane was thought to be a crackpot dream by many. Expanded Universe books reveal that initially, Starfleet was ready to go with the ion-warpdrive. In the Trekverse, the dilithium chamber warp drive has been the standard going into the 24th century.
  • Patrick McGoohan's sci-fi classic The Prisoner (1967) didn't last long on ITV, with a style so unconventional that the executives in charge were terrified of a second season being made. Some sources say that McGoohan only wanted the show to last 7 episodes, with the network wanting far more (somewhere between 26 or 37), and that they compromised on 17.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus was badly received at first; the studio audiences were largely old ladies (hence the use of the Women's Institute Applause Stock Footage) who expected an actual circus and the show was put out at odd hours of the night. It has only gradually picked up its cult following.
  • Space: 1999, although enjoying some popularity at the time (1975-1977), has been a poster boy for poor writing, poor science, poor directing, poor acting. However, most of these criticisms are directed at the very different second season which was produced by Fred Freiberger, a figure noted for ruining good science-fiction shows. Despite the handwavium throughout the series, the first season is now remembered as being deep, thoughtful, and metaphysical. Despite a widespread perception of the show favoring special effects over story, it can't be denied that the show had visual effects that still hold up even today. Many of its effects crew went on to even bigger things (such as Star Wars and Alien) further cementing Space 1999's place as the show that helped George Lucas and Ridley Scott discover good technical talent.
  • Fawlty Towers (the first season in particular) was lambasted by British TV critics, who did not find it inspired or funny at all. Gradually it became a cult series and eventually the most popular, critically acclaimed and often repeated British sitcom of all time.
  • WKRP in Cincinnati was originally an underdog property of MTM Productions (CBS changed the show's time slot a dozen times in four years, leading to its early cancellation), but the syndicated reruns catapulted the series to recognition as one of the greatest TV sitcoms of all time.
  • Doctor Who:
    • During the era of the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy), the show received poor ratings and drew much criticism, resulting in it eventually being put on hiatus for 15 years. The second and third seasons of McCoy's tenure are now widely praised for their gritty realism, complex plotting, and return to a more mysterious portrayal of the Doctor.
    • Also, Sixth Doctor Colin Baker — often proclaimed "Worst Doctor Ever!" — has made a great many fans come around with his outstanding performances in the Big Finish audios. Additionally, over time there has become a growing agreement in the idea that Colin Baker himself was not to blame for the show's problems, but rather the quality of the scripts as well as behind-the-scenes difficulties. The infamous rainbow coat on the other hand, is still much-maligned.
    • While the contemporary criticisms of Season 16 and 17 for being too silly remain agreed upon (although with some grudging admission that it was amazing they got anything on the screen at all with all the strikes, budget problems and lead actor mental health issues), "City of Death" was much hated by the fanbase when it aired for being too farcical and stupid, despite doing very well with the general viewing public. Nowadays, it's one of the most beloved and fondly remembered Classic serials and frequently makes top ten lists. Its witty dialogue (courtesy of Douglas Adams), almost romcom feel due to the high level of UST between the Doctor and Romana note , prominent and gorgeous location shooting, in-story time paradoxes and dynamic, sexy villains have all been highly influential on the Steven Moffat era.
    • "Pure historicals", stories set in historical periods with the presence of the TARDIS crew being the only science fiction element and usually dealing with questions like the morality of interfering with history, were considered by contemporary audiences to be dry and boring and got progressively more and more unpopular as the series progressed. Ratings tanked especially hard during "The Gunfighters", the story which all but killed the format. There has always been a minority calling for the return of this format, but today it is generally agreed upon that the First Doctor's pure historicals tend to be his best stories. They tend to have rather more mature and witty writing than the show's early attempts at science fiction, don't suffer from Special Effect Failure to the same extent, and have less Early Installment Weirdness than many of the surrounding stories, despite the fact that being a historical is itself Early Installment Weirdness. Pure historicals usually cited as amongst the First Doctor's best include the rather mythologised Missing Episode "Marco Polo", "The Romans", "The Myth Makers", "The Massacre of Saint Bartholemew's Eve", and "The Aztecs" (often given as a contender for his very best story). "The Crusade" and "The Reign of Terror" are less popular, but have more defenders than the contemporarily highly popular sci-fi serials "The Web Planet" and "The Chase". The only pure historical that is generally considered bad is "The Gunfighters", although that's a special case: 1) fan lore held that it was an awful story due to an especially damning write-up in the review book Doctor Who: A Celebration, which was around before home video, so fandom took its opinion as gospel (although its loving write up in the later review book The Discontinuity Guide is eroding its reputation), and 2) it's a comedy and to some extent a Musical Episode, so was always going to be a divisive story.
    • "The Deadly Assassin", a Doctor Who storyline with no companions, a focus on alien politics, and with an awful lot of Family-Unfriendly Violence, was viewed at the time as a failed experiment at best (the absence of The Watson made the plot much harder to follow than normal, and the execs said it was never to happen again no matter how much Tom Baker insisted that it worked) and tasteless and audience-inappropriate at worst (notoriously attracting so many complaints that the show was Re Tooled into a much less violent, more comedy-based series for most of the rest of Tom Baker's run). Fanboys of the 70s hated the story for Robert Holmes' reimagining of the Time Lords, which suggested they were shiftless, selfish, backstabbing idiots in a dying civilisation rather than the Lawful Good Sufficiently Advanced Aliens Crystal Spires and Togas thing the fanbase had been expecting. Many in the late 70s held a grudge against it for pushing the envelope too far, causing the Executive Meddling that resulted in the addition of a cute Robot Dog companion and a Genre Shift into Lighter and Softer comedy. Fans nowadays tend to appreciate the Surreal Horror in Episode 3, the clever satire and scary torture sequences, and in particular the Alternate Character Interpretation that the Doctor gets in the story; due to not having an ally to talk to, he comes off as having a pinch of a moody, desperate, sometimes brutal Spaghetti Western hero about him. It's often listed as a standout, must-see episode and a bit of a hipster favourite.
    • Doctor Who has a lot of Missing Episodes which tend to get regarded as 'classics' simply because they can't be watched, but no-one really cared about "The Enemy of the World" — it's a bit of an Out-of-Genre Experience in that it's a spy story focusing on a human Diabolical Mastermind and with no monsters, and the recons made the story seem silly and difficult to follow (not helped by the fact that it's about a Criminal Doppelgänger and Impersonating the Evil Twin). Additionally, the only episode to survive in full was a comic-relief one with many deliberately-silly scenes. But when the whole thing was suddenly discovered in Nigeria, fans suddenly were able to see the surprisingly good action scenes in the first episode, and observe the character acting from Patrick Troughton that made the story make sense, and suddenly reappraised it as one of the best Troughton stories. DWM pointed out that in their top 200 stories poll of 2009 it was the 30th rated story of the 60s, but in 2014 it was the 10th rated. This is interestingly compared with a bit of Hype Backlash; the story was discovered alongside "The Web of Fear", which had been lionised by fans for decades as a lost classic and was arguably the more hyped of the two discoveries, only to receive a more muted (if still fairly positive) response when people were finally able to watch it.
  • Police Squad! challenged the attention spans of American viewers in the early '80s. Only 4 episodes initially aired, but a few years later it became a cult phenomenon and inspired its creators Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker to revive it in the feature film The Naked Gun. Much of this came down to the fact that the series had a very different style to anything on TV at the time. There was no laugh track, no loudmouth comedic archetypes, and the overall staging and framing was clearly meant to invoke a traditional old-fashioned cop show, just run through the filter of The Comically Serious, with a focus on sight gags, wordplay, and fast-paced gag-a-minute humor. At the time, American comedy TV was based on the idea that viewers probably weren't paying much attention, and would therefore miss half the gags and payoffs. Nowadays, its sheer humor density, low-key wackiness, and subtly bizarre characters make it feel very much at home with more modern shows, and it was a major inspiration for shows like The Simpsons.
  • The first season of Cheers was the lowest-rated sitcom in 1982. Critical acclaim allowed the show to survive into a second season, which became a smash hit and effectively vindicated season 1.
    • The post-Diane years were also criticized due to it no longer feeling as fresh, as the Sam and Diane storyline no longer existed. Critical opinion was mixed to the point that when the series ended in 1993, many critics were happy to see the series finally end. Many fans thought the show had lost its flavor after a few years, even if it was still popular, the quality wasn't as well received as the first few seasons. However, ever since a new generation of people have started watching the show (being included on Netflix has certainly helped), the latter seasons are now viewed as just as good as, if not better 'because' it doesn't have the lingering Sam/Diane storyline. This is because many people like the new focus placed on Woody, Cliff, and Norm, helping develop their characters all the more. (It also helps that the Sam and Diane was redone once more.) The finale is also now looked at as one of the best finales in television history.
  • Anne Beatts — who in the 1970s had teamed with boyfriend/writing-colleague Michael O'Donoghue to bring a sadistic edge to the early seasons of SNL — created in 1982 a teen sitcom called Square Pegs. The material presented in Pegs (more adult in nature than the average 12-to-19 demographic offering at the time) resulted in public alienation and ratings disaster. A fandom grew around the show over the course of the decade — enough to propel lead actress Sarah Jessica Parker to stardom.
  • Twin Peaks, despite heavy promotion and initially glowing reviews, failed to maintain its audience as its content progressed into more and more unusual territory. Season 2 entered fell hard into Seasonal Rot after the murder that drove the series was resolved (at the executive's request) and the show became rudderless. There was a bad case of Trapped by Mountain Lions from then on, with the Packard storyline spinning its wheels and James's storyline contributing nothing but eating up space. Cooper and Audrey breaking up was another factor (behind the scenes conflicts playing heavily into it) and even if one wasn't interested in the relationship; setting the pair up with new unpopular relationships just killed more time. Twin Peaks is still seen as one of the most influential sitcoms of all time, however, and critical reception of the second season has softened in the new 10s. Though the season still has its problems many fans emphasize the positives more and more: the characterization managed to stay strong throughout, and the Windom Earle plot (the backbone of the second half of season 2) was an entertaining storyline that managed to bring the color back in the shows cheeks, especially with the well-received finale. The similarly well-received Revival has definitely helped soften fan opinion on season 2 as it can be seen as a weak middle to the Twin Peaks canon rather than the series ending on a weak note.
  • FOX's Space: Above and Beyond debuted to middling ratings and a mixed reaction from critics and viewers when it premiered in 1995. The show, which centered around a group of outer-space Marine pilots fighting to stop an invasion by an otherworldly alien force, was roundly criticized at the time for being "Full Metal Jacket in space". It was cancelled at the end of its first season (due to pressure from parents' groups over the violence in the show), and appeared to disappear from the ether... that is, until stations like the Sci-Fi Channel and Space Channel (in Canada) started airing marathons of the show, and audiences began to watch it in droves. It then picked up a cult following for blazing trails no other sci-fi series had done up to that point: highly serialized plots that relied on minor stories and comments from previous episodes, a realistic treatment of military politics, CGI used as a narrative tool, gender, and ethnic diversity, and permanent cast and story changes. It was even ranked in IGN's list of Top 50 Sci-Fi TV Shows. Today, the show is considered to be one of the defining sci-fi series of the 1990s and helped shape the current wave of serialized sci-fi shows (like Battlestar Galactica).
  • Premium cable channel HBO has its fair share of belated success stories:
    • Mr. Show was a show with sensibilities that didn't click with mid-1990s mainstream; its viewership was very small. Sketch comedians Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, who created the series, are now two of the most influential artists in their field, popularizing the brand of comedy found in Mr. Show. The series is a smash hit on DVD.
    • The Wire spent its five seasons, for the most part, ignored, a minor-league show overshadowed by the likes of The Sopranos. A while after Wire ended, Barack Obama (a huge fan) became the U.S. president and his public appearances increasingly referenced the show. It is now showing up on numerous critics' lists as one of the greatest television dramas ever made, even occasionally outdoing the show whose shadow it was stuck in.
    • Carnivàle had extremely high production values and was honorably daring in its thematic scope, but suffered a disastrous barely-viewed two seasons and as time went on showrunner Daniel Knauf found himself at war with the network. The second season ended on a cliffhanger that was destined never to be resolved; nevertheless, the show continues to garner enormous posthumous acclaim.
    • Deadwood was a series HBO was really proud of, but low ratings versus too high a budget forced them to cancel it after the third season. With heavy promotion in the DVD market, audience acclaim has skyrocketed.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, believe it or not, was never a ratings giant. Only after the show found success in reruns and Will Smith became a Hollywood superstar did it become recognized as one of the most popular sitcoms of all time.
  • That '70s Show had mediocre ratings. But in the end, reruns and teenage nostalgia, plus the A-list statuses of Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, kept the show popular long after it ended.
  • Freaks and Geeks lasted one season and was seemingly forgotten once it was over. The show has since skyrocketed in popularity.
  • Malcolm in the Middle was initially building up momentum as a must-see sitcom, but because of FOX's constant switching of timeslots and the resulting nuisance in trying to find Malcolm, the series suffered ratings failure. Eventually, general disinterest (though there was a small cult fandom) forced the writers to wrap up the show's loose ends and call it quits. Since the show ended, the actor who played the father, Bryan Cranston, went on to star in Breaking Bad, one of the most critically acclaimed dramas of all time. Many people have watched the show to see Bryan. In reruns, the series is very popular.
  • Survivor:
    • Richard Hatch was hated by the viewers because his approach to the gameplay was seen as unethical. Nowadays, he's considered one of the best players to ever play the game, and aside from a few others like Rob Cesternino, Vecepia, and Cirie, invented most of the strategies commonly used in the show today, and is often considered one of the best people to ever play the game. (Apart from Rob Cesternino, who was actually eliminated because he was so savvy.)
    • Jerri Manthey was loathed when The Australian Outback aired, and was called a "black widow" due to her scheming to get further ahead in the game. Outside the game, she was often characterized as a manipulative shrew on shows like Blind Date, which played it for laughs. In All-Stars, she came back and became more sympathetic, but was booed at the reunion show, which led her to leave during the broadcast. In the intervening time since then, she became much more favorably looked at as further seasons showcased villains who stooped to far greater lows to achieve what they wanted, and her brand of scheming became an integral part of the game. Come Heroes and Villains, she shows up and realizes that she looks like a lightweight compared to people like Russell and Parvati, becomes one of the most likable people on the Villains tribe, and is finally cheered in that seasons' reunion.
  • Firefly underwent such serious Executive Meddling during its original run that it was cancelled after only 11 episodes managed to air. Today, Firefly as a whole is now hailed as a sci-fi classic.
  • Arrested Development aired for only three seasons before being cancelled. The show was well received and won six Emmys and a Golden Globe, but it got low ratings which were mostly due to its time slot constantly being switched and its lack of advertising. But a year after it was cancelled, Time magazine listed it as one of the best 100 TV shows of all time, and it has since achieved a cult following. There has been talk of an Arrested Development movie ever since the show was cancelled, and most of the cast has expressed a desire to be in said movie.
    • Netflix eventually sponsored the show's return, releasing a fourth season in 2013 which would itself run afoul of this trope. Thanks to difficulties in coordinating the actors' schedules, the writers chose to have each episode cover the same rough time period from a different character's perspective; as a result, the early episodes left a bad impression, since the plot and jokes wouldn't start to congeal until towards the end. After a few years of no activity, Netflix released a recut that presented events in chronological order, dramatically improving the pacing and by extension the season's reputation; the first half of season 5 would follow not long after.
  • 30 Rock was adored by critics and has won tons of Emmys, but only pulled in mediocre ratings. Nowadays, it's viewed as one of the greatest sitcoms of the 21st century and finds newfound fans every day through Netflix and reruns. It has since moved to Hulu due to streaming content deals.
  • Veronica Mars impressed critics and a small fandom but never achieved decent ratings in its initial run. CW Network cut the show short when the third season concluded, and for years remained a minor curiosity until later hitting it big. Thanks to a Kickstarter campaign by Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell, a feature-film continuation was released in 2014.
  • Pushing Daisies got only about one season's worth of episodes in all when it was on during 2007-2009 (due to a writer's strike) but is now recognized as a unique, wonderful tv show by people and Bryan Fuller has confirmed a revival of sorts.
  • Something of a variation comes from Profit. While it only lasted four episodes in the United States in 1996 (though all eight would air in France), it was an early show to feature a Villain Protagonist before it was popular. With the popularity of more recent shows, such as Breaking Bad or The Sopranos or the more comparable Dexter, Profit seems much more approachable than at the time when it was considered somewhat of an Audience-Alienating Premise.
  • The Comeback received lukewarm reviews when it initially aired and was cancelled after one season. It has since then attained a cult following, has been recognised as one of the best shows of the 2000s and is considered to have been ahead of its time. The show was uncanceled nearly a decade later.
  • Power Rangers gets this for many seasons, mainly due to nostalgia factor after a "bad" season passes. During Samurai (which was regarded as one of the worst seasons ever as it aired), many, many fans looked back at previously disliked seasons (Turbo, Wild Force, and Operation Overdrive are the most commonly cited) with a more positive reception. This is called a trend because it happens all the time in the franchise — for example, Samurai became vindicated after (Super) Megaforce gradually decreased in quality, with many fans grumbling about how Samurai at least had a story. In fact, (Super) Megaforce has been so reviled by the fanbase that the next generally-agreed "bad" season, (Super) Ninja Steel, did nothing to vindicate it in the eyes of the fans, instead sullying the Neo-Saban Era's reputation further (save for Dino Charge, which is generally agreed to be the only good season from that era).
  • Community is certainly headed in this direction. It ran for five seasons on NBC to critical praise and a cult following, but so-so ratings (on good days), before being canceled and revived by Yahoo Screen. It's shaping up to have a legendary reputation when it ends.
  • Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon wasn't very well liked during its first run, it was supposed to run for 52 episodes but low ratings reduced it to 49 episodes, and some people outright hated it for its bad CGI and the massive changes they made to both the characters and the story. Gradually, people began to see it for what it is, and not only enjoy it, but outright claim it to be the best adaptation of Sailor Moon there is. Now, people hail the live-action series as a great series with well-developed characters, interesting storylines, and like it for what it is, flaws notwithstanding.
  • Choujinki Metalder had suffered massive ratings failure amongst its target demographic of 5-7 year olds when it first aired in Japan, due to its darker story line compared to its fellow Metal Heroes shows and wound up being cut down from 52 episodes like the rest of the Metal Heroes series to just 39 episodes, but nowadays, thanks in part to the show's footage being used for VR Troopers and many of the Japanese audience now being older, the show is by far the most popular Metal Heroes series to date amongst American and older Japanese fans, with Metalder being considered an Ensemble Dark Horse that many Toei Hero fans want to see return in their works.
  • Big Brother's 15th season in the U.S. became this after 16 aired. During its time, 15 was seen as having been marred with controversial comments from the cast, accusations of racism and homophobia, editing that favoured a disliked showmance, and a starting twist that was far too predictable. However, after seasons 16 and 17, a lot of fans begun to appreciate season 15's overall gameplay, such as the MVP changing to allow the audience to put a player up (Thus causing drama in the house as everyone tried to find who the MVP was), eviction votes that weren't determined four days in advance (keeping suspense), split votes causing more drama and paranoia, and a cast who was actually somewhat complex and weren't afraid to rock the boat. This happened after season 16 and 17 featured large alliances that never ever splintered until the end, mostly unanimous votes that were determined the second the veto was or was not used, legit stupid players afraid to make big moves, and somewhat boring winners.
  • Arrowverse
    • Arrow's third season (or at least the first half of it) is looked at far more fondly after the trainwreck that was its fourth. The fourth season was gradually overtaken by relationship drama, the fight choreography decayed significantly, there was less and less effort made to even ground the show back into reality, and then there was Laurel's death; the less we say about that, the better. Not only that, the once beloved Olicity ship took a massive nosedive in popularity during this season because of terrible writing, both of the relationship and of Felicity Smoak's character, who got so much unnecessary focus that people started joking about how Oliver was a supporting character on his own show. As a result, the once despised Lauriver ship also had this invoked on it (especially after Laurel's death), to the point that it's now shipped by everyone in the fandom who isn't a hardcore Olicity shipper, even those who don't particularly care about shipping at all. Olicity eventually became so hated that the inverse of this trope happened to it, with many wondering why they supported the ship to begin with.
    • The Flash (2014)
      • At the time, Season Two was seen as a massive step down from Season One, with many viewers voicing annoyance at how the plot had issues with too similar to both the past season and Arrow Season Two, the confusing nature of the reveal of Zoom's identity, and a number of the comics fandom that watched the show really grew to hate what it apparently did to Jay Garrick and Zoom. However, Seasons Three and Four's generally poor reception seems to have made a lot of the people who liked this season become more vocal, and so it's more fondly remembered among the fandom, to the point that most consider it along with Season One to be the golden age of the show in general. Zoom in particular is mostly remembered for his first few episodes, where he was an enjoyably dark badass with a cool air of mystery, rather than later when he acquired an inconsistent plan and New Powers as the Plot Demands. Even then, he's still generally considered to be the show's best villain after Eobard Thawne/Reverse-Flash, with a fair few even liking him more than Thawne.
      • This show's own third season received similar treatment after its own disastrous fourth season. Seeking to rectify the Darker and Edgier direction the last two seasons went in, the new showrunners tried to go back to the Lighter and Softer tone that made the show so popular in the first place in Season Four. Instead, it became Denser and Wackier, with lazier and extremely inconsistent writing, saw new character Ralph Dibny become a Spotlight-Stealing Squad, had characters have no lives whatsoever outside of S.T.A.R. Labs, and, perhaps the most damning, made the cast drop over a hundred IQ points with countless Idiot Ball moments to prop up the season's Big Bad as the supposed smartest man alive.
  • Nathan Barley was a remarkably well-casted, well-written, and well-promoted Black Comedy sitcom by two big names — Chris Morris and Charlie Brooker — that just died on its arse on broadcast in 2005. The reason for this is that the entire thing is an evisceration of a specific kind of moneyed "Shoreditch twat" hipster and the banality and puerility of much of the then-ascendant Internet culture, but broadcast at a point before social media, broadband Internet, and things like YouTube really took off, meaning it was downright incomprehensible to people who weren't already familiar with the subject matter. Ten years later, and it turns out that the series was actually prophetic; everyone knows someone like the titular Barley, the "Shoreditch twat" stereotype is well known and the things it lampooned as ridiculous or stupid are now all mainstream.
  • Batman (1966) zigzags on this. It was certainly popular and beloved when it first ran, and its wacky plots, camp, and Black-and-White Morality were soon synonymous with the character. As comic books approached the Bronze and Dark ages, Adam West and Burt Ward's antics became despised. Everyone from Frank Miller to Tim Burton seemed to measure their success with Batman on how far away from the '60s show they could be. At some point in the late 2000s, however, between gluts of poorly-received Darker and Edgier comic book storylines and Adam West becoming a beloved regular on Family Guy, the series was reevaluated by the public and its lighthearted tone and feel were embraced again, eventually spawning new comic spin-offs and even a new animated film.
  • Action, a Black Comedy about a sleazy Villain Protagonist Hollywood producer, was a landmine for the Fox network due to its TV-MA rating, and wound up lasting only eight episodes before getting shunted off to FX to burn off the rest of its half-season. It is now recognized as a biting look at Hollywood's seedy underbelly, especially in comparison to Lighter and Softer shows like Entourage. Its portrayal of sexual harassment in the industry, in particular, is now seen as downright prophetic in light of the scandals that burst open surrounding numerous Hollywood power players in late 2017, with protagonist Peter Dragon being compared to Harvey Weinstein.
  • Friends was always a ratings juggernaut (even its least-watched season still averaged over 20 million viewers per episode), but it took a while to earn the respect of critics as well. Many of them liked the cast but thought that the characters they played were thinly-sketched, and it frequently earned unfair comparisons to its NBC stablemate Seinfeld (a show with which it had a bitter Fandom Rivalry at the time), which was seen as far more innovative versus Friends' reliance on a more traditional sitcom formula. As the show went on, however, critics gradually warmed up to it, and by the time of its Grand Finale many considered it to be just as good as Seinfeld and up there with it as one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. One critic, Noel Holston of Newsday, went so far as to apologize for the dismissive review he gave the show's pilot episode.
  • John Javna's book The Best of Science Fiction TV had a list of the "Worst Science Fiction Shows of All Time", which was comprised of shows such as Manimal, Space: 1999, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and Lost in Space. Manimal nowadays is regarded as a So Bad, It's Good Cult Classic, Buck Rogers is also seen as a Cult Classic, and Space 1999 and Lost in Space are seen as two of the best science-fiction TV shows of their time. It's no wonder Javna's more recent books are mostly activism-based.
  • Even the infamous The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer has been vindicated, with some reviewers noting that the show had been Overshadowed by Controversy (which no doubt led to it's critical savaging) and deserved better.
  • Pappyland, a TLC children's show about drawing that also aired on some PBS affiliates, was overshadowed by many competing Edutainment Shows during its' run and forgotten about by many. When the demographic who watched it when it first aired grew up, they told stories of how good it was with people who didn't know about it, leading for it to become a Cult Classic.
  • Saved by the Bell: The College Years: When the series first premiered, many wrote it off as a gratuitous and less funny extension of Saved by the Bell and it suffered from terrible ratings. Over time and through repeated airings on TBS, fans have warmed up to the show for allowing more Character Development among the original cast, bringing in new characters that weren't bland replacement scrappies and the finale movie with Zack and Kelly's wedding. Now it's considered to be the best thing to come out of the franchise after the original series (unless you count Zack Morris is Trash, then it's considered third).


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