10 Strange and Amazing TV Pilots the Networks Passed On
Only a tiny percentage of television pilots ever make it to air—and an even smaller number get picked up for a full season. So what happens to all of the TV shows that, for whatever reason, never get picked up by a network? While many are likely lost forever, Daily Motion has created an archive of some of the strangest unaired and unsold television pilots in TV history. The UnknownArchiveTV is home to TV pilots adapted from movies, American versions of popular British shows, failed sitcoms, and some shows so weird they defy classification. Check out a few of our favorites below.
1. YOUNG MACGYVER
More than a decade after secret agent Angus MacGyver solved his last unsolvable problem on ABC, the WB decided it was time to give the beloved troubleshooter’s nephew a shot at television stardom. In 2003, they commissioned a pilot for Young MacGyver starring Jared Padalecki (of Gilmore Girls fame) as Clay MacGyver. Interestingly, the original MacGyver TV show was replaced by Young Indiana Jones, which was canceled after one season. Young MacGyver didn’t even make it that far: the WB opted to pass on the show after seeing the pilot.
2. LEGALLY BLONDE
After the success of 2001's Legally Blonde, a TV pilot was made—and rejected—starring Jennifer Hall as Elle Woods, the ditzy blonde from Bel Air who excels at Harvard Law School against all odds. The pilot was produced in 2003, the same year Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde was released.
3. BUFFY THE ANIMATED SERIES
Created by Joss Whedon, development of Buffy the Animated Series began in 2001, though the four-minute pilot above wasn’t created for the show until 2004. It’s unclear why the series never got picked up, though Whedon hypothesized it was just too expensive for an animated kids show. “I felt like I was sitting there with bags of money and nobody would take them from me. It was a question of people either not wanting it or not being able to put up the money because it was not a cheap show,” Whedon explained. “One thing I was very hard-line about was, I didn't want people to see it if it looked like crap.”
4. COMING TO AMERICA
Starring Tommy Davidson, who later appeared on In Living Color, the Coming To America pilot slightly altered the plot line of the original movie. It focused on Tariq, the prankster prince of the fictional Zamunda, being sent to college in America and quickly blowing his entire princely allowance.
5. WHERE'S RODNEY?
In 1990, NBC aired the pilot for Where’s Rodney?, which followed an unpopular teenager named Rodney who discovers he has one strange and extremely specific magical power: the ability to make comedian Rodney Dangerfield appear any time he needs advice. Unfortunately, NBC wasn’t impressed, and the show didn’t get picked up—proving once again that Rodney Dangerfield “don’t get no respect.”
6. DRIVING MISS DAISY
The 1992 pilot based on the stage play (which had previously been adapted into a Best Picture-winning film in 1989) aired on CBS and then disappeared from television forever, proving critically beloved theater and award-winning films don’t necessarily translate to the sitcom format.
7. TURNER & HOOCH
In the 1980s, dog buddy movies were all the rage. Audiences loved K-9 (1989), Oh Heavenly Dog (1980), and of course, Turner & Hooch (1989), in which Tom Hanks acted alongside an adorable pooch named Hooch. Attempting to capitalize on all that love for the popular cop and canine film, The Magical World of Disney aired the pilot of a TV adaptation of Turner & Hooch in 1990. Unfortunately, the concept wasn’t deemed a success on the small screen and the show was scrapped.
8. THE IT CROWD
Plenty of British TV shows have been successfully remade in America, but The IT Crowd isn’t one of those shows. The American version, which NBC passed on, replaced Chris O’Dowd’s nerdy IT worker with Joel McHale, best known for playing a smarmy lawyer on NBC’s Community.
9. HEAT VISION AND JACK
Though Fox passed on Heat Vision and Jack, the pilot has developed a surprising cult following since it was filmed in 1999. Created by Dan Harmon (Community) and Rob Schrab (The Sarah Silverman Program), the show starred Jack Black as super intelligent former astronaut Jack Austin and Owen Wilson as Jack’s talking motorcycle buddy, Heat Vision.
10. REVENGE OF THE NERDS
Yet more proof that adapting a popular movie for television isn’t a sure thing, Fox dumped the 1991 TV version of 1984's Revenge of the Nerds after the pilot episode aired to negative reviews. Featuring four of the original nerds, the pilot episode mostly reprised the plot of the original film.