4 Pop Culture Icons Entertainment Industry Will Ruin Next

The kids of the 1980s and 1990s might be physical adults now, but our old toys and TV shows remain hooked to our hearts. And as I've mentioned before, Hollywood is forever attempting to calculate the optimal moment to yank those hooks so that the maximum amount of money will bleed out.

And to an extent, that's alright. As long as we're prepared to pay for the nostalgia bullshit the entertainment industry keeps churning out regardless of how badly it fucks our memories right in the eye socket, that's precisely what they'll do. However, there are some franchises that should be left alone in the musty corridors of what passes for our memory palace. These old favorites could only return to life as hollow, wailing shells of their former selves, screaming in agony and longing for death. So come and join me in the hope that Hollywood will never attempt to give the Re-Animator treatment to franchises like ...

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4
MacGyver

CBS

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The classic 1980s series featuring a gloriously bemulleted Canadian scientist-turned-spy called Angus MacGyver is so ingrained in our collective pop culture consciousness that the character's name is basically a verb now. You might not remember the plot of a single episode from the series' seven-season tenure, but there's a fair chance you've never once grabbed a Swiss army knife or a roll of duct tape without at least passingly remembering some weird construction ol' Angus MacGyvered (See?) together to fight whoever the shit it was he used to fight. Decepticons?

Also, The Fonz produced the show for some reason. Don't tell me that doesn't count for something.

Why It Must Never Return:

Sadly, MacGyver would be far from impressive these days. Sure, dude was more or less the first TV character who could construct a tank using nothing but a hairpin and seven feet of gaffer's tape, but now fuckin' everyone is doing it. It might not be highlighted to the extent MacGyver did it, but name a show (or movie, or game, or whatever) that doesn't feature at least one character who is able to ass-pull ridiculous gadgets with minimal resources whenever necessary. Shit, Iron Man 3 featured an entire act where a temporarily armorless Tony Stark played the role of MacGyver-with-a-dickhead-beard -- and made his way to what he thought was the Mandarin's lair in this capacity. It's an effective character archetype, but there is such thing as overuse.

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Even bringing Richard Dean Anderson (who's now more associated with his role in Stargate, anyway) back in the game would be unlikely to do the franchise any favors, especially as recent photos indicate that the man has become a card-carrying member of the prestigious Val Kilmer Blobfish Imitation Society, which would not do the active-to-a-fault character any favors.

TMZ
Yes, your childhood heroes age, and yes, it means so do you.

Why It Probably Will Anyway:

Because Hollywood is fucking desperate to cash in on a beloved character with a built-in fan base. They've already dusted Anderson off to do MacGyver-themed commercials a few times during the last few years. A big-budget MacGyver movie has been in talks for years now, with people like Furious Seven director James Wan in talks to helm to the franchise. Back in 2003, they even attempted to make a Young MacGyver series, but the post-millennium world was unimpressed at the idea of a show starring a snotty kid with Captain Planet hair, and it was never picked up.

Nikolay Titov/iStock/Getty Images
For whatever reason.

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That being said, there is one pretty interesting potential way MacGyver could reenter our screens, after a fashion. A crowdsourced project called The Next MacGyver is aiming to create a new TV show starring female protagonists with MacGyver-like engineering skillsets. Now here's the thing: The show doesn't need to have to do anything with MacGyver at all -- they're just looking to capture the spirit of the original. The actual creator of the original MacGyver is even overseeing the competition to make sure this remains the case. So even though I'm arguing that the classic MacGyver character should stay buried, there's a chance we may one day see something similar enough to capture our imaginations, yet modern and different enough to stand out in its own right.

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Or, you know, they'll just churn out some sad thing called Anna MacGyver: MacGyver's Daughter and hope that the pile of money this will make them is big enough to shield them from our rotten eggs and tomatoes.

3
Knight Rider

NBC

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When I was a kid, Knight Rider was my absolute favorite thing in the world. I followed the show with the kind of fervor some slightly younger kids later reserved for Pokemon and Dragon Ball Z. There were toy KITTs, posters, coloring books, and, of course, a soundtrack cassette that probably included other songs besides the show's theme, but I never listened to anything else, because why would anyone ever?


Go on. Click it. You know your ears want it.

The show featured a cool guy and a talking car. Together they fought crime, and occasionally there was even an evil talking car. Even today, whenever someone says Knight Rider was never their jam, I tend to zone out of the conversation because my brain cannot process what I just heard.

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That being said ...

Why It Must Never Return:

This show is the most outdated thing since Michael Jordan's fashion sense. With the possible exceptions of Masters of the Universe, Miami Vice, and Cyndi Lauper, Knight Rider is the most complete 1980s package in existence. Back in the day, a talking car with superpowers was the coolest thing in the universe, to the point where I actually stopped watching several other shows when it became apparent that their otherwise neat vehicles didn't have supercomputer brains actively throwing snark at their drivers.

ABC
I'm looking at you, Street Hawk.

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Today, it's another story. No matter how iconic, a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am with a few cool features is unlikely to impress anyone in a world where robot drones chop off peoples' noses at TGI Fridays and Siri has completely destroyed our belief that a machine can ever truly understand speech. And since the human half of the KITT/Michael Knight duo has spent the last few decades running around in a red speedo, singing strange anthems for Germany, and wrecking his hamburger-eating credibility for life, it doesn't really matter how many nostalgia points we give Knight Rider -- the show's current Awesome Score dips well into negative figures.

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Why It Probably Will Anyway:

Because they've tried and tried and tried and fucking tried to revive the franchise for years. There have been underwhelming TV films. There was the godawful 1997 Team Knight Rider, the Val-Kilmer-as-the-voice-of-the-car 2008 version, and even a loosely-connected 1986 spinoff of the original series called Code of Vengeance, in which a random hobo wandered the countryside and beat people up. None of these later incarnations survived beyond one season, partly because they were horrible but mostly because there was no way they could recapture the peculiar, cheesy chemistry between David Hasselhoff's 1980s Captain Kirk and the original KITT's Spock. Also, they all fucked up the theme song.

Have these failures caused the entertainment industry to learn their lesson? Shit, no. There is always at least one rumor about a new Knight Rider movie making rounds, and with the current success of the Fast franchise, it's probably just a matter of time before some blockbuster director or another is going to Transformers it up for all of us to cringe at. Here's a fairly recent rumor that Chris Pratt and Danny McBride have been offered the role of Michael Knight for the most recent version of Knight Rider: Let's Destroy Childhoods making the rounds. Since Pratt is rumored to be attached to every movie in production between today and 2050, you just know how that one's going to wind up.

Via Wikipedia
"Listen here, you beautiful bitch, I'm about to fuck you up with my talking Hyundai i40 Comfort Plus."

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2
St. Elsewhere

NBC

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Before ER George Clooney'd our collective ass and Grey's Anatomy did whatever the hell it is a Grey's Anatomy does (Fuck-witted bondage?), there was St. Elsewhere. Although never as popular as its followers, it was arguably the hospital drama to end hospital dramas, with its seven seasons of ensemble-cast-driven havoc that regularly dipped deep into that darkest pool of black comedy that only the bravest and most deranged dare to drink from. Basically, it was a really fucking weird 1980s cross between House and Scrubs. Wait, doesn't that sound pretty awesome? Wouldn't it be great to get this thing back on, updated with modern production values?

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No. No, it wouldn't.

Why It Must Never Return:

Because it would wreck the Tommy Westphall Universe.

St. Elsewhere famously ended with the reveal that its entire universe existed in the toy snow globe (and therefore imagination) of an autistic kid named Tommy Westphall. Given that the show had a shitload of crossovers with other series (which in turn had crossovers with even more series), this has created a popular paradox / fan theory: Pretty much every show you've ever heard of is interconnected -- and happens entirely in Tommy's head. We've already discussed this TV-spanning Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon that currently links a whopping 375 shows, ranging from Star Trek to Arrested Development. It's convoluted, insane, and also my favorite thing ever.

Too bad that unless they, I don't know, do some whacked-out "The hospital in Tommy's head"-style cartoon version, there is virtually no way to bring back the show that wouldn't end up destroying the snow globe ending. It's not like they'd be unaware of this rather well-known theory, and there's just one real way to address the issue: Either the character's globe would be removed completely, or the very first episode would see Westphall breaking his globe and the universe remaining intact nevertheless. Both would effectively shit all over the Tommy Westphall Universe.

NBC
Which would be a sizable dump indeed.

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Look, there are precisely two fan-made pop culture conspiracy theories that I buy into, and fucking Skyfall already ruined the one about "James Bond" being just a code name MI6 passes from one sociopath to the next. I won't have this taken from me too, goddammit!

Why It Probably Will Anyway:

I'm not basing the return of St. Elsewhere on any specific rumor going around at the time of writing this, but rather on the circular and inevitable nature of television. Since House ended, there have been no demographic-bending straight-up superhits in the world of medical shows. Add this to the fact that our TV is progressively getting weirder and weirder. In a world where audiences are happily lapping up everything from President Keyzer Soze to medieval Barbies with attack dragons, it's pretty easy to see that the darkly comedic hospital drama stylings of St. Elsewhere would hit both of those sweet spots like a snow globe on the face of anyone who suggests its revival within my hearing distance.

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Besides, the last time I did one of these articles, the most unlikely-to-return of those shows promptly announced its comeback just to spite me.

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1
Mister Rogers' Neighborhood

Via Rewire

I should not need to tell you who Mister Rogers is. During its ridiculous 31 seasons, his Mister Rogers' Neighborhood shed out regular life advice to three decades' worth of kids, developing such a reputation in the process that he could make jaded soap opera actresses bawl their eyes out with just a few seconds of silence. Cracked has previously listed a whole bunch of reasons why he was without a doubt the greatest American of his era, and probably a whole bunch of others. The Internet's been trying for years to retcon him into a former Navy SEAL so we could kick that underachiever Steve away from the Avengers and let a more deserving Rogers take up the Captain America mantle. I spent my childhood in Finland, and I would have killed to have a TV role model like Mister Rogers instead of the creepy clown monologuing his anguish on a mostly empty courtyard that we were stuck with.

Via YLE
What, you thought I was kidding?

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Fred McFeely Rogers and his show were alright, is what I'm saying.

Why It Must Never Return:

Well, for one, Fred's dead. And even if he wasn't, our jaded online culture would probably lambaste him with the kind of memetic viciousness that can destroy careers (take a listen to the show's earnest theme song, imagine you heard it for the first time, and try not to think up vicious jabs you'd wind up using online, and don't pretend that you wouldn't). But even if we were still responsive to good old-fashioned Neighborhood Real Talk, how would you go about it? Who could take up the mantle? To replace the one-of-a-kind sincerity of Fred Rogers, you would have to recruit the Pope, then give his moral values a huge upgrade. There is no executive so jaded that they'd dare to touch this particular legacy.

Why It Probably Will Anyway:

Wait, it's already happening? Shi-uh, I mean, shame. (Sorry, Mister Rogers.)

In 2012, a cartoon called Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood made its debut. All of its characters are descendants or other close relatives of the Mr. Rogers neighbors in the Neighborhood of Make Believe, and Daniel himself is both the son of Rogers' old Daniel Striped Tiger hand puppet and, oh yeah, an anthropomorphic tiger who shares a whole lot of Fred Rogers' onscreen mannerisms.

Via Wikipedia
Because when we think of Mister Rogers, we think of a predatory hellcat.

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To be fair, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood has been specifically created to pay homage to Mister Rogers' teaching philosophy, combined with the latest research on child development. But isn't that how all the stories in the great Abuse-a-Dead-Celebrity game begin? You get a compilation album to celebrate your work, and the next thing you know, you're prancing on the soundstage as a hologram, Tupac-style.

So, you know, don't be surprised if the inevitable Epic Rap Battles of History World Tour in 2020 will feature a nigh-unmistakable computer avatar of your favorite childhood character break-dancing and spitting sass at a geriatric Mr. T.

Pauli is on Facebook and Twitter, and pretty sure that you should get off his lawn.

For more from Pauli, check out 4 Conspiracy Theories That Will Make You Give Up On Humanity and 5 Awesome Foreign Easter Traditions (That We Need) .

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