10 TV Shows That Changed Dramatically

From beginning to end - two totally different shows!

Peep Show
Channel 4

The TV game is a hard one to break. Myriad shows are chucked against the wall every season, and it’s almost impossible to predict what will stick. So when a network finds a hit, odds are they’ll be loath to mess with the formula. Get a programme that works, and it’s a licence to print money doing the same old thing year upon year.

For some shows, though, that kind of stasis just isn’t an option. Many a long running programme has started out providing one kind of content, and ended up doing something totally different. This can be a change of genre, a shuffling of the deck in terms of cast, or a budgetary switch that makes for a wildly altered product.

In some cases, this can be for the best - a comedy drama might realise it has something deeper to say than it ever imagined, or a more interesting character might come to the fore the more the writers play around. Other times, it can be detrimental - shows that clearly lose focus or just plain run out of ideas.

Whether these are gradual evolutions or on-a-dime changes, from pilot to finale, these shows are very different animals.

10. New Girl

Peep Show

In 2011, Fox felt absolutely certain that the sheer force of Zooey Deschanel would be enough to sell a sitcom. Every advert and poster for New Girl featured Deschanel as Jess, the titular character, front and centre, with her co-stars way out in the background if pictured at all. She was, we were promised, adorkable.

And to be fair, Deschanel was a great fit for TV. Then at the peak of her powers, her public persona worked perfectly in 20 minute chunks. The simple premise saw her quirky schoolteacher character move into an apartment with a disparate bunch of boys, wherein hijinks couldn’t help but ensue.

Quickly, though, the writers realised that there was life in this project beyond Zooey Deschanel: The Show. As the rest of the cast - Jake Johnson, Lamorne Morris, Hannah Simone, and the exceptional Max Greenfield - found their feet in their supporting roles, the show was reshaped around the ensemble. It transformed from a star vehicle to the era’s best hangout show.

So distinct was this transformation that Jess could be written off the show for a spell while Deschanel gave birth. Smart writing and great cast chemistry turned what could have been a flash in the pan into one of the great modern network comedies.


Yorkshire-based writer of screenplays, essays, and fiction. Big fan of having a laugh. Read more of my stuff @ www.twotownsover.com (if you want!)