Scrapped TV Show Storylines That Would Have Changed EverythingPublished on September 11, 2018. Updated June 24, 2021
Creating a successful television series is anything but easy and as a show progresses, there is a lot of pressure on creators, producers and writers to keep giving fans what they want while keeping the series interesting. Naturally, long-running television shows go through many storylines with some that last and some that don’t, but fans would be shocked at some crazy storylines that almost happened. Some of these plot lines could have made the show better, others could have made it worse, but there is no denying that it would have changed everything including the show’s popularity. Here are scrapped storylines from popular TV shows that would have been crazy if they had happened:
16. 24 – Teri Surviving
Fans of Fox’s hit series 24 know that the catalyst for Jack Bauer for everything following season one was the death of his wife Teri, but it almost didn’t happen! Teri’s death wasn’t decided upon until very late in season one and producers had even filmed two other endings, one where she gets shot and survives and another where she never gets shot at all. Fox executives were worried that the tragic ending would dissuade viewers from returning for season two, but ultimately the decision was made to go ahead with her death. There is no telling how the show would have played out, but since her death created the Jack Bauer fans knew and loved, it is safe to say 24 wouldn’t have been the same at all.
15. Smallville – Batman
For 10 seasons, Smallville was an incredibly popular superhero series detailing the early life of Clark Kent/Superman. Towards the end of the series, a Justice League of sorts began to be formed and the series introduced superheroes like Green Arrow, The Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman, but what fans don’t know is that the series was actually supposed to feature Batman as well. When Ian Somerhalder showed up as Adam Knight in season three his character was actually supposed to be Bruce Wayne/Batman, but the network couldn’t clear the rights for the character. If things had gone through, the course of the series would definitely have been changed with Clark Kent meeting Bruce Wayne so early on. Since there is no telling how much the character of Oliver Queen/Green Arrow would have then been developed had Batman been in the picture, the effects could have extended to there now being no Arrow series which was inspired by Smallville bringing the character to the small screen.
14. Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Xander’s Sexuality
When Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired from 1997 to 2003 it was still seen as shocking when a main character was gay, but Joss Whedon knew that he wanted one of the gang to be gay for the series. In the beginning however that character was not Willow, it was Xander, and Whedon had even written out storylines about Xander having a closeted relationship with the school’s jock, Larry. As time progressed however, Whedon saw it made more sense for Willow’s character to come out as gay, and as fans know that decision gave us one of the best Buffy relationships of all time with Willow and Tara.
13. Friends – Elizabeth Pregnant
For the entire run of Friends, Ross’s relationships and failed marriages were the butts of many jokes, and fans weren’t too happy when he started dating one of his students, Elizabeth. While the Ross and Elizabeth storyline ran longer than expected, it was supposed to have one heck of a twist as well. Season six didn’t end on as big of a cliffhanger as Friends fans were used to because the one they had planned was that Ross would discover Elizabeth was pregnant. Ross’s story arc for season seven was then supposed to be dealing with Elizabeth’s pregnancy only to eventually discover that the baby was not his! In the end, they decided to abandon the entire storyline because they knew that they wanted season seven to end with Rachel’s pregnancy and it would be just too many Ross-centric pregnancy storylines for one season.
12. ER – Carol’s Death
Before there was Grey’s Anatomy, The Good Doctor or many of the other medical dramas now dominating television, TV watchers were obsessed with NBC’s ER. ER ended up running from 1994 to 2002 for an incredible 15 seasons and for much of that time Julianna Margulies starred as nurse Carol Hathaway. The original plotline for the character however was for Carol to die of a drug overdose in the pilot. The actress explained that she was just about to sign on to a “not very good sitcom” when George Clooney called her to tell her that test audiences loved her. When executives realized how much chemistry the two stars had and how much they liked Margulies, they re-wrote the pilot, kept the character and changed the entire course of ER.
11. Friday Night Lights – An Affair
During its five season run, Friday Night Lights enjoyed praise from critics and fans alike and while it was definitely a teen drama, there was no doubt that Tami and Eric Taylor stole the show. The pair have gone down in TV history as one of the best couples of all time, but that could have been a lot different had one of the original storylines for the couple been written in. Initially, there was supposed to be a storyline in which one of the Taylors had an affair. While this was somewhat hinted at when Tami was hit on by one of the teachers at her school, an actual affair never happened and that is because both Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton refused to take part in it, causing writers to abandon the storyline altogether.
10. Cheers – Sam’s Sickness
For 11 seasons, Cheers reigned as one of TV’s most popular sitcoms with a fantastic cast led by Ted Danson’s Sam Malone. While things sometimes got very real and emotional in the show, there was always humor to break the tension, but one serious storyline in particular would have been a tough one. In season six there were talks of ending the season on a cliffhanger in which Sam discovers he might be HIV positive after one of his partners gets her diagnosis. Season seven was then going to deal with Sam potentially being sick and would have derailed the character’s development as fans know it. In the end, the storyline never came to fruition because of a writer’s strike which limited the season.
9. The Vampire Diaries – Klaus’ Death
Niklaus “Klaus” Mikaelson was the most iconic “big bad” on The Vampire Diaries, and became so popular he got his very own spinoff with The Originals which in turn has its very own spinoff Legacies, but absolutely none of that would have happened if writers went with the original storyline for the character. “Our intention was to kill Klaus at the end of Season 3,” confided creator Julie Plec. “We created the character last year… and our intention was, that after a long, arduous year of trying to vanquish and defeat the villain, our heroes would prevail and he would be no more. But when you have actors [like Joseph Morgan] who are that good, making such a distinct mark in the roles that they are playing, you have to let your storytelling evolve and wrap around that a little bit. We collectively decided around the middle of Season 3 that we weren’t done with Klaus — or Joseph.” Sometimes it is hard to tell what kind of effect a scrapped storyline would have, but in this case everyone knows it would have been disastrous for the show and its spinoffs had Klaus been killed off.
8. One Tree Hill – Haley Didn’t Sing
Almost the entire character of Haley James Scott on One Tree Hill was defined by her incredible singing abilities. It almost ruined her marriage to Nathan, created endless drama, and eventually brought them back together, but at first it wasn’t even a part of her character! Haley’s storyline and character arc were a lot different until one day when One Tree Hill creator Mark Schwahn heard Bethany Joy Lenz singing in the parking lot. He had no idea she could sing like that and decided to not only add it into the series, but make it a defining feature of her character. Schwahn never elaborated on what his plans were for Haley before he discovered Lenz could sing, but it is easy to tell that that abandoned storyline was definitely for the better!
7. Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Tara’s Return
Unlike most other teen-centric shows, relationships were anything but stable and easy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but when it came to Willow and Tara there was no couple that fans loved more. After the heartbreaking decision to kill off Amber Benson’s Tara there was so much backlash that Joss Whedon decided he wanted to bring her back. There was a plan for Buffy to use her one wish to bring Tara back to life, but unfortunately Benson had already moved on to other acting roles and didn’t want to return to the series. While fans would have been ecstatic to see Willow and Tara back together instead of Willow and Kennedy, there is no denying that Willow’s character development and story arc after Tara’s death would not have been the same and would have greatly changed the course of Buffy.
6. Gossip Girl – Chuck’s Mom
Fans of The CW’s hit teen drama Gossip Girl know that the plotlines in that series went from ridiculous to utter ludicrous, yet somehow kept bringing viewers back for more. One of the most confusing storylines was to do with Chuck Bass’s mother and who she was and whether or not she was really dead, which took up a lot of Chuck’s storylines for several seasons. Those who watched the pilot however know that that almost didn’t happen because in the pilot it seems that Chuck’s mom is alive and well. When he and Nate are talking about Nate and Blair possibly sleeping together for the first time, Chuck tells him that he had swiped some of his mother’s “substances” for the occasion. It was after the first few episodes that writers decided to change up Chuck’s backstory and have the whole mother mystery which meant that line in the pilot made no sense.
5. Breaking Bad – Jesse’s Death
When Breaking Bad premiered in 2008, no one could have anticipated how huge it was going to become, or the impact Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman was going to have on viewers. Throughout the series, and after it has ended, creator Vince Gilligan has offered up little facts about his creative process, revealing he had quite a few initial storylines in mind that would have changed everything, with the biggest being he pitched for Jesse to be killed in season one! Gilligan admitted that when he gave the pitch, which included not only Jesse’s death, but his gruesome torture as well, the studio executives actually groaned with distaste over the idea and told him “you are seriously f–ked up.” It would be hard to imagine Breaking Bad without Jesse, and odds are it would not have been nearly as successful.
4. One Tree Hill – Brooke and Lucas
One Tree Hill fans have always been divided on if they preferred Lucas and Peyton together or Brooke and Lucas, but it was clear that the central focus would always be on Lucas and Peyton and their love story, no matter how difficult it was for them to actually be together. For those who were hoping for Brooke and Lucas to be endgame though, they almost got their wish. Hilarie Burton, who played Peyton Sawyer, revealed four years after the show came to an end that during seasons two and three, the outlook for the couples on the show looked a lot different. At that point it had been decided Brooke and Lucas would end up together and Peyton and Jake would end up together. In the end it was Burton and Chad Michael Murray’s chemistry that made the showrunners switch to the original outcome of Peyton and Lucas being together. Of course, had Brooke ended up with Lucas, Chad Michael Murray leaving the show would have been a lot different and it worked out smoothly that Murray and Burton departed together.
3. Grey’s Anatomy – Bailey and George
Grey’s Anatomy has had a lot of relationships between characters that fans would never expect and while sometimes they have had a positive effect on the show, other times fans reacted negatively. The latter would have almost certainly been the case had Grey’s Anatomy gone ahead with a romance between Dr. Bailey and George which was in the works for the first season. Shonda Rhimes described the would-be romance as “odd but hot,” but clarified that the Miranda Bailey character was different in her mind before they did the casting as well. Regardless, that relationship would have been awkward to watch and hard to believe with George and Bailey’s personalities.
2. Lost – Jack’s Death
Lost has gone down as one of the greatest television series of all time, but it might not have been that way if the original plot line for a major character had actually happened. Originally, Matthew Fox’s Jack Shephard was supposed to establish himself as the leader of the stranded group only to then be killed off midway through the pilot episode. The network also had Michael Keaton in mind to play the character, but when they decided that Jack’s death would only influence viewers not to trust the show right off the bat, and keep the character, Keaton couldn’t commit to the role because of filming conflicts. Jack’s death would not only have altered how fans viewed the series, but would have changed everything for the story and the rest of the characters in every episode and season that followed.
1. Friends – Monica and Joey
Ross and Rachel, Monica and Chandler, and Phoebe and Mike are all iconic and beloved Friends couples, but things could have been massively different. For years after the series came to an end, the shows cast and creators revealed all kinds of secrets fans never knew, including the fact that originally Monica and Joey were supposed to be the central couple. “When we were originally conceiving the show, we actually thought that Monica and Joey might become a thing and then we cast it, and just went ‘that’s not the right energy’ because now they’re faces and they’re people,” said co-creator David Crane. Their idea of Monica and Joey as the central couple was scrapped after they saw the chemistry between Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer and the Ross and Rachel saga was born.