Getting unaired TV episodes

This question came up the other night:

When a show gets canceled, presumably, several additional episodes had already been filmed that never aired. I assume the network sticks them on a shelf and forgets about them, but is there a way that a random guy like myself can get a look at them somehow or order them from the network?

We’re still mourning the demise of ‘The Family Guy’ on Fox and wanted to see anything that never made it on the tube…

I’m sure if you talk to Fox and the producers of the show and pay them a hefty fee, you can own the performance rights to those.

Eventually, any unaired episodes will be shown so the network can make some money off of them, probably during the summer.

To BobT’s entry I would like to add that, on occasion, other networks will pick the small number of shows for their use. (e.g. SCI-FI has picked such shows as “The Visitor”, “Dark Skies”, and “Brimstone”). If you’ve noticed, nearly any show that ends up on Fridays at 8pm will die a horrible death on Fox. (“The Visitor”, “Brimstone”, and “Sliders”).

Hopefully, someone like Comedy Central will pick up Family Guy. They did pick up The Critic and The Tick, which are hilarious.

The short answer is… no.

The longer answer is, as BobT suggests, wait a few months/years and someone will probably air them somewhere else.

It’s not as bad as it sounds, though. In the glory days of the Big Three Networks (i.e., pre-cable) you might never see those unaired episodes again, ever. However, with today’s proliferation of cable networks desperate for content, I guarantee that every minute of professionally produced footage will eventually see the light of day. Just look at TVLand. Besides their regular schedule of popular, long-running series, on weekends they’ll often air episodes of series that lasted such a short time, no one ever bothered to try to syndicate them (no chance for profit). Hell, I’m an avid TV watcher (it’s my business - seriously!) and they consistantly pull out shows I’ve never heard of. That’s tough to do!

And as far as going directly to the network (or more likely, the production company - the networks don’t necessarily the programs they air) - ain’t no way in hell! Maybe if you knew someone on the production staff who had his own copy, etc…

The networks/large production companies just aren’t going to open their vaults to shmucks like you and me.

At one time the big 3 networks would use the summer months as the dumping ground for episodes of any cancelled TV series. The network has paid for the right to air the episodes usually twice. If the episodes aren’t aired then chances of seeing them in syndication are slim… Life Lesson #13: Never piss against an electric fence.