Why Disney Canceled The Lizzie McGuire Reboot

We’ll probably never know what Lizzie McGuire is doing in her adult years, but from Disney’s point of view, that may be for the best. In the age of reboots and revivals, it was reported in 2019 that Disney was reviving Lizzie McGuire with Hilary Duff reprising her role as the titular teenager, now an adult navigating life as a thirty-something. This certainly made sense as Disney had successfully continued popular series like Boy Meets World and That’s So Raven with Girl Meets World and Raven’s House, respectively.

Behind the scenes, the project wound up falling apart, and it was revealed by the end of 2020 that the planned reboot was no longer moving forward. Anyone wondering what happened to change Disney’s mind, look no further. Here’s the saga of Lizzie McGuire — from its revival to its cancellation to a different sitcom project that Duff got to be a part of.

Updated January 20, 2024: This article has been updated with even more information on why the new Lizzie McGuire never saw the light of day following recent comments from the creator of the series.

Welcome Back, Lizzie!

The Lizzie McGuire Movie
Walt Disney Pictures

The new Lizzie McGuire was announced at the 2019 D23 Expo, according to Variety. At the Disney+ event that year, Hilary Duff spoke about the adult Lizzie that viewers would meet in the show:

“Lizzie has also grown up, she’s older, she’s wiser, she has a much bigger shoe budget. She has her dream job, the perfect life right now working as an apprentice to a fancy New York City decorator.”

Around that same time, Duff also posted a compilation of clips and photos from the original Lizzie McGuire on Instagram and said she was, ” … beyond excited to be home again, back with my girl ♥️ … and into her 30’s [sic].”

Related: Hilary Duff Shows Support for the Actors Strike by Singing Classic Lizzie McGuire Song

The excitement from fans swirled with each new development — such as the return of Lizzie’s best friend (and former love interest) Gordo, played by Adam Lamberg; the first look at new Lizzie; and Duff’s behind-the-scenes posts on the show, like this photo from a shooting day. However, things for the new Lizzie McGuire took a turn when Disney+ seemed to put restrictions on plotlines.

Disney Had Second Thoughts on Lizzie McGuire

Lizzie McGuire and Gordo smiling.
Disney Channel

Things started to look bleak for the Lizzie McGuire reboot when the original show’s creator Terri Minsky left the new project, causing a production halt. Two episodes had been filmed at the time, and someone from Disney said, ” … we need to move in a different creative direction and are putting a new lens on the series.”

Minsky told Variety after leaving the show,

“I would love the show to exist, but ideally I would love it if it could be given that treatment of going to Hulu and doing the show that we were doing.”

The outlet also reported that Duff shared an Instagram story implying that they were told the Lizzie McGuire reboot wasn’t “family friendly” enough for Disney+. In March 2020, a write-up in the Hollywood Reporter mentioned how the Lizzie McGuire reboot was in limbo and how the pilot didn’t ignore the subject of sex. Infidelity was reportedly included as well. Hilary Duff confirmed that Lizzie would’ve caught her boyfriend cheating while giving details of the cancelled revival.

Duff also shared a post on Instagram saying the show should live on Hulu so its rating can exceed PG. In December 2020, Duff confirmed that the Lizzie McGuire reboot was dead.

What Could Have Been

Lizzie McGuire cartoon
Disney Channel

In the years since that announcement, both Duff and a writer from the show have explained why by outlining some of the story arcs and themes the show was going to explore.

In an interview with Women’s Health, Duff shed some light on why Disney pulled the plug on the Lizzie McGuire reboot once more. As Duff imagined a more realistic series with the Lizzie McGuire character behaving more like your average 30-year-old than the family-friendly teenager on the original show, she found herself at odds with Disney, which seemed to have been pushing for more of a PG series. As Duff explains:

“She had to be 30 years old doing 30-year-old things. She didn’t need to be doing bong rips and having one-night stands all the time, but it had to be authentic. I think they got spooked.”

The Lizzie McGuire reboot was not meant to be. But that doesn’t mean Duff doesn’t look back at Ms. McGuire fondly, wishing the revival would have worked out.

“It would be dumb of me to not know that I have a sweet spot playing that relatable girl. I am that girl. It was a conscious choice not to be angsty and try to shift people’s opinions on who I am. That doesn’t mean I didn’t want to try!”

In 2024, a Lizzie McGuire reboot writer shared plot details from the scrapped series. Jonathan Hurwitz explained in a series of TikTok videos that Lizzie would have returned home after discovering she was cheated on — and that she was supposed to have a romantic rendezvous with her former crush, Ethan Craft. The series would not have had Lizzie and Gordo getting together; instead, it would have revealed that Gordo is engaged and his fiancee is pregnant.

As for the animated Lizzie, it was revealed that when Lizzie returns to her childhood home, her animated counterpart is waiting for her. She also appeared in the third episode (which was never filmed but was written), which included Lizzie waking Ethan’s bed in his water polo t-shirt and an animated Lizzie popping up and checking Ethan off an animated to-do list twice. While this certainly might have been a risque joke for Disney, it certainly is a realistic one for a show centered on a woman in her 30s.

While fans won’t be checking back in with Lizzie anytime soon, the show’s collapse did free up Duff’s schedule. And that led to a starring role in another series that felt oddly similar.

Duff Played a Similar Role in Another Sitcom

Hilary Duff

Hilary Duff starred in the lead role on Hulu’s How I Met Your Father, a spin-off of the hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother. Her character, Sophie, is not so much unlike what Duff would have envisioned for an older Lizzie McGuire. The series tells the story of Sophie (Duff) and how she comes to meet the man who turns out to be the father of her children. Former Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall also plays an older version of Sophie in a role similar to that of Bob Saget’s on How I Met Your Mother. The spin-off series also stars Christopher Lowell, Francia Raisa, Suraj Sharma, Tom Ainsley, and Tien Tran.

The show was cancelled by Hulu after those two seasons, but you can still find the show streaming there. It aired on Hulu, the very streaming service Duff wanted Lizzie McGuire to move to. The series would tackle some of the jokes and subject matter that would center on a single woman in her 30s that Disney deemed not appropriate for a series spinning off from one of their most popular series.


Hilary Duff Hits Back at Troll After How I Met Your Father Cancelation Comments

That might have been the biggest issue, was tone and target audience. All of the other Disney Channel revival series have been aimed at the target Disney audience of kids, so they are trying to hook a new generation while hoping that the previous generation who watched the original series also tunes in. Yet their primary focus has always been a younger audience. This is apparent with the news of the Wizards of Waverly Place revival, which seems to be a family-friendly type of story. Lizzie McGuire was clearly looking to be a series for the audience who watched the series on Disney Channel but had now since grown up.

And it may not be too late for Lizzie! In 2023, Duff commented on the possible Lizzie McGuire reboot and was hopeful it could still happen. Disney+ has changed a lot since then, as they have now added R-rated Marvel content like Deadpool and The Defenders Saga, with Marvel Studios Echo being the first TV-MA project made for Disney+. With Hulu now being added to the service, the Disney+ catalog will become more diverse, and they might be open to revisiting a more adult-centric Lizzie McGuire series.

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