John Walsh was synonymous with America’s Most Wanted, the long-running show that brought fugitives to justice season after season. The show is returning in a reboot, but without its legendary host. The show will be revived on Fox with a new host: Elizabeth Vargas.
It’s not clear why Walsh isn’t returning for the revival of the popular show, but it’s been years since the show filmed new episodes and he has moved on to other projects. He’s the current host of In Pursuit with John Walsh on Investigation Discovery. America’s Most Wanted ran for 25 seasons with Walsh at the lead, ending in 2012. Tips coming into the show resulted in the capture of more than 1,000 of fugitives.
Vargas is best known for her work on ABC’s 20/20. There, Vargas worked as a co-host, correspondent and news coordinator. The new season premiere of America’s Most Wanted airs at 9 p.m. Eastern time Monday, March 15, 2021.
Here’s what you need to know:
Walsh Said He Was Excited America’s Most Wanted Was Returning to TV
📺DEBUT: 'America's Most Wanted' hosted by John Walsh premiered 33 years ago, February 7, 1988, on Fox pic.twitter.com/zoSzd4eJpc
— RetroNewsNow (@RetroNewsNow) February 8, 2021
When the cancellation of America’s Most Wanted was announced in 2012, Walsh expressed dismay that stretched beyond the loss of a hosting job. He was drawn to the job after the murder of his son, Adam Walsh, who was abducted at age 6. The work was personal for Walsh.
America’s Most Wanted first appeared on Fox in 1988, where it ran for 25 years until it was cancelled by Fox. Then, Lifetime briefly picked up the series, where it ran until 2012. The show led to the capture of 1,203 fugitives, including 17 on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, according to CBS. The show was also credited with bringing home 63 missing children, including Elizabeth Smart in Utah.
“Whether I host it or I don’t host it — whoever does it — it needs to be done,” Walsh told CBS at the time. “I think it’s a great use of television and I hope it continues. Because I’ve been there. It took 27 years to solve my son’s case. I know what it’s like to be frustrated and not get justice. … I think it’s something that needs to be on television because we really are the court of last resort.”
It took several years, but Walsh got his wish as the show returns to the air in 2021. He issued a statement at the time of the announcement, which was published by the New York Daily News.
“Capturing dangerous fugitives, bringing justice to victims and finding missing children is my lifetime’s work,” he said. “I am so excited to hear America’s Most Wanted is coming back and I support its return. God bless.”
Vargas Said Walsh Can Return As a Guest Host Any Time He Wants
Vargas acknowledged the legacy of Walsh on America’s Most Wanted, and said that he could return as a guest any time he wants to come back. She is even planning on revisiting a case that did not receive any tips in hopes of generating new leads, she told Entertainment Weekly.
“I haven’t spoken to him yet because he has a lot going on but I know he’s spoken to our producers,” she said. “He’s thrilled we’re bringing the show back. We would love to have him back. He can come back for a guest appearance whenever he wants. He’s so tied to the legacy of this show and did such a wonderful job hosting for many years. We’re still hoping for that. My producers have already spoken to him about it several times.”
Vargas said on the teaser for the show she has “big shoes to fill.” She said she watched the show for years, calling it “an iconic show with an enormous legacy.”
“John Walsh is a legend,” she said. “I couldn’t be more honored to be able to be picking up the mantle and continuing his legacy.”