12 Spin-Offs That Are So Good, You’ll Ditch Your Plans to Binge Watch Them All
Sometimes there are characters or stories from one series that, due to their potential, end up leading to other series. This is what’s known as a spin-off and it isn’t a new phenomenon. It’s becoming more common in the face of the unstoppable growth of shows that are available to watch. Some successes generate new events like Better Call Saul, a prequel to the infamous lawyer that emerged in Breaking Bad. Still, not all of them work out, like Joey, the Joey Tribbiani show that came after the end of Friends.
Bright Side made a list of the most notable spin-offs on the small screen.
1. Breaking Bad (2008) / Better Call Saul (2015)
Breaking Bad left an existential void when it came to an end in 2013. But the farewell was shorter than expected. Just 2 years later, Better Call Saul appeared on the screen, a spin-off that has the most beloved Albuquerque lawyer as the protagonist.
The series is a prequel that goes deep into the personal and professional history of the character played by Bob Odenkirk. The fifth season has just been released on Netflix. Not wanting to spoil anything, in case you haven’t started it yet, let’s just say that other Breaking Bad characters (the likes of Michael “Mike” Ehrmantraut and Gus Fring) also play an essential role.
2. The Tracey Ullman Show (1987) / The Simpsons (1989)
You’ve probably never seen The Tracey Ullman Show. It’s a humorous television program that aired between 1987 and 1990. The Simpson family appeared there for the first time before becoming its own series. Before and after each cut, the family’s short segments were so successful that they were given a time slot.
The solo debut of the characters created by cartoonist Matt Groening started as a Christmas special in 1989. Now there are more than 684 episodes and over 31 seasons, not to mention awards, a film, and broad international recognition.
3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997) / Angel (1999)
Years before the Twilight movie saga centered around the love story between a vampire and a human, the Buffy, the Vampire Slayer series had already delved into that particular forbidden relationship field. Those who were teenagers in the ’90s inevitably followed the twists and turns of Buffy’s complicated romance with Angel, the underground demon.
The success of the role played by David Boreanaz led the producers to give him his own show. After moving to LA, this vampire with a restored soul fought demons to compensate for his decades of wrongdoings.
4. Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990) / Melrose Place (1992)
Beverly Hills, 90210 was one of the most significant TV events of the ’90s. The series revolved around a group of young characters who lived surrounded by luxury and Jason Priestley, Luke Perry, and Shannen Doherty became acting idols.
Taking advantage of that popularity, the same producers created Melrose Place, with a similar format, but targeted to a more adult audience. The character Jake Hanson, played by Grant Show, had a brief appearance in the first series and was appointed to unite it with its 90210 counterpart. The crossing of several leads became common, which raised viewership.
5. Cheers (1982) / Frasier (1993)
Frasier won 37 Emmys. It’s number 3 on the list series with the most number of Emmys in history, right behind Saturday Night Live and Game of Thrones. That’s how famous this sitcom was. The show revolved around the life of a psychiatrist who, after his divorce, returns to his hometown of Seattle to reconnect with his father and his brother.
The main character, played by Kelsey Grammer, grew out of another huge television hit: Cheers. He was a regular customer at the bar where the program took place. The show itself was chosen by leading critics as one of the best of all time and was pivotal in promoting the career of renowned actors like Ted Danson, Woody Harrelson, Rhea Perlman, and Kirstie Alley.
6. The Walking Dead (2010) / Fear the Walking Dead (2015)
This series is set in a post-apocalyptic time in which people who die transform into zombies that attack the living. That’s the bleak situation that policeman Rick Grimes found himself in after surviving a coma. And so, his journey of survival began in The Walking Dead.
Explaining the transition between normalcy and the presence of these “walking dead” is the crux of the show Fear The Walking Dead, screened in 2015. “It’s more of a parallel story than a prequel,” shared Dave Erickson, one of the show’s producers. Both series have several points in common, since both are based on the Robert Kirkman comics and both share several characters.
7. Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995) / Xena: Warrior Princess (1995)
In Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, actor Kevin Sorbo plays the role of the hero with superhuman strength — a winning recipe. What started out as 5 movies that were meant to go straight to television, turned into a weekly show that aired for 4 years, between 1995 and 1999.
At the end of the first season, the son of the god Zeus and a mortal help a leading evil warrior named Xena redeem herself, discovering the good in her. The producers saw enormous potential in the Xena character, played by Lucy Lawless. That same year they created the spin-off Xena: Warrior Princess.
8. Beavis and Butt-Head (1993) / Daria (1997)
Beavis and Butt-Head was an adult animated MTV series that didn’t go unnoticed. It was made into a movie, a comic strip, a music album, and even video games. It also had a spin-off: Daria. This series was centered around a teenager who, with her intelligence and cynicism, contrasted with the naiveté of the previous show’s 2 protagonists.
Daria had initially been a classmate of Beavis and Butt-Head. At the start of her own sitcom, she moves out of town. All cross-references between programs ended then because the producer, Mike Judge, decided to not get involved in the new project. He was already busy with King of the Hill, another one of his hit animations.
9. Arrow (2012) / The Flash (2014)
Arrow, a series about the vigilant Green Arrow, opened up a series franchise around DC characters, a company that, until then, had not taken advantage of Marvel’s new superhero boom. The second television production of “Arrowverse,” the name of the saga’s universe, became The Flash.
The young man, who could run a superhuman speed, received fantastic reception from viewers and led the show executives to develop a spin-off with him as the protagonist. Years later, more shows from the same “Arrowverse” were made: Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lightning, Batwoman, and, coming soon, Superman and Lois.
10. Diff’rent Strokes (1978) / The Facts of Life (1979)
Little Arnold and his phrase “Whatchu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” conquered millions of hearts between the late ’70s and early ’80s in Diff’rent Strokes. The story revolves around 2 African American children from an unfortunate neighborhood who were taken in by a millionaire businessman and his daughter. Through a humorous tone, the show covered several controversial topics.
One of the central characters in that show was housekeeper Edna Garrett, who later starred in her own show: The Facts of Life. In the spin-off, which aired for 9 seasons, the woman becomes a caregiver and counselor for 4 schoolgirls who live in school dorms.
11. The Practice (1997) / Boston Legal (2005)
Drama, light comedy, renowned guest actors, and debate between legal ethics and morals are some of the ingredients that made The Practice a widely successful series. It aired for a full 8 years and received numerous honors until a sudden drop in ratings led to an abrupt end.
A budget cut, due to a significant drop in viewership, led to an almost complete overhaul of actors in the last season. The new cast included James Spader, William Shatner, Rhona Mitra, and Lake Bell. These actors later continued to play the same characters in Boston Legal, a successful spin-off that aired between 2004 and 2008.
12. Friends (1994) / Joey (2004)
Millions of Friends fans around the world last saw all the beloved characters in the last scene, where they left their keys in their apartment. Their lives from then on is a mystery, except for Joey Tribbiani, who released his own series just 4 months later.
In the new show, the character played by Matt LeBlanc, moves to Los Angeles to revitalize his acting career. The spin-off was canceled after its second season due to low ratings. “It didn’t allow Matt to have this carefree kind of lifestyle, and it tried to make Joey grow up — and I think that was a huge mistake,” admitted Kevin Bright, one of its executive producers.
Did you know the story of the shows included on this list? Which series or character would you like to see have its own spin-off? Share your opinions in the comments!