It may come as a surprise to learn that some of the most memorable television shows on the small screen are actually spin-offs from other popular programs. Over the decades, a wide variety of television genres have led to the creation of thrilling and hugely entertaining companion series, not only to make a name for itself in show business, but to further elevate the status of its predecessor. Some of these riveting shows have even surpassed the original in terms of fame and success, with many receiving immense accolades and numerous accolades during their outstanding tenures on television.
Iconic classic sitcoms like Laverne and Shirley and fraser to edgy crime dramas such as You better call Saul and Law and order: SVU, Spin-off shows have been and continue to be a very lucrative business in Hollywood. The late and great Robin Williams first gained recognition with his hilarious, over-the-top performance in the 70s staple Mork and Mindy, captivating audiences everywhere with his jaw-dropping humor and improvisational skills. Steven Colbert had previously delivered his amusing comment on The daily show before landing his own breakthrough program, one of Comedy Central’s funniest shows, The Colbert report. Here are some of the best spin-off TV series.
Following the experiences of cynical and sharp titular character Daria Morgendorffer as she navigates teenage life in Lawndale, MTV’s animated adult sitcom Darya is a spin-off of the epic comedy series Mike Judge Beavis and Butthead, with the angsty girl having been a recurring character on the program. The judge gave Darya creators Glenn Eichler and Susie Lewis Lynn have permission to create the series, although he himself has no involvement in the production of the sitcom.
Darya would go on to attract a loyal following and run for five seasons, establishing Daria as an admirable female cartoon character and influencing sneaky television ever since. After the series finale, Slate The magazine went on to praise the MTV classic, writing that “the series bites the dust without ever getting the credit it deserves: for social satire, witty writing, and above all, for a character really original principal”.
8 Mork and Mindy
Legendary comedian and improv superstar Robin Williams appeared alongside Pam Dawber in the 1978 sitcom Mork and Mindy, in which the late performer hilariously appeared as an alien from the planet Ork who finds friendship and later love with the kind Mindy McConnell. The character of Mork first appeared in a 1978 episode of Happy Days in a tribute to 60s comedy My favorite Martian, with the beloved sitcom wanting to capitalize on the success of recently releasing star wars image. At the time, Williams was an unknown actor who impressed talented producer and writer Garry Marshall with his offbeat humor and exceptional improvisational and physical comedy skills. the show helped propel the comedian to superstardom and was a crucial project in his outstanding career.
seven The facts of life
Following the life and endeavors of Edna Garrett as she takes up a job as a stay-at-home mom and dietitian at an all-girls boarding school in Peekskill, New York, the long-running 1980s sitcom The facts of life is a spin-off of Different strokes with the character of Edna first introduced as the Drummonds’ family housekeeper. Actress Charlotte Rae pitched the idea for an Edna-centric sideshow, which was quickly approved by NBC in hopes that Than the facts of life would address the various issues that teens face, such as dieting, drugs and alcohol, depression, and love life. The sitcom’s success during his tenure led to three popular made-for-TV movies and in 2011 he received the TV Land Award for Pop Culture Icon for his impact on the small screen.
6 You better call Saul
Serving as a spin-off, prequel, and sequel to Vince Gilligan’s groundbreaking creation Breaking Bad, the AMC crime drama You better call Saul centers on reformed con man and passionate lawyer Jimmy McGill as he sheds his past and transforms into self-absorbed criminal defense attorney Saul Goodman. The brilliant Bob Odenkirk reprises his role as the scene-stealer from the original series, which chronicles the character’s evolution and rise to power over the six years leading up to the events of Breaking Bad.
The drama also features plenty of familiar faces that featured prominently in the companion show, with characters like Mike Ehrmantraut and Gus Fring popping up and Walter White and Jesse Pinkman set to make appearances. You better call Saul was critically acclaimed throughout its six seasons, with many calling it just as good if not superior to its predecessor.
5 Law and Order: SVU
A long-lasting companion series Law and order program, the outstanding crime drama series Law and Order: SVU featured the talent of stars like Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni, with the duo portraying partners and detectives Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler. Its creator and executive producer Dick Wolf was initially inspired to do the show after learning of the 1986 “preppie murder” case of Robert Chambers, who strangled and killed a woman he was dating in Central Park; Wolf was interested in delving into the psychology of crimes and the role that human sexuality plays in them. Law and Order: SVU went on to produce 23 seasons (and counting) and over 500 episodes, won numerous accolades like the Golden Globes and Emmy Awards, and spawned its own spin-off series starring Meloni’s Elliot Stabler with Law and order: organized crime.
4 Good time
The first TV spin-off of another spin-off, the classic 1970s sitcom Good time was formed from the show Maud, which itself was created from All in the family, and follows the lives of Florida and James Evans and their three children as they grow up in a poor, black Chicago neighborhood. Parents were first introduced to Maud, with Esther Rolle’s Florida having been employed as a housekeeper for the titular character; Rolle became so popular on the sitcom that the creators wanted to produce a show around strong and loving Florida. Good time was later praised for its depiction of 1970s progressivism and its depiction of family efforts to overcome poverty, and became television’s first African-American two-parent family sitcom.
3 The Colbert Report
The hilarious and shrewd Stephen Colbert (from Last show now) hosted Comedy Central’s late-night satire and discussion show The Colbert Report, in which the comic portrays a fictionalized version of himself as a presenter while providing colorful commentary on current events. Colbert first served as a correspondent on daily broadcast, fine-tuning his on-screen persona for a few years on the program.
The character actually made his very first appearance in 1996 on The Dana Carvey Show, and has been described as “A prominent trench coated reporter making stories on the spot in a way that suggests his own presence is the real scoop.” The Colbert Report debuted to widespread acclaim and ratings success, becoming a network staple and winning two Peabody Awards for Excellence in News and Television.
2 Laverne and Shirley
Starring the charming Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams, the 1976 sitcom Laverne and Shirley chronicles the lives of close pals and roommates Laverne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney in 1950s Milwaukee, highlighting their many misadventures with work, various romances and friendships. The revered series is a spin-off from Happy Days, the two main protagonists being first introduced as acquaintances of Fonzie.
The two sitcoms had a crossover episode in which Richie and Fonzie get in trouble for courting a farmer’s daughters and Lavern and Shirley try to help them. The show became America’s most-watched television show in its third season and was praised for its physical comedy and knockout performances by Marshall and Williams, which are among the best on the small screen.
Kelsey Grammer reprized his role as psychiatrist Frasier Crane for the 1993 sitcom fraser, which focuses on the character as he returns to his hometown of Seattle to become a radio host, reconnecting with his father Martin and younger brother Niles in the process. Frasier was a prominent presence in the comedy series Cheers, the psychiatrist becoming a permanent fixture among his fellow bar patrons over the course of the show.
The creators were initially hesitant to create a spin-off of the predecessor due to fears of failure, but ultimately decided to move Frasier from Boston to Seattle in an effort to avoid any resemblance to cheers; they decided to portray his private life and work on the radio while creating the character “Loud, dismissive and extremely tense.” fraser was a knockout program, winning thirty-seven Primetime Emmys over its eleven seasons. A revival is currently in preparation at Paramount+.