Taking the best parts of a show and giving them their own time slot is nothing new. Spin off shows have been around almost as long as television itself. In the early days of television, variety shows were all the rage. Taking the best skits and developing and entire sitcom out of it is how we ended up with shows like The Honeymooners. Although this always sounds like a good idea, the spin off shows do not always live up to network executives’ expectations. Luckily however, we dug around and found the ones that not only met their expectations but created their own legacy that deserves our attention. Here is a list of spin off shows that outshine the originals.
Beavis And Butt-Head
Let’s start the list with an obvious choice. Liquid Television was You-Tube before You-Tube was even a thing. The plan was to showcase independent animators doing their best to earn a spot in animation history. Mike Judge was one of these animators who would go on to be successful in not only animation, but the film industry as well. Judge was the creator of a short-named Frog Baseball that aired on Liquid Television. The short was so successful that MTV signed Judge to develop it into a series and thus, Bevis And Butt-Head were born. Lasting 8 season, 5 seasons longer than Liquid Television, the series became the front runner for MTV and solidified itself in animation history.
Saved by The Bell
Back in 1988 The Disney Channel aired a show staring Hayley Mills by the name of Good Morning Miss Bliss. The show centered around teacher Miss Bliss however there were a few characters on the series that literally stole the show. Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Lark Vorhees, and Dustin Diamond were so successful in their roles that when the show ended in 1989, it was simply rebirthed as Saved by The Bell with the three favorite characters reprising their roles. Saved by The Bell was such a success that it spawned a few of its own spin offs, one of which is still airing today.
The Tracy Ulman Show was a big success in its own right; however, you do not really see many kids playing her games or teens wearing shirts of her show. The Simpsons became an international success that has lasted longer than the majority of all television shows! It’s also not every day that a spin off show predicts the future, and The Simpsons have done that time and time again.
A Different World
Most people have no idea that The Cosby Show created the spin off A Different World. Despite the negative vibes that folks may get from looking back on the show now after knowing the truth about the star, The Cosby Show spent 5 consecutive seasons in the number one spot and was one of the most successful sitcoms ever made. However, A Different World reached levels that the Cosby’s never really could. Tackling larger issues and stacking the cast with soon to be stars, A Different World ages different and deserves its place on this list.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek has one of the most loyal following of any fandom. There are debates as to which series is the best, however many fall into the TNG camp. TNG ran for a total of 7 seasons, multiple feature films, a wide variety of video games, and helped to set up additional spin offs as well. Patrick Stewart, in my opinion, is the best captain the USS Enterprise has ever known.
DC may not have the best track record with feature film, but they know what they are doing when it comes to television. Smallville will always hold a special place in many fans’ hearts, however Arrow was the show to pave the way for a new world order of comic book television. As good as Arrow is, the fandom that surrounds the television show The Flash, grows with each passing season. You know a show has to be extra special if someone’s grandmother is calling them asking questions. Any show that can create an entirely new generation of comic book lovers is a great win to me.
TGIF was LIFE for many growing up in the late ‘80s and throughout the ‘90s. One of the greatest line-up television ever produced, Family Matters was very high on that list. Lasting a total of 2 seasons longer than the show it spun from, Perfect Strangers, Family Matters not only became a massive success winning the hearts of Americans, it also created one of the biggest catch-phrases of the ‘90s, “did I do that?” All of these years later and people still love Steve Urkle and his hipster style, before hipster was a thing.
Xena: Warrior Princess
The hit television show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys was a lot of things, but in the end one of the greatest things it became was the foundation on which Xena: Warrior Princess was built. A fan favorite, Xena went on to outperform Hercules in not only production, but fan base as well.
The last one on the list was a little difficult to decide on. Although Frasier was an incredibly successful show, Cheers was one of the greatest shows ever written and for years was the go-to show for script writing. Cheers was a success all on its own, but when Frasier took on a life of its own, a shadow (even if it was a small one) was cast on Cheers.
Written exclusively for TheLastPicture.Show by Jacob Ruble
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