11 TV Spinoffs You Might Not Know Existed

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The greatest testament to a television series’ widespread endearment is the inability of viewers to let its characters say goodbye forever. Which is why every time a popular show announces its series finale date, rumors begin swirling about the people, places and things that might provide strong fodder for an entirely new series.

Some of these spinoff ideas go the way of Dwight Schrute and The Farm (read: nowhere). Others buck the spinoff moniker altogether and end up being as successful as the original incarnation (see: Frasier). And then there are those shows that make it to the small screen… only to find the sound of crickets chirping in place of a laugh track.

Given the pop culture phenomenon that is Breaking Bad, one can surmise with a fair amount of confidence that its freshly announced spinoff, Better Call Saul, will easily blow right past the pilot phase. While we all anxiously await further details and a premiere date for this Bob Odenkirk-focused prequel, let’s take a moment to (desperately try and) remember a few spinoffs you might not know even existed.

1. THE GOLDEN PALACE (1992-1993)

Spun off of The Golden Girls (1985-1992)

Leave it to Bea Arthur to screw up a good thing. She was the only main actress from the original series to not appear in this series, which sees Blanche, Rose, and Sophia becoming hoteliers after purchasing an Art Deco gem known as The Golden Palace Hotel. Despite Don Cheadle and Cheech Marin in supporting roles, The Golden Palace was booking at about 10 percent capacity.


Spun off of The X-Files (1993-2002)

Agent Mulder’s favorite trio of conspiracy theorists, better known as The Lone Gunmen, went from recurring characters to leading men in 2001. While the show­—which was co-created by Breaking Bad’s Vince Gilligan (along with Chris Carter, John Shiban, and Frank Spotnitz)—was met with critical praise, audiences simply weren’t tuning in. It was cancelled after just 13 episodes, but had the unusual opportunity to address its (unintentional) finale’s cliffhanger in the ninth season of The X-Files.


Spun off of The Brady Bunch (1969-1974)

Originally intended as a television movie called The Brady Girls Get Married, some brilliant television executive somewhere decided that what 1981 really needed was more Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. So they turned the movie into a four-part miniseries, with the final episode serving as the pilot for a new series that sees the sisters fall in love, get married in a joint ceremony, then buy a house and all move in together. Because that’s a totally relatable storyline. NBC divorced the series 10 episodes later.

4. TABITHA (1977-1978)

Spun off of Bewitched (1964-1972)

Little Tabitha Stephens—daughter of Samantha and Darrin—is all grown up. And, like mom, she only needs to wiggle her nose in order to make magical things happen. Sound familiar? Viewers thought so. Not even witchcraft could help Tabitha get renewed for a second season.


Spun off of Cheers (1982-1993)

While Nick Tortelli—the gross-but-lovable ex-husband of foul-mouthed barmaid Carla in Cheers—was arguably one of that series’ favorite recurring characters (who was not an official bar regular), The Tortellis proved that Nick and his very blonde and very ditzy new wife, Loretta (a.k.a. Lor-ET-ta), worked better in small doses. They continued to make guest appearances on Cheers following their own cancellation.

6. DEADLINE (2000-2001)

Spun off of Law & Order (1990-2010)

Yes, even Law & Order—the Grand Poobah of successful spinoffs—has produced a clunker on occasion, including this one, in which Oliver Platt plays a tabloid journalist for the New York Ledger (a fictional newspaper often used as a prop in the Law & Order series). Despite an impressive cast, including Bebe Neuwirth, Lili Taylor, and Hope Davis, the series’ storyline was killed after 13 episodes.


Spun off of Dawson’s Creek (1998-2003)

Trying to take yet another bite out of the young beautiful people genre, Young Americans began its life on Dawson’s Creek. Lead character Will Krudski was introduced as an old friend of the gang in Dawson’s third season, when he visits during a break from Rawley Summer Academy, a prep school where he hangs out with Kate Bosworth and Ian Somerhalder. Summer lasted for a fleeting eight episodes.


Spun off of Designing Women (1986-1993)

Call it “Designing Women Goes to Washington.” Delta Burke reprised her role as Suzanne Sugarbaker (surprising, given her very public battles with the original show’s producers, in which she claimed they were abusive on set), this time as a widow who decides to fill her husband’s congressional seat following his passing. She is surrounded, of course, by a group of sitcom stereotypes who weren’t nearly well-developed enough to get a greenlight for season two.

9. MODELS INC. (1994-1995)

Spun off of Melrose Place (1992-1999)

Models Inc. is technically a spinoff-squared, as it’s a spinoff of Melrose Place, which was a spinoff of Beverly Hills, 90210. The show’s only real purpose was to capitalize on the fact that supermodels like Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell were taking over the world in the mid-1990s. But Models Inc.’s only real contribution to the pop culture conversation was that it introduced the woman who would become Trinity—Carrie-Anne Moss—to the world.

10. A MAN CALLED HAWK (1989)

Spun off of Spenser: For Hire (1985-1988)

Poor Avery Brooks. After playing the badass sidekick to Spenser for three seasons, he headed off to Washington D.C. to be a hero to those in need. But he couldn’t hack it as top banana and his show was cancelled after its first season. Still, that didn’t stop Brooks from reprising his role in four made-for-television Spenser movies between 1993 and 1995. What a guy!

11. AFTERMASH (1983-1984)

Spun off of M*A*S*H (1972-1983)

To be fair, attempting to replicate even a modicum of the success of M*A*S*H—one of the most beloved television shows of all time—would be akin to creating a show around The Drake following Seinfeld’s finale. It’s not that it couldn’t be entertaining; it’s just too soon (and unnecessary). Which is exactly what audiences thought of AfterMASH, which chronicles the lives of Colonel Potter, Klinger, and Father Mulcahy after the Korean War. Yeah, not a good idea. Though AfterMASH did make it to a second season, it was cancelled nine episodes in and later called one of the 10 worst television shows of all time by TV Guide.

See Also...

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September 13, 2013 - 11:35am
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