The Most Disappointing Spin-Offs in TV History
To avoid the risk of a new franchise, Hollywood sometimes turns to existing TV shows for story ideas. Such shows come with a ready audience and free advertising in the form of the previous show, so it makes sense from a business perspective.
Some spin-offs are successful, including Good Times, The Jeffersons, Angel, Lou Grant Frasier, and Laverne & Shirley. However, there are many spin-offs that never should have been made. The following 30 spin-offs don’t hold a candle to their original shows, and it’s anyone’s guess what producers saw in them.
Three’s Company was one of the most successful sitcoms of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Naturally, the show’s writers thought they could continue their success with a spin-off series, The Ropers. The Ropers (Norman Fell and Audra Lindley) were memorable characters on the original series, but they didn’t need their own spin-off.
In theory, a prequel spin-off series sounds like a good idea, but Caprica didn’t cut it. A politically informed spin-off of the popular science-fiction series Battlestar Galactica, Caprica dove headfirst into the early years of artificial intelligence on the planet Caprica. The show followed two families, the Greystones and the Adamas.
If you’ve never heard of Young Americans, the spin-off series to the popular late ‘90s and early 2000s teen drama Dawson’s Creek, you’re not alone. It focused on Pacey Witter’s (Joshua Jackson) childhood friend, Will Krudski (Rodney Scott). Will was introduced to viewers during season three of Dawson’s Creek, but no one needed an entire show about him.
The Cleveland Show
Family Guy is an iconic animated sitcom with many seasons to its name. The show, created by Seth MacFarlane, has many supporting characters, including Cleveland Brown. Peter Griffin’s soft-spoken friend (voiced by Mike Henry) contrasted with other characters on the show, which is probably why MacFarlane decided to give the character his own spin-off, The Cleveland Show.
The Carrie Diaries
When it was first announced that Sex and the City would be getting its own prequel spin-off series, everyone was excited. They couldn’t wait to find out about Carrie Bradshaw’s (Sarah Jessica Parker) teenage years and how she arrived in New York City. The Carrie Diaries should have succeeded but didn't.
Ravenswood wasn’t as good as Pretty Little Liars, but that shouldn’t be too surprising. Pretty Little Liars dominated Freeform (formerly ABC Family). Fans watched the show in suspense week-after-week, so it makes sense that producers wanted to keep the momentum going.
Grey’s Anatomy is one of the most successful medical dramas ever to exist on television, rivaled only by ER. Still going strong after many seasons, it doesn’t seem like the show will end anytime soon. The medical drama inspired its own spin-off, Private Practice.
Baywatch Nights took away everything that made Baywatch a success: the beach and the beautiful lifeguards — including Pamela Anderson. Instead, the spin-off was an intense police and science-fiction drama starring David Hasselhoff. His character, Mitch Buchannon, solved crimes and investigated paranormal mysteries.
Everyone can agree that Beverly Hills 90210 was a huge success. It’s no wonder Fox decided to create a spin-off show focusing on older characters. Melrose Place (named after the apartment complex the main characters lived in) had a few good moments over seven seasons.
That '80s Show
That ‘70s Show was a great show for many reasons: good comedy, likable characters, wonderful chemistry amongst the cast. Fans loved how the show, which aired from 1998 to 2006, was set in the ‘70s. Naturally, producers thought viewers would also like a show set in the ‘80s.
The Lone Gunmen
The X-Files was a smash hit. Because of this, it made sense for producers to want to create a spin-off, The Lone Gunmen. There might have been good intentions behind the decision, but the show was more humorous than fans expected.
While Melrose Place itself was a spin-off of Beverly Hills 90210, producers decided it also needed its own spin-off series: Models, Inc. Fox just wasn’t ready to cancel the glitz and glamor of the Beverly Hills 90210 franchise. The show focused on an L.A.-based modeling agency run by Amanda Woodward’s (Heather Locklear) mother, who was played by Dallas star Linda Gray.
Shows about models often don’t seem to connect with viewers. Living Dolls, a spin-off of the successful 1980’s sitcom Who’s the Boss?, focused on four teenagers pursuing a career with a New York City modeling agency. The show starred Michael Learned of The Waltons, Halle Berry and Leah Remini. The latter played Charlie, a friend of Samantha Micelli’s.
From 1987 to 1991, Johnny Depp was a young Hollywood heartthrob on 21 Jump Street. He played an undercover police officer posing as a high school student to combat high school violence. The show was a success, but its spin-off, Booker, failed in comparison.
Three's a Crowd
In 1985, Three’s Company lead man Jack Tripper (John Ritter) was finally ready to get married and settle down. In the sitcom’s spin-off, Three’s a Crowd, Jack popped the question to his stewardess girlfriend, Vicky Bradford (Mary Cadorette). Fans should have been elated, but not too many people watched the proposal.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show is one of the most iconic TV shows of all time. A revolutionary show from the ‘70s, the series spawned spin-offs Lou Grant, Rhoda and Phyllis. All three are memorable, but Phyllis (starring Cloris Leachman) was the least successful of them.
As the child of Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) and Darrin Stephens (Dick York and later Dick Sargent) on the popular 1960’s sitcom, Bewitched, Tabitha Stephens might just be one of the most famous TV children of all time.
Love Boat: The Next Wave
Love Boat: The Next Wave was an updated version of the popular series The Love Boat, this time focusing on recently divorced former U.S. Navy captain Jim Kennedy III (Robert Urich). He was captain of a Caribbean cruise ship, and of course exotic adventures led to romance.
All in the Family, a sitcom about the Bunker family, dominated the 1970s. When the show ended in 1979, producers wondered if they could continue the success. This happened with many spin-offs: Archie Bunker’s Place, Maude, Good Times and The Jeffersons, but not as much with Gloria.
CSI inspired many spin-offs, including CSI: Miami and CSI: NY. You would think that with this many spin-offs, producers would have had their fill of crime scene investigations. Well, think again. They tried their hand at another spin-off, CSI: Cyber.
The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.
One of the more popular series of the 1960s, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. captivated audiences. Viewers rooted for the good guys, who worked for the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement (U.N.C.L.E.). They fought the evil international syndicate, THRUSH.
Law & Order: Trial by Jury
Law & Order is a successful franchise with many spin-offs: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: LA and Law & Order: Trial by Jury. Each show put its own spin on a TV crime drama, but Trial By Jury was the least successful of the group.
Time of Your Life
Fans still love the ‘90s family drama, Party of Five. Because of its success, it makes sense why producers created a spin-off series, Time of Your Life. After saying goodbye to longtime boyfriend Bailey Salinger (Scott Wolf), Sarah Reeves Merrin (Jennifer Love Hewitt) moved to New York City to find her biological father.
Everybody knew your name on Cheers, even Nick Tortelli (Dan Hedaya), Carla’s (Rhea Perlman) ex-husband. His blond wife, Loretta (Jean Kasem), was quite a caricature. No one really asked for a spin-off show focusing on the Tortellis, but viewers still received one.
The Brady Brides
The Brady Bunch was an iconic family sitcom during the ‘70s. Everyone loved the Brady family, and the show inspired many spin-offs, including The Brady Bunch Hour and The Brady Kids. The Brady Brides took the show in a new direction, focusing on the weddings of the now-grown Marcia (Maureen McCormick) and Jan (Eve Plumb).
The Golden Palace
Few shows continue to attract new fans like The Golden Girls. When it ended in 1992, producers immediately decided to create a spin-off series: The Golden Palace. Minus Bea Arthur, the show focused on the three remaining roommates as they ran a hotel in Miami, Florida.
M*A*S*H was a revolutionary TV series from 1972 to 1983 that frequently pushed the boundaries for a TV sitcom. The show’s series finale is one of the most memorable finales in TV history. The Korean War had ended, but producers thought the characters’ postwar lives could be interesting enough for a spin-off, AfterMASH.
Joanie Loves Chachi
Joanie Cunningham (Erin Moran) and Chachi Arcola (Scott Baio) are one of the most iconic TV couples of all time. Joanie loved Chachi. Chachi loved Joanie. That’s all there was to it. When the couple married in the series finale of Happy Days, fans were elated. They were looking forward to the show’s spin-off, Joanie Loves Chachi.
Saved by the Bell: The College Years
Television shows should know by now that teen shows belong in high school. Once students graduate, don’t move them to college. Unfortunately, Saved by the Bell made this mistake. When the sitcom ended in 1994, producers decided to move the characters into higher education in Saved by the Bell: The College Years.
Friends was a successful sitcom in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and it still resonates with fans. One of the most notorious failed spin-offs was Joey, which tried to build a story around Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc), the dumb yet funny actor as he moved to Los Angeles.