When it comes to reboots and remakes we’re used to hearing moans and groans in the comments section. But, who doesn’t love a good spin-off? Sometimes a TV show is so fully embraced, it naturally morphs into another series, like CBS’s The Good Wife. The original program, which aired from 2011-2016, revolves around a stay-at-home mom, Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), who goes back to work as a lawyer after her husband is convicted of a crime and incarcerated.
Diane Lockhart, played by Christine Baranski, was by Florrick’s side the whole way — in all 156 episodes — acting as her mentor at the law firm Lockhart & Gardner. As fans of the original will know, Diane and Alicia didn’t part on friendly terms, but the pair’s undeniable chemistry helped land Baranski the lead in her own spin-off series, The Good Fight.
The courtroom drama just kicked off this month (February 19) and it’s a little early to predict its future success, but we like what we’ve seen so far. And now it’s got us thinking about other follow-ups we’ve really enjoyed.
Check out ten TV spin-off series that went off well, then and now:
1. Laverne and Shirley
We first met Laverne DeFazio (Penny Marshall) and Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams) on Happy Days, which ran from 1974 to 1984, when the two women doubled up for a date with the Fonze (Henry Winkler) and Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard). In this spin-off, the two Milwaukee, WI, girls try to figure out life and love in the 1950s — a time when two women in their 20s living together and making careers for themselves wasn’t unheard of, but it definitely a less traditional path. Anyhow, you can check out the pair’s original meetup in the below clip:
Happy Days was such a powerhouse, it spawned a second spin-off, Mork & Mindy. Here’s the “dreamy” way it was conceived in a season five episode:
Cheers is the bar in Boston, MA, where everyone knows your name. And, the name of the TV show set in the drinking establishment. It’s nice to have a place to go where you can count on seeing familiar faces, like bar owner, and former baseball star, Sam Malone (Ted Danson), plus his loyal customers Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger), Norm Peterson (George Wendt) and Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer). After splitting from his on-screen wife Lilith, Crane, who was at one point engaged to waitress extraordinaire and Sam’s former love interest, Diane Chambers (Shelley Long), resettles in Seattle. His move resulted in the slightly neurotic but always fun NBC spin-off, Frasier, revolving around his radio advice show, where he began each call with the catchphrase, “I’m listening.”
3. Absolutely Fabulous
It’s easy to forget that the world-renowned sitcom, written by and starring Jennifer Saunders, began life as a French and Saunders sketch, featuring Saunders and her longtime comedy partner, Dawn French. Check out the original below, where we see Edina (Saunders) pleading with her teenage daughter (French) to give up on her homework to hang out with her bored mum. Not much changed when the sketch became serialized — apart from the addition of beehive-weilding sidekick Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley) and Julia Sawalha as her geeky daughter, Saffron. The show was so successful, it even spawned a spinoff movie some 20 years later.
4. Melrose Place
Beverly Hills, 90210 was an iconic TV series about two teenage siblings (Jason Priestley, Shannen Doherty) from the Midwest who tranferred to a high school in the elite zip code. We watched as cool girl Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth) developed feelings for an older man, Jake Hanson (Grant Show). Hanson, meanwhile, was keen on Kelly, but didn’t pursue the relationship, thinking it wasn’t a good idea to date a high schooler. The show opened the door to four follow-up series, most notably Melrose Place, which ran for seven years from 1992, and was itself rebooted in 2009. The brilliantly soapy original was set on an apartment complex where everyone seemed to work out their problems around the pool. It was pretty much a grown-up version of 90210.
5. Law and Order
The police procedural/courtroom drama kicked off in 1990 and ran for a record 20 seasons. The show often took stories from real-life headlines, but of course changed the names and places featured to avoid its own legal problems. Law and Order: SVU (Special Victims Unit), starring Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay as the lead detectives, is probably the most well-known of the series that followed, but there’s also Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Law and Order: Trial by Jury, Law & Order: L.A., Law & Order: True Crime, and Law & Order: You the Jury…. AND, one of our favorites, Law & Order: U.K., in which the barristers where wigs. But, in true Law & Order fashion, the British series still uses the ominous “Duh, duh,” sound effect to indicate the day or scene switching.
Cheerleader Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) learned she had a destiny, and it was to be a vampire slayer. The popular teenager could have easily done without the extracurricular nighttime activity of prowling for the undead, but, she couldn’t turn away from her calling. Time and again, Buffy rose to the occasion in the 1990’s cult classic, not wanting her friends and community to perish. She also found time for a boyfriend, ironically falling in love with a vampire, by the name of Angel (David Boreanaz). And while their relationship ultimately came to an end, Angel went on to star in his own series, which was also named after him. He put his good boy vampire skills to use to hunt down baddies in L.A. as a private investigator.
The 2004 sci-fi TV series Battlestar Galactica was itself a remake of a series that aired in 1978. No groans, please; we’re thrilled it was revived and actually preferred the newer version. The story revolves around the last survivors of the human race, who live on a fleet of ships searching for a fabled planet promising salvation: Earth. The Battlestar Galactica star ship, captained by Commander William Adama (Edward James Olmos), leads the fleet and tries to protect civilians on board from the Cylons, an alien race set on wiping out humanity — or what remains of it. Alas, Cylons looks like regular people, so they’re hard to detect. The series ran until 2009, but that wasn’t the end of it. In 2010, a spin-off prequel, Caprica, introduced us to two families, the Graystones and the Adamas, plus the early signs of artificial intelligence, 58 years before the destruction seen in Battlestar Galactica. It only lasted for one season, but we still appreciated it for expanding the story and helping us to move on from our obsession with the original.
In 2005 we saw the revival of Doctor Who, with Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor. The return of the Doctor was stupendous in itself, but we also had the pleasure of meeting former con man, Captain Jack Harness (John Barrowman). The character first appeared in the episode, “The Empty Child,” making regular appearances through 2010, starring in 12 episodes total. He’s a time traveler like the Doctor, but that’s where the similarities end, with the Captain Jack being a bit of a flirt and a conniver. But he uses his criminal past for good in the spin-off, where he and his Torchwood Institute associates hunt aliens.
9. Better Call Saul
The AMC Network breakout hit Breaking Bad broke the TV mold by convincing us to root for a protagonist no matter how “bad” he became. When we first meet Walter White (Bryan Cranston), he’s a high school chemistry teacher who learns he has incurable cancer. Rather than getting into bed and waiting for the end, he develops a scheme to make money fast and provide for his family after his demise. He puts his science skills to use, creating a makeshift lab in an RV to produce — you guessed it — meth. The show was such a big bang success, and so addictive to its fans, that Breaking Bad‘s makers followed it up with the prequel series, Better Call Saul. The 2015 spinoff revolves around low-budget attorney Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk), who features in all but the first season of Breaking Bad. We like a good prequel, and this one is especially excellent. It’s fascinating to see how events roll out, making the person we know — or thought we knew — in the original series.
We’re going to take some liberties, here. While Class hasn’t aired yet in the US, we’re delighted to say it’s heading here very soon — on April 15 to be precise. And, with it being a Doctor Who spin-off, and revolving around time travel, we’re going to jump to the future, where we’ll surely be saying, “We’re so glad Class happened!” Greg Austin, Fady Elsayed, Sophie Hopkins and Vivian Oparah have entered the Whoniverse as the cast of Class, a YA series set in contemporary London and created by Patrick Ness. The aforementioned actors play students at Coal Hill School, with Katherine Kelly (Happy Valley) taking on the role of a faculty member. Coal Hill School will be familiar to DW fans, most recently as Clara Oswald’s (Jenna Coleman) place of employment, but it has been a part of the DW universe since the very beginning… We’ll meet these four pupils as they face their own worst fears, while also navigating a life of friends, parents, school work, sex, sorrow — and possibly the end of existence.
Are you getting a little nostalgic right about now?Read More