What is a TV Spinoff?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
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  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2019
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A TV spinoff is a television show that takes either a character from another show, or similar plot structures and the same fictional universe, to create a new program. The true spinoff tends to work on the former premise, and numerous good TV spinoff examples have arisen, especially in sitcoms, from previous shows. For example, one of the most successful spinoff sitcoms was the show Frasier, which took the character Frasier Crane from the immensely popular show Cheers.

The new show has to be as good or better than its original show in order to be a success. Frasier was just that. Instead of simply relying on the character of Frasier, played by Kelsey Grammar, the new show boasted an incredible cast. In particular, the performance of David Hyde Pierce as Frasier’s brother Niles, became one of the main reasons to watch this spinoff. The interplay between Frasier and Niles was excellent, accounting for numerous comic moments.

Sometimes a hugely successful show can launch a true TV spinoff that is not a success. The wildly popular sitcom Friends inspired the sitcom Joey. Unfortunately, Joey was not as tightly written or directed as Friends and quickly lost most of the original show’s audience.


Other shows that have contributed to one successful TV spinoff or more, include the following:


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Discuss this Article

Post 2

Here's one you might not remember. "Diff'rent Strokes" spun off "Hello Larry" and "The Facts of Life." I think you're right, Pippinwhite: spin offs used to be more frequent than they are now, and they're usually comedies.

Even if I didn't like the original show, I'll often check out a spinoff, just to see if it's any better. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I always liked "The Jeffersons" more than "All in the Family." "All in the Family" was a little too "relevant" for me. But most network TV is hardly worth watching these days, anyway. There are a few good shows on, but most of it is just garbage.

Post 1

When I saw the title of this article, I immediately thought of "Frasier" and how much more I liked it than "Cheers." I loved "Frasier" and rarely missed an episode. Sometimes, the spinoffs are better, and this is one case when they were.

"Happy Days" spun off "Laverne and Shirley," and more indirectly, "Mork and Mindy."

It seems like spinoffs used to be more common than they are now. You see them occasionally, but it's more common for a show to run completely past any humor ("Two and a Half Men") rather than spinoff and maybe come up with something else that's good.

Also, comedies seem more apt to spin off than dramas, although that can happen. "Knots Landing" was a spinoff of "Dallas."

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