21 TV Spinoffs You Totally Forgot About
For every Frasier, there's a Joey or a CSI: Cyber.
Since the early days of television, network execs have tried everything they can to make as much money as possible. One such tactic? The spinoff, or a show that spawns from the ashes of a highly successful show. Generally, such spinoff shows feature a major character or a distinguished set from the original series, in the hopes of recapturing the lightning in a bottle. More often than not, this doesn’t come to pass.
For every Frasier (via Cheers) or Better Call Saul (via Breaking Bad), there are a bazillion spinoffs of CSI or Law & Order that just never got off the ground. Even if you actually caught some of these spinoffs when they aired, it’s a good bet you’ve forgotten them by now. Here, for a walk down memory lane, are 21 such audiovisual relics.
It’s likely that fans of Dawson’s Creek completely forgot about the popular show’s spinoff series from 2000, Young Americans, which followed a character who popped up in the third season: Will Krudski (Rodney Scott), a childhood friend of Pacey (Joshua Jackson).
Execs thought it would become the next great teen show, this 2000 spinoff series was considered to be one of the biggest flops on television—just eight episodes aired before it got the ax. The only good thing the show accomplished was kickstarting the careers of Ian Somerhalder and Kate Bosworth.
With so many CSI spinoffs on the book, it eventually became difficult to follow them all. Case in point: Do you remember CSI: Cyber, which aired in 2015 to pick up the series after the original CSI finally left the air? Even though it starred heavyweights like Patricia Arquette and Ted Danson, the series ended after two seasons due to criminally low ratings (and onscreen chemistry that could never rival that of the original CSI).
Law & Order: Trial by Jury
Similar to the CSI franchise, this Law & Order spinoff series, which hit the small screen in 2005, just couldn’t channel the same infectious energy that its predecessors had. Focusing exclusively on trial and courtroom proceedings, fans of the original series seemed to have trouble focusing on the more mundane aspects of—yes, you guessed it—law and order. The show ended just after one season.
Perhaps the strangest spinoff show of all time, ever, Buddies, starring Dave Chappelle, was actually a spinoff from Home Improvement. That’s right—after Chappelle and his friend Jim Breuer appeared on main character Tim Taylor’s (Tim Allen) Tool Time asking for advice about their romantic relationships, the overwhelming popularity of that episode inspired the network to create a new show entirely dedicated to the lives of those two characters. However, after Breuer skipped out on the show, the main characters lacked the chemistry and charisma to propel the show to TV hall of fame. Buddies was cancelled after one season.
Time of Your Life
Despite the fact that Time of Your Life starred Jennifer Love Hewitt at the peak of her popularity in 1999, this Party of Five spinoff series wasn’t well received by critics—and a vast majority of the general public. The show Love Hewitt’s character as she goes on the hunt for her biological father—along with a few new friends, including Jennifer Garner, who made one of her first screen debuts on the show as Love Hewitt’s roommate.
The Lone Gunmen
At first, The Lone Gunmen were just three characters who ran a conspiracy magazine that sometimes helped Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) solve cases on The X Files. Unlike the more somber, supernatural tone of The X Files, this show featured more slapstick comedy and centered around government-sponsored terrorism, surveillance society, and corporate crime. Despite receiving good reviews by critics, the show failed to impress audiences around the country and was canceled after only one season in 2001.
The Golden Palace
Riding off of the immense success of The Golden Girls, it almost seemed impossible for any spinoff show to perform poorly with most of its main characters on board. And yet, The Golden Palace, which premiered in 1992, turned out to be one of the most unremarkable shows in the history of television. Only missing Dorothy Zbornack (Beatrice Arthur), who was married in the final season of The Golden Girls, the show revolved around the women’s management of an understaffed hotel. Fun fact: it included Don Cheadle in an early performance as the hotel’s manager.
Even if you are a fan of the forensic drama Bones, it’s likely that you’ve completely forgotten about its spinoff series, The Finder. You first met the main characters of The Finder on a season six episode of Bones, which served as the “backdoor pilot” of the show in 2011. The next year, the show premiered, attempting to create an interesting storyline with its main characters, who were really adept at finding anything. Though, as you might have guessed, the plot didn’t prove to be quite as solid as the show’s producers thought, and it was canceled after just one season.
Created as a spinoff series of the incredibly popular show Who’s the Boss?, Living Dolls, debuting in 1989, followed the modeling career of Charlie Briscoe (Leah Remini), who was a friend of Samantha Micelli (Alyssa Milano), one of the major Who’s the Boss? characters. Despite launching both the careers of Remini and Halle Berry, there were rumors of heavy tension on set, and the general reception of the show was so poor that execs pulled the plug after just one season.
Baywatch Nights, like the name implies, was a spinoff of the popular show Baywatch—though Baywatch Nights inevitably appealed to another sort of audience. Basically, the premise of the show was that Sgt. Garner Ellerbee, the resident police officer of Baywatch, quit the force to start his own detective agency—which, naturally, David Hasselhoff’s character had to be a part of.
Though season one revolved around more typical crime drama, the ratings of the show were so awful that its writers decided to venture in a new realm for the show’s second season: the paranormal. At that point, fans of Baywatch were completely lost and over this spinoff.
That ’80s Show
Despite this idea seeming completely ingenious, audiences around the country did not seem to feel the same way. Created to be a spinoff from That ’70s Show, That ’80s Show was very similar to the original, in the way that it centered around a group of friends struggling through one of the most prolific decades in history. Though the characters on the two separate shows never crossed paths, both of the shows retained the same writers and producers. Unfortunately, after just one season, television audiences made it clear that they weren’t keen on reliving this particular decade.
Despite Friends being one of the biggest successes in the history of television, the same certainly can’t be said about Joey, a spinoff for everyone’s favorite always-starving Friends character. After moving to Los Angeles to further pursue an acting career, Joey (Matt LeBlanc) continues his womanizing ways—and, yes, also eats his way through much of the city. By the time it aired, American audiences had already had enough of Joey’s one-dimensional persona and quickly grew disinterested after two seasons.
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland
Based on Lewis Carroll’s novels Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, this brief spinoff series—inspired by the popularity of the fantasy series Once Upon a Time—was received fairly well by critics, but contained a plot that did little more than confound its viewers. Despite it only airing for one season in 2013, the show, set in the same fantasy world as that of Once Upon a Time, often crossed paths with its parent show, only further muddling the already muddled plot.
With the Bewitched television show leaving millions around the world spellbound, it would make sense that a spinoff show would be just as successful, right? Wrong! The spinoff series was dedicated to highlighting the witchy antics of Tabitha, the daughter of Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) and Darrin Stephens (Dick York), the leads of Bewitched. ABC quickly took Tabitha off the air, as its ratings remained embarrassingly low—a fault that is often placed on the shoulders of actress Lisa Hartman, who played the main character, Tabitha, and was said to have lacked any onscreen chemistry.
Based on the television show The Dukes of Hazzard, which aired from 1979 to 1985, this 1983 cartoon version was meant to be a Saturday morning staple for families across the country—but instead ended up being a complete flop. Unfortunately, after just one season of fast cars and farm life (and, well, Daisy Dukes) children (and adults) everywhere had seen enough, and it was promptly canceled.
Yet another example of a hit show failing to appeal to a younger audience, Gilligan’s Planet, a show revolving around the same characters that were now trapped on another planet, instead of an island, only made it to one season in 1982—fifteen years after the ending of the original show. Though most of the ensemble cast returned, they failed to bring any of their magic to this more youthful version of the original show.
The Brady Bunch Hour
Just two years after the end of the incredibly popular Brady Bunch show, the cast reassembled to host their own variety show full of skits, songs, and questionable 1970s fashion. Due to the often inconsistent nature of the show’s airing (episodes only appeared sporadically on the network’s schedule) and the strange nature of a variety show featuring a cast that didn’t possess the skills to effortlessly sing and dance their way through every episode, it was cancelled after only nine episodes.
The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang
Though it survived through two seasons on air, The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang, the cartoon version of the live-action television show Happy Days, lacked the same chemistry that its adult version possessed—and didn’t do much to attract a younger audience when it aired in the early part of the 1980s. All of the cast—even Henry Winkler, who played “The Fonz”—returned to reprise their roles. But not much could be done to make this show kid-friendly.
Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space
Created as a spinoff of a spinoff (of sorts) this version of the popular Archie Comics comic book series by Dan DeCarlo saw the gang head into outer space. In each episode of the 1972 show, the band fought with aliens and encountered mysterious planets, all while singing and dancing their way to to the top of the charts. Unlike its on-air nemesis, Scooby Doo, Where Are You!, this show never fully caught the attention of its younger audience, only staying on the air for one season.
Donald J. Trump Presents: The Ultimate Merger
Created as a spinoff of The Apprentice, Donald J. Trump Presents: The Ultimate Merger cast legendary businesswoman and one of the show’s favorite contestants, Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, into the limelight once again. This time, she used her business savvy to find a man.
If you’re confused as to why this show even exists in the first place (or why she consulted Donald Trump for dating advice), you’re not alone: its viewership remained weak at best during the one-season tenure in 2011. Eventually, at the series finale, Manigault-Stallworth ended up with a married man—and that was that for the show.
In 1977, after six seasons of record-breaking success, Sanford and Son ended when Red Foxx left the show to star in his own comedy special (which was canceled after only four months). In an attempt to still cash in on the same success that the show possessed, a spinoff, Sanford (sans “and Son”) was created in 1980, but lacked the same chemistry between its characters that the original had—and was eventually canceled after only two seasons on the air. And for some actually laugh-out-loud small-screen entertainment, check out The 30 Funniest Sitcom Jokes of All Time.
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