Quietly Performing Sister Show

Many works receive spinoffs, sequels, sister works or an alternate continuity or two, and a large majority of those die quickly; mainly through Executive Meddling, lack of fan support, or a myriad of other issues. From what remains, some of these shows achieve critical and/or fan acclaim that equals, or even surpasses, the parent series. But what are we left with? A Quietly Performing Sister-Show. (Or QPS.)

These works will not wow the critics, getting rated anywhere from 'This isn't very good at all, avoid' to 'pretty good, but not as good as its predecessor', nor will they receive much support from the fanbase. Not to say there aren't any fans, but they will often be the minority, and even if they're not, most of the fans will agree that the original is the best. (The ones who really love the work, will generally pick it as their favourite.) Yet, the work will still perform, getting enough sales or views to continue its run. The general public will often find it an inoffensive and likeable, sometimes getting a fondness in their hearts for the show, despite its faults. If it's a show, it will probably be cancelled after a fairly long run, or the makers will call it day; but it will probably be released onto DVD.

Sometimes this ties into They Changed It, Now It Sucks, where the reason it never got the critical and fan acclaim because it was in the shadow of its predecessor. Other times, the show just might be mildly So Bad, It's Good, not strong enough to become a cult classic, but enough to entertain the public.

Contrast with More Popular Spin-off.

(NB: If a spinoff receives lower (but still good) ratings or is neglected by the fanbase but got great critical write-ups or lots of awards, or started in the shadow of a bigger show but gradually escaped it, then it's not this trope.note  One or two awards however don't count for much on their own, and those shows stay here).


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Tenchi Universe: It has its own section of the fanbase, while the critics and a lot of the fans consider it inferior to the original. Probably because of the changes in the characters.

    Comic Books 
  • The Transformers: Robots in Disguise sells decently enough and gets good reviews, but it will likely always be stuck in the shadow of it's sister series The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye, which is a critical darling beloved by fans and professionals alike. The main problem is that while MTMTE dedicated itself to reinventing the wheel and doing things no other TF series had dared do before, RID just quietly stuck to the typical plotlines that other TF books had explored before, often with far more success and depth.
  • Nearly anytime a superhero spins off into their own book after being introduced in another, bigger book. Some examples include Scarlet Spider, Storm, Nightcrawler, and others. Occasionally however some are able to establish identities and mythos of their own and break free of their parent book, such as Deadpool or the Thunderbolts

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures. Successful for its timeslot and channel and its star had a lot of love given when she passed away in 2011, but when you consider other Whoniverse shows Doctor Who and Torchwood are Saturday evening and varying post-watershed timeslots respectively, and SJA is mid-afternoon AND on the CBBC channel...
  • Empty Nest: All but forgotten now, in the wake of The Golden Girls, but it actually had a longer original run (eight seasons) and got a lot of awards (including Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for Richard Mulligan, who won over Ted Danson, Michael J. Fox, and John Goodman).
  • Star Trek: Voyager: This show never reached the popularity or critical acclaim of its parent show Star Trek: The Next Generation, but it still received very good viewing figures when it was airing. (Unlike most examples, Voyager wasn't totally neglected but actually got plenty of attention and support from its network UPN — more than its actual sister show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine gotnote .)
  • CSI: New York was never as critically popular as the original CSI or as commercially popular as CSI: Miami, but it was still well-liked enough to chug along for nine seasons. It wasn't even the first of the CSI shows to be cancelled.
  • Knots Landing: Fourteen seasons would be big enough for a lot of shows, but when your parent show was Dallas, you fall square into this trope.
  • The Electric Company had a six-season run in the 1970s and brief revival in the 2000s, which are easily overshadowed by the uninterrupted long run of its parent show, Sesame Street.
  • Wings was to Cheers what Parks and Recreation is to The Office — only without the posthumous recognition.
  • Stargate Atlantis never got the kind of love (fannish or critical) that Stargate SG-1 earned, but it still earned a good half-decade run and kept the money people happy enough to earn the franchise a third series.
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent arguably fits. While your average American can name it as "that other Law & Order show", it tends not to make headlines, nor does it receive nearly as much attention as its older sister Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Kathryn Erbe and Vincent D'Onofrio were criminally and perpetually snubbed at the Emmys, despite performances as good or better than those on SVU. Nevertheless it performs pretty solidly on the USA Network and has a sizeable if rather quiet fanbase. It is also one of those shows the general public will run across in reruns (and there are lots of reruns) while channel-surfing and watch to pass the time (and yet not really bother to follow) due to the show's seemingly episodic nature, making it perhaps the ultimate example of this trope.
  • Roundhouse was this for the SNICK block of programming. Clarissa Explains It All brought Melissa Joan Hart into the spotlight, The Ren & Stimpy Show is the most famous of the block, Are You Afraid of the Dark? has a very vocal fanbase, and Roundhouse was... just sort of there, although it managed to last four seasons.
  • Petticoat Junction to Beverly Hillbillies. To a lesser extent Green Acres — at the time of its original airing Acres was more or less just thought of as a reversal of the Hillbillies plotline, but in more recent years Acres has been more and more noted for its unique use of surrealism.
  • Promised Land to Touched by an Angel.
  • Hang Time is considered this, despite its five-year run. While Saved by the Bell is appreciated to this day for its Narm qualities and California Dreams became a Cult Classic, Hang Time was just there and was looked at as a Midwestern, basketball-themed version of SBTB. Adding to its vagueness over if it were more of a comedy or a comedy-drama and multiple cast changes (including its arguable main character, played by NBA star Reggie Theus being replaced by a character played by NFL star Dick Butkus) did it no favors. Nowadays, it's mostly remembered as that show that had the Chicago sports stars and where Anthony Anderson got his start.
    • To say nothing about any Peter Engel show not named Saved By The Bell or California Dreams, regardless of its length (City Guys, Saved by The Bell: The New Class, USA High, etc.)
  • Veep is this to Girls. While Veep is more critically liked and has done better at the Emmys, it has not come close to the popularity of HBO's other one-syllable sitcom with general audiences.
  • Major Crimes shocked everybody by successfully transitioning The Closer's Hero Antagonist Captain Sharon Raydor into The Hero of the After Show and has maintained its predecessor's slot as the most successful show on cable, but it's still not quite as good (or popular) as The Closer. Still, the mere fact that as of summer 2015 it is airing its fourth season and has already been commissioned for a fifth speaks volumes about its quality.
  • Fantasy Island on ABC was a solid hit in the early '80s, but it hasn't exactly had the success of fellow Aaron Spelling ocean-based hit The Love Boat and star Ricardo Montalban tends to be more associated with Star Trek than Fantasy Island.
  • Simon & Simon was launched as a sister show to Magnum, P.I.. While it was a hit, ultimately lasting the same number of seasons and trailing it by less than ten episodes, it isn't nearly as fondly remembered.
  • Boston Public tends to be less impactful and memorable than creator David E. Kelley's other Boston shows.
  • Netflix launched three original dramas in 2013 — House of Cards (US), Hemlock Grove, and Orange Is the New Black. Two of them became mega-hits but Hemlock Grove wasn't so lucky and was axed after three seasons.
  • NCIS: Los Angeles has gone on for seven seasons despite never reaching the popularity if its parent show. NCIS actually inverted this with its parent, JAG, performing better in each of the two seasons both were on the air.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe's ABC shows (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter) are considered this compared to their enormously popular Netflix programming (Daredevil and Jessica Jones).
  • Legends of Tomorrow has the third-highest ratings on the CW network — exceeded only by its two parent shows, Arrow and The Flash (2014).

    Music 
  • A composer who changed the face of western classical music as much as Ludwig van Beethoven inevitably has a lot of these.
    • Among his nine symphonies, the genial No.4 in B-flat major sits between the titanic No.3 in E-flat major ("Eroica") and genre-changing No.5 in C minor. And though the three symphonies between No.5 and No.9 in D minor (whence comes the famous "Ode to Joy" finale) are overshadowed by the two symphonies bracketing them, No.6 in F major ("Pastoral") and No.7 in A major are still regarded as timeless classics; No.8 in F major was something of a look back rather than forward, although the finale stands out for a coda that is almost as long as the sonata allegro that precedes it yet never wears out its welcome.
    • The 32 piano sonatas include numerous masterworks, some of them framing and overshadowing hidden gems.
      • When pairs or sets of works were published together, one tended to stand out against its no-less-effective partners. Consider the two Fantasy-Like Sonatas (Sonata quasi una Fantasia) of Op.27: the first, in E-flat major, was something completely new, original, and vastly different from most other works for the solo piano, with a four-movements-in-one structure and a reminiscence of the third "movement" just before the final measures; the second is the so-called "Moonlight Sonata", one of Beethoven's most instantly recognisable compositions. (The "Moonlight" also overshadows the sonata published immediately after it, the charming, four-movement "Pastoral" sonata.)
      • The F major sonata, Op.54, is quite unlike anything Beethoven had written before or would write again (its two movements including a relaxed Minuet and a virtuoso toccata), and it hides nicely between the "Waldstein" sonata before it and the "Appassionata" after it. The two-movement F-sharp major sonata, Op.78, was next after the "Appassionata" and again shows Beethoven's mastery of form, but remains overshadowed by its predecessor.
      • Beethoven's last six piano sonatas are considered integral parts of his later compositional career, but the first of them, the two-movement Op.90 in E minor, very much lives in the shadow of the others, especially the mammoth "Hammerklavier". Even among the last three, Op.111 in C minor tends to overshadow Op.109 in E major (which closes with a masterful theme and variations) and Op.110 in A-flat major (another experiment in form which closes with a striking three-voice fugue).
    • The string quartets provide further examples. Although all of the last five are regarded as the crowning achievements of his post-Symphony No.9 years, the most frequently performed are Op.130 in B-flat major (with, at its heart, a Cavatina sent into space on the Voyager Golden Record; the original finale was the celebrated "Grosse fuge"), Op.131 in C-sharp minor (a seven-movements-in-one homage to Beethoven's love of opera), and Op.132 in A minor (again, featuring at its heart one of Beethoven's most beloved slow movements, the "Heiliger Dankgesang"), all of which tend to overshadow the just as beautiful Op.127 in E-flat major and Op.135 in F major. And in the shadow of all five is the other "late Beethoven" quartet, Op.95 in F minor ("Serioso"), a glorious foretaste of things to come from the master.
  • Dennis Wilson's 1977 solo album Pacific Ocean Blue was released to rave reviews and almost managed to outsell the contemporaneous The Beach Boys Love You. Even after going out of print it gained a cult following and it finally got a deluxe CD reissue in 2008.
  • Neil Young's "ditch trilogy" consists of Time Fades Away (1973), On the Beach (1974) and Tonight's the Night (1975). The last of those was met with critical acclaim and respectable sales despite its death-inspired tone, but the other two went out of print. Although they didn't "perform" commercially, they quietly gathered a cult following until Young caved and released On the Beach on CD in 2003. As of 2012, Time Fades Away remains commercially unavailable.
  • Stone Sour are easily one of the most successful rock bands of the 21st century, having had eight top 10 hits on the rock charts and several more top 40s. That being said, they still have nowhere near the recognition and acclaim of Corey Taylor's other band: Slipknot.

    Radio 

    Theatre 
  • Ruddigore: The current Ur-Example, it suffered in comparisons to The Mikado and was in Gilbert's day widely (and wrongly) believed to be a flop. Its recent revivals puts it into this trope, rehabilitating it into a fairly well received comic opera. The major part of this perception is based on the fact that it followed The Mikado, a Tough Act to Follow if there ever was one. The original run of The Mikado ran for over two years (672 performances), and is widely considered to be Gilbert and Sullivan's masterpiece. The original Ruddigore ran for a perfectly respectable eight months (288 performances), and made William Gilbert £7000 (over £450000 in 2014) including sheet music sales. Arthur Sullivan quipped that he wished for another bunch of failures like Ruddigore so he could retire.

    Video Games 
  • Harvest Moon has a sibling series named River King. It predates Harvest Moon by six years, but it's completely dwarfed by its sister series.
  • Of the spin off series from Pokémon, Pokémon Battrio and Pokémon Ranger fall into this. The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon sub-series is fairly popular and received positive reviews, but the other two are considered good but not as good as the main games. Battrio at least has this because it's exclusive to Japanese arcades; the Ranger series is viewed by some as little more than a complicated way to get rare event-only Pokemon.
  • The Gradius spinoff series Thunder Cross is considerably obscure, in large part because it never had any home conversions except for a belated and cheaply produced PlayStation 2 port of the first game.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising plays like Super Smash Bros. if it were a third-person shooter, and has the same director. Being based on the then-dormant Kid Icarus series and not being a massive crossover like Smash, it unsurprisingly isn't as well-known.
  • Assassin's Creed: Rogue is this to Assassin's Creed: Unity. Rogue was released on older consoles and only got a PC port four months after it came out (And received little advertising from Ubisoft as well), while Unity in contrast was arguably Ubisoft's biggest game that year. However, after Unity had a notoriously buggy launch and received mixed reviews in the story department, many fans saw Rogue as being the superior experience- while Unity had a large amount of backlash, the most people say against Rogue is that it's a copy-paste of Black Flag, and considering how popular that game was most don't see this as too big of a problem.
  • Many of Maxis' early works were this alongside their flagship SimCity series: SimEarth, SimAnt, and SimTower are just a few of the many forgotten titles.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!, a Sister Show to Family Guy (though not a spinoff). While Family Guy seems to attract both incredible popularity and publicity and an incredible Hatedom, American Dad continues going on quietly with a smaller but generally satisfied audience.
    • Ironically, Family Guy has regained some of its notoriety by doing increasingly political storylines, something American Dad was originally created to do (but which it mostly dropped by its second season.)
    • The Cleveland Show is a direct spinoff of Family Guy, following Cleveland Brown after he moved away. Sometimes both Family Guy and Cleveland Show will intertwine, for comedic effect.
      (An episode of Family Guy revives an old running joke, with in-show events causing Cleveland to fall out of his new house in his bathtub).
      Tim the Bear: I don't get it.
  • Futurama, Matt Groening's second show, also fell into this category when it was being aired on Fox. It is still wildly popular.
  • Doug was this in its run on Nickelodeon. It never became the catchphrase-spawning pop-cultural phenomenon like The Ren & Stimpy Show or other shows, but Nick kept supporting it because it had solid ratings for its run and huge support from parents who actually wanted their kids to watch it.
    • Averted with the Disney version, oh so very much. Which brings us to...
  • Pepper Ann was this for the big three of One Saturday Morning. Doug became a mild Cash Cow Franchise, and Recess became a cult hit with adults. It still got good ratings, and lasted the entire "wave one"note  of the block.
  • King of the Hill could be seen as this to the entire Fox animation lineup, despite being an original show and not a spinoff (except, arguably, to Beavis And Butthead.) While The Simpsons and Seth MacFarlane's shows all drew attention for accusations of Jumping the Shark, controversial political humor or just plain running too long, KOTH unobtrusively ran for 13 seasons and earned a good bit of critical praise.
    • Referenced in the South Park episode "Cartoon Wars", where Cartman sets out to destroy Family Guy. At one point he and Kyle get into a fight in Fox's offices; when they go through the KOTH production area, it's completely quiet and normal. (Mike Judge is friends with Matt and Trey, and actually voiced Kenny in South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut.)
  • Green Lantern: The Animated Series is this in comparison to Young Justice. It constantly lags behind YJ in terms of ratings, sales on iTunes, and receiving awards or praise, due to being newer. It's also hurt by the fact that it airs earlier in the morning, meaning that people who were originally fans of YJ before GLTAS premiered will often sleep through it. That being said, it usually sits with or near YJ on charts, but while YJ will sell steadily on iTunes throughout the week, remaining in the top 5 on the animation chart until the next episode goes on sale, GLTAS will top off at #3 and be barely clinging to the top 10 by the end of the week.
  • The Fairly OddParents is one of Nick's longest running and most beloved shows, but of course, it has always been in the shadow of a certain yellow sea sponge.
  • Littlest Pet Shop has a solid fanbase, but it hasn't exactly penetrated pop culture the way Discover Family's other animated show licensed from a female-targeted Hasbro product has.
  • ChalkZone was this during it's run on Nick from 2002 to 2005. While the first episode's premiere was the highest-rated for the channel at the time, it never received the attention or popularity as SpongeBob Squarepants, The Fairly OddParents, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, or Rugrats (and eventually All Grown Up!). It did manage to get positive critical reception, lasted four seasons, and became a bit of a Cult Classic after it finished airing.
  • KaBlam! was this for the Nicktoons in the late '90s. It ended up premiering the exact same week as Hey Arnold!, which remains one of the most acclaimed Nicktoons today, and was also overshadowed by the uncancellation of Rugrats later that year. Unlike the other Nicktoons at the time, it was mostly ignored in favor of other shows and received very little merchandise. It ended up being this for the SNICK block as well- it was the last show to play for the night after the already very popular Rugrats, All That, and Kenan and Kel, and ended up removed from the block and replaced with The Journey of Allen Strange by the Fall of 1997. Over the years it managed to gain a small cult following amongst '90s kids who used to watch it, but still remains forgotten compared to the other Nicktoons of the 1990s.

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