"Spinoff"! Is there any word more thrilling to the human soul? Hi, I'm Troy McClure. You may remember me from such TV spinoffs as Son of Sanford And Son and AfterMannix.
Troy McClure, The Simpsons, "The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase"

Spin-Offs are when part of a successful show, usually characters, but sometimes a general concept (first you have the Law, then you have the Order), are taken and given a second show of their own.

From a producer's perspective, it's a chance to explore other aspects of a concept. Actors can find opportunities to grow in their craft, as well as rise in importance by moving from just being part of an ensemble to having a show built around them. For the networks, it's a chance to establish a show with a built-in audience, making it that much easier for them to sell advertising.

Lots of spinoffs go on to be successful shows in their own right, sometimes even surpassing the parent series in popularity. Others crash and burn (Joanie Loves Chachi, anyone?), suggesting that there is no such thing as a sure thing. Nevertheless, networks keep trying them.

There are many different kinds of spinoffs including:

  • Where a character leaves a show and the two run concurrently. Characters Crossover from time to time.
  • Where a show comes to an end and a character from it is given his or her own new show. Provides an opportunity to Retool the character as well.
  • Where a character is brought on to an existing show simply in order to be spunoff, hopefully making some of the original audience into viewers of the new show (See Poorly Disguised Pilot).
  • The main character is revisited elsewhere in his narrative.
  • Reimaginings - the concept is carried into a new show with the same basic premise but other factors and characters are completely new.
  • Segment spin-offs - a recurring segment from the show becomes the main attraction.
  • A type of Defictionalization - a Show Within a Show gets made into a real show of its own.
  • The storyline on one show comes to an end, only to be continued in a new show with a different name.
  • Official Fanzine Show - a trope usually applying to Reality TV, usually offering Behind The Scenes info or coverage that wouldn't fit into the main programme, often (but not always) broadcast immediately after the main show, on a sister channel.
  • Online Spin-Off - A spin-off that's only shown online, sometimes overlaps with Segment Spin-Off, sometimes a spin-off In Name Only. Generally only an advert for the broadcast programme.
  • Shared Continuity - more common nowadays, this spinoff generally carries no characters over from the show that spawned it, though both are in the same continuity that allows for Crossovers from the original.

Spinoffs are Older than You Think. The character of Falstaff, from Henry IV parts 1 and 2, was given his own play, at Royal request, by William Shakespeare.

See also Distaff Counterpart. When a TV series is successful enough to produce a film Spinoff, this is The Movie. When the same principle is applied to Video Games, the result is a Gaiden Game or a Pinball Spinoff.

When the Spin-Off focuses on the descendant(s) of character(s) from a previous installment, they're a Spin-Offspring.
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    Anime and Manga 
  • Fist of the North Star (Hokuto no Ken) has a series of spinoff works known as the Hokuto no Ken Gaiden series, which centers around side-characters from the original manga, depicting what happened to them prior to the events of Hokuto no Ken, although they do deviate from canon a bit. Almost all of them, with the exception of Yuria Gaiden, were published in Weekly Comic Bunch (the manga anthology that serializes Souten no Ken) at the time the Legends of the True Savior movies were released.
  • Various side story episodes of the Pokemon anime featured former party members after they had left the group. The early ones focusing on Tracey and Misty along with Tournament Arc rival Ritchie were dubbed as the Pokemon Chronicles subseries.
  • There was a Manga called Ten, which was about mahjong being serious business, there was a character called Akagi which was an awesome old man who the characters feared and respected, the character was so popular the author made an spinoff prequel series focused on Akagi's early life, at one point he meets his match in an old man called Washizu, who was so popular the author made a spinoff series focused on Washizu's early life (yes, Fukumoto made a spinoff of a spinoff).
  • Jewelpet —> Jewelpet Twinkle☆ —> Jewelpet Sunshine —> Jewelpet Kira Deco! —> Jewelpet Happiness, all of the series shares the same Jewelpets, but not the same characters in general to prevent canon confusion.
  • Attack on Titan: Attack On Titan Levi Side Story: A Choice With No Regrets manga, which is based on the Choice With No Regrets visual novel included with the Attack On Titan Vol.3 Blu-ray. This spin-off features Levi as the main character and serves as a prologue to the main series.
  • Fairy Tail: Two have been announced: Fairy Tail Zero, an Origin Story starring Mavis Vermillion about the founding of Fairy Tail, and Tale of Faily Tail: Ice Trail, which is another Origin Story about Gray Fullbuster.
  • Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA: a spinoff Magical Girl story involving Illya as the protagonist.

    Audio Play 

  • The Sandman —> Thessaly: The Thessaliad and Witch For Hire, in which Dream's murderous ex-girlfriend Thessaly deals with new problems brought on by a ghost named Fetch.
  • The Mighty Thor: Has a interesting relationship with Journey into Mystery. Thor debuted in Journey into Mystery and headlined it for a while before taking over the title completely and later getting another series. 49 years after his debut, Journey into Mystery is introduced as a spin-off taking over Thor's numbering and Thor gets another series.
  • Fantastic Four After the death of a prominent member of the book, the book ended at issue 588 and was revamped as FF (FF in the title standing for Future Foundation). After 11 issues of FF, Marvel revived the Fantastic Four for issue 600 (the previous issues being FF) and it will continue forward with FF also being released concurrently focusing on the non Fantastic Four members of the Future Foundation.

  • The Mummy Returns featured a mummy trying to raise the Scorpion king and his army from their resting places. The Scorpion King is set thousands of years in the past and features the character's rise to power.
  • Grindhouse featured a Fake Trailer for Machete which later became a film of its own. Word of God also states that the Machete from Spy Kids is the same Machete, so it also counts for that film.
  • The Graveyard (notable for featuring Mark Salling, pre-Glee) exists in the same universe as the Bloody Murder duology.
  • The Reboot Star Trek films act as a Spin-Off parallel in an Alternate Timeline to the Star Trek: The Original Series.

  • Plantagenet Palliser, a minor character in the Barchester series by Anthony Trollope, became a main character of Trollope's Palliser series, written in the 1860s and 1870s.
  • P. D. James's Adam Dalgliesh detective novels spun off a short line of two novels about private investigator Cordelia Gray, including a surprise cameo by the original detective.
  • The Iliad and the The Odyssey both cover the same story but through different cultural lenses. The Aeneid also follows the adventures of a minor character from The Iliad, but it was written by a different writer hundreds of years later.
  • Sweet Valley High gave us... dear lord. There were eight different spin-offs of Sweet Valley High, all but one of them also being about the twins that served as main characters at various points in their lives. The seven that were about the twins were Sweet Valley Twins, Sweet Valley University, Sweet Valley Kids, Sweet Valley Junior High, Sweet Valley Senior Year, Elizabeth, and The Sweet Life. The last spin-off The Unicorn Club takes place when the twins are in middle school but focuses on the club instead.
  • The Mercy Thompson series has the spin-off series Alpha and Omega which follows a character introduced in the first book and his wife. A few short stories focusing on other side character are also set in the same universe.
  • The The Infernal Devices series has a spin-off The Mortal Instruments. It is an interesting example; the two series share a couple characters, (namely, Magnus and Camille), but they're not central to either series, and all the other characters are new. Plus, "The Infernal Devices" takes place 200 years before "The Mortal Instruments".

    Live Action TV 
  • Dallas gave rise to the show Knots Landing. Interestingly enough, Knots Landing was actually shopped first to CBS, but rejected. When Dallas took off, they inserted one of the Ewing brothers and re-shopped KL as a spin-off.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series gave rise to s whole universe of spin-offs:
    • Assignment Earth a proposed spin-off with a Poorly Disguised Pilot which never ended up happening.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation which focused on the next ship that was given the name Enterprise and was set approximately a century after the original.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was spun off of the Next Generation while TNG was still airing. Recurring character Chief Miles O'Brien left TNG to become a main character on DS9, and there were substantial crossovers between the two shows in the DS9 pilot "Emissary" and the TNG episode "Birthright Part 1". DS9 is thus the sole example in Star Trek of a parallel story spinoff: the others are a type of shared continuity, as listed below.
    • 'Star Trek: Voyager'': the spinoff picks up almost immediately after the conclusion of TNG, and although it does not feature any continuing characters, it does continue various stories and themes originating from TNG and DS9.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise is set more than 110 years before The Original Series, and is arguably a spinoff of TOS, TNG or both.
    • Each Star Trek series featured few crossovers, apart from one at the beginning of each spinoff as a symbolic "passing the torch". The first episode of TNG included a cameo appearance by an aged Dr McCoy; the pilot of DS9 (listed as parallel stories) prominently featured Captain Picard; the first scene of VOY included a cameo by DS9's Quark; the first episode of ENT showed a video recording of Dr Zefram Cochrane, a major character in the TNG film Star Trek: First Contact.
  • The Practice had the spin off Boston Legal, where the spinoff was designed around characters originally introduced in the original in a serious case of Final Season Casting.
  • Arrow spun into The Flash (2014). The titular character of the latter show was introduced in - and gained his powers at the end of - a two-parter in the middle of Arrow's second season. Episode 2x20 was originally going to be a Backdoor Pilot before the execs decided to make it a standalone episode.
  • The Gruen Transfer, and advertisment mocking/dissection satirical panel show spun off Gruen Nation an elections advertising, spin, branding and image control satirical panel show. That spawned Gruen Planet a global advertising, spin, branding and image control satirical panel show which finally gave birth to Gruen Sweat an Olympics advertising, spin, branding and image control satirical panel show)
  • Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe both spun-off of the show Stargate SG-1 which itself was based on the film Stargate. Atlantis is set in the lost city of Atlantis and features characters from the first series such as Major Carter who ran the installation in later seasons. Universe was set after both in continuity and the setting meant that old characters showed up far less often.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003) —> Caprica, a prequel spinoff which follows the creation of Cylons ~50 years before the setting of the parent show.
  • The first seven seasons of Power Rangers used a few old characters mixed with new ones. Starting with Lightspeed Rescue, they used the no character variant, all set in the same universe, with characters only returning for team-up episodes. The exceptions were Power Rangers Dino Thunder and Power Rangers Samurai, where Tommy and Bulk returned as main characters, respectively.
  • Eureka and Warehouse13 are established as a shared canon during an episode on each show in which each had a character visiting from the other. There was also a brief appearance of a recurring Warehouse13 character in an episode of Alphas, putting all three series in one universe.
  • Five Fwd is the parent show for Channel Five's The Gadget Show and Fifth Gear. The former features a formalised news segment which has never been part of the main programme with a different presenter and games reviews and interviews with one of the regular presenters- something that rarely appears in the show proper.
  • EastEnders had a spin-off E20 following a group of teenagers outside of the main cast. Some were later promoted to the main series.
  • Being Human had an online spinoff called Becoming Human which focused on Adam, a charater that had featured in an episode of the parent show, and otherwise entirely new characters.

  • The rare example of the nonfiction spinoff: This American Life —> Serial. Serial takes the essential format of a This American Life investigative story (which typically lasts 15-20 minutes, although sometimes it can take a whole hour) and stretches it out over a twelve-episode season's worth of 45-minute(ish) episodes. It was explicitly called a spinoff by the TAL crew, features TAL producer Sarah Koenig as its presenter/investigator/producer, and inherits a lot of both personnel and style from the mothership. It was also launched by a completely undisguised pilot, in which the first episode of Serial was aired as an episode of This American Life (Episode #537, "The Alibi").

  • As mentioned in the description text, one of the earliest known spinoffs comes from the work of William Shakespeare: the character of Falstaff, an amalgam of several 14th- and 15th-century figures, who appeared as a secondary character in Henry IV (both Part 1 and Part 2), who was given his own play in the form of The Merry Wives of Windsor.

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 
  • The action-oriented Jet Dream And Her T Girl Counterspies title spawned two spin-offs: It's Cookie, a teen humor comic starring T-Girl Cookie Jarr, and My Jet Dream Romance, a romance comic that focuses on the love lives of the T-Girls.
  • Precocious has a spinoff Copper Road, about the character Kaitlyn Hu and the "other side of the class" that lives on Copper Road.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Flintstones has a spin-off called The Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm Show about the children of the couples who stared in the original show.
  • The finale of Hong Kong Phooey featured three inept cowboys who were unofficially named "Posse Impossible". Three years later they would get a cartoon of their own as a segment of the 1977 show CB Bears.
  • The World of David the Gnome was spun off into The Wisdom of the Gnomes with no room for crossovers since David and his wife die in the last episode of their series.
  • The Simpsons started it's live as a five minute long cartoon on The Tracey Ullman Show