"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. Video Game spinoffs often feature the same cast but differing gameplay genres or are Gaiden Games starring one of the secondary or side characters.

When the Spin-Off focuses on the descendant(s) of character(s) from a previous installment, they're a Spin-Offspring.

In the television industry, there is a technical difference between the terms 'spinoff' and 'sequel': a 'spinoff' refers specifically to a television show that continues in (more or less) the same era as its predecessor, while a Sequel Series takes place after the parent series' setting.

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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.
  • A Certain Magical Index spawned a spinoff manga in A Certain Scientific Railgun, featuring Mikoto Misaka and delving into her background, friends, and some of the cases which Judgement handles.
    • Railgun then spawned another manga spinoff, A Certain Scientific Accelerator, following Accelerator and the events after he receives his drama-preserving handicap. Yup. A spinoff of a spinoff.
  • 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).

    Audio Play 

  • The Sandman has several spin-offs following supporting characters, including:
    • Lucifer, which follows the adventures of Lucifer after he quits being Ruler of Hell in The Sandman: Season of Mists.
    • The Thessaliad and Thessaly: 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.
  • Batwoman (Rebirth) is a spinoff from a story arc in Detective Comics (Rebirth) called "Batwoman Begins". That arc involves a new kind of bioweapon, and in the spinoff series, Batwoman tracks down those who traffic in said weapon.

  • 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.

  • The Doctor Who New Adventures were published by Virgin Publishing under license from the BBC. When the BBC decided to take the license back to start publishing their own Eighth Doctor Adventures, Virgin spun off the Bernice Summerfield novels, which continued to tell similiar sci-fi adventure stories using characters and worldbuilding elements that had been created for the New Adventures (and which Virgin consequently retained rights to) or which could be licensed separately from the writers that had created them.
  • One of the Eighth Doctor Adventures novels by Lawrence Miles introduced Faction Paradox, an association of anarchic time-traveling villains. After leaving the series, Miles instituted his own series of Faction Paradox novels.
  • Telos published a series of Doctor Who novellas; one of them, Cabinet of Light, introduced a set of characters who were spun off in to the Time Hunter series.
  • 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. Interesting in that when an entire season of Dallas was retconned to have been All Just a Dream, this also meant that the entire spin-off had to be either All Just a Dream as well, or not a spin-off after all.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer spun off Angel, featuring the Buffy main characters of Angel and Cordelia, with the guest character Wesely joining later in the series. Crossovers between the two were frequent until _Buffy_ moved to a new network.
  • Beverly Hills 90210 had a spin-off Melrose Place within less two years of its introduction, which itself spun off a not-as-successful spin-off Models Inc., which lasted a season
  • Doctor Who —> K-9 and Company, Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures, K9 All are part of the Whoniverse which revolves around the Doctor, but the only thing linking K9 to the Whoniverse is the presence of the eponymous robot dog. K9 was not produced by the BBC, so it cannot directly reference Doctor Who and vice versa.
    • In the early 2000s, there were four Doctor Who online animated specials featuring the Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors, and an alternate Ninth Doctor.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys —> Xena: Warrior Princess
  • Grey's Anatomy —> Private Practice
  • All in the Family spun off no fewer than three shows, some of which had their own spinoffs:
    • The Jeffersons whose housekeeper Florence later received her own spin-off Checking In, which was cancelled after four episodes.
    • Maude, whose housekeeper Florida, was spun off into Good Times. It also kind of a sequel, as All in the Family became Archie Bunker's Place. Similarly, but less successfully,
    • Archie Bunker's Place itself had a one season spin-off Gloria that featured Archie's daughter Gloria , having divorced Mike, starting a new life in New York.
    • The last gasp of the franchise came in 1994, with yet another (short-lived) spinoff: 704 Hauser, about the people who were then living in what had been Archie's house. The adult Joey Stivic (son of Michael and Gloria) drops by for a visit in the first episode.
  • Perfect Strangers spun off the minor character of Harriet Winslow, the elevator operator at Balki and Larry's employer, into her own show, Family Matters
  • Soap's sarcastic butler, Benson, was given his own show, Benson, where the character eventually became Lt Governor of the state.
  • Inspector Rex: Stockinger got his own series after he was transferred to Salsburg. It lasted two seasons.
  • The X-Files featured a trio of recurring characters, conspiracy theorists, known as The Lone Gunmen. They were spun off into their own short-lived eponymous show, The Lone Gunmen
  • Star Trek: The Original Series gave rise to a 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 another 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 (and eventually Worf as well) 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.
  • When Cheers ended, Frasier Crane left Boston to move back home to Seattle, becoming the main character of his own show, Frasier. Crossovers with characters form Cheers were frequent, with all of Sam, Diane, Lilith, Carla, Norm, Cliff, and Woody all making appearances at one point or another.
    • Cheers actually had a prior spinoff, Meet the Tortellis, featuring Carla's ex-husband. The show did not last very long.
  • Inspector Morse spun off into Lewis with a minor Time Skip. The series picked up in 2007 after Inspector Morse ended in 2000.
  • That's So Raven spun into Cory in the House after a small Time Skip. CITH takes place some time after TSR, after Raven goes to college.
  • Caerdydd spun into Gwaith Cartref. Neither Emyr nor Sara mentions Lea, Peter, or any of the other characters from the earlier show which is strange, given how it ended.
  • iCarly set up a spinoff built around Gibby that never got past a pilot. On the other hand, Sam as well as Cat from Victorious went on to, well, Sam & Cat.
  • Breaking Bad has Better Call Saul, which the protagonist is Saul Goodman, Walter White's lawyer and "advisor". The series focus on Saul's life before he was lawyer under his real name (Jimmy McGill) and also shows what happened to him after the events of Breaking Bad, serving as both a prequel and a sequel to the main series as well.
  • 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.
  • You probably wouldn't expect a Ken Burns documentary series, let alone that within his Great American Trilogy, to have one, but Baseball does—specifically, a 2016 two-part miniseries following the life of Brooklyn Dodgers player Jackie Robinson.
  • After Steve Wilkos left The Jerry Springer Show after being the director of security there, he was given his own series, The Steve Wilkos Show, which deals with much more serious topics.
  • The Australian game show Hard Quiz was spun off from The Weekly with Charlie Pickering, specifically the regular segment Hard Chat. In one episode, a contestant's special subject was Happy Days, and when Tom Gleeson brought up the Love, American Style example, he then went on to claim that Hard Quiz was, in contrast, completely original.
  • In 2013, Ultra Series was awarded by the Guinness Book of World Records for holding the record for most spin off TVs shows. In 2013 there were 27 series, and in 2017 there were 30 series.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The Heartland Wrestling Association was one to WCW, Adrenaline being one to Nitro. Focusing mainly on developmental wrestlers who may or may not "graduate" to WCW's main roster or elsewhere, Heartland ended up running shows and training successful wrestlers well after WCW went out of business.
  • Oz Academy was originally based around Mayumi Ozaki's attempts to train new wrestlers for the Power Stable of the same name to aid her in her campaign against the GAEA promotion. After GAEA closed down, Oz Academy became increasingly self contained, though a rivalry with GAEA's would be successor Sendai Girls Pro Wrestling periodically rises to the surface.
  • Strangely, Pro Wrestling RESPECT started out as a spin off to both Ring of Honor and SHIMMER, focused mainly around the students of their academy. However, it eventually drifted into "Wrestling Is Respect", one of many "Wrestling Is" promotions that serve as spin offs to Chikara(and ended up being the longest lasting of them).
  • Although inheriting its name from ECW's training facility, when House Of Hardcore started doing their own shows they began as spin off of Family Wrestling Entertainment, as school head Tommy Dreamer was their champion. The crowd reaction pretty quickly established that HOH was better off not trying to be a family show though.
  • The Scotland based Insane Championship Wrestling opened a sister promotion called Fierce Females in 2012, in order to give more focus to said group. However, FF and ICW parted ways in 2014 and ICW started a women's division that ran on the same shows as all its other talent instead.
  • Ring Ka King was to be a spin off of TNA based in India, though after a single televised season the two promotions broke away from one another and RKK went dormant.
  • New Borinquen Pro Wrestling was a developmental territory of The World Wrestling League that was based around independent circuit and former IWA Puerto Rico wrestler tryouts, in addition to a stronger focus on "strong style" (if the name didn't make that clear). It is another "farm league" that has chugged along after its larger partner closed down. And it didn't return to being its farm league when WWL started back up.
  • CZW started "Dojo Wars" in 2014, based around the students of its dojo and those (hopefully) destined for WSU's locker room. Sometimes they get into scuffles with students from other wrestling schools.

  • 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").
  • I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue was spun off from I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again, featuring (at first) most of the same performers (plus Humphrey Lyttelton as chairman) but in a ridiculous Panel Game rather than a Sketch Show. It has been running since 1972, far surpassing the original (which had a very respectable run itself).
    • I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue eventually got a Spin-Off of its own. In one of the games, which involves improvising a comedic dialogue that suggests the title of a book, film etc. (usually by way of an elaborate pun), one pair of contestants would usually adopt the characters of a pair of eccentric Scotsmen, exchanging numerous puns and double-entendres along the way. These characters were spun off into their own scripted comedy series, You'll Have Had Your Tea: The Doings of Hamish and Dougal.

  • 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 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 began life as a series of short skits on The Tracey Ullman Show.
  • World of Winx is this to Winx Club.
  • The PBS Kids series Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is a spin off to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood complete with a similar opening.
  • Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race is a spinoff of Total Drama with four of the contestants from the latter (Noah, Owen, Geoff and Leonard) appearing to compete and a few cameos from the old cast here and there.
  • The LEGO Batman Movie follows the life of a secondary character from The LEGO Movie: Batman.
    • Unikitty! is another LEGO Movie spin-off, featuring secondary character Unikitty.
  • Arthur got a spinoff in the form of Postcards from Buster.
  • Though can be surprising for some people, Daria is a spin-off of Beavis And Butthead and the character appears for the first time in the latter, yet whilst Beavis And Butthead is pretty much forgotten nowadays Daria retains a cult following and a very vocal fanbase, becoming one of those cases of More Popular Spin-off.
  • Shaun the Sheep is a spin-off from Wallace & Gromit using the Shaun character of one of their shorts. Shaun the Sheep at the same time has an spin-off with Timmy Time with Timmy the lamb as the protagonist of a show for toddlers.
  • If you don't know that the Tiny Toons had a spin-off series named The Plucky Show with the character of Plucky as the protagonist, don't feel bad. A lot of people don't like it as the show was not very popular and ran for only one season. Although the term "spin-off" might be an overstatement considering that most of the show's epsiodes consisted in clips from the original cartoon.
  • Due to the Pinky and the Brain sketches' popularity in Animaniacs, a spin-off series with them was made: Pinky and the Brain. Then a crossover/spin-off was made, called Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain, with the Tiny Toons' character Elmyra in probably one of the most questioned moves ever done in animated television.
  • The common consensus among fans is to consider Darkwing Duck as a spin-off of DuckTales as the character of Launchpad Mc Quack appears in both but is one of the protagonists in the former. Nevertheless according to Word of God; show creator Tad Stone, Darkwing Duck happens in a different universe than DuckTales with Launchpad as just an alternate version. If this is canonical inside the Disney Animated Universe, of course, is up to debate.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls is a spin-off of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, taking place in a parallel universe and starring the teenage human equivalents of the main characters. Word of God states that while both works are canon to each other (Sunset Shimmer was indeed Celestia's previous student, Starswirl did banish the sirens to the human world, etc.), the team deliberately avoids writing Equestria Girls plots that could affect the main universe for simplicity's sake.