"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.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.
— Troy McClure, The Simpsons, "The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase"
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.
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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).
- A concrete anime example is To Heart 2, which takes place in the same school as the original To Heart, only that it is set three years after. Some nods and cameos reinforce this.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica has Puella Magi Kazumi Magica, which is about another group of magical girls. Its other spin-off, Puella Magi Oriko Magica is either a Prequel or an Interquel. A third spin-off entitled Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Different Story was released for the Compilation Movie, and it is part Prequel, P.O.V. Sequel, and What If? story. Three new spin-offs began after the premiere of Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion. One is an Oriko Magica prequel. The other ones are Puella Magi Suzune Magica, which is about another group of magical girls, and Puella Magi Tart Magica, which elaborates on a background detail from the anime.
- Onegai Twins is set one year after the events of Onegai Teacher, it shares most locations and many of the first anime characters come back either as cameo or secondary characters.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides starts a completely new plotline which goes completely unmentioned and contains only three characters from the first three.
- 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.
- 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:
- TheJeffersons had it's own spin off Maude, and Maude's 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, the Jeffersons' housekeeper Florence received her own spin-off Checking In, which was cancelled after four episodes.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- Inspector Morse spun off into Lewis with a minor Time Skip. The series picked up in 2007 after Inspector Morse ended in 2000.
- Thats 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.
- I Carly 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.
- 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)
- The Daily Show gave birth to The Colbert Report, which started as a fictional show in commercials promoting The Daily Show and became defictionalized.
- 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.
- 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.
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney had a spin off series. Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth was a mystery solving game and featured the prosecutor from the first game as the main character.
- The Portal series is a spinoff from Half-Life. It features new characters and setting, but has references to the events of Half-Life.
- The Shin Megami Tensei series has several concurrent timelines, with the main timeline and the if.../Persona timeline being the most notable ones. Nocturne implies that many if not all the timelines are canon within the same multiverse.
- Hyrule Warriors to The Legend of Zelda. A non-canon entry handled by Tecmo-Koei that uses gameplay similar to Dynasty Warriors but with a Zelda twist (like incorporating Zelda items into combat). It's basically Zelda meets Dynasty Warriors.
- Super Mario 3D World gave Captain Toad, whom originated from Super Mario Galaxy, his own personal levels. They served as a sort of backdoor pilot, as they eventually spun-off into their own full-fledged game: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.
- 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.
- One Minute Melee is a spin-off of ScrewAttack's Death Battle. While Death Battle is made up of roughly 20 minute-long episodes where the hosts put exhaustive research and comparisons into two combatants and their respective strengths, skills and weaknesses, and decides the winner based on that, OMM is far more simply a matchup between two fictional combatants where the fights last no longer than 60 seconds and the winner is determined by Author Appeal. It's basically meant for DB fans who are Just Here for Godzilla.
- The edutainment The Ben Heck Show had the 2011 special Halloween Episode Ghost Hunting with Ben Heck!, which is a thinly veiled pilot for the America's Most Haunted pinball.
- 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 Aristocats has received three spin offs as of 2015. The first is a 2006 book called "Disney's Marie"◊ which has Marie taking readers on sightseeing adventures and traveling around the world. The second is a a oneshot manga created in Spring 2015 called "Miriya & Marie"◊ (Which is only available in Japan and Brazil which stars Marie and Canon Foreigner Miriya, and a third book called "Disney Tails We Love Marie".
- 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 life as a five minute long cartoon on The Tracey Ullman Show
- The PBS Kids series Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is a spin off to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood complete with a similar opening.