Spinoffs 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 several main types of spinoffs:
- 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
open/close all folders
Type 1 - parallel stories - Examples
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.
- Dallas —> 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.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer —> Angel
- Doctor Who —> K-9 and Company, Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures, K9 note
- Hercules: The Legendary Journeys —> Xena: Warrior Princess
- Grey's Anatomy —> Private Practice
- All in the Family is the king of this trope.
- It spun off no fewer than three shows, some of which had their own spinoffs: TheJeffersons, Maude, and Maude's housekeeper Florida, was spun off into Good Times. It also was an example of #8 below, 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 one season.
- 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.
- Mary Tyler Moore —> Rhoda and Phyllis.
- Happy Days—> Joanie Loves Chachi
- Family Ties—> The Art of Being Nick
- Perfect Strangers—> Family Matters
- Soap —> Benson
- Upstairs Downstairs —> Series/Thomas and Sarah
- Star Trek: The Next Generation —> Star Trek: Deep Space Nine note
- The Dukes of Hazzard —> Series/Enos
- Inspector Rex —> Stockinger
- The X-Files —> The Lone Gunmen, though it didn't last long.
- The Vampire Diaries —> The Originals
- 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.
Type 2 - new adventures of a character Examples
Type 3 - adventures of a new character Examples
Type 4 - future/past adventures of our hero Examples
Anime and Manga
- You Got HaruhiRolled! —> Cracks in the SOS Dan —> "You Got SasakiRolled!" —> The Obesity of Haruhi Suzumiya
- Sweet Valley High —> Dear lord. There were eight different spin-offs of Sweet Valley High, all but one of them being a type 4. The seven that fit this type were Sweet Valley Twins, Sweet Valley University, Sweet Valley Kids, Sweet Valley Junior High, Sweet Valley Senior Year, Elizabeth, and The Sweet Life.
Type 5 - it's X only different Examples
Type 6 - based on 5 minute sketch - Examples
Anime and Manga
- 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).
- Naruto —> Rock Lee's Springtime Of Youth
- One Piece —> Chopperman
- InuYasha —> Kagome the Adventurer
Type 7 -based on a fake movie Examples
Type 8 - kinda sequel Examples
Type 9 - behind the scenes Examples
Type 10 - online spinoff Examples
- Five Fwd is this 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.
- Monk —> Little Monk
- Sonny With A Chance —> Mackenzie Falls
- Ugly Betty —> Mode After Dark
- Offspring —> The Nurses
- EastEnders —> E20, following a group of teenagers outside of the main cast. Some were later promoted to the main series.
- 30 Rock —> Frank vs Lutz and Jack Donaghy: Executive Superhero.
- In the early 2000s, there were four Doctor Who online animated specials featuring the Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors, and an alternate Ninth Doctor.
- 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.
Type 11 - part alternate continuity, part parallel Examples
Anime and Manga
- 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.
- 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.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! —> Yu-Gi-Oh! GX —> Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds —> Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL
- Dr. Slump —> Dragon Ball
- 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.
- 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.
- Mercy Thompson Series and Alpha and Omega, along with a few short stories set in the same universe.
- The Infernal Devices series, a spin-off The Mortal Instruments, 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.
- Den of Shadows —> Kiesha'ra
- The Graveyard (notable for featuring Mark Salling, pre-Glee) exists in the same universe as the Bloody Murder duology.
- Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) as the prequel spin-off Caprica which follows the creation of Cylons ~50 years before the setting of the parent show.
- Star Trek: The Original Series —> Star Trek: The Next Generation: the spinoff is set approximately a century after the original.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation —> Star Trek: Voyager: the spinoff picks up almost immediately after the conclusion of its predecessor, 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 under type #1) 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.
- Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe
- When spin-offs share a setting, there's also often a temptation to eventually include characters from the earlier series. eg. Worf ending up on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Samantha Carter ending up on Stargate Atlantis.
- The various CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Law & Order spinoffs.
- The first seven seasons of Power Rangers used the few characters variant, starting with Lightspeed Rescue, they used the no character variant, all set in the same universe, with characters only returning for team-up episodes (except for 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.
- Once Upon a Time —> Once Upon a Time in Wonderland