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Series that began life as prime-time specials, sometimes related to holidays. This seems to particularly be the case with adaptations. Seemed to be very popular in The '80s.

Compare Poorly Disguised Pilot, Five-Episode Pilot. Sometimes overlaps with Pilot Movie.


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  • The One Piece Christmas special was originally supposed to be a two-episode filler where the cast is in feudal Japan and Luffy is a detective, but later evolved into recurring filler episodes. They were easy to plot, genuinely funny, could be fit in at any time, and brought back a lot of old characters in as cameos.
    • Chopperman was given his own series. It began as a tiny short, then turned into some successful merchandise, and now it stands on its own two feet.

     Live-Action TV  

  • TV's Bloopers And Practical Jokes was a merging of three previous NBC specials...Johnny Carson's Funniest Practical Jokes, TV's Censored Bloopers, and TV's Greatest Commercials. Reversed after the show was cancelled and TV's Censored Bloopers was presented again as an occational series of specials.
  • TLC likes to test show concepts this way. That's how we got Jon & Kate Plus Eight, 19 Kids and Counting, and Table For 12, among others.
  • The Adventures of Pete & Pete started out as a series of shorts during commercial periods, followed by full-length specials, then the regular series.
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures began with a New Year's special, but was commissioned for a full series prior to the filming of the special.
  • Bo' Selecta!, or at least lead character Avid Merrion, started as filler shorts during ad breaks for one season of Big Brother Live.
  • This is very much the purpose behind Comedy Lab.
  • The Australian show Good News Week was canceled back in 2000. In 2008, a reunion special was planned, but the Writer's Guild strike in America caused Channel Ten to revive it fully.
  • Another Aussie example, Hey Hey It's Saturday, was a variety show that was on air for nearly 30 years, starting as a children's program and eventually becoming a prime time variety show, in 1999 the show was wrapped up, but in 2009, 2 one off reunion specials were aired on consecutive Wednesdays. These specials were a runaway hit and this resulted in the show briefly being back on air every Wednesday until it was swiftly cancelled once again.
  • America's Funniest Home Videos began as an hour-long special hosted by Bob Saget and Kellie Martin in November 1989; it was brought back as a weekly series two months later with Saget in tow, and has aired ever since with two host changes since then (with the minor exception of a period from the fall of 1998 to the summer of 2001, when in an inversion of this trope, it was reduced to a series of specials).
  • 10 O'Clock Live started out originally as Channel 4's Alternative Election Night.
  • Wonder Woman: The series began as a TV Movie, "The New, Original Wonder Woman", airing on November 7, 1975. The next two specials aired in April of 1976. The remaining WWII episodes were on the regular 1976-77 season from October to February. The 14 WWII episodes are retroactively considered the first season although they were aired over the course of two years. This foot dragging and budget concerns led to the move from ABC to CBS and updating it to present day (The '70s).

     Western Animation  

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and the other Peanuts specials in that sequence eventually led to The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show. This one is a case where the specials are currently more famous than the show they launched.
  • Garfield had several specials under his belt before Garfield and Friends.
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero had two mini-series before the actual series began.
  • The My Little Pony TV Specials lead to My Little Pony: The Movie (1986), which led to the first series.
  • The Simpsons: "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" aka "The Simpsons Christmas Special" was always intended to be just one more episode of the show, but the fact that Fox chosenote  to air it as the first episode is probably due to the influence of this trope.
  • The 2008 George of the Jungle series started with a Christmas special.
  • All Grown Up! was originally a special, but was popular enough that they made it a successor series to Rugrats.
  • Strawberry Shortcake was originally just a series of specials. When she was revived in the 21st century, she got a proper TV series.
  • The Raccoons originally had four specials, the first one being about Christmas.
  • Madeline (the animated series) started as a series of TV specials in the late 1980s-early 1990s. She had her own TV series from 1993 to 2001.
  • Transformers: Generation 1: The original cartoon started out as a three-part serial.
    • The same goes for the comic, which started out as a four-issue limited series. It was, and is, common for Marvel to test out a new book that way. Of course, TF became kind of a big deal, as you might have noticed. The book's final issue gives us the caption, "#80 in a 4-issue limited series." (Except it was much more than 80 when you consider what Marvel UK added.) Eventually, IDW Publishing produced a 20-issue Revival called Transformers: Regeneration One. Naturally, it finishes with "#100 in a 4-issue limited series."
  • Care Bears (1980s) originally had two TV specials, Care Bears In The Land Without Feelings and Care Bears Battle the Freeze Machine before getting their first series.
  • Pound Puppies (1980s) began with a 1985 TV special before becoming a series.
  • The Legend of Korra was initially meant to be a mini-series before it was turned into a full show.


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