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TV series that began life as one-off or recurring prime-time specials, sometimes related to holidays. Shows that already have a full series order count as well, if the first episode to air was a holiday special. 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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     Anime & Manga 
  • One Piece:
    • The Christmas special (End-Of-Year Special Project! The Detective Memoirs of Chief Straw Hat Luffy) wasn't the first episode of the anime, but it was originally supposed to be a one-off two-part filler episode where the cast lives in 19th century Japan. It proved so popular, however, that this setting would be returned to for several other filler episodes, both during the holiday season and throughout the year.
    • 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 & 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). The show's Spin-Off, America's Funniest People, also began as a one-off special before evolving into a full show.
  • The Really Loud House began with a Christmas special, A Loud House Christmas.
  • 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).
  • The 1992 TV special The Tin Soldier spawned a series called The Toy Castle in 2000.

     Western Animation