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Top 10 Best TV Spin-Offs

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Written by Genevieve Methot There may be more bad spinoffs than good, but the good ones are usually great. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 best TV spinoffs. For this list, we’re looking at spinoffs that originated from extremely popular shows, that ended up being successful in the ratings, in popularity and in terms of longevity. If you’re interested in seeing the other side of the coin, don’t forget to check out our list of the Top 10 Worst TV Spinoffs. Special thanks to our users DJWillstrom, svetka126, zac roper, HonkyTonkBuffalo, Zachary Micheal Montgomery, Charlie Orson, WebRider16, Vektor, sarahjessicaparkerth, happychaosofthenorth, Andrew A. Dennison, Loganlegomaniac, umidontno040394, 2abravo, Philip Folta, Emily JoAnn Warden, 0nr3, Carson Hinds, PatrickCervantez and Gia Reneé Williams for submitting the idea through our Suggest Tool at WatchMojo.comSuggest
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Written by Genevieve Methot

Top 10 Best TV Spin-Offs


There may be more bad spinoffs than good, but the good ones are usually great. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 best TV spinoffs.

For this list, we’re looking at spinoffs that originated from extremely popular shows, that ended up being successful in the ratings, in popularity and in terms of longevity. If you’re interested in seeing the other side of the coin, don’t forget to check out our list of the Top 10 Worst TV Spinoffs.

#10: “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (1999-)
Spinoff of “Law & Order” (1990-2010)

The fact that series star Mariska Hargitay makes about half a million dollars per episode should tell you a little something about the powerhouse that is the “Law & Order” family. Riding on the original series’ decades of success, “SVU” focuses on the investigation and prosecution of sex-related crimes, but keeps a similar format and tone to its parent series. That winning formula, as well as great acting, writing and guest stars, helped the show survive past the cancellation of its progenitor and its award-winning sibling series “Criminal Intent.”

#9: “CSI: Miami” (2002-12)
Spinoff of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” (2000-)

The original “CSI” was groundbreaking and dazzling when it debuted; but the one thing it’s missing is Horatio Caine, a character you just can’t help but like even though you try not to. And although they’re cut from the same cloth, these two “CSI” shows were immediately distinguishable from each other. The color-saturated visuals and ultra-violence of “Miami,” coupled with Horatio’s flowing one-liners and the slew of absurdly wealthy and attractive murderers formed the perfect recipe for a successful spinoff that lasted ten seasons.

#8: “Saved by the Bell” (1989-93)
Spinoff of “Good Morning, Miss Bliss” (1988-89)

Here’s one example of a spinoff that became much more successful than the series it came from. Based on the short-lived show “Good Morning, Miss Bliss,” about a junior high school teacher and her students, the premise was thankfully revised into the sitcom that became a viewing staple for every teenager in the ‘90s. After following Zack, Kelly, Slater, Jessie, Lisa and Screech through high school, the show ended on the last day of school, leaving room for its sequel to follow our favorite friends to college.

#7: “The Facts of Life” (1979-88)
Spinoff of “Diff’rent Strokes” (1978-86)

This spinoff follows Edna Garrett, who originally appeared on the first two seasons of “Diff’rent Strokes” as the Drummonds’ housekeeper, as she takes a position as housemother at a fictional all-girls’ boarding school in upstate New York. Throughout its nine seasons, “The Facts of Life” was a sure and steady hit that covered an array of touchy subjects, like eating disorders, sexuality and drugs, and even features a young and hairy George Clooney as a hunky handyman.

#6: “Angel” (1999-2004)
Spinoff of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003)

Step aside all you Twihard fans, or you might get bit. Today, David Boreanaz is popular for his role on “Bones,” but a generation of 30-year-old fans still calls him Angel, the original vampire with a conscience …only more tolerable. A series regular on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Boreanaz’s character eventually grew too big for a supporting role and was moved to his own show that lasted five seasons and ended on a high note.

#5: “The Jeffersons” (1975-85)
Spinoff of “All in the Family” (1971-79)

In a send-off episode of “All in the Family,” Archie and Edith Bunker part with their neighbors the Jeffersons, as George and his family move to a more affluent part of New York where George will continue running his successful chain of dry cleaning businesses. “The Jeffersons” eventually became one of the longest running U.S. sitcoms ever, and gained in popularity. Unfortunately, the spin-off ended abruptly in 1985 without giving the actors or their fans any chance to say a proper goodbye; but we will faithfully remember their contributions to pop-culture.

#4: “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (1987-94)
Spinoff of “Star Trek: The Original Series” (1966-69)

Almost two decades after the last episode of the Original Series aired in 1969, die hard Trekkers and garden-variety fans alike were rewarded for their patience by this Gene Roddenberry sequel series – and everyone approved. “The Next Generation” brought sci-fi back to the small screen in a big way, and earned very solid ratings for its seven season run. Although the show ended in ’94, it left the door open to three other spinoffs, including the popular but not-as-successful “Deep Space Nine.” “TNG” is still widely considered the original’s best progeny.

#3: “Frasier” (1993-2004)
Spinoff of “Cheers” (1982-93)

Building on the success of the beloved barroom comedy “Cheers,” the spinoff follows the pompous yet insecure psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane as he leaves Boston for his hometown of Seattle, where he has a new job as a radio shrink and is coerced into caring for his uncultured father by his snobbish brother. Not only one of the most successful spinoffs ever, “Frasier” was also one of the most praised TV comedies of all time, with critics and fans citing its intelligence and mix of high and low-brow humor.

#2: “Happy Days” (1974-84)
Spinoff of “Love, American Style” (1969-74)

Adapted from an almost forgotten episode of “Love, American Style,” this show focuses on the Cunningham family and their son Richie’s diverse group of friends in 1950s Milwaukee, including Laverne and Shirley who went on to star in their own series as our favorite bottlecappers. “Happy Days” far surpassed the popularity of its parent show, and – while it may have eventually and literally jumped the shark – its impact is still felt today, ‘cause even if you haven’t seen an episode you still know who the Fonz is.


Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Daria” (1997-2002)
Spinoff of “Beavis and Butt-head” (1993-97; 2011)
“Rhoda” (1974-78)
Spinoff of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (1970-77)
- “Family Matters” (1989-98)
Spinoff of “Perfect Strangers” (1986-93)
- “Xena: Warrior Princess” (1995-2001)
Spinoff of “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” (1995-99)
- “The Andy Griffith Show” (1960-68)
Spinoff of “The Danny Thomas Show” (1953-64)

#1: “The Simpsons” (1989-)
Spinoff of “The Tracey Ullman Show” (1987-90)

It’s unbelievable that the longest-running sitcom in American history started out as a small segment on “The Tracey Ullman Show.” The sketch that Matt Groening originally based on his own dysfunctional family lasted three seasons there before turning into a full half-hour show on FOX on December 17th, 1989. They’ve since adapted their comedy and writing style, and have been through ups and downs; but no matter what happens; this series about a yellow family from Springfield, USA will forever be known as one of the greatest shows in the history of television.

Do you agree with our list? Which TV spinoff is your favorite? For more entertaining top tens, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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