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People out there constantly complain that there’s nothing to watch on TV, but there have been tons of shows out there that weren’t well known enough or good enough to survive. In addition to these, there are TV shows that are on right now that people are/aren’t watching because they have no clue what they’re linked to. Yes, there have been a great deal of shows on TV that have been left alone or treated like the plague by viewers. However, before you dismiss the next series you see on your guide, check out these past and present spin-offs that were thought to have potential and the surprising shows they spawned. You might find something to watch tonight!
Breaking Bad/ Better Call Saul (AMC)
Half spin-off and half prequel to the hugely successful AMC series Breaking Bad, the newly created Better Call Saul was highly anticipated by many who were enthralled by Walter White’s misadventures. Those who aren’t so hip to their Breaking Bad trivia may not have known the two were even related due to Saul (AKA Jimmy McGill) being a lawyer and the show itself being a darker legal drama as opposed to a prime time crime-fest. Okay, so there’s still crime, but yeah, Better Call Saul was popular right away (it had the highest basic cable ratings in history when its first episode aired).
Beverly Hills, 90210/ Melrose Place/ 90210/ Melrose Place (FOX)
Beverly Hills, 90210 was a prime time teen drama that swirled around the oh-so-complicated lives of teens as they make their way through high school and college in one of the most affluent zip codes in the US. Grant Show’s character, Jake Hanson, was introduced to the world via Kelly (Jenny Garth) in the original 90210‘s second season, and he lived at Melrose Place.
Geared towards an audience of college kids and adults who could figuratively empathize with the trials and tribulations of attempting to ‘make it’ in LA, Melrose Place featured stunning performances by Heather Locklear, Marcia Cross, and then teen heartthrob, Andrew Shue. Melrose Place and Beverly Hills,90210 were very successful and lasted seven and ten seasons respectively. However, the spin-offs 90210 (2008 for five seasons) and Melrose Place (2009 for one season) didn’t fare as well, and ended up being nixed pretty quickly.
Pawn Stars/ American Restoration/ Counting Cars/ Pawnography (History)
Men all over the place who have watched Las Vegas’s family pawn shop reality series Pawn Stars probably already know this, but Counting Cars and American Restoration are both spin-offs of this antique-driven History Channel show. In fact, many episodes of Pawn Stars feature the head honchos of the two series when Rick enlists their services to provide appraisals of the various artifacts people bring into his family’s shop. All three of the shows are still running on History along with a third Jeopardy-like show Pawnography that started this last year and gives people an opportunity to win some of the treasures in Rick’s shop.
Bones/ The Finder (FOX)
Aired for a single season back in 2012 on FOX, The Finder was a spin-off of the wildly popular Bones, which is currently in its 10th season. The main character, Walter (played by Geoff Stults), was introduced to Bones fans back in the 6th season of the show, and was followed around in his work for the first and only season of the spin-off. It is also the last known work of infamous The Green Mile actor Michael Clarke Duncan who played Leo Knox in the fated series.
Degrassi Junior High/ Degrassi High/ Degrassi: The Next Generation (CBC/ CTV/MTV/ PBS/ TeenNick)
Centuries ago, Degrassi Junior High followed the lives of young teens in Toronto. The continuation of the series saw the kids in DJH go to high school for, you guessed it, Degrassi High. The next spin-off was geared towards high school students as an after school special. There were original cast members from the previous two spin-offs who participated in Degrassi Talks, but it ended up fizzling out, making brief appearances during sex-ed classes all over Canada in the late 90s.
The biggest show came in 2001 as DJH’s teen mom Spike’s daughter, Emma (Miriam McDonald), became a teen herself. Degrassi: The Next Generation was a huge hit on both sides of the border and helped propel stars like Nina Dobrev and Drake into their current careers. With a modernized list of teen issues, the show is still big and in its fourteenth season.
The Vampire Diaries/ The Originals (The CW)
Although the supernatural drama The Vampire Diaries has been renewed for a seventh season on The CW, they spawned a spin-off that focuses on TVD character Niklaus Mikaelson (played by Joseph Morgan) who was introduced during the second season of the show. The show is called The Originals and set in New Orleans after almost 100 years of the Mikaelson clan being gone from the city and the pressures of being a vampires, werewolves, and witches, oh my!
Crocodile Hunter/ Bindi the Jungle Girl (Animal Planet/Discovery Kids)
Given the fact that Steve Irwin was fatally shot in the heart by a stingray while filming one of his documentaries about wildlife, some may not remember our beloved Crocodile Hunter so much. His legacy as an animal-lover and wildlife advocate has been carried on by his wife, Terry, and their children. One of these, Bindi Irwin, landed herself her own nature show that was geared towards children and aired on both Animal Planet and Discovery Kids. The show provided highly educational material for kids all over the world and featured Steve before his 2006 death but only lasted two seasons. Now 16 years old, she still works with animals, so watch out for Bindi in the future.
Toddlers & Tiaras/ Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo (TLC)
As controversial as children’s pageants are, TLC felt that its 2009 series Toddlers & Tiaras was popular enough to make a spin-off. Outspoken little one, Honey Boo-Boo, was given her own show Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo that aired in 2012 and went for four seasons. It was like a car accident with redneck trailer trash parents trying to raise their kids to be like mama and papa bear (or Mama June and Sugar Bear), complete with farts, belches, and some gross-ass substance lurking between Mama June’s toes.
Eventually, Mama June landed herself in some hot water when she and her husband became estranged; Mama June later became romantically involved with a registered sex offender and child predator who quickly came to live with the family. The show was canceled because of it. -and there went Honey Boo-Boo.
MadTV/ Key & Peele (Comedy Central)
The Comedy Central sketch show Key & Peele is hilarious, and of course it is! The show is a spin-off of FOX’s MadTV, their answer to SNL,which aired for fourteen seasons. The main stars of Key & Peele are former MadTV cast members Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key who often worked together in sketches and had an unmistakable chemistry as comedians. Key & Peele‘s fifth season returns to Comedy Central later this year.
The Daily Show/ The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore / The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)
Everyone has been talking about Trevor Noah replacing Jon Stewart as host of the long-running Comedy Central hit after his 16 years at the helm. Although its two spin-offs The Colbert report and The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore are often misconstrued as copycats, Stephen Colbert and Larry Wilmore have The Daily Show and Jon Stewart to thank for their success as news satire and comedy anchors on their own respective shows. Now, all three are out there providing laughs and poking fun at the top news of the day in politics, pop culture, and much more.
JAG/ The entire NCIS collection (CBS)
I’m not sure how many people out there watched JAG, but the Navy-themed legal drama somehow lasted for nine seasons on CBS. Once the show hit its eighth season, a few characters from NCIS were introduced to viewers, and the procedural drama has been going for thirteen of its own seasons and has resulted, much like its rival CSI, in additional spin-offs that set in New Orleans and Los Angeles.
Good Morning, Miss Bliss/ Saved By the Bell (NBC)
Technically a reboot of Disney’s Good Morning, Miss Bliss, NBC’s smash hit with teens in the early 90s was the birthplace of many Hollywood stars’ careers. Saved by the Bell differed from Good Morning, Miss Bliss in that it was set in High School rather than junior high. Saved by the Bell focused on the lives of students Kelly Kapowski, Screech, Zack Morris, et al. right through to college while GMMB was all about their teacher Miss Bliss. Saved by the Bell ran from 1989 to 1993 and was the American equivalent of Degrassi for tons of kids growing up in the 90s. However, the college spin-off and resurfaced teen series didn’t do well with viewers or critics, so they were both canceled after giving them both a fair chance to succeed.
Jackass/ Viva la Bam/ Wildboyz/ The Jackass Movies (MTV)
The disgusting, funny, and very successful Jackass franchise has seen many spin-offs. The original series aired for three seasons on MTV between 2000 and 2002, and saw cast member Bam Margera break off to film his hectic life at home in Viva la Bam. The series was much like Jackass but definitely more raunchy and hardcore in terms of pranks and stunts, which were unleashed on his friends and family. Chris Pontius and Steve-O branched out too with their own show entitled Wildboyz where the two traveled the world, messed around with exotic animals and cultures while performing dangerous stunts on camera.
Jackass‘s spin-offs are still their six films are the most successful. Two were considered bonus footage reels and were released as Jackass 2.5 and Jackass 3.5, and another was Academy Award-nominated Bad Grandpa. Although critics are never happy with them, and Ryan Dunn, one of the main cast members, passed away in a tragic car accident after Jackass 3D’s release, director Jeff Tremaine has hinted that there may be another film in the making, and it might go down in Australia.
Chicago Fire/ Chicago P.D. (NBC)
As if it wasn’t completely obvious by the name, right? Well, some people don’t know that the two Chicago-based prime time dramas were linked. Both are very successful with Chicago Fire currently in its third season and Chicago P.D. being renewed for its third season earlier this year on NBC. If you watch, you can see the characters interlocked during emergencies and investigations that require both law enforcement and fire.
The Tracey Ullman Show/ The Simpsons (FOX)
Hosted by former Brit pop star Tracey Ullman, The Tracey Ullman Show was FOX’s second prime time show following in the footsteps of Married…With Children and featured a lot of comedy, animated shorts, and musical skits. The variety show was on for four seasons between 1987 and 1990. During the first two years of its broadcasts, the show featured shorts made by none other than Matt Groening, which happened to commonly feature everyone’s fave yellow family The Simpsons. The animation portion of the show was cut in 1989 so that it could try its luck in its own half hour slot, and there was The Simpsons. -and they’re still going after 26 seasons!
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