How amazing would it be if our favorite TV shows never had to end? We'd probably still get to gush over a slightly older Jim and Pam on The Office, or maybe we'd see Leslie Knope as president on Parks and Recreation (or so we'd hope!). But alas, we can't always get what we want. After growing super attached to the characters and being so immersed in their stories, we're suddenly forced to say goodbye to them and part ways with very shows that taught us so much. But fortunately, TV spin-offs have managed to make these goodbyes feel a liitle bit easier.
To be honest, they're a brilliant way for networks to profit off of their most successful shows, but spin-offs are actually the perfect opportunity for fans to stay connected to the shows they love. Whether this means focusing on the life of one particular character or introducing a similar team of people to the same universe, it's truly a treat to see a beloved classic through a new set of lens. Of course, not all spin-offs have lived up to the shows that inspired them (just look at Joey). But for every follow-up series that fell flat, there was another that exceeded our expectations and turned out to be even better than the original.
Some might argue that it's a toss-up because technically, both shows did really well in their day. Both lasted for 11 seasons, got overwhelmingly positive reviews and received tons on Emmy awards. They're also still considered to be among the greatest shows of all time. But if you were to ask any fan which show was better, most would probably say that the spin-off takes the crown. Why? Well for one, Frasier won over 37 Emmy Awards while Cheers won 28. Plus, Frasier was wittier and much more clever than Cheers ever was.
Though it received its fair share of criticism and was met with mixed reviews, Beavis & Butt-Head quickly became known for its clever social commentary. It lasted for seven seasons and returned for an eighth after 14 years. But after its seventh season, we were all gifted with the gem that is Daria. Audiences loved the sarcastic, monotone high schooler so much that the spin-off went on to become one of MTV's highest rated shows. It comes as no surprise since almost everyone who has been in high school could relate to her experience on some level.
Not too long after Smallville's 10-year run, The CW introduced a brand new superhero series that would focus on Oliver Queen. Arrow, which isn't necessarily a spin-off, showed us Oliver's humanity and how he came to be a crime-fighting vigilante. But one of the show's spin-offs, Supergirl, gave us a bit more than action scenes, witty remarks and tense moments. As we got to know Superman's quirky cousin, the series also touched on quite a few serious themes and issues that felt very relevant. Perhaps it's why the show has gotten so many positive reviews - and even managed to outrank Arrow on Rotten Tomatoes.
As fascinating as it was to see Oliver Queen go from spoiled-rich playboy to brooding secret vigilante, seeing the awkward and geeky Barry Allen become the Flash felt like a well-needed break from the darker side of the Arrowverse. The original show has received mostly positive reviews from critics and has been nominated for dozens of awards, but The Flash actually made history as The CW's most-watched and highest-rated series premiere in 2014. Plus, according to Parrot Analytics, the Emmy-nominated series was the fifth most popular show in the world in 2016. It's currently airing its fifth season, and while it's been met with mixed reviews so far, we get the feeling it'll stay on the air for a while.
Considering the success of both Arrow and The Flash, it's only fitting that the CW would launch another spin-off that would center on a group of characters that were introduced on both shows. Legends of Tomorrow centers on a group of heroes and villains who work to save history and prevent an apocalypse. It also features popular characters like White Canary, Firestorm, and Hawkgirl. Although it didn't quite reach the level of success that The Flash did, it maintained its high ratings and is still going strong on its fourth season (it's already been renewed for a fifth).
Even before Disney introduced us to the muscular, red-headed deity, there was New Zealand's Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. It ran for six seasons until Kevin Sorbo (who played Hercules) chose not to renew his contract and reprise his role. Still, the show actually became one of the highest rated syndicated TV shows in the world. This inspired a spin-off that would focus on one minor character who, interestingly enough, was supposed to die on the original series. But thankfully, Xena stuck around long enough to spearhead her own fantasy series, which would focus on her quest for redemption and have a successful six-season run.
The original Law & Order that kickstarted the franchise first aired in 1990 and lasted for a whopping 20 seasons. The Emmy-award-winning legal drama focused on the investigation of crimes in New York City, which were usually inspired by real-life events. However, its most successful spin-off, Law & Order: SVU is currently on its 20th season and has actually outperformed the original in terms of ratings. It focused on sex crimes and, unlike the original, it allowed viewers to get to know the people who worked on these cases.
It's safe to say that Star Trek fans were livid when news got out about the show's spin-off. Though the ratings were too low for NBC to keep Stark Trek on the air for more than three seasons, it still developed a loyal following and went on to have a major influence on pop culture. Still, to the surprise of many fans, its follow-up series actually turned out to be... really good. Even despite the fact that none of the original characters returned. Unlike the original, the sci-fi spin-off maintained high ratings and lasted for over seven seasons.
Foodies everywhere have grown familiar with seeing Gordon Ramsay practically burst into flames while dealing with his contestants, but when it came to MasterChef Junior, there's a much softer side to him. As addicting and intense as the original show is, it just doesn't hold a candle to the spin-off, which feels more encouraging and a little less cut-throat than what we'd see with adult competitors. Each season introduces a new set of talented and ambitious kid chefs who compete for the MasterChef Junior trophy and over $100,000. It's currently on its seventh season.
We're guessing that TLC wasn't expecting Toddlers & Tiaras to lead to so much controversy when it first aired. But even despite the fact that toddlers were being dressed provocatively and sporting layers of makeup, it was enough to garner a huge audience. The one contestant that stood out, Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson, got herself a spin-off show that aired in 2012. It followed the lives of her and her family, which included the infamous "Mama June." And though it was met with mostly negative reviews from critics, viewers tuned in religiously and the ratings were successful. The show was meant to continue after its four-season run, but because of some disturbing rumors about June that came to light, TLC decided to cancel the series.
MTV's 16 & Pregnant documented the experiences of real-life pregnant teens as they tried to prepare for their child's birth. Though it did face a bit of backlash for apparently glamorizing teen pregnancy, it became quite popular and seemed to succeed at increasing awareness when it comes to the struggles of teen pregnancy. Studies suggested that the show might've been connected to the slight decrease in teen births following the show's premiere. Even so, it's spin-off, Teen Mom (or rather, Teen Mom OG), turned out to be even more addicting. The show, which followed a few of the girls struggling with their new responsibilities as young mothers, did so well that it led to three additional spin-off shows.
The show JAG, which ran for over a decade, was a legal drama about a group of judge advocates who investigate, prosecute and defend criminal cases in the military. Though it maintained a big following among the older demographic, it doesn't even come close to the success of NCIS. The spin-off follows a team of special agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which is based in Washington, D.C. It was recently renewed for a 16th season and has even inspired two new spin-offs: NCIS: New Orleans and NCIS: Los Angeles. The show also received a ton of awards and nominations, including the ASCAP Award for Top TV series (won nine years in a row).
Even before we saw Harriette Winslow as the beloved matriarch on Family Matters, she was an elevator operator at the Chicago Chronicle newspaper office on the show Perfect Strangers. She only appeared on seasons three and four, but her character still stood out so much that it earned her a successful spin-off in 1989. By episode two of Family Matters, she gets fired from her job as an elevator operator, but then she moves on to be the Chief of Security. Her spin-off wasn't an immediate hit, but after the introduction of her hilarious neighbor, Steve Urkel, the ratings immediately went up (and even surpassed those of Perfect Strangers. Considering how Harriette's accident-prone, intrusive neighbor became such an iconic figure, this comes as no surprise.
Diff'rent Strokes, which tackled a bunch of serious issues through their "very special episodes," is still a classic to this day. But after its eighth season, NBC chose the cancel the show due to poor ratings. Still, its spin-off The Facts of Life, which had aired during the original show's second season, was still going strong. The series, which centered on Drummonds' former housekeeper Edna Garrett as the housemother at an all-girls boarding school, wound up with even higher ratings and even had a longer run at nine seasons. The show also went on to be nominated for three Emmy Awards and won the TV Land Award for Pop Culture Icon in 2011.
The original show, which used to air on Disney Channel, only lasted for one season. But it featured some of the same actors (like Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Dustin Diamond) who would go on to star on the more popular spin-off, Saved by the Bell. The original was centered on junior high school teacher Miss Carrie Bliss, who dealt with several moral dilemmas and served as a confidant for her students. But on the spin-off, the focus was shifted to the every-day challenges and adventures of the students, which almost any kid to could relate to. Though the original Disney Channel show later aired in syndication as part of Saved by the Bell, it was still technically a show on its own, so we'd say that the initial spin-off turned out to be way more successful.
Yes, he could be broody and super possessive at times, but still, Angel was always a fan favorite on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We practically grew up with his character and watched as he slightly matured while the seasons went on. But it wasn't until the spin-off series aired that we got to see him truly evolve and become an even more complex character. Buffy felt more like a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl, and Angel focused on a flawed adult who tries to grapple with his past and make up for past wrongs. In time, though, he learns that simply doing good and defeating the bad guy isn't always enough. It's something that feels far more relatable, which is probably why the spin-off lasted for a solid five seasons.