Over the years, countless spin-off series have come and gone. These types of shows can be difficult to pull off because it’s always challenging to integrate something new into an existing universe. Needless to say, quite a few spin-offs end up being short-lived and even forgotten. Although it’s fairly rare for a spin-off to become more successful than the show it started from, there have been several shows that have become so popular that people tend to forget they’re spinoffs in the first place. Many of these shows have had very long runs and they’ve carved out their very own places in the entertainment world. Keep reading to see our list of 10 shows you didn’t realize were spinoffs.
1. Family Matters
Family Matters is easily one of the most memorable sitcoms of the 1990s. However, many people don’t know that it’s actually a spinoff of the series Perfect Strangers which aired from 1986 to 1993. Harriette Winslow’s character originated on Perfect Strangers and the spinoff was initially designed to focus on her and her family. However, Steve Urkel’s character would eventually become the star of the show.
NCIS has been one of the most popular police shows on the air for nearly 20 years. The show has had its own identity for so long that lots of fans don’t realize that the show is a spinoff of the long-running legal drama, JAG. NCIS has become so successful that its spawned two spinoffs of its own.
3. The Jeffersons
When people think of Black sitcoms, The Jeffersons is probably one of the first that comes to mind. During the 1970s, the show was considered groundbreaking for its depiction of Black Americans. Over the years, people have forgotten that the series was a spin-off of another popular 70s sitcom, All in the Family. In the end, All in the Family would go on to have a total of five spinoffs.
Debuting in 1997, the animated series Daria quickly became popular among teens and young adults. The series centered around a teenage girl named Daria who is known for being very cynical. Daria’s character originated on the series Beavis and Butt-Head where she appeared in several episodes. Daria is considered by many to be one of the greatest cartoon characters of all time.
5. The Andy Griffith Show
The Andy Griffith Show has such an important legacy in the entertainment industry, that it’s almost hard to believe that the idea for it originated with another show. The series is actually a spinoff of The Danny Thomas Show which was called Make Room For Daddy in its first three seasons. During an episode in 1960, Andy Taylor was introduced during an episode of The Danny Thomas Show when he arrested Thomas. The Andy Griffith Show would premiere later that year.
6. Happy Days
Happy Days is another show that has established its own legacy. The series ran for 11 seasons, but prior to that, it started as a segment on Love, American Style. Although Happy Days initially had some trouble getting picked up by a network, it would go on to become one of the most memorable shows of all time. Happy Days also spawned spinoffs of its own including Mork and Mindy which starred Robin Williams.
Frasier is one of the most iconic sitcoms of the 1990s and early 2000s. The show’s title character was introduced as a main character in the series Cheers. The character’s popularity eventually lead to him having his own show, and some viewers eventually forgot that Frasier was a spinoff.
8. The Simpsons
Longevity isn’t an easy thing to achieve in the entertainment industry. Multiple shows get canceled every year, and a lot of times good shows find themselves on the chopping block. However, The Simpsons has managed to withstand the test of time in ways people probably never could’ve imagined when the show began. Now in its 33rd season, The Simpsons is the longest-running sitcom in the United States – animated or otherwise. The Simpsons actually started as a brief segment on The Tracey Ullman Show which aired from 1987 to 1990.
9. Saved By The Bell
Saved By the Bell is different from the other shows on the list because it isn’t technically considered a spin-off – even though it essentially is. The show began as another series called Good Morning, Miss Bliss. However, after just one season, Good Morning, Miss Bliss was canceled and repurposed as Saved By the Bell which became one of the most popular shows of the 1990s.
10. The Twilight Zone
Known for being incredibly spooky with lots of twists and turns, The Twilight Zone has become a franchise of its own within the horror industry. However, the series probably wouldn’t have existed if it weren’t for another show called Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse which was a short-lived anthology series during the 1950s.