TV spin-offs are all the rage these days, though it is worth remembering that not all of them have been successful — or in some cases, even watchable.
These days, the TV landscape is marked with well-tread, familiar territory. Executives and producers have seen a lot of benefit in revisiting old properties lately, capitalizing on both nostalgia and precedent. Even when they can no longer reboot or revive a series, such as Roseanne, they can at least make something related or adjacent, like The Conners.
Of course, spin-offs carry the same risks as any other TV show. Developing a serialized story is not an exact science, and there is a chance that all the money and resources in the world could still result in a bad show. We know this for sure because, frankly, it has happened so many times before.
Television history is littered with discarded spin-offs. Some simply could not measure up to their predecessors, and others veered too far away from the source material. In the worst cases, the spin-offs endangered the legacies of the original, cheapening their stories and detracting from their cultural impact.
Still, we know that network executives will always be tempted by the potential cash-out a spin-offs provide. The best we can do is objectively examine our history of failures and hope that we do not repeat the same mistakes. With that in mind, here is a look at the 8 worst spin-offs in TV history.
The Cleveland Show
When The Cleveland Show first debuted, it seemed that Seth MacFarlane could do no wrong. The writer, producer, voice actor and provocateur was already riding high on Family Guy and American Dad. However, it turned out that even he could not take a one-note character like Cleveland Brown and base an entire series off of him. The Cleveland Show got more of a chance than many felt it deserved, with four seasons in total. Ultimately, the mustached hero returned to his original cast in Quahog, with nothing to show for his time away except for a slightly broader vocal range.prevnext
Once Upon a Time In Wonderland
When ABC tried to spin-off Once Upon a Time into Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, some of the magic had apparently worn off. The series premiered just two years after its predecessor, thought it ran for just one season. Once Upon a Time itself, in contrast, made it through seven long seasons, culminating in a big finale just this year.prevnext
In all likelihood, Joey was one of the titles you guessed would be on this list before you clicked on it. The show was infamous for taking the TV juggernaut that was Friends and diluting it, to little effect. It made some logistical sense that Joey Tribbiani would make the move to Los Angeles in order to advance his acting career. However, the absence of New York made the show even more unfamiliar, and, ultimately, unsustainable.prevnext
AfterMASH just proves that spin-offs have been tried and failed farther back than we often remember. The series seemed destined for greatness, coming from the highly lauded MASH, which was in itself an unlikely concept. However, the absence of so many beloved characters dampened the nostalgic hype, and the show just could not keep going.prevnext
Executives were likely not being honest with themselves about why Baywatch was so popular when they conceived of Baywatch Nights. Taking the gang of smoldering lifeguards out of their swimsuits and putting them in clothes was a bad idea, made all the worse by the seemingly arbitrary choice to make David Hasselhoff's Mitch Buchannon a secret detective.prevnext
Pinky, Elmyra and the Brain
Somehow, the distinct flavors of Pinky and the Brain and Tiny Toon Adventures did not mix. The two cartoons were some of the most successful and memorable of the day, yet when Elmyra Duff came to own the two bizarre rodents as pets, they canceled each other out.prevnext
Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior
It is hard to imagine that the Criminal Minds franchise has a failed series behind it. However, Suspect Behavior is just that. The show made it just one season, with critics complaining that the show was "boring." To remedy this, future procedurals would always have a more distinct difference from their predecessors.prevnext
For better or worse, Pretty Little Liars left a strong impression on the world in its seven seasons on the air. Ravenswood, on the other hand, did not. The spin-off made it one season on ABC Family, and that season had woefully few viewers. The show followed Caleb Rivers (Tyler Blackburn) over from PLL, but other than that it had little to do with the original series.prev