4 TV Spinoffs That Succeeded

Wednesday, December 7 by John Coon

A Different World

There is only one thing better than putting together a successful TV series: spinning off a character from the original series into their own successful TV series. Few spinoffs have had staying power beyond a few episodes. The ones that do manage to stick around end up becoming classics in their own right. These four spinoffs enjoyed success equal to or greater than the original shows that preceded them.


"Frasier" No role has defined Kelsey Grammer’s acting career than the two decades he spent as Frasier Crane. Grammer created the role on “Cheers” and continued it on “Frasier” a year after “Cheers” ended its run. One reason why “Frasier” succeeded as a spinoff is because it went in an entirely different direction than its predecessor: Crane moves from Seattle to Boston and his favorite hangout spot becomes a coffee shop. We also get to see his character develop through interactions with family and co-workers. “Frasier” was praised for the comedic timing and natural chemistry between the cast throughout its eleven-season run on NBC.

facts of life

"Facts of Life" Charlotte Rae pulled off a nice promotion for her character, Edna Garrett. She went from housekeeper for the Drummond clan on “Diff’rent Strokes” to being house mother in charge of girls at a private school on “The Facts of Life.” Rae eventually left the series before its run concluded, but “The Facts of Life” went on to be one of the most successful sitcoms of the '80s. It succeeded because the show built up around an ensemble cast rather than riding a single star to exhaustion as many failed series try to do.


"NCIS" Originating as a backdoor pilot on a two-part episode on “JAG,” few spinoffs can rival the success “NCIS” enjoyed during its run on CBS. It is one of those rare shows that actually increased in popularity with each season. “NCIS” has finished in the top five of the Nielsen ratings for three straight years after ranking fourteen or lower its first five seasons. The series about members of a Naval Criminal Investigative Service team has won over fans with comic elements and character-driven plots interlaced with the case of the week.

the jeffersons

"The Jeffersons" Where would the world be without the cranky antics of George Jefferson? After gaining popularity as Archie Bunker’s neighbors on “All in the Family,” George and Louise Jefferson were spun off into their own show. The couple move into a swanky high rise apartment in New York City and the show revolves around their interactions with each other and their neighbors. It was one of several spinoffs from “All in the Family” and ended up being as memorable and successful as its parent series. The actors even reunited for a stage play based on “The Jeffersons” when CBS finally canceled it after eleven seasons.

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