#2. The Apprentice: Martha Stewart
Spun Off From: The Apprentice
In the same vein as Donald Trump's The Apprentice, Martha Stewart vets an assortment of type-A go-getters in an attempt to find an apprentice to run one of her businesses. The contestants compete in business challenges and are dismissed from the competition if they fail to accurately mimic Stewart's emotionless zeal for homemaking and improvised craft design.
It's a small wonder that NBC executives were capable of casting multiple seasons of the original Apprentice --a series that rewarded its winners with jobs under a man that has declared bankruptcy as many times as he's been divorced.
One should never underestimate the enthusiasm of newly-minted MBAs for putting their death-grip on someone else's coattails. But Martha Stewart's claim to "business tycoon" status during the show's taping was pretty suspect since she was under house arrest after having been convicted of perjury, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice for her part in the ImClone stock trading scandal.
It's tough to imagine that the contestants being told "Goodbye" each week--Stewart's take on Trump's "You're Fired"--weren't silently thanking their lucky stars for not being tapped as Stewart's shower-room wingman. Job training doesn't usually include learning to file a shank out of an old mop handle.
#1. Knight Rider: 2010
Spun Off From: Knight Rider
Knight Rider 2010 was a made-for-TV movie that takes place in the post-apocalyptic wasteland of a little more than a year from now. The story followed Jake MacQueen, a futuristic smuggler whose lover, Hannah, is killed. However, before death she stored her personality in a crystal computer memory storage, which winds up implanted in a beat-up Ford Mustang.
You may think it's unfair that we mock the show for failing to accurately predict the world of 2010, but that future was only 16 years away at the time the show was made (1994). That means the writers still thought that society was less than two decades away from: 1) developing personality-storing crystals and 2) devolving into a wasteland of human slavery.
But all of that aside, this has to be the most tangential connection to an original show any spinoff has ever had. It's a complete rebooting that takes place in an entirely different, and far stupider, universe. The "KITT" in this show doesn't even show up until half way through, and when it does, Instead of a cool-ass talking car that fights crime we wind up with a shitty car possessed by the hero's dead girlfriend.
"We never just talk anymore."
The concept didn't survive beyond the one movie, which is too bad because we were sort of hoping it would at least last long enough for the inevitable scene where the hero makes passionate love to the car.
You can read more of Eric's stuff at his satirical dating advice column, Ask Jimmy Suede.
For shows that failed to spin-off even a second episode, check out 6 Shows (Thankfully) Canceled After One Episode. Or read about a fictional character who spun off real-world acts of super-human resourcefulness in The 5 Most Amazing Real Life MacGyver Moments.