15 Sitcoms We Didn’t Know Were Spinoffs
Sometimes we love a TV character so much that they get their own show (or they should anyways).
Mork & Mindy
The first time we saw just how alien Robin Williams was.
One of the most unusual sitcoms of all time, Mork and Mindy began as an episode of Happy Days. Mork appears in Richie Cunningham’s alien abduction dream.
The show was eventually canceled after four seasons, but by that point it helped catapult Williams to comedy superstardom.
Sabrina The Teenage Witch
They reached pretty far back for this one.
The sitcom premiered in 1996, but Sabrina has been around for ages in the Archie comics.
She appeared in The Teenage Witch for the first time with 1968's The Archie Show, where she was introduced as a new student at Riverdale High School. This spun off into its own animated series in the 70s, and again into the version for 90s kids.
The Patrick Star Show
There’s “situational comedy” in the show, so it counts!
The new 13-episode series that premiered in July 2021 had Bill Fagerbakke return to voice Patrick and the rest of the Star family.
This prequel follows a younger Patrick hosting his own variety show for the neighborhood, and in March 2022, the series was renewed for a second season.
Laverne & Shirley
On their own show, Laverne and Shirley were best friends and roommates who worked together as bottle-cappers at Shotz Brewery in Milwaukee, but one of TV’s all-time great comedic duos actually started as acquaintances of the Fonz on Happy Days. It was the first and most successful of the Happy Days spinoffs.
Who would’ve guessed that Harriet was the catalyst?
Believe it or not, Family Matters was actually a spinoff of Perfect Strangers.
Harriet Winslow appeared as an elevator operator, and was only a minor character for season three and four. Carl Winslow made a brief cameo before the two got their own spin-off in ABC's TGIF lineup.
One of All in the Family’s seven spinoffs!
For years George, Louise, and their son Lionel were the next-door neighbors of Archie and Edith Bunker, and in 1975, The Jeffersons spun off into their own wildly successful series for eleven seasons.
Saved By The Bell
Originally, only a few of the characters appeared on Disney Channel's Good Morning, Miss Bliss, which focused on a teacher from Indianapolis who taught at JFK Junior High.
Zach, Screech, Lisa, and Mr. Belding were all just minor characters, but when Miss Bliss couldn't find an audience, the spun off into Saved By The Bell.
There were even more seasons of The Simpsons?!
In the late '80s comedian Tracey Ullman was given her own variety show on FOX featuring several skits, cartoons, and choreographed dance numbers. Matt Groening's minute-long Simpsons sketches went on for three seasons before FOX decided to green-light their own spin-off show.
Later, Ullman would try to file a lawsuit against the show, claiming that she was the primary reason for their success.
Related: The Evolution of Homer J. Simpson
A Different World
A Different World was a spinoff of The Cosby Show that followed Denise Huxtable (Lisa Bonet) as she moved from New York to Virginia’s Hillman College.
Bonet left the show after Season 1 because she was pregnant, so producer Debbie Allen refocused the show around the remaining characters and brought on several new ones, giving the show a much more relevant, culturally significant take.
Kelsey Grammer got his fair share of Frasier.
Making his debut in 1984, Grammer was only supposed to be around for a few episodes, but ended up a series regular in Cheers until 1993.
After the show's finale, the character was popular enough for a spin-off that ran for 11 seasons, meaning that Kelsey Grammer played Frasier for 20 straight years.
The Andy Griffith Show
From one episode to an all time classic character.
Andy Griffith's role on just one episode of The Danny Thomas Show evolved from being a newspaper editor to the sheriff of Mayberry.
This spinoff made 249 episodes over 8 seasons, and spawned two sitcoms of its own.
Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
Oh, here’s one now.
Gomer Pyle started off as a secondary character on the Andy Griffith Show, where he and his cousin Goober acted as the attendants at the local gas station.
The show's fourth season ended with Gomer leaving for the marines (which was a sudo pilot for Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.)
The spinoff lasted 150 episodes over 5 seasons.
No uranium and a solid illustration-makeover.
In the series premiere of Daria, she mentions that her and her family had to move away from Highland due to there being Uranium in the water.
Highland is where Beavis & Butthead takes place, and Daria was actually a recurring character on the show.
When All in the Family has seven spinoffs, a few are gonna end up on a list.
Maude Findlay (Bea Arthur) first appears as Edith Bunker's cousin in a 1971 episode of All in the Family.
In 1972, Maude got a show of her own, and the successful series dealt with some serious issues during its six seasons.
Norman Lear… Hit after hit.
Esther Rolle, who played Maude’s housekeeper Florida Evans, got a series of her own. Originally, Norman Lear was adamant that there should be no father in the picture, but Rolle refused to sign on unless the “James” character was included.
“I couldn’t compound the lie that Black fathers don’t care about their children.” Producers agreed and hired John Amos, who’d appeared occasionally on Maude as Florida’s husband.
The sitcom was a massive hit and will forever be known for Jimmie J.J. Walker’s signature phrase “Dy-no-mite!”
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