In media, a spin-off is a radio program, television program, video game, or any narrative work, derived from one or more already existing works, that focuses, in particular, in more detail on one aspect of that original work (e.g. a particular topic, character, or event). A spin-off may be called a sidequel when it exists in the same chronological frame of time as its predecessor work.[1] One of the earliest spin-offs of the modern media era, if not the first, happened in 1941 when the supporting character Throckmorton P. Guildersleeve from the old time radio comedy show Fibber McGee and Molly became the star of his own program The Great Guildersleeve (1941–1957).[2]

In genre fiction, the term parallels the usage in television; it is usually meant to indicate a substantial change in narrative viewpoint and activity from that (previous) storyline based around the activities of the series' principal protagonist(s) and so is a shift to that action and overall narrative thread of some other protagonist(s), which now becomes the central or main thread (storyline) of the new sub-series. The new protagonist generally appears first as a minor or supporting character in the main story line within a given milieu, and it is very common for the previous protagonist to have a supporting or cameo role, at the least as a historical mention, in the new sub-series. Sometimes, spin-offs generate their own spin-offs, leaving the new show only vaguely connected to the original series.

Examples of notable spin-offsEdit

Name changes or retoolingsEdit

Support character getting own show (during run)Edit

Supporting character getting own show (after original series ended)Edit

Shows from segments/episodes of anthology seriesEdit

TV franchisesEdit

In filmEdit

In video gamesEdit

In comicsEdit

Supporting characters in comic books, who then got their own titles, include:

Related phenomenaEdit


Main article: Remake

One notable case which is not a spin-off is when the same series is later remade, or re-imagined. Examples include Battlestar Galactica (1978, 2003), He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983, 2002), and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987, 2003).

Television remakes are particularly common as trans-Atlantic ports, where US shows are remade for the UK (see List of British television programmes based on American television series) or, more frequently, UK shows are remade for a US market (see List of American television series based on British television series). A particularly interesting example is Three's Company, a US remake of the British Man About the House: not only was the original show re-created (with very few character or situation changes made, at least initially), but both series had spin-offs based on the Ropers (in the UK, George and Mildred, in the US, The Ropers), and both series were eventually re-tooled into series based on the male lead (in the UK, Robin's Nest, in the US, Three's a Crowd).

Another increasingly common development is the use of a successful (usually older) television series to be remade as a feature film. Often, these fare badly at the box-office and/or are considered a poor reflection on the source material (e.g. The Beverly Hillbillies, Bewitched, The Last Airbender, My Favorite Martian, Aeon Flux, Dudley Do-Right), however, some have gone on to become successful film franchises (e.g. Scooby-Doo, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Transformers, The Addams Family, Mission: Impossible, and 21 Jump Street).


Main article: Fictional crossover

Sometimes even where a show is not a spin-off from another, there will nevertheless be crossovers, where a character from one show makes an appearance on another. A notable example of this is Ursula and Phoebe Buffay, twin sisters played by Lisa Kudrow who normally are on different shows, Mad About You and Friends respectively, but sometimes meet. This is also done by Ray Romano and Kevin James with Everybody Loves Raymond and King of Queens. Additionally, Romano appeared on an episode of The Nanny where it was revealed that the characters Ray and Fran attended the same high school. Steve Urkel from Family Matters was also shown to be the cousin of one of D.J.'s friends on Full House. The title character from Ally McBeal appeared in episodes of The Practice, both David E. Kelley shows. Steven Harper, the main character from Boston Public who played the principal of a Boston high school, appeared as a client in Boston Legal a year after Boston Public was taken off the air. These two were also David E. Kelley shows. Harper also was represented by Young, Frutt and Berlutti in The Practice, the show that preceded Boston Legal. Therefore, all four shows were in the same universe.

Sometimes (often in The Simpsons and Futurama, which also have a comic series named Crossover Crisis) characters will appear in the background, often as part of a crowd.

Sometimes crossovers are created in an attempt to provide closure to fans of another failed series. For example, Millennium’s characters Frank & Jordan Black (played by Lance Henriksen and Brittany Tiplady) appeared alongside Fox Mulder and Dana Scully in The X-Files 1999 episode "Millennium" (episode #7.05). This allowed the fans to have some closure, as none was given when Millennium was abruptly canceled prior to the 1999 season.

Sometimes show producers will re-introduce a character from an older series into a later one as a way of providing a connectivity of that particular producer's television "universe". Television producer Glen A. Larson is particularly known for this; for example, the character of Jonathan Chase (played by Simon MacCorkindale) from Glen A. Larson's failed 1980s series Manimal appeared in an episode of Larson's syndicated 1990s series Night Man.

See alsoEdit


  1. [1]
  2. Dunning, John R (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old Time Radio, Oxford University Press US, ISBN 0-19-507678-8, p. 293.
  3. "Jasime Fiore person of interest Ryan Jenkins desperate for cash". 
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