Some of the worst spin-offs include Joey, AfterMASH, and The Tortellis.
Ever since the 1950s when Hollywood discovered they could cash in on spin-offs from great TV shows, they have been in the business of doing just that. We won’t lie, there have been numerous instances where the spin-off has actually worked – Frasier, Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Jeffersons, Laverne & Shirley, Angel, and Better Call Saul – to name a few. But there have also been a number of extremely unnecessary TV spin-offs.
Spin-offs come from popular TV shows that work. Take for instance the 1970’s classic and controversial sitcom, Soap. This was a sitcom that had many memorable characters from two distinct families centered around sisters, Mary Campbell (Cathryn Damon) and Jessica Tate (Kathryn Helmond). It made stars of Jimmy Baio, Diane Canova, Ted Wass, and Billy Crystal. It also made one out of the Tates’ butler, Benson, played by Robert Guillaume. Guillaume turned his Benson character from Soap into a long-running sitcom that lasted seven seasons.
The following spin-offs were not that lucky, nor were they that good. Thankfully, because most of them were forgettable, they didn’t end up putting a stain on the popular TV series from which they were spawned.
10 OF THE MOST UNNECESSARY TV SPIN-OFFS
1. Joey (2004-2006) – Spin-off of Friends
Sometimes what makes a series is how a cast works together. Take for instance the hit sitcom Friends. What made that series work was the combination of its stars, Mathew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, and Matt LeBlanc. What made LeBlanc’s character (all of them in fact) is that he was presented in smaller doses. He didn’t have to lead the series.
That all changed when his series, Joey, premiered in 2004. It followed his Friends Joey Tribbiani character as a continuation from the Friends series. In this one, Joey has made the move from New York to Los Angeles as he has finally made it big on the soap opera Days of Our Lives playing Dr. Drake Ramory.
The series, which also starred Drea de Matteo, Andrea Anders, Paulo Costanzo, and Jennifer Coolidge just couldn’t find an audience (not even Friends fans would follow it) and it got canceled after two seasons.
2. The Lone Gunmen (2001) – Spin-off of The X-Files
If you are a big fan of The X-Files, then you surely know about The Lone Gunmen. This unpopular and unnecessary TV spin-off came from X-Files creator Chris Carter and Vince Gilligan, who would go on to much bigger and better things with Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. One would think with that firepower behind a series, it would be a go for many seasons.
The Lone Gunmen lasted but one season. It started off with a bang and good reviews, but fans simply were not in tune with it.
3. AfterMASH (1983-1985) – Spin-off of M*A*S*H
Back in the day, M*A*S*H was at the top of the food chain when it came to television sitcoms. The series itself was a spin-off from the hit feature film and it translated quite well to the small screen.
When M*A*S*H finally wrapped in 1983, the producers wanted to keep the magic going by bringing three characters into their own series.
This one was called AfterMASH and followed Colonel Sherman Potter (Harry Morgan), Sergeant Klinger (Jamie Farr), and Father John Mulcahy (William Christopher) as they transition from wartime Korean War to home life. Unfortunately, the transition from M*A*S*H did not go well and the unfunny sitcom barely made it two seasons.
4. Baywatch Nights (1995-1997) – Spin-off of Baywatch
It’s not like the series from which this unnecessary spin-off came was that good to begin with. Baywatch Nights followed David Hasselhoff’s Mitch Buchannon in the first season as he ditches his red swimming trunks to become a private eye.
When that didn’t work, season two turned the series into an X-Files rip-off, changed some of the main characters, and still couldn’t make it work. If you never had the “pleasure” to see this TV spin-off, be thankful.
5. The Ropers (1979-1980) – Spin-off of Three’s Company
This is one more example of when more is not needed. Less works and The Ropers is proof positive. This spin-off comes from the hit series, Three’s Company which starred John Ritter, Suzanne Somers, and Joyce DeWitt as roommates under the watchful eye of their landlords, The Ropers, played by Norman Fell and Audra Lindley.
The Ropers were a fun and funny couple in bits and pieces during their Three’s Company heyday but removing them and then handing them their own show simply didn’t carry over. Fans made sure of this as the series was canceled after two seasons.
6. The Tortellis (1987) – Spin-off of Cheers
The Tortellis suffered the same exact fate as The Ropers, only (and thankfully) it lasted but one season. This was the second spin-off from the hit series Cheers, but unlike Fraser, this one fell flatter than flat.
The series starred Dan Hedaya, who was reprising his role as Nick Tortelli, the loud-mouth ex-husband of Carla’s. It also brought back his ditzy blonde wife, Loretta, again played by Jean Kasem, in a very uninspiring comedy. Not only was it not funny, but it was completely unnecessary.
7. Joanie Loves Chachi (1982-1983) – Spin-off of Happy Days
Speaking of completely unnecessary TV spin-offs, you get it with Joanie Loves Chachi, two middling characters from the Happy Days gang. Joanie is Richie Cunningham’s younger sister, while Chachi is Fonzie’s cousin.
In this barely watched series, Joanie and Chachi leave the confines of the 1950s Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and head for the Windy City (Chicago) as they try to become pop stars. It didn’t work, no matter how hard they tried.
The sad thing about this series was that Garry Marshall, who had great success with Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, and even Mork & Mindy, could not pull this one out of the crapper.
8. Gloria (1982-1983) – Spin-off of All in the Family
If you were a fan of the mid- ‘70s sitcom, All in the Family, then seeing this one was probably a massive disappointment. The series starred Sally Struthers who played Archie Bunker’s daughter, Gloria, in the original series. It followed Gloria as she was trying to make a new life for herself after her husband Michael “Meathead” Stivic (Rob Reiner) left her for one of his students.
This was one of a few spin-offs from All in the Family and one of the rare ones that didn’t make it past season one.
9. Models Inc. (1994-1995) – Spin-off of Melrose Place
With Beverly Hills, 90210, and Melrose Place being successful series on television, producers felt like they could go to the well one more time. It was one time too many. Models Inc. was spun off from Melrose Place, telling the story of Hillary Michaels, played by Linda Gray, as the owner of an upscale Los Angeles modeling firm.
Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix franchise), Cassidy Rae, Stephanie Romanov, Kylie Travis, and Garcelle Beauvais joined in as models for the firm that included lots of murder, sex, and drama that failed to connect with audiences.
10. Time of Your Life (1999-2000) – Spin-off of Party of Five
Time of Your Life is one more example where the ensemble cast is what makes the show tick. A good ensemble cast can carry a series, as it did with Party of Five, which co-starred Scott Wolf, Matthew Fox, Neve Campbell, Lacy Chabert, Scott Grimes, and Jennifer Love Hewitt.
The mistake was to split them up and follow Hewitt’s character to New York City so she could learn more about her biological parents. It did not go well for Hewitt and the series as fans barely tuned in. The series ran for one season and was kicked to the curb like so many other poor TV spin-offs.