The Best and Worst TV Spinoffs

Some TV shows get a second life as a spinoff, but not all survive. We’ve put together some of the best (and worst) TV spinoffs.

TV spinoff series are a tricky thing: How do you create a whole new universe without recycling too much (or too little) of what made the original show spinoff-worthy?

This momentous topic (for those of us who cover TV) is on our minds because the premiere of Bosch: Legacy arrives Friday, May 6 on Amazon Freevee (formerly IMDb TV). It’s a spinoff of Amazon Prime Video cop drama Bosch, which ran for seven seasons—an eternity in streaming.

While we wait for the premiere, we’ve put together a list of the best and worst TV spinoffs in recent history. We even reached back to the ancient times of the ’80s for a couple of them—above and beyond, that’s how we roll.

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Most of the TV series mentioned here are available to stream through on-demand services like Netflix, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime Video—read more about them in our Best Streaming Services guide.

The best TV series spinoffs

Better Call Saul (2015–2022)

Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul is the modern gold standard for spinoffs, a series that matches (and arguably surpasses) the quality of the original. The story of small-time lawyer Jimmy McGill’s (Bob Odenkirk) transformation into Saul Goodman is one for the ages.

Torchwood (2006–2011)

Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood isn’t as well-known as its originator, but its sci-fi trajectory was just as ambitious. The series followed Doctor Who character Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) and his team of alien investigators over four seasons of darker-than-Who drama.

Frasier (1993–2004)

Cheers spinoff Frasier, starring Kelsey Grammer as erudite Seattle radio host Dr. Frasier Crane, ran for 11 years—the same as its predecessor. The show’s ensemble cast quickly proved as funny and sharp (if not more so) than the Cheers gang, and Frasier is now an American classic.

Daria (1997–2002)

It wasn’t a stretch to make a spinoff smarter than Beavis & Butt-head, but MTV’s Daria became a Gen-X icon almost overnight in ’97. The acerbic high-schooler barely tolerates her classmates, and people in general—still relatable, as is Daria’s snarky commentary on suburban teen life.

Paramount+ power couple: You can watch Frasier and Daria together on Paramount+. Check out our full Paramount+ review.

Angel (1999–2004)

There’s been many an argument about whether or not Buffy the Vampire Slayer spinoff Angel was better than its source show, but it certainly was darker. Tormented vampire Angel’s (David Boreanaz) supernatural L.A. exploits were also an indirect influence on current TV hit Lucifer.

The worst TV series spinoffs

Fuller House (2016–2020)

Full House was never a great sitcom during its run in the ’80s and ’90s, but Netflix spinoff Fuller House somehow managed to dumb the formula down even more. Tanner kids D.J., Stephanie, and Kimmy live in the same San Francisco house as adults, and laughs . . . do not ensue.

The Conners (2018–present)

Roseanne spinoff The Conners was dragged into existence after Roseanne Barr got herself canceled on Twitter—not an auspicious start. The Conners follows the dreary blue-collar lives of the “widowed” family with the same tired jokes and forced laugh track. Somehow, it’s still on.

Joey (2004–2006)

Of all the Friends characters, Joey (Matt LeBlanc) seemed the least likely to carry his own spinoff—and yet NBC made two seasons of Joey. In the series, Joey moved from New York to Los Angeles to make it as an actor, which mysteriously drained him of any personality.

That ’80s Show (2002)

It’s right there in the title: That ’80s Show was a spinoff of FOX hit That ’70s Show—and it lasted just 13 episodes. Completely unrelated to the original, That ’80s Show was at least notable for starring future It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia resident Glenn Howerton. But that’s all.

AfterMASH (1983–1985)

When massive TV hit M*A*S*H ended in 1983, CBS tried to keep the party going with AfterMASH, following the post-war lives of the characters. America said, “Nope.” Apparently, CBS learned nothing from the similar failure of All in the Family spinoff Archie Bunker’s Place.

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