The Best TV Spinoffs of All Time

The Best TV Spinoffs of All Time

As much as viewers enjoy television finales, it is a sad day when a favorite show comes to an end. (These are the best classic TV shows available to stream.) What better way, then, to please audiences than to revive beloved characters or continue a story line with a new series? And for producers, spinoffs almost guarantee that a new series will have a ready made audience, which in turn almost guarantees interest from advertisers.

Giving Saul Goodman from “Breaking Bad” his own show turned out to be a great bet, as did rebuilding a law firm for Diane Lockhart in “The Good Fight,” a central character but not the star of “The Good Wife.”

Perhaps the greatest minor character spinoff machine was the “Daily Show,” with Stephen Colbert, Steve Carrel, Samantha Bee, John Oliver, Trevor Noah, and Larry Wilmore all moving on to star in their own successful programs.

But spinoffs based on supporting characters are not a sure thing, as Joey, a spinoff of the hugely popular Friends series demonstrated, as did Joanie Loves Chaci, which sprung from “Happy Days.”

While taking a chance on a minor character is risky, re-employing an entire ensemble cast to continue a story line seems to be less so, as is certainly true for the animated favorites. It can even be true when the entire ensemble is replaced by another, as in the Star Trek series and in the British sitcom, “Porridge.”

Many other spin-offs bear very little resemblance to an original series, but rather played off a limited segment or even an obscure episode, as was the case for “The Simpsons” and “The Andy Griffith Show.” Their success had less to do with audience familiarity than with the showrunners’ creativity and vision. Here are the highest rated shows you can watch today.


To determine the 27 best TV spin-offs, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on audience reviews from the Internet Movie Database. All television spin-offs were ranked based on the average audience rating from IMDb. All additional show data came from IMDb. Data was collected July 2021.

Source: Courtesy of No Distributor Found

27. Porridge
> Years on air: 1974-1977
> Predecessor: Seven of One
> IMDb rating: 8.2/10

The original “Porridge,” considered one of Britain’s greatest sitcoms, follows the tribulations of Norman Stanley Fletcher, a seasoned criminal, as he does time in prison. Nearly 40 years after its three year run, a short-lived spinoff of the same name features Norman’s grandson, Nigel, who is suffering a prison term for cyber crimes.

Source: Courtesy of KVH Media Group

26. Ashes to Ashes
> Years on air: 2008-2010
> Predecessor: Life on Mars
> IMDb rating: 8.2/10

A science fiction-police procedural mash-up, “Ashes to Ashes” evolved from the internationally acclaimed British drama, “Life on Mars.” As in the original series, a police officer is transported back in time after an accident, and is on a quest to find out who she is, and whether she actually exists in a land of the dead.

Source: Courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment

25. Dragon Ball Z Kai
> Years on air: 2009-2015
> Predecessor: Dragon Ball Z
> IMDb rating: 8.2/10

This is a revised and remastered version of the popular Japanese anime series, “Dragon Ball Z,” with upgraded visuals, voices, music, and special effects. It aired in Japan from 2009 to 2011, and then 61 new episodes, known as “the final chapters,” were added in 2014 and 2015.

Source: Courtesy of CBS Studios International

24. The Good Fight
> Years on air: 2017-Present
> Predecessor: The Good Wife
> IMDb rating: 8.3/10

Christine Baranski reprises her role as Diane Lockhart, a powerful but compassionate partner in a prestigious white shoe law firm. She is brought to her knees by financial calamity and scandal but is adopted by an equally prestigious African-American law firm where she rises once more to partner status. Beyond the personal ups and downs, the series is enlivened by plots involving current legal, political, and social issues.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Television

23. The Andy Griffith Show
> Years on air: 1960-1968
> Predecessor: The Danny Thomas Show
> IMDb rating: 8.3/10

With it’s lovable and quirkish ensemble cast and nostalgic, small town charm, the Andy Griffith show was a popular sitcom for 8 seasons in the 1960s. Griffith played the wise, slow-talking sheriff of Mayberry, with the Emmy award-winning comedic actor, Don Knotts, as his bumbling deputy.

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Television

22. Boston Legal
> Years on air: 2004-2008
> Predecessor: The Practice
> IMDb rating: 8.4/10

William Shatner and Candace Bergen broke free of their famous television personas, respectively, the Captain of the Starship Enterprise and Murphy Brown, television anchor, to convincingly play attorneys in a high-end Boston law firm. Shatner won two Emmys for his efforts.

Source: Courtesy of Arts and Entertainment

21. Rumpole of the Bailey
> Years on air: 1978-1992
> Predecessor: Play for Today
> IMDb rating: 8.4/10

Veteran Australian actor Leo McKern plays Horace Rumpole, a seasoned criminal defense lawyer in the courts of London, where he reliably bests his stuffier, self righteous colleagues.

He is at his best representing the underdog, often using unconventional tactics, but always on the ethical up and up.

Source: Courtesy of No Distributor Found

20. Narcos: Mexico
> Years on air: 2018-Present
> Predecessor: Narcos
> IMDb rating: 8.4/10

After three seasons of filming in Colombia, where it portrayed the Colombian drug trade, “Narcos” moved to Mexico as a new series about the Mexican drug trade. The show depicts the rise of the drug lords as a lead-in to stories of American DEA agents attempting to curb the power of a powerful Mexican cartel.

Source: Courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment

19. Dragon Ball Super
> Years on air: 2015-2018
> Predecessor: Dragon Ball Z
> IMDb rating: 8.4/10

The dauntless hero of the Dragon Ball franchise, Goku, tries to retire into farming in the company of family and friends. His reverie is cut short by the blood thirst of an evil god, and Goku is once more a warrier. This last series in the anime saga aired in Japan from 2015 to 2018, and made its American debut in 2018.

Source: Courtesy of Comedy Central

18. The Colbert Report
> Years on air: 2005-2014
> Predecessor: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
> IMDb rating: 8.4/10

Continuing a character he honed in his role as an obtuse reporter in support of Stewart’s political satire, Colbert’s is now an energetic but ill-informed, and not too bright, conservative talk show host. His edgy parody won him two Peabody awards.

Source: Courtesy of Adult Swim

17. Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule
> Years on air: 2010-2017
> Predecessor: Tom Goes to the Mayor
> IMDb rating: 8.5/10

John C. Reilly plays the title character, an embarrassingly clueless observer of life and times. He interviews famous people and often drops shocking facts about his own life.

Source: Courtesy of YTV

16. Justice League
> Years on air: 2001-2004
> Predecessor: Superman: The Animated Series
> IMDb rating: 8.5/10

A supergroup of cartoon superheroes, based on the DC Comics team, the “Justice League of America,” comes together to take on the extreme evil of the world, earning accolades from the media, including several Emmy awards.

Source: Courtesy of Channel 4 Television Corporation

15. Phoenix Nights
> Years on air: 2001-2002
> Predecessor: That Peter Kay Thing
> IMDb rating: 8.5/10

The stories in this British sitcom take place in the “Phoenix Club,” a working class pub in Manchester, England. The inhabitants struggle to attract new members while competing with a rival club determined to destroy the Phoenix.

Source: Courtesy of HBO Max

14. I’m Alan Partridge
> Years on air: 1997-2002
> Predecessor: Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge
> IMDb rating: 8.5/10

The title character, a washed-up, untalented radio and TV personality, is trying to restart his career. In the first season he operates out of a run-down motel room, and in the second season, aired 5 years later after a mental breakdown, he is anchored in what the Brits call a caravan.

Source: Courtesy of CanWest Global Communications

13. The New Batman Adventures
> Years on air: 1997-1999
> Predecessor: Batman: The Animated Series
> IMDb rating: 8.5/10

In this animated series based on DC Comics characters, Batman makes strategic use of his allies, among them Robin, Batgirl and Nightwing. The series provided the basis for two video games, Batman: Vengeance, and Batman: Rise of SinTzu.

Source: Courtesy of CBS

12. The Alfred Hitchcock Hour
> Years on air: 1962-1965
> Predecessor: Alfred Hitchcock Presents
> IMDb rating: 8.5/10

Taught, suspenseful, and seriously scary, this series followed the phenomenally popular “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.” With opening and closing observations from the wizard of suspense himself, the move from a 30-minute format to 60 minutes allowed for more depth, plot, and character development.

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television

11. The Simpsons
> Years on air: 1989-Present
> Predecessor: The Tracey Ullman Show
> IMDb rating: 8.6/10

With 32 seasons aired and two more in the making, “The Simpsons” is the longest running sitcom in television history. The now iconic cartoon family continues to offer its take on American holidays; political and cultural shifts; work, school and home life; celebrity; and bad parenting.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

10. Star Trek: The Next Generation
> Years on air: 1987-1994
> Predecessor: Star Trek: The Original Series
> IMDb rating: 8.6/10

Taking place 100 years after the voyages of “The Original Series,” “The Next Generation” continues its exploration of the galaxy with a new cast and crew, boldly guiding the Starship Enterprise to strange new worlds. After a strong 7 seasons and 178 episodes, the finale attracted 30 million viewers.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Television

9. Adventure Time
> Years on air: 2010-2018
> Predecessor: Random! Cartoons
> IMDb rating: 8.6/10

The animated adventures of Finn the Human and his shape-shifting pal, Jake the Dog, take place in a post nuclear world in which they interact with fantastical characters, from princesses to a thousand year old rocker vampire. “The mushroom wars” provide a backstory and a dark mythology.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Television

8. The Bugs Bunny Show
> Years on air: 1960-1975
> Predecessor: Looney Tunes
> IMDb rating: 8.6/10

For three years Bugs enjoyed a prime time slot on ABC, from which he hosted the showing of three cartoons from the loony toons franchise in each episode. He subsequently moved to Saturday mornings and, in various reworkings of the format, continued to ask Doc what was up until 2000 — a 40-year run for the bunny.

Source: Courtesy of CBS

7. The Honeymooners
> Years on air: 1955-1956
> Predecessor: The Jackie Gleason Show
> IMDb rating: 8.6/10

Ralph Kramden was politically incorrect before it was unpopular, threatening to send his wife Alice to the moon, and posing to throw a punch with the catch phrase, “Why, I oughta…” An early sitcom, the show’s talented cast (Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, and Audrey Meadows) portrays a gritty, working class life.

Source: Courtesy of Public Broadcasting Service

6. Endeavour
> Years on air: 2012-Present
> Predecessor: Inspector Morse
> IMDb rating: 8.6/10

In this prequel to the long-running and popular British detective drama, a young Endeavour Morse begins his career in police work. Along with crime solving, the plot lines cover his frequent disillusion with police work and the internecine rivalries within the ranks.

Source: Courtesy of Channel 4 Television Corporation

5. Brass Eye
> Years on air: 1997-2001
> Predecessor: The Day Today
> IMDb rating: 8.6/10

Airing only six episodes and a special, “Brass Eye” parodies news coverage of current events, the title being derived from two British news shows, Brass Tacks and Public Eye. The cast targets sensationalism in particular, employing made-up news stories involving, among other social ills, drugs, crime, and moral decay.

Source: Courtesy of HBO Max

4. Justice League Unlimited
> Years on air: 2004-2006
> Predecessor: Justice League
> IMDb rating: 8.7/10

“Justice League Unlimited” is the sequel to “Justice League” and continues the evil fighting teamwork among its DC Comics superheroes. Ironically, DC Comics created its own new series, with issues published monthly, based on the TV show.

Source: Courtesy of Saban Entertainment

3. Dragon Ball Z
> Years on air: 1996-2003
> Predecessor: Dragon Ball
> IMDb rating: 8.7/10

Son Goku, a monkey-tailed boy, introduced in the original anime Dragon Ball series, has grown up, but is still engaged with aliens and magical beings in intergalactic warfare, with the elusive help of seven magic dragon balls. This second series of the Japanese franchise, based on a best selling manga stories by Akira Toriyama, aired in Japan from 1989 to 1996. A dubbed version later aired in the United States.

Source: Courtesy of American Movie Classics

2. Better Call Saul
> Years on air: 2015-Present
> Predecessor: Breaking Bad
> IMDb rating: 8.7/10

Before he was Saul Goodman, counselor to Walter White, he was James McGill, known as Slippin’ Jimmy for his love of con games. This prequel to “Breaking Bad” traces Jimmy’s trajectory from fun-loving, unconventional lawyer seeking justice for the underdog, to hard boiled legal representative for drug lords and brutal gangs.

Source: Courtesy of No Distributor Found

1. The Twilight Zone
> Years on air: 1959-1964
> Predecessor: Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse
> IMDb rating: 9.0/10

Each episode, filmed in black and white, begins with a dark introduction by the show’s creator, Rod Serling, promising a journey through another dimension, and ends with his summing up of the episode’s moral. The hugely popular 30-minute shows were alternatively creepy, scary, fanciful, suspenseful, or ironic, making “Twilight Zone” a synonym for circumstances in which nightmarish things happen.

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