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These Awesome TV Spin-Offs Left Their Distinct Legacy

It’s not uncommon for highly successful shows to cash in on their popularity and have spin-offs. Over the past few decades, plenty of showrunners attempted to give audiences a deeper look into the lives of popular characters by giving them a standalone show. While some spin-offs are met with mixed results, others have been lovingly accepted.

If done the right way, spin-offs can be a delightful treat. Since the makers have an established fan base of an already popular show, a spin-off with the right characters or concept can be elevated to great heights! That being said, it’s not easy to create spin-offs that hold the charm of the original series and still pave the way for unique storylines.

Surprisingly, there have been several shows that haven’t just matched the parent series’ success but also did justice to the legacy of its predecessor. Here’s a list of the most beloved television spin-offs you might have forgotten about.

Related: 10 Classic Family TV Shows Everyone at Home Will Enjoy

1. The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968)

Andy Griffith, the famous American actor, appeared on The Danny Thomas Show in 1960 as “Andy Taylor” – a level-headed and soft-spoken country sheriff of the fictional town of Mayberry. The character was liked instantly and, in no time, The Andy Griffith Show was born. Griffith continued playing the same character, and the series was so well-received that it spawned eight seasons and is still remembered today as one of the greatest sitcoms of all time.

At its heart, The Andy Griffith Show was quite simple, but in a great way. The plots usually revolved around the sheriff having all sorts of adventures that are so realistic and pure that you can’t help but relate to them. It has moments that are amazing, but for the most part, it’s just a feel-good show with some genuine laughs and plenty of soft chuckles. So if you want something simple, go for it!

2. The Jeffersons (1975–1985)

Anyone who’s seen the iconic ‘70s sitcom All in the Family would remember George and Louise “Weezy” Jefferson – the wealthy and quirky African-American family who live next door to the Bunkers. The Jeffersons were adored so much that they soon got their own show where they move into a luxury apartment building in Manhattan and develop entertaining relationships with other tenants.

The Jeffersons was unique for its time, and it featured the first major TV appearance of an interracial couple. While it was mostly light-hearted, the series did touch upon important social issues like racism, minority literacy, and suicide. The show went on to have a whopping 11 successful seasons and aged better than All in the Family.

3. Mork & Mindy (1978–1982)

Mork & Mindy was a hilarious series remembered for being the introduction of Robin Williams' comic talent to the world. Interestingly, this series began as an episode of Happy Days, a sitcom about the life of the Cunningham family in the 1950s. In that episode, Williams’ character was an alien from the distant world of Ork, who attempts to take back one of the Cunninghams to his planet as a specimen. Both the episode and Mork were an instant hit, so a spin-off was immediately conceptualized. In the spin-off, the wacky alien comes back to Earth, studies its residents, and forms a special bond with a woman named Mindy.

Mork & Mindy debuted in the fall of 1978, and the show was such a success that Williams was featured on the cover of Time magazine the next year. The series may have been quirky and bizarre, but it works thanks to Robin Williams and his unique humor.

4. The Facts Of Life (1979-1988)

The Facts Of Life is a lovely little show that doesn’t get the attention it deserves today. The '80s sitcom was a spin-off of the long-running show 'Diff'rent Strokes' and featured Edna Garrett (played by Charlotte Rae), a flame-haired housekeeper to three children. She continued the role in The Facts of Life, where she is the caretaker of several teenage girls who attend an all-girls boarding school. Here, Garrett showed the girls how to tackle several issues throughout teenage life and adulthood.

The Facts Of Life comprised nine seasons and even three television films.

5. Family Matters (1989-1998)

Family Matters is a spin-off based on the famous sitcom Perfect Strangers, an unconventional workplace comedy. The connective thread between the two shows was Harriette Winslow, who began as the elevator operator in Perfect Strangers. From there, Harriette was brought into her own series, the main focus of which was to showcase the middle-class life of an African-American family in Chicago. The family was filled with eccentric characters whose seemingly ordinary lives are routinely interjected by unique situations.

Family Matters eventually lasted way longer than the original series and is more fondly remembered today.

6. Frasier (1993-2004)

No list of spin-off shows can be complete without mentioning Frasier. A spin-off of Cheers – one of the defining sitcoms of the 1980s – Frasier was about the life and times of the titular psychiatrist who frequently appeared in the parent show. In the spin-off series, Frasier relocated to Seattle, where he hosts a psychotherapy radio show and navigates life and relationships in the most humorous ways.

With smart jokes and interesting supporting characters, Frasier went on to become a comedy classic that won five consecutive Emmys for 'Outstanding Comedy Series.' It tied with its predecessor’s run of 11 seasons and continues to remain a family favorite of many even today.

7. The Golden Palace (1992-1993)

The Golden Palace was a short-lived spin-off continuation of the beloved classic - The Golden Girls. Premiering in 1985 and running through 1992, The Golden Girls was about the lives of four older women who shared a home in Miami, Florida, and included iconic stars such as Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty. A show centered on female friends in their 50s was a unique concept, but The Golden Girls was a smash hit, as the audience couldn’t have enough of this wise-cracking quartet. Sadly, the series came to an after seven seasons due to Bea Arthur's exit.

The showrunners, however, decided to continue the group's adventures in the spin-off where the three remaining friends decide to invest in a Miami hotel and run it together. The Golden Palace wasn't as successful as The Golden Girls, but it still had plenty of humor and memorable moments that fans of the original show will definitely enjoy.

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8. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999–present)

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is technically a double spin-off – it’s based on both Law & Order and Homicide: Life on the Street. Given that it’s been running for more than two decades, you can imagine that this spin-off is indeed something special.

The longest-running primetime live-action series in American history, Special Victims Unit is a drama based on a trained squad of detectives in the N.Y.P.D. that investigates sex-centric crimes like rape, pedophilia, and domestic violence. While the plots do have disturbing elements, the series is brilliantly directed, and it presents real ongoing issues in our world today. Special Victims Unit premiered its record-breaking 23rd season in September 2021, and, going by the ratings, it’s continuing to compel audiences.

9. Better Call Saul (2015-Present)

It’s not easy for a spin-off to live up to one of the most admired and acclaimed series of the 21st century, but Better Call Saul has managed to do that. The show is a prequel to Breaking Bad, the story of Walter White, a timid high school chemistry teacher who transforms into a ruthless drug lord after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. In the second season of the show, a fast-talking criminal lawyer Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) makes an appearance. Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan saw something more in store for Saul, and that’s how the prequel series took shape.

In Better Call Saul, we get to see how Saul transforms into the flamboyant lawyer he was in Breaking Bad, and witnessing the transformation is truly fascinating. The series has been running for five seasons, and the next one - expected to premiere in early 2022 – will be the last. Given its reception, Better Call Saul is all set to leave an incredible legacy.

Share these memorable TV shows with your loved ones!

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