In a television landscape anxious to compete for the attentions of viewers, networks often give the go-ahead on some questionable series that get left in the graveyard of forgotten shows. Despite reaching millions of households and throwing cash at weeks of marketing, spinoffs don’t always resonate with their intended audiences.
For the networks, the decision is an easy one. If a show is a hit, why not extend its shelf life by giving a secondary character a chance in the spotlight? In some cases, it works out brilliantly, but other times everyone walks away wondering, “What was I thinking?”
For this list, we dug deep into the television archives for some head-scratchers that even the people involved with the production would prefer you forget about. Some of our selections go back to some of the early years of weird television wonders, while others are fairly recent inclusions that the general TV-viewing crowd have already chosen to remove from their collective memory.
For all the long-living series that refused to die and all the ill-advised characters that should have called it quits early, we’re commemorating the truly awful TV spinoffs that were so bad we don’t remember them.
These are the 16 TV Show Spinoffs You Forgot Existed.
16. Stargate Universe (Stargate SG-1 Spinoff)
In 1994, Roland Emmerich introduced Stargate to the world. A series based on the premise of intergalactic travel across extraterrestrial universes, the franchise began with a film and spawned three shows.
Stargate SG-1, a follow-up to the original film, would debut on Showtime in 1997 before eventually settling on the SyFy network, where it enjoyed the remainder of its 10 season run. Meanwhile, Stargate Atlantis, the first spinoff series which focused on the lost city of Atlantis created by the humanoid race known as the Ancients, also had a successful run of five seasons.
The third and final full series spun off from the Stargate franchise, Universe was conceived as a tonally different extension to the world. Focusing on a multinational exploration team traveling aboard a ship called the Destiny in an unknown region of the galaxy, Universe was darker than the rest of SG. It didn’t make it past two seasons after failing to emulate the style of Battlestar Galactica, another popular sci-fi show of the time.
15. Young Americans (Dawson’s Creek Spinoff)
Debuting on the WB network as a Dawson’s Creek replacement series for the summer of 2000, Young Americans was such a misfire that it cost Coca-Cola a six million dollar sponsorship. Projected as the next big teen drama, the series focused on Will Krudski, a longtime friend of Pacey’s who spent a two-episode arc in Capeside crushing on Andie before eventually returning back to his home in New Rawley.
Mixing issues of forbidden love and gender roles, Young Americans applied an all too familiar formula that hoped to lure in a younger crowd with its angst-driven characters.
After cheating on his entry exam to an elite private school, Will finds himself mixing with a crowd which includes a childhood friend, the son of the dean, and a girl who regularly disguises herself as a boy. Featuring a cast that included Kate Bosworth and Ian Somerhalder, it was canceled after airing just eight episodes.
14. CSI: Cyber (CSI Spinoff)
In March 2016, the last remaining CSI series was canceled by CBS, leaving the world without a show from the franchise for the first time in sixteen years.
Prior to the cancellation of CSI: Cyber, the finale for the original flagship series was announced, leaving the future of the franchise in jeopardy. Unfortunately, the survival of the crime scene procedurals relied on the weakest and least memorable series so far. It all came to an end after a total of 797 CSI episodes had made it to the air.
Having signed on as the lead character Special Agent Avery Ryan prior to her Oscar win for the acclaimed indie film Boyhood, the presence of Patricia Arquette in Cyber’s star-studded lineup gave the series hope. In the end, the actress was forced to phone in one terrible line after the other. Leading man Ted Danson joined the cast after the original CSI’s end, but ultimately no one was able to save this high-tech series from its own lack of imagination.
13. Law and Order: Trial by Jury (Law and Order Spinoff)
Since debuting its first episode in September 1990, Dick Wolf’s crime procedural series Law and Order has been responsible for five separate spinoff series under the same moniker. Although Trial by Jury isn’t the only of these series to see the network pull the plug, it goes down in history as the first truly unsuccessful L&O show, lasting only one season before getting the ax.
Focusing on the criminal legal procedures and preparations that go into setting up a trial, Trial by Jury replaced criminal interrogations with courtroom drama. By all accounts, TBJ was a perfectly serviceable extension of the Law and Order brand, but it lacked the teeth present in its parent series.
Until the premiere of this show, L&O‘s criminal trials had been restricted to the third act of each episode. Extending the little seen legal proceedings into a full-length show proved to be too tedious for viewers.
12. Caprica (Battlestar Galactica Spinoff)
In 2003, Ronald D. Moore revived the classic sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica with a miniseries which saw the space opera reach its highest peak in decades. Lauded for its post-9/11 political stance, the miniseries launched a four season run and became one of the most noted shows in recent memory.
With the SyFy network raking in viewers with the hit series, it made sense that they would spin off a companion series to continue the success of the franchise. Unfortunately, the second show failed to hit the same heights as its parent series.
A prequel set sixty days before the events of Battlestar Galactica, Caprica focused on the prominent Greystone and Adama families whose lives are affected by an act of terrorism. As the fate of the twelve colonies is put into jeopardy by a breakthrough in human and mechanical engineering, the two rival families find themselves dueling while the war between the humans and the Cylons looms steadily closer.
11. Buddies (Home Improvement Spinoff)
If you’re most familiar with Dave Chappelle’s work as a sketch comedy artist on The Chappelle Show or from his hit stoner comedy Half Baked, then the chances are high that you’ve completely forgotten about this spinoff series from Fox.
We don’t blame you. Even fans of Tim Allen’s blue collar series Home Improvement don’t recall Buddies ever happening, possibly due to the fact that the network tried hard to sweep it under the rug.
In the mid-nineties, a 22 year old Dave Chappelle made a seven minute appearance alongside Timothy “The Toolman” Taylor as Dave, a man seeking relationship advice. Appearing with Chappelle was his Half Baked co-star Jim Breuer. Apparently the two were such a convincing duo that Fox immediately greenlit this devastating spinoff. The first bad sign happened when Breuer was replaced by Christopher Gartin, destroying any chemistry between the two friends.
10. Models Inc. (Melrose Place Spinoff)
Following Hillary Michaels, a successful model agency owner and mother of Melrose alum Amanda Woodward, the show featured the typical dramatic fashion of its predecessors as the characters found themselves wrapped up in murders, kidnappings, and utter betrayals. After recruiting veteran primetime actress Linda Gray of Dallas fame to play the leading lady, the series had all the ingredients to create another melodramatic hit, but ultimately came up short.
A look at the rest of the cast, which also featured a pre-Matrix Carrie-Anne Moss, seemed to indicate yet another series with everything a teen could want it a show. Sex, glamour, and psychotic plot points were all on display, but the series was only skin deep.
9. Time of Your Life (Party of Five Spinoff)
A series centered on five siblings navigating their way through life following the sudden deaths of their parents, Party of Five was a teen drama mature beyond its years. In 1999, co-star Jennifer Love Hewitt, made famous in the series for playing Sarah Reeves Merrin, the on-and-off girlfriend to the second oldest Salinger, Bailey, left the show to find her biological father in New York City.
Moving into her mother’s old apartment in Time of Your Life, Sarah befriends a new cast of characters, including her roommate Romy, played by a young Jennifer Garner.
Despite airing at the height of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s stardom, Sarah’s pursuit of self-discovery wasn’t enough to save the series. In the middle of its season, Time of Your Life was put on a five month hiatus. After a return to the air which heavily promoted the show as the next big hit, Fox was forced to pull the plug. The final 7 episodes of the series wouldn’t air until 2006 when TBS decided to broadcast the show one last time.
8. The Lone Gunmen (The X Files Spinoff)
As fan-favorites from the The X-Files, the government watchdog trio of John Fitzgerald Byers, Melvin Frohike, and Richard Langly were finally rewarded with their own spinoff series, premiering during the eighth season of the alien-conspiracy show which made them famous. Despite positive reviews, The Lone Gunmen’s titular characters were crippled by poor ratings and a lack of Mulder or Scully.
In the show, the computer hacker extraordinaires break away from their FBI compatriots to investigate a series of corporate crimes with the help of a troublesome thief named Yves Adele Harlow. Despite some crossovers with The X-Files, the trio weren’t able to hold the interests of fans long enough to keep their show from falling off the map.
Today, the series is mostly remembered for its pilot episode which premiered seven months before the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York and eerily featured a story about a hijacked airliner which narrowly escaped crashing into the World Trade Center.
7. The Golden Palace (The Golden Girls Spinoff)
After seven years as critical darlings, the four Golden Girls of television said au revoir to their Miami house and went their separate ways. While Bea Arthur called it quits after her character Dorothy got married in the series finale, the remaining three cast members kept things going in The Golden Palace.
The series saw Blanche, Rose, and Dorothy’s mother Sophia invest in a Miami hotel. Alongside the hotel’s only two remaining employees, Roland Wilson (Don Cheadle) and Chuy Castillos (Cheech Marin), the three women worked tirelessly to keep up the establishment.
Unlike the early days when the gals were able to sit around eating cheesecake and talking about their sex lives, the 70-something year olds of Golden Palace weren’t able to keep audiences’ attentions by running a hotel.
The shelf life for the series proved to be no more than a year and The Golden Palace was canceled and never spoken of again. Sophia would move on to yet another spinoff series Empty Nest, where she returned to the Shady Pines retirement home.
6. The Finder (Bones Spinoff)
Loosely based on Richard Greener’s Locator book series, the premise followed an Iraq war veteran with a knack for finding things. After an IED explosion enhances his abilities to unearth mysteries, he goes into the field full-time with the aid of legal adviser Leo.
Apart from one of the dullest titles in television spinoff history, The Finder was too by-the-books to ever amount to more than a one season outing riding on the coattails of its parent series. Although Fox hoped to churn out a show in the same vein as CSI, Geoff Stults simply didn’t have the charm of a leading man to keep things going.
5. The Ropers (Three’s Company Spinoff)
Flipping the script on Three’s Company, The Ropers debuted in 1979 and saw Jack, Janet, and Chrissy’s frugal landlord Stanley moving into the upscale community of Cheviot Hills after selling his apartment in season three.
Alongside his sexually frustrated wife Helen, Stanley clashes with Jeffrey P. Brookes III, the couple’s next door neighbor. After a few scheduling mistakes left the series without an audience, The Ropers was forgotten and met a sad end after just two seasons.
Shortly after the series finale of Three’s Company, the sitcom would spawn yet another spinoff show with Three’s a Crowd. Despite failing to resonate with audiences, the second spinoff series at least had star John Ritter working in its favor.
What the network failed to realize about The Ropers is that the boorish landlord is just no fun without his three tenants to yell at. Star Norman Fell was reportedly quick to realize his mistake and attempted to return to Three’s Company after his show’s cancellation, but the series had already moved on.
4. Living Dolls (Who’s the Boss? Spinoff)
By the late ’80s the Tony Danza-starring sitcom Who’s the Boss? was bringing in meteoric numbers for ABC and the birth of the supermodel was the latest media craze, so the network thought it would be a good idea to combine them both.
The second series on our list to focus on fledgling models trying to make it big in the industry, Living Dolls featured a young Leah Remini (The King of Queens) as Charlie Briscoe, a friend from Samantha’s old Brooklyn neighborhood who is discovered after working on a dog food commercial.
Critically trashed during its fall debut, Living Dolls received an “F” grade by People magazine and failed to make it past its 12-episode first season.
Not everything to come out of the show was bad, however. One of the models living inside the New York City brownstone owned by model extraordinaire Trish Carlin was none other than Halle Berry, who made her first acting appearance as Emily Franklin.
3. Baywatch Nights (Baywatch Spinoff)
One of the more implausible spinoffs on our list, Baywatch Nights is most baffling because it completely changed its narrative mid-way through its run to adjust for slipping viewership ratings.
Airing while Baywatch was still a major hit, the original Baywatch Nights premise saw lifeguard hunk Mitch Buchannon joining forces with Sgt. Garner Ellerbee shortly after the resident police officer quits his job to start up his own detective agency.
Although it’s hard enough imagining David Hasselhoff moonlighting as a crime-solving detective when he wasn’t running along the California coastline in slow motion, the show became more unbearable when it switched to a supernatural series after the success of The X-Files. Replacing everyday crimes with out of the ordinary events, Mitch dealt with cases involving gelatinous sea monsters, voodoo cults, and vengeful spirits. The tonal shift was too much and the series was ended early after just two seasons.
2. That ’80s Show (That ’70s Show Spinoff)
In the late ’90s Fox struck gold when they rewound the clock with That ’70s Show. Appealing to Gen X audience members with nostalgic memories of their youth, the flashback series seemed like a surefire formula for success.
Striking while the iron was hot, Fox was quick to churn out a follow-up series. Although not considered a traditional spinoff for its lack of crossover characters and storylines, That ‘80s Show borrowed heavily from the fan favorite comedy, but enjoyed none of the fame.
Despite being developed as a separate series, the show followed Corey Howard, a struggling musician working at a record store who happened to be Eric Forman’s cousin. Set in San Diego, the series was peppered with ’80s cultural references and guest stars with the central focus being Corey’s regular group of friends who dealt with the problems of young adulthood.
1. Joey (Friends Spinoff)
The series’ ill-conceived premise saw Joey Tribbiani moving to Hollywood, and away from his best friend Chandler, to become a movie star never hit it big. The problem was the cast never quite shared the same chemistry with lead star Matt LeBlanc.
Had Joey had no ties to the Friends character, perhaps it could have worked as a spiritual successor to the series. Instead, fans hoped for a fitting continuation to Joey’s story after he was the only one left not married or with a family after the show’s finale. Ultimately, LeBlanc’s charms weren’t enough to anchor the series and it fell out of favor without the rest of the Friends cast to feed off his outlandish behavior.
Do you remember any of these forgotten spin-offs? Let us know in the comments!
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