Spinoffs are a tricky thing to get right and that’s particularly the case on television. When a network comes across a hit, they’ll often exploit it for all its worth and when it finally ends, we end up with a spinoff of some sort which is, more often than not, a total let down.
However, there are many which buck the trend and are made for the right reasons and Better Call Saul is a very good example of that. A prequel to Breaking Bad, it’s expanded that world in a satisfying way and has remained consistently great for three seasons.
So, with the third one now hitting DVD and Blu-ray, we’ve decided to delve into the TV shows which started their lives as a spinoff but grew to be so much more and something truly special. Has you favourite managed to make the cut? Well, read on to find out…
6. Better Call Saul
Breaking Bad coming to an end left us heartbroken but the finale definitely delivered a satisfying ending to a series which didn’t require any sort of continuation. However, that didn’t take a prequel off the cards and Better Call Saul has gone from strength to strength since launching as it delves into how Jimmy McGill was transformed into Saul Goodman.
Surprisingly, the series has also served as a sequel of sorts, revealing what’s become of Saul since he was forced to go into hiding to escape the authorities. When it was first announced, Better Call Saul was met with a great deal of scepticism but it’s exceeded expectations and proved to be a brilliant way to expand Walter White’s bizarre world.
With season three now available on Blu-ray, you need to make catching up a priority!
5. The Punisher
Jon Bernthal first showed up as Frank Castle in season two of Daredevil and while his story underwhelmed in the latter half of that show, fans were still anxious to see more of the armed vigilante. As a result, it took no time at all for The Punisher to be announced and the incredibly violent – and undeniably brilliant – series hit Netflix a week ago as we write this.
While it’s something of a shame that it revolves around a government conspiracy as opposed to Frank taking out gangsters, the story is powerful and the action is top notch. As a result, it’s fair to say that The Punisher is actually better than Daredevil. With any luck, the show will get Bernthal his long overdue Emmy nomination as he definitely deserves it.
When Doctor Who was relaunched back in 2005, one of the most interesting new characters to be introduced was John Barrowman’s Captain Jack Harkness. It didn’t take long for the fan-favourite supporting player to get his own series, and Torchwood – a show about a diverse group of alien hunters based in Cardiff – was created as a result.
Viewers quickly fell in love with the characters, though it was anti-hero Jack who remained the biggest reason to tune in. Later seasons would, unfortunately, ditch most of the cast and attempt to attract an American audience with mixed – well, mostly awful – results. However, there’s no denying that the first two seasons made for truly excellent viewing.
3. The Flash
Arrow wasn’t all that great to begin with but the show quickly improved and fans started warming to Stephen Amell’s Oliver Queen in a big way. However, none of us expected the show to introduce us to Barry Allen, a character better known to comic book fans as the Flash. As a result, the stage was set for the hero to later race into his own spinoff series.
Coming into the series as C.S.I. Barry Allen, it wasn’t until the end of his two-part appearance that some hints were dropped about him becoming the Fastest Man Alive. This was an unconventional and unexpected way to launch a new TV show and The Flash is now entering its fourth season, something no one imagined when Barry first came to Star City!
2. The Simpsons
The Simpsons is showing no signs of slowing down and it’s currently the longest-running animated series in history and one with the largest number of episodes ever for a scripted series. It’s surprising that it’s never spawned any spinoffs (though it did obviously have a movie), but even more shocking is the fact that The Simpsons is actually one itself!
That’s because the series started off as thirty-second clips on The Tracey Ullman Show, but when creator Matt Groening saw its potential, he managed to get Fox to say yes to giving the characters a show of their own back in 1989. Of all those listed here, it’s fair to say that The Simpsons has exceeded expectations since those humble beginnings and remains fun.
Introduced as the third part of a love triangle involving Cheers’ Sam Malone and Diane Chambers, the brainy and pompous Dr. Frasier Crane went from being arguably one of the show’s least likeable characters to an essential part of the beloved series. Even so, a spinoff revolving around him and his family is something no one could have ever expected.
Relocating the titular character to Seattle, the show evolved in an interesting manner and ran for an impressive eleven seasons by never dropping the ball and continuing to become funnier and funnier. Scoring critical acclaim and numerous awards, Frasier topped Cheers in many ways and remains every bit as watchable now as when it was originally on the air.