There’s still a surprising amount of good television shows that exist out there. I initially wanted to do a Top 5 of some of my favorite current TV series, especially with the Fall season underway. However, with the Primetime Emmy Awards all wrapped up, I figure it’d feel a bit redundant to examine and categorize some of the winning shows.
So, I decided to take a different route here. When a show becomes successful—or at the very least, a character becoming popular—odds are a spin-off is not too far from consideration. However, many spin-offs get cancelled because they can’t live up to the parent series, but every now and then a handful become equal or superior to the show it’s branched from.
And this is a look at my Top 5 favorite television spin-offs.
5. CSI: Miami (Parent Series: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation)
As the source for one of the few great memes out in the interwebs, CSI: Miami gave us Lieutenant Horatio Caine. We first met “H” when the original CSI team investigated a case in Miami, leaving their jurisdiction of Las Vegas. It wasn’t until he gained his own show that he started showing off with his quirky one-liners. Sadly, the show got cancelled a few months ago after a 10-season run. Horatio will be sorely missed, but there’s always this.
4. The Simpsons (Parent Series: The Tracey Ullman Show)
Being on the air for 23 years, and still going, it’s easy to forget (or not even know) about the show’s humble beginnings on The Tracey Ullman Show back in 1987. The Simpson family got their start as animated shorts before and after commercial breaks, and later gaining full segments in the show’s third season. By 1989, production companies embraced the dysfunctional family and gave them their own half-hour series on Fox. And the rest, as they say, is history (in my best Professor Frink).
3. The Legend of Korra (Parent Series: Avatar: The Last Airbender)
This particular spin-off doesn’t turn a minor or recurring character into the star of their own series. Rather, new characters were created with ties to Avatar: The Last Airbender. Taking place 70 years after the finale of A:TLA, The Legend of Korra does a great job of bringing us back into the world of bending and solidly re-grounds us to the mythos. It was nice to see the advancement of bending in this world, and I really enjoyed the flashbacks to Aang and company as their older selves.
If it weren’t for rushed pacing and some sloppy character development—partially due to its production schedule—this series could have climbed the ranks in this list. However, there are three remaining “books” to be aired in the future, so things may look up.
2. Torchwood (Parent Series: Doctor Who)
Before he gets around to saying hello, you’ve already fallen in love with Captain Jack Harkness—be you a man, woman, or alien. As a former companion to the Doctor, Jack got stranded in the year 1869 after trying to find a way to reach the 21st century. Mr. “Forever Young” can do nothing but wait around Cardiff for the Doctor’s return. While waiting, Jack gets recruited to Torchwood, an agency established to defend the world from alien threats, as well as acquire and use alien technology. Fast forward 100+ years to modern day and thus begins our foray into the Torchwood series.
This is a great companion series to Doctor Who. Not only are there ties and easter eggs to the parent series, but there are crossovers that occur between each of the shows. However, Torchwood is a lot more adult-oriented than Doctor Who in most forms—language, sex, and graphic violence. I mean, early on, we’re dealing with an alien entity that feeds off of orgasmic energy expelled from its host.
If you haven’t seen the series, be forewarned, there’s also lots of homoerotic goings-on if that’s not your thing.
1. Daria (Parent Series: Beavis and Butt-head)
Daria Morgendorffer is a smart, cynical, sharp witted and anti-social teenage girl. Uprooted from the town of Highland, away from the duo known as Beavis and Butt-head, Daria now lives in the suburban town of Lawndale with her family. Most of the antics occur around Lawndale High School with her new friend, Jane Lane, and a cast of exaggerated high school stereotypes.
I’m particularly fond of this series due to the fact that it began airing when I, myself, began high school. I liked to gauge people I met with characters from the show. Sure, it was highly unlikely and I never found a true pairing, but it was fun nonetheless to see a glimmer of the stereotypes shine through in some form or another. Also, I always wished I had the ability to execute the amount of cleverness and sarcasm as Daria—that is, without sounding like a douche.