When a TV show becomes a hit with audiences, the people who tune in are prone to become entrenched in the story and attached to the characters, dreading the day the series reaches its end.
Because then what? What happens when a beloved series concludes?
Does the production company and the network leave it alone and pat themselves on the back for a job well done? Of course not!
These days, no stone can be left unturned. Every successful TV show needs at least one spin-off series considered, often to the chagrin of the very fans who loved the original show.
But every once in a while, a spin-off series comes along that doesn't just succeed—it ends up becoming better than the original. Here are the finest examples of spin-off TV series that surpassed their predecessors.
5. Better Call Saul (2015)
Breaking Bad was one of the greatest TV events of the 21st century, which is crazy when you think about how it started as a small idea that nobody wanted to produce because the plot sounded too far-fetched.
However, AMC eventually picked it up and gave Vince Gilligan all the creative space he needed to work his magic. Over the course of five seasons, Breaking Bad grew into a shining example of everything that TV would become in the following years.
By the time Breaking Bad wrapped up, most considered it among the greatest television shows ever made, with one of the finest endings we've seen in recent television.
Then, Better Call Saul was announced.
Not only was the decision to pursue a Breaking Bad spin-off met with skepticism by many, but the fact that it would center on Saul Goodman just seemed silly. Few thought much of it—until they watched it.
Better Call Saul avoided retreading the same themes of Breaking Bad and successfully blazed its own trail in the same universe. Moreover, it did so with more depth and a tighter narrative, to the point that it did what nobody thought it could do: surpass Breaking Bad.
Looking back at both series, it's clear that both have their own approaches to telling their tales. But for fans of both shows, it's Better Call Saul that does it with more aplomb.
4. Frasier (1993)
Back in the 1980s, Cheers created the modern idea of what a sitcom was. It brought audiences into the lives of an ordinary bar in Boston and showcased the twists, turns, and drama within.
The cast of Cheers had an on-screen chemistry that few could fault. Ted Danson and Shelley Long carried the show with their will-they-won't-they storyline, and it even featured a pre-famous Woody Harrelson.
When Cheers ended and a spin-off was announced, the thought of centering that show on Frasier Crane as the main protagonist was... strange. Plenty of raised eyebrows came its way.
Frasier boldly took Frasier Crane away from everything that made Cheers work, then injected a lot more depth into the character than audiences ever expected to see. The result? Legendary.
That element of Frasier was the spark it needed to distance itself from Cheers and become a comedy classic in its own right.
Frasier was so popular that it's being rebooted with Kelsey Grammer's character in a new city once again. In some ways, the characters from Cheers are still alive and well in a show that's still on the air.
3. The Simpsons (1989)
On one hand, The Simpsons is certainly its own original show. It's a wholly original concept that doesn't constitute a spin-off in the traditional sense. Initially, however, The Simpsons was part of The Tracey Ullman Show!
The Tracey Ullman Show was a variety show, and The Simpsons was one of its segments. Later, when The Simpsons became its own thing, it already had a bit of an audience by the time episode one aired.
So, The Simpsons was technically a spin-off—and, of course, the main series is significantly better and has become a large part of pop culture.
Plus, The Simpsons pioneered TV animation for adults. It was the biggest and most popular animated show since Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck made audiences laugh in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.
2. Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)
The original Star Trek is held aloft as one of the biggest and most important TV shows ever made, for good reason.
The adventures of James T. Kirk and Spock aboard the USS Enterprise are known all over the world, and they helped launch the sci-fi genre in television. Over time, Star Trek grew into more than just a TV show.
Hardcore Trekkies (fans of Star Trek) will always see the original series as perfection, a show without equal. But when Star Trek: The Next Generation came along, even the most diehard fans of the original loved how it took the story forward with all new characters.
The debate will forever rage over which captain is better—Kirk or Piccard—but it doesn't really matter because The Next Generation stands toe-to-toe with the original and remains equally strong.
As a series, Star Trek: The Next Generation is a better show and features better actors giving iconic performances. However, fans of the original might never see it that way.
1. Wednesday (2022)
The original Addams Family TV series has been forgotten by time, and if it's remembered by anyone, that's largely because of the film spin-offs in the 1990s starring Anjelica Huston and Christina Ricci.
For that reason, Netflix's Wednesday feels fresh by comparison, as no one under 60 remembers the original show with any real depth. And if you do venture back and watch The Addams Family, you'd likely agree that Wednesday is the better series.
Wednesday has a spark in its leading character that makes it shine on the screen, complete with a performance by Jenna Ortega that ties everything together with a neat little bow.
Wednesday has become a hit for Netflix and the streaming giant has green-lit a sequel—one that fans are desperate to see soon.