The Tonight Show, the Muppet Show, The Honeymooners, and Project Runway are all spinoffs of other less-successful shows. All about those, and seven more.
The Simpsons was a spinoff from The Tracey Ullman Show. That’s TV Trivia 101. Today, we’re focusing on graduate-level spinoff trivia. Here are 11 iconic TV shows that are actually just the incestuous spawn of 11 other TV shows (most of which were much less successful).
Try to remember these when, one day, you hear about Stefon: The Series, Ron Swanson and the City or Kendall’s Jenner-ation X Report. You never know when a spinoff is going to work…
1 The Muppet Show (spinoff of Sam and Friends)
Sam and Friends was a puppet TV sketch show — imagine that getting greenlit today — created by Jim Henson. One of the main characters was a puppet lizard named… Kermit. There are clips available that show you Henson and his team starting to get down the rhythms and the patterns that would make The Muppet Show so perfect.
2 | The Tonight Show (spinoff of Broadway Open House)
Broadway Open House was the first-ever late night variety show. It only lasted one year. But NBC took some of the basics from it, started developing a show with Steve Allen… and that turned into the Tonight Show a few years later. And to this day, it remains THE best source of Monica Lewinsky jokes on television.
3 | Project Runway (spinoff of Project Greenlight)
Project Greenlight was part of the early wave of reality shows. Aspiring filmmakers would compete to get their scripts chosen, then cameras would follow as they tried to make movies starring Shia LeBeouf. (I only watched one season, but I assume that was all fairly consistent.) When the show ended up on Bravo, they apparently liked the “Project” aspect… but hated everything else. So they decided to make it 17x more Bravo, and spin it into Project Runway.
4 | Good Times (spinoff of Maude)
And Maude was a spinoff of All in the Family. The Jeffersons was also a spinoff of All In the Family. And you thought Archie Bunker didn’t care about black people.
5 | Beavis and Butthead (spinoff of Liquid Television)
Um… hello MTV? It’s LTV — LIQUID Television. How come it didn’t contain any liquid?
6 | Flavor of Love (spinoff of The Surreal Life)
Flavor Flav did not magically appear on his own horrific dating show out of nowhere. He got his start as a cast member on The Surreal Life (which was like Real World with minor celebrities). After a few shenanigans, a contrived romance with Brigitte Nielsen, and some soul selling, VH1 decided to have Flavor Flav star in what would become a giant line of hit
minstrel TV shows.
7 | The Honeymooners (spinoff of Cavalcade of Stars)
Cavalcade of Stars was a variety and sketch show. Jackie Gleason was its third host, and did a sketch called The Honeymooners. Which, of course, was spun off into one of the most successful (and domestic violence-friendly) sitcoms of all-time.
8 | Xena: Warrior Princess (spinoff of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys)
Lucy Lawless appeared with Kevin Sorbo for three episodes of Hercules, which you may’ve watched if your cable went out and you only had rabbit ears available on a Saturday afternoon in the mid ’90s.
9 | NCIS (spinoff of JAG)
NCIS has but one practical application in life — the answer to the never-been-solved trivia question, “What’s the highest rated show on TV?”
10 | Happy Days (spinoff of Love, American Style)
This means all of the Happy Days spinoffs — Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, Joanie Loves Chachi, Fonzie and Christmas Ape Go to Summer Camp — can also be traced back to Love, American Style. Love, American Style was an anthology/sketch show featuring different unrelated love stories. Garry Marshall produced it, and is now proceeding to ruin its legacy through the sewers with his Valentine’s Day/New Year’s Eve movie series.
11 | Jake and the Fatman (spinoff of Matlock)
There’s an entire generation that only knows Matlock because of Grandpa Simpson and only knows Jake and the Fatman because that’s one of the top five TV show names of all time. But as none of us has ever actually *seen* an episode of either, we had no idea they were related.