9 TV Shows You Didn’t Realize Were Spinoffs

  • February 19, 2014
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Knots Landing

One of the most famous primetime soap operas in television history, Knots Landing is set in a fictional California town that, amazingly, was actually conceived before the series from which it was spun. That series was Dallas, one of the most beloved guilty pleasures in TV history, and the only way that anyone was able to get Knots Landing on the air was by incorporating characters introduced when first interacting with the Ewing clan. Dallas creator David Jacobs came up with the idea for Knots Landing before he ever hit it big with Dallas, and used the success of that show to get Knots Landing on the air, where it became one of the longest running dramas in TV history before going off the air in 1993.


Happy Days

Everyone knows that Happy Days has spawned a few spinoffs of its own, most notably Laverne and Shirley, as well as Mork and Mindy. But few people probably realize that Happy Days itself was a spinoff to begin with. The original pilot was sitting on a shelf before being turned into Love and the Television Set, and made part of the anthology series Love, American Style. This segment led to Ron Howard being cast in the film American Graffiti, which in turn helped lead Garry Marshall to turn the segment into a full blown series starring Howard as Richie Cunningham. The rest, as they say, is history.


Family Matters

Yes, the series that when it first came out was everyone’s favorite show but, in retrospect, is just insanely annoying and somehow made everyone love Steve Urkel and even buy his toys and cereal was actually a spinoff. What horrific show could have possibly given birth to Family Matters? Perfect Strangers is the guilty party, and amazingly is one of the only shows to feature a central character that rivals Urkel in obnoxiousness in the character of Balki. Harriette Winslow was the elevator operator where Cousin Larry worked in Perfect Strangers, and somehow this random character led to Jaleel White becoming one of the most famous people in America.


The Twilight Zone

Amazingly, the most famous and successful anthology series in television history, The Twilight Zone, is actually a spinoff of another show. Created by the great Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone will forever be known as the show that planted the seeds for virtually every science fiction and horror movie with some big plot twist in recent memory. That makes it even more hard to believe that it was, itself, originally born out of the Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, which happened to have the rights to the original Serling story, Time Element, that would ultimately spawn the Twilight Zone franchise.

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