When you think of TV spin-offs, what shows come to mind? Baywatch Nights, the ridiculous, supernatural Baywatch sister show that starred The Hoff as a detective? Joey, the unwatchable series about the least interesting character on Friends? How about Soul Man, the short-lived Home Improvement spin-off about Mike Weber (Dan Aykroyd, at a career low), the Taylors’ priest?
Sure, these shows were all terrible ideas, horribly executed. There are so many awful spin-offs out there that Entertainment Weekly‘s roundup of the 15 worst is just the tip of the garbage barge. Amid all the crap out there, it’s easy to forget that some of the greatest TV series of all time began as characters and concepts on other programs. Check out ten of our favorites and allow us to convince you that “spin-off” doesn’t have to be a dirty word after the jump.
Most Americans don’t realize that this cult favorite BBC series — a fixture on Comedy Central in the ’90s — was born on French and Saunders, lead actress Jennifer Saunders’ sketch comedy show with Dawn French. The original Ab Fab was a recurring segment called “Modern Mother and Daughter.” While Saunders always played the debauched ex-hippie mum (at the time, Edina was named Ariadne), it was French who originally took the role of the long-suffering, uptight daughter. Julia Sawalha took over the role of Saffron in the spin-off, and certainly looked the part of Edina’s offspring — even though, in reality, she’s only a decade younger than Saunders. Of course, Ab Fab‘s greatest improvement on the sketch that inspired it was the addition of hilarious ex-model Joanna Lumley as Edina’s hard-partying, brain-fried best friend.