Whether it be good or bad, the TV spin-off show has become a consistent part of the cultural zeitgeist. From Mary Tyler Moore and Rhoda to the successful Cheers spin-off of Frasier, and even lesser spin-offs like the Friends show without the other five members called Joey, TV spin-offs are easy for networks to get behind because it’s dealing with a character that audiences already have a relationship with.
Though some – perhaps the majority – of spin-offs have a connotation of being a lazy re-packaging of a formula that already ran dry, some of the best TV shows in history began as parts of other series. Most famously, perhaps, is what I consider to be my favorite show of all time: The Simpsons.
What began as relatively short cartoon vignettes on Fox’s The Tracy Ullman Show, the Simpsons managed to land themselves their own program in 1989. Not only the most successful spin-off ever, The Simpsons is now the longest running scripted TV program ever made, with over 24 seasons and over 500 episodes worth of the TV family that began as just a brief snippet of Tracy Ullman’s program.
But the Simpsons are an entire family. Meanwhile, characters like Frasier Crane and Family Guy’s Cleveland were believed to be strong enough to venture out on their own. So let’s take a look at another 20 great television characters who should’ve branched off to do their own thing….
20. Gale (Breaking Bad)
Poor Gale Boetticher. All he wanted was to become an expert at chemistry, and damn if he didn’t do it. Perhaps becoming the second leading man in his field, he’s afforded the opportunity to work alongside – and learn from – the first: Walter White. And while Walter is a tough nut to crack, Gale manages to do it with his odd charm and molecular-based coffee skills.
Unfortunately, due to certain… we’ll call them “misgivings,” a Gale Boetticher spinoff can’t exactly happen. But who wouldn’t love to see a show on Gale: The Early Years, as he karaokes to Major Tom and learns how to cook methamphetamines. Frankly, Gale was the most likable character on Breaking Bad, as really his only flaw was getting into the drug business. At least he wasn’t whiny like that monstrous Skyler.
This article was first posted on April 9, 2013