10 Classic TV Series You Didn't Know Were Spinoffs

The final episode of Cheers was a big deal. Cheers was one of those terrific sitcoms that managed to beat the odds. Like M*A*S*H, it not only survived major cast changes, which can kill a show, but was strengthened by them. Cheers remained fresh throughout its run and ended on a high note.

When Cheers closed its doors the big announcement was that there would be a spinoff: Frasier. My first thought was that it would be a disaster. Cheers thrived on an ensemble cast that clicked so well that the power of the characters and their relationships with one another made the show. The bar and situations were secondary. I couldn€™t imagine a series called €œSam€ or €œDiane€ or €œWoody€ working at all, much less a €œFrasier.€ But it did. And it succeeded in the same way Cheers did. Frasier was less a Kelsey Grammar vehicle and more of a true ensemble piece. Casting was key, and the casting was brilliant and inspired. Not all spinoffs work. Remember Joey? Neither do I. But occasionally a television show makes magic, has a baby and it grows big and strong and is able to stand on its own. Here are ten such spun shows that managed to beat the odds and survive. At least for a while.

10. The Jeffersons (1975-1985)

JeffersonsSpun off from: All in the Family

Why was it that sitcoms in the 1970€™s had catch phrases? Remember €œSit on it,€ €œNanu-nanu,€ €œWhat you talkin€™ €˜bout, Willis?€ and €œDy-no-mite!€?

Here€™s another: €œWheezy!€ When the dry cleaning business started by George Jefferson (Sherman Hemsley) becomes a success, he and his wife Louise (Isabel Sanford ) leave their working class neighborhood in Queens, New York, and €œmove on up€ to Manhattan€™s east side to mingle with the rich and successful. They live in a high-rise apartment building complete with doorman and a tough-talking live-in maid, Florence (Marla Gibbs). The success of The Jeffersons relied on a reversal of the working class white man makes good, not to mention on the sheer strength of Helmsley€™s personality. Many episodes relied on some version of the same plot: a misunderstanding between George and one of the other characters leads to a riff; jokes are made about the interracial couple that live downstairs; the misunderstanding comes to a head and George reveals his warm side during the conflict resolution before making an insult. Roll credits. The Jeffersons first appeared on the hit CBS sitcom All in the Family, in 1971, moving in next door to the Bunker family in Queens. They remained Archie Bunker€™s neighbors until 1975, when they got a show of their own.
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Not to be confused with the captain of the Enterprise, James Kirk is a writer and film buff who lives in South Carolina.