The 10 Worst TV Show Spin-offs

In the event that you've managed to avoid TNT's summer TV media blitz, allow us to catch you up: Last week, the network's flagship series, and one of the biggest (numbers-wise) cable dramas to ever do it, The Closer ended its seven season run at the behest of star Kyra Sedgwick (who you may also remember from our gallery of The 50 Hottest Female Cops on TV Shows). Immediately following the finale was the premiere of Major Crimes, an instantly pointless sequel series that retains something like 80% of The Closer's supporting cast, with recurring guest star Mary McDonnell now in the driver's seat.

If it were up to the executives at TNT, The Closer would be mapping out plans to take it through season 15 right now, but in honoring their star they've just contributed to the long list of just plain bad ideas. For some reason, TV suits are historically bad at letting good franchises die an honorable death, and the inherently thirsty spin-off is born.

For every Frasier (spun off of Cheers) or Angel (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), there are five more failures that take a character you liked on the original, or the OG series' main concept, and beat you over the head with it until the series is unceremoniously cancelled or manages to bamboozle audiences and execs alike and remain on the air for what seems like forever. We've collected the worst of both. Enjoy The 10 Worst TV Show Spin-offs.

10. The Cleveland Show (2009-present)
Parent series: Family Guy

We can never be mad at Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, for the good mostly outweighs his bad, but this one was a real headscratcher. It's not surprising that the suits would try and spin off a franchise as successful as Family Guy, but Cleveland of all characters, really? He was never funny!

His contribution to the series can be measured quite simply by this: Do you watch any episode post his departure and say, "This is kind of funny but, damn, where's Cleveland at?" Didn't think so. If his absence doesn't even register on his parent show, why give him his own series?

There is absolutely nothing new or innovative on The Cleveland Show that you can't get from Family Guy, and if it weren't for its lead-in audience it'd probably be cancelled by now.

9. The Ropers/Three's a Crowd (1979-1980; 1984-1985)
Parent series: Three's Company

Thirsty executives at ABC tried to squeeze blood from the stone not once but twice with the Three's Company franchise. First, they forgot that viewers only watched the show for comedian John Ritter's antics (and pull game) alongside his two hot roommates (Joyce DeWitt and Insert Hot Blonde), and assumed audiences would be interested in the senior citizen exploits of ex-landlord Mr. Roper and his randy wife. Surprise: They weren't.

Then, once Three's Company ended, they went the sequel route, following Ritter's Jack Tripper and his boo, Vicky, who was introduced during the final season of the original series. There was just one problem: Viewers wanted to see Jack the Tripper out here crushing these hos, not 'cuffed up.

Not to mention, the normal, domestic man and woman sitcom had more "sit" and way less "com" compared to Jack bouncing off of two platonic lady-friends. We see why they thought a sequel with Tripper would be a slam dunk, but the right pieces weren't in place.

8. Private Practice (2007-present)
Parent series: Grey's Anatomy

If a TV show is on the air but no one is around to watch it, does it actually exist? Look, we know someone out there is actually a fan of this Grey's Anatomy spin-off, which finds Kate Walsh's Addison (McDreamy's ex-wife) unleashing her Seattle Grace patented steely glare at a private wellness co-op in Los Angeles, because it's gone on this long, but if our lives depended on actually naming someone we know who watches this show, we'd be in trouble.

In addition to being less than hot in the streets, Practice barely even registers in the larger TV conversation. Save for a multi-episode arc a couple of years ago that dealt with the fallout of Xander from Buffy assaulting cast member KaDee Strickland, you'd be hard pressed to see news about this show pop up on your favorite entertainment site. In fact, we're betting that we just surprised a lot of you with the reminder that this show exists. And yet, season six will premiere this fall.

7. The Finder (2012)
Parent Series: Bones

"See, there's this guy, and he's, like, really good at finding stuff." That's all The Finder amounts to as a series, which is why it skipped endangered and went straight to extinct in a matter of months.

It's not as if Bones, the saccharine crime-science procedural from which Finder spun off, is much better, but at least it has likable leads and the anthropology angle usually gives the case of the week a cool "Yeah, Science!" twist. Finder has quite possibly the laziest procedural premise ever, compiling everything that seems to work on the likes of CBS—reclusive lead, hot law enforcement chick, lovable delinquent teen, black guy—into one lame pile.

Geoff Stults is wooden as Walter, the titular finder, who has all of those qualities the networks are convinced we like in a procedural lead: He's eccentric! He's quirky! His sense of humor hides a hidden darkness! Well, with the wrong actor, those all add up to a boring lead, which, on top of a boring premise, is a problem. Good luck finding your next job, Geoff.

6. Joanie Loves Chachi (1982-1983)
Parent series: Happy Days

Everyone loved Happy Days, CBS loved money, Joanie Loved Chachi, and nobody loved this show. Granted, a spin-off centered on Fonzie, the actual draw of Happy Days probably would've been a Joey-esque failure as well. But a sum total of zero people were clamoring for a series dedicated to this sickening simp affair. At least it gave Scott Baio a few more years of relevance and furthered his hit-list. Thank God for that.

5. That '80s Show (2002)
Parent series: That '70s Show

Sometimes we really wonder if a bunch of chimps would make smarter decisions than the network brass that green-light pointless crap like this. Apparently the suits at FOX figured That '70s Show was winning not because it had a great, hilarious cast, but because we were all just oh so in love with the series' other main character: the setting.

The decade informs the show, obviously, but FOX found out the hard way that the novelty of a period piece wears off quickly when it's got nothing else going for it. While not technically a spin-off, That '80s Show retained the same basic formula, same writers, and none of the success, with a bland cast that couldn't match even half the hilarity of Fez, Kelso, or Red. And, quite frankly, Chyler Leigh is no Mila Kunis.

4. The Tortellis (1987)
Parent series: Cheers

When Cheers ended in 1993, it spawned an unprecedented spin-off in Frasier, the bar regular and psychiatrist of the same name, who had received the least votes in a spin-off survey offered to audiences. It equaled Cheers with eleven seasons and equal, if not more, acclaim.

The Tortellis, on the other hand? Thirteen episodes and boo's across the board. Wait, viewers didn't wanna see the Vegas exploits of Carla's ex, Nick (Dan Hedaya), and his equally sleazy wife, Loretta? Shocker!

3. CSI: Miami (2002-2012)
Parent series: CSI

You know those parodies of television cops on SNL and the like? Well, David Caruso sure does. One look at his ridiculous, insta-caricature performance in CSI: Miami and it would seem that he studies every trope and cliché to get into character. Over the procedural's run he even created a few of his own.

Nobody sits down in front of a cop procedural expecting HBO levels of character work but there is simply no reason to choose Miami over the original on any given day, not when Caruso is hamming it up like a bad open mic comedian with his crime scene one-liners, or strutting around the 305 and managing to be that rare douche who actually makes sunglasses seem uncool.

Ten-season run notwithstanding, the procedural wave was set back a few steps in respectability when Horatio and his crew set up shop.

2. Joey (2004-2006)
Parent series: Friends

There are many reasons why most spin-offs are destined to fail, but if there's one classic mistake, it's this: Spin-offs or sequels routinely place the burden of lead on the shoulders of a fan favorite character from the ensemble or supporting cast that was simply not built to lead. There's a reason they kill every scene they're in: small doses. The comic relief in the sitcom or the foil in a drama is just one part of a larger machine. So why does every network make the fatal mistake of thinking that piece can run on its own?

Matt LeBlanc's dim-witted yet lovable paisan from the Friends gang embodies the Small Doses principle. The whole reason the original show worked for so long was that each of the six characters added up to one, at times flawless, whole. Really, none of them could have carried their own show, but boy was Joey the worst choice. Who thought audiences would be down to ride with the "How you doin'?" guy for a full half hour per week?

Maybe it could've been salvageable with a strong supporting cast, but even the likes of the great Drea de Matteo and Jennifer Coolidge couldn't turn the tin can into gold, word to Charlie Sheen. We're just amazed it actually got a second season.

1. Saved by the Bell: The College Years/The New Class (1993-1994; 1993-2000)
Parent series: Saved by the Bell

Wasn't it just the worst back in the day when, instead of the OG exploits of world renowned pimp Zach Morris, nerdy sidekick Screech, and dream-girl dime piece Kelly Kapowski, TBS would pull the rug out every Friday with a re-run of this snoozefest?

College Years is simply a rehash of the same shit (minus Lisa, Jessie, and Mr. Belding, plus a couple of wholly bland new people) but with diminishing results, because, well, lightning just doesn't strike twice. Sure, Screech is still hopeless, Zach still slays hos, and Kelly slays Zach's hopes and dreams while cavorting with older men, but it was all so unmemorable. Oh, and Slater discovered he was Latino, so there's that.

At least it retained most of the cast we loved in high school, whereas New Class kept Mr. Belding and added a whole new crop of kids that we instantly hated, with Screech as Belding's assistant from season two on. How this soulless sequel lasted seven years, we'll never know.

Tagged: ,