4 of TV’s Most Successful Midseason Replacements

Most of the excitement over new television series comes during the fall, when networks unleash a string of fresh programs for viewers. But that’s not the only time they introduce new dramas and comedies. Midseason replacements are exactly what they sound like — programs that first premiere during the middle of a TV season and take the place of other programs that were cancelled or moved to a different time slot.

There have been a lot of clunkers where midseason shows are concerned. But every now and then, networks find a series with legitimate staying power. Here are four TV shows that started midseason and stuck around.

1. The Jeffersons

This All in the Family spinoff, starring Isabel Sanford and Sherman Hemsley as the titular couple and former neighbors of Archie Bunker, premiered on January 18, 1975, and ran for 11 seasons on CBS. Set in Manhattan, the sitcom followed the couple and their teenage son as they lived a lavish lifestyle in their deluxe high-rise. But it also tackled controversial topics, including racism, illiteracy, and gun control. The Jeffersons is considered by many to be a classic sitcom and can still be seen on DVD and in syndication.

2. Married… with Children

Married… with Children was never a ratings winner, but it maintained a loyal fan base throughout its 11 seasons on the air. First airing on April 5, 1987, it has the honor of being the first primetime television series from Fox. Starring Ed O’Neill, Katey Sagal, Christina Applegate and David Faustino, Married… with Children followed the Bundys, a middle-class family led by its dim-witted patriarch, Al (O’Neill). Due to its frequently adult-themed content, the series faced issues with advertising and boycotts. Still, it remained a TV staple for many until the late 1990s.

3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The concept of this cult hit spawned from the 1992 film of the same name, which bombed big time at the box office. But Joss Whedon’s teen horror series, about a California girl who finds out she’s the Chosen One, was a big improvement on its predecessor. It had smart dialogue, plots that related high school horrors (dating, isolation) with monsters and demons, and featured a stellar cast of up-and-coming talent, including Sarah Michelle Gellar, Seth Green, David Boreanaz, and Alyson Hannigan. Buffy premiered on March 10, 1997, and lasted for seven seasons — five on The WB, and two more on The CW. It also spawned a spinoff, Angel, and countless books and comics.

4. The Office

Arguably one of the best-known sitcoms of the 21st century, the U.S. version of The Office first aired on March 24, 2005. The series plays like a documentary as a camera crew follows the daily trials and tribulations of the employees at the Dunder Mifflin paper company. The Office was known for its absurd and deadpan humor and memorable characters, including regional manager Michael (Steve Carell), awkward Assistant to the Manager Dwight (Rainn Wilson), and coworkers-turned-couple Jim and Pam (John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer, respectively). The series aired for seven seasons, though it got off to a slow start both with critics and viewers. It eventually became the highest-ranked scripted series on NBC and earned widespread praise and acclaim.