‘The Golden Girls’ Universe Ran for Nearly 20 Years and Included 3 Other TV Shows

The Golden Girls might be one of the most recognizable shows in all of American television history. The characters are loved, the jokes still induce a chuckle, and you can bet that a rerun will be playing at any given time you turn on your tv set. The four-leading ladies encompassed everything we hope for our own life-long friendships and though the show ended decades ago it still feels relatable to its loyal fan base. 

‘The Golden Girls’ stand the test of time

Betty White, Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty are still making people laugh despite the fact that the last episode of The Golden Girls aired in 1992. While we now can enjoy shows like Grace and Frankie, which showcase the humor of an older demographic of both viewers and actors, The Golden Girls was revolutionary. Starring four single women in their “golden age,” The Golden Girls tapped into a part of society that typically isn’t talked about and certainly wasn’t laughed about. A show detailing how women age and maintain their friendships, love lives, and intimate encounters hadn’t been part of the comedy scene before, but viewers and critics alike loved the sitcom.

Since The Golden Girls was so popular, it only made sense that the network would try to capitalize on its popularity by creating a spinoff. The Golden Girls influenced three separate shows, though none of them were as successful as the original.

‘Empty Nest’

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Empty Nest was the story of Dorothy, Sophia, Rose, and Blanche’s neighbor, Harry Weston. Weston was a widowed doctor whose daughters had all left home but at the beginning of the series, two of his adult daughters moved back home. Debt-ridden Barbara Weston was a police officer who hoped moving home would help her pay off her debts, while her sister Carol had recently gotten divorced and moved home, so she didn’t have to live alone. Empty Nest may not have been the best title for the show, but the irony wasn’t lost on the audience who hoped to see some Golden Girls crossover appearances.

Luckily for viewers, Empty Nest and Golden Girls initially were aired back to back on network TV and often had characters dropping by each other’s homes in their corresponding episodes. In fact, during later episodes, Dorothy’s mother Sophia appeared on Empty Nest as a regular. Sophia had become a resident of the Shady Pines Nursing Home again and it was also near the Weston home. According to Empty Nest TV, Empty Nest aired for seven seasons and has at least 10 episodes featuring crossover characters from The Golden Girls.

Nurses

Continuing to piggyback on the popularity of The Golden Girls, a third show titled Nurses was added. This series took place at the hospital where Harry worked. Since all three of these sitcoms aired on the same network it was common for there to be massive crossover appearances. For instance, in an episode where a giant hurricane ripped through Miami, Sophia was stuck at the hospital, so she appeared on Nurses. Likewise, as the other Golden Girls were hunkering down at home to withstand the storm Doctor Harry Weston stopped in on an episode of The Golden Girls to get supplies and check on the women.

When The Golden Girls went off the air, these crossovers stopped. It’s not because the crossovers were bad, but because The Golden Girls sequel, The Golden Palace, aired on a different network. Nurses lasted for three seasons before being canceled.

The Golden Palace

When The Golden Girls went off the air in 1993, it soon returned in the form of Golden Palace on CBS. The series begins right after Dorothy marries and moves away. The three remaining Golden Girls buy and attempt to run a Miami hotel. After only a single season, The Golden Palace was canceled because without the fourth Golden Girl it simply didn’t have the same appeal.