Since the beginning of television history, networks have always loved spinoffs. While new shows present a risk, spinoffs are safer, allowing the network to tap into an existing fanbase. CBS did this recently with Young Sheldon, but spinoffs have been around for decades now. While some are flops, there are many that are so successful that people forget they weren’t the original shows.
Before The Big Bang Theory, here are some of the shows that inspired hit spinoffs.
In Season 8 of the legal drama JAG, two back-to-back episodes take a detour to focus on the Naval Criminal Investigative Service as they look into the murder of a lieutenant. That episode served as the introduction to what became a wildly popular spinoff: NCIS.
This backdoor pilot on JAG aired in April 2003, and NCIS began in September of that year. Though NCIS is its own show, a few characters who were introduced on JAG would later appear on it. Most notably, Patrick Labyorteaux’s Bud Roberts shows up in Season 1, and he later returns in Season 14. That latter episode aired over two decades after he was introduced on JAG.
NCIS ended up becoming an even bigger hit than its predecessor. It remains one of the most-watched shows on TV, regularly beating out The Voice and This Is Us. It’s currently airing its 15th season and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
Next: This sitcom spawned a spinoff that’s so popular that people sometimes forget it’s a spinoff.