The humorous X-Files spinoff
Amidst the spooky aliens and supernatural investigations, three characters (ironically) called “the Lone Gunmen” provided comic relief throughout the run of The X-Files. They appeared from time to time to point out to agents Mulder and Scully the many different, bizarre, secret conspiracies that really made the world go ‘round. The tertiary characters were so popular that in 2001 Fox asked X-Files creator Chris Carter to make The Lone Gunmen, a standalone series. The much more comedic take on the X-Files universe didn’t gain wide support and was quietly canceled after 13 little-watched episodes.
The Diff’rent Strokes spinoff about a divorced radio host
McLean Stevenson had a good thing going and he had to go and ruin it. Audiences loved him on M*A*S*H as Col. Henry Blake, but after three seasons with the show, he wanted to move on to other things. His character was killed off, and Stevenson starred in multiple short-lived flops, such as The McLean Stevenson Show, In the Beginning, and Hello, Larry. The latter was introduced in 1979 as a spinoff of the extremely popular Diff’rent Strokes. Stevenson popped in as an old friend of Philip Drummond (Conrad Bain), who then headed to Portland, Oregon, to work as a talk radio show host after recently getting divorced. Think Frasier but not as good or popular. It was critically maligned, and for a while became a frequent butt of Johnny Carson monologue jokes. After 38 episodes, it was goodbye, Larry.
The Melrose Place spinoff about models
The rich-teen soap opera Beverly Hills, 90210 was one of the first big hits for the Fox network. In 1992, producers set up a spinoff, Melrose Place, which took place at an apartment complex where all the residents were exceptionally good-looking and had soap opera problems. That, too, was a hit, and so in 1994 the spinoff spun-off a spinoff called Models, Inc. It was about a Los Angeles modeling agency head up by the mother of Heather Locklear’s Melrose Place character. Despite following the same formula as its predecessors (wealthy, attractive, dramatic people), the show finished 113th in the ratings for the 1994-95 season and was canceled.
The Flintstones clone set in Ancient Rome
It’s not a direct spinoff, per say, but The Roman Holidays owes its brief life to “the modern Stone Age family.” The concept of an animated sitcom set in ancient Bedrock led Hanna-Barbara to produce a very similar sitcom called The Jetsons, set in the distant, technology-driven future. In 1972, after both shows had ended their runs, the animation studio tried to use the formula again with this show about a family set in Rome, circa the year 60. It lasted just 13 episodes on NBC’s Saturday morning schedule.