The prospect of a Breaking Bad spinoff, in the form of Better Call Saul, is both exciting for Breaking Bad fans and a bit nerve-wracking. The halls of television history are littered with bad spinoffs. Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan himself was even responsible for one: the X-Files spinoff The Lone Gunmen. Then of course are the good spinoffs everyone remembers were spinoffs. Buffy had Angel, Grey's Anatomy has Private Practice, The Practice had Boston Legal. And finally there are the spinoffs that stand alone. That you forgot were, well, spinoffs.
The Andy Griffith Show (1960-8) was a spinoff of The Danny Thomas Show. Griffith's character Andy Taylor was introduced in a 1960 episode, when he stopped that show's protagonist to give him a ticket.
The Jeffersons (1975-80) was a spinoff of All in the Family, though it was just one of many All in the Family spinoffs, including Maude which in turn produced Good Times. Before George and Weezie moved to their "deluxe apartment in the sky" they were the Bunkers' neighbors in Queens.
Laverne and Shirley (1976-1983) was a spinoff of Happy Days. Laverne and Shirley were originally dates for Richie and Fonzie. Meanwhile, Happy Days—which generated a number of other spinoffs as well—was an expansion of an episode of anthology series Love, American Style.
The Facts of Life (1979-88) was a spinoff of Diff'rent Strokes. Charlotte Rae's Edna Garrett was a maid for the Drummonds before being den mother to all those girls.
Fraiser (1993-2004) was a spinoff of Cheers. Before moving to Seattle Dr. Fraiser Crane was a patron of Cheers, along with his then-wife Lilith.
NCIS (2003-) was a spinoff of JAG. CBS' insanely popular show was, yes, indeed borne from the series about naval lawyers.
It's hard to imagine Better Call Saul standing on its own the way these shows do. Perhaps that's because there's so much pressure on it, considering how highly Breaking Bad is regarded. Or perhaps that's because successful spinoffs tend to arise from sitcoms. But hopefully these examples can provide some measure of hope, for us and AMC.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.