TV Surf Report: All Hail The Return of The Spinoff


Santa Monica, CA — Blame uber-producer Norman Lear for TV’s current trend of taking a successful series and creating a spin-off of that show.  In the ’70s, Lear created All in the Family for CBS which successfully spun off Maude, Good Times, and The Jeffersons.

Spinoffs Work.

CBS has reached back into its ’70s playbook with the premieres of two big Spinoffs: The first, Young Sheldon, is a spin-off of The Big Bang Theory, the number one comedy on broadcast TV. Iain Armitage from Big Little Lies stars as the younger version of Jim Parsons, who serves as both narrator and EP. The network gave a full-season pickup to this spinoff after the first episode premiered to big numbers.

The second, Star Trek: Discovery, is of course the latest in a long line of spinoffs of NBC’s Star Trek which is produced for CBS All Access by Paramount TV, a sister company of CBS in the Viacom empire. Jason Isaacs and Michelle Yeoh lead a very diversely cast ensemble crew in this prequel series which hinges on battles with The Klingons.


Aside from the glut of DC spinoffs on The CW, here are some notable Spinoffs in development and/or production:

  • House of Cards at Netflix. Multiple spinoffs in the works as series concludes in 2018.
  • Sabrina, The Teenage Witch at The CW. A darker contemporary version from the Riverdale universe.
  • Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists at Freeform. A few Liars move on to a college town, continue to lie and continue to get caught up in murder.  I. Marlene King adapts Sara Shepard’s best-selling book and EPs. Sasha Pietese and Janel Parrish star.
  • Suits at USA.  Gina Torres’ lawyer character gets her own series set in Chicago.
  • How I Met Your Father at 20th (and presumably CBS). Spin-off of How I Met Your Mother which made a cool $1b for 21st Century Fox, so why not.
  • Supernatural at The CW. Now in its 12th season, the women of Supernatural get their own show, The Wayward Sisters, where naturally, they will battle monsters.


  • Game of Thrones at HBO.  The pay cabler is developing no less than five spinoffs, prequels, successors of the mega-hit adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire & Ice series.  Max Borenstein (Kong: Skull Island) and Jane Goldman (Kingsman) are two of the scripters. Bryan Cogman, who has been with GOT since its beginning, pens #5 much to the delight of Martin. Bodes well for fans of Westeros. Brian Hegeland and Carly Wray are two others. Meanwhile, I am still waiting for Martin to finally publish Book 7, entitled, The Winds of Winter.
  • Mayans MC at FX.  Sons of Anarchy begets a new chapter.  I trust the creative brain trust at FX to get this right.
  • College-ish at Freeform. In another very synergistic move, ABC’s Black-ish spin-off is laid off at sister network, Freeform. Eldest daughter goes to college.  Sounds like A Different World, the collegiate spin-off from The Cosby Show. Could work…again.
  • Seattle Fire at ABC.  Shonda Rhimes spins off a firehouse drama from Grey’s Anatomy.  Series order. Stacy McKee scripts this ensemble drama. Gonna be hot.
  • The New Pope at HBO. Paolo Sorrentino begins a new chapter following the success of limited series The Young Pope starring Jude Law. One Pope too many?


Am sure there are more Spinoffs to come.  Some will work. Some will fail. For every Young Sheldon, there’s always an After-MASH.

Hey, that’s Show Business.

N E X T   U P:

My 53,000-mile TuneUp. An Unaffordable Care Act.


About Surfing Hollywood

Steve La Rue is an internationally recognized leader in Film & Television with 20+ years experience as a Development Executive championing such series as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Battlestar Galactica, and Farscape. He writes, blogs, and consults on All Things TransMedia from his home at the beach in Santa Monica, CA, where he balances his life by surfing every damn day.
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