Spin-offs are hit and miss. When done right, they have the ability to raise the bar on an already popular show and elevate a supporting character to small-screen glory. When done wrong, they’re a blemish on an otherwise popular franchise.
As proven by Joey, it takes much more than a beloved character to make a recipe for success. Which is perhaps why so many spin-offs are chucked on the slush pile by the TV gods before even making it to our screens – like the ten you’ll find below.
These are the spin-offs of iconic TV characters that could have been.
1. The Doctor – Doctor Who
Yes, she already has her own show. But before the BBC commissioned The Sarah Jane Adventures, the network came this close to introducing your kids to the Time Lord with a show focusing on her boyhood. Think The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, but with more bow ties.
However, Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies exterminated the idea before it even made it to the writers’ room, stating: "Somehow, the idea of a 14-year-old Doctor, on Gallifrey inventing sonic screwdrivers, takes away from the mystery and intrigue of who he is and where he came from."
2. Faith – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Just like you were either a Dionne or a Cher, at school you were either a Buffy or a Faith. It’s a Chosen One thing. Although Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer focused on its titular character as the almighty hero of Sunnydale, there were talks of the mysterious second slayer getting her own spin-off.
Not only was Eliza Dushku’s Faith the antihero of the show, but she was the anti-Buffy – living life on the edge with spontaneity and spunk. Would she have held her own in a standalone show? Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) we’ll never find out.
3. Trent Lane – Daria
When MTV’s Daria left our screens, breaking our sardonic black hearts in the process, the producers reportedly got to work on Mystik Spiral – a cartoon follow-up centring on the emo heartthrob Trent and his band of the same name. Trent’s voice actor, Alvaro J Gonzalez, said the show would have involved the band embarking "on a cross-country tour shredding riffs and experiencing all that life on the road has to offer".
What a gloriously gothy road trip that would’ve been – but alas, with the closure of MTV Animation in 2002 came the closure of this pipe dream and Mystik Spiral was dropped. We can only imagine how the news impacted Trent’s mood swings.
4. Phoebe – Friends
It's probably a good thing a Phoebe spin-off never happened, considering what a shambles Joey turned out to be. Friends fans were given some misguided hope last year when US tabloid In Touch claimed that the character’s star Lisa Kudrow was in "serious talks" with the sitcom’s co-creator Marta Kauffman for her own pseudo-sequel.
However, these rumours were quashed when a spokesperson confirmed to Digital Spy that the actress "is not" working on any such project. There goes hopes for more from Smelly Cat and the Ruddmeister.
5. Worf – Star Trek
Talks of a standalone Worf show have circulated for years, ever since the popularity of the Klingon security officer in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. Although it hasn’t happened yet, the character’s actor Michael Dorn continues his hope for the project he pitched to CBS years ago.
In a recent interview, he explained that Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Worf Chronicles (what a mouthful) would follow a now-Captain Worf as he commands his own Starship alongside his girlfriend. "I think this Worf thing would be perfect – I mean, really perfect," said Dorn.
"It’s just a matter of getting the phone number of the right guy or getting the email of the right person that can actually get you in there. It’s a little early in the game right now, but I still think there’s hope for it."
If it were to happen, no doubt the fandom would be delighted, Captain.
6. Audrey Horne – Twin Peaks
Any David Lynch fan worth their salt will know that the original concept for Mulholland Drive started out as a Twin Peaks spin-off about the sultry and misunderstood Audrey Horne. In a 2014 interview, the actress who played the character, Sherilyn Fenn, revealed: "The Audrey spin-off that would’ve come about, it really ended up being the original idea for Mulholland Drive...
7. Peggy Olson – Mad Men
A sizeable chunk of AMC’s success is arguably down to its three TV juggernauts – Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and Mad Men. The first has enjoyed an unexpected continuation with Better Call Saul, while the middle has dragged its undead heels for a relentless overkill of episodes (and soon to be movies, too).
Mad Men, though, has remained relatively untouched – although that would have been very different had the network gone through with a talked-about spin-off of the '60s set drama, focusing on girlboss Peggy Olson, played by the glorious Elisabeth Moss.
Lionsgate TV COO Sandra Stern said: "There was a time we wanted a Peggy spin-off, too, and, a la Better Call Saul, a minor character going off to LA. Matt [Weiner, Mad Men creator] wasn't comfortable committing to a spin-off." Which is a shame – Peggy is just the kind of badass the world needs right now.
8. Jackie Chiles – Seinfeld
A number of ideas for Seinfeld spin-offs have floated around the Hollywood rumour-mill ever since the sitcom left our screens back in 1998. One of those centred on Jackie Chiles aka the fast-talking Johnnie Cochran-esque lawyer who bagged Kramer (Michael Richards) a settlement for spilling hot coffee on himself.
The courtroom scenes involving Jackie and Kramer are some of the funniest in this Marmite of a show, which is why fans were excited when the actor who portrayed him, Phil Morris, expressed interest in a standalone show. It’s probably a good thing it never happened – our sides couldn’t handle it.
9. Clarissa – Clarissa Explains it All
Clarissa Explains it All was one of Nickelodeon’s shining stars, so obviously it’s getting a reboot. But long before talks of a revival were made, a pilot episode for a spin-off centring on Melissa Joan Hart’s character and her teenage woes was developed for CBS back in 1995. Unfortunately, the network said NOPE and Clarissa Now was scrapped before it even began. Womp, womp.
10. Krusty the Clown – The Simpsons
The Simpsons has been chugging along since 1989, so unsurprisingly a fair few spin-off ideas have made their way to the fore over the years. One of those ideas was a live-action show focused on Krusty the Clown, simply titled Krusty.
Along with King of Queens creator Michael Weithorn, Matt Groening went as far as to write a pilot script about Krusty moving to LA to host a talk show. However, after running into some difficulties, he decided to scrap the idea. Here’s what he had to say about it:
"We had this running joke in the script that Krusty was living in a house on stilts and there were beavers gnawing their way through the stilts. But somebody at the network pointed out how expensive it was to hire trained beavers – and an equally prohibitive cost would be to get mechanical beavers – so I said, 'If we animated this, we wouldn’t be having this discussion'."
Talks of an animated version didn’t last, and Groening soon moved on to develop his wildly popular Futurama. Sorry about that, Krusty.
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