Sitcom Science
February 28, 2011 4:33 PM   Subscribe

The sitcom Mork and Mindy is a spinoff from the sitcom Happy Days. What makes Mork and Mindy seem unique among spinoffs is the fact that it, or more precisely its central character (Mork), is spun off from a single episode of the original program. Can you think of other examples of spinoff sitcoms that derive from a single episode of another show?
posted by Morpeth to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
TVTropes to the rescue! They call this poorly disguised pilot and have quite a long list under "Live Action TV"

(they aren't ALL from a single episode, but most of them are)
posted by brainmouse at 4:36 PM on February 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


There was an episode of CSI that required the team to fly to Miami to track down a missing girl. While there, they had to work with the cast of soon-to-be CSI Miami.
posted by phunniemee at 4:56 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


^ NCIS did basically the exact same thing
posted by radiosilents at 5:05 PM on February 28, 2011


also, NCIS -was- an example of that, from an episode of JAG.
posted by radiosilents at 5:06 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Love and the 'Happy Days'," from the TV show "Love: American Style?"
posted by doncoyote at 5:09 PM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks everyone. These are great examples, but I'm specifically interested in sitcoms. The golden age of spinoffs in the sitcom format was the 1970s and 1980s, a period which predates CSI and the franchise TV model.
posted by Morpeth at 5:12 PM on February 28, 2011


I was going to say Happy Days but doncoyote beat me to it. It also spun off from one episode of Love American Style. I think Laverne & Shirley might also have only been on one episode of Happy days before they spun off but maybe they were on more.
posted by interplanetjanet at 5:12 PM on February 28, 2011


IIRC, Simon and Simon was spun off from Magnum, P.I. in this manner. Not a sitcom, but has a fair measure of goofy 80s charm.
posted by Shohn at 5:23 PM on February 28, 2011


"Maude" was on one episode of "All in the Family" and then they had her in one more strictly in order to facilitate her own spinoff.
posted by GaelFC at 5:32 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, "The Brady Bunch" had that one episode, "Kelly's Kids," where their neighbors adopt three diverse boys. It was a sitcom pilot that didn't get picked up, but until that episode the Kellys were never seen on "The Brady Bunch" and they never returned again.
posted by GaelFC at 5:34 PM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Magnum, P.I. Was a spin-off from an episode of The Rockford Files.
posted by misha at 5:37 PM on February 28, 2011


The Tortellis was a spinoff of a (nearly) one-shot character from Cheers.
posted by sourwookie at 5:41 PM on February 28, 2011


If you're only looking for 70's and 80's sitcom examples, the abovementioned TV Tropes link mentions Empty Nest and The Facts of Life.

There's a suggestion that The Jeffersons also falls into this category, though I feel like George Jefferson was more of a recurring character than Maude was.
posted by Sara C. at 5:41 PM on February 28, 2011


Andy Griffith counts as a sitcom, too - spun off from a single episode of the Danny Thomas show.
posted by SMPA at 5:54 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Top of the Heap" was a spin-off from one episode of "Married with Children".
posted by macadamiaranch at 6:38 PM on February 28, 2011


This is called the "backdoor pilot". Lots of examples at TV Tropes, etc.

The Andy Griffith show was spun off from one episode of Make Room For Daddy, where Danny Thomas was stopped in Mayberry, a town so small the sheriff was also the justice of the peace, the mayor, and the editor of the paper - Andy Griffith himself, of course (the details were changed by the time actual filming started).
posted by peachfuzz at 6:55 PM on February 28, 2011


Buddies and Soul Man spun off from "Home Improvement" in this manner.

Blansky's Beauties spin off from "Happy Days" like that, too.

"Who's the Boss" spun off "Living Dolls"

"Top of the Heap" came from an episode of "Married...With Children".

Then there are the failed pilots that were produced as part of a series, but never went to series, like "Kelly's Kids", a one-off episode of "The Brady Bunch". The AV Club has a good article about the practice of backdoor pilots here.
posted by inturnaround at 7:30 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Getting Together (starring Bobby Sherman) spun off from an episode of The Partridge Family.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:22 PM on February 28, 2011


"Family Matters" was a spinoff of "Perfect Strangers," although I'm not sure whether Harriette and Carl appeared in more than one episode.
posted by Dr. Eigenvariable at 3:01 AM on March 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Speaking of Maude, Mrs. Florida Evans, the housekeeper, quit her job and we follow her life in urban Chicago (uh, no mention of how she suddenly was transported from urban New York to urban Chicago!) on the show Good Times.
posted by kuppajava at 7:12 AM on March 1, 2011


sourwookie: "The Tortellis was a spinoff of a (nearly) one-shot character from Cheers."

Nick Tortelli had appeared four times prior to The Tortellis getting picked up.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:38 AM on March 1, 2011


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