- Disney Channel
After much hype, “Girl Meets World” was recently canceled by Disney Channel.
An updated continuation of the hit ’90s sitcom “Boy Meets World,” the spin-off had a lot going for it. Not only did it air on the hit-making Disney Channel, it featured the return of several stars from the original show and started the exploration of growing up from a young girl’s point of view. But for whatever reason, it didn’t come together for viewers.
Though they don’t always take off, spin-offs aren’t necessarily a bad idea. If a show is doing well, it’s logical to networks and studios that a related series would be a draw for viewers.
But despite the research and talent involved, creating a hit isn’t always so predictable, to the chagrin of executives.
The TV graveyard is full of failed spin-offs that should’ve been hits. And for every “Better Call Saul” that’s chugging along fine, there are many spin-offs that never capture anything close to the glory of their predecessors.
Here’s a look at 10 other failed TV spin-offs that really should’ve done better:
“Joey” (NBC spin-off of “Friends”)
So “Friends” is one of the most-watched shows of all time, and it’s coming to an end after 10 seasons. NBC needs to keep the heat going and decides to create a new series featuring Joey (Matt LeBlanc). It would follow him to LA as he worked on his acting career. Sounds like a solid plan, right?
But fans apparently didn’t care about Joey without his friends. The show survived its first season, but was canceled midway through its second season with lowered ratings. The remaining episodes would go unaired.
“The Apprentice: Martha Stewart” (NBC spin-off of “The Apprentice”)
It was 2005 and Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice” was averaging 16 million viewers a week. NBC saw an opportunity in a spin-off with domestic diva Martha Stewart. The show, which was shot while Stewart was on house arrest for white-collar crime, didn’t catch on with viewers and was canceled by NBC after its first season.
“Caprica” (Syfy spin-off of “Battlestar Galactica”)
The love for “Battlestar Galactica” didn’t end when the show did in 2009 (the remake, not the original 1978 series). Sadly, there wasn’t as much interest in the prequel spin-off “Caprica” when it aired in 2010. As a result of low ratings, Syfy pulled the show with five episodes yet to air.
“Law & Order: LA” (NBC spin-off of “Law & Order”)
After 20 seasons of its successful “Law & Order” series, NBC must have been hit hard by its absence after the 2010 finale. So just months later, it debuted “Law & Order: Los Angeles,” though Los Angeles would be changed to just LA later.
But fans didn’t take the leap to the city of angels with the series. NBC scheduled it every which way and saw nothing work. It also underwent some casting shakeups that included Skeet Ulrich leaving and Terrence Howard joining the show. Still, nothing worked.
So the network canceled the show in 2011, about one year after the original “L&O” series aired its final episode.
“The Real Housewives of DC” (Bravo spin-off of “Real Housewives” franchise)
With four successful “Real Housewives” series under its belt, Bravo wanted to keep extending the brand. “Real Housewives of DC” would become the first canceled series of the franchise after airing one season in 2010.
What went wrong? The easier question to answer would be “What went right?” The worst part was the inclusion of Michaele and Tareq Salahi, the infamous White House dinner-crashers. The circus surrounding that incident would make it really hard for the show to be about anyone else.
The second big problem was the setting itself. “Real Housewives” depends on its cast behaving badly, but the residents were so hyper-aware of their reputations in DC that they weren’t natural at all.
“Living Dolls” (ABC spin-off of “Who’s the Boss?”)
In the late ’80s, the Tony Danza and Judith Light comedy “Who’s the Boss?” was doing really well on ABC. At the same time, supermodels had become the nation’s biggest obsession. So why not create a show focusing on one of daughter Samantha’s (Alyssa Milano) best friends from “Who’s the Boss?” after she gets discovered by a modeling agent?
Despite the fact that young Leah Remini and Halle Berry starred on “Living Dolls,” critics and viewers saw very little they liked in it. ABC canceled it after 12 episodes in 1989.
“Ravenswood” (ABC Family spin-off of “Pretty Little Liars”)
- ABC Family
It was 2013 and the characters of “Pretty Little Liars” were approaching their high school graduation. ABC Family (now called Freeform) probably felt it should expand its most watched brand for the day “PLL” ended. Enter “Ravenswood,” which pulled Tyler Blackburn’s Caleb into the life of a mysterious girl in need of help and a neighboring town with long-hidden secrets.
It’s actually quite mind-boggling that “Ravenswood’s” ratings were as low as they were, as “PLL” fans are rabid about the show and anything connected to it. It probably left many network execs scratching their heads. The show was canceled after its first season in 2014.
“The Lone Gunmen” (Fox spin-off of “The X-Files”)
Fox had the biggest sci-fi show on TV, but it was beginning to wind down. So it decided to let the show’s creators come up with a good spin-off. Chris Carter and team would then create “The Lone Gunmen,” which featured three nerdy investigators who would help Agent Mulder (David Duchovny) from time to time.
Despite good reviews, audiences didn’t tune in. Fox had to cancel the series after just 13 episodes.
“Top Chef: Just Desserts” (Bravo spin-off of “Top Chef”)
How many times have competitors on “Top Chef” complained during a dessert competition that they aren’t pastry chefs?
Spin-off “Top Chef: Just Desserts” seemed like a great response to that complaint. Why not have pastry chefs compete just like their savory-lovin’ colleagues?
It would seem like a hit with “Top Chef’s” foodie audience, but the show only aired for two seasons from 2010 to 2011 and, poof, gone.
Bravo, in its infinite lack of desire to be frank about these things, hasn’t actually said the show’s canceled. But it’s safe to say that its pilot light has gone out.
“The Golden Palace” (CBS spin-off of NBC’s “Golden Girls”)
Imagine how influential “Golden Girls” still is now and what it meant to those involved when Bea Arthur, who played Dorothy, walked away from the show in 1992.
The remaining ladies believed in it so strongly that they signed on to “The Golden Palace” and jumped from NBC to CBS. On the spin-off, Dorothy’s mother, Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty), Rose Nylund (Betty White), and Blanche Devereaux (Rue McClanahan) decide to invest in and run a Miami hotel.
The series debuted well, but would soon succumb to lowered ratings against the powerful ABC Friday-night comedy block. It aired one season and then was canceled in 1993.