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Original shows vs. spin-offs

As we all know, TV shows are judged on their popularity. The more popular the show, the higher the ratings. Higher ratings often lead to a longer airtime for the show. While this is paramount, there is an added benefit to a show’s popularity that can be easily overlooked. If a particular TV show gains a lot of interest, there is a distinct possibility that someone will try to create a spin-off of that show. A typical spin-off is based on well-loved characters or premises from the original series. The producers further develop these characters and situations, attempting to capitalize on their substantial popularity.

Creating a whole new show starring all the audience’s favorite characters will also increasing the original series’ ratings and profits. Sounds like the perfect option, right? Not always. With most attempted spin-offs, it can be a hit-or-miss. So, based on this, is it better to stick with the show you know and love, or is it better to give it a new dimension?

There are certain shows that have become so engrained in our culture that everyone knows them. Whenever the hit sitcom “Friends” is mentioned, people can almost hear its iconic theme song. They can see Monica and Ross bickering or Phoebe singing a strange new song about her cat. The show ran for 10 seasons and won upwards of 20 different awards. It was one of the most popular shows of the late ’90s and early 2000s.

After the final “Friends” episode aired in 2004, NBC decided to keep the momentum going by airing a new spin-off show called “Joey.” This show followed lovable goofball Joey Tribbiani as he moved to LA to pursue his acting career. It looked promising at first, but as more episodes aired, the ratings continued to drop. Eventually, the show was cancelled after barely two seasons. Given how popular “Friends” was, following that was a tall and impossible order. This is where other spin-offs seem to run into trouble as well — they can’t get out of the original series’ shadow.

However, that isn’t to say that all spin-offs will run into this problem. There are quite a few that have held their own against the original series. A prime example is “Chicago Fire.” In 2012, NBC aired this series that follows the lives and struggles of a tight-knit group of Chicago firefighters. Now in its fifth season, this series has won audiences over with its heroic and heartfelt characters.

Since this is a show about firefighters, the group is often shown interacting with various emergency personnel, such as police officers and doctors. In doing so, the series introduced a number of interesting characters. The interest in these new characters spawned not one, but two spin-offs. In 2014, NBC aired a series called “Chicago PD.” Likewise, in 2015, they aired another called “Chicago Med.” Each of these spin-offs have become just as popular with audiences as “Chicago Fire.” In fact, the characters often cross over into episodes of each series.

Given the two very different outcomes of the spin-offs described, it would be difficult to say that there is one type of series that is clearly better. For spin-offs, just like with the original series, it comes down to character development. Whether or not a spin-off can carry the popularity of the original series is up to how the creators put the shows together. Because of this, the scale could easily be tipped in either direction.