Spin-off shows can be hit or miss. Some spin-off shows have completely surpassed its original in terms of popularity (i.e., The Simpsons was a spin-off of a variety show called The Tracey Ullman Show). Meanwhile, others completely failed and were canceled after just one season. Then there are those that were proposed and never got off the ground – leaving us to wonder ‘what could have been’ forever more.
Teen TV faves like Gilmore Girls and Gossip Girl almost got companion shows, as did cult classics like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural, Charmed and more. Warning: some of these will give you a serious case of the “what ifs.” Who knows? In an alternate universe where all these shows were picked up, one might be your favorite TV show ever.
19. The Americans : Paige Spin-Off
The Americans aired its final episode in spring 2018 and almost immediately, there was talk about a possible spin-off show cropping up. Following Holly Taylor‘s character, Paige, the lead actress herself said she’d be interested in making that a reality. However, the co-creators of the show decided to nix the idea and leave The Americans as is. “We feel it’s done,” said Joe Weisberg, one of the showrunners.
18. How I Met Your Mother : How I Met Your Dad
You probably remember all the reports that HIMYM was getting a female-centered spin-off after that disappointing final season. CBS ordered the show and it was to have a completely new cast but a similar premise to the OG. Sally, Juliet, Danny, Todd, Frank, and Gavin were the new characters’ names – and Greta Gerwig played the lead (with Meg Ryan voicing the older version). However, CBS ultimately rejected some of the casting decisions – after it had been shot – and demanded they try again. The creators said they only would with a 13-episode guarantee. CBS couldn’t agree to those terms and thus, the spin-off show was ultimately scrapped… after it had already been shot!
17. Friends : GIRLFRIENDS
The Friends spin-off Joey was very, very bad. But over ten years after the first spin-off got canceled, in 2017, Lisa Kudrow was reportedly in “serious talks” about bringing her most famous character back to the small screen as a middle-aged divorcée still living in Manhattan. However, this wasn’t the first time a Phoebe Buffay show was proposed. Back in 2003, there were reports that Lisa and Aisha Tyler would bring their Friends characters to another show about them as roommates. Probably would’ve been better than Joey, but who knows?
16. The Office : The Farm
Rainn Wilson wanted to keep Dwight Shrute alive after The Office wrapped, but it seemed NBC wasn’t as keen to do so. The episode “The Farm” served as a backdoor pilot for the proposed spin-off show that would focus on Dwight and the rest of the quirky characters on Shrute farm, but the network ultimately decided to pass on it as a whole. Sadly, it just wasn’t mean to be!
15. The Simpsons : Krusty
The Simpsons‘ 28-year run was bound to have a couple spin-off shows proposed, and one of them was Krusty. Matt Groening, the creator of Homer and the gang, wanted the new show to be live action and he wrote the pilot episode with Michael Weithorn that showed Krusty the Clown moving to L.A. in hopes of making it big. Ultimately though, it was the decision that it had to be live action that caused the show to fail as certain jokes just couldn’t play with IRL people in the roles.
14. Undeclared : Eric’s POV
After Freaks and Geeks was prematurely canceled, Judd Apatow created Undeclared, which has since found itself a cult following. The final episode of that show was titled “Eric’s POV” and it was meant to serve as a backdoor pilot for another spin-off show starring Jason Segel. However, Undeclared had already been canceled by the time the ep aired, making the new show unlikely. It never panned out, Judd went on to be more successful with his movies, and Jason found his most iconic TV role on How I Met Your Mother a few years down the line.
13. Who’s the Boss? : Mona
’80s sitcom Who’s the Boss? aired for eight seasons and during that time, there were actually THREE different proposed spin-offs. The first came from its season two episode “Charmed Lives” and showed Fran Drescher and Donna Dixon as single women in the workforce during the ’80s. The second focused on WTB?‘s Mona running a hotel with her brother in NYC. Ultimately, ABC decided that the OG show couldn’t go on without Mona and canceled the spin-off, putting what they’d already filmed into a Who’s the Boss? season three episode. The third proposed spin-off was a success. It was called Living Dolls and starred Leah Remini, Michael Learned, and Halle Berry.
12. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. : Marvel’s Most Wanted
There are enough Marvel shows on air to last a lifetime – but there was almost one more. An Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spin-off called Marvel’s Most Wanted was pitched, cast, and even partially filmed when ABC decided to kill the project. Focused on Adrianne Palicki‘s Bobbi Morse and Nick Blood‘s Lance Hunter, Jeffrey Bell and Paul Zbyszewski, who worked on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., were tapped to write and executive produce the new show.
11. Gossip Girl : Valley Girls
Die-hard Gossip Girl fans will remember a prequel episode that aired during the second season of the show with Brittany Snow and Kristen Ritter. It was meant to act as the first episode of an ’80s-set show focusing on Serena van der Woodsen’s mom, Lily, her older sister, and their adventures in L.A. after Lily gets kicked out of school. It was also supposed to connect Gossip Girl with The O.C. – the two shows had the same creator and he planned on having early versions of all his characters interact. However, The CW never picked up the show and it ultimately only served up some pretty major continuity errors in future GG episodes to come.
10. Gilmore Girls : Windward Circle
Yeah – there almost was a Jess Mariano spin-off show to come out of Gilmore Girls. The season three episode “Here Comes the Son” was meant to be a backdoor pilot for a show focused on Milo Ventimiglia‘s character’s journey in California as he’s getting to know his father. However, filming on location in Venice Beach proved to be too expensive, and executives didn’t think Jess was popular enough with Gilmore Girls‘ audience to pull them into another show. Little did they know how popular he would become!
9. Game of Thrones : Age of Heroes Spin-Off
Don’t fret. Just because George R.R. Martin confirmed this particular Game of Thrones spin-off show was not coming to HBO doesn’t mean there aren’t several others in the works. Jane Goldman was set to write a prequel television series that took place during the Age of Heroes, an era frequently referenced in the GOT universe but one that took place long before our favorite characters existed – we’re talking thousands of years prior. However, George confirmed that series was axed by HBO and moving to a potential movie version, and said another one of the proposed prequels was shelved indefinitely – though he didn’t identify which one. All GOT spin-offs are kept under lock and key with very little information about what they would include given to the public, so you can’t really miss something you never had.
8. Doctor Who : Rose Tyler: Earth Defence
Doctor Who fans were pumped to learn there was a spin-off in the works starring Billie Piper continuing her character, Rose Tyler. However, the series producer Russell T. Davies confirmed that it would never come to fruition – and that they’d never even officially offered the role to Billie! Doctor Who execs decided that having a spin-off show where you knew exactly what was happening with Rose Tyler would have ruined the original show. Russell told Doctor Who Magazine, “It spoils Doctor Who if we can see Rose… if we see as a concrete fact that her life continues to be as exciting without the Doctor.”
7. Star Trek : Assignment: Earth
Believe it or not, a big dip in ratings caused many to believe that Star Trek would be canceled after its second season, but fan support and outreach saved it from near-cancellation. Before that happened, the creator Gene Roddenberry was looking for a new project in case Star Trek was pulled off-air. Enter: Assignment: Earth, originally a completely unrelated TV show about a time traveler who ensures that the history of Earth goes as it should. When Gene realized the premise didn’t totally work on its own, he adapted it to be a part of the Star Trek universe and aired it as a backdoor pilot during the season two finale. However, the show was never picked up. The lead character Gary Seven has appeared in other Star Trek stories, but he never got one of his own.
6. Buffy the Vampire Slayer : Ripper
Everyone knows the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off, Angel. But what you might NOT know is that there was another spin-off in the works for some time that focused on Giles’s younger years as “Ripper.” In 2001, it was in talks to become a BBC miniseries. Later, it was said to be coming in the form of a TV-movie. Joss Whedon then said it would be a two-hour DVD special.
In the end, we didn’t get anything. But Anthony Stewart Head, who played the older Giles, said this about the series: “Originally, when [Joss Whedon] pitched it to me, it was a series, and it was Giles as this sad, lonely man in England without a real reason to be. It was pretty much ghost stories. Week by week, some ghost story would somehow affect him. Then he said he didn’t want to. By that time, I think he had been affected by Angel, the need to write a weekly story. I think he found at that point the drive was different, so he suggested this one film that we were going to make. He told me this story that he had written, and it’s absolutely beautiful, and I hope that one day it gets made, whether it’s in the guise of Ripper or whether we just tell it as a one-off TV movie. It’s a lovely, lovely story. It’s kind of a ghost story. It’s also about a man investigating his own soul, and it’s fascinating, lovely, sad, and it’s classic Joss Whedon. I hope we get to make it one day.” Still waiting…
5. Sabrina the Teenage Witch : Witchright Hall
Netflix scooped up The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, but back during Sabrina the Teenage Witch‘s original run, there was almost a spin-off show. Sabrina’s younger cousin came to visit during a season five episode of the show (played by Melissa Joan Hart‘s IRL sister, BTW), and it was meant to be an introduction to a character who could lead her own show titled Witchright Hall about a boarding school for the magically-inclined. Charles Shaughnessy would also be in it playing the headmaster. After all that, The WB passed on the series and it never came to pass.
4. Smallville : Mercy Reef/Aquaman
This is Smallville‘s Aquaman spin-off that almost was. There were several rumors about what it would have been called, but what was confirmed is that it would be based on Aquaman from the DC comics and it stemmed from Smallville‘s season four episode “Aqua.” It was scheduled for a fall 2006 release and starred Justin Hartley as Aquaman, Lou Diamond Phillips, Denise Quiñones, Adrianne Palicki and more. They filmed the pilot and things were looking good – until The CW decided not to pick it up. Justin still made his way onto Smallville, though, and played the Green Lantern/Oliver Queen in later seasons.
3. Charmed : Mermaid
Remember that Charmed episode when Phoebe Halliwell becomes a mermaid? It wasn’t meant to be a backdoor pilot but after fans loved the ep, the show’s executive producer Brad Kern began pitching Mermaid as a Charmed spin-off. It was written and filmed in Miami, and Brad and the cast thought there was a good chance it would get a series order once The WB saw it. However, during the network’s merger with UPN to become The CW, there were several shows that got the axe, and this spin-off was one of them.
2. Supernatural : Wayward Sisters
One of the most recent spin-off shows that was DOA is Supernatural‘s Wayward Sisters. They aired the backdoor pilot in January 2018 and were feeling hopeful – Supernatural has a huge cult following and has been on-air for 13 seasons without a spin-off show yet? Seems only natural they’d try one out. It was the story of a group of female orphans who’d all been struck by tragedy at the hands of something supernatural. Kim Rhodes had been cast as the lead.
But then Andrew Dabb, one of the creators of Supernatural and Wayward Sisters, announced that the premise wouldn’t be moving forward on Twitter. “It breaks my heart to say this, but CW has chosen to pass on Wayward Sisters. We love these characters, and have spent almost two years trying to make this show a reality on the network… but there are some fights, sometimes, you can’t win,” he wrote. “I want to thank everyone involved in this entire process, from our fantastic crew, to our amazing cast, and, most of all you. Your passion for this idea fueled us, and we wanted so much to make this happen for you. I’m so sorry we couldn’t.” It’s not the only time a Supernatural spin-off has been canceled before it even aired…
1. Supernatural : Bloodlines
Set to be a series premiering in 2014, The CW ultimately decided to give this spin-off the boot, as well. It was to be set in Chicago, and a ninth season episode served as the backdoor pilot. Starring Lucien Laviscount, Nathaniel Buzolic, Danielle Savre, Melissa Roxburgh, Sean Faris, Stephen Martines, and Bryce Johnson, all were left looking for new work when Bloodlines didn’t get the go-ahead. Nathaniel ended up sticking with The CW, though. His role as Kol Mikaelson took him to The Vampire Diaries, its spin-off The Originals and a web series called The Originals: The Awakening.