There has been no shortage of terrible TV-show spin-offs over the years. Remember Joey, which followed the least interesting character on Friends? How about Joanie Loves Chachi? The surfeit of awful derivative series make it that much more depressing when a spin-off we really, really want to happen never makes it past the pilot stage. After the jump, we take a look at 10 spin-offs that sounded promising but never made it to primetime. Tell us which ones you’d add in the comments.
Ripper (a spin-off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
It says something that there is an entire Wikipedia page devoted to “Undeveloped Buffy the Vampire Slayer Spin-Offs.” At one point, there was an animated series in the works, as well as shows about Buffy’s vampire-slayer rival, Faith, and another about a school for slayers, based on a story line from Buffy‘s final season. But we were always most excited about Ripper, a spin-off starring one of our two favorite characters, Rupert Giles. (The other, obviously, is Willow.) Conceived as a BBC miniseries, it would have followed Buffy’s learned watcher through his lonely years of occult experimentation in Britain, in what would amount to a new spin on a classic genre: the English ghost story. Although all sorts of obstacles have emerged to thwart Ripper, from Whedon’s Dollhouse responsibilities to the difficulty of securing character right for the BBC, it also seems that no one has ever conclusively stated that it’s off the table.
A Twin Peaks spin-off about Audrey Horne
Of all the characters on Twin Peaks (yes, even Agent Cooper), it was Sherilynn Fenn’s dark, beautiful, and strange Audrey Horne who we found most fascinating. There have always been whispers that David Lynch wanted to spin off a series about her, but the plan never got off the ground. Happily, Audrey lived on in Lynch’s work; according to IMDb, she provided inspiration for Naomi Watts’ role in Mulholland Drive.
A Seinfeld spin-off starring Jackie Chiles
Whether you love Seinfeld or find it overrated, you have to admit that its bizarre troupe of recurring characters was second to none. One of our favorites was Jackie Chiles, the Johnnie Cochran-like attorney who teamed up with Kramer for some of the show’s most ridiculous courtroom moments. It turns out that Phil Morris, who played Jackie, wanted to develop a spin-off around the character after Seinfeld wrapped. As much as we would have loved to see that, it never got past the idea stage. Thankfully, that wasn’t the last we heard of Jackie — about a year ago, Morris reprised the role in a series of Funny or Die videos.
Veronica in the FBI (a spin-off of Veronica Mars)
Veronica Mars was one of those great high-school shows that just didn’t know what to do with its characters when they got to college. So, despite being one of the network’s few critical successes, The CW put the girl-detective series on hiatus midway through its third season and then canceled it after airing a disappointing final few episodes. Devastated fans soon learned that creator Rob Thomas had a plan for digging Veronica Mars out of its college-years hole: fast-forwarding the story four years, to Veronica’s first day on the job at the FBI, for a drama that would follow her life as an undercover investigator. Although Thomas and star Kristen Bell made a lengthy and promising trailer for the show (which you can watch above), the clip never made it further than the Veronica Mars Season 3 DVD. Rumors of a feature film or comic book revival of the character continue to swirl, but since Thomas has mostly moved on to promising a Party Down movie, we’d be surprised to see either come to fruition.
A live-action Simpsons spin-off about Krusty the Clown
It’s kind of incredible, when you think about it, that The Tracey Ullman Show spin-off The Simpsons has been around for so long — and been so popular for most of that run — without ever spawning a spin-off of its own. In fact, a few ideas for derivative series have been floated over the years. There was Tales from Springfield, which was to focus on the city’s non-Simpsons characters, and Matt Groening wanted to make Simptasia — yes, a Simpsons version of Fantasia. But the scrapped idea we find most intriguing is the live-action Krusty the Clown spin-off that surfaced in the mid-’90s and would have starred Dan Castellaneta (who voices Krusty, Homer, and many other Simpsons characters). Groening and a co-writer even wrote a pilot for the show, but development fell apart in the contracts-negotiation stage.
Mystik Spiral (a spin-off of Daria)
Apparently, the appeal of Jane Lane’s Jakob Dylan lookalike brother, Trent, among Daria‘s core teen-girl audience was not lost on the show’s producers. After that show went off the air, a spin-off following Trent’s band, Mystik Spiral, was reported to be in the works. But then MTV Animation, the network’s animation production company, was closed (and presumably replaced by the folks who brought us Snooki and Speidi). The Mystik Spiral pilot script finally saw the light of day as a special feature on the Daria DVD boxset that was released last year. According to DariaWiki, the episode found Trent and his band moving in together, under the guidance of a new manager, and would have been a sort of “surreal” satire of the music industry.
Mirrorball (a spin-off of Absolutely Fabulous)
We have, in the past, fantasized about an Absolutely Fabulous prequel that followed Edina and Patsy in the ’60s. But we would have taken Mirrorball — an AbFab offshoot that would have featured all of the main actors (Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, and Jane Horrocks) from the show playing all-new characters. In the pilot, which aired on the BBC in 2000, Saunders and Lumley played a pair of pathetic, past-their-prime actresses struggling to revive their flagging careers. Apparently, fans couldn’t adjust to seeing the cast in new roles, and the series was never picked up. AbFab went back into production soon after — and, thanks to the magic of British television, the show will be resurrected yet again early next year.
Clarissa Now (a spin-off of Clarissa Explains It All)
Another spin-off that never went further than airing a pilot, Clarissa Now was supposed to move the beloved Clarissa Darling from the Nickelodeon demographic to CBS’s grown-up audience. The show would have followed budding reporter Clarissa to an internship at a schmancy New York City newspaper, trying to get in good with her boss and possibly romancing an attractive colleague. Although CBS never picked it up, the pilot did air a few times on Nick; you can watch it and dream of what might have been above.
A Roseanne spin-off about Roseanne Conner
After the incredibly popular Roseanne went off the air after nine seasons, Roseanne Barr intended to keep playing her namesake, Roseanne Conner, in a show that may or may not have included other characters from the original series. The sitcom’s strange finale certainly left the door open for Barr to completely change her protagonist’s circumstances. Unfortunately, Roseanne‘s production company, Carsey-Werner, wasn’t able to reach an agreement about the show with ABC. Although The New York Times quoted an executive as saying it would be picked up by another network ”within a matter of days,” that clearly never happened.
Deadwood CSI (Cocksucker Investigations)
OK, this was never actually going to happen. But Ian McShane, who played Deadwood‘s foulmouthed antihero, Al Swearengen, joked about it in the series DVD’s audio commentary, and we have been laughing about it ever since.