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TV Show Spin Offs That Were Canceled Immediately

When TV Networks discovered the potential of sitcom and drama spinoffs, they knew they had something huge. They were able to take the magic and popularity of a show and use it to create an entire new, and potentially lucrative, product. And the modern history of TV is full of success stories of spinoffs. If you’re a fan of shows like Mork and Mindy, The Facts of Life, The Colbert Report, Frasier, Better Call Saul, or Law & Order: SVU, then you’re a fan of a spinoff. Because all of those shows spawned from another successful series.

Yet for every spinoff that works, there are others that don’t. Networks love throwing money at spinoffs because there’s already a built in fanbase for the parent shows. So it’s theoretically easier to get a spinoff off the ground. But fans can be fickle. They don’t’ simply want regurgitated content, with a slightly different marketing campaign. For a spinoff to work, the show itself has to be good, regardless of how much it takes from the original show. Today we’re looking at some of the biggest failures when it comes to spinoffs.  So join us, as Facts Verse presents, TV Show Spin-Offs That Were Canceled Immediately!


Fans of The Mary Tyler Moore Show were likely thrilled in 1975, when they found out about this spinoff. Created by Ed Weinberger & Stan Daniels, Phyllis starred legendary comedic actress Cloris Leachman. It also starred Henry Jones, Jane Rose, and Lisa Gerritson, among others. The show followed Phyllis’s move to San Francisco with her daughter, Bess, after the death of Phyllis’ husband Lars. And of course, since it was a sitcom, Phyllis and Bess move in with their in-laws. Phyllis begins working in a photography studio as an assistant, and the show was off and running.

What’s perhaps most interesting about this failed spinoff is that it wasn’t a failure at all. After it began airing, it was immediately a top ten hit. Leachman was not only nominated for an Emmy for her work on the show, but she also won a Golden Globe for acting in a comedy series. Phyliss was, overall, the 6th highest rated show in 1975, and even outranked its parent show, The Mary Tyler Moore show.

So what happened? Well, the demise of Phyllis had a lot more to do with personnel and logistics than of bad ratings. For starters, the show suffered a traumatic blow early on, when cast member Barbara Colby was murdered. She played the owner of the photography studio, and was replaced by actress Liz Torres. So perhaps that was a sign that the show was not destined to last long.

In its second season, the plot of the show was revamped, with Phyllis going to work for a San Francisco City Supervisor. This sudden change made the show slightly less popular, though it still was doing okay. Then two more cast members died – Judith Lowry and Burt Mustin. That, combined with the fact that actress Jan Rose became severely ill, meant that the show was constantly having to rejigger plots and storylines simply based on who was available to act. As a result, the show lost its foothold on the excellent work (and ratings) it had enjoyed. And yet, it still finished higher in 1976 than the other Mary Tyler Moore spin off, Rhoda, and was even tied with its parent show that year as well. Nevertheless, it got the axe after only two seasons.

The Ropers

Three’s Company was a monster hit in the late ’70s and early ‘80s. So it was no surprise when ABC decided to create a spinoff starring two of its characters: Stanley and Helen Roper. The two had played landlords of Jack, Chrissy, and Janet on Three’s Company, and were fan favorites. It followed the middle aged couple, as they sold their building (where Jack and crew lived) in order to move to a more ritzy area of Los Angeles – Cheviot Hills. The two were immediately fish out water, with Stanley making no attempt to try to fit in with the glamourous and stuck up neighbors, and Helen doing everything she could to make that happen. And of course, Stanley’s lack of wanting to fit in only made Helen more and more embarrassed.

The show starred Normal Fell as Stanley, and Audra Lindley as Helen, and despite their popularity as Three’s Company characters, never found an audience. It aired on March 13, 1979, and was cancelled by May 22, 1980. A big part of the issue was a scheduling change. The show started out on ABC’s Tuesday night lineup, which was a night that did very well for the network. But for some reason, they decided to move The Ropers to Saturday night. That caused plummeting ratings for the show. It didn’t help that it was directly opposite the monster hit, CHiPS. Fell reportedly even showed up at ABC’s corporate HQ to ask personally for a better time slot. They denied the request. The shows inability to climb back up in ratings after the time slot move meant that the network couldn’t keep it on the air, and it was summarily cancelled. The sad part was that Fell and Lindley weren’t even allowed to cimply return to Three’s Company. The network had already replaced them, and didn’t want to go back on that decision. Fell later said he thought the nextork actually waited a while before cancelling The Ropers, so they didn’t have to contgractually bring Fell and Lindley back to Three’s Company.

Of course, all of the issues of the show were also due to its quality. Which is to say, it wasn;t great. Time Magazine put it at the #2 slot in their list of “Top 10 Worst TV Spin-Offs” oin 2002. And TV Guide went a step further, calling it the 49th worst TV series ever.

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Gloria was actually a spinoff of a spinoff, which makes it less surprising that it never really found its audience. It was spun off of Archie Bunker’s Place. That show was a continuation spinoff of the legendary sitcom, All In The Family. Gloria started up in late 1982, and was done by early 1983. Sally Struthers was in the titular part, continuing her role as Gloria Stivic, the daughter of classic character, Archie Bunker.

In it, Gloria was forced to move from California to New York, after her husband, Michael “Meathead” Stivic, left her and began living in a nudist commune. Gloria brings her son Joey along with her and moves in with her widowed dad. Gloria takes up a job working for two veterinarians, one of whom happens to be her landlord.

This is another case of a failed spinoff that didn’t actually suffer in the ratings. In its first seasons, Gloria was rated 18th. But it appears that internal strife in the “All in the Family” family led to it being nixed. The original pilot, which was created by veteran producers and writers from All in the Family and Archie Bunker’s place, was rejected by CBS. They instead aired it as a back door pilot – aka an episode of Archie Bunker’s Place that was supposed to springboard into the new show later on. But this rankled Archie portrayer Carroll O’Connor, who decided not to be involved with Gloria after that. And the rest of the production staff from Archie Bunker’s Place was reportedly kept from being involved in the new show as well. This bad blood and lack of continuity led to CBS calling it quits on the show after one season, despite doing well in the ratings.


ABC decided to take the magic from its hit show, Bewitched, and try to get it to continue with its spinoff, Tabitha. The show began on September 10th, 1977, and starred Lisa Hartman as Tabitha. Tabitha was the daughter of Darrin and Samantha Stephens, the leads of Bewitched. Like her mother, Tabitha is a witch, living amongst mortals. And, in a burst of creativity, the writers of the show decided to have her work as a production assistant at a TV station in LA. Other cast members include David Ankrum, who played Adam, her brothers, as well as Karen Morrow as her nosy aunt, Mel Stewart as her cantankerous boss, and Robert Urich as a talk show host with a healthy ego. His character and Tabitha’s character have a romantic interest as well.

The show was pretty much a failure from the start. While Bewitched was a huge hit, lasting seven seasons, audiences didn’t find that same spark and appeal in its spinoff. Tabitha didn’t even make it one full season, having been cancelled after only 11 episodes.

These spinoffs were all created with high hopes, only to fail in the end. And not solely because of bad ratings. Sometimes it’s network infighting, other times it’s bad luck that causes spinoffs to fail.

Now it’s time to hear from you. Did you ever watch any of these spinoffs? Do you think spinoffs should get more of a chance to see if they’ll get more of an audience, considering they are coming from a successful parent show? Or should they get cancelled as quickly as any other show that’s not performing? Let us know in the comments below. And before you go, be sure to give this video a like, and subscribe to Facts Verse if you haven’t already. Click the bell icon to stay updated on all our latest content.

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