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11 Spinoffs That Lasted Longer Than The Original Show

Since Better Call Saul takes place six years before we ever meet Walter White, there's no reason that Vince Gilligan's prequel can't last as long as Breaking Bad's five seasons (and if these long-running spinoffs are any indication, Better Call Saul could go the full six). Here's a look at some of TV's most successful spinoffs which ran at least as long -- if not longer -- than their origin series.


MAUDE / GOOD TIMES

The origin show: Maude (1972-1978), 6 Seasons
A spinoff itself (Maude was Edith Bunker's cousin on All in the Family), Maude starred Bea Arthur as an upper-middle class liberal feminist living with her fourth husband.

The spinoff: Good Times, (1974-1979): 6 Seasons
The Evans family lived in the projects of inner city Chicago, "keeping their head above water."

How did it become a spinoff? Esther Rolle played Maude's housekeeper, Mrs. Evans, and she proved to be such a popular character that she was given her own series. However, Maude never really addressed her departure and the two shows take place in different cities.

What made it so successful? Jimmy's catchphrase "Dy-no-mite!" became a pop culture phenomenon, changing the focus of the show from the struggles of Esther and her husband to the antics of the Evans children -- and TV audiences followed right after them.


LIQUID TELEVISION / BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD

The origin show: Liquid Television (1991-1994), 3 Seasons
MTV's showcase of animated shorts and music bites, Liquid TV was a cult fave in the '90s.

The spinoff: Beavis and Butt-head, (1993-1997, 2011): 6 Seasons
Two cartoon high-school flunkies critiqued live-action music videos which generally were either "cool" or "sucked."

How did it become a spinoff? As part of Liquid TV's animated slate that also included Aeon Flux, Beavis and Butt-Head spun into its own series when MTV asked creator Mike Judge, who did both voices, to develop his rock-loving losers into a series of 25-minute episodes.

What made it so successful? At the time, Beavis and Butt-Head was considered an edgy cartoon and although the two protagonists were a couple of idiots, the way in which Judge captured their idiocy was sharp and funny.


GOLDEN GIRLS / EMPTY NEST

The origin show: The Golden Girls (1985-1992), 7 Seasons
Blanche, Rose, Dorothy, and her mother Sophia, all single after years of marriage, became housemates, sharing friendship, laughs, and the trials of single senior life.

The spinoff: Empty Nest, (1988-1995): 7 Seasons
Dr. Harry Weston was a pediatrician widower living in Miami with two of his three adult daughters who continually tried to find their life partners and leave home.

How did it become a spinoff? The Westons were The Golden Girls' neighbors. Stars of The Golden Girlsmade various cameo appearances on the spinoff and, after the end of the origin show (and the end of additional spinoff The Golden Palace), Estelle Getty joined the permanent cast of Empty Nest.

What made it so successful? The well-played comedic irony was that Richard Mulligan's character should have been living in an empty nest, but his grown daughters wanted to find themselves a couple of men before they blew the coop. David Leisure, then of "Joe Isuzu" fame, was a fan favorite as smarmy neighbor Charley Dietz.


SOAP / BENSON

The origin show: Soap (1977-1981), 4 Seasons
The trials and tribulations of sisters Jessica Tate (Katherine Helmond) and Mary Campbell (Cathryn Damon) and their families were chronicled in a comedic sendup of the soap opera genre.

The spinoff: Benson, (1979-1986): 7 Seasons
Benson DuBois (Robert Guillaume) was hired to run the Governor's mansion but may as well have been running the state itself.

How did it become a spinoff? After season two, Benson left the Tates to work for Jessica's cousin -- who just happened to be the Governor.

What made it so successful? Guillaume's charm and ability to be the smartest guy in the room translated well to his own vehicle, and the ensemble cast came together to create a winning comedic combination.


DIFF'RENT STROKES / THE FACTS OF LIFE

The origin show: Diff'rent Strokes (1978-1986), 8 Seasons
Wealthy Manhattan widower Philip Drummond adopted the two sons of his deceased maid from Harlem.

The spinoff: The Facts of Life, (1979-1988): 9 Seasons
Boarding school housemother Edna Garrett tended to schoolgirls while they grew into young (and very funny) women.

How did it become a spinoff? In the final episode of Diff'rent Strokes season one, the Drummond's maid, Mrs. Garrett, did a stint sewing costumes for the school play at East Lake School for Girls, after which she was asked to work at the school permanently.

What made it so successful? The personality clash between Jo Polniaczek (Nancy McKeon) and rich girl Blair Warner (Lisa Whelchel) contributed greatly to the show's success, along with its quippy, witty dialogue. And, though often doling out morality plots, the characters were always funny and likable (plus, having one of TV's catchiest theme songs certainly didn't hurt either).


PERFECT STRANGERS / FAMILY MATTERS

The origin show: Perfect Strangers (1986-1993), 8 Seasons
The surprising arrival of Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot) from the island Mypos to his cousin's bachelor pad (Mark Linn-Baker) infringes upon "coosin" Larry's newfound privacy as the two bond and learn from each other's cultures.

The spinoff: Family Matters, (1989-1997): 9 Seasons
The lives of police officer Carl Winslow (Reginald VelJohnson) and his family are turned on their heads when they open their home to hip, street-smart Mother Winslow (Rosetta LeNoire), with frequent visitations by nerdy nuisance neighbor, Steve Urkel (Jaleel White).

How did it become a spinoff? Harriette Winslow (JoMarie Payton) worked at the Chicago Chronicle newspaper where Larry and Balki went to work in 1987. Her husband, Carl, was a police officer who appeared in the Perfect Strangers episode, "Crimebusters." (A bit of small trivia: Larry and Balki were originally planned to have appeared in the pilot episode of Family Matters before it was cut.)

What made it so successful? Did somebody ask, "Did I do that?" The initial idea was for an African-American family comedy revolving around the Winslows. But ratings for the spinoff were nothing to write home about until the appearance of Jaleel White as the nerdy neighbor, Urkel.

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