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TV spinoffs are strange beasts, as they can center on anything from different cities’ crime scene investigation units to one-off characters branching out in a new setting through a backdoor pilot. But since we’d prefer to stick with established characters over new ones, our favorite spinoffs tend to revolve around beloved people doing the things that made us like them in the first place. (Sorry, Joey, but you don’t count.)
With news that the Bud Bundy-centered Married…With Children spinoff is rolling along ever so slowly, we decided to look back at 11 other TV standouts whose lives we’d love to catch up with, mostly with the original actors taking on the roles of course. Better Call Saul proved that quality doesn’t have to suffer from one iteration to the next, and we’re pretty sure every one of these would make the fall TV season a better one.
Cristina Yang (Grey’s Anatomy)As one of the Grey’s Anatomy characters who remained interesting and non-forced throughout the ten years that she was on the show, Cristina Yang killed some series momentum when she decided to move to Zurich to head a hospital there. It would be interesting to have an entire series dedicated to her that also shined some kind of light on how the medical profession works in Switzerland. And if she still has Gaius Charles’ Dr. Shane Ross working under her, it’s all the better. Of course, Sandra Oh is the one who decided to leave the show, so she might not be up for a spinoff, but we’ll remain Oh-peful.
Phyllis Lapin-Vance (The Office)Even though The Office as a whole got long in the paper tooth after nine seasons on NBC, the killer ensemble of actors managed to keep their characters both relevant and enjoyable. Phyllis Smith’s kind-hearted and slightly sassy Phyllis Lapin-Vance is just such a character, and her overall arc is a perfect fit for a follow-up. She got married to Bob Vance (of Vance Refrigeration), which created what will forever be one of TV’s most lovable couples, and she’s one of the characters who didn’t get very many side stories within the show beyond mentions of a long-lost daughter. Let’s see what kinds of non-havoc Phyllis and Bob are causing these days, perhaps far away from cubicled settings.
Claire Fisher (Six Feet Under)It’s not all that often a TV show will host a spinoff for a character whom audiences watched die within the flagship series, but since Six Feet Under famously depicted everyone’s deaths in its heartbreaking finale, this can be an easy exception. Claire lived to the ripe old age of 101 and spent her life as an award-winning photographer and photography teacher in New York. As the youngest of the Fisher siblings, Claire had the most growing and maturing to do, which seemed to kick off when she started dating lawyer Ted. I would love to see how adult Claire balances her emotion-fueled idealism with the drive to become successful doing what she loves. Cameos from Michael C. Hall and Matthew St. Patrick wouldn’t hurt, either.
Woody Boyd (Cheers)Rarely does a major TV character get replaced by someone just as engaging and memorable, but that definitely happened when Woody Harrelson joined the cast of Cheers following Nicholas “Coach” Calasanto passed away. Woody seemed like the biggest goofball in the bar, but he was interestingly as mentally competent (if not more so) than everyone around him. By the end of the series, he was on the Boston City Council and was expecting a kid with his wife Kelly. I can’t imagine where Woody would be 23 years later, or how much fatherhood and his career would have changed him, but I will watch literally anything with Harrelson in it. Maybe he opened up his own bar…
Sookie St. James (Gilmore Girls)Everybody likes to talk about how much they want a Gilmore Girls reunion to happen, but I’m personally not that invested in Rory and Lorelai’s stories anymore. What my life needs is more Sookie, the culinary queen played by Melissa McCarthy, an actress whose level of fame has eclipsed her Gilmore Girls years several times over, making this spinoff idea arguably the biggest longshot on this list. A standard sitcom with Sookie, Jackson and their three kids would probably be a little too much like her current show Mike and Molly, so my hopes would be that Amy Sherman-Palladino would bring her and Jackson back in a food-related scenario. Bandanas included.
Leon Black (Curb Your Enthusiasm)It’s no small feat to enter a comedian-filled show like Curb your Enthusiasm and immediately become one of the most engaging characters onscreen. But that’s exactly what J.B. Smoove did when he entered the show during Season 6 as Hurricane Edna refugee Leon Black, who moved in with Larry and kind of changed the curmudgeon’s life forever with his signature outlook on life and the world around him. We may never get Larry David back for Season 9 of Curb, but spending more time with Leon (and possibly the rest of the Black family) would be a perfect kind of silver lining. HBO needs to get in that ass for a Leon spinoff.
Vince Masuka (Dexter)Now that everyone has largely stopped giving a shit about Dexter Morgan’s fate following Dexter’s dreadful finale, we can focus all of our attention to C.S. Lee’s sex-adoring forensic science investigator Vince Masuka. As one of the main forms of comic relief on a series that dealt with death and serial killers, Masuka also managed to imbue a certain amount of heart and kindness that doesn’t often come from characters who speak predominantly in double entendres. I would totally be down for a Hello Ladies-ish series where audiences follow the sexual foibles of the brainy tech as he develops his relationship with his daughter.
Paul Pfeiffer (The Wonder Years)We’re never going to get a proper Wonder Years reunion, which is fine, since that show’s approach and impact was largely tied to the time period, the Arnold family and the voiceover work. However, there’s nothing wrong with a show dedicated entirely to best friend Paul and where his life is now – and I’m assuming “now” would be in the 1990s. Of course, Josh Saviano quit acting after The Wonder Years ended and focused on a law career, returning for guest spots on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in 2014 and 2015. But I’m perfectly fine with Paul being a lawyer in this fictional future, perhaps starting up a firm with the “real” Josh Saviano. Double up!
Paulie Walnuts (The Sopranos)While we usually want to see where characters end up after a series is over, nothing sounds better than a prequelized spinoff centered on The Sopranos’ Paulie Gualtieri, better known as Paulie Walnuts. We want to see Paulie’s early years in the criminal underworld as a vicious debt collector, where he and a crew of low-level mobsters spend each week using their verbal and physical skills to try and collect arrears from different people from a variety of backgrounds. We realize that it’s near-blasphemy to get someone besides Tony Sirico to play Paulie, but maybe the show could have a wraparound where present-day Paulie is telling someone else about the old days. We’ll leave the specifics to David Chase.
Bill Haverchuck (Freaks and Geeks)Even though it could be assumed that Martin Starr’s character on Silicon Valley is a grown-up version of his Freaks and Geeks character Bill Haverchuck, I like to think that Bill wouldn’t have become such an angst-mongering tool later in life. Arguably the biggest geek in the show, Bill also felt the most genuine, balancing his wide-eyed semi-innocence with a sense of humor that was beyond his years, and I would hope that his ascent to adulthood would find him in a similar state of mind. Maybe he’s roommates with Samm Levine’s Neal Schweiber as the duo try to market a role-playing board game that they created.
Zapp Brannigan (Futurama)I would gladly take a spinoff series from any Futurama character, as well as several new seasons of the show itself. But I’ve always been interested in seeing the intergalactic trials and tribulations of the womanizing Zapp Brannigan, and I would love to either watch the character’s rise up the military ranks to becoming a 25-star General, or just catching up with him in the modern day for a non-serialized series of over-the-top space missions, during which he is shunned by the female sex and eventually saved from his own stupidity by his right-hand alien Kif. The only necessities here are voice actor Billy West and really short costumes.
Head to the next page and let us know which of these spinoffs you’d want the most.
Which Character Do You Want To See Get A Spinoff?