There are several movies and scores of TV shows that ended up being far more successful and entertaining than the show or film they initially spun off from. Some of these programs and series were meant to be spin-offs and were merely introduced through another film or show while other spin-offs occurred organically based on the stellar performances by supporting characters.
Abbott & Costello
Bud Abbott & Lou Costello first appeared on the silver screen in the 1940 motion picture release “One Night in the Tropics.” “One Night in the Tropics” was a typical B-type movie with a complicated romance, a few song and dance numbers, and the occasional comic relief. In this film, Abbott & Costello were the comic relief and the only aspect of this move that has prevented it from fading into the relative obscurity many of the lesser movies of the time period have sunk into.
During the flick Bud & Lou offer up “Who’s on First” in an abbreviated format and a few more of their famous routines. While the movie may have helped launch the Hollywood career of Abbott & Costello, they went on to do numerous quality films that were exceedingly better productions than “One Night in the Tropics.”
Ma & Pa Kettle
Ma & Pa Kettle first appeared as secondary characters in the film “The Egg and I” which starred Claudette Corbert and Fred MacMurray as first time farm owners trying to learn the ropes In a rough and tumble home. Pa Kettle, portrayed by Percy Kilbride, popped over to borrow some boards and some nails and everything else he needed for a project he likely wouldn’t complete. Ma Kettle, played by Marjorie Main, was also in the film minding the passel of Kettle children, the oldest of which worked on the new neighbors farm. “The Egg and I” remains a classic film, but it is safe to say that more people enjoy it for its introduction of the endearing Kettle family than for its original storyline.
“The Andy Griffith Show”
“The Andy Griffith Show” had its launch tied into an episode of “The Danny Thomas Show” in which Thomas ended up in the Mayberry County Jail where Andy Taylor was the sheriff. “The Andy Griffith” show only went on to film 8 seasons compared to the 11 seasons “Make Room for Daddy” had, but Mayberry and Andy as well as his deputy Barney, aunt Bee, and son Opie went on to become pop culture and symbols of Americana in a class of their own.
“The Honeymooners,” Classic 39
“The Honeymooners” where never really a spin-off per se as they were a mainstay on “The Jackie Gleason Show”, but they did “spin-off” into their own 30-minute television show in the 1950s. Despite only having filmed 39 episodes in its only season, “The Honeymooners” is a legendary program and is afforded a highly favored place in classic TV libraries. Jackie Gleason went on to do many other projects in his career up until his death in 1987, but he will always be Ralph Kramden in many people’s eyes.
All four of these projects ended up far eclipsing the shows or movies they spun-off of, either in immediate popularity or delayed recognition brought about by the years that have passed since their immediate release.
“One Night in the Tropics.” IMDB.com.
“The Egg and I.” IMDB.com.
“The Danny Thomas Show.” IMDB.com.
“The Andy Griffith Show.” IMDB.com.
Jackie Gleason. IMDB.com.