spin-off in film and television is a fascinating concept and prevalent practice that merits understanding. As audiences, we often become so engrossed in the characters and their narratives that we yearn for more, even when the original story has concluded. This is where spin-offs come in, further satiating our curiosity and desire for extended narratives.

What are Spin-Offs

What does spin-off mean?

Now that we've established a brief understanding of the role spin-offs play in film and television, let's delve deeper into their precise definition and explore some notable examples.


What is a spin-off in film and TV?

A spin-off is a captivating new series, film, or any form of media content that emerges directly from an existing series or film. It delves deeper into the narrative of a secondary character, exploring their journey, backstory, and motivations. Additionally, spin-offs can also revolve around a specific storyline or delve into the intricacies of an expanded universe derived from the original material. These spin-offs enrich the overall storytelling experience, offering fans a chance to explore new facets of their beloved fictional worlds.


Why Spin-Offs Happen:

  • Audience Demand
  • Creative Opportunity
  • Fresh Creative Direction

What are Spin-Offs Defined By?

Characteristics of a Spin-off

Spin-offs are a fascinating phenomenon in the entertainment world. These spin-offs typically share the same universe or reality as the original content, but they concentrate on different aspects, bringing fresh perspectives and exploring new storylines. 

Focus on Beloved Characters 

Spin-offs often revolve around a beloved character from the original series. They delve into their backstory, offering a deeper understanding of their motivations, experiences, and personal journeys.

Expansion of the Universe 
While staying within the same fictional universe, spin-offs take us to different locations, offering a broader view of the story's world. It's a chance to explore new settings, cultures, and storylines that exist parallel to the original content. An example of this in full force is the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
What is a Spin Off in Film & TV — Definition & Examples Marvel Cinematic Universe

Marvel Cinematic Universe

Retention of Stylistic Elements 

To maintain continuity and appeal to the existing fan base, spin-offs often retain similar stylistic elements or themes from the original. This allows fans to immerse themselves in the familiar atmosphere while still experiencing something new and exciting.

Spin-offs provide an opportunity to expand the narrative, deepen character development, and introduce fresh perspectives within a well-established universe. With their unique blend of familiarity and novelty, spin-offs continue to captivate audiences and add new layers to the stories we love.


Why spin-offs happen

Spin-offs are a common occurrence in the world of entertainment, driven by two primary factors: audience demand and creative opportunity. These spin-offs provide a fresh perspective on beloved characters and storylines, offering audiences more of what they crave.

Rather than rely on sequels and prequels alone, spin-offs provide the same "IP opportunity" with less risk (perhaps) of fatiguing interest in the original. Hobbs & Shaw is a spin-off from The Fast and the Furious franchise that focuses more on those side characters in the same universe.

Audience Demand

Spin-offs are often created to appease fan demand and cater to an existing audience. When a popular series or movie ends, fans are left with many unanswered questions.

The emergence of spin-offs offer them the chance to explore these storylines more deeply, allowing them to find new answers and greater understanding.

What is a Spin Off in Film & TV — Definition & Examples Fantastic Beasts · What Does Sping Off Mean

Fantastic Beasts  •  What Does Spin-Off Mean?

Creative Opportunity

Spin-offs also provide creators with the chance to take a fresh creative direction that diverges from the constraints of the original series. This freedom allows for experimentation and innovation, breathing new life into familiar narratives.

Rogue One, for example, was an opportunity to expand the Star Wars universe not just in plot but in genre as well. While the main films in the canon are built as fantasy adventure films, Rogue One functions more like a heist film

Expansion of Narrative 

Spin-offs provide an opportunity to expand the narrative and explore new avenues, deepening our understanding of characters and settings. From exploring alternate timelines to discovering hidden secrets, spin-offs offer a chance to see familiar stories in different ways.

Spin-offs are driven by the desire to give audiences more of what they love while providing creators with the creative freedom to explore new possibilities. Going back to Rogue One, it was a chance to explain one of their more intriguing but unexplained aspects of the original film — how did the Rebels actually get their hands on those Death Star plans?

What are Spin-Offs in Film and Television?

Examples of Spin-offs

Now let's explore concrete spin-off examples in film and television. These successfully expand beloved stories, introducing new characters and plots while preserving the familiar essence. They enrich the original story world by exploring new territories and perspectives.

Better Call Saul 
This successful spin-off of Breaking Bad focuses on the character Saul Goodman, providing a backstory to how he became the lawyer for Walter White. It exists in the same BB universe, of course, but the show has a distinct look, feel, and tone.
What is a Spin Off in Film & TV — Definition & Examples Better Call Saul · What is a Spin Off Series

Better Call Saul  •  What is a Spin-Off Series?


A spin-off from Cheers, this sitcom followed the life of psychiatrist Frasier Crane after he moved back to his hometown of Seattle. While still a sitcom, the setting and locations were most new, finding the title character is his own environments beyond the bar from the original series.

Creed is a spin-off from the Rocky franchise, following the journey of Adonis Johnson, the son of Apollo Creed, Rocky Balboa's former rival and friend. Helping to connect this spin-off to the original is the character of Rocky himself — no longer the boxer but having assumed the role of trainer, a fitting and symbolic way of passing the torch onto new lead Michael B. Jordan.
What is a Spin Off in Film & TV — Definition & Examples Creed · What is a Spin Off Movie

Creed  •  What is a Spin-Off Movie?

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 

A spin-off from the Harry Potter franchise, it explores the magical universe decades before Harry's time. With such rich world-building in the original Potter films, going back to answer so many questions was a real opportunity for filmmakers and fans alike to deepen their love for the story.

The Mandalorian

This series is another spin-off from the Star Wars franchise, focusing on the adventures in the galaxy far, far away. What's interesting about this example is that Boba Fett was such a mysterious figure from the original trilogy. 

We knew almost nothing about him or his people, which left it open for the filmmakers to truly break new ground in that universe. Another bit of kudos goes out to the creators of The Mandalorian for basing their show on a completely new character and withholding Boba Fett as long as possible.

And then Mr. Fett got his own spin-off series from this spin-off series. 

What is a Spin Off in Film & TV — Definition & Examples The Mandalorian · What’s a Spin Off Show

The Mandalorian  •  What’s a Spin-Off Show?

Spin-offs serve as a fascinating window into the expanded universe of our favorite series or films, cementing their place in the realm of storytelling. They offer creators a chance to delve deeper, and audiences an opportunity to stay a little longer in the worlds they've come to love.

Up Next

A Guide to Writing for Television

Having delved into spin-offs in film and TV, let's now focus on the practical side of television. In the next section, we'll provide a comprehensive guide to writing for TV, giving you the skills to create compelling narratives and memorable characters. 

Up Next: Writing for TV →
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