Movies & TV

5 Spin-Offs From Hit TV Shows That Never Made It

Good try, guys.

Ever watched an episode of your telly favorite and noticed it's suspiciously different to every other episode? Suddenly, we're in a new setting, with a whole bunch of new characters, in a new set-up. It almost feels like... a pilot for a different show entirely? 

This is what's known in the industry as a "backdoor pilot" – an attempt to sneak a pilot in "through the backdoor" and hopefully secure a little of the parent show's audience along the way. 

Everything from NCIS to The Golden Girls has also employed this method successfully. But not every backdoor pilot succeeds. Some fail to spawn a series and end up as simply anomalies, oddities, within the run of the parent series... 

1. Star Trek: The Original Series – Assignment: Earth

The final episode of the original Trek's second season introduced Gary Seven (Robert Lansing), an alien from the 24th century sent back in time to protect Earth's history from outside interference. 


This outing was intended to set-up a spin-off featuring Seven called Assignment: Earth. Gene Roddenberry had hoped to devise more standalone adventures for Gary and his team, human assistant Roberta Lincoln (Teri Garr), and... erm... a cat named Isis – but the planned series was never greenlit.

2. The Incredible Hulk – Thor / Daredevil

After five seasons of Bill Bixby wistfully strolling away from town after town to the tune of Joe Harnell's 'Lonely Man' theme, The Incredible Hulk ended its run on CBS in 1982. 

But then, six years later, rival network NBC opted to revive the show with two TV movies that also served as backdoor pilots. 

1988's The Incredible Hulk Returns saw Bixby's Dr. Banner join forces with the mighty Thor (played by Eric Kramer – Chris Hemsworth he ain't) while the following year's The Trial of the Incredible Hulk gave us a team-up with Daredevil (Rex Smith). 

Neither a Thor or Daredevil series emerged from these efforts and The Incredible Hulk itself ended for good with one final TV film in 1990.

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3. Castle – Mark Fallon, DHS Agent

Heroes and Supergirl actor Adrian Pasdar guested opposite Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic in two episodes of Castle back in 2011, playing hard-boiled federal agent Mark Fallon in season 3's 'Setup' and 'Countdown'. 

Fallon aided Beckett and her team in foiling a suspected terrorist plot, and Pasdar revealed at the time that plans were afoot for his character to return in his own series. "I got a very nice letter back from [Castle creator] Andrew Marlowe the other day... 

"I said, 'Hey how about we do a season ender with Fallon, sort of a backdoor pilot spin-off?' – just kind of as a joke, I sent it off saying what a great time I had, and I got a very nice letter saying, 'Well it's not too far off from what we're thinking about'." 

Said spin-off never materialized, however, and soon the prolific Pasdar had moved on to roles in Law & Order: Criminal Intent, The Lying Game, and more shows of the era.


4. The Twilight Zone – Cavender Is Coming

Talk about incongruous. For one week in 1962, spine-chilling anthology series The Twilight Zone transformed into a sitcom, delivering an episode complete with laugh track. 

"Cavender Is Coming" followed bumbling Agnes Grep (played by the legendary Carol Burnett) and Harmon Cavender (Jesse White), an angel who has to improve her life in 24 hours to earn his wings. 

Quite unlike anything else the show ever produced, before or after, the episode was supposed to lead to a Cavender series that never happened. (DVD versions of "Cavender Is Coming," as well as repeat showings and the version available on Netflix US, omit the laugh track, so as to better blend the episode in with its surroundings.)

5. The Office – The Farm 


Easily the worst episode that NBC's The Office ever produced, it's easy to see why this backdoor pilot about Dwight (Rainn Wilson) and his family running Schrute Farms failed to generate much enthusiasm for a spin-off. 

After NBC turned down a series, the original episode—which contained "certain aspects that were appropriate for a pilot of a new show"—was reworked and a tweaked version aired as part of the show's ninth and final season. 

The Office later wrapped things up neatly with a terrific, touching final episode. No follow-up required, right? Well, at least until the network confirmed a full-blown revival late last year. 

From: Digital Spy

This story originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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