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From The TV IV
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A spinoff is a program that uses characters or explicitly borrows the premise from a previous show, in order to capture the existing audience. Spinoffs take several different forms:

  • A popular show reaches its conclusion, and one or more characters move on to be featured in a new show (such as Frasier Crane from Cheers to Frasier, or Joey Tribbiani from Friends to Joey).
  • An episode of a popular show will introduce a completely new set of characters in a new situation to gage audience interest in a possible new show. If interest is high enough the new show can be greenlit this is called a backdoor pilot.