A lot of spin-offs never really make it. They’re DOA back-door pilots that people hate, or sometimes they get maybe a season or half-season, and sometimes you get lucky with an Angel or Star Trek: The Next Deep Space Enterprising Voyager. Actually, Star Trek seems to have the best success with their spin-offs. But there are some that become so big, that they totally eclipse the original in both popularity and cultural influence. Whether it’s because of a different demographic, or a particular performance, or just plain luck, these stories just seemed to grab audiences so much more than the originals, that the originals are all but forgotten.

5. The Lord of the Rings (from The Hobbit)

Where is the line between a sequel and a spin-off? The Lord of the Rings blurs that line. Very few of the major and minor characters of The Hobbit are in LotR, and the “main character” title is passed from Bilbo to Frodo. It’s certainly not a straight sequel, unlike something like the Percy Jackson series and The Heroes of Olympus series are. But LotR is absolutely enormous, both in size, scope, and notoriety. And it’s not like The Hobbit isn’t culturally relevant at all– it might not have needed three 4 hour movies, but the idea of making it a movie isn’t out of the realm of possibility– but LotR is far and away the more famous and influential within its genre and within popular culture.

4. Xena: Warrior Princess (from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys)

Much like The Hobbit, it’s not like Hercules wasn’t popular– but Xena: Warrior Princess had far more of a lasting impact. From the progressive themes and characters, to the witty writing and lack of all regard to historical accuracy, Xena is as popular today as it was when it aired. And it, along with Buffy: the Vampire Slayer, was one of the late 90’s TV shows that absolutely changed the face of the medium through longer, serialized story telling, and made Lucy Lawless and Sam Raimi household names. It was also very popular within the LGBT and specifically the lesbian community, due to the large amount of subtext in the relationship between Xena and Renee O’Connor’s Gabrielle.

3. Sailor Moon (from Codename: Sailor V)

How does this opening push all the 90’s nostalgia buttons if I didn’t watch this until 2014?

Naoko Takeuchi was just playing around, essentially, when she created Codename: Sailor V. It was a fun project that was a loving tribute to the Magical Girls genre, which caught the attention of Toei Animation, who wanted something similar, but more like a sentai show (think Power Rangers). Enter a cheerful, food-loving, 14-year-old girl named Usagi Tsukino (known in the states as Serena), who is best known as Sailor Moon. This show is iconic, one of the first smash hits of anime in the US, and internationally acclaimed. In addition to the manga, there have been 2 anime series, 1 live-action TV show, several musicals, video games, and movies.

2. World of Warcraft (from Warcraft)

Again, what constitutes a spin-off as opposed to a sequel? I would say that for video games, if the entire style, mechanics, and genre of the game is different than the others, that’s probably a spin-off. For example, Pokémon Go, which is an Augmented Reality mobile game with real-time battle mechanics, is definitely a spin-off of the main Pokémon games, which are role-playing console games with turn-based strategy. On the other hand, Ocarina of TimeLink Between Worlds, and Breath of the Wild could all be considered “sequels” to each other within the Legend of Zelda franchise* because while the mechanics might change slightly, they’re still console-based role-playing games with an open world. When it comes to Warcraft, the first three games in the franchise are real-time strategy games that can be played as either single-player or multiplayer. World of Warcraft is strictly a massively multi-player online role playing game, or MMORPG, and it has plots and quests that you can participate in, with epic story-lines and huge payouts, or you can go fishing with your friends. World of Warcraft boasts the highest subscription count of any MMORPG, having 12 million subscribers as its height in 2010, and 5.5 million as of 2015.

*Do not explain the Legend of Zelda timeline to me. I neither want nor need it.

1. NCIS (from JAG)

Who here remembers JAG? I… don’t, but I do like NCIS. And so does a lot of America, given that it’s been the number one show in its time-slot for years now, and has spawned off several spin-offs of its own. And it’s more than just the other NCISes, the new Hawaii Five-0 had a crossover two-parter with NCIS: LA, and the new MacGyver has crossed over with the new Hawaii Five-0, which means that the joke in season eight, episode nine of NCIS where Abby calls McGee “MacGyver” means that MacGyver is both fictional and real in their universe, and

Also I think Hetty (NCIS: LA) was on </Scorpion>?

But for those who don‘t know what a JAG is, it stands for Judge Advocate General, and they’re military lawyers. They’re the Law to NCIS’s Order. Or maybe it’s the other way around. I don’t really watch Law & Order.

Any spin-offs I missed? Want to yell at me for including LotR? Decided you’re going to explain the Legend of Zelda timeline to me anyways? Like, comment, and subscribe!