14 Minor Side Characters No One Expected To Get Their Own Spin-Offs

List Rules
Vote up the characters you never thought would get their own spin-off.

Spin-off characters can come from anywhere - from the sidekick of a figurehead character to the “friend of a friend” who shows up in a one-off episode - and are the last people audiences would expect to get a series or movie. That being said, expected spin-offs (e.g., the Friends spin-off, Joey) often fail miserably. Minor side characters get spin-offs for a multitude of creative/commercial reasons. 

Yes, many exist simply because Hollywood ran out of ideas, and the powers that be want more of the cow’s milk. Others satisfy a thirst for more from an adolescent franchise, leading fans off the beaten trail with stories that enrich and improve upon what came before in exciting ways. This list will be a roundup of TV shows and movies that spin off from existing franchises but focus on a strange or unlikely background character. 

  • Saul Goodman From ‘Breaking Bad’
    Photo: Better Call Saul / AMC

    The Character: In Breaking Bad - which is hailed as one of the greatest television shows of all time - Bob Odenkirk plays Saul Goodman, the crooked attorney who represents Bryan Cranston’s chemistry-teacher-turned-meth-kingpin Walter White, AKA Heisenberg. While hilarious and intriguing, Saul is the definition of a side character in AMC’s flagship series and the last one you’d expect to receive a spin-off. Especially when the series’ cast of characters includes Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman, Giancarlo Esposito’s Gus Fring, and Jonathan Banks’s Mike Ehrmantraut. 

    The Spin-Off: Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad prequel series, Better Call Saul, follows Jimmy McGill as a small-time attorney struggling to escape his past as the former scam artist, “Slippin’ Jimmy," years before he embraced the crooked alter-ego, Saul Goodman. Better Call Saul’s brilliance lies in its ability to include characters like Gus and Mike in the arguably more-tragic story of how Jimmy “broke bad.” 

    Did It Work? Better Call Saul continues to receive rave reviews. It would be easy for Jimmy’s storyline to feel predictable instead of exciting, but it never is. Heading into its final season, Jimmy is somehow still a sympathetic character - and one fans want to win, even though he’s destined to lose. Better Call Saul may not be as popular with casual viewers as Breaking Bad, but it’s just as good. 

  • Mork From ‘Happy Days’
    Photo: Mork & Mindy / ABC

    The Character: Robin Williams’s Mork made his debut in the fifth season of Happy Days. In the episode, Richie Cunningham sees a flying saucer before he meets the extra-terrestrial Mork. Aside from the Fonz’s enigmatic antics, Happy Days isn’t necessarily considered science fiction, but Williams’s performance warranted more.

    Their Spin-Off: Mork and Mindy dives into the former’s backstory as an alien from the planet Ork - where humor is not permitted - who is sent to Earth to study human behavior. After his spacecraft lands in '70s Colorado (Mork is “from the future” in Happy Days), Mork befriends the journalism major Mindy, who helps him adjust to life on Earth. Hilarity ensues. 

    Did It Work? Despite being well-received, Mork and Mindy suffered low ratings throughout its run and was canceled after four seasons in the summer of 1982. Now, Mork is considered to be one of Williams’s most beloved characters, which served as a launching pad for the legendary career that would follow. 

  • 3
    204 VOTES

    Peacemaker From 'The Suicide Squad'

    Peacemaker From 'The Suicide Squad'
    Photo: Peacemaker / HBO Max

    Character: Writer/director James Gunn has a penchant for championing lesser-known, oddball comic book characters, and with last year’s The Suicide Squad, he introduced a plethora of “villains” to the DC Extended Universe. Enter John Cena’s “douchey Captain America” in Christopher Smith/Peacemaker, who plays second fiddle to Idris Elba’s Bloodsport up until the former turns on Task Force X all in the name of “peace” and patriotism. Not only is Peacemaker presumed deceased at the end of The Suicide Squad, but the audience isn’t necessarily in his corner. 

    The Spin-Off: The Suicide Squad’s credits scene reveals Peacemaker survived the mission to Corto Maltese and is needed by Amanda Waller and company to help “save the f**king world.” HBO Max’s spin-off series, Peacemaker, follows (and deconstructs) its titular character and A.R.G.U.S. as they enact Project Butterfly. 

    Did It Work? Peacemaker makes its antihero sympathetic, subverts expectations, and capitalizes on everything The Suicide Squad did right while expanding DC’s “Gunn-Verse.” Thanks to its opening sequence, soundtrack, bald eagle sidekick, performances, intrepid gags, and social commentary, Peacemaker is officially the best-reviewed DCEU project on Rotten Tomatoes thus far. 

  • Frasier From ‘Cheers’
    Photo: Frasier / NBC

    The Character: Cheers focuses on Sam Malone, his employees, and regulars in the titular bar, where everybody knows your name. In Season 3, Kelsey Grammer made his first appearance as Diane Chambers’s new beau and psychiatrist, Frasier Crane. Frasier was originally only supposed to appear in the series for a few episodes, but Grammer’s performance proved too popular and his role was extended. Ultimately, he became both a regular and one of Cheers’ best characters. Still, when Cheers closed its doors in 1993, fans wouldn’t have guessed he’d be the character to get a spin-off.

    The Spin-Off: In Frasier, Grammer’s character moves from Boston back to his birthplace in Seattle following his divorce from Lilith, reuniting with his father Martin and brother Niles. He also starts a radio show and sings “Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs.” Where Cheers more aligns with Sam’s comedic sensibilities, Frasier does right by its hero. 

    Did It Work? Frasier won five consecutive Emmys for outstanding comedy series, rivaling Cheers. Both the latter series and its spin-off stand shoulder-to-shoulder as two of the greatest sitcoms of all time

  • 5
    117 VOTES

    Machete From 'Grindhouse' And ‘Spy Kids’ 

    Machete From 'Grindhouse' And ‘Spy Kids’ 
    Photo: Machete / 20th Century Fox

    The Character: In Robert Rodriguez’s Spy Kids (2001), Danny Trejo played Isador Cortez/Machete, the uncle of Carmen and Juni Cortez, whose parents (along with the rest of the family) are secretly spies. Years later, Trejo appeared as the character in a fake trailer for Machete, following the titular Mexican mercenary, played in between Quentin Tarantino and Rodriguez’s films in the double-feature Grindhouse (2007). That mock trailer played so well that writer/director Rodriguez decided to make the R-rated Machete franchise - whether or not it follows the same Machete from the very PG Spy Kids is up for debate. 

    The Spin-Off: Following Grindhouse’s B-movie lead, Machete sees its former Mexican Federale turned vigilante double-crossed after being nearly killed by a powerful drug lord. He then deals with a corrupt US senator and a campaign against illegal immigrants, leaving a trail of bullets and broken hearts in his wake.

    Did It Work? Machete was a critical and commercial success that spawned a sequel in Machete Kills. While the latter wasn’t as good as its predecessor, a trailer for a third Machete film, titled Machete Kills Again, played at the end of it. So, maybe someday. 

  • Aldous Snow From ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ 
    Photo: Get Him to the Greek / Universal Pictures

    The Character: Forgetting Sarah Marshall follows the very talented, underachieving TV music composer, Peter, who’s dejected about being dumped by his celebrity girlfriend, Sarah Marshall. In an attempt to “forget” her, Peter goes on a vacation to Hawaii. Unfortunately, Sarah is staying at the same hotel with her new boyfriend, Russell Brand’s English rock star Aldous Snow. Who would’ve thought the new boyfriend would’ve been hilarious enough to get his own film?

    The Spin-Off: Two years after the release of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Aldous Snow would appear in the road trip buddy comedy, Get Him to the Greek. The film follows Jonah Hill’s talent scout Aaron, whose record label tasks him with getting the now washed-up Snow to travel to the legendary Greek Theater and give a career-saving performance. While en route, the pair engage in several shenanigans, the likes of which most of us have never seen. 

    Did It Work? Hilarious, surprisingly poignant, and bolstered by the pairing of Hill and Brand and a plethora of celebrity cameos, Get Him to the Greek was one of the best comedies of 2010.