When I love a show, I want as much of it as I can possibly get. Spoilers, teasers, insider info, secrets from the set: I will seek it all out and more. This is why I’m such a huge fan of spinoffs—more time in a world I’ve come to know and love? Yes, please.
I recognize, however, that spinoffs can easily break your heart. They so rarely live up to the original material, often making you wish you were rewatching the show you actually love. But when they work, they’re amazing —sometimes even better than the show they were based on. Here are three spinoffs—and one book!—that I think more than live up to the hype:
I will defend The Walking Dead until my dying breath. From horrifically decomposed zombies to over-the-top emotional outbursts, I LOVE this show. So when I heard they were making a sequel set in LA and following the events from the very start of the zombie apocalypse, I may have squealed a little bit. OK, fine, I squealed a lot. And Fear the Walking Dead has more than met my expectations—the characters are interesting, the lack of zombie-knowledge is awesomely frustrating, and I can’t wait to see how this LA family continues to devolve in the face of such a devastating event. Binge this one for sure, airing Sundays at 9 on AMC.
The Vampire Diaries has gotten pretty ridiculous over the past few years, but it did do something right—it spawned The Originals, a spinoff about the original family of vampires. Set in New Orleans, it follows Klaus (one of the more interesting characters on TVD) and his siblings as they return to the city they founded years before. This is like the more grown up version of TVD with citywide supernatural politics taking center stage. Binge the first two seasons before the third one starts on Thursdays at 9 on The CW.
I can name at least four people who cried when Breaking Bad was over. Maybe even five. It was a show that almost never seemed to misstep, telling a perfect (if chilling) story from beginning to end. So when AMC announced they were making a spinoff, everyone was thrilled. Better Call Saul is actually a prequel, focusing on Saul Goodman, Walter White’s lawyer and accomplice. It takes place six years before the events of Breaking Bad and follows Saul, then Jimmy McGill, while he works as a small-time lawyer. Season 2 is coming in 2016—will this be the year Walter White and Jesse Pinkman make a guest appearance? You’ll have to watch to find out.
After Alice by Gregory Maguire (William Morrow; October 27, 2015)
For a sort-of book spinoff, try Maguire’s new novel, After Alice. Maguire is the king of reimagined fairy tales (he wrote Wicked, a sort of Oz prequel) and this one takes on Alice in Wonderland. The story focuses on Ada—a friend briefly mentioned by Alice in Lewis Carroll’s famous tale—when she too tumbles down the rabbit hole. While searching for Alice, Ada has her own adventure, filled with the same kind of magic we’ve come to expect from both Wonderland and Maguire’s compelling storytelling.