10 Spin-off TV Shows That Made It Big

"The Simpsons"
The longest-running scripted show in American television history started out as a short feature on a now-obscure comedy show. Fox/Getty Images

It must be tough to be an animated character on a live action show. What's a cartoon to do? Get your own series, of course! "The Simpsons" began life as a reoccurring segment on Fox's "The Tracy Ullman Show" in 1987. The animated family soon got its own timeslot, and, in 2014, the show celebrated its 25th anniversary. Though Matt Groening's characters are mere cartoons, they're relatable, addressing basic and important human issues, including family, politics, religion, pop culture, and social relationships. Its relevance, in addition to its original humor, helped make the series television's longest-running sitcom [source: Michalski].

"The Simpsons" is popular with celebrity guests, drawing personalities as diverse as Stephen Hawking and Lady Gaga, who played themselves. Benedict Cumberbatch showed up as Severus Snape, and Elizabeth Taylor appeared to voice Baby Lisa's first word. The most memorable character, though, might be the head of the family himself: Homer Simpson. Over and over again, Homer has displayed his unique thought processes: "I believe that children are our future. Unless we stop them now" [source: Seddon].