10 Spin-off TV Shows That Made It Big

"Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"
Simply known as "SVU" to its fans, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" has become a syndication smash hit. Justin Campbell/Getty Images

You never can have too many warrants and subpoenas. In 1999, the creators of the legal drama "Law & Order" spun off a new show that focused on sex-related crimes and social issues. Like its parent, the new series often pulled topics from the real world, including sex slavery, child abuse, child pornography, celebrity violence, domestic violence, adoption, parenting problems and misogyny.

"Law & Order: SVU" has had an interesting mix of characters over its multi-year run, such as detective Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), a child conceived from her mother's rape; captain Donald Cragen (Dann Florek), the first supervisor on the original "Law & Order;" investigator John Munch (Richard Belzer), who transferred from Baltimore PD (and TV's "Homicide: Life on the Streets"); and detective Odafin Tutoloa (Ice-T), a former undercover cop. An impressive array of guest stars also is drawn to the show. Robin Williams, Carol Burnett, Ellen Burstyn, Angela Lansbury and Marlee Matlin have popped up over the years. Also noteworthy: As of 2014, "SUV" has had 23 Emmy nominations and six wins [source: Television Academy -- Law]. Crime never paid so well.