10 Best Animated Spin-Off Shows With Fan-Favorite Characters (& Their IMDb Score)

When it comes to animated shows, there are side characters that can take over and become fan favorites. So much so, that they are given spin-offs to develop their own story. Sometimes these spin-offs become just as popular as the original show where they appeared.

RELATED: The 10 Best Animated Kids’ Shows Of The Last 20 Years (According To IMDb)

Not many know that one of television’s most acclaimed animated series, The Simpsons is actually a spin-off. They were originally animated shorts that appeared on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987. The show has been a success ever since. There are many more animated shows that started out this way and the main character was only a supporting role. Or in some cases, the main characters needed an even bigger story to tell.

10 Evil Con Carne (2003-2004): 7.1

hector con carne, Major Dr. Ghastly and General Skarr in Evil Con Carne

Evil Con Carne is a spin-off of a two-part series. Back in 2001, Cartoon Network released an animated series titled Grim & Evil. The show was short-lived seeing as it was later split into two spin-off shows. Evil Con Carne was one of them. The show was a success amongst fans, and so it remains today.

The storyline is quite bizarre yet comical. A “jillionaire playboy” gets caught in an explosion set by his arch-nemesis. His body parts are recovered by a military scientist. The playboy’s brain is placed inside a purple Russian circus bear along with his stomach. Together they resume their quest for world domination.

9 Timon & Pumbaa (1995-1999): 7.1

Timon snd Pumbaa in spin off show

The Lion King is one of Disney’s most successful animated films to date. Just as the story became well-known and popular, so did its supporting characters, Timon and Pumbaa. In 1995, the two friends were given their own spin-off show that lasted for four seasons.

The show follows the two as they live their lives under the motto “Hakuna Matata.” The show mostly focuses on these two characters and their misadventures throughout the world. But some episodes do go back to the film as the show takes place right after it. Don’t be surprised to also see some familiar faces!

8 The Zeta Project (2001-2002): 7.1

Infiltration Unit Zeta and Rosalie "Ro" Rowan in The Zeta Project

Batman Beyond became a cult sensation years after its end in 2001. The show developed a popular episode titled ” Zeta” in its second season. The characters in the episode got their own spin-off show titled The Zeta Project in 2001. It focuses on one main character, Infiltration Unit Zeta, who is a humanoid robot.

His mission is as an assassin for the National Security Agency. Zeta has a revelation and abandons his mission when he discovers one of his targets to be innocent. Along with the help of a 15-year-old, they try to prove his innocence by seeking his creator. The show was sadly canceled after only two seasons.

7 Beetlejuice (1989-1991): 7.3

Beetlejuice and

Don’t say his name three times. The 1988 comedy-fantasy film Beetlejuice is a Halloween staple with its main antagonist being a slime-ball trickster names Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton). The film got a spin-off series that tweaked the antagonist a bit.

RELATED: Beetlejuice: 5 Times He Was Funny (& 5 Times He Was Just Plain Mean)

The show instead focused on the goth teenager Lydia (Winona Ryder) from the film. Instead of Beetlejuice being a villain, he’s actually friends with Lydia. Together they explore a supernatural realm full of monsters, ghouls, and everything in between. It was well-received by fans who applauded its comedic elements.

6 Darkwing Duck (1991-1992): 7.6

Drake Mallard in Darkwing Duck

There’s some argument on whether or not Darkwing Duck can be titled as spin-off series. Fans originally believed the show to be a spin-off series of Ducktales. In 2016, the show’s creator titled it more as an alternate universe than a spin-off.

Fans weren’t 100% convinced. This is due to the fact that supporting characters appear in both shows as well as Scrooge McDuck being mentioned in an episode. There are many more examples that could have one acknowledging the show as an alternate universe. The show centered around a superhero living in an ordinary house and father to an adopted daughter. He struggles between wanting fame, his duties as a father, and being a hero.

5 The Real Ghostbusters (1986-1991): 7.6

Ray Stantz, Egon Spengler, Winston Zeddemore and Dr. Peter Venkman in The Real Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters is one of cinema’s top fantasy films that gained mass success in 1984 and became a cult classic phenomenon. Dan Aykroyd, who plays Ray and the film’s writer, never imagined it would surmount to that level. In 1986, the title characters from the film got a spin-off /sequel show.

The Real Ghostbusters continued the story of the famed paranormal investigators and ghost catchers. The show included all the main characters fans loved from the original film. But in this show, the ghost, Slimer had a bigger role and acted as the team’s mascot. Together they catch an entrap ghosts that run amock in New York City.

4 The Grim Adventures Of Billy & Mandy (2000-2007): 7.7

Billy, Mandy and Grim Reaper in The Grim Adventures Of Billy & Mandy

The Grim Adventures Of Billy & Mandy was a favorite show back in the 2000s as it steered away from the typical children’s animated show. It was dark, gritty, and perplexing. The show was the second spin-off to come out of Grim & Evil. The show stayed closer to the original show’s storyline.

A dimwitted boy and his cynical friend make a bet with the Grim Reaper. The duo cheats the Reaper in a game of limbo and enslaves him forever as their friend. The Reaper is at first miserable but comes to care for and develop a friendship with the children. The children use his abilities to venture to the Underworld and the supernatural.

3 Pinky And The Brain (1995-1998): 7.9

Pinky and Brain in spin off show Pinky And The Brain

Pinky and the Brain is an animated spin-off that is often recognized for its success on the small screen. The show’s title characters first appeared in 1993 in another popular animated show, Animaniacs. The two characters had more than enough charisma, charm, and potential to develop into a worthwhile spin-off.

RELATED: 10 Best Animaniacs Characters, Ranked

A lot of animated shows were about world domination, and this show was no different. A self-centered and scheming mouse alongside his kind and feeble-minded companion, go about their lives in Acme Labs. But the scheming mouse concocts plans for world domination which his companion gets roped into.

2 Daria (1997-2002): 8

Daria and Jane Lane in spin off show Daria

Titled as one of the more successful and popular spin-off animate shows to air on television is Daria. Daria Morgendorffer (Tracy Grandstaff) first appeared in another show called Beavis and Butt-Head. She was a recurring character that fans came to love for her smart and misanthropic character.

The show revolved around her daily life as she criticizes pop culture and social classes. The smart and unassuming character and show resonated with audience members and had them hooked. Fans saw her interactions with her family, other students, and the qualms of teenage life.

1 Shaun The Sheep (2007): 8.2

Shaun and other sheep in claymation show Shaun the Sheep

Wallace and Gromit was a Britsh claymation animated franchise that birthed the spin-off show, Shaun the Sheep. The franchise consisted of short films where the animated show title sheep character made an appearance in 1995 in A Close Shave. 

The show centered around a clever sheep named Shaun (Justin Fletcher) who lives on a farm. Shaun and other animals on the farm spiral into reckless adventures and plots to try and make their mundane lives more exciting. All while trying to avoid detection by the farmer. The show even birthed another spin-off titled Timmy Time and its own films.

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Updated: November 5, 2020 — 1:00 am

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