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Planned TV spin-offs that were completely abandoned

The television business is tough. It's hard enough to sell a show idea, develop a pilot, get picked up, and then, miraculously, not get canceled. That's why it makes sense that so many networks try their hardest to duplicate success with that most reliable of TV staples: the spin-off. Of course, for every Frasier, which lasted 11 seasons, there is a Joey, which only managed a paltry second season. And for every Joey, there are plenty of shows like How I Met Your Dad or The Farm—spin-offs that just couldn't get off the ground. Here are a few that we wish hadn't been sent to that Hollywood backlot in the sky.

Star Trek: Phase II

By now, the thought of another round of Star Trek themed adventures on TV is pretty old hat. After the original series was canceled by NBC in 1969, there have been four spin-offs all featuring different ships, crews, and wacky space adventures. But back in 1978, series creator Gene Roddenberry had plans to bring the original crew of the USS Enterprise back in a new version of the ship for another five-year mission—and this one would, hopefully, actually last at least that long. Alas, despite half a season of scripts being written and test footage being shot, the show—called Star Trek: Phase II—boldly went right into the toilet. The show was being prepped for a new channel called the Paramount Television Service, which would have joined ABC, CBS, and NBC as the fourth network in the United States. By 1979, though, Paramount scrapped its plans. The US eventually did get its fourth TV network—Fox—and Star Trek: Phase II transformed into 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Assignment: Earth

Gene Roddenberry once tried to create a spin-off from Star Trek that had nothing to do with Captain Kirk, Vulcans, or sexy green ladies. "Assignment: Earth" was the final episode of Star Trek season two, and features the Enterprise traveling back in time to Earth of 1968. There, the crew meets Gary Seven, a human raised on another planet in the 24th century, sent to the past to keep a bunch of shape-shifting aliens from mucking up the planet. Ongoing conflicts between Roddenberry and NBC put Star Trek in danger of cancellation in its second season. As such, Roddenberry hoped this "back door pilot" would give him another show in production should Trek go down. But the network wasn't interested, and we never heard from Gary Seven or his magic cat, Isis, on television again. Hooray!

The Farm

Everyone's favorite rural nutcase Dwight Schrute was all set to stay on your TV screen after the American version of The Office wrapped after nine seasons—if only its season nine backdoor pilot hadn't been so universally reviled by critics and fans alike. Set on the Schrute family's beet farm, The Farm would have continued in the same vein as The Office, only featuring Dwight and his insane relatives. The show would've seen regular roles for Matt Jones (Badger from Breaking Bad), Majandra Delfino (Maria from Roswell), and Thomas Middleditch (Richard from Silicon Valley). Fortunately, NBC was not impressed with what they saw and told Dwight and his weird family to beet it.

How I Met Your Dad

Remember How I Met Your Mother, that mega-popular sitcom about the young people who dated other people and got up to zany hijinks, all sort of couched in a pseudo-flashback narrated by Bob Sagat? Of course you do. But what you may not remember is that the show's producers had plans to do it all over again, only with new characters, new dates, and new hijinks, but this time couched in a pseudo-flashback narrated by Meg Ryan called How I Met Your Dad. It's true! It was set to star indie darling Greta Gerwig as the title's "I" who did all the Dad-hunting. But in 2014, CBS decided not to pick up the pilot, while the showrunners apparently weren't interested in reshooting the show to make it more palatable to the network. And despite rumors that How I Met Your Dad might appear on a different network, or even Netflix, time ran out on all the actors' contracts, and we'll never get to relive the joy of having anticipation build for nine increasingly insipid seasons and then being let down by a poorly conceived series finale. Dang.

Aquaman

The early 2000s were a more innocent time—a time when a TV show or movie based on a comic character was not only an anomaly, but a huge risk for a network or studio. As such, the fact that the Superman-prequel series Smallville managed to last for ten seasons is nothing short of miraculous. For some reason, that show's producers decided they needed to bring their talents to another DC Comics hero, creating a spin-off called Aquaman about the character of the same name. They cast Justin Hartley, who played Oliver Queen (aka Green Arrow) on Smallville, in the lead role. Then they hired Lou Diamond Phillips to play his adoptive dad and Ving Rhames to be Aquaman's Atlantean mentor. When the CW passed on the pilot in 2006, Warner Bros. released it on iTunes for two bucks. Later on, the pilot was bundled with DVD sets of Smallville. And you know what? Aquaman was actually kinda good—too bad it never managed to swim upstream.

Ripper

By the end of the seven-season run of Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show in 2003, there were serious talks about a spin-off focusing on Buffy's mentor, Giles, played by Anthony Stewart Head. The show would've been called Ripper, which was Giles' nickname during his misspent youth as a punk-magician in England, and it would have featured weekly ghostly adventures and mysteries. The series never came to fruition, despite a pilot script and several sketches for episodes having been written. Over the years, Whedon has talked about producing Ripper in some form—possibly as a miniseries or a TV movie—but rights issues and other projects (like, say, The Avengers) have conspired against this ever happening. Then again, we did get a Firefly movie even though that show only lasted a single season. Ripper could still find a way to return from the dead...