Question: My co-worker and I have a bet. She says that The Mary Tyler Moore Show had the most spin-offs in TV history. I say it's Happy Days. Who's right? Whoever wins has to cover the other person's shift for President's Day weekend. Scott S.
Televisionary: Technically speaking, you're both wrong, Scott, though you're closer than she is.
First of all, let's define spin-off. The classic definition is a show whose main characters were regulars on the parent show (so that would pretty much disqualify the various Law & Order shows, for example).
Going by that, All in the Family is the spin-off king, with three series directly spun off (Maude, The Jeffersons, Gloria) and two spun off from those (Checking In from The Jeffersons and Good Times from Maude) for a grand total of five. Happy Days scored four (Joanie Loves Chachi, Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, Out of the Blue), but not all of those were based on regular characters. The Mary Tyler Moore Show spawned three (Lou Grant, Rhoda, Phyllis).
Who wins? I'd vote for neither since you guys were betting on "most" rather than "more" and second and third place could switch depending upon which definition of spin-off you use. But a nice game of rock, scissors, paper wouldn't be a bad way to determine who has to work and who gets to hit all those furniture and bedding sales.