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Many works receive spin-offs, sequels, sister works or an alternate continuity or two, and a large majority of those die quickly; mainly through Executive Meddling, lack of fan support, or a myriad of other issues. From what remains, some of these shows are picked out and are given the critical and/or fan acclaim that either reaches or surpasses its parent. But what are we left with? A Quietly Performing Sister-Show. (Or QPS.)

These works will not wow the critics, getting rated anywhere from 'This isn't very good at all, avoid' to 'pretty good, but not as good as its predecessor', nor will they receive much support from the fanbase. Not to say there aren't any fans, but they will often be the minority, and even if they're not, most of the fans will agree that the original is the best. (The ones who really love the work, will generally pick it as their favourite.) Yet, the work will still perform, getting enough sales or views to continue its run. The general public will often find it an inoffensive and likeable, sometimes getting a fondness in their hearts for the show, despite its faults. If it's a show, it will probably be cancelled after a fairly long run, or the makers will call it day; but it will probably be released onto DVD.

Sometimes this ties into They Changed It, Now It Sucks, where the reason it never got the critical and fan acclaim because it was in the shadow of its predecessor. Other times, the show just might be mildly So Bad It's Good, not strong enough to become a cult classic, but enough to entertain the public.

(NB: If a spinoff is neglected by the fanbase, but got great critical write-ups or lots of awards then it's not this trope, they should have their own trope eventually. One or two awards however don't count for much on their own, and those shows stay here)

Examples of Quietly Performing Sister Show include:


  • Tenchi Universe: It has its own section of the fanbase, while the critics and a lot of the fans consider it inferior to the original. Probably because of the changes in the characters.

Live Action Television

  • The Sarah Jane Adventures. Successful for its timeslot and channel and its star had a lot of love given when she passed away in 2011, but when you consider other Whoniverse shows Doctor Who and Torchwood are Saturday evening and varying post-watershed timeslots respectively, and SJA is mid-afternoon AND on the CBBC channel...
  • Empty Nest: All but forgotten now, in the wake of The Golden Girls, but it stayed for 7 series and got smattering of awards.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: This show never reached reached the popularity or critical acclaim of its parent show Star Trek: The Next Generation, but it still received very good viewing figures when it was airing. (Unlike most examples, Voyager wasn't totally neglected but actually got plenty of attention and support from its network UPN -- more than its actual sister show Deep Space Nine got[1].)
  • CSI New York: It lags behind its parent in the fanbase and critical reception department, and CSI: Miami beats it in viewing figures, but it's still a very popular show. (To the point where it arguably only just qualifies for the trope by comparison.)
  • The King of Queens: Spin-off of Everybody Loves Raymond, still being shown on the comedy networks but overshadowed by its parent.
  • Knots Landing: Fourteen seasons would be big enough for a lot of shows, but when your parent show was Dallas, you fall square into this trope.
  • The Electric Company had a six-season run in the 1970s and brief revival in the 2000s, which are easily overshadowed by the uninterrupted long run of its parent show, Sesame Street.
  • Parks and Recreation, sister to the US version of The Office (created by the folks who run that show and using the same Mockumentary format) hasn't attracted nearly as much heat as its sibling, but its ratings are respectable and critics have rallied around it in its second season.
  • Wings was to Cheers what Parks and Recreation is to The Office.
  • Stargate Atlantis never got the kind of love (fannish or critical) that SG1 earned, but it still earned a good half-decade run and kept the money people happy enough to earn the franchise a third series.
  • Law and Order: Criminal Intent arguably fits. While your average American can name it as "that other Law and Order show", it tends not to make headlines, nor does it receive nearly as much attention as its older sister Law and Order SVU. Kathryn Erbe and Vincent D'Onofrio were criminally and perpetually snubbed at the Emmys, despite performances as good or better than those on SVU. Nevertheless it performs pretty solidly on the USA Network and has a sizeable if rather quiet fanbase. It is also one of those shows the general public will run across in reruns (and there are lots of reruns) while channel-surfing and watch to pass the time (and yet not really bother to follow) due to the show's seemingly episodic nature, making it perhaps the ultimate example of this trope.


  • Beethoven's Eighth Symphony: To be honest, all his symphonies between the Fifth and the Ninth could count, depending on whom you asked.


  • Ruddigore: The current Ur Example, it suffered in comparisons to The Mikado and was in Gilbert's day widely (and wrongly) believed to be a flop. Its recent revivals puts it into this trope, rehabilitating it into a fairly well received comic opera.

Video Games

  • Final Fantasy IX: It sold well, but VI, VII, VIII and X completely dwarfed it in fan and critical reactions. (It didn't even get the backlash VIII recently received on the internet.)
    • Likewise, II, III, V, and XII have all settled into this. They are by no means bad games, but they did not have the same reception as the others. Final Fantasy I only escapes because Square releases a new remake every few years. Of all of these, V is the biggest sufferer, as IV and VI are considered by all to be some of the best games in the series, with different fandom factions claiming each is the best in the series.
      • XIII can also be seen as this, but it's slightly more controversial at the moment.
    • Final Fantasy IX seems to have held up much better in hindsight. While people are now picking apart VII (due to the translation and unnecessary sequels) and VIII and X (due in large part to various online Caustic Critic personalities), IX seems to have become something of a cult classic among those willing to give it a fair shake.
  • Harvest Moon has a sibling series named River King. It predates Harvest Moon by six years, but it's completely dwarfed by its sister series.
  • Of the spin off series from Pokémon, Battrio and Ranger fall into this. The Mystery Dungeon sub-series is fairly popular and received positive reviews, but the other two are considered good but not as good as the main games. Battrio at least has this because it's exclusive to Japanese arcades; the Ranger series is viewed by some as little more than a complicated way to get rare event-only Pokemon.
  • The Gradius spinoff series Thunder Cross is considerably obscure, in large part because it never had any home conversions except for a belated and cheaply produced Play Station 2 port of the first game.

Western Animation

  • American Dad, a Sister Show to Family Guy (though not a spinoff). While Family Guy seems to attract both incredible popularity and publicity and an incredible Hatedom, American Dad continues going on quietly with a smaller but generally satisfied audience.
    • Ironically, Family Guy has regained some of its notoriety by doing increasingly political storylines; something American Dad was originally created to do (but which it mostly dropped by its second season.)
    • The Cleveland Show is a direct spinoff of Family Guy, following Cleveland Brown after he moved away. Sometimes both Family Guy and Cleveland Show will intertwine, for comedic effect.

 (An episode of Family Guy revives an old running joke, with in-show events causing Cleveland to fall out of his new house in his bathtub).

Tim the Bear: I don't get it.

  • Futurama, Matt Groening's second show, also fell into this category when it was being aired on Fox. It is still wildly popular.
  • Doug was this in its run on Nickelodeon. It never became the catchphrase-spawning pop-cultural phenomenon like Ren and Stimpy or other shows, but Nick kept supporting it because it had solid ratings for its run and huge support from parents who actually wanted their kids to watch it.
    • Averted with the Disney version, oh so very much. Which brings us to...
  • Pepper Ann was this for the big three of One Saturday Morning. Doug became a mild Cash Cow Franchise, and Recess became a cult hit with adults. It still got good ratings, and lasted the entire "wave one" of the block.
  • King of the Hill could be seen as this to the entire Fox animation lineup, despite being an original show and not a spinoff (except, arguably, to Beavis and Butthead.) While The Simpsons and Seth MacFarlane's shows all drew attention for accusations of Jumping the Shark, controversial political humor or just plain running too long, KOTH unobtrusively ran for 13 seasons and earned a good bit of critical praise.
    • Referenced in the South Park episode "Cartoon Wars", where Cartman sets out to destroy Family Guy. At one point he and a Bart Simpson Expy get into a fight in Fox's offices; when they go through the KOTH production area, it's completely quiet and normal. (Mike Judge is friends with Matt and Trey, and actually voiced Kenny in South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut.)


  1. although this also meant more Executive Meddling
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