Question: Regarding the reported Bones spin-off: Do REAL spin-offs happen anymore, or always just back-door pilot characters created specifically to spin? — Brad (from twitter)
Matt Roush: I suppose the classic form of spin-off — taking a breakout character from an existing show and building a new show around him or her — is more rare nowadays because producers and networks are loathe to screw around with something that's working and risk doing damage to the ensemble by taking a key element away. (The only recent "classic" spin-off I can think of is Private Practice. And, though it required the original show to end for it to happen, the unfortunate Joey.) Nowadays, spin-offs tend to be extensions of a brand franchise (Law & Order, CSI, NCIS, Criminal Minds) or the riskier proposition (in the case of this projected Bones project) of trying to use a successful show to launch something new by bringing in a character and seeing if he or she pops well enough to earn a show of their own. That hardly even qualifies as a spin-off, more like a handoff.