1 Happy Days gave the world Laverne & Shirley, All in the Family graced us with The Jeffersons, and Cheers left us with Frasier. But they also gave us Joanie Loves Chachi (blecch!), Gloria (ugh!) and The Tortellis (who?). LESSON: A hit product does not guarantee a successful spin-off.
2 The road to the Television Hall of Fame is littered with critically acclaimed shows that were cancelled due to poor ratings, including Jericho, My So-Called Life and Arrested Development. LESSON: Your product is only as good as the customers it attracts.
3 After 20 seasons and morethan 430 episodes, The Simpsons remains one of TV’s most popular shows—just as its characters remain frozen in time, offering the same habits, appearances and catchphrases that they did back in 1989 (although Bart rarely exclaims, ¡Ay, caramba! any more). LESSON: If your product ain’t broke, then don’t fix it.
4 CSI, CSI Miami, CSI New York. Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and, lest we forget, Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise. Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Law & Order: Elevator InspectorsUnit. (Okay, the last one was a parody from The Simpsons.) LESSON: Once you’ve nailed your formula, you can franchise successfully.
5 Family Guy is a hit show that posterity might consider a cultural milestone—if only for marking the beginning of the end of the American empire. Launched in 1999, Family Guy did a hard climb to the top, bouncing back from cancellation in 2000, and again in 2005. LESSON: Never underestimate the value of stick-to-itiveness.