‘Happy Days’: How Many Spinoffs Did the Classic TV Series Inspire?

by Joe Rutland

The measure of a successful classic TV series sometimes can be measured in spinoffs and, boy, does Happy Days have some. A couple of animated shows center around Fonzie, played by Henry Winkler. But they were not successful. Others did pop out of characters that first appear on the ABC sitcom before getting a new show. OK, so how many spinoffs did pop out of Happy Days?

A lot. Some lasted a good while on ABC; others, not so much. They include Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, Blansky’s Beauties, Joanie Loves Chachi, and a couple of animated TV series. They were Laverne & Shirley with The Fonz and The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang. One other show titled Out of the Blue had a little bit of a crossover effect in the show’s main character. It was played by Jimmy Brogan and made one appearance on Happy Days ahead of the series premiere.

‘Laverne & Shirley’ Is the Longest Tenured Spinoff From ‘Happy Days’

Laverne & Shirley is the spinoff that actually had a long run on ABC. Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams starred as close friends who worked together in a Milwaukee beer plant. Yes, the show was set in the 1950s like Happy Days. Both Laverne and Shirley would first appear on Happy Days before their show started. It would turn both actresses into big stars. Marshall would go on to become a prolific movie and TV director. Williams would continue in her acting career but both still hold places in fans’ hearts as these characters.

What about Mork & Mindy? This show lasted four seasons on ABC but would help launch Robin Williams into superstardom. The funny comedian would play Mork from Ork, who would befriend Mindy, played by Pam Dawber. Their interactions at her home in Colorado, along with some of his friends, would bring about laughs. Remember Exidor, played by actor Robert Donner?

The remaining spinoffs from the world of Happy Days did not have long runs on TV. Actress Nancy Walker played Nancy Blansky, a cousin of Howard Cunningham (Tom Bosley) who lives in Nevada. Blansky’s Beauties has Walker’s character, a former showgirl in Las Vegas, become a motherly figure for a young group of performers. Blansky’s Beauties did not survive one season and was canceled after 13 episodes.

Joanie Loves Chachi lets Erin Moran, who played Joanie Cunningham, connect with Chachi, played by Scott Baio. Their show takes the couple’s relationship from the main show into this new ABC sitcom. This show follows the couple from Milwaukee to Chicago for a new life. It didn’t make it past 17 episodes and was cut.