The only thing better than kicking back with a big, buttery bowl of popcorn to watch a killer TV series is sticking around for their even more amazing spin-offs, reboots, and prequels. While the main series gets you hooked on interesting plot lines and superb character development, the prequel series proves that even the past has drama worthy of exploring on the screen. Seriously, before Carrie Bradshaw was living in a Manhattan apartment with $40,000 worth of designer shoes, she was living at home in Connecticut with dad and sister (who’s curiously missing in her later life) and slinging around an admittedly cute DIY hand-me-down from her mother. All great adventures had to start somewhere, right?
But because we know that sometimes prequel series aren’t always as promising as they may let on, we’ve compiled a list of the very best TV show prequels that are actually worth watching. Click through to see our picks, and prepare to lay in bed with your laptop all day.
The Carrie Diaries
In Sex and the City, Carrie was a sex columnist living on the wild side of life with a serious spending problem. So it’s interesting to see how as a teenager in The Carrie Diaries she was a little more responsible with almost everything in her life. While her character is pretty consistent, don’t expect her backstory to be exactly as it was in SATC. Her family life is pretty different than the one depicted on the HBO show, but that doesn’t make the show any less cute.
Alfred Hitchcock‘s 1960 film Psycho is an undeniable classic, it almost seems impossible to create a TV show that could live up to its legacy. While very different from the original scary movie, Bates Motel took horror fans by storm when it premiered on A&E; over fifty years after the movie came out. In the film on which the prequel is based, Norman Bates is a disturbed motel manager with a major secret. Bates Motel is a sinister look into Norman’s childhood life with his mother as he grows increasingly dangerous. You just might binge-watch all five seasons in one go, TBH.
Who doesn’t love watching a secret cannibalistic killer? That’s what you’ll get when you watch Hannibal. The show is based on the book series Red Dragon and follows the iconic Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a forensic psychiatrist trying to manipulate the FBI. Although the series was canceled by NBC after three seasons, it later developed a cult following. Many regard Hannibal as one of the best horror TV series of all time.
One of the most iconic superheroes of all time, Superman, has ten seasons of backstory from The WB/The CW. The show started with Clark Kent in high school navigating a love triangle with the girl of his dreams, Lana Lang and his BFF, Chloe Sullivan… while also taking care of various mysteries involving the meteor-infected people of Smallville. The show sees him connect with Lois Lane later in the series, feud with friend-turned-rival Lex Luthor, and ultimately fulfill his destiny of becoming Superman.
Fear the Walking Dead
On The Walking Dead, the world has already become overrun by zombies and is mid-apocolypse. In fact, the show starts off with a character awakening to see a world he doesn’t recognize. But the prequel series focuses on a dysfunctional family’s preparations for a collapsing world. It’s the semi-calm before the storm. If you’ve always wanted to learn what to do to prepare for a zombie apocalypse, this show is a must-watch.
Another great superhero-based prequel series to check out is FOX network’s Gotham. Smallville was based on the life of young Superman, so, naturally, this show is based on the beginnings of Batman. But the Caped Crusader’s origin stories isn’t the only one you’ll see! Favorite villains like Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Mr. Freeze are given their screentime, too. So if you want to get your daily dose of DC Comics without scouring the internet for fan theories, this prequel is for you.
Calling all sci-fi lovers! Caprica just may be your newest obsession. It’s a spin-off of the Battlestar Galactica series and takes place 58 years before destruction hit Kobol, the fictional colony. Battlestar Galactica proves that robots are good-for-nothing heaps of scrap metal that eventually bite the hands that created them, and this prequel shows their dynamic among humans before all that serious sh*t went down. If you’re still looking for proof of why it would be bad for robots to interact with humans on the daily, this show might convince you.
For any history buffs and adventure addicts out there, Black Sails is full of details centered around the golden age of piracy. It’s based on the novel Treasure Island and takes place twenty years before the narrative of the book begins. If you’ve already cozied up to the novel and loved it, give the prequel series a shot. Or, watch Black Sails first, then read the books! Either way works.
Prime Suspect 1973
Who doesn’t love a good show about a detective? Based on Prime Suspect (obvi), this prequel follows the life of British detective Jane Tennison (who’s also one of the first female detective chief investigators in the London area). Of course, rising through the ranks isn’t easy, and Prime Suspect 1973 follows Tennison’s journey as a 22-year-old beginning work with the police service. It serves a good dose of girl power, and we love it.
Better Call Saul
Fans of Breaking Bad were heartbroken when the series concluded in 2013. That’s why it was welcome news when the showrunners announced Better Call Saul – a prequel series that follows the life of the notoriously goofy lawyer before he ends up on Breaking Bad. Some other faves from the show appear, so if you find yourself missing the Walter White show, this might just fill the hole in your heart – and in your TV time. You better add this show to your watch list ASAP!
Star Trek: Enterprise
It’s kind of hard to imagine what life might be like in the 2260s, but Star Trek: The Original Series helps us out with that. The show’s prequel series Star Trek: Enterprise actually travels way back in time (for them) to the 2250s to follow the lives of crew members exploring the Milky Way galaxy. If this series isn’t ~out of this world~, we honestly don’t know what is.
Star Wars: Clone Wars
We’ll add one animated series into the mix for good measure – and considering it’s related to the massive Star Wars franchise, it was an incredibly necessary addition. The show technically happens a couple years after Attack of the Clones, during the fall of Anakin Skywalker, but obviously takes place before we catch up with Luke, Leia, and Han. Various well-known characters make an animated appearance, and it’s essential watching for anyone who thinks they’re a TRUE Star Wars stan.
Spartacus: Gods of the Arena
If Black Sails isn’t enough to quench your thirst for history, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena just might do the trick. Just look at those abs! That’s reason enough to watch. It follows the life of the first gladiator to become the champion of the city of Capua. The miniseries is a quick six episodes, but acts as a prequel for the three-season Spartacus miniseries and centers on Gannicus – played by Dustin Clare.
If you love Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory, you’ll probably love his nine-year-old self in this spin-off prequel show. That’s right, a smaller version of Sheldon gets an entire series to his crazy, awkward genius self in Young Sheldon. Although he’s nine years old in this show, he attends high school because – well, the dude’s a freakin’ genius! A small, socially awkward child navigating high school life among crazy teenagers? Nothing could possibly go wrong…
Lord of the Rings
Good news for Lord of the Rings fans: Amazon Prime announced recently that their studios will tackle a prequel series to this iconic fantasy franchise. While it hasn’t been released yet, the prequel is expected to take place before the events in The Fellowship of the Ring, exploring stories that the original didn’t. There’s not a ton of information out about what this series will include, but we guess we’ll just have to keep our eyes peeled on Amazon Prime.