Difference Between Spin-off and Prequel (With Table)

Movies, books, and TV series are sources of fascination and extreme interest for many. While we vibe with the lead roles mostly, there are also times when we relate with the side characters as well. There are many amazing books and movies wherein these supporting characters also have a great fan base. 

Spin-offs, prequels, remakes, sequels, etc. are some terms that we are familiar with in these days of character fanaticism. The prequel is hence a backstory and a spin-off is more like a character description.

Spin-off vs Prequel

The spin-off is a book, film, or television series that usually comes after a successful book, film, or television series. This can also mean that a certain character from the original series gets another series for their own. 

The prequel is a film or book that is made about the earlier stage of the story. It is about providing the background of the story that is already successful.


Comparison Table Between Spin-off and Prequel (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonSpin-offPrequel
DefinitionA book or a film about events that happened before those in a popular book or film that has already appeared.A book, a movie, a televised program, or an object that is based on a book, movie, or very successful television series
TimelineBefore the story.It can be before or after the story has taken place.
ThemesPrequels have been increasing the life of films, books, television programs, and shows since the first sagas were told.The spinoffs are a time-the honored notion, going back decades to a time when characters would be informed in sketches on a variety show and then be given their series just months later.
ImportanceThe past of the characters or the story itself is considered important to form an opinion on it.The fan-favorite side characters are appreciated through these.
ExamplesThe Godfather Part II (1974)
Wicked (2003)
Star Trek: The Next Generation(1987)
NCIS: Los Angeles( 2009)


What is Spin-off?

Spin-off (or spinoff)  is a radio program, film, book, TV series, video game or any narrative endeavor originated from already prevailing works that concentrate on more details and different aspects from the initial work (e.g. particular topics, characters or events).

This is usually meant to indicate a change in perspective from the story which is based on the activities of the series’ central protagonist and hence there is a shift in the dynamics of the story as a side character now becomes the hub of attraction.

The protagonist of the spin-off was initially a side character in the original series and now is given a show based on their narrative. The popular animation cartoon Batman: The Animated Series was back after revocation with a fresh name and a new mode of animation which only remained for 24 episodes.

It was later replaced by one more spin-off Batman Beyond which lasted 52 episodes and then begot another spin-off The Zeta Project. This a great illustration of building an entire franchise based on spin-offs.


What is Prequel?

A prequel is a literary, dramatic, or cinematic undertaking whose saga comes before that of previous work as a backstory, by concentrating on events that occur before the initial description. Like sequels, prequels may or may not concern the identical conspiracy as the work from which they are developed.

More often they clarify the setting that led to the occurrences in the source, but sometimes the connections are not entirely explicit. Sometimes prequels play on the audience’s understanding of what will happen next, using intentional citations to create dramatic irony.

For example, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) is a prequel to Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983) but is only a prequel of Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) because of the release order.

Likewise, 1984’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a prequel to 1981’s Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, in that it is set in 1935, one year before the first film. A prequel hence provides a much-required setting to understand the character better. 

Main Differences Between Spin-off and Prequel

Both the spin-offs and prequels are usually based on some other creative work but these are significantly different from each other. 

  1. Prequel implies the origin story of the given story and is more focused on providing a backdrop while spin-offs are stories of the character mentioned in the original story, it is built on their point of view. 
  2. Prequels are situated in the past while that may not be a rule for spin-offs. 
  3. Prequels usually show the protagonist as it is an insight into how the story is formed while spin-offs might not even mention the protagonist.



There have been some good prequels, some bad prequels, some good spinoffs, and some bad ones but overall these provide deeper meaning to your favorite movie or book or show as we can understand the characters and the plot better.

Movies and books mean a lot to many and they often find themselves extremely interested in knowing more about the characters on screen and prequels or spin-offs help a lot with that. While prequels provide backstories, spin-offs let us delve deeper into the lives of the characters we want to know about.

Both help in visual or written art in being more immersive experiences. 



  1. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057/9781137319401_2
  2. https://13wentworth.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/formatssequelsandspinoffs.pdf
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