Spin-off vs Prequel: Difference and Comparison

Movies, books, and TV series are sources of fascination and extreme interest for many. While we mostly vibe with the lead roles, there are also times when we relate with the side characters.


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There are many excellent books and movies wherein these supporting characters also have a great fan base. 

Spin-offs, prequels, remakes, sequels, etc., are some terms we are familiar with in these days of character fanaticism.

The prequel is a backstory, and a spin-off is more like a character description.

Key Takeaways

  1. A spin-off is a new show or movie based on characters or storylines from an existing show or movie.
  2. A prequel is a new show or movie that takes place before the events of an existing show or movie.
  3. A spin-off is based on existing characters, while a prequel creates new characters.

Spin-off vs Prequel

A book or film in which characters of an existing show are presented is called spin off. In a spin off, a new storyline can be defined which is related to the existing show or movie. A prequel can be a movie which takes place before the existing show. Backstory can be explained in the prequel. New characters can be created in a prequel.

Spin off vs Prequel


Comparison Table

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.
ThemesSince the first sagas were told, prequels have been increasing the life of films, books, television programs, and shows.The spinoffs are a time-the honoured notion, going back decades to when characters would be informed in sketches on a variety show and then given their series just months later.
ImportanceThe characters’ past or the story itself is essential to forming an opinion.The fan-favourite 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 endeavour originating 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 meant to indicate a change in perspective from the story, based on the activities of the series’ central protagonist. 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 is now 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.

spin off 1

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.

They often 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 to 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 based on some other creative work, but these are significantly different. 

  1. Prequel implies the origin story of the given story and is more focused on providing a backdrop. Spin-offs are stories of the character mentioned in the original report, built on their point of view. 
  2. Prequels are situated in the past, which may not be a rule for spin-offs. 
  3. Prequels show the protagonist as it is an insight into how the story is formed, while spin-offs might not even mention the protagonist.
Difference Between X and Y 86
  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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