7 obscure TV series that share a name with far more famous shows and movies

Friends, The Sixth Sense and The Ghost Busters were all… Seventies shows!

With the countless number of TV shows and movies that have been produced over the past century, some repetition is bound to happen. But while many derivative works are direct remakes or offshoots of the original, sometimes two completely unrelated projects have the exact same title.

Here are seven different television shows with names that are far more well-known than they are. In fact, these shows are downright obscure — some only lasted a handful of episodes! Read on to discover the original versions of Friends, The Sixth Sense and more.

1. Friends

Not to be confused with the '90s sitcom, this 1979 series followed three 11-year-olds as they dealt with the highs and lows of middle school life. It starred Jill Whelan (before she became famous as Vicki Stubing on The Love Boat) and was produced by Aaron Spelling but still only lasted five episodes.

2. The Sixth Sense

Not to be confused with the 1999 thriller, this early Seventies series was wildly successful compared to other shows on this list. It lasted two whole seasons (though only 25 episodes total) and featured many famous guest stars like William Shatner, Will Geer and Joan Crawford. The stories about a college professor who investigates supernatural phenomena were even re-edited to air as episodes of Night Gallery in syndication.

3. The Ghost Busters

Not to be confused with the Dan Aykroyd-Bill Murray comedy — and its cartoon spin-off, The Real Ghostbusters — this fifteen-episode series was produced in 1975. It was a children's show about two paranormal detectives and their gorilla. The characters' names — Spencer, Tracy and Kong — were an homage to classic cinema, although Tracy was the gorilla and Kong one of the human detectives. It returned in the '80s as a cartoon, Ghostbusters, which is why the other one was called the Real Ghostbusters. But who was first, huh?!

4. E/R

Not to be confused with the long-running medical drama, this Eighties sitcom lasted just 22 episodes. Although different in tone, it shared many similarities with its more famous counterpart. Both took place in emergency rooms in Chicago — and both featured the acting talents of Mary McDonnell and a young George Clooney! Weird! The 1984 sitcom also starred Elliott Gould, Conchata Ferrell, Lynne Moody and Shuko Akune.

5. Empire

Not to be confused with the hit Taraji P. Henson series, the 1984 sitcom version starred Dennis Dugan as a young man who joins the corporate ranks and tries to navigate a tyrannical boss and scheming co-workers. Unfortunately, this satire of Eighties corporate America only lasted six episodes. Empire was also an early Sixties drama starring Richard Egan and Charles Bronson that was renamed Redigo for its second season before being canceled.

6. The Pursuit of Happiness

Not to be confused with the Will Smith movie spelled with a "y," there were two one-season sitcoms that used this famous phrase as a title. The first, which aired ten episodes in 1987 and '88, followed a young college professor in Philadelphia who clashes with older members of the faculty. Not even a guest appearance by basketball star Magic Johnson could save this series. The Pursuit of Happiness was also a short-lived sitcom that aired for just a few months in the fall of 1995. It starred Tom Amandes, Melinda McGraw and pre-Everybody Loves Raymond Brad Garrett.

7. The Practice

Not to be confused with the Dylan McDermott legal drama, this 1976 sitcom starred Danny Thomas as a cantankerous doctor who often clashes with his fellow doctor son. A guest appearance by Lucille Ball couldn't help this series from getting canceled after one season.

 
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

33 Comments

Post a comment
Martin 3 months ago
There was also a movie called "Friends" that came out in the early 70s. Elton John performed on the soundtrack.
Addy68 3 months ago
I went to taping of ER when I was in high school. I still have Shuko Akune's autograph in a scrapbook somewhere.
Barry22 3 months ago
When Ghostbusters the movie came out, I think Filmation filed a lawsuit and lost. but when they announced an animated series, Filmation claimed that they owned the name for an animated production. Hence Filmation's terrible cartoon was called Ghostbusters, and the animated series based on the movie was called The Real ghostbusters.
McGillahooala 3 months ago
How did this article not mention that The Ghost Busters starred Larry Storch and Forrest Tucker? Tucker was the star of Svengoolie’s movie last night. Storch is all over METV and both were the stars of F Troop.
ncadams27 3 months ago
While not obscure, The Avengers is probably more familiar to many as a Marvel movie franchise that for Steed and Mrs. Peel.
PulsarStargrave 3 months ago
WHEW! For a minute I thought these were summer replacement shows! Serves me right for not fully reading the article!
Jon 3 months ago
I remember watching the original FRIENDS and recognizing Jill Whelan from that show when I saw her on LOVE BOAT. Her costar Charlie Aiken appeared on LOVE BOAT before her as a boy who was a terrible liar. Gary Collins from THE SIXTH SENSE and his real-life wife Mary Ann Mobley played his parents. The 3rd youngster from FRIENDS, Jarrod Johnson, was a cast member in Saturday morning's THE LOST SAUCER.
Dario Jon 3 months ago
I remember Friends, too, I thought it was a good show at the time. 😁
TheDavBow3 3 months ago
Interesting. Don't remember any of them. I'll have to look them up
JeffPaul76 3 months ago
I watched a few, maybe four, five, six episodes of the first ER with George Clooney when it was on. But the later one, NO!
MrsPhilHarris 3 months ago
Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch starred in The Ghost Busters. 🦧 I would love to see an episode of that. I bet it was just awful.
Kiyone57 MrsPhilHarris 3 months ago
I watched the Forrest Tucker/Larry Storch Ghost Busters. It was actually kind of fun in spite of being low budget. It was a kids show, after all.
MrsPhilHarris Kiyone57 3 months ago
I’m going to look for it.
Look it up on YouTube.
I found a episode on YouTube. Has some old ads too. It’s fairly lame. I bet I would have loved it as a kid though.
I’ve seen it on YouTube. I think the whole Series is available.
I haven’t finished the episode yet. Will look for others, but I’m not sure if I will make it through one.
justjeff 3 months ago
So... If the title of this article is "7 obscure TV series that share a name with far more famous shows and movies", then **why** do we need the disclaimer "Not to be confused with..." by each example?

I'm confused...
cperrynaples 3 months ago
Believe it or not, there were 4 Empires! There was a NBC Western, a CBS sitcom, an ABC drama which was sorta PG Game Of Thrones, and finally the Fox show, which had more episodes than the others combined!
RedSamRackham 3 months ago
* I hate getting a 6th Sense rerun when I tune into Night Gallery. ♣
I liked The Sixth Sense when it was it's own show. But when I turn on Night Gallery and it's really a Sixth Sense episode, I say to myself, "Oh, man! Not again.".
Linda RedSamRackham 3 months ago
Two problems are that The Sixth Sense was an hour long show, but each episode was chopped down to thirty minutes for syndication with Night Gallery, and it wasn't Night Gallery. What idiot decided to do that?
ruswilinc Linda 3 months ago
A series of only24 episodes does not get put into syndication. They don't think it is worth it financially. Sixth Sense episodes bundled into insured they didn't disappear forever. BUT, in my opinion when you chop an hour long show down to half hour it has to lose a lot.
cperrynaples ruswilinc 3 months ago
The mistake made with Sixth Sense was to cut 60 minutes into 30 and have Rod Serling do exposition to fill the blanks! Since Night Gallery had so few episodes, it would have been better to make the Sixth Senses two-parters! Maybe Peacock will restore the originals at some point!
daDoctah 3 months ago
E/R also starred Corinne Bohrer, who a few years later was the lead character in another sitcom, "Free Spirit" where she played a young witch who becomes a nanny to a single father's three kids, in a sort of updating of "Nanny and the Professor". The middle child in "Free Spirit" was played by a 13-year-old Alyson Hannigan, who would herself play a witch on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer".

Bohrer has the peculiar distinction of appearing in both "Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol" and "Revenge of the Nerds IV: Nerds in Love", though she wasn't in any of the previous films in either franchise.
Load previous comments
JeffPaul76 rycki1138 3 months ago
Don't forget that Allison Hannigan went on in the '90's as a co-star on How I Met Your Mother, where she played Lily, Marshall's girlfriend & later wife.
cperrynaples JeffPaul76 3 months ago
No, HIMYM was the 2000's! In the '90's she was Willow on Buffy The Vampire Slayer! Of course now she hosts Penn & Teller:Fool Us on the CW!
Jon daDoctah 3 months ago
Jason Alexander also appeared on the original E/R as a hospital administrator who was a nemesis to most of the staff.
Couple of things I remember seeing AH on, was she hosted a couple of Food Network Game Shows. The premise of one of the games was the bakers had to make things using nothing but Girl Scout Cookies. I think the grand prize was either a year or a lifetime supply of GSC!
The other one she hosted was Most Outrageous Pumpkin Carvings. The title did not disappoint. Those carvings were outrageous!
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?