Reboot or sequel?

There are a bunch of related terms regarding shows/films that are related. It can be difficult to understand the differences between them. Here are a few of them: sequel, reboot, spin-off, revival.

What follows is a basic definition of each of these, with examples. It should be noted, however, that not everyone uses these terms consistently. This article will try to give the most common definition.


A sequel is a series that follows another. It likely has mostly the same cast as the original. Sequels exist in the same fictional universe as the original Sequels are more common with films than series.

A few examples are Godfather II, Jaws II, and Star Trek: The Animated Series.


A spin-off is a series that is based on another, but usually features a different main cast. A spin-off usually exists in the same fictional universe.

Here are a few examples. “Mork and Mindy” and “Laverne and Shirley” are both spin-offs of “Happy Days”. Law & Order series are spin-offs of the original “Law & Order”.

It should be noted that in expansive franchises, a spin-off may be considered a sequel. For example, “Star Trek: The Next Generation” is often considered a sequel of “Star Trek”, although by this definition, it would more likely be considered a spin-off.


A revival is a type of sequel which is considered as a direct continuation of the original series. It often features a primary cast member in a different context than the original, such as a child, having grown up, becomes the primary character.

Here are a few examples of revivals. “Fuller House” is a revival of “Full House”. “Punky Brewster (2021)” is a revival of “Punky Brewster”.

In many cases, a revival may be considered the same series as the original, after the original series was canceled and brought back, such as in the case of the “Mad About You” revival.

Revivals are often called reboots, although reboots do refer to a different type of related series.


A reboot takes a series and re-imagines the series with a different cast and new storylines. A revival usually exists in a different fictional universe than the original. It often has the same characters as the original, but not necessarily.

A few examples of reboots are “Ghostbusters (2016)” and “Hills Have Eyes (2006)”.


Although these terms are a bit fluid, and some are used interchangably, hopefully this helps clear up the difference between them.