TV shows that were blatant rip-offs
THEY say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but not all TV show creators agree.
Over the years, some of the most famous shows to grace our screens have been blatantly ripped off in a desperate attempt replicate their success ... and their ratings.
Here are some of the worst offenders.
THE BIG BANG THEORY - THE THEORISTS
As far as rip-offs go, few are as blatant as Belarusian show The Theorists.
The sitcom was about four scientists named Sheldon, Leo, Hovard and Raj, who live next door to a beautiful waitress. Sound familiar?
As you can imagine, The Big Bang Theory creator Chuck Lorre was less than impressed in 2010 when he discovered his show had been ripped off and in a statement he asked for the show to be shut down.
"Each episode appears to be a Russian translation of a Big Bang Theory episode," Lorre said at the time in a statement.
"When we brought this to the attention of the Warner Brothers legal department, we were told that it's next to impossible to sue for copyright infringement in Belarus because the TV production company that is ripping us off is owned and operated by the government of Belarus. "Having no other recourse, I'm hoping that this vanity card will be read by the fine folks making The Theorists, and, wracked with guilt, they break down and send us some felt hats."
Lorre's message was heard loud and clear in Belarus and The Theorists came to an end when some cast members quit in disgust claiming they'd been lied to about the legality of the show.
"I am overwhelmed with very unpleasant feelings because initially the actors were told that all the legal issues associated with the series had been resolved," Theorists actor Dmitry Tankovich said.
"We did not know that this was not so, so when the reaction from the creators of the Big Bang Theory appeared, personally I was confused ... I think that this is the most disastrous period in my creative career. And I do not want to continue to participate in the pirate project."
THE BRADY BUNCH - STEP BY STEP
Step By Step debuted in 1991 - 17 years after The Brady Bunch wrapped up.
Starring Suzanne Somers and Patrick Duffy, the show was about two single parents with three kids each who got married after a whirlwind romance.
As Jean Rosenbluth from Variety wrote in her review of the pilot episode, "if the plot line sounds familiar, it was meant to".
"The producers of this new ... series clearly aspire to capture the same traditional family-oriented viewers The Brady Bunch drew in big numbers throughout the early '70s and for many years later in syndication."
Step By Step ran for seven seasons whereas The Brady Bunch only ran for five. But actor Patrick Duffy was well aware that Step By Step would never be a cult hit like the '70s sitcom.
"The Brady Bunch was a different kind of show," he told The LA Times in 1994.
"It was, in essence, the trendsetter. We have our following, but it's not addictive to people who watch it."
RAMSAY'S KITCHEN NIGHTMARES - RESTAURANT: IMPOSSIBLE
In 2004 foul-mouthed British chef Gordon Ramsay started hosting Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares on Channel 4 in the UK.
In the show, Ramsay would visit struggling restaurants and would spend a week overhauling the menus, decors and attitudes of the owners in an attempt to set the establishments on the path to success.
After five seasons in the UK, Ramsay headed to the US to make an American version of the show called Kitchen Nightmares.
It was so successful that in 2011 the Food Network developed a show of their own which was a blatant rip-off.
Called Restaurant: Impossible, the show starred a British chef called Robert Irvine who was given two days and a budget of $US10,000 to help bring a failing restaurant back to profitability.
Both shows have come to an end, but which one was more successful?
According to Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares Blog, 77 out the 105 restaurants featured on the show have since closed. That's 73 per cent which have shut down.
On the flip side, 91 out of the 140 restaurants featured of Restaurant: Impossible have closed their doors according to Food Network Gossip. That's a 65 per cent failure rate.
PSYCH - THE MENTALIST
Beginning in 2006, Psych stars Shawn Spencer as a consultant with the Santa Barbara Police Department who pretends to be a psychic but in reality just has superior observational skills.
Fast forward two years and along came The Mentalist which stars Simon Baker as a fraudulent psychic who becomes a consultant for the California Bureau of Investigation.
The similarities between the shows are so striking that Psych has poked fun at The Mentalist in several episodes, although the Psych creator maintains that he's not angry that his show was ripped off.
"For me, I guess it's the sincerest form of flattery, you know," Steve Franks said.
"There's not really anything you can do about it, but we like to take every opportunity we can to sort of play with it and have fun with it."
Psych actor Dule Hill agreed, saying, "I mean it's not like that show [The Mentalist] is taking away from our audience or we've taken away from their audience".
"I think it's a great thing," he said.
"I mean on our show we like to have a lot of fun anyway, so as long as they can take us ribbing them every once in a while I think it's all good."
THE SIMPSONS - FAMILY GUY
Is Seth MacFarlane's show simply a rip-off of the worlds most famous cartoon?
The Simpsons producer Al Jean thinks so, telling Ugo Networks in 2003, "to be honest, I thought it was a little too derivative of The Simpsons to the point where I would see jokes we did on The Simpsons or The Critic on Family Guy".
"They should be more original," he added.
Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane has been asked about the similarities between the two shows for years and admitted to Entertainment Weekly in 2014, "I'm the first person to say, stylistically, absolutely, we took 100 cues from The Simpsons".
"Look at when All in the Family came out," he said.
"Suddenly it created a whole new style of doing things. The timing style of Family Guy was directly influenced by The Simpsons because it worked. They cracked that nut."
MacFarlane even indicated that arguably the most popular character from Family Guy, Stewie, is partly based on a Simpsons character.
"Stewie comes from Rex Harrison first and foremost, but I would be lying [if I said] there wasn't a shred of Mr. Burns' influence," he told EW.