17 American TV Shows That Started In Other Countries

Shark TankShark Tank‘Shark Tank’ has a panel of investors that includes Barbara Corcoran and Mark Cuban.


Shark Tank” has been making a splash on ABC since its premiere in 2009, however, it’s far from the original version of the series.

There are at least nine other versions of the series throughout the world.

“Shark Tank” isn’t the first wildly successful show that saw its start in another country.

Programs like “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and “American Idol” took off in the United Kingdom before coming across the pond. Other shows had more surprising beginnings.

Long before Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran were receiving business pitches on 'Shark Tank' ...

... there was 'Money Tigers' in Japan.

The Japanese series first aired in 2001. It only lasted for three years, but its concept of having a row of seated investors getting pitched ideas was adapted in other versions of the show.

'Money Tigers' was picked up as 'Dragon's Den' in the United Kingdom in 2005, eventually making its way to the United States in 2009 with the name 'Shark Tank.'

Though Claire Danes and Damian Lewis star in Showtime's drama-thriller 'Homeland' ...

... the hit show originated as Israel's 'Prisoners of War.'

Translated to 'Prisoners of War,' the Israeli series 'Hatufim' tells the story of Nimrod Klein and Uri Zach, two Israeli soldiers who return home following 17 years of being held hostage in Lebanon.

Before 'Prisoners of War' even started filming, 20th Century Fox had already purchased the rights to remake it into an American version.

While the differences between 'Homeland' and its Israeli counterpart have been noted as extensive -- with the Israeli show's focus on the soldiers, and the American show's focus on Claire Danes's character -- both shows have picked up positive reception and numerous awards.

Steve Carrell may be the boss we know on 'The Office' ...

... but Ricky Gervais played the boss In the original British version of the series,

Airing from 2001-2003 on BBC, 'The Office' followed employees of the fictitious Wernham Hogg Paper Company and their boss, David Brent (Gervais) the show's creator and producer.

Character names and the office's location changed for the U.S. version, but Gervais followed suit, coming on board as an executive producer.

Though the U.S.'s 'The Office' was first received with harsh criticism -- USA Today called it 'a passable imitation of a miles better BBC original' -- it eventually ended up in Time's 'Best TV Shows Of All Time' list.

'Big Brother' is one of 40 international editions of a reality competition.

The original started in the Netherlands.

Premiering in the Netherlands in 1999, 'Big Brother' set the reality show's basic format in stone.

'Big Brother' -- a name coming from George Orwell's '1984' -- follows a group of housemates as they live together, secluded from the outside world and unaware of any exterior happenings. The contestants are monitored by in-house cameras and microphones. Whoever escapes all the elimination rounds, or 'evictions,' is the winner.

The Dutch version ended its run in 2006, while the U.S. version finished up its 15th season this year.

Before American Ferrera starred in 'Ugly Betty' ...

... there was Colombia's super popular telenovela, 'Yo Soy Betty, La Fea.'

A Colombian soap opera running from 1999-2001, 'Yo Soy Betty, La Fea,' translated to 'I am Betty, the ugly,' follows an unattractive, intelligent economist named Betty as she navigates her job at a fashion house.

The show was created by Fernando Gaitán as a way to critique Colombia's superficiality. 'Yo Soy Betty La Fea' became the world's most popular soap opera, according to Guinness World Records.

'Ugly Betty' aired for four seasons on ABC.

Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie starred on two different versions of 'Whose Line Is It Anyway?'

Before Drew Carey and Aisha Tyler, they worked with host Clive Anderson on the original, British version.

'Whose Line Is It Anyway?' started as a radio program on BBC, making its way onto television in 1988 as a British comedy show.

The show consisted of a panel of four performers -- most notably Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie -- who participated in improvisational games prompted by the host, Clive Anderson.

Re-runs of the British series began airing on Comedy Central in the early '90s. When the original version folded in 1998, a U.S. version picked up with host, Drew Carey. The show just returned on the CW with Tyler as a host.

'American Idol' wasn't judge Simon Cowell's first go at a talent competition show ...

He was on the judging panel in Britain's 'Pop Idol' in 2001.

Premiering in 2001 as a music competition show, 'Pop Idol' set out to find the best new pop singer in the UK by the way of viewer voting.

Simon Cowell served as one of the original judges, eventually moving on to judge 'American Idol' with Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul in the U.S. and to start 'X Factor' in the United Kingdom.

'Pop Idol' only lasted two seasons, but its U.S. adaptation went on to have huge success, becoming the nation's most watched primetime show for eight consecutive years,

Before John Ritter lived with two single ladies on 'Three's Company' ...

... there was Britain's 'Man About The House' that showcased four singles living under one roof.

Airing from 1973 to 1976, 'Man About The House' revolved around three roommates, one male and three females, who navigate social lives, affording rent, and a bevy of misunderstandings.

Starring Richard O'Sullivan, Paula Wilcox, and Sally Thomsett, 'Man About The House' was considered unique for its time in that it featured single members of the opposite sex living with each other.

Before Anderson Cooper hosted ABC's version of reality competition show 'The Mole' ...

... the show got its start in Belgium as 'De Mol.'

In Belgium's version, players worked together to complete physical and mental challenges and subsequently rack up a cash prize for the eventual winner. One of the contestants was hired by producers to be 'the mole' and to sabotage the team's efforts. The mole must be careful not to give himself or herself away, while the rest of the contestants continuously document details about the suspected mole.

Players' knowledge of the mole is tested at the end of each episode, and the player with the lowest score is eliminated.

The show aired three seasons in 1999, 2000, and 2003, while the U.S.'s 'The Mole' lasted five seasons.

Archie Bunker may have played a loveable bigot in 'All in the Family,' ...

... but Alf Garnett was the original character in Britain's 'Till Death Us Do Part.'

The decade-long run of 'Till Death Us Do Part' introduced viewers to a working-class family in 1960's London. Tackling issues such as racism and widening generation gaps, the sitcom was easily relatable to a similarly working class audience.

The storyline followed 'Till Death Do Us Part' into the American version, 'All in the Family,' as Archie and Edith Bunker navigated a relationship with their college-aged daughter Gloria, and her hippie husband, Michael.

Adam Levine and Blake Shelton may be judges on NBC's version of 'The Voice' ...

... but the talent competition actually originated in the Netherlands as 'The Voice of Holland.'

Talent competition shows were nothing new at the time 'The Voice of Holland' kicked off, but its unique concept of pairing contestants with coaches -- popular performing artists -- caught on to the U.S. talent show circuit.

'The Voice of Holland' premiered in 2010 and is currently in its fourth season, while the 'The Voice' is now in its fifth season.

'Sanford and Son' featured a father and son duo in a story adapted from ...

... Britain's 'Steptoe and Son.'

The original British sitcom 'Steptoe and Son' followed father and son, Albert and Harold, who worked together selling used items. Running on and off from 1962 to 1974, the sitcom was re-made in several other countries, including Sweden and the Netherlands.

Unlike the British show, which featured a primarily Caucasian cast 'Sanford and Son' featured African-American men as its main characters.

Before CBS's hit show 'Survivor' took us on a wild quest for $US1 million ...

... there was Sweden's 'Expedition: Robinson.'

The Swedish reality television program 'Expedition: Robinson' brings a group of 16 strangers to a desolate location, where they have to provide for themselves and compete against each other in various physical and mental challenges. At tribal councils, contestants vote who they want kicked off the island.

'Expedition: Robinson' has been airing on and off since 1997.

Since 'Survivor' came to the United States in 2000, the show has seen 27 seasons of thrill and adventure, and has ranked in the top 10 or top 20 shows on television since its start.

You may recognise the dysfunctional Gallagher family from Showtime's 'Shameless' ...

but they were first featured on a British series of the same name.

Britain's 'Shameless' chronicled working-class culture via the life of Frank Gallagher, an alcoholic father, and his six children. Running for 11 seasons, the comedy-drama won countless awards and paved the way for HBO to develop a similar show with the same title, plus big name stars Emmy Rossum and William H. Macy.

Before Regis Philbin asked contestants 'Is that your final answer?' ...

Chris Tarrant hosted the original UK version of 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?'

The UK's 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?' premiered in 1998, a year before it premiered in America.

In a format adapted by the U.S., the show quizzed contestants in a variety of categories with the questions becoming more difficult as the game progressed.

As questions were answered correctly in the time limit allocated contestants worked their way toward a $US1 million prize, or choose to bow out earlier for a lesser amount.

Celebrities showed off their moves before ABC's 'Dancing with the Stars' premiered ...

... on the UK's 'Strictly Come Dancing.'

The British television show 'Strictly Come Dancing' paired celebrities with professional dancers in a weekly competition, testing celebrities' skills in everything from Ballroom to Latin dancing.

The show has aired on BBC since 2004, and has inspired up to 40 international editions, including 'Dancing with the Stars.'

Before aspiring chefs battled it out in 'Iron Chef: America' ...

... they waged cooking competitions on Japan's 'Ironmen of Cooking.'

The Japanese cooking show featured guest chefs challenging the show's resident 'Iron Chef' in a competitive cook-off. The chefs are given an allocated time along with a designated theme ingredient to incorporate into their meals.

Food Network picked up the show, dubbing it in English, and after rave reviews, created 'Iron Chef: America.'

Now that you know where some of our most popular shows began ...

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