There’s no denying it anymore. TV has changed. There used to be a time when the line between TV and film was so clear it was unmistakable. Film always had the bigger budgets, the better production, the better actors and, usually, the better storylines. Film was just better in every way and the only ones who denied it worked in television. In recent years, though, we’ve seen some of the best work out there on television. The budgets are steadily increasing, technology is changing and massive film actors are switching over. Now that the quality is on par with film, television allows actors bigger and more fleshed out characters to dive into. The best screenwriters are being drawn into the medium because of the grander storylines and new challenges. Yet, even with this changed medium, not every story works on television.
In the past, we’ve seen a number of films that just don’t quite work on the big screen, but we imagine that they might on television. Most often, these failures come down to basic time restrictions. Now that television has picked up its game so incredibly, we’re seeing a huge number of former films expanded and turned into TV shows. Some of the very best shows on television are spawned from movies: Bates Motel, Westworld, Fargo and Hannibal, to name only a few from recent history. Obviously, success like these shows have seen is not guaranteed, even in this TV renaissance. Now, when you consider all those movies that were adapted in the dark years of television, the list of failed adaptations can get pretty long. Well, we’re considering it all here. We’ve decided to look at all the failed attempts at adapting a movie into a TV show, but we’re paying particularly close attention to the shows that were destined to fail from the very beginning, the ones that never really had a chance to be good. Here are 15 TV Shows Spawned from Movies That No One Wanted.
15. The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles
In the years following Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, fans of the Indy franchise were satisfied. The Last Crusade had saved the series from the Temple of Doom and tied the bow on a very successful trilogy. You would forgive fans for thinking this was Indy’s last crusade, especially since that was the damn title, but it wasn’t. Remember those scenes with River Phoenix playing a young Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade? Those scenes are to blame for the TV series that followed. They were the inspiration for soon-to-fail TV show, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Now, compared to most TV shows on the list, this show is actually pretty good. No, it’s not as good as the films, but, as far as educational television goes, it was solid entertainment. The issue is that it never lived up to the films. The humor, the antics and the mystery of Indiana Jones was spoiled in the show. We can’t have Indy nearly fail every mission he ever goes on or else it becomes tired, and, on TV, it did. The reason why Indy’s movie missions are so epic is because this guy is a mysterious legend himself. Peeling back all the layers of his character is done at the expense of the movies and that’s not a compromise that true fans were willing to make.
14. Teen Wolf
We know that Buffy the Vampire Slayer will go down as one of the best television shows ever created, but, in its tracks, it left countless rip-offs that fail to live up to its legacy, unfortunately. Teen Wolf is just another in long line of, admittedly addicting, teen dramas with supernatural crap in them. This one brings nothing new to the table, so it doesn’t deserve to be treated any differently than all the rest. In adapting the Michael J. Fox film Teen Wolf, the TV show exchanges all coming-of-age metaphor and silliness for teen romance and try-hard darkness. Yet, now in its sixth season, the show’s success is undeniable. But this is misleading. There are 65 different successful shows with teen werewolves and vampires and when one finally decides to go off the air, another three will spring up in its place, and they’ll also be successful. Enough already.
13. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Despite the fan-following that Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles generated in its short existence, this is a show never really should have happened to begin with. The Terminator franchise was walking already walking a very thin rope at the time this came out (2008). The entire mythology was always one small step away from a complete paradox and that’s never a good thing for any science fiction series. Still, the first two movies were excellent. The action sequences, special effects and original storyline was more than enough to make it one of the most heralded franchise in the genre, but after the third film, no one was asking for anything more, especially not a second-rate, low budget version of the films. This is what we saw in the pilot of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, an attempt at rewiring the Terminator story to allow for a TV series. While the acting was actually quite good and some fans were eager to learn more about the mythology, the show was destined to fail from the beginning and fail it did.
It’s possible that the film Limitless was one of the most overrated films when it first came out. The initial reviews were stellar. It seemed that people were so hung up on the interesting concept that they ignored the fact that the film did absolutely nothing new or exciting with that concept. Eventually, people got wise and the film ratings fell to being considered just mediocre, good but nowhere near great. Sadly, in Hollywood, the best thing to do with a mediocre-to-good film like this is to make a TV show out of it. Thinking they might be able to squeeze more blood from this stone and leverage Bradley Cooper’s rapid rise to superstardom, the Limitless TV show hit our television sets. At first, things looked ok, but, over the course of its one and only season, ratings and viewership were cut in half. The writers were in a no-win position. Every episode created a new plot hole that needed filling and the only way to fill it was to dig a new hole. Worst of all, the interesting premise was crammed into another familiar and incredibly boring procedural drama.
At the end of Blade: Trinity, fans were at a point where we needed no more Blade films. Trinity was horrible, first of all, and all the vampires were dead. Blade (Wesley Snipes) had used that weapon and killed them all. It was done and we were happy it was over. You know what that meant to the studios? Start up a TV show starring Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones as Blade. Even though we all knew the show was going to fail, 2.5 million people watched the show’s premiere, which was actually the biggest opening in Spike TV history for an original series at the time. Yep, 2.5 million fans tuned in to watch what was the dumbest crap on TV, much worse than Blade: Trinity. The show ran for one unspectacular season and was never heard from again.
We think that the Scream film franchise is one of the most undervalued horror franchises out there. It was for this reason that we were skeptical about the TV series when it was announced. The film created by horror legend, Wes Craven, was to be adapted by a team who had never worked in the genre and spent most of their time working on teen-dramas. The cast was filled with teen-drama actors. And, worst of all, they were changing the mask. Still, fans apparently liked what they saw. After a period of time and strong ratings, we gave in and gave it a chance. What we saw was, unfortunately, what we expected. Anyone who actually likes the Scream franchise knows the formula. There’s an art form to crossing people off the suspect list and the show made it very, very easy to figure it all out. Season two was even worse. This is what we expected, a horror movie turned into a teen drama.
9. Dangerous Minds
If you haven’t seen Dangerous Minds since you were kid and all you remember is Coolio’s voice on the soundtrack, you would be forgiven for thinking it was a better film than it was. After all, it did quite well at the box office, Michelle Pfeiffer was a huge star and it was your classic fish-out-of-water story. But this film was a strange one. It portrayed inner-city youth, especially those of color, as ridiculous caricatures of gang members and violent thugs. Pfeiffer is completely unbelievable portraying the real-life Marine Corps veteran, Lou Anne Johnson, and the message delivered overall is insulting to everyone. Why not make a TV show out of it? In what became a 17-episode slog through the movie, the TV show did nothing new, unless you consider all the new ways that the Lou Anne Johnson character was butchered or how many new ways racism could slap the viewers in the face. This TV show was ghetto tourism at its lowest point.
8. Rush Hour
The Rush Hour trilogy is a lot of fun. After a few minutes, Chris Tucker’s voice becomes bearable and you can start to see his humor through the nails-on-a-chalkboard-pipes and Jackie Chan is, well, Jackie Chan. He’s a legend and his endearing on-screen persona is only surpassed by his persona off screen. The plots of any of the three films don’t matter. Just like any good buddy cop film, it’s the buddy part that’s important. So, can you guess why the adapted Rush Hour TV series was so awful? That’s right. The stars of the TV show, Justin Hires and Jon Foo, had about as much chemistry as a History degree. The result was a poorly written but diverse cop comedy TV show that was mercifully cancelled after one season.
7. Ferris Bueller
Outside of introducing many of us to a 21-year old Jennifer Aniston, nothing good came of the 1990 TV series Ferris Bueller. As you can imagine, this show was a ticking time bomb from the very beginning. The concept for the show was that there was a real Ferris Bueller, the guy who the 1986 movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was based on. Well, the show followed the “real” Ferris Bueller and he was even more of a knob than Matthew Broderick’s version. The character, played by Charlie Schlatter, had a face that you just wanted to punch. He was impossible to like. Halfway through it’s first season it was cancelled for being atrocious.
6. Minority Report
Steven Spielberg’s smash-hit Minority Report was super successful for so many reasons, but the high-concept and awesome action sequences were at the top of that list. The film came out in 2002 and much of the futuristic technology and ideas in the film were intriguing, if only because they seemed possible. The issue with the TV show is that it forgot what made the movie interesting. In 2016, the futuristic technology isn’t all that interesting. Also, the great concept, that of trying to uncover if and how the pre-cogs were wrong, doesn’t even apply. In the end, the show was just one more crime-of-the-week dramas in a world filled to the brim with them. Oh, except this one was set in the future.
Like Jada Pinkett-Smith, cult films are beautiful but they sometimes give birth to demons. Tremors is one of these films, small and unexpected, but about as fun and entertaining as a film gets. Six years later, Tremors 2: Aftershocks came out and went straight to video. It wasn’t horrible but it was missing the panache of the first film. Then five years after that film, 11 long years after the first Tremors, we were hit with Tremors 3: Back to Perfection. Now, if you had stayed true to the franchise for 11 years, this film wasn’t all that bad. If you were tuning in for the first time, oh boy, what sights you would have seen. It’s this thinking that made the decision to launch a TV series that followed the events of the third film so strange. At this point, we just had a direct-to-video movie that was the sequel of a direct-to-video movie and completed a trilogy of an 11-year old movie. Who the hell was asking for a TV series? Then, to top it all off, the Sci-Fi channel played the episodes out of order, so the whole thing was out of whack. Was anyone actually surprised that this failed?
We’re big fans of The Omen. So big, in fact, that hearing of a TV sequel 40 years after the film’s release physically brought pain to our ears when we heard it. This was a bad plan and even worse execution. The reason The Omen was successful was because it was terrifying for its time and there was incredible tension within the young family dynamic. The TV show, Damien, is about Damien all grown up. The concept is no longer terrifying and no longer interesting. Adapting horror to television has proven next to impossible. The show creators have to try and bring in horror elements without making the show feel like a burden to watch. It can’t be too dark because, without humor, it can’t last, too much light-heartedness and the horror fails. Not many can overcome this dilemma.
3. Dirty Dancing
Imagine the movie Dirty Dancing except, instead of a film, it’s a TV show. You may think we’re exaggerating, but we’re not. The TV show is the exact same as the movie. The only difference is you don’t have Patrick Swayze’s wavy mullet or Jennifer Grey’s pre-nose-job sexiness. If you thought that Dirty Dancing was slow moving, the TV show will offend you. It is remarkably glacial and one of the boring assaults on your mind that you will ever find on television. Thankfully, the show was cancelled during its first season, so we didn’t have to endure that painfully slow love story build any longer. We will never know how it would have ended. Legend says that somewhere out there, the TV-version of Baby is still in a corner.
When Zombieland came out, it caught everyone a bit by surprise. People didn’t want to like it, but it was just too lovable. The concept was funny and the cast was outstanding. Afterward, there was plenty of talk about sequels and TV adaptations. There was a lot of excitement around the potential projects, but they drifted out of relevancy for a while. Then, all of a sudden, Amazon announced that it had ordered the pilot episode of a Zombieland TV show. We watched it. They watched it. We all hated it. The acting was horrendous and the concept was the exact same as the movie, like the exact same jokes but worse delivery. Amazon quickly dropped it and no one will ever mention it again. Right now, everyone loves Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick since they just blew everyone’s lids with the writing on Deadpool, so it’s awkward thinking they ever wrote such failure of a TV show. After it was dropped, Reese also came out with this gem: “I’ll never understand the vehement hate the pilot received from die-hard Zombieland fans. You guys successfully hated it out of existence.” Good riddance. Try writing something fresh next time.
1. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures
If you’re anything like us, you felt that Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure was one of the single greatest films in history. Well, even true fans like us were a little bit taken aback when it was announced that an animated show was in the works. It turned out to be pretty decent, think Magic School Bus with a greater emphasis on history and way cooler dialogue. Plus, Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter and George Carlin did the voices! Then, after only one season, things changed. Someone got the terrible idea to make a live-action show, except, instead of using good actors, they would use awful ones. To help the transition, they ran a second animated season with the new actors doing the voices. It was predictably much worse. Still, they went forward with the live-action show. It was not excellent.