11 Terrible TV Shows Based On Movies, Ranked
In the hugely competitive world of TV, brand recognition is one of the biggest advantages that a producer or network can have. All shows face a struggle to find an audience, but never is this more true than when a series is entirely new. GameSpot's ever-growing list of canceled shows reveals just how few new series make it to a second or third season.
One way that a show can arrive with a built-in audience is if it's an adaptation of an already successful movie. That's the theory anyway. There have been several great TV series based on films, some of which are now better known in their small screen versions, such as M*A*S*H*, Friday Night Lights, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Most recently, the likes of Hannibal, Fargo, and The Exorcist proved that an interesting approach to an existing movie could result in good things.
Sadly, there are many more examples of bad shows that have been adapted from movies. The previous examples either did something interesting with the original concept or made use of the longer running time to expand on the characters and story. But too many shows think that slavishly copying what made a movie so popular, and stretching it over many hours, will result in something just as good. But as we've seen so many times over the years, it does not.
The other big problem of adapting hit movies to the small screen is the cast. Very few TV adaptations can afford the stars that made the film a hit in the first place, so often we are left with cheaper, and frankly less talented, equivalents. Sometimes it doesn't matter, when the concept is strong enough to overcome a cast downgrade. But when your movie relied on the charisma and talent of someone like John Candy or Jackie Chan, it's no wonder the TV version seems poor in comparison.
So here's our look at the worst ever TV shows adapted from hit movies. In most cases, these series didn't make it to a second season and have been wisely forgotten by most viewers. But they did happen, and serve only to remind us of how good the films were to start with.
11. 10 Things I Hate About You (2009)
It's always surprising when a TV show arrives a long time after the original movie, particularly if there were no sequels to keep viewers interested in the intervening years. The 1999 movie 10 Things I Hate About You was a terrific teen reworking of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew--with a breakout performance from Heath Ledger--but it wasn't such a hit that it merited a follow-up at the time. For some reason, a decade later, the TV adaptation arrived. There's almost nothing to separate this from the dozens of other forgettable high school comedies and dramas that flooded screens throughout the 2000s, and it was cancelled after a single season.
10. Damien (2014)
The Exorcist isn't the only demonic '70s horror blockbuster to be remade for the small screen in recent years. In 2014, the classic The Omen was adapted by future Walking Dead showrunner Glen Mazzara. The series takes up the story of Damien Thorne many years after the events of the movie, with the antichrist's son now a war photographer unaware of his satanic legacy. The result is a limp, unscary show that lasted only 10 episodes before being sacrificed on the altar of cancelation.
9. Ferris Bueller (1990)
This TV version of the hit John Hughes movie Ferris Bueller's Day off deserves some credit for not simply remaking the teen comedy classic. The concept is that the show is about the "real" Ferris, who thinks Matthew Broderick's portrayal of him in the movie was totally inaccurate, and wants to show us the true life of Ferris Bueller. Unfortunately, this more intriguing approach was dropped after the first episode. The rest of this short-lived show is simply a weak copy of Hughes's comedy classic, notable only for its pre-Friends co-star Jennifer Aniston.
8. Conan the Adventurer (aka Conan) (1997)
Long before Game of Thrones, fantasy fans had to make to do with some rather more modest small screen adventures. In the mid-'90s, the New Zealand-shot Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess proved successful enough to inspire the return of Conan to the screen. Robert E. Howard's barbarian warrior had been last seen in two Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicles in the '80s, and next to this terrible, little-remembered show, they seem like fantasy classics. German bodybuilder Ralf Moeller played Conan, who was inexplicably transformed from the brutal warrior of the books and movies into a jovial, wisecracking muscle-bound goofball. It's utterly generic, low-budget stuff, totally lacking in a sense of adventure, that has almost nothing to do with the source material.
7. Rush Hour (2016)
Rush Hour was a buddy cop hit that worked because of the oddball pairing of the brash comedy star Chris Tucker and more reserved martial arts icon Jackie Chan. Tucker and Chan were well established stars already, and the fun of the movie was in watching them bounce off each other. The TV remake was reasonably well performed by Justin Hires and Jon Foo--but the problem is, they are simply not Tucker and Chan. Throw in formulaic plots, uninspired comedy, and mediocre action, and you have a show truly deserving of its rapid one-season demise.
6. Dirty Dancing (1988)
There have been several attempts to recapture the magic of the '60s-set teen drama Dirty Dancing, including a prequel, a remake, and this TV show. The series was first out of the gate and arrived the year after the movie. But without the chemistry of Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze--not to mention their dance movies--we were left with a boring melodrama that lasted just 11 episodes.
5. Baby Talk (1991)
The hit 1989 comedy Looks Who's Talking was based around the novelty of Bruce Willis performing the inner-monologue of a baby, as he observed the world around him. This just about worked for one movie, before two terrible sequels revealed the limitations of the gimmick. Why anyone thought it would also stretch to a TV show is anyone's guess--but Baby Talk was the awful result. Willis was replaced by charmless Tony Danza, and while Baby Talk did make it to a second season, the show was entirely revamped, with a new cast and storyline introduced in an attempt to boost ratings. It didn't work.
4. Uncle Buck (1990)
A classic case of a TV show suffering from the recasting of its main actor. John Candy is the main reason that John Hughes' Uncle Buck is so fondly remembered, and his replacement--stand-up comedian Kevin Meaney--is no match for the Canadian comedy legend as hard-living but well-meaning Buck Russell. This woefully unfunny sitcom was so bad it was cancelled before all the episodes of its single season were even screened. Amazingly a second attempt to adapt the movie was made in 2016, with Mike Epps as Buck, but again, it was axed after one season. No more please.
3. RoboCop: Prime Directives (2001)
This was actually the second TV spin-off from the hit sci-fi movie, following RoboCop: The Series in 1994. While the '94 show toned down the movie's violence to appeal to a younger audience, it was actually pretty good, with an eccentric tone and much of the satire of the film kept intact. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for RoboCop: Prime Directives, which was rushed into production shortly before the TV rights expired. While the show did bring back a darker, more violent edge, it was otherwise a cheap, ugly, and scrappy affair that totally ignored all the sequels and previous shows. Thankfully, only four feature-length episodes were made of this stinker.
2. The Crow: Stairway to Heaven (1998)
Martial arts star Mark Dacascos is currently enjoying well-deserved acclaim for his villainous role in John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum. But 20 years ago, he had the unenviable task of trying to fill the void left by the death of Brandon Lee, who was killed on the set of the first Crow movie. To be fair, Dacascos is not the worst of the five actors who have played undead avenging rocker Eric Draven in this mostly-terrible franchise (that'll be Edward Furlong in the 2004 movie The Crow: Wicked Prayer). But the show itself is dreadful. It's a sanitized TV version with none of the dark intensity of the first movie or James M Barr's comic book; Draven no longer kills his enemies, he just scares them, and a distinct lack of good story ideas meant that 22 episodes stretched on for an eternity.
1. Police Academy: The Series (1997)
Unlike most of the other shows on this list, it's not like Police Academy: The Series was based on a good movie to start with. The Police Academy franchise might have been a consistent box office performer throughout the '80s, but it was hated by critics and eventually spluttered to a close with 1994's Mission to Moscow. There was a final attempt to revive this idiotic franchise three years later, but by that point, any vague goodwill towards it was long gone. All this shockingly unfunny series could do is recycle terrible jokes from the seven movies, but without the original cast (beyond the odd cameo). It's so bad it's never even been released on DVD, although dedicated fans can find episodes on YouTube. We really recommend you don't however.