Countless fan-favorite films have inspired animated television series over the years, and with the latest Ghostbusters reboot looking to be one of the summer’s most anticipated movies, Sony has decided to capitalize on the hype by announcing a brand new cartoon entitled Ghostbusters: Ecto Force. In light of this news, we have decided to take a look through decades of films and film franchises and select the 15 titles that we believe could spawn successful animated television series.
Properties that have yet to receive the animated series treatment are fair game for this list. Movies rich with compelling stories and beloved characters are obvious choices, but we also took into consideration the television medium and the ability to stretch a feature film into an elongated story. This list is comprised of a handful of films that we believe could inspire truly imaginative and successful cartoons, for the young Saturday morning set, the older Adult Swim set, or even for anime fans.
Here are the 15 Movies We’d Like to See Become Animated TV Series.
15. Pirates of the Caribbean
Just because a series is animated, does not necessarily mean it is for children. Plenty of adult-targeted cartoons – The Simpsons, Family Guy, South Park, Archer, etc. – have proven to be just as successful, if not more so than their live-action competitors. That being said, there is still plenty of room for quality programming for children as well. As far as the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is concerned, it could really fall into either camp.
The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is certainly not targeted toward younger children, and with the more adult themes and content that the world of pirates inhabits, we could certainly see this as a more mature animated series. Still, with the lighthearted nature and tone that the pirates have been associated with in popular culture today, a children’s series would not be out of the question – especially seeing as how this is a Disney property after all. In fact, characters such as Jack Sparrow and Elizabeth have already been featured on Disney’s popular early morning program Jake and the Neverland Pirates, so a future spinoff may not be too far out of the question.
Over the years, there have been countless Disney Channel Original Movies, but if any of them were to receive their own animated television series, there is arguably no better choice than Halloweentown. Halloweentown is one of the Disney Channel’s most beloved original films, and perhaps one of its most inspired. Featuring a completely fictitious Halloween-centric city, this Disney Channel original features some of the network’s best characters and stories.
Halloweentown is a place completely left unexplored outside of being showcased in a handful of films, and it could truly receive a breath of new life with an animated spinoff. There are plenty of original characters and unique stories that could be told in this universe, and with an animated series format, there are plenty of directions that this narrative could take. The series could follow the main character of the film franchise Marnie Piper, or perhaps even feature a new witch learning to use her powers. Either way, the star of Halloweentown would most likely be its unique setting and all of the adventures that could take place within it.
13. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Time travel is a plot device which has been used throughout many films with varying degrees of success. One film which truly got it right is The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Telling the story of Makoto Konno, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a classic “butterfly effect” type of narrative with a handful of twists and turns. The few liberties that this animated feature does take with the conventional time travel tropes truly makes it unique and worth revisiting.
With various different films and series already based off of the novel by the same name, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time has plenty of interesting narratives to spare. That said, an animated series could be a great medium to tell more engaging and enthralling stories on a larger scale. This film in and of itself may not lend itself to an extended series at first glance, but this interesting premise has plenty of room to grow. With time travel comes several different themes and lessons to be learned, and each could potentially be explored in an animated television series.
Mulan is arguably the strongest female lead that the Mouse House has in their arsenal, and with a cast of great characters to the film’s credit, the franchise could easily carry a television series. Not to mention, the character design for all of the major players within the universe are already established, seeing as how the movies are already animated.
Even outside of Walt Disney Studios, Mulan is no stranger to the big screen or television. As a story that is over 1000-years-old, this legend of a Chinese woman warrior has been told and retold countless times throughout the years. On a similar note, Disney is known for transforming their popular films into television shows – Aladdin, Lilo & Stitch, Winnie the Pooh, Hercules, The Emperor’s New Groove, The Little Mermaid, etc. – so a Mulan series certainly would not be out of the question. It has been a while since Disney has done anything with the property, but nevertheless, an animated series starring the Chinese legend could be a great addition to their morning lineup.
With Japanese anime still garnering a cult following stateside, filmmakers such as Cristopher Nolan cite these foreign, animated pictures as inspiration for films like Inception. Interestingly, the latest Hollywood trend is to adapt anime properties into live-action films – such as Ghost in the Shell and Death Note – but audiences hardly ever see studios opt for the contrary. Rarely have we seen live-action films being adapted in to an anime, or anime-style series, but Inception could be a good candidate to make the leap.
A live-action television series based upon the premise of raiding dreams could potentially be quite expensive to produce, but as an animated series, writers would truly be invited to let their imaginations run wild. The animated television series would not necessarily have to be based off of the Leonardo DiCaprio portrayed-Cobb as his character arc appears to have been completed within the film’s narrative, but rather the program could focus on a different team of raiders entirely. With Nolan possibly signed on as a producer, this series could explore new worlds and characters in either a weekly serial or potentially even a procedural program.
10. Night At the Museum
Ben Stiller may currently be the backbone of the film franchise, but the premise behind the film is intriguing enough that it could perhaps thrive as an animated television series. Educational children’s programming such as The Magic School Bus could potentially be a guideline as to how a series like this could work. Every story arc or episode could feature a different time period with the security guard protagonist learning historical facts in order to restore order in the museum.
History naturally features a slew of interesting characters, inspiring heroes, and diabolical villains. Some of the greatest stories ever told are based on true events and a Night at the Museum animated television series would have the opportunity to tell these stories on a weekly basis. Keeping with the tone of the film franchise (which is inherently lighthearted and whimsical), this animated series could potentially be uber-successful as an animated children’s series.
9. The Lego Movie
One of the biggest and most pleasant surprises of 2014 was The LEGO Movie. A feature film about LEGO may have seemed like an odd idea for a number of moviegoers, but the end product was so enjoyable and profitable that Warner Bros. and company decided to turn the property into an entire cinematic universe. If there is one thing we have learned from Marvel Studios thus far, it is that a television universe can nicely accompany a film franchise.
Sure, there has been some dispute and confusion over the years as to whether or not the two Marvel universes were actually connected (beyond a nod or two), but the fact that both have been uber-successful cannot be denied. Each movie for the Disney owned studio rakes in cash at the box office, and their respective television series garner quality ratings and reviews as a source of alternative programming. The LEGO franchise now has an opportunity to accomplish the same feat with its numerous anticipated films on the horizon – The LEGO Movie 2, The LEGO Batman Movie, The LEGO Ninjago Movie. Yes, the franchise does contain a few television series at this point in time, but nothing currently tied to the successful universe in which they are building. A spinoff series somehow linked to the film universe might be the push LEGO needs to begin growing its television universe.
The 2008 film starring Hayden Christensen, Jamie Bell, Rachel Bilson, and Samuel L. Jackson may not have been a critical success, but the premise for the screenplay was not without its merits. A man with the ability to teleport being hunted by a group designed to track his kind could certainly make for a good story if done right. The fact that this movie was received so poorly might turn some off of the idea of an animated series, but it should be noted that there are quality ideas in place that could potentially set up a successful program.
Additionally, some may wonder exactly how an elongated television series based off of a single movie could work, but the novel by the same name in which the film was based was received fairly well, and author Steven Gould went on to write numerous sequels. With years separating audiences from the negative reviews of Jumper, it might in fact be the right time to get working on an animated television series and potentially even reboot the film franchise later down the line.
7. Spy Kids
If the Spy Kids franchise can be stretched into four movies, than there is no reason that it could not spinoff into an animated series. In fact, the property appears ripe for it. With all of the silly antics and imaginative characters contained within the franchise, this series could be served well as an animated television program. There is no shortage of stories that could be told, villains that could arise, or worlds in which the protagonists could travel to. Spy Kids could in fact be a great animated series in the right hands.
In fact, it has actually already been reported that the Weinstein Company intends to create an animated spinoff, and with little news on the subject (until recently) coming since 2015, we certainly hoped that they would intend to follow through. With news arriving just weeks ago that Netflix plans to release the series on their streaming service, anticipation is now even higher in hopes that the network can deliver a quality animated series.
6. Kill Bill
Arguably the best scenes in all of Kill Bill Vol. 1 are the animated ones involving the backstory of O-Ren Ishii. Done in the style of Japanese anime, her origins were told in compelling fashion with beautiful detail and illustrations. Her tragic backstory was heartbreaking and the emotion of each scene was felt by the audience. With these scenes already serving as a prime example of quality illustrations and storytelling within the franchise, a Kill Bill animated series appears to make a lot of sense.
We already know that the medium fits the story, and because the entire series would be animated, a Kill Bill anime could take place before or after the events of the films. The animated series could tell of the Bride’s days before she left the gang of assassins or perhaps unveiling another story altogether – still leaving room for that Kill Bill Vol. 3 that Quentin Tarantino fans are continuously crossing their fingers for. Simply put, Tarantino has truly created a fascinating universe with these films, and it would be a shame if we never got a chance to explore it ever again.
5. The Goonies
Even after over 30 years, The Goonies stands as one of the greatest adventure comedies ever made. Sequels and spinoffs for this Richard Donner classic has been discussed over the years, but even after three decades it appears we are no closer now than we have ever been to seeing more adventures from this lovable band of misfits. Donner and company have stated on multiple occasions that that The Goonies 2 is in the works (or at least in talks), but yet again, no hard evidence has ever actually materialized.
One project that was reportedly in the works was a Goonies animated series which was apparently in production at Cartoon Network, but much like many other projects form this beloved potential franchise, nothing came to fruition. The Goonies is simply ripe for the animated medium. The source material is filled to the brim with charm and imagination. Additionally, an ill-received sequel may tarnish the legacy of this beloved film, but a cartoon series likely would not. Not to mention, the program could be a great way to introduce a new generation to the likes of Mikey, Data, Mouth, Chunk, and even Brand.
4. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Much like The Goonies, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial has very much stood the test of time, being known today as a classic and one of Steven Spielberg’s finest films. Much like many of the other films on this list, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is filled to the brim with imagination and inspired characters. The property is rich for a return should the creators choose to do so.
Again, much like many of the other entries on this list, this property was considered to become an animated television series, but obviously that idea never quite came to fruition. Additionally, Spielberg and company even had plans in the work for a sequel to the beloved movie but ultimately felt that it would not quite meet the mark set by the original. Simply put, the team behind E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial created a universe worth exploring for longer than one feature-length film. Surely, the property needs to be handled with care for the sake of its fans, but an animated television series set in this universe could be a fun weekly adventure without running the risk of robbing the original film of its standing in the history of great cinematic stories.
3. Pacific Rim
Guillermo Del Toro is truly a masterful, visual storyteller, but one thing he is not so good at however is turning large profits at the box office. With studios failing to see massive returns, Del Toro’s potential franchise follow-ups are cut short before they ever have their time to shine. Fans of the Mexican film director eagerly await the likes of Hellboy 3 and Pacific Rim 2, but with studios at times afraid to front the cash, these movies are sometimes stuck in development hell for quite some time.
Luckily, it appears as though Pacific Rim fans will finally get their sequel as recent reports slate the film for release in 2018. Still, the studio will need to see moviegoer support if a third entry is to be green-lit. Perhaps a place where more stories within this universe could be told is within the medium of animated television series. The Pacific Rim franchise appears to be a perfect match for that brand of storytelling, and getting kids on board could help bring in far more money at the box office. A rise in merchandise sales as well as domestic ticket sales could both be welcome side effects of a successful animated series.
Fans may have suspected that Deadpool was going to be a success from both a critical and financial standpoint, but no one could have predicted the absurdly high levels of success that the Merc With A Mouth achieved. On a relatively small budget (when compared to other movies in the superhero genre), the Ryan Reynolds-starred film went on to break countless box office records both overseas and domestically, and quickly became one of the most profitable movies of 2016.
Still, audiences and fans are left with no Deadpool cartoon. Plenty of lesser-known characters have had their chance at an animated series, but not Deadpool. The antihero has made a handful of appearances however. In fact, arguably one of the best episodes of the ongoing Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon series features the wisecracking comic book character. Although, that fact does support our theory that Deadpool should receive his own series. The “Ultimate Deadpool” episode is in fact a great guideline for how a series could be constructed.
With Deadpool being one of the hottest names in the superhero genre right now, it simply makes sense to capitalize on the brand. Not to mention, an animated series could be help the property tap into another demographic in which it is currently lacking, children.
1. Indiana Jones
Indiana Jones has been on numerous adventures since the character’s inception in 1981’s Raider’s of the Lost Ark. Indy has starred in four feature length films, numerous episodes of his very own live-action television program, countless novels written by several different authors, and has even appeared in various video games and comic books, but the fan-favorite hero has never had his own animated television series.
Jones was reportedly supposed receive his own animated television program years ago, but unfortunately that series never quite came to fruition. With the archeologist slated for a fifth film due out in 2019, now might be the perfect time to release an Indiana Jones animated series. A cartoon could introduce a whole new generation to Indy, and with Harrison Ford ending his run as the titular protagonist, the series could fill a void for the franchise before a potential reboot.
These films could all potentially inspire fantastic animated television series, but the one the property in which it is surprising that it has not happened already is Indiana Jones.
Which properties would you like to see become animated television series? Make sure to let us know what you think in the comments section.