Adapting a TV show into a successful movie isn’t always the easiest task to do in Hollywood. There are all kinds of aspects as to why and how a show was successful for so long. The actors, for one thing. Can anyone actually picture anyone other than Jon Hamm as Don Draper, should AMC ever try to cash in on a Mad Men movie? HBO is currently filming a Sopranos prequel. Even though David Chase cast James Gandolfini’s son Michael as a young Tony, he has some tremendous shoes to fill. Entourage had a lot of what made the show so fun to see, but it still fell flat and seemed more like an extended episode than a movie based on the show. The winning formula doesn’t always transfer to the big screen.
However, there are always plenty of successful adaptations. Some stray from the show’s formula, some stay true to it. 21 Jump Street was far more comedic than its TV namesake and proved to be a hit. Before the series went off the rails, it was pretty cool seeing the Autobots fight the Decepticons in a live-action Transformers film. Then shows like Transformers and G.I. Joe have animated movies to complement their show, expanding on the cartoon’s mythology. Speaking of mythology, one X-Files movie worked as a gap between seasons, and the other more “monster of the week” movie felt just like that. At the end of the day, the success of any show transitioning to the big screen is always based on the audience, no matter what critics have to say. Here are Top 5 TV-To-Movie Adaptations (& 5 That Need To Be Made).
10 Top - Mission Impossible Series
Just about everyone knows that “this tape will self-destruct in five seconds.” Tom Cruise didn’t only help update Mission: Impossible for the nineties, the ever-versatile actor turned the 1996 movie into a tent pole franchise.
Currently at six films and counting, Cruise and his various creative teams have managed to craft very different films every time out of the gate. Toss in the fact that Cruise usually performs his own death-defying stunts and you have one of the few TV-to-film adaptations that has spawned its own franchise.
9 Needs - Quantum Leap
With special effects and completely insane storylines and timelines, Quantum Leap is rife for a feature-length film adaptation. It was such a popular show, the fact that it’s not on the other side of this list is ridiculous.
Throughout the show, plenty of risks were taken. Sam had leaped into a legless vet, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Marilyn Monroe’s bodyguard. He also taught Michael Jackson how to Moonwalk and hung out with Buddy Holly. There are so many possibilities for a big-screen version, where you can get outlandish or stay grounded and dramatic.
8 Top - The Fugitive
“Your fugitive’s name is Dr. Richard Kimball,” Tommy Lee Jones and Marshall Sam Gerard say at the end of a brief speech. The chase is on.
Harrison Ford, Jones, and Joe Pantoliano shine in the adaptation of the classic '60s TV series. There are also appearances from Julianne Moore, Jane Lynch, and two future Lost alums to help flesh out the story of a wrongly convicted man on the run to try and clear his name.
7 Needs - Knight Rider
It would be a really cool callback to cast David Hasselhoff as the voice of KITT in a movie that would be a fun adaptation of the '80s series Knight Rider. Sure, there’s a Fast And The Furious movie out every year or so, but there still could be a place for the high-tech talking Trans-Am and its driver, Michael Knight.
Just place the emphasis more on the relationship between Knight and KITT, and have some fast driving action scenes, and you’d have a new car franchise on your hands.
6 Top - Charlie’s Angels
While Full Throttle quickly went off the rails, and the NBC update was nowhere near as successful as anyone had hoped, the original big-screen Charlie’s Angels movie was everything you could want in a big movie.
There’s action, a little bit of romance, comedy, and three of the most beautiful, badass women on the planet starring in a big-budget blockbuster.
5 Needs - Daredevil
2003’s Daredevil tried to cram in far too much story into not even two hours. When the MCU got their Guardian Devil back, they and Netflix crafted a top-notch series that, by the end of the third season, was just getting started. The show fell victim to Disney+ being announced and was unceremoniously canceled.
But there is no reason that Kevin Feige couldn’t get Charlie Cox, Vincent D’Onfrio, and the rest of the cast back together to have ol’ Hornhead join the MCU proper in a dark and gritty tale introducing villains like Bullseye and continuing the fallout of the third season.
4 Top - The Brady Bunch Movie
There might not be a person alive today who owns a TV and doesn’t know The Brady Bunch, even if you’ve never seen an episode. When The Brady Bunch Movie came out in 1995, the writers of the movie made the smart decision to not really change the Bradys that much.
Instead, they just had them react to kids in the nineties and had the nineties react to the Bradys. The resulting culture clash led to a lot of the film’s humor and a memorable film that stands on its own and pays tribute to be original series.
3 Needs - The Muppet Babies
The Muppets have been in and around Hollywood in one shape or another for over fifty years. One of the most popular iterations was the eighties classic cartoon, The Muppet Babies. Their adult counterparts always get center stage in a feature film, so it’s about time the tunes get their time to shine.
Considering how much media Disney owns, there are all sorts of movies and TV shows that the Muppets could adventure to in a big-screen adventure that could be reminiscent of Toy Story and just as memorable.
2 Top - The Simpsons Movie
It took nearly twenty years to bring The Simpsons to the big screen, and it was worth the wait. While a lot of TV adaptations falter by trying to be exactly like the show, The Simpsons Movie did exactly like its own show and didn’t falter.
It was the usual "Homer screws up" story, but with about a bajillion Simpsonized cameos, Bart skateboarding nekkid, and a new pet pig for Homer to love unconditionally.
1 Needs - Thundercats
Eighties nostalgia has been running rampant for years now—where on Earth is a Thundercats movie!? Masters Of The Universe came out at the height of that show’s fame, but fans are still waiting to see the Eye Of Thundera shine at the multiplex.
The makeup effects alone would be up for awards. A Thundercats movie would make at least double its money back based just off the name, and it could the perfect mix of fantasy and sci-fi.