Top 10 TV Shows Based on Movies

Here's our top ten list of favorite movie-inspired TV shows.

Now that TV has run out of its own shows to remake, it has turned to the movies for inspiration. From ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ to ‘Bates Motel,’ some of the biggest TV shows are, in fact, based on movies. Most live in the shadow of their cinematic predecessors, but some deserve to stand alone.

10. ‘Parenthood’


Ron Howard’s 1989 movie about an extended family was created mainly for laughs (except for the killing spree). But NBC’s 2010 re-imagining is far more realistic and subtle. This is the second time ‘Parenthood’ has been remade for television, but the latest remake transcends the original remake in every way possible.

9. ‘Planet of the Apes’


Not content to destroy dreams and aspirations of children of the ’60s, the maniacs behind the dystopian movie franchise wanted to give another generation of kids similar nightmares with a TV spin-off. With one of the most traumatic title sequences in the history of family television, the producers started off with a bang.

8. ‘Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles’


This ‘Terminator’ continuation reboot was neither too dark nor too frivolous. It was a worthy successor to the first two ‘Terminator’ movies, from which it took its tone and ongoing storyline.

7. ‘M*A*S*H’

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Robert Altmans anarchic 1970’s Korean war medic comedy was innovative and enjoyable in its own right. But it was the moving CBS remake that captured the nation’s hearts in a way that the harsher original never could. Many fans of the series didn’t even know it was based on a movie.

6. ‘Hannibal’


Just when you thought they had taken Thomas Harris’ ‘Hannibal Lecter’ franchise as far as it could go, they cast an actor in the lead who has some sense of nuance. Danish film star Mads Mikkelson is as credible a Lecter as there ever was, without losing an iota of the character’s underlying menace.

5. ‘The Real Ghostbusters’

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There are more animated TV versions of movies than there are age-inappropriate cigarettes in ‘Ghostbusters.’ But this late ’80s TV spin-off was one of the few of them that matched the storytelling of its predecessor. It picked up from the movie and found great voices to imitate the celebrated cast.

4. ‘Friday Night Lights’


Both the 2004 movie and the 2007 TV version told the same story of a small-town high school football team, but the series did so much more with the idea. It made it almost documentary-like, with its free-flowing camerawork and improvised acting. You felt like you were really there, on a Friday night under the stadium lights.

3. ‘Fargo’


With several gracious nods to the Coen Brothers’ Minnesota-based thriller, the FX TV remake takes the location and makes facsimiles of the original characters. And then somehow does it all completely differently, with the same black humor. And, unlike the movie, they get to do it all over again for TV in 2015.

2. ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’


The vampire series is a remake sequel of a 1992 dud that most Slayerettes would rather forget. That it surpassed the original is a given. That it actually managed to erase the memory of the movie is the real achievement.

1. ‘Police Academy: The Series’

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Well, it could hardly have been worse than the movie, could it? Ultimately, both the police academy movie and the show answered the question we were all asking: do cops ever have to make bullhorn sound effects with their mouths?