“Hollywood has run out of original ideas!” It’s a familiar battle cry from critics who lament sequels and reboots in the modern entertainment industry. Still, fact is Hollywood has been recycling ideas for generations, especially when it comes to turning successful films into TV shows.
The trend really took off in the ‘70s and ‘80s, when it often took producers a year – sometimes less – to repurpose their cinematic hits into TV series.
Unfortunately, in most cases these shows were short-lived. Whether due to rushed production, poor planning or simply an inability to successfully recapture the ingredients that made the film great, the majority of TV series based on movies frequently lasted just one season or less.
For every celebrated spin-off, like M*A*S*H or The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, there are dozens of shows that have long been forgotten. These include TV adaptations of such classic movies as Animal House, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Police Academy and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
In some cases, such as the short-lived Fast Times at Ridgemont High TV show, Fast Times, the series found itself struggling under the weight of its predecessor’s popularity. In others, like the Rambo animated series, the source material just proved a difficult match for TV audiences.
Still, it’s worth noting that many TV shows based on films helped future stars enjoy their first big breaks. Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Aniston and Sandra Bullock got some of their earliest screen time thanks to failed movie-based series.
Here’s our roundup to 28 classic films that were turned into (mostly failed) TV shows: