Video game TV adaptations are all the rage right now. Netflix is currently developing The Witcher with Henry Cavill in the starring role, and Showtime is working on a Halo adaptation. StudioMDHR and Netflix just announced The Cuphead Show!, the most fitting and obvious video game adaptation to be made in years. If The Cuphead Show! is as good as Netflix’s Castlevania adaptation, we’re in for a real treat.
But video games haven’t always fared well as TV adaptations (or as movies). From the truly terribly and short-lived The Legend of Zelda cartoon to the multiple Super Mario Bros. TV gaffe-fests, beloved game franchises have become seriously bad TV more often than not. Still, with the surge in popularity of video game adaptations — and the growing prevalence of promising ones — we decided to create a wishlist of ten video games that should be turned into TV shows.
Mario and Luigi have had a rough go of it outside of video games. Numerous TV shows and an extremely cringe-worthy live-action movie in the ’90s may have probably convinced Nintendo to stay away from adaptations. But we humbly ask Nintendo to reconsider and give us the Luigi’s Mansion animated series we deserve.
The hook is right there for the taking. Each episode, Luigi can deal with another ghost problem in a mansion/hotel/dentist office. Think Ghostbusters but with your favorite Mario brother leading the way: Luigi Mario not Mario Mario. Of course, no Luigi’s Mansion adaptation would be complete without Gooigi, Luigi’s goopy green companion in the upcoming Luigi’s Mansion 3.
Animal Crossing fans are currently waiting (im)patiently for the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons on Switch. We’re naturally looking forward to the island-themed simulation that will consume our lives for years to come. We’re also respectfully asking for more in the form of an Animal Crossing TV show. Imagine the interpersonal feuds between neighbors, the planting of trees, the securing of perfect fruit, the conversations with Tom Nook about much-needed home renovations.
An Animal Crossing TV show may not make sense on the surface, but imagine if the producers tried to replicate the endearing monotony of the game in 30 minute chunks. We’re not saying make it boring. Make it relaxing. It’d be great to play New Horizons on Switch in handheld mode while watching Animal Crossing on the TV. We’re only slightly joking about this.
Brie Larson would love to play Samus Aran in a Metroid movie, and we’d love to see her star in a trilogy based on the events in Prime. As far as a TV show goes, Metroid seems like a perfect candidate for a cartoon/anime adaptation. Imagine Metroid in the style of the Castlevania animated series. Sounds neat, right?
For the story focus, there’s a ton of material to mine throughout the franchise. We’re partial to the atmosphere and story of Super Metroid, but it might make more sense to explore Zero Mission. Metroid is a long overdue for a lighthearted TV series that can appeal to both parents and kids.
Uncharted 4 spoiler warning
Nathan Drake may have officially retired at the end of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t come back on TV. A film adaptation starring Tom Holland is in the works already. That would seemingly complicate things with a TV show since we doubt Holland would play Drake on the small screen as well. Unless it follows an older Nathan Drake, as a parent to a young adventurer.
Uncharted 4‘s epilogue puts you in shoes, albeit briefly, of Cassie, Nathan’s and Elena’s daughter. We’d love to see a TV show centered around Cassie. Picture Nathan and Elena trying to raise their daughter to have a normal life. But Cassie, being the daughter of explorers, wants to follow in their footsteps. We see it as a cross between Indiana Jones and Veronica Mars.
Red Dead Redemption
You could convince us that any Rockstar games, including Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis, could make for riveting TV. But the most obvious candidate for a TV series is Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar’s sweeping western that includes three games thus far (including Red Dead Revolver).
Red Dead Redemption would seem to fit on a premium cable channel such as HBO or Showtime. We imagine Showtime would be the better fit, considering HBO has already produced Deadwood and has Westworld currently in its lineup.
A Red Dead Redemption series could feature a huge ensemble cast, with each episode focusing on one key character. Arthur Morgan, Dutch van der Linde, and John Marston could lead the way, but the series has a bevy of interesting characters with stories to tell. Red Dead Redemption would make for gritty TV and is the type of property that would appeal to far more people than just fans of the games.
Look, we know Hideo Kojima has moved on from Konami to make an equally or more obtuse game called Death Stranding at his own studio. So, it’s possible that a Metal Gear adaptation without Kojima would lose much, if not all, of its luster. But can you imagine an hour-long episode that’s just two characters having a nonsensical discussion? We can, and we’re extremely here for it.
In all seriousness, Metal Gear, particularly the Solid series, is rife with material for a compelling political espionage drama. Like Red Dead Redemption, we think Metal Gear would fit perfectly on a premium network. HBO isn’t afraid of making grandiose nonsense — ahem, Westworld — so Metal Gear would fit right in.
BioShock has only known excellence. All three entries in the 2K Games-published first-person shooter series have been stellar, with the original and Infinite standing tall as two of the best games from the last console generation. But Infinite launched way back in 2013 and 2K hasn’t confirmed if a fourth entry is even in development. A BioShock TV series could reinvigorate the franchise.
Yes, BioShock is largely centered around the terrible politics of Ayn Rand, but it also has nods to George Orwell’s writing. Both the original and Infinite feature mind-bending philosophical stories filled with interesting characters, both friends and foes.
The main reason we want to see BioShock come to TV is to explore more of Rapture, the setting of the first game. The underwater city of Rapture is one of the most interesting settings we’ve visited in a game.
Sure, Mass Effect: Andromeda was bad and diehard fans of the series would probably ask for episodes they don’t like to be rewritten, but the Mass Effect series could turn into a really cool TV series. The film rights were optioned more than a decade ago, but it’s possible Mass Effect will never actually hit the big screen.
For a TV series, we could see Mass Effect going in two completely different directions. First, it could be turned into an epic, live-action saga in the vein of Battlestar Galactica. This would be our ideal Mass Effect adaptation: A serious futuristic drama with all the bells and whistles of modern special effects.
But another intriguing direction is an animated show aimed at adult viewers. The animated show could cover the events of each of the first three Mass Effect games. Since a significant portion of Mass Effect’s story was dictated by player choice, perhaps Netflix could use the Black Mirror: Bandersnatch technology to let viewers make critical story choices, too.
The nightmarish setting of Yharnam is filled with all sorts of dastardly creatures and unsettling environments. We have no doubt that a Bloodborne show could be utterly terrifying, especially if the brave production studio who took it on really leaned into the gothic setting.
Bloodborne‘s inspirations, which include Bram Stoker and Lovecraft, have been used as the foundation for numerous TV shows and films already. We’d argue that Yharnam would instantly vault itself into the upper echelon of grim TV worlds.
Imagine the Blood-Starved Beast coming to life on screen or a multiple-episode arc centered around Father Gascoigne. Bloodborne is steeped in compelling lore. With the right writers attached, Yharnam’s lore could fill several seasons.
The mainline Fallout series largely takes place above ground, after people emerge from their vaults to face the aftermath of devastating nuclear warfare. As a TV series, we think Fallout would be most effective if it took place in the vaults. Call it a Fallout Shelter adaptation if you must, but hanging out with the people in the underground vaults sounds like a highly compelling premise.
It could explore class politics, such as how the living conditions of the rich and poor differ in the vaults. Above all else, a Fallout show would revolve around survival and perseverance. Flashbacks to The Great War could be included throughout, showing the characters’ lives before they were forced underground. Eventually, the characters could move back to the surface to rebuild civilization, but we think a show focused on the struggle of clinging onto societal order in the vaults would be thoroughly enthralling TV.