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The 10 best movies that should be made into TV shows

From 'Blade Runner' to 'Her,' these movies are dying for TV adaptations

movies that should be made into tv shows
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Making movies into TV shows has been a near-constant Hollywood practice dating back decades, with a diverse list of classic films that jumped to the small screen, from MASH to Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Lethal Weapon. Today the trend is as big as ever, with The WatchmenSin City, and dozens of other films set to be turned into TV shows in the near future. With this in mind, we’ve put our producer’s hat on and picked 10 movies that we’d love to see studios make into TV shows.

Since it’s possible to reimagine almost any movie as a TV series, we whittled down the options by picking films that have gripping or unresolved story points, an intriguing cinematic world, and compelling characters that touch upon topics we don’t see enough on TV. The fact that almost any movie you can think of has at least been considered as a TV show also helped us dig deep to find unexplored projects. Enjoy!

Foxy Brown Official Trailer #1 - Harry Holcombe Movie (1974) HD

Foxy Brown

Played by the indomitable Pam Grier, the titular character of Foxy Brown finds out her boyfriend has been murdered, and proceeds to go on a revenge spree full of violence, nudity, and loads of F-bombs. Once Foxy finds out a woman named Miss Kathryn is behind her boyfriend’s death, she wounds her instead of killing her, setting the stage for a war between the two volatile women that could potentially be sustained for multiple seasons of a retro TV show. There aren’t many strong black women on TV that are as likely to pull a gun out of their hair as they are to strut around in the finest threads like Foxy — and there needs to be. Following the success of the 1970s period piece The Deuce on HBO, we could see this show gaining a home there, or on some other network looking to cash in on the cachet.

Leon: The Professional Trailer

The Professional

While the action is impressive, the highlight of Luc Besson’s 1994 classic The Professional (Léon: The Professional in France) was Natalie Portman’s portrayal of vengeful 12-year-old Mathilda Lando, who learns to be an assassin in order to exact her revenge. We never see how Portman’s character goes on to put all of the skills she learned from Léon (Jean Reno) to work, and that is why a sequel TV series makes sense. For the show, the original film could be condensed into an hourlong episode that centers on retelling pivotal moments in Mathilda’s training, before future seasons show how Mathilda puts her skills to use — potentially at an older age. The series would be great on Hulu or possibly FX, as long as it does away with the creepy sexual undertones between 12-year-old Mathilda and middle-aged Léon.

Her - Official Trailer (HD) Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams


Most of the wonderfully stylized Spike Jonze film Her is spent watching Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) have an emotionally exhausting relationship with his operating system assistant, Samantha, which he allows to control every part of his life. Almost everyone in that futuristic world has an OS companion, so there are plenty of ways to explore this intriguing and lovingly designed world, revealing how different people interact with the technology. You could even write an episode or two from the perspective of the OS itself, which could let us in on what the technology “thinks” of its human hosts. The possibilities are vast, allowing for all sorts of scenarios a la Black Mirror, but with a less dour touch. If done right, it could be perfect for Netflix, or even the quirky Syfy channel.

John Wick (2014) - Official Trailer - Keanu Reeves

John Wick

The John Wick franchise has been a surprising hit for its star Keanu Reeves and its stuntmen-turned-directors Chad Stahelski and David Letch. While Reeves is far too big a star to head to the small screen (to the continuing surprise of some), with Stahelski and Letch serving as executive producers, a series diving into the the rich and expansive world of assassins Reeves’ character Wick inhabits — alongside plenty of well-executed stunt work and practical effects — could offer plenty of runway. The series would follow the nuances of the underworld created in the films, perhaps following a stark collection of assassins as they navigate it, to be explored on a premium network such as HBO or Showtime.

Pacific Rim - Official Main Trailer [HD]

Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim‘s story about an alien invasion thwarted by massive, manned war machines is fun, but the movie is mostly remembered for how it inundated viewers with gorgeous visuals at a rapid pace, making it perfect for an animated TV adaptation. There would never be a show with a budget big enough to recreate that world for live-action on the small screen, but animation could easily recreate the world in the vein of beloved series like Voltron, while taking the action to levels the films and human actors couldn’t. Serializing Pacific Rim would also do its story good by developing ideas barely touched on in the first film, including exploring the aliens in their alternate dimension to get a deeper insight into why they want to destroy Earth. Throw this show on Cartoon Network, Netflix, or even Amazon and let the kids (and sci-fi nerds) eat it up.

Hidden Figures | Teaser Trailer [HD] | 20th Century FOX

Hidden Figures 

History class isn’t always fun, but Hidden Figures taught millions about the contributions Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson made to NASA space travel in the 1960s. The women were portrayed by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe, respectively. While it’s unlikely those great actresses would reprise their roles, the story is so rich in history, it would be a shame if it only existed on the big screen. A Hidden Figures TV series could dive deeper into their other historical achievements, such as Johnson helping land men on the moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission, while also digging into themes of racial and gender inequality that are as ripe for exploration as ever. With the film inspiring programs to help get more women involved in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), a weekly series on BET or National Geographic would help to do more than simply entertain.

BLADE RUNNER 2049 - Official Trailer

Blade Runner

The opening of Blade Runner 2049 mentions a “series of violent rebellions” by replicants, as well as ecosystems that were destroyed in the mid 2020s following the events of the original Blade Runner film, but we never see those events play out. While it would be an incredible undertaking, no doubt, a Blade Runner TV series would be fantastic as a weekly exploration of that unseen civil war between replicants and humans, and could serve as a commentary on today’s constant quandaries about AI, where robots are already becoming citizens. The Blade Runner films’ neo-noir science fiction style also features some of the most visually arresting scenes captured on film, and would have people drooling on a weekly basis if it was on a network willing to cough up the dough to make it happen, such as HBO, Netflix, or AMC.

Remember The Titans [Official Trailer]

Remember The Titans

In the true story reimagined by Remember The Titans, head coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) leads the team (spoiler alert) to an undefeated season, but the racism that accompanied the historic season was never far from sight. A Remember The Titans TV series could explore the team and its inspirational coach in more depth, chronicling the issues faced by individual characters, and the impact the Titans’ success had on racial tensions at T. C. Williams High School and Alexandria, Virginia, as a whole during the 1970s. Boone coached the Titans for five more years following the events of the film, and each season of the show could chronicle a football season. We could see the series on network TV, in the style of Friday Night Lights, or even ESPN for those long periods when the network doesn’t have a 30 for 30.

Hot Fuzz - Trailer

Hot Fuzz

The only thing wrong with this action comedy about two police officers trying to solving murders in a small town from the minds of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg is that we didn’t get enough of its brilliant antics. The film did a great job of both establishing an environment where almost anything can happen, and filling it with eccentric, captivating characters. The ostensibly mild-mannered village of Sanford is a cinematic world that could produce hilarious hijinks, especially with officers Nick (Pegg) and Danny (Nick Frost) delivering their brand of surrealistic buffoonery on a weekly basis. This one might hang on getting at least some of the main characters to return — not an easy task. If the execution and the money was right, however, we’d happily watch a series of just detectives Andy Wainwright and Andy Cartwright’s dizzying two-man comedy routine for hours, and they wouldn’t even be the stars. This show would could be hilarious buddy cop companion to Brooklyn Nine-Nine, though instead of Fox it would likely need to be a BBC America production.

The Fifth Element - Official Movie Trailer

The Fifth Element

Another film from eccentric director Luc Besson, The Fifth Element paints the year 2263 in vivid hues, and you can easily get lost gawking at the vibrant environs. That alone would be great to see on TV, but it’s the prequel story we never got in the film that would make this a world still worth exploring. Bruce Willis wouldn’t be likely to reprise his role as Korben Dallas, but with the right actor taking his place, we’d happily watch a show in which the tough cop is forced to deal with countless interactions, adventures, and disappointments similar to those showcased in the film, from alien opera singers to hilarious cigarettes that are almost all filter. It would have to be done right, and would probably be tough to finance, but with Besson on board as a producer to help keep the fun and breezy tone constant, we’d love to see it happen. The series could even dive into the mythical character who saves earth every 5,000 years at its origin point, building up to the forthcoming apocalypse. A possible home for the show could be found on STARZ, next to the similarly surreal American Gods series.

Editors' Recommendations

Keith Nelson Jr.
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Keith Nelson Jr is a music/tech journalist making big pictures by connecting dots. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY he…
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