It can be hard to follow in a popular film’s footsteps. Often, viewers enjoyed the movie when it hit the big screen, making it difficult for television producers to top the theater experience. However, occasionally, a TV series proves to be just as popular as the film it was based on, sometimes even managing to surpass it in popularity. This list of seven TV shows based on popular movies was compiled through Metacritic‘s Metascores, which are put together by curating critics’ reviews, in addition to critics’ opinions.
1. The Returned
The Returned is based on a 2004 French zombie film, Les Revenants, which never officially hit U.S. theaters. The TV series is about a group of people who have been dead for quite some time who return to a small town with no knowledge of their deaths. A few of the characters include a 15-year-old girl who was killed in a car accident, a groom who died ten years ago, a young murdered boy, in addition to a serial killer.
The Returned’s first season received a Metascore of 92 and was Metacritic’s best-reviewed new series in 2013. The series aired with subtitles on the Sundance Channel and will return for a second season in late 2014, according to Broadway World.
A Variety review writes, “To call The Returned a zombie story is actually something of a misnomer, since it’s really a tale of grief and loss — and a rumination on life and death — with a creepy undercurrent running through it. The show also tries to do a bit too much, weaving in a serial-killer subplot, which feels gratuitous given everything else that’s happening.”
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
When this film was released in 1992, audiences were torn. It received a Metascore of 48, with a mix of positive and negative reviews. According to Metacritic, one review described the film as a “mini-comic triumph,” while another review stated that “when Buffy starts getting fangy, it stops being tangy.” The movie centers on Buffy, who is a typical high school cheerleader until she finds out she is the “Chosen One” and must learn to fight vampires and save the world.
In 1997, the TV series premiered on The WB and was an immediate success. The first season received a Metascore of 80 with overall favorable reviews. Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan,and Nicholas Brendon, the show ran from 1997 to 2003, focusing on Buffy and her vampire slaying, relationships, family, and friends.
Rolling Stone writes, “The result was a masterpiece: seven seasons of a Joseph Campbell-esque hero’s journey as filtered through Whedon’s knowing voice (he captured real teenspeak as few have), pop-culture-savvy approach, genuine sensitivity and seamless melding of comedy, drama and horror-fantasy elements.”
The 1996 movie, about an unsuccessful car salesman who plans to wipe out his personal debts by hiring a pair of small-time out-of-town crooks to kidnap his wife and then collect the ransom from her dad, was an extremely popular film that earned a Metascore of 85. Who would have thought a TV show could possibly do as well?
Season one of Fargo debuted on FX in April 2014 and managed to win over critics everywhere. It received a Metascore of 85 and features big names, including Billy Bob Thornton, Colin Hanks, Allison Tolman, and Martin Freeman.
“The end result is a series that feels a lot like Fargo—a warm familiarity needed to weather the setting’s chill—but is wholly original. Joel and Ethan Coen gave FX their blessing, based on the pilot script, and are executive producers, but have little to no day-to-day involvement. What FX is offering, then, is a new series that feels like a Coen Brothers movie,” according to a review by The Daily Beast.
4. Friday Night Lights
Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Derek Luke, Jay Hernandez, and Lucas Black, Friday Night Lights hit the big screen in 2004. It was based on H.G. Bissinger’s book and focused on Odessa, Texas, and its high school football team, the Permian High Panthers. The movie received a Metascore of 70, receiving a thumbs up from the majority of critics.
Who would have thought that when Friday Night Lights debuted on NBC in 2006, it would surpass the popular film? Connie Britton, Kyle Chandler, Aimee Teegarden, and Adrianne Palicki starred in the small screen success, which documented the struggles and triumphs of the football team’s players, friends, family, and coaches. In a SFGate review, Tim Goodman sums it up nicely: “And the truth is, Friday Night Lights is not good. It’s great.”
5. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
A film featuring a group of superheros who must help S.H.I.E.L.D., an international peacekeeping agency, put a stop to an enemy who is threatening the world’s safety and security, The Avengers was a well-liked action-adventure movie. It was released in 2012 and received a Metascore of 69. According to Box Office Mojo, the movie grossed $207.4 million in theaters its opening weekend.
Fast forward to 2013, and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. debuted on ABC. The TV show centered on Agent Phil Coulson, who works with a group of agents to ensure the world stays safe. The show, which received a Metascore of 74, will start its second season on September 23. An IGN review notes there are differences between the movie and TV show. “Those looking for the scale of the Marvel movies will be disappointed – this is a high budget TV series, but it is a TV series – but S.H.I.E.L.D. quickly hits the right notes to firmly show how it exists on the ground level of the Marvel universe, as the characters try to process the iron men, super soldiers, green monsters and thunder gods now among them,” it states.
6. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Terminator 2: Judgement Day received a Metascore of 68 after hitting theaters in 1991. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton, the film was set in a futuristic Los Angeles, where machines have taken over the earth, and human rebels, who are led by John Connor, must battle the machines. The action-packed movie was well-liked by most and described by various critics as “more elaborate than the original” and filled with “innovative, eye-popping effects.”
In 2008, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles premiered on Fox, receiving a Metascore of 74. It starred Richard T. Jones, Thomas Dekker, Lena Headey, and Summer Glau, and picked up a year after the events of Terminator 2: Judgement Day. While the first season surpassed the film, the second season didn’t display as much success, dropping to a Metascore of 67. The series only lasted two seasons.
7. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids was released in 1989 and centered on a scientist father of two teens, who accidentally shrinks his and two other neighborhood kids to the size of insects. As their father frantically searches for them, the teens must fight off an endless assortment of dangers. The movie received a Metascore of 63, with a Variety review writing that it “is in the best tradition of Disney and even better than that because it is not so juvenile that adults won’t be thoroughly entertained.”
In 1997, the TV series was able to surpass the film with a Metascore of 68. The syndicated comedy featured the same characters but used different actors. Metacritic writes that while it originally ran in first-run syndication, the reruns eventually became a Disney Channel staple.