Why Tom Hanks Movies Never Work as TV Shows

There’s only one Tom Hanks. The two-time Oscar winner has appeared in a ton of blockbuster hits, including Forrest Gump, The Da Vinci Code, and the Toy Story films. But for all of Hanks’ biggest hits, precious few of his movies have managed to live on as television series. On numerous occasions, Hollywood tried to take a successful Hanks vehicle to the small screen, to no avail. And there’s a clear reason why that’s always been the case.

Tom Hanks attends the Deauville Film Festival
Tom Hanks attends the Deauville Film Festival | DENIZE alain/Sygma

Tom Hanks has an extensive filmography loaded with huge hits

Hanks made the jump from star of TV’s Bosom Buddies to a big-screen leading man with 1984’s Splash. And over the next decade, the actor found a sweet spot playing everyman characters in broad hit comedies. Films such as Volunteers, The Money Pit, Big, and Turner and Hooch established Hanks’ comedic chops. But in 1993 and 1994, his career made a radical shift with the releases of Philadelphia and Forrest Gump.

Hanks earned Academy Awards for Best Actor for both roles. And in the process, he became one of Hollywood’s most in-demand and versatile actors. Since then, he delivered both countless comedic and dramatic classics, with movies such as Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan, Cast Away, and Captain Phillips.

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None of them have successfully been adapted for television

Considering how many popular films Hanks has starred in, it’s wild to think how none of them have managed to live on in another medium. The actor himself has reprised his roles as Robert Langdon and Woody on multiple occasions. But he’s rarely committed to making sequels otherwise. Of course, that hasn’t kept Hollywood from trying to take Hanks movies to television.

Shows based on Bachelor Party and Big were reportedly in the works at various points, but neither project went anywhere. A TV series based on his 1986 film Nothing in Common was canceled after two months. And the same actor who took on Hanks’ role there starred in the instantly forgettable TV movie sequel Splash, Too. Then, of course, most recently Disney+ canceled Turner and Hooch after one season, according to Collider.

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Why can’t any Tom Hanks movie sustain a TV series?

All of this naturally begs the question why Hanks movies can’t continue on as TV shows. For starters, most of the actor’s movies are complete, finite stories and don’t lend themselves to weekly installments. But even for those few who could work on TV, the best explanation for their failures might be the most obvious one They simply don’t have Hanks himself.

The actor’s charisma onscreen so often elevates any material he touches. Imagine how Big would have turned out if Robert De Niro had starred, as originally intended. Without the marquee star onboard, these projects too often lack that key ingredient that made them sing in the first place. As such, only time will tell whether Peacock series The Lost Symbol gets a second season or continues the trend.