28 Science Fiction and Fantasy TV Shows That Started Off as Movies

Illustration for article titled 28 Science Fiction and Fantasy TV Shows That Started Off as Movies

Some of the greatest (Stargate) and worst (Little Shop) television shows have been torn from the big screen. And a lot of them fell under the radar: Did you know there was a Tremors TV show? What about Bill & Ted the live-action series?

Here’s our insane list of 28 science fiction and fantasy TV shows that were movies first.

The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles: The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones

Sean Patrick Flanery donned a floppy fedora as baby-face Indiana from 1992-1993. This show was actually pretty bad ass, we remember one very terrifying mustard gas scene that will forever haunt our childhood memories. And it was popular enough that tween Indiana also made crap load of TV movies. Good for you, Baby Boondock Saint!


Hidden in the vault of failed ABC series is this gem, a Timecop show. Aired in 1997, the series followed time traveler Jack Logan from the crazy future world of 2007. Logan has to hunt down time meddlers before they change the future forever. There were paradoxes aplenty in this show — but not as many kitchen splits as the movie.

Honey I Shrunk The Kids

This 1997 TV show tried to squeeze the last bit of money juice from Disney’s lucrative Honey I... series. Here is the episode, “Honey, we’ve been swallowed by Grandpa.”

The Crow: Stairway to Heaven
The Canadian series aired in 1998. You could argue that it’s inspired by the comic alone, but there are a lot of common touchstones from this series and the 1994 film, which launched the comic (and guyliner) into mainstream popularity.


There can be only one immortal — but there sure are a crap load of TV episodes. In 1992 Adrian Paul used his steamy eyebrow power as Duncan MacLeod in Highlander: The Series. This was not the only Highlander TV show, but it was the most successful (The Raven did not take off). But in 1994, there was also an animated series — because people just can’t get enough of sword-fighting immortals in ponytails.

One of the biggest movie to TV success stories, which has almost absolutely nothing to do with the original flick any more. Stargate (or SG-1 better known to Gaters) launched in 1997 and lasted for 10 seasons. It spawned Stargate Atlantis in 2004 (which lasted for 5 seasons) and then Stargate Universe (which lasted only 2 seasons). Each spin off was different but they all featured a crew of space marines (and a few ill equipped civilians) jumping through the galaxies via Stargate. We used the intro for the second season of SG-1 because, well, it’s better than the first.

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures
Many folks are familiar with the Bill & Ted Saturday morning cartoon but there was also a live series in 1992, sadly it only got one season of 7 episodes. Which means we only got a few hours of the future world set to an 1980s porn soundtrack.

Beyond Westworld
Inspired by Westworld and Futureworld this robot centric series tried to stop evil scientist Quaid from using the robots of the Delos Corporation for evil! This series was actually nominated for 2 Emmys for Makeup and Art Direction, but only three episodes ever aired. Alas.

Blade: The Series
Inspired by the Day Walker, in 2006 Spike made Blade: The Series starring Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones. David S. Goyer and Geoff Johns wrote the pilot script, which was pretty fun — alas, the show ran out of steam halfway into the season when the world realized Ryan Reynolds wouldn’t be appearing shirtless in any episodes.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Joss Whedon’s 1997 beloved vampire series inspired by the 1992 film, also written by Joss Whedon.

Planet Of The Apes

Same Apes (including the delightful Roddy McDowall) but different astronauts. This series was set before Charlton Heston crash landed on his future planet, and was cancelled halfway into its premiere season. Here’s a crappy version of the 1974 intro, but we’ve embedded the first part of the episode “The Legacy” — please do enjoy, you damn dirty apes.

This classic cartoon ran from 1989 to 1992 with 4 seasons and 109 episodes. All of them perfect. The theme was ripped right from Burton’s movie courtesy of Danny Elfman (who even re-arranged the tune so it was right for TV).

Tales From the Neverending Story
One of HBO’s lesser known TV shows, this short lived live action series (2001-2002) creeped us all out. Plus it totally mucks around with the Neverending Story canon (unacceptable).

Set 15 years after the Jeff Bridges movie (even though the movie was released in 1984 and the show aired in 1986). The alien returns, but in a different body. He then spends time with his human son, who doesn’t like him.

Weird Science
A pretty good spin off, actually. Even though every character was recast the TV series Weird Science found a sweet spot in 1994 balancing zany science and low-end FX. It really was a whole lot of fun.

13 years after the original movie the Beastmaster TV show made its debut in 1999, and stuck around for four years. Which is surprising — but then again, men in small clothes holding baby lions, win-win.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Before she was humping her blonde brother in Game Of Thrones, Lena Headey was THE Sarah Connor on TV. And she had zero problem filling in Linda Hamilton’s boots. Created by Josh Friedman in 2008, the series took place in between the times spent with Arnold, while John Connor and his mother were on the run. Sadly the show was cruelly cancelled entirely too soon after its second season.

Michael Gross returned to his role as Burt Gummer in 2003 for a Tremors series. But the plot of this show was that the humans of Perfection had found a way to forgive the graboids for murdering and consuming their neighbors, friends and family, and now they want to PROTECT THEM. You people are living in a underground tunnels of lies!

Freddy’s Nightmares
Channeling the very popular horror anthology vibe Robert Englund would show up every episode and introduce a collection of scares. The Crypt Keeper he is not — although we love Freddy, and will always love Freddy. Apparently the rest of the world did too, because it aired in syndication from 1988 until 1990.

War of the Worlds
Set 35 years later after the war — apparently the bacteria failed and we’re still fighting aliens. This TV spin-off got 2 seasons before it was axed.

Back to the Future
Back To The Future — this cartoon abomination with a slightly catchy intro theme lasted for two seasons from 1991 to 1992.

Clone Wars
Gorgeous animated series The Clone Wars takes place, erm, during the Clone Wars. There we watch Anakin slowly become the child-murdering dick we all know and love in the third prequel. This highly addictive series is still running, and we’ve got all our fingers crossed that Anakin’s predictably doomed padawan, Ahsoka Tano, gets her own series and not the bad end of a lightsaber.

RoboCop might have the most spin offs of any movie. There’s RoboCop: The Series (1994) seen above, RoboCop: The Animated Series (1988), RoboCop: Alpha Commando (1998) and RoboCop: Prime Directives (2001) the last one was more of a miniseries. The best was the animated series.

A Saturday morning staple, this animated series ran for 6 years starting in 1986. It later spawned another animated series, but we will not speak of that here.

Teen Wolf
Now entering its third season, Teen Wolf trades werewolf basketball for werewolf make-out sessions and soft kisses in the forever fall foliage that this New England California town is set in. Oh, also he plays Lacrosse now. It’s no Teen Wolf cartoon series.

Little Shop

The animated version of Little Shop Of Horrors was made in 1991. It was bad, really bad. Just bad.

Logan’s Run
The 1977 CBS series tried to recapture the movie by basically rebooting and recasting the whole thing. It’s the same story, only this time Logan and Jessica are joined by a robot named Rem.



Men In Black

A very good cartoon show that I actually watched as an adult, and would still watch if someone would loan me their DVDs.

Voyage to The Bottom of the Sea
Inspired by the 1961 movie of the same name Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea ran from 1964 to 1968 and used a lot of the movies old props and costumes (which is both thrifty and rad). Created by Irwin Allen (Lost in Space).
Thanks for the tip Stephanie!

Alien Nation

Based off the movie, the 1989 series featured spotted head aliens refugees working together with humans in a poor attempt and integrating the species. Obviously, it doesn’t go well. But the two main characters are an odd couple type cops. One is an alien Newcomer the other a human.

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Wow. Aside from Buffy and Terminator, a whole lot of drek here.

Stargate should have been good, but was just waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too campy and 1 dimensional, it's like a sci fi version of NCIS.

The Blade show was ok when it focused on the female lead, and actually dealt with the emotional/psychological impact of being turned in a way few vampire stories do, but the parts with Blade were just bad.