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Readers’ Poll: The 10 Best Movies Adapted From TV Shows

See what movie managed to top ‘The Naked Gun,’ ‘Jackass: The Movie’ and ‘Mission Impossible’

Harrison Ford and the simpsons

Harrison Ford in 'The Fugitive' & Homer and Marge in 'The Simpsons Movie.'

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The Entourage movie didn't quite live up to expectations over the weekend, grossing just $10.5 million. That said, it has made over $17 million since opening last Wednesday, and with a budget of just $30 million it is likely to be profitable and there may even be another one. No matter what happens, it's unlikely to be the last time a Hollywood turns a TV show into a movie. In the past few years, everything from The Lone Ranger to Dark Shadows to 21 Jump Street have jumped from the small screen to the big one. Some of these were complete fiascos, while others proved to be surprise financial juggernauts. We asked our readers to pick their favorite movies adapted from TV shows here. Here are the results. 

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10

‘Jackass: The Movie’

When Jackass began airing on MTV in 2000, it seemed destined for a very short shelf life. After all, how many times can watching a bunch of numbskulls intentionally injure themselves be funny? Well, it's 15 years later and we're still waiting to see if there's even a limit. We've also learned the stunts are much funnier when watched in a large dark room with a room full of laughing strangers. This first became clear back in October 2002 when Jackass: The Movie arrived. It featured Johnny Knoxville and crew finding new ways to inflict bodily harm on each other, grossing $80 million in the process. These things cost almost nothing to make, so there have been two sequels over the years (and one semi-sequel with Bad Grandpa) and even rumors of a fourth one in 2017. 

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9

‘Wayne’s World’

This isn't technically based on a TV show since Wayne's World was merely a recurring skit on Saturday Night Live, but we're going to count it anyway. When the movie came out in 1992, there hadn't been a SNL movie since Blues Brothers 12 years earlier. Wayne's World was one of the best ongoing SNL bits, but few people imagined the movie adaptation would gross $183 million and have people all over America going "schwing" and "that's what she said." It was a cultural phenomenon (even if some of us still prefer Bill and Ted), though they rushed a sequel into theaters the following year that was a huge disappointment. It also ushered in a ton of horrendous 1990s movies based on SNL skits, though we do have a soft sport in our heart for Stuart Saves His Family. We'll also be be first in line for Wayne's World 3 in the highly unlikely event such a thing ever happens.  

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8

‘Mission: Impossible’

It's hard to pinpoint Tom Cruise's exact peak as a movie star, but one could easily argue it came in 1996 when he released both Jerry Maguire and the original Mission: Impossible movie. The latter was based off a 1960s/early-1970s show about a team of elite government agents that take on extremely difficult assignments. Brian De Palma signed as the director, putting together a tense movie with a plot that many found needlessly confusing. Even if you never quite understood who exactly was wearing a rubber mask and when, the scene when Cruise dangles from the ceiling to bypass a security system is cool enough to make you not care. Cruise's movie career has hit on some hard times in recent years (thanks in no small part to his devotion to Scientology), but Mission: Impossible sequels are guaranteed hits. The fifth one is coming late next month.

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7

‘The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad’

The goofy TV show Police Squad! was a complete failure. Despite being put together by the same team that created Airplane!, ratings were weak and ABC yanked it from the airwaves after just six episodes in 1982. That should have spelled the end for Lt. Frank Drebin (brilliantly played by Leslie Nielsen), but six years later Hollywood took a chance on the dead show and green-lit a feature-length adaptation. The bet paid off in a huge way. Not only was it one of the single funniest movies of the decade (and one of the great slapstick works of the modern era), but it grossed $78.8 million and launched two sequels. Rumors of a fourth one circulated for years (even after co-star OJ Simpson was tried for double murder), but it never happened. Nielsen died in 2010, and we're hoping they don't even think about making one without him. 

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6

‘Serenity’

Joss Whedon's beloved 2002 science-fiction show Firefly lasted a mere 14 episodes, but like most of his projects it attracted a cult audience that simply refused to let it go. Whedon didn't want to disappoint them, and by 2005 actually convinced Universal to let him transform the show into a movie using the original cast. He then faced the extremely difficult task of writing a movie that somehow pleased the hardcores, but didn't exclude those unfamiliar with the series. The fans loved it, but outsiders didn't come out in droves and it grossed a mere $38 million. The Avengers movies he made afterwards grossed that much in about two hours. 

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5

‘Beavis and Butt-head Do America’

One question loomed above all others when Mike Judge got the chance to bring Beavis and Butt-head to the big screen: How the hell did you get the moronic duo off their couch long enough to have some sort of adventure? Left to their own devices, they'd simply watch TV every moment they weren't in school, working at Burger World or buying nachos. Those things make for a good TV show, but a movie requires something grander. That's why they ultimately decided to kick off the movie with their TV getting stolen, forcing them off the couch and into a cross-country adventure where they met Bill Clinton, a busload of senior citizens and even their real father. It was absolutely hysterical. We're still waiting for the sequel, though the failure of the MTV revival a couple of years ago and the incredible success of Mike Judge's Silicon Valley means that such a thing is pretty unlikely. 

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4

‘The Simpsons Movie’

Word of a possible Simpsons movie began floating around when the show became a cultural sensation back in 1990. According to the rumor mill at the time, the studio was looking at a live-action movie with Macaulay Culkin as Bart Simpson and John Goodman as Homer. Thank God wiser heads prevailed and no such movie was created. But as the years went by and the show grossed an unimaginable fortune for Fox, the idea refused to die. It finally happened in 2007, though this time as an animated feature. The show had been in decline for a least a decade by that point, but they brought in a huge writing crew to craft a story where the Simpsons were forced out of Springfield after nearly destroying the town. It's nowhere near as funny as, say, Homes Goes to College, but it has its moments. It also grossed $527 million, meaning that a second one will probably come out at some point in the future, even if Harry Shearer refuses to be involved.  

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3

‘South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut’

South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut is so damn funny, they even managed to cram an incredibly filthy joke into the title. (Think about it.) The show had only been on for three seasons when it came out in 1999, and was nowhere near peaking, but it was still one of the funniest things on television and the transition to the big screen was seamless. The plot involved a war with Canada and censorship in America, but more importantly it introduced the character of Satan. He's been a regular part of the South Park universe ever since, and he remains a great source of wisdom for the characters. The film was a big hit, but South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone say they won't make another one until they come up with a worthy idea. Hopefully that happens sometime soon.

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2

‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’

Ten years after Star Trek was canceled after a mere three-season run, the crew of the Enterprise returned on the big screen in a movie called Star Trek: The Motion Picture that most everyone now admits was absolutely terrible. It seemed like the end of the Star Trek universe, but Captain Kirk and crew got a second chance in a 1982 film that attempted to recapture the magic of the original series. They started out by bringing back Ricardo Montalbán to revive his character of Khan Noonien Singh, which he played on the beloved 1967 episode Space Seed. It was a huge critical and fan favorite, kicking off a very bizarre run where the odd numbered Star Trek movies were terrible and even numbered ones were great. (That stopped with Star Trek: Nemesis in 2002.) They rebooted the whole thing in 2009 and even brought Khan back in 2013, but most fans think they've never managed to top The Wrath of Khan

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1

‘The Fugitive’

When the final episode of The Fugitive aired on ABC in August 1967, more than 25 million people tuned in to see Dr. Richard Kimble finally confront the one-armed man and clear his name. For some reason, it took Hollywood 26 years to realize the premise was perfect for a theatrical movie. It was worth the wait, since the film was expertly directed by Andrew Davis and Harrison Ford was note-perfect as a brilliant doctor who gets framed for the murder of his wife. Tommy Lee Jones also managed to give his career a huge boost by playing Deputy U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard, the figure behind the manhunt. It's one of those movies that never seems to get old, and if you come across it on cable it's impossible to turn away until it's over. Let's just pretend that Harrison Ford-free "sequel" U.S. Marshals never happened. Today, that film is only remembered for crushing The Big Lebowksi on its opening weekend. 

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