‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ ‘Jack Ryan’ & More TV Shows Based on Movies

Fame, NBC, Jack Ryan, Amazon Prime Video
NBC; Jan Thijs / Netflix

Many people know that Game of Thrones is based off of a series of books, as were The Handmaid’s Tale and Gossip Girl. But there are many shows that actually came to life thanks to a previously successful movie or movie franchise.

Various films have spawned equally as successful (if not more so) television shows that have taken well-known characters and storylines to new, usually more dramatic, heights. Shows like Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer all stem from films.

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Scroll down for a look at those and others that made the move from the big to the small screen.

About a Boy, NBC, Season 1
Jordin Althaus / NBC

About A Boy (2014-2015)

In 2014, NBC took inspiration from 2002’s About a Boy and turned it into a sitcom of the same name. Will and Marcus, the free-wheeling 30-year-old and 11-year-old oddball, got a modern-day spin, meeting as neighbors, becoming friends, and learning the ins and outs of the world alongside each other. Like in the movie, which starred Hugh Grant and Nicholas Hoult, the show, starring David Walton and Benjamin Stockham, explored how an adult can learn as much from a kid as a kid can learn from an adult… and with Minnie Driver keeping a watchful eye on it all, it was a heartwarming, laugh-out-loud, one-season hit.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The WB, Season 2, Episode 15
The WB

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)

Now defunct, the WB was in its prime in the late 1990s. Shows like Dawson’s Creek, 7th Heaven, Pinky and the Brain, and even Supernatural had their start on the infamous network. The equally as beloved, dramatic, and timeless Buffy the Vampire Slayer just so happened to part of that lineup, as well. The thrilling, fictional supernatural meets rom-com program skyrocketed Sarah Michele Gellar, Buffy herself, into superstardom due to her expert portrayal of the teen vampire slayer for all seven seasons of the series. Many people don’t know, though, that Gellar is not the original Buffy, as the WB series was based on the previous 1992 film of the same name, where Kristy Swanson took to the big screen as a more laid-back, softer version of the iconic quick-witted character.

Lara Solanki / Netflix

Dear White People (2017 – present)

The Netflix original Dear White People might feature a satirical, TV sitcom approach to the uncomfortable race relations in the United States, but the three-season (and counting!) dramedy makes stellar points on what life is like in the shoes of a person of color. Each episode, aside from the finale, follows a different character through their day-to-day life as an intelligent, well-rounded, Black student at an Ivy League university. The perils, both personal and political, that these young people face are eye-opening and authentic as much as they can be deemed entertaining. Originally an independent film starring an ensemble of talented young actors, the show challenges social norms and puts racial perspective on full display in an eye-opening manner.

Fame, NBC, 1982

Fame (1982-1987)

Fame’s success has led it to become one of the most notable – and musical – franchises in history, winning Academy Awards as a film and then Emmys as a television show. Similar to the 1980 film, the NBC show, which ran six seasons, starred Debbie Allen as Lydia Grant and followed the lives of talented performing arts students and their equally talented faculty in the heart of New York City. The plot, musicality, choreography, dramatics, cinematography, and everything in between has played a significant role in the way that music and television coincide and coexist on our screens. Fame’s eccentric, authentic approach to showcasing high schoolers and performers has carried over into modern TV, in shows such as Glee, Victorious and Smash.

Jan Thijs, 2017, Amazon Prime Video
Jan Thijs / Amazon

Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan (2018 – present)

Amazon Prime Video’s Jack Ryan series started off as five separate films based off of Tom Clancy’s best-selling novels. The character of Ryan has been played on the big screen by Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin, Ben Affleck and Chris Pine. The action-thriller TV series stars John Krasinski as Ryan in the most in-depth look at the former United States Marine in action since the books (which alone span four decades). Because of how detailed and substantial the story of Jack Ryan goes, the Clancy-created world surrounding him was aptly dubbed the “Ryanverse.” The pseudo-political, extensively hands-on character has resonated with audiences for years as an everyday-type hero, making Jack Ryan, and the three-season-and-counting TV series about him, a classic from the start.

Parenthood, NBC, Season 6, Ben Cohen
Ben Cohen / NBC

Parenthood (2010-2015)

Possibly one of the most beloved, dramatic and familial series that NBC has had (prior to This Is Us), Parenthood followed the lives of four siblings as they grew up, including all of the trials and tribulations that came their way. The Bravermans, Adam (Peter Krause), Sarah (Lauren Graham), Crosby (Dax Shepard) and Julia (Erika Christensen), and their subsequent families spent five years and six seasons warming hearts and bringing tears to the eyes of audience members. The 1989 movie, Parenthood, inspired the show, as it also followed the lives of four siblings coming to terms with the reality of being parents, having a family and raising kids. In the film, the families were the Buckmans, Gil (Steve Martin), Helen (Dianne Wiest), Karen (Mary Steenburgen) and Frank (Jason Robards). The family movie was a comedy at heart, while the NBC show was funny, but rooted in drama. Both the film and the show are staples in American film and television thanks to just how relatable the frustrating (and rewarding) the life of a parent can be.

The Purge, Season 1, USA Network

The Purge (2018-2019)

Since its start in 2013, the concept of The Purge has taken the country (and the globe) by storm. The idea that the government sets aside 12 hours to make everything, even the most heinous and dangerous of crimes, legal mesmerized audiences, which allowed the film franchise to grow to five movies so far. USA Network didn’t want The Purge to stop there, though, so they developed a TV series around the movies and the edge-of-your-seat feelings that came with them. Similar to the films, the cast and characters are made up of an ensemble, are widespread and seem to be unrelated… until the end.

10 Things I Hate About You, Season 1 Episode 18, Lindsey Shaw

10 Things I Hate About You (2009-2010)

Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles rose to prominence as Patrick Verona and Kat Stratford, stars of the 1999 film 10 Things I Hate About You, the teen rom-com that also featured the likes of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Allison Janney. With a stacked cast like that, it was no surprise that the movie quickly became a cultural phenomenon, and later, a TV series. Freeform (then ABC Family) picked up the movie for a television spin-off that, unfortunately, only lasted one season. The same characters were played by new actors, Patrick by Ethan Peck and Kat by Lindsey Shaw (except for Larry Miller, who reprised his role as Dr. Stratford), in a plot that was simply an extension of the movie. It was a funny, whimsical, sarcastic sitcom that still has a cult following, but unfortunately lost momentum as it only came to be a decade after the original film.