Follow TV Tropes


The Film of the Series

Go To

"We're reviving a cancelled undercover police program from The '80s and revamping it for modern times. You see, the guys in charge of this stuff lack creativity and are completely out of ideas, so all they do now is recycle shit from the past and expect us all not to notice."
Deputy Chief Hardy, 21 Jump Street

A film based, sometimes loosely, on a television series. Like The Film of the Book, with one subtle difference. Unlike The Movie and the Reunion Show, which feature the original cast of (whatever incarnation of) the series, these most often happen when the series in question has been off the air for a while, giving it a new cast and updated sensibilities and commonly take place in an Alternate Continuity from the original. Sometimes, though, as with Charlie's Angels, the movie is presented as a Sequel to the original. Members of the original cast may appear in cameo roles. In a few cases, as with the film versions of Doctor Who and The Twilight Zone (1959), they outright re-make televised episodes.

Usually, these adaptations will raise the stakes and use a more traditional "heroes saving the day" style of plot to ensure that it's a Big Damn Movie. Contrast with The Movie, compare with Continuity Reboot, contrast and compare with Non-Serial Movie. A subtrope of The Remake. If the movie is made up of scenes pulled directly from the original series it's a Compilation Movie instead.

Thanks in no small part to the success of The Addams Family, these were especially popular in The '90s.

The inverse case, where a successful film spawns a TV series continuation or adaptation, is Recycled: The Series.


Original seriesFilm version
Doctor Who1963-89; 2005-presentDr. Who and the Daleks1965And a sequel (1966). A rare example of The Film of the Series being made while the original is still in production. These directly adapted the first Dalek story, "The Daleks", and the second one, "The Dalek Invasion of Earth", made them Lighter and Softer, changed the overall premise of the series and most definitely take place in an Alternate Continuity rather than in the Whoniverse.
Monty Python's Flying Circus1969-74And Now For Something Completely Different1972?Basically a series of sketches from the TV series remade for cinema, with some new linking sequences. Intended to break the team into the US market.
Lupin III: Part 11971Strange Psychokinetic Strategy1974It is hard to say if the film was based more on the Manga, or the Anime series, but either way, the film takes many liberties with the basic characters, forming a new story specific to the film, as well as serving as an Origins Episode for Lupin, Jigen, and Fujiko. Since Lupin tends to operate on Negative Continuity, an Alternate Continuity is perfectly acceptable explanation of events and clothes.
The Twilight Zone (1959)1959-64Twilight Zone: The Movie1983Narrated by Burgess Meredith, who appeared in four episodes of the series. Scored by Jerry Goldsmith, who scored eight episodes of the series.
Dragnet1949-59Dragnet1987Film was an Affectionate Parody of the original. Harry Morgan plays his character from the 1967-70 Revival series. (The 1954 film was The Movie.)
Tales from the Darkside1984-88Tales from the Darkside: The Movie1990The movie is a collection of short stories with a framing device of a child reading from a book in order to stall being eaten by a witch.
The Addams Family1964-66The Addams Family1991And a sequel (1993). (1998's Addams Family Reunion is the direct-to-video pilot for the TV series revival.)
The Beverly Hillbillies1962-71The Beverly Hillbillies1993Buddy Ebsen, who played Jed in the original series, had a cameo as his other famous role, Barnaby Jones.
The Fugitive1963-67The Fugitive1993And a sequel (1998). The film starred Harrison Ford as the title character and Tommy Lee Jones as the Inspector Javert. In the sequel, Jones pursues a different fugitive.
Car 54, Where Are You?1961-63Car 54, Where Are You?1994Filmed in 1990 but not released until 1994, the film basically tried to turn Car 54 into a Police Academy type movie. Original cast members Al Lewis and Nipsey Russell appeared as their original characters.
The Flintstones1960-66The Flintstones1994And a prequel (2000). The series was animated, the films were live-action.
Maverick1957-62Maverick1994Mel Gibson starred as Bret Maverick. James Garner, the original Bret Maverick, co-starred as Marshal Zane Cooper, who turned out to be Maverick's father, whom he also played in the original series as a secondary role.
The Brady Bunch1969-74The Brady Bunch Movie1995And two sequels (1996; 2002 as a Made-for-TV Movie). All three were Affectionate Parodies.
The Phil Silvers Show1955-59Sgt. Bilko1996Steve Martin starred as Sgt. Bilko.
Mission: Impossible1966-73Mission: Impossible1996And sequels (2000, 2006, 2011, 2015, 2018). Presented as a sequel to the series, not a reboot.
George of the Jungle1967George of the Jungle1997And a direct-to-video sequel (2003). Series was animated, film is live action.
Leave It to Beaver1957-63Leave It To Beaver1997Original series actors Barbara Billingsley (June Cleaver), Ken Osmond (Eddie Haskell) and Frank Bank ("Lumpy" Rutherford) made cameo appearances.
McHale's Navy1962-66McHale's Navy1997Tom Arnold played McHale. Ernest Borgnine returns as the original McHale, now an admiral, and Arnold is his son, but we're not told these facts until the final scene; Borgnine's McHale uses a codename. (The 1964 film was The Movie.)
The Avengers (1960s)1961-69The Avengers1998Patrick Macnee played John Steed in the original series and appeared in a cameo as Invisible Jones in the film. The film was based - loosely - on the Steed/Emma Peel pairing.
Lost in Space1965-68Lost in Space1998Most of the original cast have cameos in early scenes set on Earth.
Inspector Gadget1983-86Inspector Gadget1999And a direct-to-video sequel (2003). Series was animated, film is live-action.
The Mod Squad1968-73The Mod Squad1999 
My Favorite Martian1963-66My Favorite Martian1999Ray Walston, who played the Martian in the 1960s series, appears in a supporting role who turns out to be a Martian who's been trapped on Earth since the 1960s.
The Wild Wild West1965-69Wild Wild West1999Technically based on the original series.
Dudley Do-Right1969-70Dudley Do-Right1999Series was animated, and originally appeared as a segment on The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle. The film is live-action.
Rocky and His Friends/The Bullwinkle Show1959-64The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle2000Original series was animated; film was mostly live action. The title characters remained animated (and June Foray was brought back as the voice of Rocky), but this was still a Human-Focused Adaptation.
Charlie's Angels1976-81Charlie's Angels2000And a sequel (2003). John Forsythe returned to the role of Charlie. None of the original Angels had cameos in the 2000 film (Farrah Fawcett reportedly said that she'd only appear if she could be Charlie), but Jaclyn Smith had a cameo in the sequel. The trope is referred to at the start of the film as LL Cool J's character watches a T.J. Hooker film.
I Spy1965-68I Spy2002The characters of Kelly Robinson and Alexander Scott switched jobs and nationalities.
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?1969-70Scooby-Doo2002And a sequel (2004) and two made-for-TV prequels (2009, 2010). Series was animated, films are live action.
S.W.A.T.1975-76S.W.A.T.2003The original series is actually watched in the movie by the members of the S.W.A.T.
Starsky & Hutch1975-79Starsky & Hutch2004The film was partly an Affectionate Parody of the original. The original leads make cameoes near the end.
Thunderbirds1965-66Thunderbirds2004Series was supermarionation; film is live action. The art direction was the only part that was a faithful adaptation. (1966's Thunderbirds Are GO and 1968's Thunderbird 6 are both examples of The Movie.)
Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids1972-81Fat Albert2004Series was animated; film is live action (with the cartoon characters travelling to the real world and transforming into live people).
Bewitched1964-72Bewitched2005Took an unexpected left turn by telling the story of a fictional remake of the original series — that starred a real witch.
The Dukes of Hazzard1979-85The Dukes of Hazzard2005R-rated parody remake of the family friendly TV series with Bo and Luke dumbed down, Boss Hogg and Uncle Jessie slimmed down and Sheriff Roscoe still dumb but more menacing.
The Honeymooners1955-56The Honeymooners2005Film made all the characters African Americans.
Miami Vice1984-90Miami Vice2006Done by the original creator of the series. A modern redux.
Sukeban Deka1985Sukeban Deka2006The actress who played the original Sukeban Deka cameos as the mother of the new one; the movie can be interpreted as a remake or a sequel (the mother is implied to have been a Sukeban Deka, and could be the character from the original series; the coincidence in both characters being named Asamiya Saki is explained by it being a code name). US title of remake is "Yo-yo Girl Cop".
Alvin and the Chipmunks1983-90Alvin and the Chipmunks2007And sequels (2009, 2011, 2015). Series was animated; films are live-action/CGI mix. Characters had first appeared on The Alvin Show (1961-62).
Underdog1964-67Underdog2007Series was animated, set in a world of talking animals; film is live-action and set in the real world, with a normal dog given superpowers and the ability to speak by Science.
Neon Genesis Evangelion1995-96  with Evangelion: Death and Rebirth and End of Evangelion covering the original series (both films released in 1997). And currently being "retold" in the Rebuild films. Original and films are all animated. In addition, a western live-action adaptation of the series has been in the works for quite the while.
Get Smart1965-70Get Smart2008Steve Carrell starred as Maxwell Smart. (1980's The Nude Bomb was The Movie.)
Speed Racer1967-68Speed Racer2008Series was animated; film is live action (not counting all the CGI).
Land of the Lost1974-76Land of the Lost2009The film is more comedic than the series.
Star Trek1966-69Star Trek2009And sequels (2013, 2016). Leonard Nimoy reprised his role as the Spock from the main Star Trek universe, via Time Travel, in the first two films; the actor and character died before the third. Further films are planned. (The previous Star Trek films, by contrast, were straight examples of The Movie.) Special note that this series is not exactly a reboot, but almost a spin-off in an Alternate Timeline.
Avatar: The Last Airbender2005-08The Last Airbender2010Series is animated; the film is live action.
The A-Team1983-87The A-Team2010Could almost be considered a Prequel-Reboot as it finally tells the story of the crime that the team was accused of committing, but with a Setting Update (making the team veterans of Iraq instead of Vietnam).
Edge of Darkness1985Edge of Darkness2010Hollywood remake starring Mel Gibson.
The Yogi Bear Show 1961Yogi Bear2010Series was animated; film is live-action/CGI mix.
The Sweeney1975-78The Sweeney2012 
21 Jump Street1987-9121 Jump Street2012And sequel 22 Jump Street (2014). Series was drama; films are played for laughs. Cameo appearance by two of the original cast.
Dark Shadows1966-71Dark Shadows2012Series was drama; film is played for laughs.
Walking with Dinosaurs1999Walking with Dinosaurs 3D2013The series was a serious speculative Mockumentary on dinosaurs, the film was turned at the last minute into a kid-oriented, comedic action-adventure movie with talking animals. In both, the animals are special effects, while the backgrounds were real-life sceneries shot on location.
Peabody's Improbable History1959-64Mr. Peabody & Sherman2014Originally an animated segment of the various Rocky and Bullwinkle series. The first of the Rocky and Bullwinkle adaptations to be entirely animated (albeit in CGI).
The Equalizer1985-89The Equalizer2014Series was drama; so was the film.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.1964-68The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)2015 
Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers1993-96note Saban's Power Rangers2017The nationalities of certain Rangers were switched. Bryan Cranston, who voiced two monsters in the original series, plays Zordon here. Amy Jo Johnson and Jason David Frank appear in cameos. (The 1995 film was a Non-Serial Movie.)
CHiPs1977-83CHIPS2017Affectionate Parody of the original series.
Baywatch1989-2001Baywatch (2017)2017Affectionate Parody of the original series. David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson are featured in cameos.
Widows1983Widows2018Relocates the setting from London to Chicago and makes the titular widows a more culturally diverse group.
Charlie's Angels1976-81Charlie's Angels2019Semi-reboot of the film franchise, but still set in the same continuity as the above films (and the original series). Elizabeth Banks serves as co-producer, writer and director, and co-stars as Rebecca Bosley.
Fraggle Rock1983-87 ?Release year currently unknown.
Gilligan's Island1964-67 ?Release year currently unknown.
MacGyver1985-92 ?Release year currently unknown. In Development Hell due to executive producer's death; likely scrapped in favor of the the 2016 reboot.
Magnum, P.I.1980-88 ?Release year currently unknown.

  • Semi-example: The 1987 film The Untouchables (1987) was pitched as the film of the 1950s TV series, but the director and writer went back to the original historical source material, then completely ignored that history and made up a totally fictional story. Coming full circle, it was adapted into a syndicated Revival series six years later.
  • Despite what you might think, the live action Transformers films are not an example as they're not based exclusively on the original animated series, but instead on the Transformers franchise as a whole. Similarly, the 2011 The Smurfs film does not apply for these reasons, as the original comics were around longer than the cartoon.