The worlds of television shows and movies have crossed paths countless times. There are plenty of examples of shows making the jump to the big screen. Some were successful, like 21 Jump Street and its sequel, and some not so much like the overtly raunchy and critically panned Dukes of Hazard. While not as common nowadays, there was a time when if a movie was successful, the odds were good there would be a small-screen adaptation. Some of these cult shows are fondly remembered, while others have been lost to time. Here are 10 cult and forgotten TV shows that were made to cash in on popular films.
10. Harry And The Hendersons
Harry and the Hendersons was a movie released in 1987 about a family that takes in a Sasquatch. The film is still fondly remembered for its humor, heart, and of course, the fantastic costume design for the titular Harry. A few years later, the show earned a sitcom. The show was more or less a retelling of the film and lasted 3 seasons. The show’s biggest issue was, at its core was a generic family sitcom. It had all the tropes one would expect from a sitcom of this era, just with a Sasquatch in the center. The show has a cult following by those who remember it and is actually worth a watch if not just to see a time capsule of cliched early 90s television.
Kevin Smith’s directorial debut Clerks was the film of a generation. In addition to introducing the world to Jay and Silent Bob, it later launched the View Askewniverse, Smith’s own world of intertwined films. Before the further big-screen exploits of Smith’s characters, Clerks was going to live a life on the small screen via a live-action sitcom. If fans don’t recall this forgotten TV show, it is because it didn’t actually air. The one-produced episode was released online in 2015, and it is apparent why it never made it to air. While the film was raunchy and fresh, this pilot episode was stale and watered down. Kevin Smith had nothing to do with it, and it shows.
8. Ferris Bueller
When thinking of Jennifer Aniston on a TV show, 99.9% of the population likely imagine her role as Rachel Green from Friends. For the other .001%, she is Jeannie Bueller in the small screen version of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The show revolved around the “real” Ferris Bueller. The first gag in the show involves the titular character revealing the beloved movie was actually based on his life and then proceeds to destroy a cutout of Matthew Broderick. The show just went down from there. The show feels more like a Saved by the Bell ripoff than a show based on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and only lasted one season. Ferris Bueller failed to reach the status of other cult shows and remains an odd piece of 90’s pop culture.
7. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures
The Bill & Ted movies were staples of the ’80s and ’90s. An animated series was produced and actually enjoyed moderate success. Part of this success was due to the fact Alex Winters and Keanu Reeves reprised their roles. What wasn’t as successful was the live-action situation comedy that aired later. The two shows aired simultaneously. Eventually, the two leads of the live-action show replaced Winters and Reeves on the animated one. The sitcom involved the two bumbling friends traveling through time, and that’s really it. The show is nothing more than a cash grab and lasted a mere seven episodes.
6. Uncle Buck
Nobody can replace the legendary John Candy, but that didn’t stop executives from trying just that in 1990. Uncle Buck served as a follow-up to the film of the same name. Buck has become the legal guardian of his brother’s children after he and his wife both die off-screen. Comedian Kevin Meany does try his best, but it is clear the producers simply wanted a John Candy clone. There was another forgotten TV show adaptation of Uncle Buck in 2016. This version wasn’t as closely connected to the movie, featuring Mike Epps in the titular role. Like the previous attempt, the show was a dud and was canceled after 8 episodes.
5. Coming To America
What is odd about Coming to America’s foray to the small screen is that the star of the film, Eddie Murphy, served as producer. Regardless of this, the show didn’t survive past the pilot. The plot revolved around Prince Akeem’s never before mentioned younger brother, Prince Tariq, played by Tommy Davidson. Tariq and Oha (played by Paul Bates in the only role reprised from the film) attempt to make it on their own in New York after they run out of money. As is typical with projects such as this, the show had more in common with other sitcoms rather than the source film. The pilot was aired a special and has earned a spot among other cult shows by fans who have seen it.
4. Dirty Dancing
Dirty Dancing defined a generation. The film remains one of the best-regarded romance films to come out of the ’80s. What even hardcore fans may not know is there was a TV series starring Melora Hardin (Jan from The Office) as Baby. The show lasted 11 episodes and followed the same plot as the movie. The first season wrapped up the film, so one wonders where the show would go had it been picked up for a second season. If the show-runners had a plan, why not start with it? It still may not have been successful, but it would have been better than remaking the movie.
3. Police Academy: The Series
The Police Academy series of movies remains a staple of ’80s pop culture. The classic comedy defined the humor of a generation and is still fondly remembered for the most part. Most fans know there was an animated series based on the show that enjoyed some success. However, there was also a live-action series that lasted only 26 episodes. The aptly titled Police Academy: The Series served as a continuation of the films. The only returning actor to have a recurring role is Michael Winslow, who is debatably the best remembered character from the movies. This forgotten Tv show has a big difference from most other cult shows on this list, as it is not nearly as bad as it could have been.
2. Robocop: The Series
The highly successful and ultra-violent Robocop launched a very successful franchise. Oddly not surprising for violent properties from the ’80s, the franchise was eventually marketed towards children. From toys to an animated series, children loved Robocop even if they couldn’t see the original movie. What they were allowed to see was the live-action series. The show followed the same tone as the third movie, which greatly toned down the violence to a point where Robocop doesn’t even kill the criminals. The show is actually fondly remembered by those who grew up with it. While the series has become mostly forgotten, there will be an official Blu-Ray release later this year so a new generation can discover the family-friendly version of the titular character.
1. Delta House
The film that arguably launched the raunchy comedy genre into the mainstream was National Lampoon’s Animal House released in 1979. Instead of a big-screen follow-up, the film made its way to the small screen. Renamed Delta House, the show saw several actors reprising their roles and even had the involvement of the late Ivan Reitman who directed the movie. Jim Belushi, who was the big scene-stealer from the film, did not return. Rather than recast him, they introduced his character’s brother. The character acted nearly identical, even being named Blotto as opposed to Belushi’s Blutto. Adapting a very raunchy comedy into a half-hour sitcom on broadcast television was a doomed idea before it was even conceived. Lasting only 13 episodes, the only thing this forgotten tv show is known for today is introducing audiences to Michelle Pfeiffer.