5 Breakout TV Shows That Were Films First

Last year, it emerged that studio big wigs were getting their ducks in a row to produce a new ‘Cruel Intentions’ TV series. Even Sarah Michelle Gellar, star of the original film, confirmed the news on her Instagram account. Unfortunately, NBC subsequently dropped the project and alas, our dreams were dashed. Below we look at five other stories that have taken the leap from film to the TV screen and see how they fared.


1. Fargo

There are a lot of similarities between the Coen brothers’ original film and this series from FX, created and written by Noah Hawley, though they tell different stories.. Season one was set in 2006 and focussed on the interactions between the naïve Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) and the dastardly Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton).


Season two went back to 1979, pitted delusional beautician Peggy Blumquist (Kirsten Dunst) against a criminal empire headed by Floyd Gerhardt (Jean Smart), and featured UFOs. Fine.

Both were deep, philosophical riffs on the original film, using its snowy, north-USA setting and black humour to drive home difficult points about society, civility, and the nature of humanity. Apparently the Coen brothers weren’t fans, but it’s won several Emmy and Golden Globe awards.

2. Daredevil

Fine, this was a comic to begin with, but since then it’s been a film starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner. The TV series based on the Marvel comic stars Charlie Cox as the blind lawyer Matt Murdock, who fights crime by night using his other, heightened, senses. It sounds ridiculous – and the film was – but the series has the same Marvel cred shared by Jessica Jones and Agent Carter, perhaps because it’s so dark and gory. Its second season was highly anticipated by fans.

3. Limitless

The mind-enhancing drug in this thriller starring Bradley Cooper saw him go from zero to hero in a number of minutes, ending the film as a senator. The series gives a different layabout access to the drug, NZT, and has Bradley Cooper cropping up a little in his role as senator Eddie Morra. Critical responses weren’t very kind when the show debuted in September 2015, and series two was cancelled due to ugly ratings.

4. Bates Motel

1960 Hitchcock horror Psycho showed how disturbed Norman Bates was, thanks to emotional scars left by his mother Norma. This show, starring the brilliant Vera Farmiga as Norma and Freddie Highmore as Norman, charts their murderous journey to ownership of the motel. It’s now entering its fifth season.

5. Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Yep, Buffy was a film first. The movie is now considered non-canon, thanks to writer Joss Whedon’s claim that “it’s a start, but it’s not quite the girl.” He later created the series to better fit his vision. It ran for seven seasons with Sarah Michelle Gellar – she made Cruel Intentions after the first season started – in the starring role. Among fantasy shows it’s among the most loved by fans.

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