Hollywood is always looking to capitalize on success if it means making more money. Why else do you think Disney keeps coming out with all these live-action versions of their best animated films? Well, reimagining a tried-and-true classic isn’t new in the entertainment industry. It’s common to see bigwigs try and take the namesake of a successful film and turn it into a television series.
Some shows like Fame, M*A*S*H, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer were even better than the movies. Others…not so much. See if you remember any of these short-lived television series. Don’t worry, we won’t blame you if you forgot about these terrible shows. They deserve to be stricken from our memory.
Dirty Dancing (1988)
The series basically followed the exact same plot as the film Dirty Dancing, but with some slight changes and B-List actors. The show was destined to fail as soon as they decided to return to the start of the summer of 1963.
Since Baby was still going to attend school in the fall, there was no clear direction about what would happen to the series at the end of the summer. Not surprisingly, the television adaptation didn’t even last a full season.
This television adaptation of the 1995 teen film Clueless did surprisingly well. While the main character Cher Horowitz was recast, many of the other actors reprised their roles for the series. Stacey Dash, Donald Faison, and Wallace Shawn all brought the star power and comedy that made the film successful.
The show was dragged out a little too long though and by its third season in 1999, they only had about 30% of their original viewers tuning in.
Trying to recreate one of the most famous films in history for television is no easy feat, and this attempt failed miserably. ABC launched Casablanca in 1955. They were hoping to capitalize on the spying and suspense of the Cold War but it didn’t land.
They originally wanted a different actor to play Rick Blaine. When they finally landed on Charles McGraw, the director said he “couldn’t act his way out of a hat.” The show was axed after only ten episodes.
The Bad News Bears (1979-80)
For baseball lovers, the original 1976 Bad News Bears is a sacred sports film. That didn’t stop CBS from having the guts to turn it into a Saturday evening television series. While it didn’t have any of the original cast, it did do well enough the first season to be refreshed for a second season.
Unfortunately, about halfway through the second season, ratings dropped heavily thanks to rotating time slots. CBS had to cancel the show midway through season two.
9 To 5 (1982-83)
The original film 9 to 5 was a comedy featuring powerhouse actresses Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton. While Fonda signed on the be the executive producer for the television series, none of the women reprised their roles. That left three other women trying to live up to the standards.
They tried to make it work by casting Parton’s younger sister Rachel Dennison in Parton’s role, but it just wasn’t enough.
Ten Things I Hate About You (2009)
A decade after the original teen flick was released with Julia Stiles and the late Heath Ledger, ABC tried to revive it with no luck. Obviously, they had to put together a completely different cast. As such, the producers called it a “reimagining” rather than an adaptation.
While the producer wanted it to “feel like a John Hughes film every week” it ended up feeling like a cheap version of an original classic.
Honey, I Shrunk The Kids: The TV Show (1997-2000)
This television adaptation had a good chance of being super successful. Rick Moranis didn’t reprise the lead role, but his replacement, Peter Scolari, was recast gold. The show also didn’t simply re-do the original film’s plot. Instead, the family went on a different adventure every episode.
It also helped that technology was getting better in the late ’90s, so the use of digital effects was cool to watch. Unfortunately, the idea got stale over time and the show was canceled after three seasons.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures (1992)
They probably thought it was clever to add an “s” to the end of the successful film, and suddenly you can have a series, right? Wrong. The Bill & Ted franchise did so well in theaters because even though the characters were goofy, the acting was excellent.
When the television series aired in the summer of 1992, two complete unknowns took over as Bill and Ted and totally wrecked the franchise. The show didn’t even make it a month before getting canceled.
Weird Science (1994-98)
Nearly a decade after the original John Hughes film, Weird Science followed a similar plot with the same characters but with episode-by-episode adventures. The show immediately sets itself apart when main character Gary says he can create Lisa because he “saw it in a John Hughes movie.”
The spinoff show lasted a whopping five seasons before the USA Network finally cut it due to ratings. It’s one of the few adaptations that wasn’t completely terrible.
Ferris Bueller (1990)
Based loosely on the 1986 cult classic film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Ferris Bueller went a little too meta for audiences. The television show was supposed to be the “real life” version of Ferris Bueller. In the pilot, new/original Ferris complains about Matthew Broderick’s portrayal of him.
The show could have capitalized on the success of the film, but with an entirely different cast it just didn’t have the same punch, and was canceled after just one season. It did at least feature a young Jennifer Aniston.
Fast Times (1986)
Based on the 1982 sitcom Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Fast Times was Amy Heckerling’s attempt to recreate the magic. Heckerling–the original director—wanted to turn it into a sitcom but had trouble sanitizing the R-rated film for a wider audience.
It also didn’t help that Heckerling was past her prime now and had to bring in a consultant to research slang terms and teenage mannerisms. On the bright side, people got to watch Patrick Dempsey for seven episodes.
School Of Rock (2016-18)
The iconic Jack Black film of the same name has been adapted into a musical, a book, and now even a kids television series. Nickelodeon launched the School of Rock series in 2016. Rather than having a charismatic adult lead a cast of kids, they flipped the script and made it all about musical kids navigating their way through middle school.
Expectations were already low since it was a kids series and the show was canceled midway through the third season.
Rush Hour (2016)
Nearly two decades after the first Rush Hour film featuring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker was released, CBS launched a spin-off tv series. The show used the exact same characters and premise but followed the typical episode-by-episode police drama template.
The problem was trying to recast and recreate the bond that Chan and Tucker had from the films. Critics generally agreed the show might have worked if it wasn’t trying to live up to the original Rush Hour.
Working Girl (1990)
This poor sitcom was doomed from the start. Working Girl debuted on NBC as a midseason replacement for another failed sitcom (probably Ferris Bueller). The show followed roughly the same plot at the movie, which featured a working-class woman trying to make her way up the ranks in business.
The only good takeaway from the short-lived series was that it gave Sandra Bullock her big break since she was cast to replace Melanie Griffith.
My Big Fat Greek Life (2003)
Following the massive success of My Big Fat Greek Wedding in 2002, the star of the film, Nia Vardalos, tried to bring her character Toula to the small screen. The television series basically retold the story we saw in the film then extended it to show Toula dealing with married life.
The series just didn’t measure up to the original rom-com and was canceled halfway through the first season. It just goes to show even if the major star comes back, there’s no guarantee a show will be successful.
Uncle Buck (1990)
Trying to replace a powerhouse comedian like John Candy was asking for trouble. Based on the film of the same name, Uncle Buck brought in Kevin Meaney to play the main character. While Meaney is funny in his own right, he’s no John Candy.
Uncle Buck learned not to compete with Candy the hard way when it was canceled after only sixteen episodes. It didn’t help that the show was competing with other family-based sitcoms like Full House.
Uncle Buck (2016)
Some people just don’t learn. In 2016, ABC decided to try out Uncle Buck again, but with a new twist. The modern version of Uncle Buck featured an all African-American family. While the cast had some charming and talented actors like Mike Epps and Nia Long, it just didn’t land with audiences.
The show lasted half the length of the 1990 series and was canceled after only eight episodes. Yikes.
Tremors: The Series (2003)
The television series based on the Tremors franchise picked up where the third film left off. Unfortunately, that meant if you hadn’t made it all the way to Tremors 3: Back to Perfection, then you were lost from the get-go.
It also didn’t help that the episodes were aired out of order and required a lot of editing so they’d make sense. After 13 episodes, they finally decided to pull the plug.
Four years after Al Pacino starred in the film of the same name, David Birney took over the role of an NYPD detective Frank Serpico. The show was meant to delve deeper into Serpico’s life and his day-to-day job.
Audiences didn’t buy it though and many attribute it largely to casting. While Birney wasn’t exactly bad, it’s hard to live up to Al Pacino, especially since Pacino’s performance landed him an Oscar nomination.
Delta House (1979)
After the success of National Lampoon’s Animal House, a majority of the original cast members decided to try their hand at the small screen with Delta House. John Vernon, Bruce McGill, Stephen Furst, and James Widdoes all reprised their characters from the film. The show even featured Michelle Pfeiffer in her onscreen debut.
It was script-writing that ruined Delta House though. Looking back, Pfieffer even said she “detested” the script but was just happy to be “working at all.”
Logan’s Run (1977)
The 1977 television series was meant to be a continuation of the 1976 film of the same name. Each episode featured Logan and Jessica running through different post-Earth settings.
While the visual effects for the show were stunning and the acting wasn’t terrible, the show was canceled after eleven episodes. It did, however, do very well overseas in the United Kingdom. The success even launched a line of Logan’s Run toys.
Before the wildly successful 2010 television adaptation of the 1989 film Parenthood, there was the failed 1990 series. The first attempt to turn Parenthood into a tv series was seen to be promising but just didn’t work out.
Many now-famous actors were trying to replace the already famous actors from the film. We saw David Arquette replace Keanu Reeves and Leonardo DiCaprio substitute in for Joaquin Phoenix. Even though Parenthood was canceled after twelve episodes, it’s now considered ahead of its time.
Baby Talk (1991-92)
Baby Talk was loosely based on the Look Who’s Talking franchise and was initially very successful. The television show managed to cast some impressive talent like George Clooney, Julia Duffy, and Tony Danza. The ratings from season one were even high enough to warrant a second season.
Unfortunately, casting changes and bad reviews didn’t set up season two for success. When one media poll voted Baby Talk the worst series on television, it wasn’t long until it was canceled.
Party Girl (1996)
One year after Parker Posey starred in the film Party Girl, Fox decided to take a chance and turn it into a television series. While the premise of a free-spirited girl trying to straighten out might seem like an easy fit to market, Fox’s big mistake was not caring about that at all.
Instead, they tried to advertise the series all around the star, Christine Taylor, and her popularity from The Brady Bunch Movie. The series was such a disaster they only made six episodes and two of them didn’t even air.
Planet Of The Apes (1974)
The Planet of the Apes franchise has been hugely successful in books and film, so it seemed like a no-brainer for CBS to pick up a television series about it. The series essentially followed the plot of the movies with little change.
While the series had tons of potential, every episode was 50 minutes and seemed to be dragged out. Only fourteen episodes were made and CBS didn’t even air one of them.
Spy Kids: Mission Critical (2018-Present)
The Spy Kids franchise has been alive and kicking since 2001 and it looks like it’s not going anywhere. Netflix picked up the rights for a television series in 2018. The series follows a brand new Juni and Carmen Cortez as they attend the Spy Kids Academy.
The voice acting in the animated series has been praised but the actual script and plot have been criticized. Only time will tell if this series can survive.
Stir Crazy (1985)
This television adaptation of the 1980 film Stir Crazy followed nearly the exact same plot, which was its undoing. A series about two socially awkward friends who were wrongfully convicted should get some laughs, but no writers or producers from the original film were involved.
It also didn’t help that the two stars of the show were trying to follow in the massive footsteps of Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. They were doomed to fail.
About A Boy (2014-15)
In 2002, Hugh Grant nabbed an Oscar nomination for his performance in the film About A Boy. More than a decade later, NBC tried to capitalize on the success and launched the About A Boy television series.
David Walton and Minnie Driver led the cast and while the acting was good, it just didn’t live up to the expectations that Hugh Grant set. While the show did get renewed for a second season, it was canceled halfway through.
Based on the film starring Bradley Cooper, the Limitless television series also followed the character Brian Finch as he discovers the good and bad side of a drug that unlocks the power of the human brain.
The 2011 film was successful because viewers got to watch the rise and subsequent fall of the main character. When it came to the television series, it just seemed like they were dragging things, which left way too many plotholes. It was canceled after one season.
The original Barbershop film featured an all-star cast of Ice Cube, Anthony Anderson, Cedric the Entertainer, and Eve. On the other hand, the Barbershop television series cast Cuba Gooding Jr.’s younger brother, Omar, as the lead.
Even though Ice Cube and the original Barbershop producers came on board to direct the series, it didn’t live up to the films and only lasted ten episodes. The series was praised though for addressing more serious issues like drug abuse, local politics, and racism.