Top 5 TV Shows Based On Sci-Fi Films

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By Kate Voss.

SyFy recently started airing its new show 12 Monkeys, which is based on the Terry Gilliam film of the same name. The new show is getting rave reviews, but it is hardly the first TV show to be based on a sci-fi film. Here is a look at five of the most famous TV shows based on sci-fi movies.


The original Stargate film was a blockbuster that starred James Spader and Kurt Russell. In the film, they discover a device known as the Stargate in Egyptian ruins. This device opens a portal that takes them from Earth to a planet across the galaxy, where aliens who resemble Egyptian gods rule over slaves. The movie played into the theory that the ancient Egyptians must have had alien help to construct the pyramids. There were three TV shows based on the film, and they were arguably more popular than the movie itself. The original TV show, Stargate SG-1, expanded the idea of the Stargate to allow a group of explorers led by Richard Dean Anderson of MacGyver fame to visit planets all over the galaxy. Like all good things, the Stargate series has been reinvented and reinterpreted many, many times in Hollywood with the most recent being its upcoming remake.

War of the Worlds

War of the Worlds was originally a book by the master sci-fi writer HG Wells. It tells the story of an invasion of Earth by Martians. It has been recreated in many forms of media, including an infamous radio broadcast by Orson Welles that led to panic and rioting when people thought that a real alien invasion was taking place. The 1953 movie version of War of the Worlds was a hit, and a TV series in 1988 was created to be a follow-up to the movie. In the TV series, everyone was supposed to have forgotten about the invasion due to collective amnesia. An accident releases Martians who were being held after the original invasion, and they set out to take over the planet once again. Of course, you’re likely most familiar with the recent remake starring Tom Cruise.

12 Monkeys

The movie was a masterpiece that starred Bruce Willis as the hero Cole. He was sent from a disease-ravaged future into the past, which is our modern-day world. Cole was sent to gather evidence about what caused the plague that wiped out most of mankind. The film also starred Brad Pitt, playing a crazy man who was the head of the 12 Monkeys cult. The show is mostly the same, but the Cole character is a little different. We never learned much about Cole’s backstory in the movie, but the TV show shows us that he is haunted by demons for the people he had to kill to survive in the apocalyptic future. Of course, in this day and age you can watch both the movie and the series back to back on Hulu or DirecTV.


Timecop was a cheesy movie with dismal reviews, which is true of most films starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. The premise of the film is that by 2007 time travel would be as easy as taking a plane trip. The Timecops were created to keep people from screwing up history. The TV show follows the same premise, but it only lasted nine episodes due to being even cheesier than the movie. Don’t fret if this isn’t enough Timecop for you since Universal is already getting a remake of the film underway.


Most people these days know Jeff Bridges as the Dude, but he was once famous for playing the title character in the movie Starman with Karen Allen. In the film, Bridges was an alien who took on the form of Allen’s character’s deceased husband. The film was a critical and box office hit, and a TV show was launched two years after the movie to try and capitalize on its success. The TV show is set 15 years later, when the Starman comes back to Earth to bond with the son he conceived with the Karen Allen character from the film. The TV show never caught on, and it was cancelled after just two seasons.

It is hard to turn a sci-fi classic film into a successful TV show, but it can be done. The 10 seasons of Stargate SG1 and its two spin offs are proof of that. It is important to respect the source material while creating a well-written and acted show, and 12 Monkeys seems to be headed down a good path to be another success.

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.



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