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Movies That Would’ve Worked Better As TV Shows

List Rules
Vote up the movies you'd rather see as a series.

We are living in what’s being called the Golden Age of Television. Between terrestrial television, cable, and streaming services, there are so many opportunities for television shows to find an audience. There was a time when film was considered the preferred medium for serious storytelling, but thanks to streaming services like Netflix and channels like HBO, shows have stepped up their game. With shorter runs and A-list stars, they can really pack a profound emotional punch. So as television is changing, it begs the question if some movies would have been better as TV shows to begin with. 

With each streaming service competing with their own blue-chip series, the power of taking the time to completely tell a story is becoming clear. Movies like Fargo, Watchmen, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Golden Compass, and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events have all found success as television series. Are there other worlds that we could use a little more time in? This list collects some of the best - and worst - films that deserve more than a paltry two-hour runtime. These are movies with binge-worthy appeal or a story that needs more than a few hours to truly delve into the complex nature of the universe. Television lets storylines build, relationships refine, and the overall drama breathe and settle. Here’s a list of films that could have used a few more hours, or at least some longer legs. 

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  • Like Stephen King’s apocalyptic novel The Stand, The Dark Tower would definitely have worked better as a series of some sort. While there's a thrill that seems to rise around potentially creating franchises, sacrificing the universe or storylines to achieve that can be detrimental to a film's success. Filmmakers tried to incorporate elements from multiple books into the first film to draw viewers in, but in reality, it just led to generic cliches.

    Given the popularity of the book series and its comic book run, it’s clear this world has plenty to get into and a television series could have unleashed even more potential. A series would have allowed creators to really dive into the world that pits a cowboy gunslinger (Idris Alba) against the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) who wants to destroy The Dark Tower and unleash darkness.

    • Actors: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor, Claudia Kim, Fran Kranz
    • Released: 2017
    • Directed by: Nikolaj Arcel
    49 votes
  • 2
    39 VOTES

    Mystery Men is full of comedy heavyweights: Ben Stiller, Hank Azaria, Janeane Garofalo, Eddie Izzard, Greg Kinnear, Paul Reubens AKA Pee-wee Herman. It even has Kel Mitchell of SNL fame. And yet, the movie isn’t much of a comedy. It features a group of underdog wannabe superheroes trying to save the Superman of their world, Captain Amazing (Kinnear). The film is forced to try and tell an action tale and push certain story elements, but imagine a series where these characters could just play.

    The result would be a dark comedy series that would have done these irreverent characters justice. Garofalo plays a woman who can throw a bowling ball as a weapon because it’s possessed by her deceased father. Azaria plays a man skilled at fork-throwing, and Reubens plays a character whose flatulence makes you faint. A series would have allowed all these characters to really play up their jokes while also taking the piss out of the superhero genre. Hey, it worked for The Tick.

    • Actors: Hank Azaria, Janeane Garofalo, William H. Macy, Kel Mitchell, Paul Reubens
    • Released: 1999
    • Directed by: Kinka Usher
    39 votes

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  • Given the success of shows like Penny Dreadful and Once Upon a Time, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen could have been such a great series, but this film was made way before A-list actors were heading to TV, and even pre-dated the current craze of comic book movies. This film features iconic literary characters brought together to form a superhero team. These public domain superstars include Dr. Jekyll (Jason Flemyng), Dorian Grey (Stuart Townsend), and Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah). Sean Connery plays Allan Quatermain and Peta Wilson plays Mina Harker from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. They join forces to take down Sherlock Holmes villain Dr. Moriarty (Richard Roxburgh).

    All of these rich characters from countless fictional worlds could have been better utilized as part of a longer story. The film rushes through a lot of exposition and feels like it is ramping up to a franchise. But baiting a franchise can often leave a lackluster blockbuster. A series could have done so much more with each of these characters. Also, given the literary nature of the characters, there would have been so much room to weave in story elements. While this film is way before our current TV craze, the world is rich enough to warrant a series order. 

    • Actors: Sean Connery, Shane West, Stuart Townsend, Richard Roxburgh, Peta Wilson
    • Released: 2003
    • Directed by: Stephen Norrington
    74 votes

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  • 4
    71 VOTES

    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

    One of the common complaints of the Harry Potter franchise is that many of the storylines from the books are omitted. And while the Fantastic Beasts film series expands the Wizarding World of Harry Potter even more, it would be nice to sit in it a little longer and explore. It often feels like rapid-fire new information combined with new animals and new aspects of the Wizarding World. Meanwhile, there’s so much we don’t know about wizards. Do they use magic toilet paper? What happens between graduating from Hogwarts and getting a job? A television series would have allowed us to see how magical zoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) sees the world.

    Instead, he's just sort of thrust into a political plot involving a genocidal international terrorist. Also, given how J.K. Rowling writes, you know she has a ton of unexplored backstory she’s itching to reveal 10 years from now in a series of random, rapid-fire tweets. While these films are great, it seems like the magical zoologist is shoehorned into a story about yet another wizard hellbent on destruction. A series would allow all the story elements to get their proper due, the characters to be more fully explored, and a few more actual fantastic beasts. 

    • Actors: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller
    • Released: 2016
    • Directed by: David Yates
    71 votes

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  • 5
    55 VOTES
    Divergent
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    The Hunger Games introduced a huge push for post-apocalyptic teenage drama, but even that series had dwindling returns by the time its final installment arrived. Divergent introduced a world where people are divided into factions based on how their personality can contribute to society. People who have multiple character traits, and are thus able to think freely, are considered divergent.

    Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort's star power was not enough to save this film franchise from a premature ending. The final installment, The Divergent Series: Ascendant, was never made and the plans to revive the series for Starz were canceled. A series of the entire franchise or even just one set in that world would have been rich. The book series has a few twists that would be fitting for Westworld-style reveals, and there is a great blend of action and personal exploration that is so fitting with the present state of sci-fi series like Altered Carbon and Black Mirror. Plus, the structure of the various factions would have lent itself to multiple storylines alone. 

    • Actors: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ansel Elgort, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller
    • Released: 2014 - Present
    • Directed by: Neil Burger, Robert Schwentke
    55 votes
  • 6
    70 VOTES

    Solo: A Star Wars Story

    Given the success of The Mandalorian, and this film’s poor reception, it seems that releasing Solo: A Star Wars Story as a film may have been a misstep. Solo could have been the perfect flagship series to launch with Disney Plus - it already features television royalty Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones), Donald Glover (Atlanta), Woody Harrelson (Cheers), and two-time Emmy-winner Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag).

    Director Ron Howard created a rich world that is fun and light but still impactful, much like the original Star Wars trilogy. Despite all the great characters, the plot seems simplistic and rushed. Characters, worlds, and scenarios are introduced only to be washed away in 10 minutes. Had the story been given time to breathe and the characters been given a chance to develop, it may have felt more authentic and might have been better-received. After all, Han Solo’s name is only briefly explained like some disappointing afterthought. Also, as a series, it could have expanded the original trilogy’s world and explored more of the history of some of our favorite characters from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. 

    • Actors: Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, Joonas Suotamo
    • Released: 2018
    • Directed by: Ron Howard
    70 votes

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