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13 Shows That Are Better Than The Movies They Were Based On

List Rules
Vote up the shows that surpass the movies they were based on.

The best stories are rarely contained to their original form. Books are turned into movies and TV shows, and small-screen programs often get the big-screen treatment. When people want a deeper look into a film's world, that's when it gets a TV series.

In the case of these famous movies, their TV show spinoffs or reboots not only had the time to more closely examine the world and characters, but also did it in a way that a two-hour movie never could.

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  • Original: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)

    The best sign a show is better than the movie it's based on is when the series eclipses the movie so intensely that most people don't know there was a movie at all - which is exactly what happened with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Although the film had the same creator and writer in Joss Whedon - and a pretty stellar cast that included Luke Perry, David Arquette, and Donald Sutherland - Kristy Swanson's turn as Buffy Summers just didn't hit like Sarah Michelle Gellar's stint as the character on the small screen.

    Following a seven-season run - not counting the numerous spinoffs, comic books, etc. - and the massive cultural impact it had on viewers in the late '90s and early '00s, Buffy quickly became an early prototype for the "this might work better on TV" mindset.

  • Original: Friday Night Lights (2004)

    While the Friday Night Lights movie adapts H.G. Bissinger's true-story book of the same name, the NBC series tells the story of a fictional Texas town and the high school football team it loves while going much deeper into the personal lives of the coaches and players. FNL doesn't require a deep knowledge - or even enjoyment - of football; it's much more concerned with the slice-of-life stories that surround daily practices and Friday night games.

    The series earns every acting laud it received, touting seasoned vets like Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, and showcasing future powerhouse performers like Michael B. Jordan and Jesse Plemons. It's a classic argument to ask which is better: Friday Night Lights the movie or Friday Night Lights the show. But anyone who has viewed the series' five-season run knows the right answer.

  • 3
    101 VOTES

    Original: The Karate Kid (1984)

    Cobra Kai already had two seasons on YouTube's Premium TV service before subsequent seasons on Netflix rocketed it into the megahit it is now, but the quality has been there from the start. The sequel series to The Karate Kid franchise stands as the golden example for how to make a show that builds on an older franchise by perfectly juggling its focus on being its own thing while still paying homage to the source material.

    Cobra Kai also manages to elevate the movies it's based on by taking more thoughtful looks at characters like Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso, as well as smaller characters like John Kreese and Chozen Toguchi. Whether you're a longtime Karate Kid fan or haven't seen a second of the movies, Cobra Kai is some of the most fun you'll have watching TV in a while.

  • Ash vs Evil Dead
    Photo: Starz

    Original: The Evil Dead (1981)

    In an interview with Digital Spy, Bruce Campbell, who played the titular Ash in Starz's Ash vs Evil Dead and the film The Evil Dead, summed up why he prefers the show to the movies:

    A lot of people were clamouring for another Evil Dead movie, but it was our job to try and work out what the best format was. [Director] Sam Raimi was making very expensive movies at the time, but [executive producer] Robert Tapert had just done Spartacus and I'd just done Burn Notice, so we were both in a TV frame of mind. So Robert and I talked Sam into rethinking it into a TV show.

    We thought we could tell a much more thorough story, and have much more character development, than we could in a hour-and-a-half movie. Also, the fans are never satisfied. We thought that a TV show would give us the highest chance of them being satisfied.

    And also, as we wound up on Starz, we could have unrated material, which is what most of our fans want anyway! If we did a movie, it would have been R-rated, and they wouldn't get what they were looking for.

  • 5
    97 VOTES
    Hannibal
    Photo: NBC

    Original: The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

    You'd think a network TV prequel to 1991's The Silence of the Lambs would be a watered-down nightmare, but NBC's Hannibal managed to defy expectations at every turn. Led by Mads Mikkelsen in a career-defining turn as the titular Hannibal Lecter, and Hugh Dancy as profiler Will Graham, the show follows Hannibal as he works with the FBI to help track down a number of different killers, all while playing his own mind games with Graham.

    Despite being on NBC, the series never shied away from graphic imagery and storytelling, which has led many of its loudest proponents to consider it the best horror series ever to grace TV - as well as one of the best shows of all time.

  • 6
    76 VOTES
    Westworld
    Photo: HBO

    Original: Westworld (1973)

    Author Michael Crichton made his name writing stories ahead of their time, and that can be said doubly for his book Westworld and the 1973 adaptation of it. Cut to 2016, when HBO decided the times had caught up to the vision, and the latest adaptation of the story more than succeeds.

    Aside from the obvious technical leaps that mark the HBO version over the original, the series also more deftly covers the themes of humanity, control, and what it means to have a soul. Wrap all that in multiple timelines, then add numerous characters weaving through each other's path in a way only Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy could pull off, and your brain is in a pretzel but begging for the next episode.