The Film of the Series

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

A film based, sometimes loosely, on a television series. Like The Film of the Book, with one subtle difference. Unlike The Movie and the Reunion Show, which feature the original cast of (whatever incarnation of) the series, these most often happen when the series in question has been off the air for a while, giving it a new cast and updated sensibilities and commonly take place in an Alternate Continuity from the original. Sometimes, though, as Charlie's Angels, the movie is presented as a Sequel to the original. Members of the original cast may appear in cameo roles. In a few cases, as with the film version of Doctor Who and The Twilight Zone, they outright re-make televised episodes.

Usually, these adaptations will raise the stakes and use a more traditional "heroes saving the day" style of plot to ensure that it's a Big Damn Movie. Contrast with The Movie, compare with Continuity Reboot. A subtrope of The Remake.

These were especially popular in The Nineties.

Examples of The Film of the Series include:

Original series Film version Notes
Title Years Title Year Notes
Doctor Who 1963-89; 2005–present Dr. Who and the Daleks 1965 And a sequel (1966). A rare example of The Film of the Series being made while the original is still in production. These directly adapted the first Dalek story, "The Daleks", and the second one, "The Dalek Invasion of Earth", made them Lighter and Fluffier, changed the overall premise of the series and most definitely take place in an Alternate Continuity rather than in the Whoniverse.
The Twilight Zone 1959-64 Twilight Zone the Movie 1983
Dragnet 1949-59 Dragnet 1987 Film was an Affectionate Parody of the original. Harry Morgan plays his character from the 1967-70 Revival series.
The Addams Family 1964-66 The Addams Family 1991 And a sequel (1993). (The 1998 direct-to-video movie is the pilot for the TV series revival.)
The Beverly Hillbillies 1962-71 The Beverly Hillbillies 1993
The Fugitive 1963-67 The Fugitive 1993 The film starred Harrison Ford as the title character and Tommy Lee Jones as the Inspector Javert, and resulted in a sequel in which Tommy Lee Jones pursues a different fugitive.
Car 54, Where Are You? 1961-63 Car 54, Where Are You? 1994 Filmed in 1990 but not released until 1994, the film basicly tried to turn Car 54 into a Police Academy type movie. Original cast members Al Lewis and Nipsey Russell appeared as their original characters.
The Flintstones 1960-66 The Flintstones 1994 And a prequel (2000). The series was animated, the films were proof that "live action is no substitute for the real thing."
Maverick 1957-62 Maverick 1994 Mel Gibson starred as Bret Maverick. James Garner, the original Bret Maverick, co-starred as Marshal Zane Cooper, who turned out to be Maverick's father, whom he also played in the original series as a secondary role.
The Brady Bunch 1969-74 The Brady Bunch Movie 1995 And a sequel (1996)
The Phil Silvers Show 1955-59 Sgt. Bilko 1996 Steve Martin starred as Sgt. Bilko.
Mission Impossible 1966-73 Mission Impossible 1996 And sequels (2000, 2006, 2011). Presented as a sequel to the series, not a reboot.
George of the Jungle 1967 George of the Jungle 1997 Series was animated, film is live action.
Leave It to Beaver 1957-63 Leave It To Beaver 1997
McHales Navy 1962-66 McHale's Navy 1997 Tom Arnold played McHale. Ernest Borgnine returns as the original McHale, now an admiral, and Arnold is his son, but we're not told these facts until the final scene; Borgnine's McHale uses a codename.
The Avengers 1961-69 The Avengers 1998 Patrick Macnee played John Steed in the original series and appeared in a cameo as Invisible Jones in the film. The film was based - loosely - on the Steed/Emma Peel pairing.
Lost in Space 1965-68 Lost in Space 1998 Most of the original cast have cameos in early scenes set on Earth.
Inspector Gadget 1983-86 Inspector Gadget 1999 Even more proof that live action is no substitute for the original. Not helped by the fact that apart from a few names, and bionic implants, the film has absolutely nothing to do with the series.
The Mod Squad 1968-73 The Mod Squad 1999
My Favorite Martian (TV) 1963-66 My Favorite Martian 1999
The Wild Wild West 1965-69 Wild Wild West 1999
Charlie's Angels 1976-81 Charlie's Angels 2000 And a sequel (2003). John Forsythe returned to the role of Charlie. None of the original Angels had cameos in the 2000 film (Farrah Fawcett reportedly said that she'd only appear if she could be Charlie), but Jaclyn Smith had a cameo in the sequel. The trope is referred to at the start of the film as LL Cool J's character watches a T. J. Hooker film.
I Spy 1965-68 I Spy 2002
Scooby Doo 1969-70 Scooby Doo 2002 And sequel (2004), prequel (2009). Series was animated, films are live action.
Starsky and Hutch 1975-79 Starsky and Hutch 2004 The film was partly an Affectionate Parody of the original. The original leads make cameoes near the end.
Thunderbirds 1965-68 Thunderbirds 2004 Series was Supermarionation; film is live action. The art direction was the only part that was a faithful adaptation.
Bewitched 1964-72 Bewitched 2005 Took an unexpected left turn by telling the story of a fictional remake of the original series—that starred a real witch.
The Dukes of Hazzard 1979-85 The Dukes of Hazzard 2005 R-rated parody remake of the family friendly TV series with Bo and Luke dumbed down, Boss Hogg and Uncle Jessie slimmed down and Sherrif Roscoe still dumb but more menacing.
The Honeymooners 1955-56 The Honeymooners 2005 Film made all the characters African Americans.
Miami Vice 1984-90 Miami Vice 2006
Sukeban Deka 1985 Sukeban Deka 2006 The actress who played the original Sukeban Deka cameos as the mother of the new one; the movie can be interpreted as a remake or a sequel (the mother is implied to have been a Sukeban Deka, and could be the character from the original series; the coincidence in both characters being named Asamiya Saki is explained by it being a code name). US title of remake is "Yo-yo Girl Cop".
Alvin and The Chipmunks 1983-90 Alvinandthe Chipmunks 2007 And sequels (2009, 2011). Series was animated; films are live-action/CGI mix. Characters had first appeared on The Alvin Show (1961–62).
Neon Genesis Evangelion 1995-96 with Evangelion: Death and Rebirth and End of Evangelion; and "retold" in the Rebuild of Evangelion films: Evangelion 1.0 (2007), Evangelion 2.0 (2009), Evangelion New Theatrical Edition: Q (TBA) and part 4 (TBA). Original and films are all animated. In addition, a live-action Evangelion is in the works.
Get Smart 1965-70 Get Smart 2008 Steve Carrell starred as Maxwell Smart. (1980's The Nude Bomb was The Movie.)
Speed Racer 1967-68 Speed Racer 2008 Series was animated; film is live action (not counting all the CGI).
Land of the Lost 1974-76 Land of the Lost 2009 The film is more comedic than the series.
Star Trek 1966-69 Star Trek 2009 Leonard Nimoy reprised his role as the Spock from the main Star Trek universe, via Time Travel. Further films are planned. (The previous Star Trek films, by contrast, were straight examples of The Movie.)
Avatar: The Last Airbender 2005-08 The Last Airbender 2010 Series is animated; the film is live action.
The A-Team 1983-87 The A-Team 2010
Edge of Darkness 1985 Edge of Darkness 2010 Hollywood remake starring Mel Gibson.
The Yogi Bear Show 1961 Yogi Bear 2010 Series was animated; film is live-action/CGI mix.
Twenty One Jump Street 1987-91 Twenty One Jump Street 2012 Series was drama; film is played for laughs.
Dark Shadows 1966-71 Dark Shadows 2012 Series was drama; film is played for laughs.
Fraggle Rock 1983-87 2012 (projected)
The Equalizer 1985-89 2013 (projected)
MacGyver 1985-92 2013 (projected; currently[when?] in Development Hell due to executive producer's death)
Cowboy Bebop 1998-99 ? Release year currently[when?] unknown. Series is animated; film will be live action.
Gilligan's Island 1964-67 ? Release year currently[when?] unknown.
Madoka Magica 2011 Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Movie 2012-2013 The first two of the three movies (Beginnings and Eternal) were a slightly-condensed retelling of the series; the third (Rebellion) was a sequel.
Magnum, P.I. 1980-88 ? Release year currently[when?] unknown.
The Prisoner 1967 ? Release year unknown as of March 2018. Project announced in 2016 with Ridley Scott as the director.
  • Semi-example: The 1987 film The Untouchables was pitched as the film of the 1950s TV series, but the director and writer went back to the original historical source material, then completely ignored that history and made up a totally fictional story. Coming full circle, it was adapted into a syndicated Revival series six years later.
  • Despite what you might think, the live action Transformers films are not an example as it's not based exclusively on the original series, but just the latest part of a franchise that actually predates the cartoon and has run continuously since then.