9 Popular TV Series That Were Originally Supposed To Be Movies


When it comes to creating a hit film or TV series, one of the biggest concerns is how to tell the entire story properly. Coming up with an original story for the next big Hollywood film is difficult, but the same could be said for a new TV series and what fans don’t know is that some of their favorite shows weren’t even supposed to be shows at all! There have been quite a few times when some of the most popular shows of recent years were actually pitched as movies before somebody realized how much better they could be if turned into an entire series instead. Here are 9 popular series that were first imagined as movies:

9. Riverdale

With many of its hit shows ending, The CW was in need of a gripping new teen series when it picked up Riverdale. Using the beloved Archie comic characters, and a mix of talented new stars and beloved Hollywood veterans the show was an immediate success, but at first it wasn’t even supposed to be a show at all. In 2013, Warner Bros. picked up the idea for an Archie movie after receiving a pitch from writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and director Jason Moore. The film was imagined as a teen comedy reminiscent of the John Hughes’ classic films from the ’80s; however, as Warner Bros. began focusing on its bigger films, the Archie movie got left behind. Eventually Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa reimagined the film for TV and Riverdale was born. Riverdale began development at Fox in 2014, but the network soon dropped the project and, finally in 2015, the show was moved to The CW.

Source: CW


8. Pitch

In the fall of 2016, Fox took a leap with its new series Pitch which told the story of the first woman to ever play in the MLB. While the unique premise seemed like a definite hit, the series was cancelled after the first season, and may be one of the few that possibly could have done better as a film, which was the creator’s original intention. Producer Dan Fogelman was introduced to the project via writer Rick Singer and producer and director Tony Bill, but none of them thought of it as a series at first. “They had been developing this for a long time as a movie. They’re huge baseball junkies themselves. I’d first talked to Tony about it as a film and I realized as my deal was coming over to 20th Century Fox Television that it might be a nice fit as a TV series,” Fogelman explained on how he took Pitch from a movie to a Fox series.

Source: Fox

7. ER

It might be hard to believe but one of the most iconic medical dramas in TV history and one of the longest running shows in TV history, almost wasn’t a show at all. Back in 1974, renowned author, creator, producer and director Michael Crichton developed a screenplay about his own experiences as a doctor in a hectic hospital emergency room, hoping to make it into a successful film but that isn’t exactly what happened. “I wrote a documentary style movie about what happened during 24 hours in an emergency room. I thought the screenplay was terrific, but nobody would make the movie, finding it too technical, too chaotic, and too fast-moving. It sat on the shelf for the next nineteen years – brought out every five or ten years, for updating, and for the studios and networks to look at, and reject yet again,” Crichton wrote on his website. After collaborating with Steven Spielberg to bring his book Jurassic Park to the big screen in 1993, the pair turned to ER and made some changes to present it as a two-hour pilot for a series instead of as a film and finally it was picked up by NBC.


6. Daredevil

There are many superhero and comic book fans who wish that 2003’s Daredevil starring Ben Affleck never happened, and it took a decade before anyone made another attempt at the story, and in April 2015 the Daredevil series came to Netflix, but not before another film version was first discussed. In 2013 the film rights to Daredevil were bought back by Marvel Studios from 20th Century Fox, and Drew Goddard immediately began looking at creating a Marvel Daredevil film. After the disastrous 2003 film, however, Marvel was hesitant about how to present the character and his story and did not want to create an R-rated film but Goddard did not want a “watered down version of the character.” Goddard explained, “I went into Marvel and talked to them about making it as a movie a couple of years ago, long after the Affleck movie. But what we all sort of realised is that, this movie doesn’t want to cost $200 million. The thing about Matt Murdock is, he’s not saving the world. He’s just keeping his corner clean. So it would feel wrong to have spaceships crashing in the middle of the city. But because of that, Marvel on the movie side is not in the business of making $25 million movies. They’re going big, as they should.” Through this conversation Goddard and Marvel realized that while a Daredevil movie wouldn’t work, but that a television series definitely would and Marvel’s Daredevil was created.

Patrick Harbron / ©Netflix / Courtesy: Everett Collection

5. Glee

It didn’t take long for Glee to become a pop culture phenomenon following its debut on Fox in May 2009, but the story could have been very different, and audiences may never had had six seasons of William McKinley High School’s glee club. In 2005, Glee’s creator, executive producer, co-writer, and director Ian Brennan envisioned the story as a film based on a high school glee club in a very normal town with characters who just wanted to stand out and be stars. After pitching the film unsuccessfully for awhile, he gave up on the idea until his friend, television producer Mike Novick, ran into Ryan Murphy at the gym and gave him Brennan’s script. Murphy immediately loved the script and brought in his friend and colleague Brad Falchuk who agreed Glee would serve better as a television show instead. Brennan, Murphy and Falchuk re-wrote Brennan’s entire original script and sent it off to Fox who picked up the series only 15 hours later.

Everett Collection

4. Mr. Robot

Sam Esmail’s cyber-thriller series Mr. Robot is yet just another successful series that almost wasn’t on TV at all. Esmail has explained that he has always been fascinated by hacker culture and for 15 years thought about making a film about, but it was during the writing process he realized the story would be better told through TV. “I was writing it as a feature, but I think around page 90 I realized I wasn’t even halfway through the first act, and that’s when I knew this really couldn’t be a feature. I chopped 30 pages off and said, ‘okay, this will be the pilot episode of whatever this becomes.'” After making the changes, he presented the script to Anonymous Content to gauge interest on it as a series and USA Network immediately picked it up and ordered a pilot in July 2014 before ordering a whole 10 episodes in December 2014.

Virginia Sherwood/©USA Network/courtesy Everett Collection

3. 13 Reasons Why

Netflix has had a lot of success with original series lately and one of the biggest and most talked about has been 13 Reasons Why. Since most books are adapted into films instead of series, that is how the screen adaptation of 13 Reasons Why began when Universal Studios bought the rights to the novel in 2011. As it turns out, Selena Gomez spearheaded the film after falling in love with the book and was cast as Hannah Baker. Before long it was realized the story would be better served as a series instead and Gomez decided to stay behind the cameras as an executive producer because she didn’t want her fame or celebrity detracting from the importance of the book and the story.

Beth Dubber / ©Netflix / courtesy Everett Collection

2. Game of Thrones

It really isn’t surprising that many imagined Game of Thrones as a major sci-fi fantasy film in the vein of Lord of the Rings, but this time around it was the writer who was against it. Before being approached by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to turn “A Song of Fire and Ice” into a series, many other scriptwriters had tried to talk Martin into turning the story into a feature length film, but he was adamantly against it and Benioff agreed. Of course the violence and sexual content was not going to fly on network television either, so they took their idea to HBO who agreed and bought the TV rights to the novels.

Helen Sloan/©HBO/courtesy Everett Collection

1. One Tree Hill

One Tree Hill may be one of the most beloved and popular shows of the 2000s, but in the beginning fans could have only gotten a movie instead of nine seasons. Creator Mark Schwahn first came up with the idea from his own personal experiences of growing up in a small town and playing on the basketball team, but said he was more like the character of Mouth McFadden, and originally imagined it as a film which he called Ravens. As he continued writing however, he realized it could make a very interesting television series and recreated Ravens as One Tree Hill.

Source: CW