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11 TV show remakes that are more highly regarded than the movie

By: H&I Staff    Posted: May 14, 2024, 10:14AM Tags: Tags: Nostalgia, remakes, movies, tv shows

As the flop TV series Planet of the Apes, CasablancaFerris Bueller, Paper Moon and Serpico proved, capturing lightning in a bottle twice is tricky business. The DNA of hit movies does not always lead to hit shows, especially when you replace the actors, director, time constraints, writers, size of the screen, etc. 

Of course, there are success stories. The sitcoms Alice, The Ghost & Mrs. Muir and What's Happening!! are held in about the same esteem as their cinematic source material (the first and latter being Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and Cooley High, in case you didn't know).

Even rarer is the TV remake that surpasses the box office original in terms of fandom and acclaim. It's subjective, of course, but with IMDb ratings, we can check the scores.

Here are 11 remake series that hold a higher rating than the original movie. We ranked them in order of the rating gap. Which do you prefer?

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TV: 7.4
Film: 5.8

Our first pick might surprise you, in part because some might not realize this Western was a remake. Will Rogers Jr. was the first to play the sasparilla-swilling Tom Brewster in 1957's The Boy from Oklahoma. (Oddly, the 1951 film Sugarfoot was not related to the show, despite being made by the same studio.) Will Hutchins took over the role three years later, in one of Warner Bros.' hit stable of small-screen oaters. The show aired for four seasons — a smash in that era.

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Friday Night Lights

TV: 8.6
Film: 7.2

"Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose!" That immortal line came from the TV show, not the Billy Bob Thorton flick. That alone pushes this above, but let's be honest — Kyle Chandler is a more inspiring coach. The drawn-out seasons of network television play to the advantage of the plot, as we have more time to see the adolescent football stars grow.

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Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

TV: 7.2
Film: 6.1

Creator Irwin Allen was behind both projects, but lovers of undersea adventure seem to prefer the television show. It could have something to do with the greater emphasis on science-fiction, but we honestly think it could simply come down to the introduction of the Flying Sub. That thing was just cool.

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TV: 8.3
Film: 7.3

As it aired nearly 70 years ago, Topper is the most obscure selection on this list. The film dates back even further, released by MGM back in 1937. The supernatural comedy centered around the stuffy, well-to-do Toppers, who are haunted by the ghosts of the young couple who previously occupied the house. It's a forerunner of Beetlejuice, basically, which was pretty out-there stuff for early television. The sitcom earned a Best Situation Comedy Emmy nomination in 1954.

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The Dukes of Hazzard

TV: 7.1
Film: 6.1

Nobody remembers the movie. Not a lot of argument here. Of course, that has a lot to do with the fact that the 1975 film was titled Moonrunners, which sounds a lot more like sci-fi, to add to the confusion. The main characters were named Grady and Bobby Lee Hagg in the movie, but there were some familiar elements in place — Waylon Jennings narrated, Sheriff Rosco Coltrane was on their tail, and there was an Uncle Jesse. One key element was missing, however: Daisy.

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TV: 8.4
Film: 7.5

At last, we get to M*A*S*H! Its lower position here might surprise you, but remember, the movie was quite acclaimed. Heck, it earned five Oscar nominations and was one of the first selections for the National Film Registry in the Library of Congress. So the fact that the TV show is significantly more acclaimed and beloved than the Robert Altman gem is truly something. And we can't argue. In hindsight, it feels weird seeing anyone other than Alan Alda playing Hawkeye.

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Naked City

TV: 8.2
Film: 7.6

Both the movie and the show blended noir grit with documentary-style realism. Writer Stirling Silliphant (Route 66), inspired by the Beats, heightened the poetic aspirations of the TV version, and the documentary approach was simple just more novel on the small screen, all of which lead to greater acclaim. The original was one of countless noir thrillers; the TV show was a pioneer.

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Twelve O'Clock High

TV: 8.1
Film: 7.7

The legendary, charismatic Gregory Peck starred in the original 1949 war film, but 15 years later, people seemed to connect more with the network version. Perhaps the distance removed for World War II had something to do with that.

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TV: 7.0
Film: 6.6

"I'm gonna live forever!" Irene Cara sang in the hit theme song to the 1980 musical drama. However, unlike her costar Debbie Allen, Cara did not make the jump (well, jete?) to the television adaptation. The show also used different versions of the title song, sung by Erica Gimpel and, later, Loretta Chandler. But here's something the TV show had — rising stars. Namely, Janet Jackson and Nia Peeples in later seasons.

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TV: 6.3
Film: 6.1

Chuck Connors, the beloved Rifleman, starred in the 1963 movie as Porter Ricks. Either people preferred Brian Kelly as Porter (Luke Halpin played son Sandy Ricks in both versions) or the "aquatic Lassie" concept was more apt on the small screen. Or maybe it was the dolphins. It could have been the difference in the dolphins.

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TV: 6.8
Film: 6.7

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