Home Entertainment Top List Thursdays – Top 5 80's TV series that could be remade as movies

Top List Thursdays – Top 5 80's TV series that could be remade as movies

5 min read

So with the recent announcement that Sony would be turning an 80’s TV show as obscure as Manimal into a movie, I came to realize that it’s pointless to rail against this current barrage of remakes. It just wastes too much energy and emotion (somewhere out there, all 17 Manimal fans are crying themselves to sleep tonight). So there’s nothing left to do now but swallow what little pride we have left and embrace it.

So here’s me swallowing (my pride, you dirty bastards!), by presenting to you the 5 80’s TV shows that I think could best make the move to the big screen.


AutoMan followed police officer and computer programmer Walter Nebicher who creates a crimefighting AI that can take physical form and create separate objects through holograms. Okay, okay so holograms don’t really have physical form, but hey it was the 80’s, what did we know? It was shiny, which must have meant it was high-tech, right?

So they’d have to rethink the technology aspects of the narrative a bit, but with today’s level of special FX, this one is just begging to be remade into a big budget action-comedy. Imagine the lovechild of Tron:Legacy and Green Lantern, and now imagine that those movies were actually good, and you can see that this might just be a recipe for success.


I saw a grand total of 2 episodes of Otherworld when I was a kid (which is essentially a quarter of all the episodes ever made), yet I’ve always remembered it. The tale of the Sterling family, who get transported to a parallel dictator controlled world, when they find themselves inside the Great Pyramid of Giza during a rare planetary alignment, has blockbuster family adventure movie written all over it.

It’s very rare today to see a big budget romp that has an entire family involved, and this could really hit all four of those vaunted quadrants that studio execs like so much. Throw in some sci-fi hi-jinx, maybe a teen romance hook or two, and you could have a winner here.

The Highwayman

It always boggles my mind that there were only ever 9 episodes (10 if you include the pilot) of The Highwayman ever made. I could have sworn it was running for years, judging by how well known and recognizable it is. And with that established fanbase, I’m even more surprised that studios haven’t jumped all over this one yet.

While the original show was set in the far, far, faaaaaaar off future of 1992, a modern movie remake could really push the calendar and be set in some post apocalyptic future time. That would certainly lend more credibility to the story of “Highway”, one of a group of roaming lawmen, each armed with a badass attitude, a really big gun and a massive truck that served as a one-stop shop for bad guy catching technology.

Hell, you could even have the original “Highway”, Sam Jones, play the role again as he’s just recently shown in Ted that he’s still got it. And besides, old guys kicking butt is pretty huge in Hollywood right now.

Hardcastle & McCormick

This one practically writes itself as a buddy action comedy. Milton Hardcastle is an ex-Judge who retired with a briefcase full of case files for criminals who got off on a technicality. Teaming up with hi-tech protoype car thief turned vigilante Mark McCormick, he sets out to bring these people to justice.

Tweak the story ever so slightly, so that Hardcastle has a personal mission instead of just helping a long list of strangers, throw in the flashy experimental car and a couple of widescreen action sequences complete with high speed car chases and you have yourselves the makings of a summer blockbuster. You can thank me later, Hollywood.

Quantum Leap

Now out of all the shows on this list, Quantum Leap is probably the show most close to everybody’s hearts, mine included, and thus the one we’d least like to see have its legacy tampered with. But lets face it, the concept is just too good to thing that it will passed up. I’m rather surprised that Hollywood isn’t making moves on this already, as it merely took me all of 5 minutes to come up with an applicable feature film twist to the original concept, that saw Dr Sam Beckett, a physicist from the future, who through a failed time travel experiment found his consciousness shunted around into different bodies in different eras in history. Now being guided by a holographic projection of his best friend being Al beamed straight from the future into his head, Becket has to help the people whose body he occupies before he can move on to the next leap.

For a movie version, keep everything as is, with Beckett still jumping around in time and Al still cracking wise at his side, but have the stories all link up so that Sam’s actions in one era influences the person whose body he occupies in another jump. And have that story tie into something personal to Beckett to give it some gravitas. In the series the initial jump caused Beckett’s personal memories to get all scrambled, so maybe righting the wrong of an ancestor, whose body Beckett could even be occupying?

Want to make it really clever? Have Beckett’s adventures in the various time periods play out on screen concurrently instead of chronologically. Yeah sure, that could get too complex, but do it right, having all the various plot threads tie come together in the end, and it could be amazing.

Honourable Mentions: Airwolf, Street Hawk, Highway to Heaven, The Greatest American Hero, Golden Girls, Perfect Strangers

Last Updated: September 20, 2012


  1. Good list! Man, I totally forgot about Automan! Who can still remember Holmes and Yo-Yo?


  2. Lourens Corleone

    September 20, 2012 at 15:08

    Thank you for being a frieeeendddd……..


  3. James Francis

    September 20, 2012 at 15:58

    I can’t really see Quantum Leap or Stairway To Heaven work as movies. Both require the main character to be somewhere new for each episode – so they are very serialised. A movie would just end up feeling like an overlong episode. Yet to compress what made these shows great into a mere two hours would not do any sort of justice.


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