The Big Picture

  • Movies have become more focused on spectacle, causing viewers to turn to TV for character-driven content.
  • TV spin-offs allow for more in-depth storytelling and exploration of different characters.
  • Shows like ‘Andor’, ‘Cobra Kai’, and ‘Peacemaker’ showcase more mature and interesting narratives than their film counterparts.

For a long time, movies were perceived as the most prestigious entertainment medium. As hard as it is to believe now, at one point in time, TV was seen as the place where actors who couldn’t make it into film settled. However, once The Sopranos debuted, audiences began to see the benefits of following a character and a plot for more than 90 minutes.

As movies became increasingly spectacle-oriented, viewers raced to TV for more character and story-driven content. With the lack of time constraints and the ability to focus more on different characters, it’s no surprise many fans’ favorite films would get TV spin-offs. As many Reddit commenters have noticed, movies like Stargate and Friday Night Lights are often better served by the medium of television, where their visions can be fully realized.

10 ‘Andor’ (2022)

Diego Luna as Cassian in Andor Episode 9
Image via Disney+

This gritty spin-off to Rouge One made Star Wars feel like a premium HBO show with its intricate storytelling and complicated characters. Unlike the film, Andor lets the audience feel the oppression of the empire on the ground level as an everyday citizen under occupation, explaining why Andor hates them so much in the film.

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The show also takes its time to go more in-depth with the actual politics of the galaxy in a way the movies haven’t. It trades constant action scenes for weighty conversations between characters about morality, giving the franchise a more adult tone. Zealousideal-Ice-565 comments, “I really enjoyed Andor more so than the other spin-offs, much more mature and generally miles more interesting.”

9 ‘Cobra Kai’ (2018)

Image via Netflix

After twenty years, this martial arts franchise returned on YouTube, and its unpredictable plot twist made it so popular that Netflix picked up its latter seasons. Cobra Kai swaps the villain and hero roles from the first film, making an intriguing premise. Seeing the once cocky and villainous Tommy now a down-on-his-luck loser gets audiences on his side despite him still not being perfect.

Also, the story can be edgier now that its main characters are all grown up. Another benefit of so much time passing is better action sequences with slicker camera movement and choreography, making it more exciting than anything audiences saw in the 80s. Reddit user oddmanout agrees, saying, “I think the fact that there are 35 years between the two makes a big difference.”

8 ‘Peacemaker’ (2022)

John Cena in Peacemaker
Image via Max

This quirky show about a misunderstood vigilante trying to stop an alien invasion shocked fans by making Peacemaker (John Cena) more than just funny punchlines. Commenter FluffyMoomin exclaims, “This is better imo. You don’t have the rest of the Suicide Squad diluting the Peacemaker character.”

This surprise hit made Peacemaker a 3D-dimensional character struggling with his good and bad side instead of just another villain. His complicated relationship with his father gives fans insight into how he became a felon, adding layers to the character. The antagonists also feel more of a threat as they secretly infiltrate the human race, making for a more exciting opponent than a giant starfish.

7 ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ (1997)

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers with a mummy hand in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Image via 20th Century Studios

Joss Whedon’s iconic TV reboot about an underage vampire slayer perfectly balances teen angst with horror, almost eclipsing the original film. Reddit commenter Drewhasspoken jokes, “Is there an answer other than Buffy?”

This 90’s phenomenon made Buffy more than just a ditzy high schooler thanks to Sarah Michelle Geller’s more grounded performance. This show uses horror elements as metaphors for the horrors of high school and growing up, making this show timeless.

6 ‘Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous’ (2020)

Image via Netflix

Ironically, Netflix’s animated show about a group of teens stranded in Jurassic World may be the best adaptation since the original film. This charming spin-off gives fans Jurassic Park nostalgia with its sense of wonder and adventure. Scenes like the kids seeing dinosaurs for the first time almost capture the same emotional feeling from the 1993 movie.

Reddit user ardouronerous agrees, saying, “the pacing of the show is similar to the original Jurassic Park, showing the beauty and awe of the place before the sh*t the hit the ceiling.” Unlike Jurassic World, there is a good balance between action and character development, with each kid having their own arc. Oddly enough, the action scenes are more inventive and better executed than their live-action counterparts. The amount of care given to the show leaves fans wondering why they can’t do the same on the big screen.

5 ‘M*A*S*H’ (1972)

MASH tv show
Image via CBS

This small-screen re-imagining of the dark comedy film about a military hospital features charming characters that comfort viewers and make them feel like they’re visiting old friends every week. A staple of the 70s, it takes the mean-spirited Hawkeye and BJ from the film, making them more lovable and goofy for TV audiences.

This helps viewers invest more in the characters, especially when the series becomes more dramatic towards the latter half. Audiences’ endearment with characters undoubtedly explains why this show lasted eight seasons. Opus-the-Penguin jokes about M*A*S*H lasting power, exclaiming, “More than 3 times as long as the Korean War!

4 ‘Stargate SG-1’ (1997)

Teal'c and jack O' Neal strategizing_Stargate SG-1
Image via ShowTime

Roland Emmerich’s original sci-fi action may not have been mind-blowing, but the premise of ancient civilizations being taken through wormholes and enslaved on different planets made for a classic show. two_three_five_eigth wisely states, “I think the idea worked better as a TV show. ​​​​​”

This cult show gives the story an almost Star Trek feel. Every episode showcases a new world containing a different ancient civilization, almost like a futuristic history lesson. Also, similar to Star Trek, the episodes often deal with more cerebral stories than the movie. Additionally, the show gives Jackson and Oneal more personality and color and adds new characters like Carter to mix things up. Fans are also given a more in-depth look at the colonizing Jaffa aliens, with newcomer Teal’c playing a significant role in the show, expanding the lore and the universe of the film.

3 ‘Friday Nights Lights’ (2006)

Friday Night Lights' (2006 - 2011) (1)
Image via NBC

This popular show about a small-town high school football team focuses more on the human elements than the game. maxkmiller comments, “The difference is, the movie is actually about football.The intended audience is completely different from the show.”

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This long-running show is less about football and more about people, as it goes further in-depth into the different characters. Even supporting roles like the coach’s wife get story arcs. While the film’s coach is harsher, the show’s version of Coach is much softer than Billy Bob Thornton’s. The show, in its entirety, is more sentimental, which is precisely what puts it leagues above the movie.

2 ‘Star Wars: Clone Wars’ (2008)

Anakin learning Obi-Wan lied in Clone Wars TV series
Image via Disney+

This beloved animated series set between Episodes 2 and 3 filled in the blanks many hardcore fans wished were addressed during the films.

This franchise favorite elevates itself above the animated film or live-action prequels, thanks to Matt Latner’s subtle performances as Anakin. Fans see him slowly turning to the dark side instead of it feeling rushed and unearned. TheKingslayer agrees, saying, “When I think of Anakin, it is always TCW Anakin.” Other characters like Darth Maul and Count Dooku are also more fleshed out, as well as Anakin and Padme’s relationship. Viewers also get a closer look at the separatist faction, whose motivations aren’t fully explained in the movies. The greatest compliment given to this series is that it makes the prequel films better.

1 ‘Fargo’ (2014)

Lester and Lorne from 'Fargo' speaking in a waiting room
Image via FX

This immersive FX crime show allows viewers to sit and live in the world of Fargo instead of just dropping by for ninety minutes. While the film arrives late and leaves early, the show takes time to unravel its story and lets you see what motivates certain characters down their paths.

This program is oddly funnier and darker than its inspiration. Chilling performances from actors like Billy Bob Thortonmake this show more suspenseful and edgier than the film. NeuHundred repeats these sentiments, saying, “I think it’s a case of me liking the cast, the show having more twists and turns, and just letting me spend more time in that crazy world.”

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