’80s Movies You Forgot Became TV Shows

Any child of the ’80s remembers some of our favorite films being reincarnated as TV shows (RobocopHarry and the Hendersons, Beetlejuice. Even Muppet Babies was based on a scene from Muppets Take Manhattan). The most memorable for me was Ghostbusters (which for some reason was called The Real Ghostbusters as a cartoon… shouldn’t the live-action one be called “real” instead of the animated one? That was my logic at age five and I’m sticking to it). The movie-to-TV adaptations even continued into later decades, with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and currently Friday Night Lights and Parenthood (which was already a TV show in the ’90s). But this trend hit its peak with ’80s movies, where seemingly every hit film was shortened, given a laugh track (or animated), and filled with less-famous actors in the lead roles. Needless to say, most of them didn’t last too long.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Remember what I said about less famous actors in the lead roles? Just ask Matthew Broderick if he was nervous about Charlie Schlatter nipping at the heels of his fame. I think Broderick slept just fine at night.

Replacement Cast: Jennifer Aniston for Jennifer Grey. Charlie Schlatter for Matthew Broderick. Ami Dolenz for Mia Sara.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Returning Cast: Ray Walston as Mr. Hand. Vincent Schiavelli as Mr. Vargas.

Replacement Cast: Courtney Thorne-Smith for Jennifer Jason Leigh. Dean Cameron for Sean Penn. Patrick Dempsey for Robert Romanus. Claudia Wells for Phoebe Cates (Wells knew a thing or two about replacements, having been replaced by Elisabeth Shue in Back to the Future Part II and Part III).

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

I assume the weed jokes were removed for the cartoon version. Or not. Kids are stupid, they probably wouldn’t have noticed.

Returning Cast: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, and George Carlin all voiced their original characters.

Working Girl

Replacement Cast: Sandra Bullock with (slightly) better hair than her predecessor, Melanie Griffith.

Weird Science

Replacement Cast: Vanessa Angel for Kelly LeBrock.

Back to the Future

Returning Cast: Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown appeared in live-action intros to each episode. However, Lloyd did not provide the voice of Doc for the cartoon. Thomas F. Wilson returned as the voice of Biff. Mary Steenburgen voiced Clara, Doc’s wife from Back to the Future Part III.

Replacement Cast: David Kaufman for Michael J. Fox. And again, the character of Jennifer is not voiced by Claudia Wells. Replaced again, by Cathy Cavadini. Poor Claudia Wells.

Private Benjamin

Returning Cast: Eileen Brennan as Captain Lewis. She won a Golden Globe for the film version and an Emmy for the TV version.

Replacement Cast: Lorna Patterson for Goldie Hawn.

The Outsiders

Replacement Cast: The film had Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon, Diane Lane, Emilio Estevez, and Rob Lowe. That’s 5 Oscar, 18 Golden Globe, and 2 Emmy nominations between them.

The TV show had David Arquette and one of the Heathers.

Police Academy

An R-rated comedy becomes an animated series for kids. But the Mahoney character is way less of a pussy hound in the cartoon. And they were wise enough to keep Kim Cattrall away from the children.

Not even Michael Winslow (the sound-effects dude), a man famous for his voice, returned to voice his character.

Look Who’s Talking

Re-named Baby Talk for TV, the show also slightly changed the names of the characters. Mollie became Maggie. Baby Mikey became Baby Mickey. And James… was still called James.

Replacement Cast: Tony Danza’s voice for Bruce Willis’s voice. Mary Page Keller for Kirstie Alley. Scott Baio for John Travolta.

Dirty Dancing

Replacement Cast: Melora Hardin (Jan from The Office) for Jennifer Grey. Patrick Cassidy for Patrick Swayze. Constance Marie for Cynthia Rhodes.

Uncle Buck

The TV show depressed things a bit by killing off the kids’ parents, so Uncle Buck becomes their full-time guardian. If there’s one thing that makes a sitcom hilarious, it’s orphans.

Replacement Cast: Kevin Meaney for John Candy.

There were an obscene amount of animated series based on ’80s movies: Rambo, The Karate Kid, Problem Child, The Neverending Story, and Teen Wolf were all turned into cartoons. And TV versions of 9 to 5, Adventures in Babysitting, and Diner were so obscure, I couldn’t even find YouTube videos of them. And I searched for like a minute or two. That’s how dedicated I am. You’re welcome.

Explore posts in the same categories: Flicks, Tube

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3 Comments on “’80s Movies You Forgot Became TV Shows”

  1. Kris Says:

    The show was called “The Real Ghostbusters” because there was another cartoon called “Ghost Busters” produced by Filmation which held the copyright. Adding “real” was their way of saying, “Yeah, Filmation’s cartoon came first, but we’re the REAL Ghostbusters!”

  2. Greg W Says:


    Mr. Mom

  3. Dan Gold Says:

    Ferris Beuller intro is quite similar to Clarissa explains it all intro. no?

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