7 Classic Nintendo Games That Would Make Great TV Shows

legend of zelda

With all the trends that hit television on a cyclical basis, from sitcom reboots to movie remakes to genre-embracing, it's kind of surprising that the small screen has yet to get hit with a slew of video game adaptations. Back in the day, entertainment giant Nintendo was more free with the rights to the company's intellectual property, resulting in pro wrestler Captain Lou Albano portraying everyone's favorite plumber Mario. Here in 2017, though, when TV creators are capable of bringing just about any stories to life, Nintendo is only making headlines for its inventive consoles.

So we're going to plop down on the couch with our controllers to talk about 7 classic Nintendo properties that would make for incredible TV shows. And yes, I'm mostly talking about live-action projects that would presumably be drenched in CGI effects, and not animated series.

The Legend of Zelda

While past rumors surfaced about a live-action The Legend of Zelda taking hold of our TV screens, the master swordsman/swordsboy Link has yet to get a small screen adaptation outside of the 1980s cartoon series. Considering Game of Thrones, Vikings and other epic region-based action dramas amass loyal fanbases, it's almost shocking that we aren't watching serialized adventures in the kingdom of Hyrule on a weekly basis. Link's quests - which would hopefully be more than just saving Zelda - wouldn't be so violent or bloody, of course, but could still maintain all the drama and whimsy inherent to the franchise. I can already hear the ocarina in The Legend of Zelda's opening titles.

At the very least, we would accept HGTV putting out a spoof series called House Hunters: Hyrule.


Star Fox

Okay, so maybe I'm thinking about this from the point of view of a 12-year-old kid mainlining cereal marshmallows, but who doesn't want to watch Fox McCloud and Team Star Fox zipping around through space and blasting the worst villains that the Lylat system has to offer? Basically, I'm picturing Rocket Raccoon from Guardians of the Galaxy here, as in a CGI character running around practical sets and locations; I get that a Star Fox series would probably be a little less manic and cynical about things. Nintendo hasn't produced any stellar Star Fox games in a while, so perhaps hitting TV for a new lease on creative life is just what these sci-fi characters need.

At the very least, we would accept an Adult Swim series with a sparsely bearded Rob Riggle as Fox McCloud.

mother nintendo


One of the best in the medium, the Mother/Earthbound games were brilliant, parodical twists on the role-playing game genre, at a time when role-playing games weren't exactly mainstream, and it could easily make for TV's next great cross-generation tale. Instead of the dungeons, monsters and weapons common to RPGs, Mother centers on a 12-year-old boy who uses a baseball bat to save his city from an endless array of inanimate objects that have come to life through a paranormal event across the globe, and the sequels are arguably more inventive and fun than the first. Kids shows are rarely serialized or made for adults to share in the enjoyment, but the stories of Ninten and Ness would be perfect.

At the very least, we would accept another game in the series.



One of Nintendo's best-selling game franchises, Metroid has all the elements of captivating and excitement-filled TV. There's an iconic and badass hero at the center, the bounty hunter Samus Aran, and the stories from the games fit right in with most science fiction narratives. Basically, Samus is protecting everybody from dreaded Space Pirates that use parasitic organisms known as Metroids to try conquering the galaxy, with more elaborate plots forming over the years. Syfy brought space-based dramas back in a big way in recent years, and combined with all things Star Wars and Star Trek on the big screen, it's the perfect time for Metroid to bring its darker trips through the cosmos to light for TV.

At the very least, we would accept Westworld incorporating Metroid into a future space-centered plotline.

super mario rpg

Super Mario RPG

Sure, the many blockbuster efforts in the Super Mario franchise are no-brainers for a list like this, but I think we can all admit most of these games aren't built on complex narratives. (What is Tanooki Mario's origin story?) However, Super Mario RPG offered an awesome mix of traditional Mario elements with the structure and story beats of a role-playing game, offering new twists and even new characters. To that end, Super Mario RPG also introduced a new threat beyond just Bowser and his lineage and while the Smithy Clan wasn't perfect, setting a TV show around them would offer TV viewers a less familiar adventure from Mario's past.

At the very least, we would accept a Man Seeking Woman satire about a normal man who inexplicably gets into Mario-like situations.

final fantasy

Final Fantasy

The franchise that practically defines the entire role-playing genre, Final Fantasy has wowed players with its intricate storylines and magical battles for 30 years now, but though the games regularly feature enough cut-scenes to fill entire TV seasons, no traditional TV shows exist. CGI films and tie-in web series do, but Final Fantasy tales are epic enough for HBO, Netflix and AMC to join forces to bring them to life. Recent games like last year's Final Fantasy XV are gorgeous enough to step out of the TV already, so I'd be interested to see the modern approach brought to the first games' save-and-defeat adventures, because I want to see those 8-bit worlds turned into real sets.

At the very least, we would accept and almost prefer a Kingdom Hearts series.

Smash bros.

Super Smash Bros.

Perhaps the least likely Nintendo game to get any form of live-action TV show, Super Smash Bros. has always been a franchise that begged for a real world adaptation, because it's got all the best Nintendo characters. Plus the weird ones, like Mr. Game and Watch. It's not even necessary to introduce the bare minimum plot of a Van Damme-in-a-fighting-tournament movie, because pop culture now has the UFC and impressively budgeted fan-made videos on YouTube as proof that good-looking brawls themselves are all that's necessary. Especially when you're talking about Ryu beat the shit out of Wario, or Mega Man blasting Squirtle out of existence. If someone could just record my dreams, this show would already exist. Along with...other things.

At the very least, we would accept a Celebrity Deathmatch style claymation version.

There are, of course, lots of video games we could sit here fantasizing about as TV shows, but there's only so much time in a day, especially since we want to watch TV shows and play video games. Let us know what Nintendo games you'd like to see making the jump to live-action, and head to our midseason premiere schedule to see what the small screen has to offer in the near future.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.