Resident Evil is the latest video game franchise to score a television deal, and as shows like Castlevania continue to thrive on outlets like Netflix, it's not crazy to think Hollywood will start investing more in shows based on video game franchises. With that in mind, here are seven video game franchises geared towards adults/a more mature audience that could make for fantastic shows and be huge hits if given the chance.
The Fallout franchise is in a weird place right now, and while Bethesda could regroup and find a way to make Fallout 76 more appealing to audiences, it could also find someone to help adapt its world into a series. The retro-futurist United States style paired with the post-apocalyptic backdrop is the ultimate setting for a story, which is part of the reason the franchise has done so well over the years.
Of course, some may argue another major appeal of the franchise is the freedom to craft one's own story, and that a scripted adventure may ruin that. Perhaps that could still happen on a series given the success of the "Chose Your Own Adventure" genre on Netflix, which would allow freedom of storytelling for a viewer. Conversely, Fallout 76 has shown that too much freedom and little narrative isn't great, so perhaps fewer would argue with a scripted story now.
The Max Payne franchise tried to launch in the film world, and those familiar with the source material generally felt it was a mistake. The plot was different from the original game in many ways, to the point that one of the game's producers spoke out against the film even in light of its successful opening weekend. Though the movie did decently commercially, the panned reviews ultimately sank the franchise, and there hasn't been another major attempt to revive Max Payne since.
Now, over a decade later, I believe Max Payne could have a successful television comeback. All it would take is someone to faithfully adapt the story of the first game, and a network or streaming service that's not afraid to showcase some of the more extreme themes of this franchise. With shows like The Punisher potentially on the way out at Netflix, Max Payne feels like the franchise it could scoop up as a replacement.
1993's Super Mario Bros. was proof enough that Nintendo's best ideas for games aren't guaranteed hits on film, but nevertheless, many are still asking for a Nintendo live-action series. If folks aren't pushing for a Legend of Zelda show, then chances are people are going on about how great a Metroid series would be. Those folks aren't wrong, as the galactic bounty hunter Samus Aran ticks off a lot of boxes for Hollywood at the moment.
The Metroid franchise has featured a strong female lead (Samus) since the first game. Second, Captain Marvel actress Brie Larson has expressed interest in the character (via Syfy). Finally, the Metroid series has that perfect mix of established story and characters, but it isn't so deep that a screenwriter couldn't get in there and create an original story. Metroid is the tamest entry on this list, but a writer could certainly transform it into a great sci-fi series for adults.
Jack Ryan has shown that the Tom Clancy formula works on television as well as it does across other mediums, so it's time for Hollywood to green light another acclaimed work of his. To be fair, the film world already tried to make this happen long ago, but has yet to get its Tom Hardy-led vehicle too far off the ground. Is that a sign that this franchise isn't meant to be?
I hope not, because I think Sam Fisher and the various tales about him are the perfect fodder for a network television spy series. Splinter Cell isn't too raunchy and it doesn't need to be to create a solid spy series that America would tune in to watch on a weekly basis. It wouldn't be the most original action show on television, but it's bound to provide enough action and suspense to gain a dedicated fanbase outside the gaming community.
Left 4 Dead
The zombie television genre may very well die whenever AMC finally cancels The Walking Dead, but while it's still alive, why not adapt one of Valve's most beloved titles? Left 4 Dead is similar to the standard zombie adventure, with the caveat being that certain zombies in its world have unique abilities that make them even more threatening. These unique enemies would make things over the top and perhaps a bit more interesting than the usual fare.
Plus, the general story of Left 4 Dead is that it revolves around a ragtag group of survivors each with their own backstory and reason to fight. Granted, that's not an entirely unique trait of the zombie genre, but Left 4 Dead's survivors across two games have enough colorful characters that could tell some interesting stories. Some of those stories have already been told in off-shoot comics, but it's not like that stopped The Walking Dead from becoming a hit.
The Gex franchise wasn't exclusively for adults, but quite a few parents wouldn't have let their children play had they noticed some of the references and imagery in the franchise. For those who don't remember, Gex was about a Gecko who became obsessed with television following the death of his father. One day, the television sucked him into a Media Dimension. This introduced him to Rez and forced Gex into a rivalry he never really intended on entering.
To be honest, this game should've been turned into a cartoon back when Earthworm Jim got one, and it could've had a hell of a run. The general premise and opportunity for satire would absolutely still work out today though, and would make for a cartoon with irreverence akin to a show like Bojack Horseman. It wouldn't be the most extreme action-packed show on this list, but the mix of '90s nostalgia and parody would definitely make it an entertaining watch.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem
Horror franchises typically seem to have a better chance at being adapted than other games, which makes it surprising no one has thought to adapt Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem. This cult-classic Gamecube game haunted players with its revolutionary "sanity meter" which had increasingly scary and bizarre things happen if the meter dipped too low. It also had a unique and engaging story that spanned across generations of individuals and their quest to unravel a universal truth.
Creating an Eternal Darkness series would be a costly endeavor considering the amount of time periods and characters the game followed, but in an age where anthology horrors and period dramas are amongst the best television has to offer, it could be money well spent. It will probably never happen seeing as fans have tried to revive the series for years now, but I'm optimistic Hollywood would come through and get the rights if someone presented a good script.
As previously mentioned, the Resident Evil series is currently in development, but probably won't arrive anytime soon. With that said, be sure to head over to our midseason premiere guide to see what all is headed to television in 2019.
Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.
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