Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

5 Movies You Might Not Know Are Sequels To TV Shows

Every so often, television shows are just good enough to stretch beyond their alloted airtime. A show's fandom becomes so large that it becomes worthy of expanding beyond the medium, crossing over to a movie to either wrap things up or fill in some stories before a return to the small screen. Sometimes, there are even instances where TV shows shift to a more cinematic terrain and general audiences don't even know the legacy they're bringing with them.

Occasionally, the ever-so-slightly unknown property breaking out in feature-length form doesn't impede the story. In fact, sometimes it makes it even more rewarding on repeat viewings. There are even a select few that play on the prospect of getting a bigger budget to return to the world they've built and are happy to make a joke about the venture as well. With that in mind, here's a solid collection of films that you may not know sprang from television shows. They aren't just great watches on their own, but might also spark a brand-new binge session of television that you didn't know you needed.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

In the absolutely rare event that you may have lived your life without hearing about the television phenomenon that was "Breaking Bad," you still might stumble across the Netflix sequel movie, "El Camino," that picks up where the show left off in the "Breaking Bad" timeline. Aaron Paul returns as Jesse Pinkman, troubled soul and former partner to the late Walter White (Bryan Cranston). Directed by show creator Vince Gilligan, "El Camino" sees Jesse on the run and desperate to leave his past in the drug business behind him. But like some on this list, "El Camino" might be one film that demands doing some homework for a better experience, which even Gilligan himself admitted to The Hollywood Reporter.

Following the release of the film on Netflix, Gilligan said, "If, after 12 years, you haven't watched 'Breaking Bad,' you're probably not going to start now. If you do, I hope that this movie would still be engaging on some level, but there's no doubt in my mind that you won't get as much enjoyment out of it." Gilligan reiterated that the film really does hit the ground running, saying, "We don't slow down to explain things to a non-'Breaking Bad' audience." If you ever find yourself in the passenger seat of "El Camino" then, to quote Jesse, you're going to need to catch up, b****.

21 Jump Street

When some viewers sat down to watch "21 Jump Street," they may have been shocked to see the surprise appearance of Johnny Depp as undercover DEA agent Tom Hanson Jr. in the final act of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum's buddy comedy. The decision was intentional, though, given that "21 Jump Street" was a sequel to the TV series of the same name, which kicked off in 1987 and ran for five seasons, making a name for a young Depp in the process.

Played in a far straighter fashion than the Phil Lord and Christopher Miller-directed film, the original "21 Jump Street" had the same premise, which saw a young-looking group of cops go undercover to investigate criminal activity in high schools. Depp wasn't the only OG cast member to appear in the film either, as Peter DeLuise and Holly Robinson from the original series also popped up as older versions of their original characters. 

In fact, as an extra meta gag in the film, Depp's Tom Hanson Jr. is seen repeatedly eating peanut butter in reference to a request he made in the original series for his character that never came to light. Depp finally got his wish in the film, though, right up until he's hilariously shot to pieces in one of the final shootouts.

The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad

Audiences may have cracked up with every installment of the "Naked Gun" trilogy, but some might be unaware that it was actually built off the bones of a comedy series that didn't last a season. In 1982, spoof specialists David Zucker and Jerry Zuckerberg, along with Jim Abrahams, produced a comedy cop show led by Leslie Nielsen called "Police Squad!" While met with great reviews, it only got to six episodes before being canceled. But the brains behind this short-lived laugh riot still had faith in their heroic, hilarious lawman, Frank Drebin (Nielsen), and pitched the idea of giving him his own film.

From there, "The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!" was born, bringing with it the deadpan, slapstick humor that proved so successful and spawned two more sequels. Settling comfortably between equally amusing spoofs like "Airplane!" and "Hot Shots!," Drebin's three films all feature some great moments, even though some might struggle to look past the recurring appearance of the late O.J. Simpson. 

With the original held in such high regard as a comedy classic, Paramount has given "Family Guy" founder Seth MacFarlane the go-ahead for a new "Naked Gun" movie. Keeping with the straight-faced formula mastered by Nielsen, the new film will see Liam Neeson take on the role of Drebin opposite Pamela Anderson, Paul Walter Hauser, Kevin Durand, and WWE star Cody Rhodes. We'll see if he can lay down the law — and the laughs — when the film arrives in 2025.


Gliding into theaters back in 2005, "Serenity" was an unexpected underdog of a science fiction film that many may not have known was spun off from a much-loved but short-lived TV show. Created by Joss Whedon in 2002 and lasting for 14 episodes, "Firefly" became a cult TV classic that had fans hooked on the amazing adventures of Captain Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and his crew of space smugglers. Three years later, Universal took a chance on the team, listening to fans who wanted more of the good ship Serenity and giving them a feature-length adventure to provide the proper send-off.

Unlike some other entries on this list, "Serenity" — while porting over the characters and their backstories intact for devoted fans of the show — stood on its own as an enjoyable film. Whedon, to his credit, spends enough time with Mal, Wash (Alan Tudyk) and the rest of the crew that when tragedy strikes, it doesn't matter if you've visited this world before or not — it still makes for an emotional impact. Acting as another stepping stone for the likes of Fillion, Gina Torres and a relatively unknown Chiwetel Ejiofor as a dedicated Alliance agent known only as The Operative, this film misbehaves in the best way possible.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

Trying to get a grasp on any David Lynch film is a challenge for some, but attempting to keep tabs on the prequel to one of the most groundbreaking, brain-scrambling television shows ever made is even harder. That's the ordeal viewers might stumble into when sitting down to watch "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me," which follows the events that take place before the beloved series in the immense and surreal "Twin Peaks" timeline. Released in 1992 following the end of the original show's first two seasons, "Fire Walk with Me" might seem a brave feat as it ventures into Lynch's world of dead girls and damn good coffee, but the uninitiated might find themselves at the receiving end of a harrowing experience.

In fact, in typical Lynchian fashion, this might be one of the few prequels to watch after the main story that it predates. There's a lot to unpack in this far more intense chapter of Laura Palmer's (Sheryl Lee) story that will mean more further down the line should you get invested. That being said, if you manage to make it to the end of the film, you may as well start immediately on the original series to find out what on Earth is going on.