Almost since their inception, video games have had an interesting relationship with the TV world. Over the years, that connection has only continued to grow and many video game franchises have ventured into other areas of the entertainment industry. For many popular games, this has included an attempt at a TV series. While some of these shows never became as popular as the games they were created from, others have gone on to leave a lasting impression on fans everywhere. Even if you’re not a gamer, chances are you’ve watched and enjoyed at least one show that was based on a video game. Keep reading to see the 10 best TV shows that were based on video games.
10. Rayman: The Animated Series
Rayman is one of the most recognizable video game figures of all time. Even though the games were never exclusive to Playstation, the console played an important role in helping the Rayman brand grow. In an attempt to capitalize on the game’s success, Ubisoft put together a TV series called Rayman: The Animated Series (sometimes also called Rayman: The TV Series). The first season was supposed to consist of 26 episodes, however, the show was canceled after just four. However, even though it’s been more than 20 years since the animated series graced our screens, there’s still a chance that we haven’t seen the last of Rayman in the TV world.
According to an article from The Hollywood Reporter, Ubisoft is in the process of making another animated series based on the game. The article didn’t give any details on what people can expect from the series. Still, many fans are hoping that more information is released in the near future.
Unless you were around during the early 1980s, chances are that you didn’t even know that Pac-Man had an animated series that was part of the famous Saturday morning cartoon lineup. Upon its release, it became the highest-rated Saturday morning cartoon in the country. The show followed the Pac-Man family as they had various encounters with their enemies, the Ghost Monsters. Despite the show’s popularity, Pac-Man only aired from 1982 to 1983 – releasing a total of 44 episodes. During that time, the series also had two holiday specials: “Christmas Comes to Pac-Land” and “Pac-Man Halloween Special”. The Pac-Man franchise returned to TV in 2013 with a computer-animated series called Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures. The show was canceled in 2015.
8. Earthworm Jim
The video game industry is known for coming up with some very interesting characters. Earthworm Jim is one of them. Gamers were introduced to the character in 1994 when the first game in the franchise was released. The series debuted the following year and was a welcome addition to the Kids’ WB lineup.
As his name suggests, Earthworm Jim is an earthworm. Although he spends most of his life being a regular ole earthworm, Jim’s life changes when he discovered a mysterious suit that gives him superpowers. Unfortunately, his newfound suit and its subsequent powers make him an attractive target for villains who will stop at nothing to steal the suit. The series primarily revolved around these encounters with evil. The Earthworm Jim cartoon had an all-star cast of voice actors including Dan Castellaneta who has been the voice of Homer Simpson since the character’s creation. Although reviews for Earthworm Jim were fairly positive, the show only lasted for two seasons.
People in the United States may not be familiar with the animated series Wakfu, but it still earned a spot on our list. The show is based on a video game called Dofus. Unlike many of the other games we’ve discussed, Dofus is a computer game that hasn’t been released on any consoles. According to the show’s Fandom page, “Ankama Animation created a French cartoon show based on the game Dofus. The show was animated with Adobe Flash; all the production was done in France except for episode 22 “Rubilax” and the special episode “Noximilien”, which were both produced in Japan. The directors later made a Kickstarter project in which it would go on Netflix and get an English dub so that people in Europe and all other English-speaking countries can enjoy all that the Wakfu series has to offer.”
6. Dota: Dragon’s Blood
Dota: Dragon’s Blood is probably the newest show on this list, but it’s become a fan favorite in a very small amount of time. The Netflix original series is based on the video game Dota 2 which was released in 2013. The series centers around a Dragon Night named Davion who makes the world a safer place by slaying dragons. Davion has a personal vendetta against the creatures because they were responsible for killing his family. If you’re into dragons and other aspects of the fantasy world, this is one show that will definitely appeal to you. Even if you aren’t familiar with the video game, you can still watch without being confused. After a successful first season, Dota: Dragon’s Blood has officially been renewed for a second although it’s unclear when it will be released.
5. Mortal Kombat: Legacy
Mortal Kombat is easily one of the most well-known video game franchises of all time. Since its initial release as an arcade game in 1992, Mortal Kombat has become the gold standard for fighting games. As a result, it only made sense to try to generate even more success by expanding in other areas. Over the years, Mortal Kombat has made several appearances on the big and small screens in both live-action and animated formats. Although the Mortal Kombat movies have found more success than any of the shows, Mortal Kombat: Legacy was actually pretty solid.
The series was released on YouTube in 2011 and has a great cast that included Michael Jai White. Mortal Kombat: Legacy was meant to serve as a prequel to the video game and told the background stories of several of the franchise’s characters. The show may have only lasted for two seasons, but it left a strong impression on lots of fans.
4. Viva Piñata
Based on the XBOX game of the same name, Viva Piñata was a computer-animated series that aired from 2006 to 2009. As the Fandom page for the show states, “the television series revolves around the lives of piñata characters, who appear to be fully sapient and not only able to do human like things but also speak like humans as well. Humans other than Professor Pester do not appear as main characters. The series revolves around the antics of characters like Fergy Fudgehog, Hudson Horstachio, Ella Elephanilla, and Langston Lickatoad.” The show wasn’t the most well-liked in terms of reviews, but it was certainly popular among young viewers.
3. Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog
When Sonic the Hedgehog was introduced in 1991, he was Sega’s attempt to compete with Nintendo’s beloved Mario. Sonic, who was known for his speed, quickly became well-liked among teenage gamers. Not has Sonic been featured in dozens of video games, but he’s also gotten his own movies and shows. His most memorable attempt at TV was the 1993 series Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. The show was fun and lighthearted and depicted Sonic as a typical teenager. However, because of his special abilities, he often found himself in some interesting situations. The character was primarily voiced by Jaleel White although Tahj Mowry voiced the younger version of Sonic. . Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog consisted of 65 episodes and a TV special.
2. Maniac Mansion
Even though Maniac Mansion was inspired by the video 1987 video game, the two don’t actually have much in common. The TV series had a life of its own and followed the lives of Fred Edison and his family. The Edisons lived in a mansion where Fred has a science lab in the basement. Although the show primarily follows the same format as most sitcoms, it also incorporates several elements of science fiction. Even though it’s been nearly 30 years since Maniac Mansion went off the air, the show has a bit of a timeless quality.
1. Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego was one of the most popular children’s shows on PBS during the 1990s. In fact, many of us 90s kids have fond memories of putting our problem-solving skills to the test while watching the show. Although some people think the show came before the video game, it’s actually the other way around. The show was designed to be a fun and interactive way for young people to learn geography. During each episode, three young contestants answered a series of trivia-style questions in hopes of finding the ever-elusive Carmen Sandiego. Winners were given subscriptions to National Geographic. The show ran from 1991 to 1995 and won several awards during that time including Daytime Emmy awards. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego also had a spinoff called Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? which aired from 1995 to 1999.
The Carmen Sandiego franchise returned to TV in 2019 with an animated series called Carmen Sandiego. This time, however, the show was more focused on entertainment than education. Carmen Sandiego was canceled in 2021. However, the show is still available on Netflix.