Famous movie characters and their TV counterparts
Paramount Pictures

Famous movie characters and their TV counterparts

Television and movies are different ways of telling stories, but on occasion, their paths cross. For example, sometimes a movie will be adapted into a TV show. However, the star of said movie can’t be asked to star in a television program. They have a film career to attend to! As such, a different actor ends up playing the same role on TV. Here are some characters who have appeared in both film and television but were portrayed by different actors in different mediums.

 
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Norman Bates

Norman Bates
Paramount

Norman Bates, as portrayed by Anthony Perkins, cuts a menacing figure in “Psycho.” Did you wonder about his backstory? Probably not, but eventually some people did. Or maybe they just wanted to see his mother alive. Thus, we got the “Psycho” prequel “Bates Motel,” where Freddie Highmore plays young Norman.

 
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Clarice Starling

Clarice Starling
MGM

Jodie Foster won an Oscar for playing Clarice in “Silence of the Lambs.” For the sequel, Julianne Moore stepped into the role. Eventually, CBS decided to bring the character back for a TV series, even though they did not have the rights to the character of Hannibal Lecter. “Clarice” instead had to focus on, well, Clarice, who was played by Rebecca Breeds.

 
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Buffy Summers

Buffy Summers
Warner Bros.

The film version of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was kind of a flop. Then they turned it into a TV show and it became a cult classic, perhaps even without that “cult” modifier needed. Kristy Swanson played the teenaged vampire killer in the film, but Sarah Michelle Gellar rose to fame in the role on television, a role she will always be remembered for.

 
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The Crow

The Crow
Miramax

Tragedy struck on the set of “The Crow,” as actor Brandon Lee was killed in an accident involving a gun. They made a few other films with the avenging character, though none of them star Lee, of course. Eventually, “The Crow” made its way to TV. There, he was played by Mark Dacascos. You may know him best as The Chairman of “Iron Chef America.”

 
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Damien Thorn

Damien Thorn
20th Century Fox

There have been five different iterations of Damien, and all five of them have involved different actors. The most well-known of the bunch is the original “The Omen,” the classic horror film about the young boy who is, you know, the Antichrist. After a few film versions, Damien came to television in his titular “Damien.” Unlike in the first film, where Harvey Spencer Stephens plays him as a child, Bradley James plays a 30-year-old Damien in the TV show.

 
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Virgil Tibbs

Virgil Tibbs
United Artists

They call him Mister Tibbs. Who is he, though? Well, in the movie version of “In the Heat of the Night” he’s the iconic Sidney Poitier. Then, they decided to turn the Oscar-winning film about race into a by-the-books police procedural. Hey, the TV version of “In the Heat of the Night” ran for 142 episodes. That’s not too shabby. In the show, Tibbs returns, but this time he’s played by Howard Rollins, who may be a nice guy for all we know but is no Poitier.

 
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Wayne Szalinski

Wayne Szalinski
Disney

He shrunk his kids. He blew up another kid. He shrunk himself and some of his adult compatriots. Wayne Szalinski just couldn’t get it right in the world of film. If he has one saving grace, it’s the fact he’s played by Rick Moranis, who rules. After the three films, they decided to make a “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” TV show. It ran for 66 episodes but featured Peter Scolari as Szalinski. Fortunately, Scolari also rules.

 
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Dottie Hinson

Dottie Hinson
Columbia

There has been talk of an “A League of Their Own” TV series for a while now, but did you know that it was already done? It’s true, though it only lasted for five episodes on CBS. The series is a continuation of the show, but with basically an entirely new cast. That includes Carey Powell trying to replicate Geena Davis’ excellent turn as Dottie Hinson in the film.

 
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Bryan Mills

Bryan Mills
20th Centure Fox

Do you remember that they did a “Taken” TV show? If you forgot, that’s probably for the best. The two-season show on NBC is best forgotten. Frankly, we’d argue the movies are best forgotten as well. Of course, the movies at least have Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills, a man with a certain set of skills. All the TV show had was some guy named Clive Standen.

 
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Sarah Connor

Sarah Connor
TriStar

Linda Hamilton is Sarah Connor. She’s stepped into that role multiple times, and completely revamped the character between “The Terminator” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” When they made “The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” Hamilton was basically retired from acting, though she was coaxed back for another “Terminator” film eventually. Instead, Lena Headey plays Connor. You likely know her better as Cersei Lannister in “Game of Thrones.”

 
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Uncle Buck

Uncle Buck
Universal

John Candy is arguably the only reason the movie “Uncle Buck” works. It rides on his charm. After the success of the film in 1989, they decided to create an “Uncle Buck” TV show in 1990. There, it was Kevin Meaney who plays the eccentric uncle character. That series ran for 22 episodes. They then tried again in 2016 with a totally revamped idea and with Mike Epps as Uncle Buck. That time, it only lasted six episodes.

 
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Indiana Jones

Indiana Jones
Paramount

Harrison Ford’s work as Indiana Jones in three films is iconic. Yes, we know he’s starred in four Indiana Jones movies. We stand by saying his work is iconic in three films. In “The Last Crusade,” we also get to see some young Indiana Jones, as portrayed by River Phoenix. This probably sparked the idea for “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.” In that show, Indiana Jones is primarily played by Sean Patrick Flanery, though Corey Carrier played an even younger version of Indiana as well.

 
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Ben

Ben
USA Films

Yes, just “Ben.” The character doesn’t have a last name. Who is “Ben?” Why he’s Bradley Cooper’s character in “Wet Hot American Summer.” He played him in the cult classic comedy well before he was famous. By the time of the Netflix series “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp,” he was a movie star, but he still showed up for that series, albeit in a limited fashion. For the next series, “Ten Years Later,” he was just too busy. As such, Adam Scott plays Ben, the premise being that Ben has had a lot of plastic surgery.

 
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Ferris Bueller

Ferris Bueller
Paramount

Of course, they tried to make a Ferris Bueller TV show. People love that little creep. We don’t need to tell you that Matthew Broderick played Ferris in John Hughes’ film. We almost definitely need to tell you that Charles Schattler played him in “Ferris Bueller,” which only ran 13 episodes. By the way, Jennifer Aniston plays his sister Jeannie.

 
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Alice Hyatt

Alice Hyatt
Warner Bros.

Ellen Burstyn won an Oscar for playing Hyatt in Martin Scorsese’s early success “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.” The movie then got a truly successful adaptation in the sitcom “Alice.” It ran for nine seasons, 202 episodes, and gave us the catchphrase, “Kiss my grits.” Burstyn was replaced by Linda Lavin, who was quite successful in the role.

 
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Cher Horowitz

Cher Horowitz
Paramount

Alicia Silverstone became a ‘90s icon for playing Cher in “Clueless.” A few members of the film’s cast returned for the sitcom adaptation, but Silverstone was not one of them. Instead, Rachel Blanchard stepped into the role. The show ran three seasons, so she probably managed just fine.

 
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Martin Riggs

Martin Riggs
Warner Bros.

We could list both Riggs and Roger Murtaugh here. Both characters from the “Lethal Weapon” series of films are in the “Lethal Weapon” TV show. Although, the actor who played Riggs did leave the show after the second season, leaving Murtaugh to fly solo in the third and final season. Clayne Crawford replaces Mel Gibson as Riggs, while Damon Wayans replaces Danny Glover, who was, we assume, too old for this…role.

 
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Hawkeye Pierce

Hawkeye Pierce
CBS

In terms of success, the TV and film versions of “MASH” probably win out. Robert Altman’s film was a big success, getting nominated for Best Picture. Then, it was turned into one of the most successful sitcoms ever. In the movie, Donald Sutherland plays Captain “Hawkeye” Pierce, while in the show he is memorably played by Alan Alda.

 
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George Henderson

George Henderson
Universal

We assume Harry is played by two different actors in the two versions of “Harry and the Hendersons.” Admittedly, we didn’t delve into that. Here’s what we do know. In the movie, the patriarch of the Henderson clan, George, is played by John Lithgow. In the syndicated sitcom, Bruce Davison took on the role of George. Also, it looks like three different people played Harry in the show alone.

 
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Gidget Lawrence

Gidget Lawrence
ABC

The 1959 film “Gidget” was big for teenagers and surf culture. Sandra Dee became one of the iconic faces of teenagerhood in the ‘50s and ‘60s as a result. There’s a reason that in Grease they sing “Sandra Dee.” They then decided to turn the film that helped bolster the beach film into a TV series. “Gidget” was an early role for a promising young actor named Sally Field. Sure, “Gidget” only ran one season, but it was the ‘60s. That meant one season ran for 32 episodes.

Chris Morgan is a sports and pop culture writer and the author of the books The Comic Galaxy of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and The Ash Heap of History. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisXMorgan.

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