Individual Television Episodes Based on Famous Films/Books/Plays

Not talking about movies that lift the basic storylines of other films, etc. (so no “Star Wars” is “The Hidden Fortress” or “Forbidden Planet” is a retelling of “The Tempest” or anything of that nature). I’m looking for stuff like “Legacy of Death,” a 1968 episode of “The Avengers” which is a riff on “The Maltese Falcon,” even down to some humorous combos of character/actor names.

Any other individual episodes of a series do a take on a famous film/book/play?

Sir Rhosis

Well, there is that famous episode of Moonlighting where the cast does a version of The Taming of the Shrew. I think they called it “Atomic Shakespeare.” In fact, I think this is the only epsiode I can remember from that series…

One of the Twilight Zone episodes was Robert Enrico’s adaptation of Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge.

Closer to what you’re looking for, though, I think, was an episode of Moonlighting called “Atomic Shakespeare”, which was a riff of The Taming of the Shrew.

There also, of course, has been every single tv show ever, which has, for Christmas, done an adaptation of either A Christmas Carol or It’s a Wonderful Life.

There was an episode of Pinky and the Brain that riffed pretty directly on The Third Man. An episode of That 70s Show riffed on several Hitchcock movies, most notably Rear Window.

Several series have done their version of A Christmas Carol, WKRP being only one of them. ETA, I see this was already noted above.

I’ve seen at least a couple of series do a version of Laura. One of these was Magnum, PI. On the subject of Magnum, they also did a humorous Raiders of the Lost Ark, as a deliberate spoof.

Scrubs did an episode that was basically ‘Wizard of Oz’.


In the Star Trek Animated series, the episode The Slaver Weapon is Larry Niven’s short story “The Soft Weapon”.

That Seinfeld episode based on JFK.

I’ve seen a ton of shows do “12 Angry Men.” (It’s cheap, there are no location shots, and it’s easy to do poorly.)

There was an episode of “Just Shoot Me” that did “King Lear”

I’m not really looking for eps that have adapted famous short stories.

And yes, now that I recall after it has been mentioned, I saw a truly cheesy “Six Million Dollar Man” where the great Charles Lane played a Scrooge character and Steve woke him up one night and took him through the basic plot of “A Christmas Carol.”

Sir Rhosis

There was an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants that was a take-off on Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, with the SB’s squeaky shoes taking the place of the heart under the floorboards.

Got to be at least four or five years ago, and I only saw it the one time.

They also did a classic episode that was loosely modeled around** Annie Hall.**

I’m watching Get Smart right now, and the episode is a takeoff on the Maltese Falcon. They’re in Mexico, and the bird in question is the Tequila Mockingbird.

And another that parodied “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

“South Park” has dozens of episodes like this- the episode I saw most recently was based on “Red Dawn.”

MacGyver, featuring Dana Elcar, did an episode based on the The Sting, which featured Dana Elcar.

Several TV shows have done riffs on “Twelve Angry Men,” (Happy Days, for example) : one lone juror (the Fonz, for example), holds out to acquit the defendant when everyone else on the jury is ready to vote for guilt.

Futurama parodied* Armageddon* in “A Big Ball of Garbage”.

The Simpsons have done many episodes like this, riffing on classic movies (e.g. Mary Poppins, Cape Fear), or books (Lord of the Flies). Many of their “Treehouse of Horror” stories come from classic films or short stories (or, in one case, a poem).

And the Dickens novel Great Expectations was done as a South Park episode.