More TV Shows That Would Make Awesome RPGs

Last year I posted a quick list of animated television shows I thought would make nifty role-playing games. Well, there are a bunch of live-action TV shows that would also make my “I’d buy that” list. In no particular order…

Planet of the Apes

(I couldn’t find a copy of the tv show introduction, but this will do for now.)

As long-time readers will doubtless remember, I’m a huge Planet of the Apes fan in general, but I think the short-lived TV show had a lot of potential for role-playing. There’s the inherent conflict between apes and humans (and these humans have at least a semblance of intelligence and culture, as opposed to the first two films). There are ruined civilizations all around, internal politics within the ape society, and they set up some really neat ideas with the possibility of humans who hadn’t lost their technology out there somewhere.

Alien Nation

I’m a little surprised that no one has yet made a police procedural game in general (at least that I’m aware of), but Alien Nation gives the added depth of the Newcomers, and all the attendant alien technology, politics, the opportunity to deal with racial themes, etc.

Quantum Leap

Now here’s a show that is tailor-made to be made into a one-on-one game. Plagued by not having a lot of players around? This could be the ticket. Or, imagine a whole team of Sam Beckets getting “leaped” each time. Priority #1: find the others…


I’ve gotta say, I’m a sucker for the music and vehicles in this show, which I remember from my childhood. The plots write themselves; the aliens have devised a new plot to try to infiltrate Earth. The players are sent in to stop them. This week, you’re assigned to SkyDiver 1…


This one is almost too easy. Players are a Resistance cell, fighting off the latest depredation of the Visitors. With “Knock out Visitor security guard with your crotch” as a special “called shot”, perhaps.

Well, that’s my five, and I know there are at least a dozen more I could name. Heck, just from a licensing and marketing standpoint, you could build a horror game around Tales from the Crypt or Freddie’s Nightmares, even if it didn’t have anything to do with the TV show…

What? You were expecting something from the last 20 years?

Written by 

Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

11 thoughts on “More TV Shows That Would Make Awesome RPGs

  1. Eden Studios has "Terra Primate", a Planet of the Apes RPG. They also have Conspiracy X, tho that's more X-Files than UFO, but handles the multi-agency espionage well, with resources and contacts as your main traits.

    I'd be inclined to do V with another Eden game: All Flesh Must Be Eaten, and All Tomorrow's Zombies. The Visitors aren't "dead", but carnivorous and easily killed is close enough.

  2. Ah, UFO. Now, there's a blast from the past. I loved that show as a kid. Seeing that opening sequence again brought back so many memories I'd forgotten. I wonder if I can find a way to see some of the episodes again …?

  3. I'll second Mark's on PLanet of the Apes: Terra Primate has everything you need for a PotA series, whether you're talking film, TV, book, or Dark Horse Comic series. Uses the same basic system as All Flesh Must Be Eaten, the Zombie-apocalypse RPG.

    As for Police Procedurals in general, check out the GUMSHOE system from Pelgrane Press, most notably in their police procedural game Mutant City Blues. Even though it's a "superhero" police procedural, it could easily be adapted to Alien Nation, CSI, or whatever. GUMSHOE was made for investigation-type role-playing.

  4. My wife bought me the DVD set of Planet of the Apes TV show a few years ago. Great fun to watch again. I saw someplace that when they marketed the episodes together as movies years ago they had Roddy McDowall as Galen do bridge pieces for them to link them together. And in the final one he says that Burke & Virdon found a way home.

  5. OK, I realize this post is old but I just thought I'd point out there's a low power superhero police procedual called "Mutant City Blues."

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