5 TV Shows That Would Make Great RPGs

One of my favourite things to do is to settle down and get lost in an absorbing game or TV show universe. There’s something so engaging about a good story, and it’s even better when that story is on an epic scale. Still, despite how immersive a TV show might be, the medium can never really recreate the interactivity of a video-game – watching a story develop is one thing, but directly influencing that story is something entirely more immersive. Below are five of my favourite TV shows, and my reasons for believing that they would make great video-games. More specifically, I believe that the universe of these TV shows would be the perfect settings for an RPG.

5) Heroes

The first two or three seasons of Heroes was incredible. The final season was OK, but I wouldn’t say that it was a fitting end for such a great show. Despite this, it’s shoddy ending doesn’t take away from the fact that the Heroes universe would make the perfect setting for a super-hero themed RPG. The thing that I liked about Heroes, over other super-hero based TV shows, like Arrow or The Flash, was that the show looked at how people dealt with their powers, and the impact that it had on their lives. Sure, it had the “save the cheerleader, save the world” aspect to it, but in the most part, it was a very personal story. I also liked it because it was quite gritty – people died and “good” didn’t always prevail. It showed the blurred line between what we have come to deem as the qualities of a super-hero and the qualities of a villain. Not only that, but those with powers weren’t sprinting around in spandex the whole time, which was a bit different in itself.

That’s why I think that you could get a great story out of the Heroes universe for an RPG. You could create your own character, pick which power (or powers) they have and then interact with the other characters from the universe. You could battle Sylar and befriend Peter, or you could become the one character who tries to use their powers for good (kind of like Hiro) or you could utilise them for the ultimate evil – the world would be your oyster!

4) The 100

If there were ever to be an award for “Most Surprising Overall Story Arch”, The 100 would definitely be a contender. The show started with a bunch of over-excited, stupid, foolish and slightly ignorant teenagers exploring a post-apocalyptic Earth, and now, in its second season, it’s a completely different beast. There have been plot-twists galore, and the universe of the show has quickly developed from something straightforward (and rather simple) to become something incredibly detailed, deep and diverse. This version of The 100 would make a brilliant setting for a post apocalyptic video-game.

If you’re not familiar with The 100, you should imagine the concept of the background for Fallout 3. But, rather than people living in a nuclear bunker for a few years, humanity has survived on a space station (The Arc), circling the Earth, for almost a century. With dwindling supplies of food and oxygen, the government of The Arc vote to send their 100 delinquent youths back down to Earth. Upon arrival, those youths explore, gallivant around and generally enjoy their new found freedom. That is, of course, before they realise that humanity has also survived in barbaric tribes on the radiated surface of Earth for the past century, as well.

This element completely changed the show and, as I mentioned before, it added depth to the bare bones of the universe. Utilising this added depth, it would be cool to create an RPG from a number of perspectives. You could play as one of the teenagers sent to fend for themselves on the unknown terrain of Earth. You could play as one of the ‘Grounders’, in a barbaric tribe of radiation resistant people as they come to terms with the concept of ‘Sky People’.

…IF YOU’RE PLANNING ON WATCHING THE SHOW FROM THE START, YOU SHOULD STOP READING AND MOVE ON TO THE NEXT SHOW BELOW, BECAUSE OF SPOILERS…

Or, to throw a spanner in the works, you could play as one of the more civilised ‘Mountain Men’, who have survived in the Mount Weather nuclear bunker, apart from the grounders and unbeknown to the Arc. In all, there are tonnes of possibilities for an RPG based around The 100. You could play as an intermediary between the various groups, as a warlord hell-bent on death, destruction and revenge or as a scared teenager caught between the two. Either way, it would definitely be a game that I’d love to play.

3) Band of Brothers

Band of Brothers is the oldest TV show on this list, having first aired in 2001 as a TV mini-series. The wonderful thing about Band of Brothers is that it was based on WW2, but it looked at the personal stories of the soldiers themselves. Yes, it had its fair share of action, but it also had a brilliant story running through it – one that could be easily translated into an RPG.

I’ve always wanted to play a war based RPG as, understandably, the period of history has been hijacked by the FPS genre of games. It makes sense I guess, but the period of history does have elements that would make for a great RPG. You could play as a Private, working his way through the ranks, or as a Lieutenant in control of his squad. You could bring elements of decision making – how would you tackle an objective as the leader of a squad? You can bring in personal stories and elements too, would you be ‘one of the guys’, and a soldier that every man wanted to fight beside? Or would you be a lone wolf with a reputation for coldness and brutality? Games like COD and Battlefield take a very linear look at war and conflict, but there’s so much more than just showing the story of who won and who lost.

2) Breaking Bad

It’s rare that a story is told from the perspective of the bad guy. But, technically, Walter White is as bad as they come. He’s callas, calculating, violent, aggressive, a murderer and a drug dealer. It’s impressive that an actor, and the writers, can make you root for the bad guy, but somehow those behind Breaking Bad managed just that. In all, Breaking Bad was an amazing TV show, and it’s definitely one that leaves enough to the imagination for a video-game to be based around it.

The possibilities are endless for a game based in the Breaking Bad universe. You could play as a drug manufacturer / dealer, trying to emulate the success of Walter White. You could play as a DA agent, trying to catch the infamous Heisenberg. You could even play as Walter himself, as you attempt to build your drug empire from scratch.

1) Vikings

I’ve saved the best till last, because I’m currently in love with this TV show. Vikings is based on “historically accurate events”, but it isn’t historically accurate in itself. The main character, Ragnar Lothbrok, was a legendary Viking raider / earl / king who may or may not have existed. He’s one of those fabled characters, kind of like a Scandinavian King Arthur. In any event, the TV show is based around his fabled exploits in England in the 9th century, and it focuses on the relationship between him, the other Vikings and the people of England. In all, it’s a fascinating look at the traditions of the ‘Vikings’, the politics of the 9th century, and how the ‘English’ leaders at the time dealt with these little known invaders. I say ‘English’ because a unified England didn’t really exist until the mid 10th century… but that’s a history lesson for another day.

This period of history would make the perfect setting for a Medieval RPG. There are few good games based on this period of history, with the majority of them being from the RTS genre. Still, the Vikings universe (which is a mix of historical fact and fiction), provides the perfect backdrop for an RPG. You could play as a fictional son, or daughter, of Ragnar and work your way up to earldom. You could even play as another earl from a different village who has followed in Ragnar’s footsteps, to explore across France or the kingdoms of England, and pillage or make peace. You could become a respected leader, and a legend in your own right, or you could become an infamous ‘Pagan’ force who’s name strikes fear into any ‘English’ heart.

So there are five TV shows that I believe would make brilliant video-games. Obviously, I’m a big fan of these shows, otherwise I wouldn’t have enough background knowledge to suggest whether or not they would be fitting for an RPG adaptation. So, that’s not to say that there aren’t other TV shows which would make great games too. I could easily see a Sons of Anarchy RPG, or a game based around the Broadwalk Empire universe. What TV shows would you like to see an RPG adaptation of? Maybe you disagree with my five choices! Let me know in the comments below.

  • A fellow Vikings fanatic… yes! I would love a game based on the show (if done right).

    • I spent my second year of Uni studying Anglo-Saxon England, so I’m all over anything to do with that period of history! British history around that sort of time is pretty damn interesting (in my books).

  • A fellow Vikings fanatic… yes! I would love a game based on the show (if done right).

    • I spent my second year of Uni studying Anglo-Saxon England, so I’m all over anything to do with that period of history! British history around that sort of time is pretty damn interesting (in my books).