While it's movies and video games that seem to have the closest relationship to one another, the game industry also frequently turns to television shows for ideas to adapt games into. In a lot of ways, TV shows are a better fit for the video game treatment, as they tell stories that are stretched out over longer periods and can be more easily adapted into a game, rather than trying to take a two-hour movie and stretching it to its breaking point for a 20+ hour game.
But where there are video game adaptations, there are often bad video games. To be sure, there are a lot of really bad video games based on even the best TV shows. Some never had a chance—whomever thought that a game based on Home Improvement could be anything but as painful as being hit in the head with a toolbox was kidding themselves. But plenty of TV shows seem like they were made to be turned into games—and when those end up being a disappointment, it has the potential to let down millions upon millions of people.
While this list is definitely a list of bad games based on TV shows, it's a bit deeper than that. What this list is specifically about are games based on TV shows that should have been good, and that people who love the shows are best just avoiding altogether—or trying their best to erase from their memories if they had the misfortune of playing them in the first place.
25 Game Of Thrones (PC, X360, PS3)
In case you couldn't tell by the screenshot, no, this is not the episodic Telltale Game of Thrones adventure game. That game was pretty good—maybe not Telltale's best, but good nonetheless.
This was the first GoT game, and if this is the first you're hearing about it, consider yourself lucky.
This 2012 GoT game was developed by a company called Cyanide, which, prior to this, mostly just made a series called Cycling Manager. Yes, as in bicycles. To say they were out of their element with this bad-looking, bad-sounding, and bad-playing action-RPG would be an understatement.
24 Doctor Who: Return To Earth (Wii)
The Doctor Who franchise actually has a much deeper history of video game adaptations than many people realize, since most of the early games were on 8-bit computers that were either only released in Europe, or were just most popular there.
It's only fairly recently that big-time consoles started to get Doctor Who games, but the results have been underwhelming at best and an affront to the license at worse. Try to not be surprised when we tell you that this Wii exclusive is firmly in the latter camp, and North American Who fans should be grateful it was never localized here.
23 WCW/nWo Thunder (PS1)
The AKI-developed WCW and WWE games for the Nintendo 64 are still considered some of the best wrestling video games of all time, and were a turning point for the whole wrestling game genre. It's not that there weren't good wrestling games before that, but there were also a lot of really bad ones.
In a pre-WCW vs nWo: World Tour world, fans were desperate for any WCW games, and so they bought up garbage like Thunder and Nitro for N64 and PS1 by the millions. Unlike the AKI games, nobody is still playing these, not even out of curiosity.
22 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time Re-Shelled (X360, PS3)
We totally understand why a lot of formerly pixel-based franchises like Super Mario and Street Fighter have made the move to polygons even when they release new 2D installments. Pixel art takes a lot of time, skill, and money to do well.
There's still no excuse for taking an existing pixel-based game and remaking it in bland, ugly 3D.
Especially when that game, Turtles in Time, is one of the most beloved games ever and people still play and love it as-is. This is one de-listed Xbox 360 arcade game that nobody is crying over the unavailability of.
21 Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds (PS2, XBX, GCN)
To be completely fair, Chaos Bleeds isn't the worst game. It's actually one of the few games on this list that is actually pretty decent. But this isn't just a collection of bad games, but ones that fans of the source material have forgotten about or should forget about, and Chaos Bleeds definitely applies.
The problem is that Chaos Bleeds was the follow-up to the excellent 2002 Buffy the Vampire Slayer Xbox exclusive, which makes this merely passable sequel completely unnecessary and only drags down the overall quality of Buffy's limited stint as a console franchise.
20 CSI: NY (PC)
If you aren't already familiar with the video games based on the television franchise CSI, you might be surprised to learn that not only are there quite a few of them, but most of them are actually pretty good.
The sole game based on the short-lived CSI: NY unwisely changed up the formula that had been working with the CSI games up to that point.
Rather than being a fairly in-depth investigation game, CSI: NY was mostly just a "find the hidden object" game, the likes of which you typically find on smartphones. And that weird cartoony art style? Woof.
19 Friends: The One With All The Trivia (PC, PS2)
Had this game released on Wii, it might have been a different story—the Wii was notorious for stuff like this. There was even a dedicated Twilight edition of Scene-It released as a Wii game.
For PS2, however, this trivia game just felt completely out of place. Sure, it is packed with a lot of clips from the show, but that's about all it has going for it. The menus look PS1 quality, the questions themselves are way too hard for anyone but the most Friends-obsessed fan, and the reward for winning is basically to watch a trailer for the game.
18 24: The Game (PS2)
When Kiefer Sutherland replaced David Hayter for Metal Gear Solid V, fans weren't too happy. Especially when Sutherland ended up barely even talking, with Kaz and Ocelet handling the bulk of the exposition followed by Big Boss occasionally grunting in agreement.
It actually wasn't Sutherland's first video game role—he made his debut reprising Jack Bauer in the 24 game.
While the show was revolutionary, the game was as generic and unimpressive as can be, plagued by a serious lack of polish and feeling like the developers had to complete it within 24 hours.
17 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Dominion Wars (PC)
No matter where you fall on the age-old Star Wars vs Star Trek debate, one thing is hard to dispute—Star Trek games have been better as a whole. There have actually been a surprisingly small number of truly bad Star Trek games.
One of the outliers of Star Trek's otherwise solid video game reputation is Dominion Wars, an RTS based on Deep Space Nine.
On top of just being a very uninspired, by-the-numbers experience, Dominion Wars was also plagued by bugs, including commands sometimes just not registering—which is kind of important in a real-time strategy game.
16 House, M.D. (PC, NDS)
A medical procedural TV series can make for an interesting video game. The best approach to take for a game based on Fox's hit show House M.D. would've either been a Telltale-esque adventure game or a Phoenix Wright-style visual novel.
The House video game didn't take that route. Instead, it has you solving mysteries by engaging in arbitrary minigames like navigating a sandwich through a maze while avoiding hungry doctors. You know...just like the show. Seriously, who was this game even made for?
15 Alias: Underground (PC)
Again, this is one of those situations where we need to state right off the bat that this isn't the game you assume it is. The more well-known Alias video game was released in 2004 for PS2, Xbox, and PC and was a passable third-person action game that bridged two episodes of the series.
Alias: Underground is a strange and almost completely forgotten episodic adaptation of the show for PC that actually predated the other game.
Go ahead, try to find info on this game online—all that exists are little scraps that confirm why nobody should care.
14 Family Guy: Back To The Multiverse (PC, X360, PS3)
It was probably naive to expect much from video games based on Family Guy, as video games adapted from its peers—The Simpsons, South Park, et al—have been mostly misses, to put it nicely. At least the first one, simply titled Family Guy Video Game!, was one of those "if you love the show, you'll probably have fun playing it for an afternoon" type of affairs.
Rather than take that foundation and improve upon it, sequel Back to the Multiverse took a nosedive in quality, and isn't even worth it for the most hardcore of fans.
13 Lost: Via Domus (PC, X360, PS3)
Lost: Via Domus takes the age-old cop-out route of starring a protagonist that you never even see on the series. And the stand-in voices for the Lost characters that do appear sound laughably bad, as if played by actors who never saw the show.
It would've been fine to have a game that was a non-canon Lost side story if it was at least a good game. But Via Domus is the opposite of a good game.
The developers got the fan service down, but forget to try and actually make a compelling game around it.
12 The X-Files Game (PC, PS1)
While FMV games were already on the decline after the mid-1990s, Fox still thought that would be the ideal genre for the 1998 game based on its hit sci-fi series The X-Files.
Well, there was a reason why FMV games didn't stick around for very long—and although The X-Files Game is admittedly one of the better ones, that's a little like being the most talented member of Nickelback. The X-Files game was a hit upon release, but it was quickly forgotten as the world move beyond its clunky, antiquated style.
11 Battlebots (GBA)
Of all of the TV shows on this list, perhaps none are better-suited for a video game adaptation than BattleBots. After all, it's a show all about building robots and having them fight each other—the corresponding games practically make themselves.
However, if gamers know anything, it's that even the most can't-miss game premise isn't immune to being completely botched in the wrong hands.
If you are the world's biggest BattleBots and somehow the GBA is the only system you will ever own—you still shouldn't play this ugly, slapped-together cash-in.
10 The Office (PC)
There really isn't much else that we need to say to convince you that this game should be wiped from history—just look at that picture.
What's even more insulting about the Office video game is that it isn't just some $5 iOS game—it was a retail PC release! And, more astonishing still, ports were planned for the DS, PSP, PS2, Wii, and even Xbox 360. Yep, that game in picture above could've been a 360 game. If you're even seriously wondering what this game is about, then go play it. You deserve the punishment.
9 The Sopranos: Road To Respect (PS2)
HBO clearly has no problem selling the licenses to their various shows and not really caring what is done with those licenses so long as the check clears. Like most other video game adaptations of mafia-based properties, Road to Respect abandons all of the show's subtlety and depth in favor of a bland action game.
The game is also woefully ugly, which is a tragedy because they actually got most of the show's cast to return and voice these gross versions of their characters.
8 Adventure Time: Explore The Dungeon Because I Don't Know! (3DS)
It's heartbreaking how most of the Adventure Time video games have been subpar, since the show was clearly created by people with a genuine love of gaming. Only Hey Ice King... is a genuinely good game, basically a modern take on Zelda II.
However, of the lesser Adventure Time games, one stands out as the worst of the bunch: Explore The Dungeon Because I Don't Know! It's a repetitive, unimaginative dungeon crawler with zero of the show's charm. We called out the 3DS version in particular because it doesn't even have the multiplayer that makes the other versions almost tolerable.
7 Prison Break: The Conspiracy (PC, X360, PS3)
The story behind Prison Break: The Conspiracy's development is actually a pretty interesting one. Original publisher Brash Entertainment went bankrupt before the game was finished, but developer ZootFly decided to keep working on the game on their own dime for over a year before Deep Silver picked it up and helped them finish and release it.
Sadly, all of that work and ambition didn't make for a good game. It didn't even make for a passable game—The Conspiracy is basically a disaster in every possible way. And we mean it: Every. Possible. Way.
6 South Park (N64, PC, PS1)
Dude! This game was bad, especially on PS1. Despite extremely high excitement for it that even landed it on the cover of EGM, the first South Park game was an abysmal mess that did just about everything wrong.
First and foremost, building the world and characters with polygons was a huge mistake and resulted in an exceedingly ugly game.
That the game was a wonky FPS where you threw snowballs at armies of repeating enemies was even worse. The upside is that Trey Parker and Matt Stone began to get involved with South Park games soon after this travesty.
5 The Shield: The Game (PC, PS2)
Back when shows on basic cable channels were considered inferior to what was on regular networks and paid cable, The Shield made everyone pay attention to a then-little-known channel called FX, while also giving other basic cable channels the confidence to make similar leaps.
For as trailblazing as The Shield was, the video game it inspired was a cliche as they come.
Again, a very deep and complex show is boiled down to a generic action game that pulls a completely Vic Mackey on its source material: betrays it in the most horrific way possible.
4 The Adventures Of Batman & Robin (Sega CD)
Batman has had a very spotty video game history. When his games are good, they are incredible—Arkham City is one of the best games of the last decade. And when they are bad, they are among the worst games of all time—Dark Tomorrow says hello.
This Sega CD outing isn't quite Dark Tomorrow status, but it's not much better.
While the games with this title on SNES and Genesis are fun platformer beat-em-ups, this one is an entirely in-Batmobile affair—and manages the seemingly impossible feat of making it not fun to drive the Batmobile.
3 The Simpsons Wrestling (PS1)
There are a lot of bad Simpsons games, way more than good or even decent ones, unfortunately. But fans of the franchise put up with disappointing games like Simpsons Skateboarding and Road Rage just because they let us explore a virtual representation of Springfield with our favorite characters.
Simpsons Wrestling doesn't even have that going for it. All that we're left with is one of the absolute worst games ever made, from an idea that someone probably threw out during a pitch meeting as a joke and an executive approved because he misinterpreted everyone's uproarious laughter as genuine excitement.
2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct (PC, X360, PS3, Wii U)
Like Game of Thrones, there is both a great Telltale game based on The Walking Dead and a dreadfully awful action game also based on it. Even if you just can't stand adventure games or hate the whole Telltale approach, there is absolutely no reason to ever play Survival Instinct.
Want a zombie-based FPS that isn't a dumpster fire? Play Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, or Dead Island.
Already played those? Play them again. Any itch you might have that literally only TWD: Survival Instinct can scratch should require immediately medical attention.
1 Superman (N64)
More commonly referred to as Superman 64, this game is a failure on completely legendary levels. It's hard to know just what makes it so difficult to make a good Superman game, but forcing the Man of Steel to fly through rings while wrestling with the worst flight controls in gaming history is certainly not the right approach.
That this game was technically based on the 90s Superman animated series that remains one of the best non-comic adaptations of the character of all time makes its complete lack of any redeeming qualities all the more tragic.