Live-Action Animation: What Shows Would Blow Your Mind?

South Park Real

At the risk of sounding obvious, there’s a reason most animated shows are animated.  Animation is its own visual medium, and as the Avatar: The Last Airbender movie showed, it’s not one that particularly needs or begs to have actors step into those shoes.  For some shows, it’s about practicality.  If the main characters of your hypothetical television show are cats, well, you’re either doing an animated show, or you’re breeding a race of super-intelligent cats.  If you’ve got a show that revolves around children, you’re most likely better off animated, because children are terrible.

Also, there are times when making a show live-action make things so bizarre that it’s actually off-putting.

But what if?  Given the name of this site (Unreality, if you can’t see the giant blue banner), we feel free to engage in wild hypotheticals in the name of entertainment.  So, if you could wave your wand and make it so, what shows would be the strangest, the most fun, the most awesome, to see a live-action version of?  I’ve got my answers, you’ve got yours, let’s meet in the comments section and hash it out.



You can see the rest of them here, but this site does a pretty good job laying out a hypothetical live-action Archer cast.  (Keeping Aisha Tyler as Lana and casting Hugh Jackman as Dr. Krieger are pretty genius moves, too).  Archer, like most of the shows on my list, in no way needs to be live-action – it’s perfect as is.  But an SNL skit, or a Very Special Episode? (They already did a Bob’s Burgers crossover)  So much of the comedy comes from the dialogue and timing of the talented voice actors, and that would be amazing to see live.

Also, I’m really warming up to the idea of Jon Hamm as Archer.  If you saw Bridesmaids, you already know he can play a pretty terrific Handsome Clueless Douchebag.

Also x2, it’s impossible not to laugh at that clip.

SpongeBob SquarePants


What I know about SpongeBob SquarePants you could fit into a standard-size thimble, and I’m certainly not wasting valuable seconds of my life finding out that information.  All I know it’s that it’s a children’s show about a talking sponge, and I just really want to see someone try to figure out how the hell they’re going to film it.



Anime is its own style entirely, and it feels a bit…odd… to contemplate putting that style on the big screen.  It’s not an aesthetic that translates well to live action, and films that have tried range from the successful (The Matrix) to the head-scratchingly bad (Death Note) to the flat-out terrible (Dragonball Evolution).  It’s a wide range of possible outcomes, but an adaptation of an anime can be good, even if it’s not as good as the source material – see the fairly recent Rurouni Kenshin movie.

I’m also not the right person to say anything about anime, as my knowledge of it is woefully lacking save for a few shows I’ve enjoyed.  Claymore is one such show.  From the very little I’ve read about it, it’s not a super-popular show, but it’s one I think could translate pretty well to a stylish, bold TV show heavy on the melodrama, big-ass swords and sarcastic dialogue.  Given those three elements and the fact that the show is centered on an elite group of all-female warriors with supernatural powers who kick all kinds of ass, this would be a pretty good fit for whoever was in charge Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Josh, I think his name was?  I think he directed some popular movie recently.

King of the Hill


Honestly, I could have just put up a random screenshot of West Texas.  King of the Hill really has no reason to be live action, and it’s not like people are clamoring for a movie, but I feel like this could be someone’s passion project.  There’s a charm to this show that makes you want to see how it would translate to real actors, or even if it would translate.  Which brings up an interesting question – what does a show gain by being animated?  Is there a virtue to the medium inherent in its non-reality?  There’s certainly something pure about it – instead of cameras and actors and special effects and makeup and lighting trying to simulate reality, you have someone’s imagination, unconstrained by the limits of reality and only constrained by what they can draw (or whatever the word for doing that on a computer is.  “Animate,” I guess?)

I feel like King of the Hill would be a good test case for discovering the soul of animation.  Because it would be so easy to visually transfer into a live-action show, you’d eliminate a lot of the noise that would come from natural differences caused by concessions to the live-action format (A live-action Claymore, for example, couldn’t replicate the fight scenes shot-for-shot; they’d have to either use so many digital effects that it might as well be animated, or alter it to fit what the actors are capable of.)

Also, Tom Hanks as Hank Hill.  And Ken Jeong as Kahn.




So, readers, time to weigh in.  What animated classics would make your socks roll up and down if they somehow found their way onto the big screen?  Why?

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  1. Claymore is kind of a female version of Berserk, which could make an incredible live-action series if done right. But generally speaking, I don’t think it’s really worthwhile to adapt animation to live action. If anything works better in its original medium, it’s animation. The Death Note movies are among the best live-action versions I’ve ever seen (I believe the the films came out before the anime so technically it’s a manga adaptation,and it actually has a better ending). That’s not saying much, but imagine what most of the competition is like.

    1. Guillermo del Toro is making a live action version of the manga Monster. I think it’s a suitable choice for that treatment since it’s fairly realistic. The only thing that could screw it is the casting since the main villain has a lot of complexity.

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