10 Classic Western Movies That Should be Remade Into a TV Series

The debate rages on: Are Westerns having a renaissance? With recent films like The Power of the Dog and Killers of the Flower Moon making a lasting impact on filmgoers, one can’t help but wonder: Are we in store for a resurgence of what we saw from the 1930s to the 1970s? Even at an independent level, you can catch some B-grade Western action streaming on platforms like Hulu and Tubi. With this idea of the genre making it back into the zeitgeist, one can’t help but look back at some of the classics and wonder if they still hold up today.

If they happen to still pass that test, then why not remake them? That’s what Hollywood likes to do anyway, right? Remake them and put a modern spin on them, and maybe stretch the plot line out a little more. Yes, we’re implying that we’re turning these classics into a show.

With successes like Yellowstone and all its spin-offs and shows like Outer Range, Billy the Kid, Lawman: Bass Reeves, Wynonna Earp, and, of course, HBO’s Westworld, maybe it’s time to bring us some more familiarity to pull some people back over to the genre with some notable existing titles.

Navajo Joe is a 1966-released Spaghetti Western starring Burt Reynolds in the title role. Joe is the lone survivor after his village has been destroyed by an outlaw named Marvin Duncan (Aldo Sambrell). He rides into a town full of white settlers and announces his plan of retribution to some of the townspeople, but the town does not back him in fear for their lives against the gang of outlaws led by Duncan.

Why Remake Navajo Joe?

It’s pretty obvious by this point, right? Burt Reynolds, who by all accounts appears to be a white man, playing an indigenous warrior looking for revenge, may not pass today. However, many don’t know this, but Reynolds was of Cherokee ancestry, but quite honestly, in this day and age, there’s a good chance that the casting of Navajo Joe would need to fit the bill a little more with respect to the culture.

Regardless of that, Navajo Joe is a fun revenge tale, with a score by Ennio Morricone that Quentin Tarantino rehashed in Kill Bill Vol. 2 for Bill’s death scene. You could have this character go on big adventures throughout the West for 10 or more episodes. Or almost make it a bit of a procedural show that feels like the era of the time the film was produced. There’s a lot of space to work here with Navajo Joe. Navajo Joe is streaming for free on Plex.

Related: 45 Best Western Movies of All Time, Ranked

9 The Gunfighter (1950)

Gregory Peck plays Jimmy Ringo in The Gunfighter. A film about a fast-drawing gunslinger who wants to make it back to his estranged family. On his journey, he encounters many challengers who know how quick he is on the draw. Thus, Jimmy’s journey back to his wife and kids was rougher than expected.

The Gunfighter Limited Series

In one of many Gregory Peck roles that solidified him as one of the greatest actors of all time, The Gunslinger could work as a major series on cable, but it also feels like you could stretch the movie out into a six-part limited series for one of the major streamers. Jimmy Ringo’s journey is interesting and has a remarkable character arc to get invested in, but one to maybe two seasons of the show may be the perfect kind of feel for bringing the story to television. The Gunfighter is available to stream on Peacock.

8 Django (1966)

Django is a Spaghetti Western that takes place after the Civil War on the US-Mexican border. The film follows a mysterious ex-Union soldier (Franco Nero) who strolls into a town and clashes with the Ku Klux Klan. Sergio Corbucci’s film was banned in the U.K. for nearly 30 years for its graphic violence. It also spawned many unofficial sequels that never featured a character named Django.

Django Would Make a Perfect Series

Of all the sequels that used the word “Django” in their title after this film came out, some of them actually have some pretty compelling plot lines that could be utilized if Django were to ever have a small screen debut. Franco Nero’s performance, whether in the dubbed version or not, is highly compelling.

He holds the screen with his face and has some cool weaponry to use against those who oppose him. Django works as a TV show because it’s just another great pulpy character that lives in a world that the right kind of show creators can expand on. Django is available to stream on Peacock.

Django (1966)

Release Date
November 30, 1966

Sergio Corbucci

Franco Nero , José Canalejas , José Bódalo , Loredana Nusciak , Ángel Álvarez , Gino Pernice , Simón Arriaga , Giovanni Ivan Scratuglia

91 Minutes

7 McLintock! (1963)

In McLintock!, John Wayne plays an aging rancher who has to face a lot of personal and professional problems. His own family, friends, natives of the land, and high-ranking government officials all want a piece of his land. As all of this happens to him, McLintock’s wife returns after leaving him years prior, not to rekindle a romance but for custody of their daughter.

McLintock! Could Capitalize on Yellowstone‘s Success

McLintock is more of a comedy of sorts than a drama like Yellowstone, but it does capture the life of a rancher quite well. It’s crazy to think a western about a man’s life unraveling before him could work as a double feature with something like a Woody Allen movie. A fun fact: It’s a take on Shakespeare’s Taming the Shrew.

The film has strong legs for being a television show; there are plot points that can be stretched out long past its runtime. The pressures to have his land bought, the ex-wife returning for child custody, and many other supporting roles with big character arcs to be explored. McLintock! is Available to stream for free on Tubi.

6 The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

The Outlaw Josey Wales follows Clint Eastwood as a man who watches his wife and child get murdered. He then joins a confederate guerrilla unit, where he kills many Union soldiers, but soon finds himself on the run from the men who murdered his family.

You Gotta Get Mean

Clint Eastwood starred and directed this solid late-’70s entry into the genre. It’s a rugged, rough-and-tumble character he plays, with a persona we see time and time again in film and television. The overall plot makes for a great pilot episode of a man who loses it all and heads back out into the world to start over, and eventually, what he was looking for comes back to him. Casting wise, there are plenty of rugged actors to take up the mantle of the character he created.

Sam Worthington, Hugh Jackman, and Christian Bale could all fit the bill. Writing wise, you can’t leave out the iconic line: “Now remember, when things look bad, and it looks like you’re not going to make it, then you gotta get mean.” Rent The Outlaw Josey Wales on Prime Video.

5 Pale Rider (1985)

Pale Rider is about when a man named Preacher (Clint Eastwood) arrives in a small Western town. He fights off the outlaws that attack and harm the locals. Eventually, Preacher squares off with the man who employed the outlaws, Coy Lahood (Richard Dysart), and the gunslinger he employs to take down Preacher once and for all.

A Supernatural Western

Pale Rider is a bit of a metaphor, and it still holds up, as Eastwood’s character Preacher is supposed to represent death. There is so much to dissect in the movie, and with it not being your normal good guy with a gun vs. bad guy with a gun kind of film, Pal Rider works perfectly on television.

Think of all the weird genre-bending shows out there. More recently, Prime Video produced Outer Range, a Josh Brolin-led western that explores black holes and the strangeness of life’s unexplainable events. Pale Rider could thrive as a supernatural western for a few seasons if it ever came to fruition. Pale Rider is available to rent on Prime Video.

4 The Magnificent Seven (1960)

Magnificent Seven is about a Mexican village falls victim to a band of outlaws led by a man named Calvera (Eli Wallach). The people of the village seek protection and hire seven gunslingers to aid them in protection from the outlaws. The men hired for protection also train the villagers on how to protect themselves, as they are on a collision course with Calvera and his men.

Big Team Up!

Either the 1960 film, the remake starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt, or the inspiration for both films, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, this tale works as a ten-episode limited series; we just don’t want to admit it. The great thing about Seven Samurai is that it’s a very long movie that gives its characters room to breathe.

The Magnificent Seven is just a little over two hours long and still an utter classic for the genre, but think about the character depth you can give the audience with eight to ten episodes at an hour long each and having it culminate in the final shootout. Fans of any genre, whether it be Westerns or superhero movies, love seeing a good team-up, and The Magnificent Seven could deliver on that in the world of television. The Magnificent Seven is Streaming on MGM+.

The Magnificent Seven 1960 poster

The Magnificent Seven (1960)

Release Date
October 12, 1960

John Sturges

2h 8m

3 Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Once Upon a Time in the West is one of Sergio Leone’s many films that has elevated the genre the story is presented in. It is a tale of greed and murder in the American West, and yet it is one of the greatest spaghetti westerns of all time. The central plot follows a mysterious harmonica-playing man and a notorious desperado who band together to protect a widow from a railroad baron and the assassin he hires to do his bidding.

Perfect for an Anthology

Once Upon a Time in the West is epic in its storytelling tactics, but one thing we have not mentioned here is anthologies. What if you took the title from this movie, broadened the scope a bit, and told epic tales like the one in the film? Anthologies usually work in genres like horror, but why not try it in Westerns?

Many movies adapted for television have kept the title but tweaked the delivery of the storytelling. Sergio Leone’s film is the perfect example of how to take one movie and create a bigger world full of different characters who all get their due, and an anthology is a perfect avenue for it. Once Upon a Time in the West is Streaming on Fubo TV.

2 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Paul Newman and Robert Redford star in the film based loosely on fact, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The film follows the pair on a train robbery that goes wrong that they were a part of. This leads to a gang of outlaws being hard on their trail and sending the pair to hideout in South America.

What Happens After the Movie?

Hailed as one of the greatest movies of all time and a piece of pure cinema, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid will most likely never get a straight-forward television adaptation. But what if it did? Let’s face it, after the credits rolled on the film, you kind of wanted to hang out with them more.

That’s the power of movies from this era. It’s hard to find chemistry like Redford and Newman had in other actors, but a show like this would make for a perfect cable series to watch weekly. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is available to stream on Roku.

Related: Greatest Films of the ’60s, According to Leonard Maltin

1 Blazing Saddles (1974)

Hailed as one of the greatest comedies of all time, Blazing Saddles is about a railroad worker named Bart (Cleavon Little), who becomes the first black sheriff in a small western town. There is immediate racial opposition against Bart, but once they warm up to him, it seems that he can become the town’s savior from the railroad that is about to run through the middle of it.

Blazing Saddles Is Still Timely

Comedy that touches on racism is at the forefront of the genre right now. It maybe hasn’t been a touched-on subject in humor since a film like Blazing Saddles was released. It’s hard to make a casting call here on who could fill the role of Bart and Gene Wilder’s character, Jim, but the humor could last for a few seasons.

Bart and Jim could go on numerous adventures that are loaded with satire. In the end, Blazing Saddles does work better as a film, but with the argument always being that this film would not come out today due to the risky humor, a TV adaptation may answer that argument quite well, especially with the success of Hulu’s History of the World: Part II. Blazing Saddles is available on The Roku Channel.


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