Syfy Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, sweepstakes, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View

Here's Why We Got a RocoCop TV Series Instead of a Fourth Movie

The bizarre, alt-sequel for the beloved sci-fi franchise is now streaming on Peacock!

By Josh Weiss

"Dead or alive, you're coming with me." In 1994, the crime-fighting exploits of Alex Murphy, aka RoboCop, continued on the small screen following a trilogy of films centered around the half-man/half-machine member of the Detroit Police Department. 

The live-action series (all episodes are currently streaming on Peacock) featured the involvement of RoboCop screenwriters Michael Miner and Edward Neumeier — both of whom were not involved with the pair of cinematic sequels — and served as an alternative follow-up to Paul Verhoeven's original satirical classic, with Richard Eden taking over the iconic character from Peter Weller. Indeed, Weller had already vacated the role after production on the second movie, allowing Robert Burke to portray Murphy in 1993's RoboCop 3, whose lackluster performance put the kibosh on a fourth installment, in spite of the fact that "RoboCop 4" had already been registered as a title by Orion Pictures. 

Yeah, it's all a tad confusing, especially when you factor in two animated television spinoffs (featuring the voices of Robert Bockstael and David Sobolov, respectively), a 2001 miniseries (subtitled Prime Directives), the 2014 theatrical remake (starring Joel Kinnaman as the titular hero), several video games, and an abundance of comics released under different publishers.

For More on RoboCop:
Connecting mind to machine: The science behind 'RoboCop'
WTF Moments: RoboCop 2's suicidal robots pulling their brains out
'Stargate,' 'Robocop' revivals in the works with new TV shows and movies on the way

Why Did We Get a RoboCop TV Show Instead of a Fourth Movie?

Robocop (Richard Eden) stands between Russell Murphy (Martin Milner) and Detective Lisa Madigan (Yvette Nipar) in Robocop: The Series.

The short answer? Money. After filing for bankruptcy in 1991, Orion was in desperate need of funds. The only way the company could dig itself out of the financial hole was to license out some of its most lucrative properties to other parties — much in the same way a struggling Marvel once signed away Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four to the likes of Sony and 20th Century Fox.

That's exactly what happened in the spring of 1993 when the Canadian-based Skyvision Entertainment offered Orion a "cash infusion" of half a million dollars (via Variety) in exchange for the television rights to the RoboCop franchise. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, "I'd buy that for a dollar!" Skyvision even hoped to woo Weller back to dystopian Detroit, but that obviously never happened. Still, production forged ahead and the series adaptation ended up running for a single season of 22 episodes that aired throughout 1994.

RELATED: Screenwriter Ed Neumeier on disguising 'tougher issues' behind genre and RoboCop Returns' future

Miner and Neumeier co-wrote the super-sized pilot, revisiting their unused screenplay for RoboCop 2, which they had subtitled The Corporate Wars (the debut episode was ultimately titled "The Future of Law Enforcement").

"I learned things from the experience," Neumeier said in 2012. "They didn't understand the level of humor required for RoboCop. When I saw the pilot, they'd made it clown funny with a lot of gags. Paul Verhoeven gave me a great line when I told him what they'd done to the character — ''They were too weak to play it straight.'"

"RoboCop has a relationship with a personality inside a computer that we were hypothesizing a lot like the internet," Miner stated in 2014. "It’s kind of a love story between the individual android and a big controlling computer. That was an interesting story that I think is better than RoboCop 2 or 3. I think people should check that out."

All episodes of RoboCop: The Series are now streaming on Peacock.

Read more about: