There are plenty of American shows that get dubbed in other languages and shipped overseas for other audiences to enjoy. But sometimes, when another country really likes a hit foreign show, they’ll pull out all the stops and give it a full remake that’s tailor made for their viewers. Ideally, this would be done legally with studios and networks securing the rights to the original material beforehand; nevertheless, there have been times in the past when other countries have been accused of totally ripping off American programming without consent.
By remaking popular TV shows instead of just dubbing or subtitling the original version, other countries can feature their own domestically familiar actors and make changes to the script that are more in tune with the local culture. So, if you’re wondering which of your favorite American shows have received a foreign facelift, take a look at this list of 12 hit shows that were remade for other countries.
12. The Simpsons (United Arab Emirates)
As you might imagine, a show depicting the lives of an all-American family might not be considered ideal entertainment in the Middle East. But once you get rid of all the beer and bacon references and tweak a few characters like the Jewish Krusty the Clown, what you get is Al Shamshoon, a remake of The Simpsons that was made specifically the United Arab Emirates.
Dubai’s MBC network took Homer, Marge and Bart Simpson and transformed them into Omar, Mona and Badr Shamshoon. Of course, since drinking alcohol and getting drunk is heavily frowned upon in Dubai, Moe’s Tavern is nowhere to be found and Omar is instead left to deal with his incessant soda addiction. Unsurprisingly, the series didn’t translate too well and ended up being cancelled after only 34 of the 52 adapted episodes aired.
11. How I Met Your Mother (Russia)
The American How I Met Your Mother was all about a father, Ted Mosby, regaling his kids with the unusually long story about how he met their mother. The show is mostly about his dating life and the relationship he has with his friends Barney, Marshall, Lily and Robin. After becoming a huge success in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., Russia thought it would be great if they adapted the show for their domestic audience. Of course, they didn’t quite have the budget to give the show the same production value that CBS did. Although they still used the same characters and bar scene as the original show, everything just seems a little out of place. Barney’s character seems a tad too old to be hanging out with a group of mid 20-year-olds—an aspect made even stranger by his trademark creepy behavior—and the new Russian Marshall loses all of his charm and appears to be nothing more than goofball with frizzy hair. But at least the low-budget remake was true to its roots.
10. Jersey Shore (U.K.)
You might think that a show called Jersey Shore could only take place in America, but the U.K. has actually taken the concept and run with it. Geordie Shore takes place in Newcastle, a town known for its huge nightlife, and although the climate is considerably colder than the beach town of Seaside Heights, the Geordie Shore members still manage to keep up their tans just like the Jersey cast. They also do pretty much everything else like the Jersey cast except instead of sounding like Joe Pesci on helium, the Geordies speak with a fanciful accent that’s delightfully difficult to understand. The show has turned out to be an even bigger hit in the U.K. than it was in the U.S. as it’s currently in its 12th season.
9. Modern Family (Greece and Chile)
The American sitcom depicts three affiliated families living out their humorous everyday lives. The show has lasted seven seasons so far and won a number of awards along the way, which likely led to its recognition in other countries like Greece and Chile where it was adapted. The Greek version is called Moderna Oikogeneia and is a fairly faithful remake; however, according to Variety, in Chile it is illegal for gay couples to adopt, so the producers made a slight change to the gay couple’s storyline. Instead of having an adopted daughter, one of the men is actually the biological father of the child which resulted from a night of drunken passion with a woman. They also changed Sofia Vegara’s character to someone of a lower class to help emphasize her differences from the rest of the family members.
8. Prison Break (Russia)
Re-titled in Russia as Pobeg, this gritty adaptation maintains the story of two incarcerated brothers—one sent to death row after a miscarriage of justice, and the other placed there willingly to break both of them out. The show is incredibly faithful to the original and even features some scenes that are shot-for-shot recreations of the American version. However, there is a little bit of new content to be found, including a few new characters and storylines that emphasize Russian culture.
7. Powerpuff Girls (Japan)
Generally, when American cartoons get the Japanese makeover they wind up looking like some perverse mashup of Dragon Ball and the source material. As it would happen, the anime version of the Powerpuff Girls, appropriately titled Powerpuff Girls Z, is no exception. Rather than portraying Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup as lab-created kindergarteners fighting silly evil forces in the city of Townsville, the series takes place in New Townsville and, in order to prevent an ecological catastrophe, Ken Kitzawa Utonium, the Professor’s son, uses Chemical Z, a new form of his father’s Chemical X, to destroy a giant glacier. But the impact of Chemical Z results in some mysterious rays shooting around the city, which transform three ordinary girls, Momoko, Miyako and Kaoru, into Hyper Blossom, Rolling Bubbles and Powered Buttercup, respectively.
Since the girls no longer share the same origins, they’re not considered sisters anymore. The anime also ages them up seven or eight years and gives them various weapons to take on familiar adversaries like Fuzzy Lumpkins and Mojo Jojo.
6. 24 (India)
In the eighth season of 24, Anil Kapoor was cast as President Omar Hassan of the fictional Islamic Republic of Kamistan. Apparently, he enjoyed the experience so much and was so impressed with the show that he decided to secure the rights to make his own version. Upon returning to India, his production company got to work developing a 24 series in the Hindi language with Kapoor in the main role as Jai Singh Rathore—India’s Jack Bauer.
Kapoor has been a megastar in his native country of India for over 35 years, but only recently gained recognition in North America and Europe after his role as the TV game show host in Slumdog Millionaire. After its first season, the conveniently named 24: India was widely praised by critics and cited as one of the most expensive TV shows to ever be made in India.
5. The O.C. (Turkey)
Nearly a full decade after the drama-laden relationships of Ryan, Marissa and Seth vanished from Fox’s primetime lineup, the Turkish version of The O.C.—Medcezir (loosely translated as “The Tide”)—started airing, revitalizing the story of a troubled inner-city youth who is brought into the exclusive world of an affluent beach community where he immediately begins shaking things up.
The show is burning through the original story’s plot lines at a blistering rate. However, perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise considering it extended the first season by 12 episodes and adopted a different format that sees each episode run anywhere between 90 minutes and two hours long! Even if the Turkish audience has a thirst for soapy high school affairs, that seems like a lot of teenage angst to handle in one sitting.
4. Glee (China)
Glee is a musical comedy where a group of high school misfits join the glee club to find acceptance. The show was a huge success that launched the careers of many budding actors and actresses, but many people are probably unaware that China made its own unofficial version called My Youth High Eight Degrees. The drama is set in a university and tells the story of a relentlessly optimistic glee club director who leads a group of aspiring musical talents, diligently training them to compete in the national choir competition.
After the show began airing, Chinese social media users almost immediately called out the producers for stealing the plot, characters and setting directly from Glee. According to The Hollywood Reporter, after being accused of plagiarism, the Chinese production company responded by saying: “The structure of this drama was set through bilateral discussions. There are many similarities in the plot, but our version reflects the pursuit of music by China’s youth today.”
3. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Russia)
Much like the Russian version of Prison Break, the Russian version of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia—Google Translated as In Moscow, Always Sunny—is a very close adaptation of the original series and even recreates some scenes shot-for-shot.
The show uses the exact same music, pacing and general style as the original and still sees the gang as proprietors of a dilapidated watering hole. However, in the Russian version, the bar is named Philadelphia as a nice homage to the original show. The characters of Dennis, Charlie, Mac, Dee and Frank are also replaced by their Russian counterparts Sergei, Max, Roman, Alain and Kovalev. There’s even a waitress character who’s identified by Google Translate as “girl with whom love Max.”
2. Friends (China)
In 2013, Chinese audiences were exposed to the trials and tribulations of six friends in their late 20s and early 30s as they go about their lives in the big city. Although the Chinese version of Friends shares a few similarities with the original ’90s sitcom, including an opening theme song by Rembrandt, it has also made a number of notable changes. Supposedly the title Friends was too ambiguous for China so they came up with the name Planet Homebuddies to reflect the characters’ work-form-home lifestyle. Some of the occupations held by group include a failed advertising executive, an IT specialist, a DJ and an art curator. The show also has all six friends living together in one big loft rather than spread out across four different apartments throughout the city.
1. Breaking Bad (Colombia)
Vince Gilligan’s acclaimed series about a chemistry teacher who resorts to selling drugs as a way of supporting his family became one of the most watched shows when it aired for five seasons between 2008 and 2013. But if you find yourself still craving more, like a junkie hooked on Heisenberg’s blue meth, then perhaps you should turn your attention towards Metastasis, the Colombian adaptation.
Although it’s presented in Spanish and was shot on a smaller budget with different actors, Metastasis is still more or less a straight retelling of the original Breaking Bad story. The only real difference is that the main characters of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman are renamed to Walter Blanco and Jose Rosas, and instead of tooling around the desert in a run down RV they initially set up shop in beaten up old school bus.
Amazingly, while American audiences had to wait five years to see Walter’s complete decent from weary high school educator to heinous criminal, Metastasis managed to burn through all 62 episodes of story in only three months with a daily release schedule that lasted from June 2014 to September 2014.