BoLS logo Tabletop, RPGs & Pop Culture

The Creator Of John Wick Is Making A D&D TV Show

3 Minute Read
Jan 18 2021

Derek Kolstad, creator of the John Wick franchise is tackling a different fantasy universe–soon he’ll be developing a live-action D&D TV series.

Hey, can someone check on reality? I just wanna make sure it’s doing alright. Like, a lot is happening right now, and I can’t be the only one worried about how the world we live and breathe in is doing. Sure, some of you have always maintained that Reality is an illusion created by perception, and you know what, maybe you’re right. Maybe this is just a simulation, maybe we are more than just crude matter, because right now I don’t really believe that the world is happening.

The latest ontological fusillade comes from the news that Hasbro/eOne (which is one of those first signs that reality… isn’t) have tapped Derek Kolstad, the creator and writer responsible for the John Wick franchise, to create a live-action D&D tv series.

It’s an attack on the basic, fundamental nature of reality. Fish swim, birds fly, the Scout from Team Fortress 2 hurts people, and live-action D&D anything is bad. And yet here we are, with the creator of the franchise that gave Keanu Reeves the ability to take any of us apart in real life, taking charge of a tv show based on D&D.

That’s like saying you got Vince Gilligan to create a new Power Rangers show. Which, now that I’ve said that out loud, I kinda wanna see it. But it creates a certain amount of cognitive dissonance, is what I’m saying. Kolstad has a brand, for sure–he’s been working on a live-action adaptation of the Hitman franchise, the Just Cause franchise, and the Splinter Cell anime, all of which aren’t exactly what you think of when you think of D&D.

Though 47 has probably killed someone with a D&D book or d20 or the like

I mean, sure, there’s a lot of violence and actions that are, at best, war crimes–but aside from that it’s hard to imagine where Kolstad might take D&D. According to an exclusive with the Hollywood reporter, D&D “famously uses multisided dice in gameplay to further the imaginary story and is overseen by a host known as the Dungeon Master,” which tells us basically nothing about the show.

Which makes it even harder to imagine what a D&D tv series would cover that you don’t really get from other angles. Obviously, fans of the original 80s cartoon are clamoring for a return to form with a group of hapless teens getting transported to an alternate reality, which is the plot of every D&D based show that Gygax ever penned. But it feels like the time for that kind of show has passed, or at least, would need someone to handle it with the sort of post-irony level of flair that, say, a team like Lord & Miller might do. Because D&D has always been a little cheesy.


But then again, so is John Wick, in a way. It is an over-the-top exploration of a world, and that might be exactly what a D&D TV show needs. We’ve talked before about how D&D is difficult to adapt, and why vessels like Livestream shows give you the full experience–the vagaries of the plot brought about by the rules of the game–we want the randomness, those moments where a character dies because of a bad roll, or where success comes against the odds because of that natural 20.

D&D is at its best when it’s off the rails because of what you’ve played into. Kind of like how Skyrim is at its best when the game itself lets individual moments emerge from the gameplay. But how do you manage that with a tightly-scripted TV show? It’s anyone’s guess. But if Kolstad can tackle it, I’d love to see it.

What would YOU do if you got to develop and pen your own TV show? Let us know in the comments!

Author: J.R. Zambrano
  • D&D: Candlekeep Previews Reveal Far-Flung Mysteries