1. Dexter = Crime and Punishment
A poorly socialized but artistically oriented man feels as if he has the prerogative to murder at will and ends his spree exiled to the ass-end of the known world, where he performs manual labor for the rest of his life.
2. Pushing Daisies = Frankenstein
A man sort of discovers the secret to bringing the dead back to life and for some reason everyone focuses on that part instead of the nuanced plot that deals with the nature of life, beauty, and human connection.
3. Glee = Dangerous Liaisons
Flamboyant, attention-seeking people have complicated sexual history (with each other), which only gets weirder when the spotlight is turned onto the only virgin they know.
4. Breaking Bad = The Count of Monte Cristo
After a life threatening experience and the acquisition of a substantial sum of money, a mild-mannered man’s moral code degrades as he transforms into his violent and manipulative alter ago.
5. The OC = Wuthering Heights
A lowly outsider is raised in a family characterized by wealth and privilege and even falls in love with one of the allegedly unattainable high-status women with whom he now associates. She dies.
6. The Vampire Diaries = Black Sheep
An extraordinary amount of narrative time is dedicated to the question of which handsome and eligible man will end up with the inexplicably desirable main characters, despite the fact that everyone has much bigger problems to worry about.
7. The Wire = Pretty much all of Dickens
No matter who you are, no matter what you do — “the man” will ruin your life.
8. House of Cards = Vanity Fair
An unlikeable protagonist claws their way to the top by partnering up with spouses who are exactly as terrible as they are and running over the hopes and dreams of objectively better people.
9. Sherlock = Don Quixote
An extremely strange man gets into bizarre situations involving people from all walks of life, aided all the while by his tiny, dedicated BFF.
10. Criminal Minds = The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Investigators track down a mentally unstable white male in his mid-to-late 30’s whose psychological issues condemn him to a life of crime.
11. Scandal = Madame Bovary
A brilliant, well-educated woman wastes her time with a second-rate man who is not only boring, but also completely undeserving of her attention.
12. Firefly = 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
A morally shifty captain with a chip on his shoulder and a strong hatred of the government leads his crew on a journey of danger, exploration, and criminal activity in the last great frontier. Somebody you love will die.