All 5 Dune movies and TV shows, ranked worst to best

From the Sci-Fi Channel miniseries to David Lynch's Dune film to the Timothée Chalamet movies we know and love, there have been a lot of Dune adaptations over the years.
TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET as Paul Atreides in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary release. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures
TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET as Paul Atreides in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary release. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures /
facebooktwitterreddit

Imagine diving into a universe where sand dunes stretch as far as the eye can see and riding giant sandworms is the norm. What a dream.

Welcome to the world of Dune, Frank Herbert's masterpiece that's more packed with intrigue and adventure than a spice-laden dessert is with calories. In a far-off future, noble families duke it out for control of a desert planet called Arrakis, the only source of the universe's most valuable resource: the spice. This isn't just any spice, it's the cosmic seasoning that powers spaceships and unlocks the mind's true potential.

Now, let's scoot over from the dusty shelves to the shiny screens of our live-action adaptations. There have been a lot of Dune treatments over the years. First, there's David Lynch's 1984 movie, which is like that one relative who tries too hard to be funny at Thanksgiving; it means well but ends up a bit of a muddled mess. Then zoom to the year 2000, where the Sci-Fi Channel whips up a miniseries that's more faithful to the original 1965 book than a dog is to its human. And just when you thought it couldn't get any better, Denis Villeneuve steps in with his 2021 movie adaptation, slicing through expectations like a hot knife through butter, offering visuals so stunning you'd think they were mirages.

Navigating through the many adaptations of Dune is a wild ride, where one minute you're soaring high on the wings of a sandworm and the next you're digging through the deeper meanings of political power plays. Whether you're a book purist, a movie buff, or a series binge-watcher, Dune serves up a buffet of sci-fi goodness that's as vast and varied as the universe itself.

So grab your stillsuit and your sense of adventure: it's time to dive headfirst into the sands and see how these adaptations rank against each other.

5. Dune (1984)

Imagine diving into a pool expecting a splash of cool water but instead landing in a bowl of spicy noodle soup. That's kinda what hopping into David Lynch's Dune (1984) feels like: bewildering, a tad overwhelming, but unforgettable.

Now, don't get me wrong, it's got its charm, much like that one eccentric uncle with his outlandish stories. Lynch tried to cram a galaxy-sized tale into a space hopper, resulting in a wild ride through a plot more tangled than headphone cords in your pocket. Fans of the book were left scratching their heads as the movie zigzagged through the storyline like a sandworm on a caffeine rush. The deviations from Frank Herbert's text turned the epic saga into a sort of cosmic jigsaw puzzle with a few pieces missing.

It's a visual feast, no doubt, with costumes and sets that scream 80s sci-fi chic. And Kyle MacLachlan puts forth a noble effort as Paul Atreides, even if he looks a bit old for the role. (Also watch out for Patrick Stewart as Gurney Halleck and musician Sting in a space speedo as Feyd-Rautha Hakonnen.) But amidst the grandeur and spectacle, the essence of Dune's intricate narrative got a bit lost in translation, leaving it as the quirky, beloved, yet somewhat befuddled black sheep of the Dune adaptation family.

4. Frank Herbert's Dune (2000 Miniseries)

The Dune miniseries is a sci-fi spectacle that takes the fourth spot on our cosmic leaderboard. Why, you ask? For starters, instead of cramming the vast, sprawling epic of Dune into a two-hour cinematic sprint, this miniseries stretches its legs over three meaty episodes, giving us a scenic tour of Arrakis that's as leisurely as a camel ride at sunset. It's like having the luxury of an all-you-can-eat buffet in a world of fast food; there's room to savor each plot twist and character arc, to really get under the skin of the story.

Starring Alec Newman as Paul Atreides, the miniseries format allows this adaptation to delve deep into the nooks and crannies of Frank Herbert's masterpiece, serving up a feast of details that would otherwise be left on the cutting room floor. While it might not have the blockbuster budget or the visual appeal of its movie counterparts, its fidelity to the source material and its ability to let the story breathe earn it a solid gold star and a place of honor in the Dune adaptation family. So if you're the type who loves to linger over the finer points of a story, this miniseries is your ticket to paradise, or at least to a deeper understanding of the complex world of Dune.

3. Frank Herbert's Children of Dune (2003 Miniseries)

Nestled snugly in the middle of our Dune lineup like a perfectly placed oasis in the vast desert sits Frank Herbert's Children of Dune. Why does this gem claim the bronze in our grand space opera Olympics? It's simple, really. Imagine if Dune had a culinary equivalent (you know me, I love food); it'd be a dish with layers upon layers of flavors, each bite revealing a new spice. That's Children of Dune for you. It's not just a reheated serving of its predecessors, this miniseries masterfully mixes the rich, complex ingredients of Frank Herbert's Dune Messiah and Children of Dune sequel novels into a scrumptious stew that's both familiar and fresh.

With Alec Newman returning as Paul Atreides and a young James McAvoy playing Paul's son Leto II, Frank Herbert's Children of Dune dives deeper into the saga's spicy politics, cosmic conundrums, and the personal trials of its characters, serving up a feast for the eyes and mind alike. It's this blend of faithful adaptation and the added depth of storytelling that makes it soar above the original miniseries while still bowing respectfully to the majesty of Denis Villeneuve's visual spectacle.

Navigating the shifting sands of quality can be as perilous a task as a trek across Arrakis, and Frank Herbert's Children of Dune stands as a beacon of storytelling and depth, making it a shining star in the constellation of adaptations. Plus, it's the only adaptation that goes beyond the text of the original Dune book, so if you want to see what happens to Paul and company after the end of that book onscreen, this is currently your only option, at least until Villeneuve makes Dune: Part Three.

And speaking of Villeneuve...

rev-1-DU-10412rv3_High_Res_JPEG
(L-r) TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET as Paul Atreides and REBECCA FERGUSON as Lady Jessica Atreides in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, Chiabella James /

2. Dune: Part One (2021)

So, why does Dune: Part One snag the silver medal in the grand Dune adaptation derby? Unless you've been living in a cave like a Fremen, it's known to be a cinematic feast where every frame drips with the kind of eye-popping visuals that make your retinas dance with joy. Denis Villeneuve, our director extraordinaire, waltzes into the Dune universe with a filmmaker’s toolkit that's basically a magic wand, conjuring up scenes so breathtaking you’d swear you could taste the desert spice on your tongue.

Starring Timothée Chalamet as Paul, this version of Dune isn’t just faithful to Frank Herbert's tome: it’s like he photocopied the epic saga directly onto the screen but in 4K ultra-high definition. The catch? It’s only half the story, leaving audiences dangling off the cliffhanger like a sandworm over a spice blow. It's so epic that it needed more screen time than a TikTok compilation, yet that To Be Continued... vibe is precisely why it sits in second place, and you can only guess as to which movie outranks it.

Still, with its star-studded cast, a Hans Zimmer score that thumps in your chest like a second heartbeat, and a story depth that would make the Mariana Trench look shallow, Dune: Part One shines brighter than a Fremen’s eyes in the dark.

rev-1-DUN2-T3-0044r_High_Res_JPEG
A scene from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE: PART TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures © 2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

1. Dune: Part Two (2024)

There it is. The number one Dune adaptation is, wihtout argument, Dune: Part Two. It rode into town and it's whipping up a sandstorm that's got everyone talking.

Imagine just finishing your appetizer with Dune: Part One, and now here comes the main course: bigger, bolder, and spicier than ever. This movie dives back into the sandy saga where the stakes are higher, the worms are angrier, and the action is so intense it'll make your popcorn leap out of the bowl. This cinematic feast isn't just a sequel; it's like the epic sand-surfing ride we didn't know we needed. Critics and fans alike both eagerly tossed their hats in the air, because Dune: Part Two elevateed this story to interstellar heights, mixing heart-pounding action with a dash of political intrigue that's as complex as a well-mixed spice cocktail. Sure, there are differences and deviations from the source material, but they're done so well and fit in with the overall story so snuggly that they're very much forgivable. It's no wonder this desert delight ranks as the crown jewel of the Dune adaptations. It's not just a movie; it's an experience, transforming Arrakis from mere sand to cinematic gold.

The world of Dune stands as a monumental testament to the boundless imagination of science fiction. Within its grains of sand lie stories of power, survival, and destiny that resonate across time and through the hearts of those who venture into its vastness. Dune is not just a story; it's a universe brimming with lessons on ecology, politics, and the human spirit, wrapped in the mystery of the spice mélange.

Whether you're navigating the political intrigue of the noble houses, riding the colossal sandworms, or exploring the mystical paths of the Fremen, Arrakis invites you on an adventure that's as profound as it is thrilling. So, as we leave the desert planet behind, remember: the world of Dune is a journey that extends beyond the stars, promising that the essence of adventure is eternal, and the quest for understanding infinite. Whichever adaptation you watch, you're in for a treat.

Next. dune books. All 23 Dune novels, laid out in chronological canon order. dark

To stay up to date on everything fantasy, science fiction, and WiC, follow our all-encompassing Facebook page and Twitter account, sign up for our exclusive newsletter and check out our YouTube channel.