Is there any movie based on Robert Heinlein's work? If so, is there more than one?

  • 10
    It's funny, Dick got so many movies (many good) and Heinlein got so much crap. It is a sad day for a author when Starship Troopers is the best film adaptation of your work.
    – DampeS8N
    Commented Feb 14, 2011 at 20:48
  • 6
    Can you imagine Stranger in a Strange Land or The Moon is a Harsh Mistress as movies? Just too much rich material, IMHO. Commented Feb 14, 2011 at 22:03
  • 4
    I'm surprised nobody's mentioned IMDB, which gives a more complete list than the answers so far (but gives no information as to how close each adaptation is).
    – user56
    Commented Feb 27, 2011 at 19:04
  • The good news is that none of his very best work has yet been turned into an abysmal movie. Surprising that nobody's yet touched the juvenile novels, many of which seem very filmable.
    – user2490
    Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 2:31
  • user56 - i follow your sugestion and found that heinlein is in this writing credits in this movie i liked very much: Predestination (I) (2014) Full Cast & Crew Directed by Michael Spierig ... (as The Spierig Brothers) (directed by) Peter Spierig ... (as The Spierig Brothers) (directed by) Writing Credits Michael Spierig ... (written by) (as The Spierig Brothers) & Peter Spierig ... (written by) (as The Spierig Brothers) <b>Robert A. Heinlein ... (based on the short story "All You Zombies" by)</b> Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 10:23

11 Answers 11


The Puppet Masters is based on Heinlein's novel of the same name.

Destination Moon is based on one of his short stories.

There was also an episode of Masters of Science Fiction based on a Heinlein story. The story was Jerry Was a Man.

  • 3
    Oh yeah... The Puppet Masters! Forgot about it. It follows the book fairly well, as I remember. I haven't seen the other two you mention. Will have to check them out. Commented Feb 14, 2011 at 17:52
  • are any of it ok? Commented Feb 14, 2011 at 18:01
  • 2
    @Jorge: I've watched the entire Masters of Science Fiction series (it's too short) and I thought all of the stories were done well. I haven't seen the two movies. Commented Feb 14, 2011 at 18:04
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    I really liked the movie version of The Puppet Masters. It had some pretty good talent: Donald Sutherland, Richard Belzer, Keith David, etc. Commented Feb 15, 2011 at 3:29

Starship Troopers was VERY loosely based on his book by the same title. That's the only one I know of. It's a terrible adaptation, as well.

  • 21
    I prefer to imagine that that movie never existed. Commented Feb 14, 2011 at 16:42
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    @Satanicpuppy - I actually felt the same way, but since I've watched it because it's been syndicated to TV so many times, I've actually grown to appreciate it. The movie has Fallout style neo-40/50s culture that is great satire. There are some hilariously gruesome deaths and actually pretty good special effects. It probably has too much campy nudity for some viewers, but I should mention it has NPH in it, nuff said. Commented Feb 14, 2011 at 16:53
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    You did the right thing, but read the book if you haven't already. Most of the book is about him going through boot camp. Commented Feb 14, 2011 at 18:20
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    The movie was only really meant to be a fun little bug-hunting romp. The two direct-to-dvd sequels were truly bad.
    – DampeS8N
    Commented Feb 14, 2011 at 20:49
  • 2
    I felt like it would have been an OK movie (I liked the war propaganda vids and such) if they simply hadn't tried to claim it was Starship Troopers. Honestly, change a few names and nobody would have claimed it lifted from Heinleins book.
    – Paul
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 10:07

The 2014 Australian film Predestination is based on Heinlein's story '—All You Zombies—'.

As discussed here, Heinlein's novel Red Planet was adapted into an animated mini-series. You can see it on Youtube.


There was also an animated miniseries made of Red Planet.


There's also Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles, and while not great is better than the Starship Troopers movie (though oddly enough, Wikipedia claims this show was based on both the original book & that awful movie).

  • Roughnecks was closer to the book in a lot of ways, IMHO.
    – pojo-guy
    Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 17:39

It's got to be doubtful if it would ever get made, but there's a screenplay for Moon Is A Harsh Mistress here


Not sure whether this counts, but there's a short video of "And He Built A Crooked House". It was on YouTube, but it's no longer available.

  • 1
    The video is broken.
    – Laurel
    Commented Nov 6, 2023 at 10:34

I've never seen it but this page also lists The Brain Eaters from 1958. Heinlein sued for plagiarism, so it at least must be pretty close :)


The low budget StarQuest: Beyond The Rising Moon, reedited and upgraded as Outerworld is adapted from Friday, though only various parts, names, actions and the planet Halcyon were used. Shot entirely in a D.C. warehouse, and using miniatures, it has the look of cheap, but it's quite good, and addictive. I recommend it as an um-(sort of)Friday.


To the best of my knowledge (And I've been an SF and film buff for decades) the listings above are all the Heinlein stuff which as been adapted.

You could nominally add "The Trouble With Tribbles" as being inspired by it. David Gerrold was purportedly unaware of any connection until long after the fact, but even he acked that the resemblance between Tribbles and RAH's "Flatcats" from The Rolling Stones is awfully close. RAH was contacted before its production by Paramount's legal dept. and signed off on the usage as acceptable to him.

I'd also note the similarity between Star Trek's Operation: Annihilate! with RAH's "The Puppet Masters".

I do disagree with the complaints about Starship Troopers. It's not a particularly close adaptation (Verhoeven really did NOT understand the culture RAH was writing about, as shown by the obviously Nazi-esque uniforms for the Intel Officers) but it's not an awful movie itself, and the book is remarkably didactic and Verhoeven did a fairly good job of getting a lot of that subtle material into the movie with the "internet 'Want to know more?'" elements -- which at the time was perceived as the future of the internet (i.e., "push" content vs "pull" content -- As usual, the commercial interests Got It Wrong. One reason why government-directed technology never works, and central-planning schemes always go awry. It's impossible to reliably predict the direction a billion people will trend things)

In other words, if you look at it as "based on" ST rather than an actual adaptation, then it's not awful.

  • "It's impossible to reliably predict the direction a billion people will trend things" - sure it's possible. I'm quite certain that whichever way it trends, it will involve Kardashians. Commented Feb 24, 2013 at 21:29
  • 2
    Didn't the Kardashians invade Bajor?
    – pojo-guy
    Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 17:40

Stranger in a Strange Land

Has been picked up for a TV series for SyFy (source)

Not sure how well that's going to go, personally.

The controversial elements, and true driving forces of the novel, are religion and sex, which Heinlein’s publisher at the time wanted him to cut out. But as the author noted to his literary agent, if religion and sex were removed from the text, what remained would be the equivalent of a “non-alcoholic martini.”

I know this strictly isn't a movie but thought that Heinlein fans might have a passing interest.

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