We’ve all been there: flipping through the channels, unable to find something that catches our eye. After claiming to no one in particular that nothing is on (and you’ve likely flipped through hundreds of channels), you casually come upon that one movie that you’ve seen maybe a hundred times and yet will always stop channel-surfing and watch. Despite the fact you might know all the lines to the film, or it might not even be a film you enjoy, the defeat of knowing that nothing else is on keeps your divided attention to the show, maybe while you surf the internet on your tablet, smart phone or laptop. Here are nine movies we watch on TV when we can’t find anything else to watch.

1. The Shawshank Redemption

Maybe it’s Morgan Freeman, or maybe it’s that moment they figure out Andy dug his way out of his prison cell with the smallest of rock hammers, but you know whenever this film crosses your path you’re going to watch it. Who can’t deny the smile that spreads across one’s face when they see Andy and Red reunited on the beach, the waves hitting the sand behind them?

2. Forrest Gump

Perhaps it’s just the pure brilliance of Tom Hanks, or maybe it’s the excellent soundtrack full of psychedelic and classic rock, but you know when you see Forrest sitting on that bus bench, the box of chocolates  lying in his lap, you won’t be able to change the channel. Life is like a box of chocolates, but you’ll always know what you’ll get with Forrest Gump.

3. Any Lord of the Rings Film

Peter Jackson’s cinematic ode to J.R.R. Tolkien’s mighty trilogy kept us all captivated in theaters. We waited patiently each year for the next installment; even now, these movies continue to entertain us years after the original release. Whenever one of these films is on TV, you know you’ll have to clear your schedule for the next three hours so you can watch it for the twentieth time.

4. The Fifth Element

Who doesn’t like Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, and futuristic science fiction? Maybe it’s Chris Tucker’s superb performance as the babbling and annoying Ruby Rhod, or maybe it’s Gary Oldman’s creepy Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg, but the film catches your attention the moment you see Milla’s signature bandage/tape outfit or the famed multipass.

5. The Rock

There’s just something about Nicholas Cage that keeps you watching, and The Rock is no exception. Those of us who have never visited Alcatraz find it interesting just for the infamous prison; and those of us who appreciate Sean Connery know we’ll watch to the end. While not a great cinematic masterpiece, it’s entertaining and has some good action scenes.

6. Braveheart

Mel Gibson has had his fair share of cringe-inducing news stories over the past decade. But whenever you see the kilted William Wallace calling the Scotts up to fight the British troops ransacking their towns, you know you’re going to settle into the couch and finish, if only to watch Wallace’s horrific death for the umpteenth time.

7. Any Back to the Future Film

No one can resist the charm of Marty McFly and Doc Brown. Whether it’s the first film (or the second or third), you know you’re going to stop channel surfing when you see the Delorean hit 88 mph or when then Flux capacitor gets jolted by 1.21 gigawatts of electricity. But the real appeal is the fact they could get all three main characters (Marty, Doc, and Biff) back for three different films.

8. The Matrix

The first movie in this science fiction trilogy was the first of its kind, and the many allusions throughout the film make it a very interesting and admittedly-awesome film. While the originality of the first film (and coherent plot) were lost on the second and third films, you know when you hear Neo quip “I know kung fu” you’re hooked.

9. Con Air

Another Nic Cage classic, Con Air is totally that movie that you’ve seen a hundred times, but have no interest in ever admitting it. Long hair Nic Cage, creepy Steve Buscemi, annoying John Cusack, and wacko John Malkovich seal the deal when you come across this movie while channel-surfing.


What movies should be included in this list? What films do you always watch when they’re on TV? Do you watch because you’re bored, or because you truly like the film?




Brittany Valli
Brittany Valli
Crafting stories from a young age, Brittany was destined to be a writer (well, she thinks so). When she's not working on various novels, short stories or screenplays, she can be found exploring Oregon's many landscapes with her husband, tasting some of the best wine, beer and food Oregon has to offer, relaxin' in a hammock, walking her dogs, or laughing at jokes only she thinks are funny. You can find more about Brittany here: brittanyrvalli.weebly.com (it's a work in progress)