The last couple of years have seen major collaborations between sneaker brands and film and TV properties, not least adidas’ Game of Thrones and Dragon Ball Z collections.
The makers of television and film franchises are realizing the power of co-branded sneakers as collectible merchandise, but for fans of the shows and movies, these drops go beyond mere merch, providing an opportunity to flex your appreciation for your favorite film/show on your feet.
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up some of the best TV and movie-inspired sneakers released down the years. Featuring everything from Back to the Future's iconic Nike Air Mag to the slightly more obscure American Dad! "Stan Smith" reinterpretation of adidas', erm, Stan Smith, our list promises to add a touch of Hollywood to your rotation.
Dragon Ball Z x adidas
adidas brought Dragon Ball Z fan-favorite characters including Gohan, Frieza, and Majin Buu to sneakerheads’ feet between August and November 2018 in a seven-sneaker drop. Having been leaked months prior, Dragon Ball Z x adidas became one of the most hyped releases of the year. The theme was rounded out by special-edition packaging that created a Dragon Ball Z mosaic when the complete collection of shoe boxes were stacked together.
Game of Thrones x adidas
Another collaboration leaked months before the official announcement, HBO’s Game of Thrones teamed up with adidas on a range of Ultraboosts inspired by the show in 2019. Comprising six Ultraboost sneakers, the collection paid homage to some of the most important houses in the show such as House Lannister, House Stark, and House Targaryen, as well as the Night’s Watch and the White Walkers.
For an explainer on what made each colorway special, head here. The collection got a wide general release and didn't sell out immediately or resell for large amounts. Still, Game of Thrones fans who didn’t necessarily identify as sneakerheads were excited to get their hands on the kicks.
Space Jam x Jordan Brand
The Nike Air Jordan 7 “Hare” wasn’t officially touted as a Bugs Bunny-inspired design when it dropped, but it bears certain similarities to the Looney Tunes character. Nike and Warner Bros. also released a “Bugs” Air Jordan 8, but when Michael Jordan wore the above Air Jordan 7s in Space Jam, it was clear which model would become a fan favorite.
In addition to the “Hare Jordans,” as they are affectionately known, Jordan also wore an Air Jordan 11 in what has since been dubbed the “Space Jam” colorway during the movie’s final matchup against the Monstars.
Toy Story x Vans
If one brand has the art of animation and comic collaborations down, it’s Vans. The California skate brand has collaborated with the likes of Toy Story (above), SpongeBob SquarePants, Marvel, Disney, and more.
The above Toy Story x Vans collaboration dropped in 2016 and comprised a number of different styles all inspired by the movie series’ characters (the Woody and Buzz Lightyear Vans models being the most obvious). While not as hyped and covetable on the resell market as other brands, Vans collaborations are still super-popular and deserve a spot on this list.
NikeLab Vandal High “Terminator”
The Nike Vandal High was worn by Kyle Reese in 1984's The Terminator and later relaunched in June 2015 as part of a NikeLab drop. The shoe was also used in 2015 sequel Terminator Genisys, with costume designer Susan Matheson requesting a limited size run from Nike to stay as authentic to the original film as possible.
The Vandal High was a popular basketball model back in the day and shares similarities with iconic models such as the Air Force 1 and Blazer Mid.
Marvel x BAPE
Always one with an eye for detail, A Bathing Ape dropped its collaborative BAPE STA Marvel collection in blister packs that resembled the packaging used on action figures. The colorways nodded to characters such as Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Captain America, and others. The collaboration dropped in 2005, back when the BAPE STA was still one of the hottest properties in streetwear, repped by rappers everywhere.
Nike LeBron 8 V2 "Entourage"
Entourage was apparently one of LeBron James’ favorite TV shows, so back in 2011 Nike made the above LeBron 8 for him in an Entourage-inspired color scheme. A photo blue upper with black and tour yellow highlights were a subtle nod to one of the most popular shows of the ’00s.
Back to the Future x Nike
Back to the Future Part II's Nike Mag is probably one of the most iconic sneakers Nike has ever produced and the very definition of a grail. Expensive, hard to find, and futuristic, the Mag was first seen on Marty McFly in the film before later, highly limited releases. The Mag's colorway was also used on a pair of “Marty McFly” Nike Hyperdunks in 2015 and a new version of Nike's self-lacing Adapt BB in 2019.
Reebok Alien Stomper
The Reebok Alien Stomper is another sneaker that first featured in a cult movie and was later given a new lease of life. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of 1979 sci-fi horror Alien, Reebok relaunched the sneaker worn by Sigourney Weaver’s character Ripley.
Aptly dubbed the Alien Stomper, the 2019 version of the shoe shows Reebok spared no expenses, including a number of easter eggs in the design and packaging. The shoe box contains an official bug-stomping field guide, plus three different hang tags, including an official Alien 40th-anniversary badge.
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou x adidas
Wes Anderson's 2004, Bill Murray-starring cult film The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou featured a pair of adidas sneakers that were never actually available to the public. Anderson fans long hoped for an official release and got their wish in 2017 when the Three Stripes released a "Steve Zissou" version of the Rom sneaker, with the word "Zissou" replacing "Rom" down the side. It featured the same white, blue, and yellow color palette used in the movie and retailed for $255.
Nike Air Jordan 5 "Transformers" sample
Mark Wahlberg is no stranger to samples or PE Air Jordans, having been gifted a Wahlburger-inspired pair for the opening of his Wahlburger fast food chain. The above Air Jordan 5 was gifted to him by Jordan Brand to celebrate the release of 2017's Transformers: The Last Knight.
Nike SB Dunk Low “Freddy Krueger”
This Dunk Low is one of the most coveted Nike SB sneakers. It pays tribute to the killer in the A Nightmare on Elm Street horror series and was never officially released to the public, only existing as samples, explaining its high resale price.
adidas Originals Stan Smith “Stan Smith”
In 2014, adidas Originals and animated comedy American Dad! joined forces on a new version of the legendary Stan Smith, only replacing the tennis icon with American Dad!'s main character Stan Smith in a move something akin to sneaker Inception.
Friends x Nike
Hit TV sitcom Friends has collaborated with Nike on multiple occasions. The first never made it onto shelves, but Nike did outfit the cast and crew with custom Friends logo-clad sneakers circa 1995-96. Sean Wotherspoon offers a look at those kicks here.
More recently, in 2019, Nike dropped a Friends version of Kyrie Irving’s signature sneaker (above), featuring a colorway and "Kyrie" logo inspired by the show. Apparently, Irving is a big Friends fan. That and his own friendships even prompted him to get a tattoo based on the sitcom's logo.
Nike SB Dunk High “Ferris Bueller”
While not an official collaboration, this Nike SB Dunk High “Ferris Bueller” from May 2008 features a colorway that resembles the outfit Ferris wears in 1986 cult movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, right down to his leopard-print vest.
Nike Air Jordan 3 & 4 “Do the Right Thing”
In 2007, Nike's Jordan Brand dropped an Air Jordan 3 inspired by Spike Lee’s 1989 film Do the Right Thing. The film famously had a Jordan moment featuring a scuffed Air Jordan 4 (Lee's other movies aren't short on iconic sneaker moments either). The Air Jordan 3 colorway is inspired by the movie's poster, which featured yellow writing on a blue design. Nike also dropped a special, highly limited “White Cement” Air Jordan 4 that replicated the scuffed sneaker from the movie at an exclusive Brooklyn event in 2017.
Pokémon x FILA
In 2018, FILA in South Korea hit us with a healthy dose of childhood nostalgia with this Pokémon pack. Featuring a leather upper construction, adjustable hook-and-loop fasteners, and a Pokéball logo on the tongue, each Court Deluxe sneaker had a motif on the heel representing a different Pokémon.
Beavis and Butt-Head x adidas Skateboarding
This was one for all mid-’90s MTV headbangers. adidas Skateboarding dropped its first Beavis and Butt-Head collab in FW18 and followed that graphic-laden drop with another capsule for SS19. The pack above features a Matchcourt High RX and 3MC, with the two shoes also accompanied by a selection of apparel.
Nike SB Dunk “Homer Simpson”/“Marge Simpson”
While not an official collaboration, this Nike SB Dunk pack had The Simpsons fans noting the sneakers' similarities to Homer and Marge. The "Homer" SB Dunk Low came out in 2004, while the "Marge" SB Dunk High followed in 2008. This pack is only one example of Nike sourcing colorways from myriad sources, with additional examples including Dunks inspired by Heineken beer, jewelry retailer Tiffany & Co., and many others.
Doernbecher x Nike Air Jordan 4 “Superman”
Nike’s ongoing partnership with the Oregon Health & Science University’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital is one of the most heartwarming ongoing collaborations and has resulted in some incredibly collectible silhouettes. This 2011 Air Jordan 4 “Superman” was designed by 11-year-old Isaiah Scott, who beat cancer at Doernbecher.
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