Jack Ryan: A Cinematic History

KC Frankenburger

Read Time 2 minutes

John Krasinski in "Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan" from Amazon Studios.
John Krasinski in “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” from Amazon Studios.

If you’ve been keeping up with Amazon’s original series lineup, or if you have even been to the Amazon site at all in the past several months, you’ll know that their newest outing is Jack Ryan, with John Krasinski in the titular role. The character created by the late novelist Tom Clancy is an analyst turned CIA operative, you may be surprised to know that he’s been appearing on our screens for nearly thirty years. This is the first time the character has been written for the small screen. He’s been played a myriad of actors, including the legendary Harrison Ford and even Ben Affleck.

In case you missed them, here are the many times that any of the “Ryanverse” novels have been adapted for the screen:

1990

The Hunt for Red October  – Hulu | Prime Video | Epix | PopcornFlix

Alec Baldwin brings the first cinematic iteration of Jack Ryan to life in this 1990 thriller. Also starring Sean Connery and Stellan Skarsgard, Red October is based on what is one of Clancy’s most popular novels, even to this day.

1992

Patriot Games – Hulu | Prime Video | Epix

In his first of two appearances, Harrison Ford plays Jack Ryan in 1992’s Patriot Games. This time, Ryan thwarts an assassination, and later finds himself and his family in the crosshairs.

1994

Clear and Present Danger – Hulu | Prime Video | Epix | Tubi TV

As the only actor to portray the reluctant hero twice, Harrison Ford reprises his role as Jack Ryan. As acting CIA deputy director, Ryan finds himself at the center of a cover-up. The film also stars James Earl Jones in his third appearance in the Ryan series as Admiral Greer.

2002

The Sum of all Fears – Showtime

Eight years after Clear and Present Danger, Ben Affleck picks up the Jack Ryan torch in 2002’s The Sum of all Fears. This time the stakes are even higher as the Russian president mysteriously dies and a nuclear scientist goes missing.

2014

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – FX | FOX

Jack Ryan returns to the screen after more than a decade away, this time with Chris Pine at the helm. When Jack’s cover comes under threat, the CIA agent must begin to question who he can trust. The film also stars Kevin Costner and Keira Knightley.

2018

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan – Prime Video  

John Krasinski and Amazon bring Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan to the small screen for the very first time. This medium is, perhaps, the best place for this character to live. Krasinski also brings back the “regular guy” aspect back to the character in a big way. The show’s first season contains 8 nail-biting episodes.

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