Adaptations The Best TV Shows Based on Books  

Ranker TV
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29.1k votes 4.2k voters 115k views 101 items

List Rules Vote up the best TV series based on novels or short stories. No comic book adaptations.

Fun fact: Game of Thrones isn't the only good TV show based on a book streaming on the airwaves! Though more and more people are complaining about sequels and reboots and re-imaginings at the movies, it's the golden age of television, with awesome shows inspired by books everywhere you look. The small screen has the benefit of being much more long form, and therefore a great place to showcase something based on a book or series of books. With television adaptations of books you have the ability to learn love and live with characters for the long haul, just as with a novel or series of novels. 

Naturally as TV has been around for quite some time, there have been great book adaptations throughout the years. There have also been plenty of books adapted for TV in the form of the miniseries or TV movie, but that's another list and you won't find them here (otherwise Band of Brothers would most certainly have made the cut). Instead we are just focusing on traditional TV programs that are based on or inspired by books.

Be it a current show (Orange Is the New Black), a critically acclaimed show that has ended (Boardwalk Empire), a show that started out amazing while it was based on it's book series... then derailed (Dexter), or a classic TV show you might not have realized was based on a book at all (M*A*S*H*), this list has them all.

These are the best shows based on books to ever air on television! Vote up the best of these shows below - whether because they nailed the adaptation or because they were top-notch, quality programming in their own right. Maybe the best overall shows rise to the top.
list ordered by

1
1,122 421
Game of Thrones is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke

Based on George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire book series (five published since 1996).

Game of Thrones (HBO, 2011) is an American fantasy drama television series created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, based on the series of fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin. Nine noble ...more

2
868 369
Sherlock is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs

Based on the series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, including four novels and 56 short stories (1887-1927).

Sherlock is a British television crime drama that presents a contemporary adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes detective stories. Created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, it ...more

3
343 195
The Handmaid's Tale is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
jenc83 added Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski

Based on Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel.

The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu, 2017) is an American web television series created by Bruce Miller, based on the 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood. In a dystopian future where women are brutally ...more

4
531 463
Dexter is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas

Based on Jeff Lindsay's novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter and seven sequels (2004-2015).

Dexter is an American television drama series. Set in Miami, the series centers on Dexter Morgan, a blood spatter pattern analyst for Miami Metro Police Department who also leads a secret life ...more

5
576 313
The 100 is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
Eliza Taylor, Paige Turco, Thomas McDonell

Based on Kass Morgan's series of four novels (2013-2016).

The 100 (The CW, 2014) is an American post-apocalyptic science fiction drama television series developed by Jason Rothenberg, loosely based on the book by Kass Morgan. 97 years after a nuclear ...more

6
560 358
The Vampire Diaries is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder Based on the L. J. Smith book series of the same name. The Vampire Diaries is an American supernatural drama television series developed by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec, based on the popular book series of the same name written by L. J. Smith. ...more

7
384 220
The Originals is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
Jennifer Barnwell added Joseph Morgan, Daniel Gillies, Claire Holt

Based on characters created in L. J. Smith's The Vampire Diaries series of four novels (1991-1992).

The Originals (The CW, 2013) is an American television series created by Julie Plec, and is a spinoff of The Vampire Diaries. Vampire-werewolf hybrid Klaus Mikaelson (Joseph Morgan) and his ...more

8
405 247
The Magicians is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
Jason Ralph, Stella Maeve, Olivia Taylor Dudley Based on the Lev Grossman book series of the same name. The Magicians (Syfy, 2015) is an American fantasy television series created by Sera Gamble and John McNamara, based on the novel by Lev Grossman. Training to be a magician at Brakebills ...more

9
437 379
bones is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz, Michaela Conlin

Based on the Kathy Reichs's Temperance Brennan book series (20 novels, since 1997).

Bones is an American crime procedural comedy-drama television series that premiered on Fox in the United States on September 13, 2005. The show is based on forensic anthropology and forensic ...more

10
494 284
Outlander is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies

Based on Diana Gabaldon's novel of the same name and eight published sequels (since 1991).

Outlander is a British-American television drama series based on the historical time travel Outlander series of novels by Diana Gabaldon. Created by Ronald D. Moore and produced by Left Bank ...more

11
331 174
Ranker Video
jenc83 added Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Warburton, Malina Weissman

Based on the series of 13 novels by Lemony Snicket, AKA Daniel Handler (1999-2006).

A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017, Netflix) is a black comedy-drama TV series based on the children's novel series of the same name by Lemony Snicket (author Daniel Handler). When a ...more

12
387 202
Shadowhunters is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
febelanianastasha added Katherine McNamara, Dominic Sherwood, Alberto Rosende Shadowhunters (Freeform, 2016) is an American fantasy television series based on The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. Clary Fray (Katherine McNamara) has just enrolled at Brooklyn Academy ...more

13
459 269
13 Reasons Why is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
kslot added Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford, Kate Walsh

Based on Jay Asher's 2007 novel Thirteen Reasons Why.

13 Reasons Why (Netflix, 2017) is an American television series based on the 2007 novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and adapted by Brian Yorkey. Told through a series of flashbacks, the ...more

14
456 289
Pretty Little Liars is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale Based on the Sara Shepard book series of the same name. Pretty Little Liars is an American teen drama mystery–thriller television series loosely based on the popular book series of the same title, written by Sara Shepard. The show premiered on June ...more

15
280 140
Riverdale is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
Josh Mesman added Jayne Eastwood, Christian Potenza, Paul Soles Riverdale is a Canadian prime time soap opera which ran for three seasons. The series was set in the Toronto community of Riverdale, which had the reputation of being home to many CBC employees ...more

16
209 90
American Gods is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
jenc83 added Ricky Whittle, Emily Browning, Crispin Glover American Gods (Starz, 2017) is an American television series developed by Bryan Fuller and Michael Green, based on the novel by Neil Gaiman. After being released from prison, Shadow Moon (Ricky ...more

17
363 302
M*A*S*H is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers, Loretta Swi Based on the 1968 Richard Hooker & W. C. Heinz novel of the same name. M*A*S*H is an American television series developed by Larry Gelbart, adapted from the 1970 feature film MASH. The series, which was produced in association with 20th Century Fox Television for ...more

18
361 282
Hannibal is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Caroline Dhavernas Based on the 1999 Thomas Harris novel of the same name. Hannibal is an American psychological thriller–horror television series developed by Bryan Fuller for NBC. The series is based on characters and elements appearing in the novel Red Dragon by ...more

19
400 321
True Blood is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell Based on the Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse book series. True Blood is an American television drama series produced and created by Alan Ball. It is based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels by Charlaine Harris, detailing the ...more

20
376 336
Orange Is the New Black is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
Taylor Schilling, Danielle Brooks, Taryn Manning Based on the 2010 Piper Kerman book, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison. Orange Is the New Black is an American comedy-drama series created by Jenji Kohan and first released on Netflix on July 11, 2013. The series, produced by Tilted Productions in association with ...more

21
181 79
Daredevil is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
jenc83 added Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson Daredevil (Netflix, 2015) is an American web television series created for Netflix by Drew Goddard, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Blind lawyer Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) ...more

22
294 173
The Walking Dead is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
kslot added Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies The Walking Dead (A&E, 2010) is an American post-apocalyptic horror television series developed by Frank Darabont, based on the comic book series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie ...more

23
258 271
House of Cards is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
Kevin Spacey, Michel Gill, Robin Wright Based on the 1989 Michael Dobbs novel of the same name. House of Cards is an American political drama television series developed and produced by Beau Willimon. It is an adaptation of the BBC's mini-series of the same name and is based on the novel ...more

24
300 238
Gossip Girl is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Penn Badgley Based on the Cecily von Ziegesar book series of the same name. Gossip Girl is an American teen drama television series based on the book series of the same name written by Cecily von Ziegesar. The series, created by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, ...more

25
274 219
Elementary is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
Jonny Lee Miller, Lucy Liu, Aidan Quinn Based on the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes book series. Elementary is an American crime drama series that presents a contemporary update of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's character Sherlock Holmes. The series was created by Robert Doherty and stars Jonny ...more

26
149 101
Ranker Video
jenc83 added Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley Big Little Lies (HBO, 2017) is an American dramatic miniseries created by David E. Kelley, based on the novel by Liane Moriarty. While Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) and Celeste (Nicole Kidman) ...more

27
177 154
Little House on the Prairie is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
dreapress added Melissa Gilbert, Michael Landon, Lindsay Greenbush Little House on the Prairie, also known as Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie, is a five-hour miniseries which was broadcast on ABC as part of The Wonderful World of Disney ...more

28
169 116
The Shannara Chronicles is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
kslot added Austin Butler, Poppy Drayton, Ivana Baquero The Shannara Chronicles (MTV, 2016) is an American fantasy drama television series adapted from the fantasy novels by Terry Brooks, primarily The Elfstones of Shannara. As the series opens, ...more

29
141 127
Haven is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
ewill0413 added Emily Rose, Lucas Bryant, Eric Balfour Haven is an American/Canadian supernatural drama television series loosely based on the Stephen King novel The Colorado Kid. The show, which deals with strange events in a fictional town in ...more

30
105 56
Jessica Jones is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
reemsid added Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter, Rachael Taylor Jessica Jones (Netflix, 2015) is an American web television series created by Melissa Rosenberg, based on the Marvel Comics character. Following the tragic end of her brief superhero career, ...more

31
96 82
Poldark is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
kslot added Judy Geeson, Ralph Bates, Angharad Rees Poldark is the original version of the BBC television series adaptation of the novels of the same title written by Winston Graham. The adaption was first transmitted in the UK between 1975 and

32
120 75
Anne of Green Gables is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
jenc83 added Megan Follows, Colleen Dewhurst, Richard Farnsworth Anne of Green Gables is a 1985 Canadian television drama film based on the novel of the same name by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery. The film starred Megan Follows and was produced and ...more

33
210 203
Goosebumps is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
R.L. Stine, Kathryn Short, Cody Jones Based on the R. L. Stine book series of the same name. Goosebumps is a Canadian horror fantasy anthology television series based on R. L. Stine's Goosebumps books. It was one of the two popular television horror anthology children's series in the ...more

34
78 45
Charmed is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
reemsid added Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano, Brian Krause Charmed is an American television series created by Constance M. Burge and produced by Aaron Spelling and his production company Spelling Television, with Brad Kern serving as showrunner. The ...more

35
123 96
Supergirl is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
go_sullivan added Melissa Benoist, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh Supergirl (The CW, 2015) is an American superhero action-adventure television series developed by Ali Adler, Greg Berlanti, and Andrew Kreisberg, based on the DC Comics character. The adventures ...more

36
73 42
Pride and Prejudice is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
reemsid added Colin Firth, Lucy Davis, Alison Steadman Pride and Prejudice is a six-episode 1995 British television drama, adapted by Andrew Davies from Jane Austen's 1813 novel of the same name. Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth starred as Elizabeth ...more

37
112 88
The Expanse is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
MichaelLuffred added Thomas Jane, Steven Strait, Cas Anvar The Expanse (Syfy, 2015) is an American science fiction television series developed by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, based on the novels by James S. A. Corey. In a future where humanity has ...more

38
168 229
Justified is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
Timothy Olyphant, Nick Searcy, Joelle Carter Based on the Elmore Leonard novels Pronto and Riding the Rap. Justified is an American television drama series developed by Graham Yost. It is based on Elmore Leonard's short story "Fire in the Hole". Timothy Olyphant portrays Raylan Givens, a ...more

39
146 149
Black Sails is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
Jessica Parker Kennedy, Toby Stephens, Hannah New Based on the 1883 Robert Louis Stevenson novel, Treasure Island. Black Sails is an American dramatic adventure television series set on New Providence Island and a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island. The series was created by Jonathan ...more

40
104 89
Preacher is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
kslot added Dominic Cooper, Joseph Gilgun, Ruth Negga Preacher (AMC, 2016) is an American television series developed by Sam Catlin, Evan Goldberg, and Seth Rogen, based on the comic book series created by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. After a ...more

41
150 197
Friday Night Lights is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, Aimee Teegarden Based on the 1990 Buzz Bissinger book, Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream. Friday Night Lights is an American drama television series about a high school football team in the fictional town of Dillon, Texas. It was developed by Peter Berg, and executive produced by ...more

42
110 102
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
Art Dickinson added Laurence Fishburne, Marg Helgenberger, George Eads CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is an American crime drama television series that premiered on CBS on October 6, 2000. The show was created by Anthony E. Zuiker and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. ...more

43
98 90
Sleepy Hollow is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
kslot added Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, Lyndie Greenwood Based on the 1820 Washington Irving short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Sleepy Hollow is an American supernatural drama television series that premiered on Fox on September 16, 2013, that aired on Mondays at 9:00 pm ET. The series is considered a "modern-day ...more

44
176 252
Sex and the City is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis Based on the 1997 Candace Bushnell book of the same name. Sex and the City is an American television romantic sitcom created by Darren Star and produced by HBO. Broadcast from 1998 until 2004, the original run of the show had a total of 94 episodes. ...more

45
45 33
The Last Kingdom is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
reemsid added Alexander Dreymon, David Dawson, Tobias Santelmann The Last Kingdom (BBC America, 2015) is a British historical fiction television series based on Bernard Cornwell's The Saxon Stories series of novels. In 872 England, an unlikely hero (Alexander ...more

46
57 49
Anne with an E is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
reemsid added Amybeth McNulty, Geraldine James, R.H. Thomson Anne with an E (2017, Netflix) is a Canadian television series based on the 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Anne Shirley (Amybeth McNulty) is a good-hearted, earnest ...more

47
135 201
Boardwalk Empire is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
Steve Buscemi, Stephen Graham, Vincent Piazza Based on the 2002 Nelson Johnson book, Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City. Boardwalk Empire is an American period crime drama television series created by Terence Winter. Airing on premium cable channel HBO, the series is set in Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the ...more

48
77 77
Call The Midwife is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
kslot added Vanessa Redgrave, Helen George, Laura Main Call the Midwife is a BBC period drama series about a group of nurse midwives working in the East End of London in the 1950s and 1960s. It stars Jessica Raine, Miranda Hart, Helen George, Bryony ...more

49
143 178
Rizzoli & Isles is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
Angie Harmon, Jordan Bridges, Bruce McGill Based on the Tess Gerritsen book series of the same name. Rizzoli & Isles is a TNT television series starring Angie Harmon as police detective Jane Rizzoli and Sasha Alexander as medical examiner Dr. Maura Isles. The one-hour drama is based on the ...more

50
52 54
Longmire is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best TV Shows Based on Books
jenc83 added Robert Taylor, Katee Sackhoff, Lou Diamond Phillips “Longmire,” a contemporary crime thriller set in Big Sky country, is based on the Walt Longmire Mystery novels by best-selling author Craig Johnson. The series stars Australian actor Robert ...more