Netflix's adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events is certainly a dark and gloomy affair, but audiences might be surprised by how truly upsetting the book series was. Largely there's more death, depression, and betrayal throughout. The show is a solid adaptation, however, and it adds bits of doom and gloom along the way, sometimes making things even worse for the Baudelaire orphans.
There are various differences between the two, ranging from missing death scenes to little details that are wholly inconsequential. Either way, the Netflix show still manages to capture the spirit of Lemony Snicket's work in the eyes of many fans.
Beware of spoilers, both for the Snicket books and for the show.
In The Books, The Bald Man Was Originally Eaten By Lions
In the show, all of Count Olaf's henchmen stick around through Season 2. In the books, new henchman are introduced when another meets their untimely end.
One henchman, The Bald Man with the Long Nose, is a perfect example of this deviation from the source material. In the show, he's only referred to as Bald Man. He is shown to be strong, seems genuinely evil at times, and is very tall with a low booming voice. He even manages to stick around throughout Season 2. He isn't as fortunate in the books.
His final literary appearance is in The Carnivorous Carnival where, during the final act, he is accidentally shoved into the lion's pit during some chaos in the crowd. He is torn apart and eaten as the patrons stand there and watch.
In The Show, The Audience Was Tricked Into Thinking The Baudelaire Parents Were Still Alive
Perhaps the biggest twist of the first season is the suggestion the Baudelaire parents are still alive. Audiences are shown a pair of intrepid guardians, diligently fighting to get home to their children. And in "The Miserable Mill: Part One," it seems they are about to reunite with their beloved kids. Viewers wait and watch, only to find out these are the Quagmire parents. It's a shock, and it dashes any sense of hope that was building.
Anyone who has read the series can tell you with certainty the Baudelaire parents are dead, right from the start. There is a brief moment in the books where it is suggested one parent is alive, but that's later shown to be false.
While this is sad and depressing, there is a comforting sense of finality in knowing the Baudelaires are orphans. The show is infinitely more cruel, as it provides the audience with false hope only to destroy those aspirations later in the season.
In The Books, Dr. Georgina Orwell's Death Was A Lot Bloodier
Dr. Orwell's fall into an oven in the Netflix adaptation is about as gruesome as you can get with children's television. Depending on what kind of gore makes you squirm, however, her death scene in the book is much worse.
In that version, she backs into a scrolling sawblade, originally meant to kill an employee at the Lumber Mill, Charles. Sunny fights her, and she falls backwards as the children watch. She gets caught in the saw and it slices her to bits in one of the bloodiest deaths in the books.
In The Show, The Audience Was Introduced To Gustav While He Was Alive, Making His Death More Impactful
Viewers aren't given much time to connect with Gustav Sebald in the show, but it's enough time to recognize him as an honest and protective volunteer. When his life is abruptly cut short by a dart and he drowns in a reflecting pond, it's shocking and depressing.
He seemed capable of providing the children with some hope and safety, but he's killed off while the Baudelaires are with Uncle Monty. It just adds to the sense of isolation that surrounds the three poor orphans.
In the books, he's much less of a lively presence. In fact, when he is first introduced, he's already dead. He is said to be a filmmaker who worked for the secretive VFD organization, and was responsible for creating a means of relaying secret messages called the Sebald Code. Witnessing his charm in the show makes his death hurt that much more.