15 Characters In Movie Adaptations Who Weren't In The Original Book

List Rules
Vote up the best characters that were invented just for the movie.

Screenwriters often take a lot of creative liberties when adapting a book for the big screen. These characters created for movie adaptations who weren't in the original book played a vital role in telling the film's story.

Every great movie hero needs worthy complements and adversaries. Some of these original screen characters were developed to give the hero a romantic interest or perhaps even a best friend. However, many of these characters were written because the movie needed a villain. In fact, some of cinema's most vile villains, such as the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Max Shreck from Batman Returns, were not from the original source material. They were written just for the movie - and now it's difficult to imagine those stories without their memorable antagonists. 

Vote up the best big-screen characters that were invented just for the movie.


  • The part-live-action, part-animated, totally innovative Who Framed Roger Rabbit was loosely based on Gary K. Wolf's 1981 novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit? There are several differences between the source material and Robert Zemeckis's Oscar-winning 1988 film. 

    Perhaps the biggest difference is the movie's decision to add the character Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd). Judge Doom serves as the main villain in the mystery-comedy, and what a vile villain he turns out to be. 

    The Judge's evil plan involves completely eradicating Hollywood's animated characters by way of "the Dip" because he wants to construct a freeway. Doom is a memorable antagonist simply because he is so scary and calmly menacing. He is more than willing to eliminate anyone who gets in the way of his grand plans.

    384 votes
  • Disney adapted the 1942 animated classic Bambi from the 1923 book Bambi, a Life in the Woods, written by Austrian author Felix Salten. The book does not include the character Thumper, a pink-nosed rabbit with a slightly mischievous side. 

    Disney decided to include Thumper in order to add a much-needed dose of light-heartedness to Bambi's story. The fawn and the rabbit form a quick and lasting friendship. Thumper teaches Bambi some of the more fundamental aspects of life - like how to walk. However, he also teaches Bambi how to take on the fun stuff, like how to ice skate. 

    The bubbly and loquacious Thumper became so popular after the 1942 hit movie that Empire magazine ranked him No. 44 on its 50 Best Animated Movie Characters list. He has popped up in several additional Disney works, including the 2007 musical fantasy romantic comedy Enchanted and the animated TV series House of Mouse. The character is also featured in Disney parks around the world.

    325 votes
  • 3
    248 VOTES

    Terence Mann, 'Field of Dreams'

    Writer/director Phil Alden Robinson adapted the 1989 sports weepie Field of Dreams from W.P. Kinsella's 1982 novel Shoeless Joe. In the novel, the writer Ray Kinsella has to track down to "ease his pain" is actually J.D. Salinger, as opposed to the fictional Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) in the movie. 

    W.P. Kinsella became a huge fan of Salinger after reading The Catcher in the Rye. Salinger made it known he was not happy being a character in someone else's book. He didn't sue Kinsella, but threatened a lawsuit if the book were ever adapted for the big screen. 

    In the movie, Mann is - like Salinger himself - a legendarily reclusive writer, and once one of the most revered authors in America. However, Salinger needed to be replaced with a different character entirely because the studio was worried the author would really sue if Field of Dreams used his name in the film. 

    It all worked out. Most people did not even realize Mann was a stand-in for Salinger. Additionally, James Earl Jones got his chance to deliver one of cinema's most beautiful soliloquies. Field of Dreams is a love letter to America's national pastime. Mann's poetic words, combined with Jones's deep voice and passionate delivery, highlight the memorable scene:

    Ray, people will come Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. "Of course, we won't mind if you look around," you'll say. It's only $20 per person. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it, for it is money they have, and peace they lack. And they'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: It's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.

    248 votes
  • Leave it to the mind of Stanley Kubrick to make a satire that sends up the threat of a nuclear engagement between the United States and Russia during the Cold War. Kubrick, who directed and co-wrote the screenplay, adapted his black comedy from Peter George's novel Red Alert. George's novel did not include the movie's title character and main antagonist Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers). Kubrick and co-writer Terry Southern weaved the villain into their narrative.

    Sellers more than earned his Academy Award nomination for his work in Dr. Strangelove. The English actor took on three different roles in the movie: Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, United States President Merkin Muffley, and nuclear war expert and former Third Reich operative Dr. Strangelove.

    Dr. Strangelove is the most memorable of the three characters and perhaps one of the most memorable in cinema history, despite being in only three scenes. The German scientist is confined to a wheelchair (until the end of the movie) and has a mechanical hand that uncontrollably throws out Nazi salutes. 

    The scientist knows exactly how the Doomsday Machine is going to end the world. He has no problem making plans to live in an underground tunnel.

    201 votes
  • 5
    224 VOTES

    Richmond Valentine, 'Kingsman: The Secret Service'

    Screenwriters Matthew Vaughn (who also directed) and Jane Goldman adapted Kingsman: The Secret Service from Mark Millar's 2012 six-issue limited comic book series. The writers made several changes when adapting their narrative for the big screen. One of the biggest alterations was changing the story's villain.

    Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) served as the main antagonist in the 2015 action spy thriller. He is not in the comic book series. Valentine's evil plans seek to eliminate humanity. The vicious and wealthy CEO is a computer genius who creates SIM cards that give people around the world unlimited calls on his network. However, the sinister goal is that these people will become so violent, they will destroy the world and perhaps even take their own lives.

    Jackson revealed that he took on the role of the tycoon billionaire because he wanted to be in a Bond movie: "I don’t think I’ll ever get to be in a Bond film," Jackson said, "so I felt like this was an opportunity to play a really great Bond villain."

    224 votes
  • 6
    154 VOTES

    Gaff, 'Blade Runner'

    Ridley Scott's Blade Runner is loosely based on Philip K. Dick's 1968 science fiction novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The dystopian story centers on a bounty hunter named Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). He comes out of retirement to take out four rogue replicants who have returned to Earth. The replicants, or highly advanced androids, are hard to spot because they look like humans.  

    The original source material did not have a character named Gaff. Scott hired Edward James Olmos to play the blade runner responsible for pulling Deckard out of retirement. Since Gaff was not a character from Dick's novel, Scott told Olmos to draw up his own backstory. The actor additionally created the cityspeak hybrid language used by LA citizens in the movie.

    Gaff winds up playing a pivotal and revealing role in Blade Runner. Spoiler alert: Gaff lets Rachael (Sean Young), a replicant, escape with Deckard. Additionally, Gaff's origami unicorn at the end of the movie has proven to be one of the most important props in sci-fi movie history.

    After Deckard finds Gaff's unicorn at his apartment during the film's plot-twist climax, it hints that Deckard is, in actuality, a replicant himself. Earlier in the movie, Deckard has a dream about a unicorn. How would Gaff know about the unicorn dream? Deckard never told anyone about it.

    154 votes