TV show adaptations of books often have an advantage over adapting books into movies. On the big screen, the material might feel rushed given the 90-120 minute format, actors with big names are cast over more suitable unknowns, and sometimes the format of book-to-film can feel a bit formulaic. Enter the world of television! Television adaptations of books that follow the release of films often learn several lessons from their predecessors as to what works and what absolutely does not work.
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. If you see any movies that were turned into shows missing, make sure to add it below, but remember the list rules- no play adaptations!
Books: Every novel featuring Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie's canon.
Films: Alibi (1931), Black Coffee (1931), Murder at the Gallop (1963), Murder Most Foul (1964), The Alphabet Murders (1965), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), Death on the Nile (1978), Evil Under The Sun (1982), Dead Man's Folly (1986), Appointment with Death (1988).Agatha Christie's Poirot is a British television drama that aired on ITV from 8 January 1989... more
Book: The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood (1985)
Film: The Handmaid's Tale (1990)The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu, 2017) is an American web television series created by Bruce Miller,... more
Book: MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors by Richard Hooker (1968)
Film: M*A*S*H (1970)M*A*S*H is an American television series developed by Larry Gelbart, adapted from the 1970... more
Books: The book series collected under the same name by Andrzej Sapkowski, containing both novels and short stories.
Film: The Hexer (2001)
Netflix's The Witcher is actually the second television adaptation of Sapkowski's work. A single season Polish television series also aired in 2002.The Witcher (Netflix, 2019) is a fantasy action-adventure series based on the series of short... more
Books: A Study in Scarlet (1887), The Sign of the Four (1890), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1901-1902), The Valley of Fear (1914-1915) and 56 short stories collected in: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892), The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894), The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1905), His Last Bow (1917) and The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (1927) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Films: Sherlock Holmes (2009), Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)
The first film adaptation of Sherlock Holmes was released in 1900, titled Sherlock Holmes Baffled. Since then, the property has been adapted and and inspired countless forms of media.Sherlock (BBC One, 2010) is a British crime television series created by Steven Moffat and... more
Book: Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons with John Higgins (1987)
Film: Watchmen (2009)Watchmen (HBO, 2019) is an American drama television series created by Damon Lindelof and... more
Books: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolken (1954)
Films: Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), Lord of the Rings: The Return of The King (2003)The Lord of the Rings (Amazon Video, 2021) is an American fantasy television series based on... more
Books: A series of novels subtitled A Novel of Cornwall that take place between 1783 and 1820, written by Winston Graham (released between 1945-2002)
Film: Poldark (1996)Poldark (BBC One, 2015) is a British-American drama television series created by Debbie... more
Book: Psycho by Robert Bloch (1959)
Films: Psycho (1960)Bates Motel (A&E, 2013) is an American psychological horror drama television series based on... more
Books: The Bourne Identity (1980), The Bourne Supremacy (1986), The Bourne Ultimatum (1990) by Robert Ludlum.
Films: The Bourne Identity (2002), The Bourne Supremacy (2004), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), The Bourne Legacy (2012), Jason Bourne (2016)Treadstone (USA, 2019) is an American action drama television series, based on the Bourne Film... more
Book: The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty (1971)
Film: The Exorcist (1973)The Exorcist (Fox, 2016) is an American supernatural horror television series created by... more
Book: Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream by H. G. Bissinger (1990)
Film: Friday Night Lights (2004)Friday Night Lights (NBC, 2006) is an American sports drama television series developed by... more
Book: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
Film: Catch-22 (1970)Catch-22 (Hulu, 2019) is an American-Italian drama miniseries, based on the novel of the same... more
Books: A Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket.
Film: Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017, Netflix) is a black comedy-drama TV series based on the... more
Books: Conan (1967), Conan of Cimmeria (1969), Conan the Freebooter (1968), Conan the Wanderer (1968), Conan the Adventurer (1966), Conan the Buccaneer (1971), Conan the Warrior (1967), Conan the Usurper (1967), Conan the Conqueror (1967), Conan the Avenger (1968), Conan of Aquilonia (1977), Conan of the Isles (1968), by Robert E. Howard et al.
Films: Conan the Barbarian (1982), Conan the Destroyer (1984)
Book: In the Heat of the Night by John Ball (1965)
Film: In the Heat of the Night (1967)In the Heat of the Night is an American television series based on the film and the novel of... more
Book: The Little Drummer Girl by John le Carré (1983)
Film: The Little Drummer Girl (1984)The Little Drummer Girl (AMC, 2018) is a British-American television series directed by Park... more
Books: Ryanverse series by Tom Clancy and various authors (1984-present)
Films: The Hunt for Red October (1990), Patriot Games (1992), Clear and Present Danger (1994), The Sum of All Fears (2002), Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)Jack Ryan (Amazon Video, 2018) is an American television series created by Carlton Cuse and... more
Book: Daredevil (1964-present)
Film: Daredevil (2003)Daredevil (Netflix, 2015) is an American action crime legal drama superhero series created by... more
Book: The Minority Report by Philip K. Dick (1956)
Film: Minority Report (2002)Minority Report (Fox, 2015) is an American science-fiction crime drama television series and a... more
Book: High Fidelity by Nick Hornby (1995)
Film: High Fidelity (2000)High Fidelity (Hulu, 2020) is an American comedy television series adapted from the novel of... more
Books: 175 Nancy Drew novels, created by Edward Stratemeyer and ghostwritten by a number of authors, published under the collective pseudonym "Carolyn Keen" (1930-2003)
Films: Nancy Drew (2002), Nancy Drew (2007)Nancy Drew (The CW, 2019) is an American mystery drama television series based on the titular... more
Book: The Dark Fields (later republished as Limitless) by Alan Glynn (2001)
Film: Limitless (2011)Limitless (CBS, 2015) is an American comedy-drama television series developed by Craig Sweeny,... more
Book: Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain (1941)
Film: Mildred Pierce (1945)Mildred Pierce is a five-part miniseries that first aired on HBO on March 27, 2011. Adapted... more
Books: Red Dragon (1981), The Silence of the Lambs (1988), Hannibal (1999), Hannibal Rising (2006)
Film: Manhunter (1986)The Silence of the Lambs (1991)Hannibal (NBC, 2013) is an American psychological thriller–horror television series developed... more