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: 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.A contemporary spin on the novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, featuring the peerless Sherlock Holmes.
Book: In the Heat of the Night by John Ball (1965)
Film: In the Heat of the Night (1967)Investigators tackle difficult cases.
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).Sleuthing adventures with Agatha Christie's detective, Hercule Poirot.
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)Heroes confront the long-feared reemergence of evil to Middle-earth.
Book: The Right Stuff Tom Wolfe (1979)
Film: The Right Stuff (1983)Astronauts become celebrities embarking on the quest to be a part of Project Mercury.
Book: MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors by Richard Hooker (1968)
Film: M*A*S*H (1970)Army surgeons blow off steam between hours of combat surgery.
Book: Daredevil (1964-present)
Film: Daredevil (2003)A blind lawyer, with his other senses superhumanly enhanced, fights crime as a costumed superhero.
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)Up-and-coming CIA analyst Jack Ryan is thrust into a dangerous field assignment for the first time.
- The Haunting (Netflix, 2018) is an American television anthology series created by Mike Flanagan and produced by Amblin Television and Paramount Television, for Netflix. The first series, titled The ...more
Books: Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz.
Film: Stormbreaker (2006)The adventures of a teenage spy on his missions to save the world.
Book: Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)
Film: Dracula (1931)
Dracula has inspired or has been adapted for film upwards of 50-plus times since the 1920's and nine times for television since the 1960's.Adaptation of the classic novel by Bram Stoker.
Book: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959)
Films: The Haunting (1963), The Haunting (1999)Siblings are forced back to the haunted house where they grew up to confront the ghosts of the past.
Book: The Mist by Stephen King (1980)
Film: The Mist (2007)The residents of a small town are engulfed by a foreboding mist containing inexplicable threats.
Book: The Minority Report by Philip K. Dick (1956)
Film: Minority Report (2002)A precognitive and a police detective work together to stop future crimes from happening.
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.Geralt struggles to find his place in a world in which people often prove more wicked than beasts.
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: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving (1820)
Film: Sleepy Hollow (1999)Ichabod Crane is resurrected and transported 250 years into the future to solve a mystery.
Book: The Firm by John Grisham (1991)
Film: The Firm (1993)The Firm (NBC, 2012) is a Canadian-American legal thriller television series created by Lukas Reiter, and a sequel to the 1991 John Grisham novel and its 1993 film adaptation. Defense Attorney Mitch ...more
Book: Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain (1941)
Film: Mildred Pierce (1945)A single mother struggles to earn her daughter's love during the Great Depression in Los Angeles.
Book: The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898).
Film: The Innocents (1961), The Nightcomers (1971, prequel), Presence of Mind (1999), In a Dark Place (2006), The Turning (2020)A young governess arrives at Bly Manor and begins to see apparitions haunting the estate.
Book: Logan's Run by William F. Nolan (1967)
Film: Logan's Run (1976)A man and a young girl flee from their community and meet strange beings in 2319 Earth.
Books: His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman (1995-2000)
Film: The Golden Compass (2007)During her search for a kidnapped friend, a young woman from another world uncovers a sinister plot.
Books: The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare (2007-2014)
Film: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013)A teenager discovers she comes from a long line of human-angel hybrids called Shadowhunters.
Book: High Fidelity by Nick Hornby (1995)
Film: High Fidelity (2000)Brooklyn record-store owner Rob revisits her past relationships through music and pop culture.
Books: A Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket.
Film: Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)Siblings investigate the mysterious death of their parents while outsmarting their evil guardian.