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!
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, based on the 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood. In a dystopian future where women are brutally subjugated,... more
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 to 13 November 2013. David Suchet stars as the eponymous detective, Agatha Christie's fictional Hercule... 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 feature film MASH. The series, which was produced in association with 20th Century Fox Television for CBS,... 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 Mark Gatiss, based on stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The brilliant yet insensitive detective (Benedict... 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 stories and novels by Andrzej Sapkowski. Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill), a solitary monster hunter,... 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 based on the comic book series of the same name by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Set 34 years after the events... 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 series, created by Tim Kring. The show explores the origin story and present-day actions of CIA black... 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 Horsfield, based on the novels by Winston Graham. Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) returns home after American... 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 the book series The Lord of the Rings. Set during the 3,441-year period, known as the Age of Númenor, or... 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 Peter Berg, inspired by the 1990 nonfiction book by H. G. Bissinger. A drama that follows the lives of the... 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 characters from the 1959 novel Psycho by Robert Bloch. After his father's sudden death, teenager Norman... more
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 the same title. It starred Carroll O'Connor as the white police chief William Gillespie, and Howard... 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: Daredevil (1964-present)
Film: Daredevil (2003)Daredevil (Netflix, 2015) is an American action crime legal drama superhero series created by Drew Goddard, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name created by Stan Lee and Bill Everett.... 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 name by Joseph Heller. Following the story of Yossarian (Christopher Abbott), a US Air Force bombardier... 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 children's novel series of the same name by Lemony Snicket (author Daniel Handler). The Baudelaire... 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 character of a mystery book series. After 18-year-old Nancy Drew's (Kennedy McMann) college plans are put... 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 sequel adaptation of the 2002 film of the same name. Former Precog Dash (Stark Sands) is using his... 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 Jeremy Slater, and serves as a direct sequel to the 1973 film. A pair of exorcists (Alfonso Herrera and Ben... 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 the same name by Nick Hornby. A fan of music, pop culture and Top Five lists runs a local record store in... more
Book: The Mist by Stephen King (1980)
Film: The Mist (2007)The Mist (Spike, 2017) is an American science fiction-horror thriller television series developed by Christian Torpe. Based on Stephen King's horror novella, the series centers on a small town... 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, based on the 2011 film. Brian Finch (Jake McDorman), a 28-year-old burnout and struggling musician, is... 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 Graham Roland, based on the character created by Tom Clancy. When CIA analyst Jack Ryan (John Krasinski)... more
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.Dracula (Netflix, BBC One, 2019) is a British-American horror-fantasy television limited series based on the novel of the same name by Bram Stoker. This retelling of the classic story follows Dracula... 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 Chan-wook, based on the novel by John le Carré. When an elusive terrorist starts bombing random locations... more