The written word possesses a certain enchantment when transformed into the realm of the screen. This list unveils the most captivating TV shows brought to life from books, curated with utmost enthusiasm. In a world where movie sequels and reboots often disappoint, television shines brightly in its golden era, showcasing an abundance of extraordinary shows inspired by literary gems. Everywhere you turn, the small screen unveils mesmerizing tales, allowing for deep connections with characters akin to those found within the pages of a novel or series.
Throughout the years, television has gifted us with remarkable adaptations of beloved books. However, this particular list focuses solely on classic TV programs that draw inspiration from the written word. Miniseries and TV movies, though worthy of accolades in their own right, are distinctly set aside (though we must note that if they were included, the exceptional “Band of Brothers” would certainly make the cut). Brace yourself for an assortment of genres, from fantasy and sci-fi to mysteries and historical classics, all celebrated within this compilation.
Now, here’s an intriguing tidbit: brace yourself, for “Game of Thrones” is not the sole gem among TV shows birthed from the written word! Whether we’re talking about current hits like “Nancy Drew” and “The Magicians,” or critically acclaimed series that have reached their conclusion, such as “Boardwalk Empire” and “Orange Is the New Black,” or even those shows that embarked on their journey based on a book series but ventured into uncharted territories (like “Dexter”), this list caters to all tastes. And prepare to be astonished, for even timeless TV shows like “M*A*S*H*,” which have etched themselves into our collective memory, were originally born from books.
Please be aware that this compilation focuses solely on novels, book series, and short stories. Comic book adaptations and superhero TV shows have their own separate universe and do not find a place here. Even young adult and teen book series, such as the delightful “Melinda Metz Roswell High” series, which has been adapted twice, have found their rightful spot. Additionally, shows that extend a book’s narrative beyond its cinematic adaptation or cleverly intertwine multiple books from the same fictional universe, like “Shadow and Bone,” are celebrated within this realm.
Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for this extraordinary collection of the finest TV shows ever to grace our screens, all inspired by the enchanting world of books! Feel free to share your personal favorites below, whether it be due to their faithful adaptation or their outstanding, high-quality entertainment value in their own right.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a series that consisted of four novels and 56 short stories from 1887 to 1927.
Premiered: July 25, 2010
Actors: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Andrew Scott
2. Game of Thrones
George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series, which has had five books published since 1996, serves as the foundation for the following text.
Premiered: April 17, 2011
Actors: Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey
Premiered: September 15, 2023
Actors: Jenna Coleman, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Ashley Benson
Diana Gabaldon’s novel, “Outlander,” and its eight published sequels (since 1991), serve as the basis for the text.
Premiered: August 9, 2014
Actors: Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Sophie Skelton
5. The Witcher
Based on the series of short stories and novels by Andrzej Sapkowski.
Premiered: December 20, 2019
Actors: Henry Cavill, Anya Chalotra, Freya Allan
6. Good Omens
Based on the 1990 Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman novel of the same name.
Premiered: May 31, 2019
Actors: Michael Sheen, David Tennant, Jon Hamm
7. The Handmaid’s Tale
Based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel.
Premiered: April 26, 2017
Actors: Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski
8. The 100
Based on Kass Morgan’s series of four novels (2013-2016).
Premiered: March 19, 2014
Actors: Eliza Taylor, Paige Turco, Bob Morley
9. The Vampire Diaries
Based on the L. J. Smith book series of the same name.
Premiered: September 10, 2009
Actors: Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev
10. Pride and Prejudice
Based on Jane Austen’s 1813 novel of the same name.
Premiered: September 24, 1995
Actors: Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle, Crispin Bonham-Carter
11. A Series of Unfortunate Events
Based on the series of 13 novels by Lemony Snicket, AKA Daniel Handler (1999-2006).
Premiered: January 13, 2017
Actors: Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Warburton, Malina Weissman