Popular Book To TV Adaptations

The Witcher,. Outlander, Normal People. What do these titles all have in common other than being highly-rated, successful shows? They and many more shows were adapted from bestselling novels within the last decade.

Whether you love them or hate them, book-to-TV adaptations are here to stay, so her is a list of the top TV programs based on books.

We have rounded up 20 of the best shows from the last decade that were adapted from books. To all the Game of Thrones, Gossip Girl and Orange Is the New Black fans out there, we see you! Unfortunately, this list would be never-ending if we didn’t at least limit it to shows that have premiered within the last 10 years.

Normal People (Hulu)

The emotional rollercoaster that is Sally Rooney’s 2018 critically acclaimed novel reached an even wider audience with the release of Hulu’s 2020 adaptation. The 12-episode miniseries starring Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal as Marianne and Connell detailed their intimate but complex relationship over the course of four years, as they grew from unsure teenagers to slightly more confident adults. The on-screen (and even sometimes off-screen) chemistry between Edgar-Jones and Mescal was undeniable. This —  accompanied by a stellar soundtrack, amazing cinematography and the dramatic pull of the “will-they-or-won’t-they” relationship — was what made Normal People a beloved bildungsroman.

Outlander (Starz)

Starz’s take on Diana Gabaldon’s popular novel series follows Caitriona Balfe’s Claire as she accidentally travels back to the 1700s and — oops! — falls in love with a strapping Scot named Jamie (played by Sam Heughan). The brogues are thick. The sex is steamy. And with the show rapidly approaching its announced finish line, here’s hoping the kilt trip comes to a satisfying conclusion.

Pachinko (Apple TV+)

So Hugh’s adaptation of Min Jin Lee’s multigenerational family saga adopts a storytelling twist — the narrative toggles between the different timelines, instead of unspooling everything chronologically — that only bolsters the impact of protagonist Sunja’s journey. Payoffs decades in the making are juxtaposed with the events that set things in motion, which helps to drive home themes and motivations. Plus, we are able to enjoy two generations of actors at once, and thus don’t have to wait for later seasons to experience the brilliance of Academy Award winner Youn Yuh-jung’s older Sunja.

The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)

The series based on Walter Tevis’ novel of the same name pulled off quite the clever checkmate when it debuted on Netflix in early 2020. It offered a little something for everyone, from historical drama lovers to fans of coming-of-age storylines. Anya Taylor-Joy starred as fictional chess prodigy Beth Harmon, whose pursuit to become the best chess player in the world was plagued with addiction, loss, complex relationships and more.

Reacher (Prime Video)

Whereas some felt that the two Tom Cruise movies based on author Lee Child’s bruiser of an MP came up short, Prison Break and Scorpion vet Nick Santora’s take — starring a pretty perfectly cast Alan Ritchson — measured up far better, netting 90 percent+ ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and a rare average grade of “A+” from TVLine readers. So positive was the response that the series was renewed for Season 2 on Prime Video just days after its premiere!

Sharp Objects (HBO Max)

Gone Girl may have gotten the mainstream buzz, but Sharp Objects is arguably Gillian Flynn’s most gripping novel, and HBO’s 2018 adaptation captured its dark, disturbing essence quite well. Led by a trio of scene-stealing women — Amy Adams, Patricia Clarkson and Eliza Scanlen; perfect casting all around — the series was as much a creepy whodunnit as it was an exploration of female rage and generational trauma. To this day, Scanlen’s chilling “Don’t tell Mama” sticks with us.

Station Eleven (HBO Max)

Nobody — repeat, nobody — was hankering for a dystopian, post-pandemic yarn not two years into our own COVID-19 nightmare. And yet Patrick Somerville (Made for Love, The Leftovers) took Emily St. John Mandel’s 2014 novel and made it into something a bit more hopeful, by fleshing out some backstories (including Jeevan and young Kirsten’s isolation together) and giving graphic novelist Miranda her own heroic moment.

Watchmen (HBO Max)

Purist fans of Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins’ seminal comic-book series didn’t love HBO’s adaptation, but we couldn’t get enough of Damon Lindelof’s intriguing interpretation. The show wove legacy characters like Dr. Manhattan together with new ones like Sister Night (played by Regina King) in a new story that paid loving homage to the tale that had come before.

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