42° Good Morning
42° Good Morning

TV shows based on books and comics

While it's not uncommon to see books become blockbusters, some of the most successful adaptations are found on the small screen. Though it's hard to replace a great book, more and more directors and producers are trying their hand at TV adaptations.

Here are some shows you might not have known were books first.


Credit: Netflix / Merrick Morton

"Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit," written by John Douglas, follows two FBI agents as they attempt to crack cases by interviewing serial killers. Netflix's adaptation was renamed "Mindhunter" and premiered in October 2017.

"Alias Grace"

Sarah Gadon stars as a woman in prison
Credit: Netflix / Sabrina Lantos

Sarah Gadon stars as a woman in prison for murder in Netflix's "Alias Grace," an adaptation of Margaret Atwood's 1996 novel of the same name.


Adam West starred as
Credit: 20th Century Fox / Courtesy of Getty Images

Adam West starred as "Batman" in the campy TV adaptation of the DC Comics story from 1966 to 1968.

"Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."

Marvel comic book character Agent Phil Coulson (Clark
Credit: ABC

Marvel comic book character Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) leads a small, highly select group of agents on the ABC show "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."

"Sabrina the Teenage Witch"

Credit: AP

"Sabrina the Teenage Witch," starring Melissa Joan Hart, Caroline Rhea and Beth Broderick, aired from 1996 to 2003 and was based on the Archie comic book series of the same name.

"The Vampire Diaries"

The CW's supernatural drama
Credit: The CW

The CW's supernatural drama "The Vampire Diaries" was based on a novel of the same name written by L.J. Smith. The show's popularity spurred a spin-off, also on The CW, called "The Originals."

"Sex and the City"

HBO's hit series
Credit: AP

HBO's hit series "Sex and the City" was based on Candace Bushnell's novel of the same name, which was a collection of essays by Bushnell loosely documenting the lifestyles of her and her friends.

"The Mist"

Spike TVs original horror-thriller series,
Credit: Spike/Matthias Clamer

Spike TVs original horror-thriller series, "The Mist," is based on a story by Stephen King. Frances Conroy stars in the show as Natalie Raven.

"Turn: Washington's Spies"

This period drama is based on Alexander Rose's
Credit: AMC/Antony Platt

This period drama is based on Alexander Rose's book "Washington's Spies: The Story of America's First Spy Ring." Set during the American Revolutionary War, the show follows a Setauket farmer who forms a group of spies called the Culper Ring.


Canadian TV series
Credit: Netflix / Caitlin Cronenberg

Canadian TV series "Anne" (known as "Anne with an E" on Netflix) is an adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery's 1908 novel, "Anne of Green Gables." This particular adaptation is the most recent in a long list of films, radio productions, television movies and other TV series inspired by Montgomery's widely popular "Anne" novels.

"Masters of Sex"

Credit: AP / Craig Blankenhorn

Showtime's "Masters of Sex" is loosely based on the biography "Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love" written by Newsday reporter Thomas Maier.


Stephen Amell stars as Oliver Queen in
Credit: The CW

Stephen Amell stars as Oliver Queen in "Arrow" on The CW, which is an adaptation of the DC comic book "Green Arrow." The character Oliver Queen was also a regular on The CW's "Smallville" before being given his own show.

"Pretty Little Liars"

Credit: ABC Family

"Pretty Little Liars" was originally a series of young adult novels by Sara Shepard that was later adapted into a television show for ABC Family.

"Gossip Girl"

The CW's
Credit: AP / The CW

The CW's "Gossip Girl" was based on the book series of the same name written by Cecily von Ziegesar. The success of the show also led to adaptations outside the United States including a Mexican version, "Gossip Girl: Acapulco."

"Sleepy Hollow"

Credit: AP

"Sleepy Hollow," set in Sleepy Hollow in Westchester aired on Fox from September 2013 to March 2017. It was based on the 1820 short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," by Washington Irving.

"Boardwalk Empire"

Steve Buscemi starred in
Credit: HBO

Steve Buscemi starred in "Boardwalk Empire," the HBO adaptation of Nelson Johnson's novel, "Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City."

"House of Cards"

Michael Dobb's novel
Credit: Netflix/Melinda Sue Gordon

Michael Dobb's novel "House of Cards" was adapted for television in Britain in the 1990s. Netflix premiered its American version, starring Kevin Spacey, in 2013, marking the streaming service's first original series.


Credit: ABC Family / John Medland

Freeform's "Shadowhunters" series is based on Cassandra Clare's "The Mortal Instruments" young adult novels. The first book in the series, "City of Bones," was also turned into a movie in 2013 starring Lily Collins as Clary Fray.


Credit: Netflix / Patrick Harbron

"Marvel's Daredevil," based on the Marvel comic book character of the same name, came to Netflix in 2015. Stan Lee and Marvel originally created the "Daredevil" comics in the 1960s, and inspired the 2003 "Daredevil" movie with Ben Affleck in the leading role.


From left, KJ Apa, Camila Mendes, Cole Sprouse
Credit: The CW / Katie Yu

From left, KJ Apa, Camila Mendes, Cole Sprouse and Lili Reinhart star in "Riverdale," the TV adaptation of the "Archie" comics. The CW series premiered in January 2017 and was soon renewed for a second season. Season 1 episodes are available on Netflix.

"Hemlock Grove"

The Netflix original series
Credit: Netflix

The Netflix original series "Hemlock Grove," which ran for three seasons, was a web television adaptation of Brian McGreevy's horror-thriller novel of the same name. McGreevy spent six years writing the book and was rejected by six publishers before it was picked up by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 2010.

"The 100"

The CW science-fiction show
Credit: The CW / Cate Cameron

The CW science-fiction show "The 100," which debuted in 2014, is set three centuries after a thermonuclear war left Earth uninhabitable. It's based on Kass Morgan's ongoing young adult series of the same name.


DC Comic's fallen angel got his own series
Credit: FOX / John P. Fleenor

DC Comic's fallen angel got his own series in Fox's "Lucifer," which premiered in January 2016. The character originated in Neil Gaiman's comic book series "The Sandman," but the Fox series is based on comic book writer Mike Carey's interpretation of the villain as a Los Angeles piano-bar owner, as depicted in Carey's "Lucifer" spin-off comic series.

"Big Little Lies"

Liane Moriarty's 2014 novel,
Credit: HBO / Hilary Bronwyn Gayle

Liane Moriarty's 2014 novel, "Big Little Lies," premiered as an HBO series in early 2017. Shailene Woodley, Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman (pictured from left) starred in the seven-part miniseries, with Witherspoon and Kidman among its executive producers.

"American Gods"

Credit: Starz Entertainment

Starz's "American Gods," which premiered in 2017, is an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's 2001 Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novel of the same name. Despite speculation, Gaiman has said his novel is not based on Diana Wynne Jones' "Eight Days of Luke."


Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's comic series,
Credit: Sony Pictures Televsion/AMC / Lewis Jacobs

Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's comic series, "Preacher," was turned into a TV show for AMC in 2016. AMC also launched "Talking Preacher," a live aftershow hosted by Chris Hardwick to discuss episodes of the series.


Diana Gabaldon's
Credit: Starz/Neil Davidson

Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series of novels follows a 20th-century British nurse, Claire Randall, who time travels to 18th-century Scotland and meets a Highland warrior, Jamie Fraser. The franchise now includes a graphic novel, musical album and television series on Starz that premiered in 2014.


The first season of Showtime's
Credit: AP

The first season of Showtime's "Dexter" is an adaptation of "Darkly Dreaming Dexter," the intro novel of Jeff Lindsay's "Dexter" series. While the first season follows the book series closely, the following seasons deviate almost completely.

"A Series of Unfortunate Events"

Lemony Snicket's
Credit: Netflix / Joe Lederer

Lemony Snicket's "A Series Of Unfortunate Events" includes 13 children's novels following the turbulent lives of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire. Since 1999, the books have risen in popularity and spawned a film, video game and television series on Netflix.

"True Blood"

Charlaine Harris's
Credit: HBO / Tony Rivetti

Charlaine Harris's "The Southern Vampire Mysteries" series was adapted in HBO's hit series, "True Blood," which ran from 2008 to 2014. Following the show's highly positive reviews and cult following, the book series became known as the "True Blood Series."

"The Handmaid's Tale"

Credit: AP

Hulu's "The Handmaid's Tale," which premiered in 2017, is an adaptation of Margaret Atwood's 1985 dystopian novel of the same name. Atwood has classified her work as speculative fiction rather than science fiction and told the Guardian, "Science fiction has monsters and spaceships; speculative fiction could really happen."

"Game of Thrones"

HBO's hit series
Credit: HBO / Helen Sloan

HBO's hit series "Game of Thrones," which premiered in 2011, is based on George R. R. Martin's epic fantasy series, "A Song of Ice and Fire." The show gets its name from the first book in the series.

"The Walking Dead"

Robert Kirkman's graphic novel series,
Credit: MCT

Robert Kirkman's graphic novel series, "The Walking Dead," comes to life in AMC's show of the same name, which premiered on Halloween in 2010, as well as the spin-off "Fear the Walking Dead," which debuted in 2015. The graphic novel series, which boasts more than 160 issues, also inspired a variety of video games.

"13 Reasons Why"

Jay Asher's 2007 young adult novel,
Credit: Netflix

Jay Asher's 2007 young adult novel, "Thirteen Reasons Why" became "13 Reasons Why" when Netflix adapted it into a TV series that premiered in 2017 and raised concern among parents and school administrators for its depiction of suicide. In 2016, Asher released a 10th anniversary edition of the book that includes the original, alternate ending.

"Orange Is the New Black"

Netflix's hit series
Credit: Netflix / JoJo Whilden

Netflix's hit series "Orange Is the New Black" (the site's second original series, which premiered in 2013) is based on Piper Kerman's autobiography, "Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison." The series' lead character, Piper Chapman, and her story are loosely based on Kerman and her experiences behind bars.

More Entertainment