Did you know many of the popular series you see on TV today (or in reruns) were adapted from books? Of course you did! As avid readers you’re likely familiar with many popular books that became TV series. Still, I thought it might be fun to list as many books as I could think of that made the jump from the printed word to the acted word. Most of these are not only available to read, but also to stream or via DVD for your binge-watching pleasure.
Enjoy today’s list!
50 Books That Became Television Series
A few of these surprised me! In no particular order…
1. Outlander: A Novel
Outlander is currently running as a popular series on the Starz network on cable.
2. The Leftovers
by Tom Perotta
Tom Perotta’s novel about people coping after the mysterious disappearance of millions of people is now a popular series on HBO.
3. Game of Thrones
Whether you read the epic novels or enjoy the popular series on HBO, you’re sure to have an opinion as to who will be sitting on the iron throne when all is said and done.
4. Walking Dead
by Robert Kirkman
The AMC fan-favorite series The Walking Dead was adapted for television from an extremely popular series of graphic novels.
5. Little House on the Prairie
by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Though the original series of “Little House Books” were created as historic fiction, they were based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life as a young girl – and then young woman – as here family traveled West and were eventually the first settlers in DeSmet, SD. On the other hand, the television series was so far removed from the original stories it bordered on silly. If you want to know about the real Laura Ingalls Wilder, try her recently published Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography.
6. Sex and the City
by Candace Bushnell
One HBO’s earlier series, helping to establish Sunday to be one of the best TV nights of the week.
7. Lonesome Dove
by Larry McMurtry
Larry McMurtry’s epic Western novel was adapted into an epic (and excellent) mini-series.
8. 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter: And other tips from a beleaguered father [not that any of them work]
by W. Bruce Cameron
W. Bruce Cameron’s humorous look at raising teenage daughters became a popular sitcom starring the late John Ritter.
9. The Dexter Morgan Series
Dexter was a series of books before it was turned into a television series, lasting 8 seasons.
10. Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team, And A Dream
You know it simply as “Friday Night Lights,”
11. Gossip Girl:
by Cecily von Ziegesar
The series of books inspired the six-season television hit.
12. The 100
by Kass Morgan
There are currently three books and four seasons of this popular dystopian series in which 100 troubled teens are sent to Earth from their space station to see if it’s inhabitable.
13. Wayward Pines
by Blake Crouch
The three book series was adapted into a well-received television series.
14. Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City
by Nelson Johnson
Nelson Johnson’s non-fiction look at the history of corruption in Atlantic City was the basis for the critically acclaimed HBO series..
15. Orange is the New Black
by Piper Kerman
Thank goodness Piper Kerman’s pointless and self serving look at her year spent in Federal prison on drug charges was turned into a much more entertaining Netflix original – also available for streaming on Amazon.
16. Under the Dome: A Novel
by Stephen King
Stephen King’s novel about a town trapped under a dome was also a popular summer replacement television series.
17. Nancy Drew
18. Hardy Boys
Teen girls were glued to their television sets on Sunday nights to watch Shawn Cassidy as Joe Hardy. . Nancy who?
18. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
by Robert Getchell
The popular 70’s novel was also a critically acclaimed movie starring Ellen Burstyn and the basis of the TV sitcom Alice.
19. House of Cards
by Michael Dobbs
The book inspired both a television series in the U.K. and an acclaimed Netflix original that is also available for streaming on Netflix.
by Richard Hooker
The book that started it all. Richard Hooker’s novel about Army surgeon’s in career inspired both a 1970 film and a popular TV series..
21. Eight is Enough
by Tom Braden
Tom Braden’s memoir about raising eight children was the inspiration for the television series.
22. About a Boy
by Nick Hornsby
The television series may be canceled, but you can still stream the reruns or read the book that started it all.
23. Fire in the Hole
Elmore Leonard’s short story “Fire in the Hole” about U.S Marshall Raylan Givens inspired the popular series on the FX series “Justified,” starring Timothy Oliphant.
24. The Last Ship
by William Brinkley
William Brinkley’s post-apocalyptic novel about a ship carrying what may be the last people on Earth was adapted into a television series
for the TNT network.
25. Falling for Hamlet
You may know “The Royals” just finished up its first season on the E! network. You may not know that it was loosely adapted from Michelle Ray’s novel “Falling for Hamlet.”
by Martin Caidin
Martin Caidin’s 1972 novel “Cyborg” was the basis for the popular television series “The Six Million Dollar Man” which, of course, spun off into another successful series, “The Bionic Woman.”
27. Pillars of the Earth
by Ken Follett
Ken Follet’s epic and masterful tale about a cathedral builder in the 12th century was adapted into a series for the Starz cable network..
28. The Rizzoli and Isles Series
by Tess Gerritsen
A a popular series of mystery novels inspired the also-popular television series on TNT.
by Alex Haley
Alex Haley traced his roots all the way back to Africa and wrote a novel based on his findings.. When it was turned into a mini-series in 1977 most of America was riveted.
30. The Vampire Diaries
by L. J. Smith
L.J. Smith’s vampire love triangle was adapted for screen in 2009 and remains a popular series on the CW Network.
31. Spencer’s Mountain
by Earl Hamner Jr.
His name was Clay Boy Spencer in the book and he lived on high on Spencer Mountain – but his story was inspiring enough to become the take of John Boy Walton in the long-running series “The Waltons.”.
32. The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story
by Lily Koppel
Lily Koppel’s look at the women behind the first men in space also launched as a television series in June, 2015.
33. The Fifteenth Pelican: The Adventures of a Flying Nun
by Tere Rios
In 1965 Tere Rios released the adventures of a nun who could take flight when a good gust of wind hit.. A few years later it was also a popular sitcom starring a young, fresh-faced Sally Fields..
34. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
by Judy Blume
Judy Blume’s hilarious children’s novel about a fourth grader with a spirited younger brother was the inspiration for a whole series of books and, subsequently, television series on ABC and CBS.
35. Hemlock Grove: A Novel
by Brian McGreevy
Brian McGreevy’s murder mystery was recently adapted into a Netflix original series, also available for streaming on Netflix.
36. The Colorado Kid
by Stephen King
Stephen King’s 2005 crime novel was the inspiration (albeit, very loosely based) for the Syfy series “Haven.”.
37. North and South (The North and South Trilogy Book 1)
by John Jakes
John Jake’s Civil War trilogy about best friends divided by the Mason Dixon line was adapted as three popular miniseries in the 80’s and 90’s. The first two were very well received, but it’s probably best to skip the last.
38. The Paper Chase
by Jr. John Jay Osborn
John Jay Osborn, Jr’s book about Harvard Law School was first adapted into a critically acclaimed movie in 1973, and then television series in 1978.
39. Pretty Little Liars
by Sara Shepard
The #1 New York Times bestselling series is also a popular series on ABC Family.
40. Dead Until Dark: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel
by Charlaine Harris
Charlain Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries were the basis for the HBO series True Blood..
41.The Night Eternal
by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan
You may know Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan vampire trilogy as the 2014 FX series The Strain .
42.Under the Sabers: The Unwritten Code of Army Wives
by Tanya Biank
Tanya Blank’s narrative about the challenges faced by military spouses was the basis for Lifetime series Army Wives, which premiered in June 2007.
43. 666 Park Avenue
by Gabriella Pierce
Gabriella Pierce’s urban fantasy chick lit was the inspiration for the short-lived ABC series.
44. Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring
by Alexander Rose
45. The Returned
by Jason Mott
The adaptation of Jason Mott’s The Returned debuted on ABC in 2015 as “Resurrection.”
46. Deja Dead
by Kathy Reichs
“Deja Dead” and it’s subsequent sequels were the inspiration behind the long-running Fox series “Bones.”
47. Good Christian Bitches
by Kim Gatlin
Kim Gatlin’s book about frenemies in a Texas town was adapted for television as the campy, shortlived ABC series “GCB.”.
48. Wizard’s First Rule (Sword of Truth Book 1)
by Terry Goodkind
Originally it was a series of fantasy novels called “The Sword of Truth Series.”. Later it would become “Legend of the Seeker Season” for the Syfy network.
49. In the Heat of the Night
by John Ball
John Ball’s 1965 mystery about a black detective trying to pass through a Southern town was the inspiration for a 1967 film and television series of the same name.
50. Belvedere Mass Market
by Gwen Davenport
Gwen Davenport’s 1949 novel was the inspiration for the ABC sitcom from 1985 -90, “Mr. Belvedere.”.
I hope you liked this fun look at some great books that were turned into some great (and some not so great) television series. There are dozens and dozens more of these that I didn’t cover. So if you like it, I may make this a series.
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