Let’s be honest: the movie is basically never as good as the book. If you’ve never read the book, then the movie might seem like a little slice of perfection to you, but once you’re used to the way things go down in a novel, it’s really hard to get used to any on-screen changes. The following film adaptations of novels and classic stories were pretty flippin’ different from the original versions. Sure, some were changed to give the characters a happier ending, some were altered to make things less complicated, and some tried to stick to the same story but somehow turned out with a totally different feel or outcome! Even if you love these movies the way they are, it’s always cool to know how the original stories went, and to see if you want to read the book if you haven't already. Here are 15 movies that totally and completely strayed from the book.
15 P.S. I Love You
There are a couple of differences between the book and movie versions of the tragic love story, P.S. I Love You. Spoiler alert: it’s not that Gerry miraculously survives in the book, as much as we wish it were! The main difference is the setting of the story: the movie is set in New York City and the book is set in Ireland. The Emerald Isle does feature in the movie (and gives us major wanderlust), but only briefly. The other major difference is that some characters have totally disappeared in the movie. In the book, Holly has three brothers and a father, but in the book, it’s just her OTT mother and kooky sister. She’s originally much more of a family gal! There’s also more of a focus on Holly’s internal struggle to emotionally survive the aftermath of Gerry’s death in the book, while the movie is more action-packed. Both are great though!
It’s pretty obvious that the differences between Disney’s Cinderella and the original Brothers Grimm version stem from the fact that the latter isn’t exactly family-friendly! We all know how the Disney version goes—Cinderella is a slave in her own house, sneaks to the ball with the help of fairy godmother, dances with the prince, then he finds her and sweeps her away. Details left out from the original story include the fact that one of Cinderella’s stepsisters cuts off her heel, and the other cuts off her toes so they have a hope of squeezing into the glass slipper. Their plan is thwarted due to blood appearing on the shoe, and when it comes time to attend Cinderella’s wedding, their eyes are pecked out by birds. So slightly more intense! Also, in the original, there is no fairy godmother; instead there’s a helpful tree by Cinderella’s mother’s grave. That’s nowhere near as exciting!
The Divergent series written by Veronica Roth ended up looking pretty different when it was adapted for the big screen. One of the main differences is that the character of Edward in the book is pretty important, and gets his eye stabbed by Peter. He barely gets any time to shine in the movie by comparison! Peter is also far less of a bully in the movie than in the book—all he does is make comments to provoke Tris and initiate the attack where they carry her to the chasm. That’s still bad, but in the book he ruins her bedding, pulls off her towel after she showers, feels her up and of course, stabs Edward in the eye. Looking at the series as a whole, the third and final book ended up being split into two movies. But apparently, Tris won’t die on-screen like she does in the book, so that’s a pretty drastic change!
12 Fox And The Hound
Disney’s The Fox and the Hound is actually based on a novel written in 1967, and yep, you guessed it: it’s way sadder than the animated version! The Disney version sees a fox and a hound growing up as BFF, and then being turned against each other. They return to being friends and then Copper the hound gets to happily serve his master while Todd the fox gets to live with his foxy girlfriend (pun intended). But in the book, one of the hunter’s dogs actually gets hit and killed by a train, unlike the version we know, where in classic Disney style, the dog’s injuries from the train are reduced to a broken leg! Also, the hunter is even more of a psycho in the book and kills the fox’s mates and children. Both the fox and the hound die in the end, of exhaustion and shooting. To be honest, we actually prefer the film.
11 I Am Legend
The I Am Legend film differed from the original novel in a couple of ways. Starring Will Smith as Dr. Robert Neville (who was originally blonde and German), this is the story of a world that has been taken over by humans infected with plague who have become brainless zombie-ish figures. In the book, the creatures are actually vampires and are much more cunning and actually have basic personalities, whereas in the movie they’re just destructive, mindless blob-type things. At the end of the movie, Dr. Robert sacrifices himself for the future of the human race after giving the cure for the plague to a healthy woman and boy. In the book, he still dies, though he is imprisoned and executed. Still depressing, though a different kind of depressing. The saddest part of this story is undoubtedly the dog who is his only friend and then dies. Take the humans and give us back the dog!
10 Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children
Released in 2016, the film adaptation of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children has a few peculiar differences from the original novel. For those who haven’t seen it, this story is about a boy who discovers a time-traveling bunch of children who each have an extraordinary ability, before discovering that he is one of them. One of the main differences is that in the book, his girlfriend Emma is pretty fiery. Literally, she makes fire with her hands. In the movie, she’s a lot more serene and has the ability to float up in the air instead, which was supposed to be the ability of a different child in the house. The ending of the book is pretty different as well and sees the children fighting the wight in an abandoned lighthouse rather than a present-day amusement park. But you can’t fault this movie’s visual effects—even with story changes, it’s a pretty sight!
You can pretty much assume that every single Disney picture is based off a story that is actually a tad sinister and not child-friendly at all. In Disney’s Pinocchio, the wooden puppet and his cricket conscience, Jiminy, set off to school and end up facing the consequences of bad choices. In the book, the character of Pinocchio is downright mischievous—he runs away as soon as he learns to walk and sells his school books for a ticket to the theater. Pinocchio is almost hanged by the fox and cat and Geppetto is actually imprisoned for suspected child abuse. And in a final move that renders the two versions basically beyond comparison, Pinocchio actually kills the talking cricket who tries to set him straight. In the movie he and Jiminy are buddies, and in Collodi’s version, he murders him. Without Jiminy there would be no Pinocchio, so we’re glad Disney made this change!
8 The Shining
Rumor has it that author of The Shining, Stephen King, was less than impressed with the film adaptation of his literary masterpiece. In the movie, the protagonist’s name has been changed from John Daniel Torrance to Jack Torrance, and Wendy Torrance has gone from blonde beauty to quirky non-blonde. In the movie, Danny only has a vision of the Grady twins and the iconic blood flood, but originally he sees everything else instead. Another major difference: the iconic line from the film “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” doesn’t actually appear in the book and neither does “Here’s Johnny!” Also, John’s axe in the film was actually originally a mallet. What the? In the book, Dick manages to lead Wendy and Danny to safety, but in the movie, he meets a bloody end at the tip of an axe. Do you feel lied to yet? We do!
7 The Hunger Games
Would it really be a young-adult, dystopian film adaptation if there weren’t at least a few differences from the book? The Hunger Games follows the story of Katniss Everdeen who is forced to enter the Hunger Games and fight to the death for the entertainment of the people in the Capitol. A few characters are a little different, like President Snow who is much more present in the movie than in the book, and the character of Madge who doesn’t even appear in the movie. Rude! The “mutations” who attack the tributes at the end are actually ghosts of the fallen tributes in the book, whereas in the movie they’re just mindless, rabid animals. Katniss is also described as being smaller than the other tributes, but in the movie, she’s actually taller than most of them. Also, poor Peeta loses a leg in the book, but gets to keep it in the film!
6 The Notebook
Love it or hate it, it’s hard to deny the impact of The Notebook on millennials. For us, it’s the ultimate romance story. The film shows an old Noah reading a story to Alzheimer-ridden Allie about two young lovers. Eventually, Allie remembers that the story is actually about them, before forgetting again. The main difference is that in the movie, the two reunite after they’re separated by nursing home staff, and then die together in a bed. Yes, this is the bit that has us bursting into tears every time! However, in the book, they don’t actually die. In a somewhat happier ending, Allie recognizes Noah and then it’s implied that they’re about to sleep together. In a way, this is obviously less tragic because we don’t see them die. But they do have to pass away some time, and at least we get closure in the movie by knowing they go together!
5 Breaking Dawn Part 2
There are a few differences scattered between the Twilight book series and the film series, but the main and unforgettable difference has to be the end of Breaking Dawn. At this point, Edward and Bella are married and have a half-vampire-half-human child (creepily born with a full set of teeth) and are about to face the Volturi on the battlefield, who are annoyed that they had the child in the first place since it breaks nearly every sacred rule. In the movie, there is a huge climactic fight sequence at the end that had everybody gripping their seats with white knuckles. So many characters die in this scene, including the beautiful Carlisle Cullen. But it’s then revealed that this was all just a vision of what could happen if a battle is fought, and so the two sides decide to call it a day without shedding any blood. This doesn’t happen in the book!
4 The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid we all know: Mermaid princess is looking for more than her underwater kingdom can offer, falls in love with human prince, trades her pretty voice for a pair of legs so she can meet him on land, then the arrangement comes back to bite her in her newly acquired backside when the sea witch steals the prince for herself. This version just has a few tiny details missing! In her original bargain with the sea witch, Ariel will die if she fails to get Eric to fall in love with her, whereas in the film she just returns to being a mermaid. Another condition of the original bargain is that every step Ariel takes with her legs would feel like she’s walking on sharp glass. Give us the mermaid life any day! Anyways, the prince ends up marrying somebody else, and Ariel throws herself into the ocean and becomes sea foam.
3 Forrest Gump
There are more than a couple of differences between the book and film versions of Forrest Gump, and those differences are pretty significant! While the movie centered around Forrest’s undying love for the totally undeserving Jenny, and all his fabulous adventures are just like backdrops, the book has it the other way around. The character of Forrest was modified and ended up turning into a very simple man with no agenda and no opinions, while the book features a slightly colder and more complex character. The movie ends with Jenny’s death and Forrest having to raise their child alone. But in the book, Jenny actually survives, but marries another guy and has a baby with him. The book also ends with Forrest starting up his very own shrimp business in memory of his friend Bubba. Original author Winston Groom wasn’t too thrilled with all the changes, and said so in the second book!
2 My Sister’s Keeper
Book or movie, My Sister’s Keeper will have you in tears. The stories are about Kate who has leukemia and whose parents had another child named Anna purely as an organ donor for her. This all comes to blows when Anna turns 13 and sues her parents for medical emancipation. Kate refuses to accept her sister’s organs and ends up losing her battle with cancer. Seriously, we dare you to not cry. In the film, the ending is totally different! Kate ends up surviving because Anna gets into a car accident and is killed. Her organs are then taken and given to Kate. So the sisters’ roles are totally reversed in the movie. The director justified this decision by explaining that it’s a much more likely ending to a real-life scenario like this. "In reality, none of these stories ended like the book did," he has said.
1 Harry Potter
We don’t have enough time or space to list all the differences between the Harry Potter film series and the Harry Potter books, so we’ll have to keep it to the basics! The character of Albus Dumbledore is completely different from the third movie onwards and is much more of a hot-tempered headmaster than the kind, calm, and all-knowing wizard we all know and love. Many things are left out, including the presence of squibs (non-magical children of magical parents), a bunch of Quidditch matches, explanations of important concepts like who the creators of the Marauder’s Map were and characters like Peeves the Poltergeist and Winky the elf. In the movies, we also never learn that Ron and Hermione ended up making perfect (seriously, Ron deserves some limelight) or what really went down between Dumbledore and Grindlewald. But we suppose including everything from the books into the films would have required a bit of magic in itself!
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