Hollywood is no stranger to mining the literary world for ideas, but they are by no means the only ones. Some stories just lend themselves better to the small screen, which is why there are also plenty of television shows based on popular books. Unfortunately, not all of these television shows turned out to be the hits that the authors might have hoped for, but there are a few that managed to become popular. Here is a selection of books that went on to inspire television shows that are actually worth binge watching.
Author Diana Gabaldon published her novel, Outlander, about the adventures of a nurse who travels back in time from the 20th-century to Scotland of the 18th century. Its blend of science fiction, mystery, historical fiction and, of course, romance, made it a huge hit with readers, prompting Gabaldon to continue writing more novels about her heroine, Clair Randal. In 2014 a television show based on the first novel premiered, with its success leading to a second season as well as renewal for a third and fourth, each based on a different novel in the series.
This list wouldn’t have been completed without mentioning the epic fantasy novels, A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R. R. Martin. It was adapted for television as Game of Thrones, which proved that epic fantasy doesn’t just work on the big screen. Although A Game of Thrones, the first volume in the series, was published in 1996, it wasn’t until 2011 that the television series aired with a large ensemble cast and sweeping storyline. The popularity of the show has seen it continue airing for six seasons, with two more scheduled.
Although it faltered during its second season, Wayward Pines, which is based on The Wayward Pines Trilogy by author Black Crouch, received rave reviews when it first aired. The television show, which features a Secret Service agent trying to uncover the mysteries of a remote town, attracted some serious talent too. M. Night Shyamalan produced the television series and Matt Dillon signed up as the lead character, Ethan Burke. The popularity of the series, which became one of the most watched summer shows of 2015, prompted a second season, but since the first season already covered all the material in the books, it did not fare as well.
Piper Kerman wrote her memoir, Orange Is The New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, after spending time in a federal women’s prison for drug trafficking and money laundering. Shortly afterwards Netflix used the book as inspiration for the comedy-drama series, Orange Is The New Black. It follows the life of Piper Chapman, who is incarcerated for 15 months, ten years after transporting drug money for her girlfriend. Needless to say this causes quite a disruption in her life as she has since become a law-abiding citizen. In addition to being one of the most watched shows produced by Netflix, Orange Is The New Black won numerous awards and has been renewed for three more seasons on top of the four that already aired.
Sherlock Holmes, the brilliant fictional private detective, needs no introduction and has been the star of numerous movie adaptations, including the ones directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Robert Downey Jr. However, on the small screen Holmes is also portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in the immensely popular series, Sherlock. The television series takes place in modern-day London, but features adaptations of popular Sherlock Holmes stories for the episodes. The result is a television series with highly positive critical reception and numerous awards under its belt.