When I did research for 5 TV Shows Based On Books I was surprised by just how many there were, and really struggled to narrow it down to just five for that list. After much begging and pleading, the Powers That Be have agreed to let me list some more, so here are 5 more TV shows that started life on the written page.
Shadowhunters (2016 – 2019, Freeform)
Based upon the popular Young Adult supernatural adventure series The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, this is actually the second attempt at an adaptation, with a film release in 2013 that failed to receive a sequel.
The series focuses on Clary Fray (Katherine McNamara), who, on her 18th birthday, discovers a secret world of monsters, angels, and demons, and that her parents were Shadowhunters: humans born with angelic blood who protected the human world from supernatural forces. When her mother is kidnapped she finds herself drawn into a mystery that not only holds secrets to her past, but threatens the entire world.
Shadowhunters proved to be a popular show, and not just with fans of the books. It took the story of the books and told them over the course of the seasons, yet also introduced some new elements and storylines to provide new material for fans of the book. Despite its popularity the series was cancelled during its third season, leaving many fans petitioning for the show to come back.
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M.A.S.H. (1972 – 1983, CBS)
I was genuinely surprised to learn that M.A.S.H. began life as a book. Despite having never seen a single episode I was so aware of the series and its characters because of how big a cultural icon the show became. It was so popular that the show went on longer than the war it was depicting, at nearly four times the length.
The novel the series was based upon, MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors, was written by former military surgeon Dr. H. Richard Hornberger under the pen name Richard Hooker. It featured characters that would later appear in the television adaptation, and was popular enough to spawn 14 sequel books, with each book sending the doctors to new locations, such as MASH Goes To Paris, and MASH Goes To Texas.
Despite all these books M.A.S.H. will always be best remembered as a television series, with few knowing about its book origins.
Roswell (1999 – 2002, The WB)
Set in the famous UFO hot-spot of Roswell, New Mexico, this series followed the lives of a group of high-school students. When one of them is injured in a shooting she’s mysteriously healed by one of her classmates. Investigating this strange event, she discovers that three of her fellow students are actually aliens who’ve been raised by some of the town residents.
The show was based upon the Roswell High series of Young Adult books by Melinda Metz, a ten book series that chronicled the lives of a trio of aliens and their human friends. The show diverged somewhat from the books, and featured both romance-heavy plots, and had sci-fi story arcs over its three seasons.
The series was so well received, and maintained a fan base long after the show ended, that a second adaptation was made in 2018, Roswell, New Mexico.
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8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter (2002 – 2005, ABC)
Another series that’s a surprise entry on this list, 8 Simple Rules was a short-lived American sitcom about a middle class couple and their son and two teenage daughters. Whilst not shown too much in the UK it received more attention after its original airing thanks to the popularity of Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory) who starred in the series.
The show received good ratings and praise in the US, and would probably have lasted more than its three seasons if not for the unexpected death of series star John Ritter in 2003. The show tried to continue on without him, killing his character off and bringing in two new main cast members, but it was ultimately cancelled.
Unusually, the series was based upon a self help book by author W. Bruce Cameron, who would later develop the title into a sitcom pitch. It stands out as an unusual example of a book being made into a series, as the source material is so different from what ended up on screen.
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Hemlock Grove (2013 – 2015, Netflix)
The Netflix horror series Hemlock Grove is based on the novel of the same name by Brian McGreevy, which was released only a year before the series debut. The series explores the bizarre events happening at Hemlock Grove, an old steel mining town in Pennsylvania.
The series featured some very human drama, as well as a number of supernatural creatures and horrific entities, such as a type of vampire called Upir, werewolves, and reptilian Jörmungandr. The show used familiar creatures in new and interesting ways, and thanks to a cast that included some big names such as Famke Janssen and Bill Skarsgård, had many fans. The series lasted for three seasons, and won a number of awards.