10 Best TV Shows Based On Books, Ranked

For years, books have been an invaluable source of entertainment and escape. They long predate media which relied heavily on advanced technology and as such are now a popular source material to be adapted for film and television. When books are adapted for film or television, these new formats don’t always appeal to everyone, but it’s always refreshing to see written creativity come to life visually.


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Adapting a popular book franchise into a show brings a pre-existing sense of hype and anticipation while encouraging new fans to go back and read the books. It’s not always the healthiest relationship when fans prefer one version over the other, but TV adaptations of the book have produced some incredible shows.

10/10 Netflix’s The Witcher series has plenty of material to explore

Based on The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski

the witcher began as a series of fantasy novels and short stories written by Andrzej Sapkowski. The source material spawned a Polish fantasy film in 2001 titled The Hexerfollowed by the witcher series of video games.

When a Netflix series from the witcher was announced, fans of the books and games couldn’t hide their excitement or anxiety. The first two seasons divided fans, but it still turned out to be an overall success. Henry Cavill will be missed as Geralt when he hangs up his sword at the end of Season 3, but the show still has a lot to explore.

9/10 The Last Kingdom is comprised of five seasons of intense historical drama and mayhem

From Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Stories

When it comes to TV shows about Vikings, vikings will often remain at the forefront of everyone’s mind, yet The Last Kingdom brought an undeniable consistency that helped it rival its successful Viking-led counterpart. The Last Kingdom is a television adaptation based on the series of novels by Bernard Cornwell titled Saxon stories.

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The Last Kingdom explores more of the Saxon side of things, rather than just focusing on the Vikings from start to finish. It thrived through its five seasons, with the finale ending the engrossing story in 2022.

8/10 The expanse is a thrilling otherworldly experience

Based on the series The Expanse by James SA Corey

The extent is an American science fiction drama based on the new series of the same name written by James SA Corey. It wowed audiences with its stunning visuals and exploration of the solar system while maintaining political suspense and intrigue at its core.

The extent takes time to introduce its characters and premise, but is generally an engrossing watch until its final installment, released in January 2022. There’s nothing quite like it. The extentfrom the construction of the universe and the striking realism to its characters and their complexities.

7/10 Outlander has a lot of historical dramas and adventures

Based on the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon

Foreign is a series of historical fantasy novels written by Diana Gabaldon, the first being published in 1991 and the most recent in 2021. Previous books had already impressed, and in 2014 the first season of a television adaptation was brought to life.

Foreign follows the interesting premise of a nurse transported back in time from 1945 to 1743, then falling down with a band of Highlanders. Diana Gabaldon’s original books have incredible detail and historical accuracy and served as the catalyst for this thrilling TV show to thrive.

6/10 The Handmaid’s Tale is a captivating adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel

Based on The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Before becoming a popular television series, The Handmaid’s Tale was a futuristic dystopian novel written by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. The story feeds on tragedy and turmoil in a world where women are repressed in a patriarchal society, where religious fanaticism reigns supreme.

The TV adaptation stuck with the source material for its first season before taking new directions and continuing the story. The Handmaid’s Tale has rough themes that make viewing uncomfortable, but are nonetheless gritty and compelling.

5/10 The Queen’s Gambit is another successful Netflix adaptation

Based on Walter Tevis’ Queen’s Gambit

The Queen’s Betbased on the 1983 novel of the same name by Walter Tevis, is one of many success stories in Netflix’s recent history. The Queen’s Bet centers on Elizabeth Harmon, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, who must overcome emotional issues and past trauma to fulfill her potential as a chess prodigy.

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The Queen’s Bet impressed as a miniseries to the point where fans could only fault it for not having more than seven episodes. The show is a coming-of-age drama with lots of chess competitions and dealing with the complications that life always threatens to create.

4/10 Sherlock is easily the best adaptation of the famous detective

Based on the stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Sherlock Holmes character has starred in various short stories and novels written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and the detective has inspired numerous film and television adaptations over the years. In 2010 Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat updated the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories for the BBC series sherlock.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman star in Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John Watson, respectively, leading four strong seasons of the murderous mystery thriller. sherlockThe last season of aired in 2017, but it still remains in the top TV shows of all time, even maintaining its 9.1 rating on IMDb.

3/10 House Of The Dragon made a strong impression with its first season

Based on Fire & Blood by George RR Martin

Dragon House the first season was a huge success, establishing itself as more than just a prequel to the famous game of thrones. Dragon House is another book-TV adaptation of the work of George RR Martin, but this time of his singular novel Fire & Blood.

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Fire & BloodThe unique premise of being an exploration of Targaryen history written by a Maester according to various sources around the world has provided Dragon House with the creative freedom to surprise fans in its adaptation. Viewers have been gripped by the political intrigue and family strife that has built up to the Civil War of the Dance of the Dragons which will erupt when the show returns for its second season.

2/10 Band Of Brothers remains a compelling display of the horrors of war

Based on the group of brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose

Many of the best war dramas over the years have come from true stories, as it’s often the best way to capture the sheer emotion, terror, and precision of history’s most gruesome times. Band of brothers is a non-fiction book written by historian Stephen E. Ambrose that inspired the iconic television series of the same name, hosted by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.

Band of brothers dramatizes the trials and tribulations of “Easy” Company during World War II. Its IMDb rating of 9.4 is a testament to how compelling and heartbreaking the series is, and it’s still considered an impeccable watch today. Band of brothers is ten episodes of the horrors of war, driven by cinematic excellence and a solid cast.

1/10 Game Of Thrones Has Raised The Bar Considerably For TV Adaptations Of The Book

Based on the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George RR Martin

Whereas Dragon House has greatly impressed with its first season, it will take considerable effort to maximize the overall impact that game of thrones had. game of thrones was the first of George RR Martin’s fantasy novels of Westeros and Beyond to be adapted, drawing inspiration from the A song of ice and fire books.

game of thrones was at its best when it stuck close to George RR Martin’s source material, but eventually reached a point where it had to veer off in a new and unfamiliar direction. His final season will always be a point of contention, but his overall impact is undeniable.

NEXT: Every Prophecy From The Game Of Thrones Books And What They Mean

About Herbert L. Leonard

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