30 Best Page-to-Screen Adaptations

Novels (and a comic) that made the jump from words to wow in movies and TV:

Harry Potter series (2001-2011)

Special Award for Overall Excellence


Source: Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (1997-2007)

Seven beloved books became eight blockbuster movies (the seventh book was split into two parts), and while some changes — such as the nixing of S.P.E.W and other subplots — made devoted fans grumble, overall, the fantasy and wonder of the books remained intact despite the big-budget Hollywood involvement. Now that's magical. —Erin Strecker

Sherlock (2010-present)


Source: Sherlock Holmes stories (1887-1927)

The creation of Doctor Who scribes Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss, this update on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's detective series revamp benefits from both extremely clever writing and the undeniable chemistry between Benedict Cumberbatch's laser-focused Holmes and Martin Freeman's dogged Dr. Watson. Also? Awesome coat. —Clark Collis

Game of Thrones (2011-present)


Source: A Song of Ice and Fire series (1996-present)

George R.R. Martin's Westeros fantasy — thousands of pages long in total with two more books still to come — should've proved trickier to adapt. So it's pretty impressive that with only 10 hours per season, show runners Dan Weiss and David Benioff have been able to hit all the major plot points with only minor changes and omissions. Having a home on a cable network that allowed it to delve into the gore and nudity that the show required didn't hurt things either. —Andrea Towers

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)


Source: Catching Fire (2009)

Given its bonkers arena (howler monkeys! blood rain!), colorful array of Capitol denizens, and amped-up stakes, Catching Fire presented more than a few challenges for director Francis Lawrence, who took up the reins from Hunger Games director Gary Ross at the 11th hour before production began. With a few tweaks (all approved by author Suzanne Collins) — and a healthy infusion of studio money after the first film's runaway success — Lawrence pulled it off, all while honoring (some might even say improving) his source. —Lanford Beard

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)


Source: The Return of the King (1955)

The fantasy series was already well-adapted in the television and film world by the time Peter Jackson took the reins, but what the director did for the tale was unparalleled: he used New Zealand and a lot of impressive technology to transform J.R.R. Tolkien's work into a sweeping epic, complete with breathtaking battles and intense action. His passionate filmmaking paid off — the movie was honored with 11 Oscars, including the 2004 Best Picture statuette. —Andrea Towers

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