When Book Characters Are Totally Different From Their Movie Versions

When you take an incredible novel and put it on the big screen, there can be a lot of inconsistencies. To portray a story on camera, some things need to be tweaked to get the point across. Most of the time, the book is better than the movie, but sometimes, the movie completely destroys the book. When you are reading a story, you watch the characters develop and learn their personalities.

Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in The Shining. / Emma Watson as Hermoine Granger and Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. / Billie Burke as the Good Witch of the North in the film The Wizard of Oz, 1939. / Elizabeth Lail as Beck in ‘You’
Photo by Warner Bros, Hawk Films, Kobal, Shutterstock / Source: MoviestillsDB.com, copyright: Warner Bros / Photo by MGM, Kobal, Shutterstock / Source: MoviestillsDB.com, copyright: Netflix

There is nothing more disappointing than watching your favorite book characters look and act differently in the movie. Today we are talking about book and movie differences. This includes characters, storylines, and just horrible adaptations. You’ll never guess how many Harry Potter characters were portrayed differently in the novels.

See which book to movie adaptation inconsistencies you noticed!

Ginny Weasley, Harry Potter

Ginny Weasley is an iconic character created by J.K Rowling. In the Harry Potter book series, Ginny is a fiery girl who doesn’t let anyone push her around. At the same time, she has good morals and is an interesting character. While reading the books, it’s clear why Harry fell in love with her.

Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley and Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
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Ginny’s character came across quite differently on screen. She has red hair and physically looks like Ginny from the books. However, we don’t see any depth or personality from her in the movies. She turned out to be a rather boring character and was reduced to being nothing but Harry’s love interest. It was kind of disappointing.

Annabeth Chase, Percy Jackson, and the Olympians

Percy Jackson and the Olympians is an incredible book series. The characters were charming, funny, and it was easy to fall in love with them. Then the movie came out. We get to see the 12-year-old characters being portrayed by actors in their twenties. It basically ruined all the characters, but Annabeth, our smart, bada$$ heroine, had it the worst.

Alexandra Daddario as Annabeth Chase
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She plays a blonde female character and breaks the “dumb blonde” stereotype. The character is more intelligent than anyone else in the story. But then in the movie, we get a brunette to play the super-smart Annabeth. The movie was a disappointment. They didn’t get anything right.

Anna and Kate Fitzgerald, My Sister’s Keeper

My Sister’s Keeper is an incredibly heartwarming story. In the book, Anna dies, and Kate survives, even though she doesn’t have a sister to continue the organ donation. The book is heartbreaking, beautiful, and makes you feel various different emotions. Well, the movie turns this novel into another predictable story.

Abigail Breslin and Sofia Vassilieva as Anna and Kate Fitzgerald
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In the movie version, (SPOILER ALERT) the sister with cancer dies, while the healthy one survives. The movie isn’t bad, just disappointing to anyone who read the book first. Switching who dies really ruined the characters that were developed in the book and gave an exceptional story and ending that we all saw coming. The movie is much better if you didn’t read the book.

Rachel Watson, The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train was a wonderful book. It follows Rachel Watson, an alcoholic who is dealing with life after getting divorced. In the novel, there were quite a few derogatory comments made about her size. Therefore, I pictured Rachel to be a plus-sized or curvy woman. It seemed significant and must have played a role in the character’s mental and physical decline.

Emily Blunt as Rachel Watson in The Girl on the Train
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There are a lot more inconsistencies that were disappointing to the book fans. One of the biggest inconsistencies was the location of the film. The book took place in the London suburbs, and the movie brought the action to New York City. Also, Rachel’s choice of drink was different. In the book, she drinks canned gin & tonic, and in the movie, she chooses vodka.

Jack Torrance from The Shining

The Shining is a classic horror film based on Stephen King’s novel. In the original story, Jack Torrance is a recovering alcoholic. He is working at an empty hotel with his family and is really trying to get better. Sadly, he slowly starts to lose his mind because of personal and actual demons.

Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in The Shining
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The movie shows the character in a different light. The second you have introduced the character, you can tell he’s crazy. We didn’t really see the decline that the book gave us. Nevertheless, Jack Nicholson did a brilliant job playing Jack Torrance.

Jack Reacher, Jack Reacher

The ninth book in the Jack Reacher series written by Lee Child is One Shot. In the movie adaptation, Tom Cruise stars as Jack Reacher, a former Army MP dealing with justice as he goes across America. Unfortunately, fans of the book weren’t very happy with the casting choice.

Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher in Jack Reacher
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I mean, let’s be real. The character is described as “towering” with hands the size of plates. Readers imagined a large character described at 6’5” and weighs almost 250 pounds. Tom Cruise is obviously a talented A-list actor, but this wasn’t the role for him. However, the film does keep the storyline of the book, for the most part.

Bella Swan, Twilight

Bella Swan comes across as a cool headstrong character in the Twilight book series. She has a fun personality and knows how to crack jokes. Bella was a lovable character, but the movies kind of make her boring. She doesn’t seem funny or special; she’s just a random girl.

Kirsten Stewart as Bella Swan and Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen from Breaking Dawn, part 2
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The only interesting thing is that a vampire wanted to kill her… and then falls in love with her for some reason. There are a few subtle differences from the book to the movie that seemed to have changed with the time. For example, fans noticed that in the book, Bella uses a CD player, but in the movie, she uses an iPod.

Malorie, Bird Box

Many people loved the Netflix movie Bird Box, except for the people who read the book first. It’s no secret that Sandra Bullock is a talented actress, but she wasn’t right for the part of Malorie. In the book, Malorie comes across and a lot younger and more naïve. She also looked at Tom as a father figure as opposed to a love interest.

Sandra Bullock as Malorie in Bird Box
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The movie also got confusing when Girl went to look for Malorie. In the original story, Girl and Boy were well-trained to listen to Malorie and never question her. They knew to always obey her, even if their instincts told them to. The characters just come across very differently.

Margot Covey, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is another hit Netflix movie. But as it turns out, this movie is a book adaptation, and the characters felt different. As someone who read it, the movie was certainly not what I expected. Especially when it comes to the character of Margot Covey.

Janel Parrish as Margot and Anna Cathcart as Kitty in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
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In the novel, Margot is a brave and exciting character. The fact that she moved away was a major plotline for the first half of the book. Watching the movie, it feels like all Margot does is get in between Laura and Josh. It’s a pretty good movie, though. I probably would have enjoyed it if I didn’t read the book first.

Hermione Granger, Harry Potter

When J.K. Rowling wrote Hermione Grangers, she didn’t imagine Emma Watson portraying her. The character was a nerdy smart girl with bucked teeth a frizzy hair. In the first two movies, they crimped her hair, and she resembled Hermione from the book. But as the actress grew up into a beautiful woman, she physically stemmed away from the character.

Emma Watson as Hermoine Granger and Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
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J.K. Rowling admitted that Emma Watson is way too pretty to play Hermione. She did go on to say that she understands that in Hollywood, better-looking people are cast. Even though she wasn’t how Rowling physically imagined Hermione, the author said that Emma did portray Hermione’s personality.

Jordan Baker, The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby is a classic novel. It was on my reading summer reading list in middle school and in high school. Plus, I had to read it in college. Basically, I’m pretty familiar with The Great Gatsby. Needless to say, when the movie came out, I was really excited to see it.

Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker in The Great Gatsby
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There were a few inconsistencies, but for the most part, the movie was enjoyable. The only problem was Jordan Baker’s character. In the book, I loved her relationship with Nick, but she came off as unlikeable in the movie. Apparently, she wasn’t relevant enough to the plot, so they made her character one-dimensional and snarky. That’s one character that should have been represented better.

Serena Shaw, Serena

In the book, Serena Shaw was cold and manipulative. As her character developed, we realized how calculating she was, and it was significant to her personality and to the story. In the movie, Serena is portrayed as a sympathetic character, which honestly surprised me. When I was reading the book, I loved to hate her. Now, I feel like I’m forced to like her.

Jennifer Lawrence as Serena Shaw
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In the movie, Serena is portrayed as an innocent character who isn’t responsible for anything bad that happened to other individuals in the story. The film’s intention was obviously to make viewers feel for Serena and even changed the ending. Even though the storyline is similar, I felt like I was watching a completely different character.

Ethan Wate, Beautiful Creatures

Ethan Wate from Beautiful Creatures is another character that seemed completely different on screen. In the book, Ethan is athletic, likable, and popular. As his character develops in the story, we see how sensitive and intelligent he really is. However, his beloved personality was drastically changed in the movie.

Alden Ehrenreich as Ethan Wate and Alice Englert in Beautiful Creatures, 2013
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In the movie, he came across as a loner or an outcast who thinks he is better than everyone else. These are not traits you would get from learning about his character in the book. He was actually kind of a jerk in the film. It was difficult for me to root for his relationship with Lena. By difficult, I mean, I didn’t want them to be together.

Ron Weasley, Harry Potter

Harry Potter has a very complex storyline, so it’s only natural that there would be some differences when the movie was brought to screen. For the most part, the storyline stayed true to the book, but that wasn’t necessarily the case with all the characters. Sure, they may look the part physically, but some of their personalities were changed for the movie.

Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley in Harry Potter
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We already spoke about Ginny, but her big brother Ron Weasley also seemed different. His character is beloved in the book; he is a good friend and essential when it came to the storyline. In the movies, Ron comes across as useless and kind of dumb. Still, he’s one of the most lovable characters in the franchise.

‘The Golden Compass’ by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman is a brilliantly written fantasy novel. It’s filled with adventure, mystery, and theological underlying. It really was a great read. I mean, a bear punches another bear’s jaw off. That’s not something that you read about every day.

Nicole Kidman and Chris Weitz in The Golden Compass, 2007
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Unfortunately, the movie did a horrible job or bringing the story to life. It seemed like the religious references were trying to hard not to offend anyone but ended up offending everyone- Catholics and Atheists. Plus, the CGI was terrible. I would recommend reading the book, but the movie is a waste of time and ruined an amazing novel. If you haven’t read it, I recommend the book, not the movie.

‘Cloud Atlas’ by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas was written by David Mitchel. The book is a profound reflection on humanity and spans over six time periods and six main characters. Each protagonist is craftily written into six short stories. Each story somehow connects with the next one. It’s a unique way to tell a story, and I, for one, loved it.

Halle Berry in Cloud Atlas
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The movie, on the other hand, is a different story. Don’t get me wrong, visually, the film is amazing. But there were a couple of problems with it. First of all, making the movie three hours long was a bad choice. It got increasingly confusing. Plus, we saw numerous actors in race-changing make-up. Really? How did they even get away with that?

‘Ella Enchanted’ by Gail Carson Levine

Gail Carson Levine wrote a beloved, witty book for every ‘90s girl. Ella Enchanted is almost like a feminist fairy tale. It had a clever take on the Cinderella story, and it was really what we needed at the time. It was about a girl who is cursed (or blessed – depending on how you look at it) with the “gift” of obedience.

Anne Hathaway and Hugh Dancy in Ella Enchanted, 2004
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In the movie, Ella, played by Anne Hathaway, is still under that curse, but the story plays out differently. In the movie, Ella is on a quest to find Lucinda and get rid of her curse, meeting characters along the way. A noticeable difference is that Ella is much older in the movie. To be fair, the movie creators did admit that they changed the story, and it was only loosely based on the book.

‘The Hobbit’ by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings is a book series and, they did a pretty good job making the complex books into three intricate movies. It was impressive to both audiences and readers. But then… someone decided to try the same thing with The Hobbit. It wasn’t a good idea. They should have just stuck to the original story.

Martin Freeman in The Hobbit, 2012
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The Hobbit, written by J.R.R. Tolkien, is a short children’s book. There is no reason why it needed so many movies. One would have been enough. Obviously, turning a short children’s story into a complex movie trilogy means there are some differences. If you enjoyed the book, the movie adaptation would feel a lot more complicated than it needs to be.

‘The Scarlet Letter’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a classic, but it’s not everyone’s favorite book. It’s one of those novels that we needed to read in a high school English class. Well, let me just say this. The book that your teachers forced you to read is way better than any of its movie adaptations.

Demi Moore walking around with a baby in the film The Scarlet Letter, 1995
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Many people attempted to take this epic story on the screen, but it didn’t turn out well. The particular movie that comes to mind is the Demi Moore version. The entire time all you can think is, “what the heck am I watching right now?” It takes away from the essence of the novel and the story in general.

‘The Giver’ by Lois Lowry

Before teenage vampires were a thing, The Giver was one of the most beloved novels for young adults. I personally remember reading it for school in 6th year, and almost every year after that. When the movie and its all-star cast was announced, expectations were high. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to the hype.

Odeya Rush and Brenton Thwaites in the film The Giver, 2014
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The book is focused on individuality in a world of forced conformity. The movie, on the other hand, conforms to every Hollywood trope possible. Not only was it a bad adaptation of a good book, but it gave audiences a completely different message than you get from reading it. Oh, well. We’ll always have the book.

‘The Lorax’ by Dr. Seuss

It’s no secret that Dr. Seuss is a genius children’s book author. His simple rhymes helped children learn to read, and the words he made up kept them entertained. Unfortunately, Dr. Seuss is meant to stay in the storybook and not on screen. All the adaptations are pretty bad, but the worst has got to be The Lorax.

A film still of The Lorax, a cartoon, 2012
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The short children’s story talks about environmentalism and greed, encouraging kids to fight for social change. That sounds great, right? Well… the movie completely changed the plot. The story is suddenly about a young boy who plants a tree to impress a girl he likes. If you ask me, they could have given it a different name, and no one would associate it with Dr. Seuss.

Harry Potter, Harry Potter

Another Harry Potter character who wasn’t the same in the movie is the chosen one himself, Harry. Harry Potter is known to have green eyes, just like his mother. That’s like, a huge part of the storyline and is mentioned multiple times throughout the series. But Daniel Radcliff, the actor who plays him, has blue eyes.

Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter dressed in the school’s quidditch uniform in the film Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
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Radcliff did such a great job with the rest of the characters, so they gave him the role, intending for him to wear green contact lenses. As it turned out, Radcliff was allergic to the contacts and couldn’t wear them. They had no choice but to give him blue eyes in the movie, but book fans definitely noticed this inconsistency right away.

Tattypoo, The Wizard of Oz

If you didn’t know, the classic Wizard of Oz movie is based on Frank Baum’s book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. In the book, Glinda, the Good witch of the South, is described as a beautiful woman. She also had a counterpart, the Good witch of the North, known as “Locasta” or “Tattypoo.” Glinda actually only shows up at the end of the story to help her get home.

Billie Burke as the Good Witch of the North in the film The Wizard of Oz, 1939
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Tattypoo is actually the one who greeted Dorothy when she arrived at the Land of Oz. But in the classic 1939 movie adaptation, Glinda is the only good witch. She is basically both good witches combined, and Tattypoo wasn’t mentioned at all throughout the entire film.

Mrs. Dursley, Harry Potter

Mrs. Dursley wasn’t a main character in the Harry Potter movie series, but she was still essential, especially in the earlier books. She was Harry’s aunt; Harry grew up with her after his parents died. The Dursley’s were a mean family, and fans loved to hate Mrs. Dursley.

Fiona Shaw as Petunia Dursley, Richard Griffiths as Vernon Dursley, and Harry Melling as Dudley Dursley in the film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
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What’s interesting is that she looked quite different in the book. In the book, Mrs. Dursley has blonde hair, which seems stereotypically more appropriate. Her son inherited her blonde hair, but in the movies, they are both brunettes. Mrs. Dursley also had a long neck in the book, which helped her spy on her neighbors. Either way, she is the same mean aunt that made Harry sleep under the stairs.

Madge Undersee, The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games is a fantasy book series adapted into movies. There is no doubt the movies are great, but if you read the books, you may notice that there is a character missing. Madge Undersee was the daughter of the mayor of District 12, and she was best friends with Katniss Everdeen.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, 2015
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She seemed to be essential in the earlier books, but she completely disappeared when The Hunger Games got to the big screen. At the beginning of the series, Madge gives Katniss her Mockingjay pin. In the movie, Katniss gives the iconic pin to her sister Primrose, who eventually gives the pin back to Katniss. I wonder why they chose to leave madge out.

Tom Bombadil, The Lord of the Rings

Tom Bombadil is a beloved character from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings book series. He was a memorable character, but still, Peter Jackson decided not to keep him in the movie adaptation. He thought that featuring the Tom Bombadil would slow down the movies because he wasn’t essential to the plot.

Peter Jackson with Ian McKellen onset of The Lord of The Rings
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Since he thought Tom’s character wasn’t essential, the director cut him while the movie was still in development. In 1978, Ralph Bakshi created an animated version of The Lord of the Rings. He also chose to leave out Tom Bombadil for the same exact reason. It seems like only the book readers can really appreciate the character.

Dr. Martin Guitierrez, Jurassic Park

The only character who appears in both Jurassic Park and The Lost World novels but didn’t make it to the screen in Dr. Martin Guitierrez. He was a biologist who figured out that the Basiliscus Amoratus is the small dinosaur that attacked the little girl. The more he learned about the creature; he started to doubt his identification.

A shot from the film Jurassic Park, Lost World, where people are in a Jeep riding in a field with trees and dinosaurs running around them
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Strangely, none of the movie adaptations included his character. I guess he wasn’t important to the plot they were going for, but he seems to have a storyline of his own that could have been included. People who read the book definitely realized Dr. Martin Guitierrez was missing. However, if you didn’t read it, it makes absolutely no difference.

Alexandra Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird is another classic novel and happens to be my favorite book. The first time I read it, I was in 8th grade and quickly got invested in all the characters. After our class took a test on the book, the teacher brought in the movie for us to watch. We were all for it because we didn’t have to learn, but the movie was in black and white.

Robert Duvall and Mary Badham sitting on a porch swing in To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962
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The movie version of To Kill a Mockingbird was released back in 1962, but someone is missing. In the book, Alexandra Finch is Atticus’s sister, and Jem and Scout’s aunt. She is portrayed as a strong woman who tried to get a tomboy scout to act more like a lady. Even though Alexandra isn’t in the movie, they did a good job getting the correct message across.

Countess Rugen, The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride is known as a classic movie, but it was actually adapted from a book. In the novel, Countess Rugen was described as pretty and fashionable, but she was noticeably absent from the film. Her character was married to Count Rugen (played by Christopher Guest in the movie). At the beginning of the book, he appears at Buttercup’s farm.

Chris Sarandon and Christopher Guest (as Countess Rugen) in The Princess Bride, 1987
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The countess was attracted to Westley, so Buttercup realized that she was in love with him. A huge part of the farm storyline was left out of the movie to help the story flow. As it turned out, without the farm plot, Countess Rugen wasn’t a very important part of the story.

Mr. and Mrs. Hurst, Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice is another classic novel that every English Literature student needed to read. I had a whole class dedicated to Jane Austen novels, and this was the first book we learned about. In the novel, Bingley’s brother in law and sister are Mr. and Mrs. Hurst, but they don’t show up in the movie.

Simon Woods as Bingley from Pride and Prejudice
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The couple was unaffectionate, and Mrs. Hurst was described as snobbish. Her husband would rather eat or play cards than spend time with his wife. Even though director Joe Wright chose to keep him out of the 2005 movie adaptation, they did appear in a 1995 six-episode BBC TV series. The couple was played by Rupert Vansittart and Lucy Robinson.

The Dark Tower

There were a lot of differences between the book Dark Tower and its movie adaptation. The whole point of the book is that Roland lets Jake fall to his death. It depicted how the character was so focused on revenge that he would rather let the child die than give up on it. It was very powerful.

Idris Elba and Tom Taylor in the film The Dark Tower, 2017
Photo by J Miglio / Sony Pictures / Kobal / Shutterstock

Plus, that scene basically sets the stage for the rest of the series. In the movie version, not only does the kid stay alive, but Roland asks him to come along on adventures. Yea, it’s a completely different feel. The worst part is that this movie was being teased for so long when it finally came out; this is what we got.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Harry Potter characters have come up on this list a lot. There are many obvious inconsistencies between the books and the movies, but they can get away with most of them. But the scene that really got fans upset was Voldemort’s death. In the book, it was significant that when he was killed, he just fell down.

Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
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The reason it was so important was that Voldemort was supposed to look dead and cold, like any other human being. In the end, the novel depicted that that’s all he ever was. In the movie, you see Voldemort crumbling and exploding into ashes. It ruined the whole point and gave a completely different feeling to that scene.

Beck, You (Series)

This one isn’t a movie difference, but it is for all you Netflix fans. If you saw the TV series “You,” you may have no idea that it’s actually based on a book. However, to make a book into a hit Netflix series, there are a few things that needed to be tweaked. There are many inconsistencies.

Elizabeth Lail as Beck in ‘You’
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One of the most notable differences is that in the book, Beck is a brunette. Obviously, in the series, she has blonde hair, but that wasn’t the case in the book. Also, in the novel, there is a plot point about Beck dealing with sexual harassment from her professor. The series, however, completely left out that storyline.

Paco, You (Series)

“You” is a strange TV series focused on the life of a complete stalker. But there is one thing that makes Joe a little bit more likable- his neighbor Paco. Throughout the first season, you can see Joe look after his young neighbor, especially when his parents were fighting. He gives him books and food and shows that Joe’s character might not be a complete sociopath.

A shot of Elizabeth Lail as Beck and Luca Padovan as Paco from the series ‘You’
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In the 425 page novel, Joe’s neighbors aren’t mentioned once. They were created purely for the TV series. Since there was no Paco for Joe to take care of, Joe came across way creepier in the book (if that’s possible). Paco seems to humanize Joe’s character.