10 TV Shows and Their Inspirations

While there are many high quality television shows that are created from original ideas, there are a handful of series that have been based on literature of all kinds. Some follow the source material with great precision and try to stay true to the events that fans are already familiar with, others take the inspiration and create something similar yet different.

Here is a list of series that have in some way or another opted to the process of creating something from an already existing material.

The Newsroom

Special mention: The Newsroom

Though The Newsroom is definitely not taking its stories from an already published book, the creator Aaron Sorkin found his inspiration from actual events taking place around the world. From oil spills to the death of a terrorist, this television show has original characters who’s lives are revolve around events that have actually happened.

10. Sex and the City

The series that had an impact on television with its bold story-telling and life-like plots, Sex and the City‘s characters were originally created by Candace Bushnell in a book with the same name. It is also in ways based on events which have actually happened because real women were telling their stories to the screenwriters: remember the breakup with the post-it, well that did not just happen on the show.

Sex and the City

9. Gossip Girl

Just like the book series put an end to the infamous blogger in 2011, Gossip Girl is on its final season and will finally conclude the stories of the Upper East Side teenagers and their, to say at least, complicated lives. Though the characters themselves are fictional, the book series was based on the author’s, Cecily von Ziegesar’s experience in a private school.

 8. Pretty Little Liars

It seems that teenage book series are a great source material because Pretty Little Liars is another television series that has found its main plot from a fiction author Sara Shepard. Both series are unfinished, with two books being released in 2013, the show is said to be loosely following the plot of its inspiration source – so there will be two end-games to entertain the fans.

True Blood

7. True Blood

Continuing with the theme, True Blood is yet again a series that has based characters on an already existing material, the show originates from a novel series called The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris. Though the show’s creator and producer Alan Ball has said not to be following the stories in the book completely, it is fascinating to know that upon the popularity of the show, the book series decided to change its name to match the title of the series.

6. The Vampire Diaries

Same thing has happened to another television show about vampires as The Vampire Diaries is being based on a book series with the same name by L. J. Smith. Though the main love triangle is strongly represented in both, the television series changed a lot from the very beginning by creating new characters (Elena’s brother Jeremy did not exist in the books) and story lines.

Boardwalk Empire

5. Once Upon a Time

The popular television series is an obvious choice for this list due to its strong connections to the fairy tales and myths we all are costumed to know one way or the other. Characters from Snow White to Prince Charming, from Little Red Riding Hood to the Mad Hatter are all familiar yet they posses new qualities and stories in Once Upon a Time that regularly surprise the viewers.

4. Boardwalk Empire

The award winning show is actually based on a single chapter in a historical book called Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City by Nelson Johnson. The chapter tells a story of Enock L. Johnson and therefore the television series follows two mediums at once: the historical book and an actual persona. Though, there is room for fiction in Boardwalk Empire because, for instance, the second wife of the main character is actually the original development of the series.


3. Sherlock

The talented men named Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss created the hit series by being inspired by many of the famous detective stories told by Arthur Conan Doyle. The appeal of Sherlock is the interpretation of the stories into modern time, adding the usage of technology and also blogging into the series, therefore the television show is bringing the rather intriguing detective into the 21st century.

The Walking Dead

2. The Walking Dead

Telling the rather brutal zombie story does not seem to be the main goal for the television series because it is aiming at telling the story as closely as Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard had created in their comic book series The Walking Dead. Kirkman himself was astonished of the fact how the creators of the series had made the scene where the hero Rick is stuck in a tank on the streets of Atlanta so close to the original.

Game of Thrones

1. Game of Thrones

There is no doubt that Game of Thrones is adapting the original fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire as truthfully onto the screen as possible. Reason being, the author of the books, George R. R. Martin is also credited as the writer for the show. Making Game of Thrones probably one of the most interesting literary inspirations because it allows the show to create the story the best way possible. For instance, the character Tyrion (portrayed by Peter Dinklage) is exactly like the fans and the author himself imagined him to be.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. Taylor Ramsey

    The only shows on this list I watch are Sherlock and The Walking Dead, but WHAT great shows! I cannot wait to miss the American version of Sherlock! Nice article.

  2. I found The Newsroom to be extremely witty (sometimes too much) and intelligent. I could clearly see Sorkin’s dislike of the right-wing 😉 Very good list!

    • Getter Trumsi

      Sometimes too much.. I like that comment, I think it does sometimes go too far and I will try to do a post about the characters in that show because I have couple of reflections on their development that I have loved or hated. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Hadoken

    Hey nice one! Everyone knows about Game of Thrones to be an adaptation of the book series but had no idea about some of the others. Cheers!

  4. Debjyoti (DJ)

    How about X-Files, I grew up watching it. Prison Break was also good however the same tempo was not there with season 3 & 4 making 4 as the weakest in the series.

    • Raggelito Ode

      BIG X-files fan here too but neither X-files or Prison Break where adaptations. Or if you must, we could say that X-files where inspired by The Twilight Zone and Prison Break by Shawshank Depemption 😛

  5. Mike G

    Game of Thrones has done an excellent job of faithfully adapting the novels. It’s quite remarkable really, and is one of the best shows on TV. While I love how faithful that show is, I love even more that The Walking Dead has strayed away from the comics. It’s proven to be a very fresh take on the material for someone who reads the comics.

  6. Raggelito Ode

    Two adaptations worth mentioning… The Dead Zone (adapted by the Stephen King book by the same name) and Friday Night Lights!

  7. MelanieC

    Out of all the wonderful television shows that were inspired from literature, I think that Sherlock may be the best. While I am biased because of my love for the BBC and the genius writers, the fact that the adventures of Sherlock Holmes have been done repeatedly throughout the years and yet still can be told to a new audience is incredible. The stories, written more than a hundred years ago, still have a huge following and the television show inspired from the books, is the reason behind why this generation will want to run around the yard with a deer-stalker hat, looking for clues.

  8. I love the Newsroom, and I find the concept very interesting. Out of all the other shows on the list, I really only watch Sherlock. I do like the way they have adapted it though as opposed to other adaptations of Sherlock Holmes.

  9. Stephanie M.

    Good article; I’m pleased to see that Sherlock and Once Upon a Time made the list.

  10. I have heard of Boardwalk Empire the most.

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