17 Films Based On Books That Were Actually Way, Way, Way, Way, Way, WAY, Way Better Than The Book

Recently, Reddit user u/mesonofgib asked the people of r/movies this question: "What's the best film that is NOT faithful to its source material?"

Here was their setup/example:

"We can all name a bunch of movies that take very little from their source material (I Am LegendWorld War Z, etc.) and end up being bad movies.

"What are some examples of movies that strayed a long way from their source material but ended up being great films in their own right?

"The example that comes to my mind is Starship Troopers. I remember, shortly after it came out, people I know complaining that it was miles away from the book, but it's one of my absolute favorite films from when I was younger. To be honest, I think these people were possibly just showing off the fact that they knew it was based on a book!"


And here's how everyone else responded:

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

1."The Fox and the Hound book ends with the hunter shooting the hound in the back of the head as it gently licks him, and the hunter goes off to die alone in a nursing home, irrelevant to society. This is after killing the fox, its mate, and its kits. The animated Disney movie is a genuinely great movie about friendship."

The Hunter aiming at the fox as the hound covers it in the animated movie


"Bloody hell. The Disney film was already pretty devastating — adding that onto things would have been brutality squared."



2."Shrek. I honestly don’t understand why people love the children’s book. It’s pretty straightforward and boring, though the illustrations are cool. The movie takes the basic concept and elevates it 10,000% into something unique and hilarious."

The Gingerbread Man asking Lord Farquaad if he knows who the Muffin man is

3."The Bourne trilogy. It takes the first five minutes from Book 1, then goes completely in its own direction and is much better as a result."

Bourne being asked what his name is, and Bourne says he doesn't know


"The one thing I wish they kept from the books is Bourne's obsession with activity, use of time, and sleep."


Universal Pictures

4."Jurassic Park, although aside from changing the genre from outright sci-fi horror to more action-adventure with slight horror elements, I feel the spirit of the novel survives pretty much intact in the movie."

Character says they clocked a T rex at 32 mph, and another character says "You said you've got a T rex?"


"The film may be a tighter action/adventure story, but the book is what had Muldoon shooting a rocket launcher at dinosaurs."


Universal Pictures

5."The Shining. One of my favorite movie facts is from The Shining. In the book, the Torrance family drives a red Volkswagen Beetle; in the movie, they drive a yellow one. Later in the movie, as Halloran is driving in the snowstorm, he passes a car accident where a semitruck has crushed a red Beetle. This is thought of as director Stanley Kubrick knowing he totally changed the story and was actively snubbing it with this shot."

The different-colored cars circled in scenes from the movie


"I had to try and start the book twice. When I did finish it, I got to the ending and thought, That’s it??? The whole thing resolves because Jack/the Hotel got distracted and forgot to release the boiler steam?! As with many Stephen King stories, he had a great idea and didn’t know how to end it."


Warner Bros.

6."Children of Men is very, very different. The book is very good, don't get me wrong, but the movie takes the core concept of mass infertility and goes in a completely different direction with it. Out of the two, I prefer the movie, but the book is well worth the read."

A crowd of people watching someone on TV say "The world was stunned today by the death of Diego Ricardo, the youngest person on the planet; Baby Diego was stabbed outside a bar in Buenos Aires after refusing to sign an autograph"


"I'd say the book provided an excellent premise, and the film turned it into an excellent story."


Universal Pictures

7."Who Framed Roger Rabbit — similar concept regarding the coexistence of cartoons and humans, vastly different developments."

Judge Doom and Eddie talking to Roger Rabbit: "I don't want the drink," "He doesn't want the drink," and "He does!"


"Who Censored Roger Rabbit? I believe is the title of the book. I remember genies were part of the murder and toons weren’t invincible, but they made temporary clones that slowly disintegrate, and other child mind–blowing topics that none of my middle school friends were interested in hearing me describe."


Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

8."How to Train Your Dragon, easily. Astrid is a great addition to the cast of characters, for starters. Toothless is far more interesting as the dreaded, mythical Night Fury than the 'newt with wings' that appears in the books. That being said, the films draw extensively from Cressida Cowell's illustrations for the character and creature designs, and it pays off in spades."

Astrid and Toothless being introduced
DreamWorks Animation

9."The Wizard of Oz books were darker and more twisted than the movie. Like, the Scarecrow murders crows, and the Emerald City is only emerald because you were forced to wear green-tinted glasses."

The Scarecrow in a field
Loews Inc.

10."A lot of the Bond movies have only the book title in common. The movie version of Moonraker is set in Venice, the Amazon rainforest, and outer fucking space! The book takes place in Kent, England."

Action shots in Venice, at sea, and in space
United Artists

11."Jaws. In the book, Hooper has an affair with Brody's wife and dies in the shark cage."

Hooper, Brody, and his wife, Ellen, sit around a table drinking, and Ellen says to Hooper, "My husband tells me you're in sharks," and he says "I've never heard it quite put that way"


"If I remember correctly, Steven Spielberg said he knew he had to cut that subplot as soon as Richard Dreyfuss and Lorraine Gary met each other. They just had no chemistry whatsoever."


Universal Pictures

12."I feel like the Blade Runner novel isn't really comparable to the movie — it's just barely a story. What Ridley Scott did was borrow some elements from it and do his own thing."

Roy saying to Rick that "All those moments will be lost in time like tears in the rain"
Warner Bros.

13."Forrest Gump. Book is 180 degrees different, character-wise."

Forrest sitting on a bench with an older woman and a box of chocolates


"In the book, Gump goes to the moon with his monkey friend, so there’s that, LOL."


Paramount Pictures

14."Not the 'best film' by any stretch, but I really enjoyed Constantine. However, aside from the name (which isn't even pronounced the same way) and a vague association with the paranormal, it has pretty much nothing in common with the comics."

John Constantine saying "Easy there, hero, that's dragon's breath"
Warner Bros.

15."Die Hard, which was based on Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp...which is a sequel to another novel of his, The Detective."

Bruce Willis as John McClane holding a lighter: "Come on out to the coast; we'll get together, have a few laughs"


"The Detective was made into a film in 1968 starring Frank Sinatra as Detective Sgt. Joe Leland. Because Die Hard was based on the sequel, 20th Century Fox was contractually obligated to offer the lead role to Sinatra.

"Sinatra, then 70, declined. Fox then renamed the character John McClane and eventually cast Bruce Willis (after pretty much every action star of the era declined, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone)."


20th Century Fox

16."Stardust. The book is more practical, but the movie is just pure delight."

Tristan and Yvaine having a conversation:  "We're in a crater, this must be where it fell," "Yeah, thish is where I fell," and "YOU'RE the star"
Paramount Pictures

17.Finally: "Fight Club. Even the author (Chuck Palahniuk) says the movie is better than his book."

The Narrator sitting in a chair gets knocked out
20th Century Fox

Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.