TV shows are perfect for when a story has too much to tell to fit in a movie. That is why many books and comics are adapted to TV shows, so more detail and story can be included. However, some shows manage to have attention to detail, deep characters, and compelling storylines while being written directly for the screen, which may surprise some fans.

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Some TV shows make viewers crave more, and want to read the book, only to find there is none. Such shows often have longer main storylines developing throughout the show, compared to shows where a storyline gets completed in each episode, like many crime shows, where each episode is a solved case.

10 Emily In Paris, A Typical YA Romance

Emily In Paris is surprisingly not a young adult romance novel. While the show as a book would fit in perfectly with novels such as To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, both adapted for TV, it was originally written directly for the screen. Emily In Paris follows a young American girl unexpectedly moving to Paris, not knowing French, to work for a marketing firm.

Emily In Paris leaves viewers cringing, laughing, and crying as Emily navigates her ambition, new friendships, and new love interests. The show has received much praise in the US and has been renewed for both a third and fourth season, but has received criticism in France for its stereotyping.

9 Breaking Bad, Breaks Readers’ Dreams

A thriller and mystery book series with high-stakes, cliffhangers, drama, and action, is what Breaking Bad could have been, and surprisingly isn’t. Breaking Bad was written as a TV show and has received much praise, earning the show third place on IMDB’s Top 250 TV Shows.

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While there are no books for fans to turn to when wanting more, the show was so successful it sparked a prequel series called Better Call Saul which is also on the IMDB Top 250, and a sequel movie, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, serving as an epilogue to the series.

8 Mr. Robot Would Be A Great Novel

Mr. Robot as a book would be the perfect combination of the novels Fight Club and Neuromancer, close to a cyberpunk setting with a combination of high tech and social decay, yet still realistic. Sadly the only book related to Mr. Robot is Red Wheelbarrow, written by Sam Esmail and Courtney Looney, the show creator and writer, and is Elliot’s (the main character) journal.

Elliot has social anxiety, clinical depression, a drug problem, and is a genius hacker and cybersecurity engineer. The show leaves anyone who despises big corporations feeling vindicated.

7 Deadwood, Not Printed On Dead Wood

Despite the name, the Western Deadwood is not printed on paper. While there are many books taking place in Deadwood, South Dakota, which is a real place, the TV show was not based on any such books. The show follows real-life historical characters and is a mix of historical truths and fiction.

Deadwood received much critical acclaim for both writing and performance, and fans have complained that the show was ended too soon. 13 years later, Deadwood: The Movie came out featuring a majority of the original cast members.

6 Buffy The Vampire Slayer Would Slay the YA Fantasy Genre

It has already been proven through Twilight, True Blood, and The Vampire Diaries that readers love a good vampire story, especially with a strong female protagonist. Surprisingly, Buffy The Vampire Slayer isn’t based on books but rather started as a movie written by Joss Whedon, who later created the show, as the movie wasn’t what he imagined.

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The show’s success has led to many tie-in products, including novels, comics, and a spinoff series named Angel, collectively known as the Buffyverse or Slayerverse. Being ahead of its time, the show has also been studied academically, exploring various issues such as those related to gender.

5 Dark, A Book That Could’ve Been

The TV show Dark, originally in German, falls under multiple genres such as science fiction, mystery, thriller, and supernatural. It covers themes that are popular in writing and has an ambitious and complex narrative, not often seen in shows not based on books.

The show takes place in a fictional German town where the characters seek the truth to solve a child’s disappearance, as well as a conspiracy theory believing in time travel relating to multiple generations of the town’s families. The show is worth the subtitles, but also available in English.

4 Supernatural, Based On Folklore

Despite the many Supernatural books that exist today and the books featured in the show, Supernatural was originally meant to be three seasons long but ended up with a total of 15 seasons and 327 episodes. While the show has many filler episodes where a case gets solved in a single episode, the overall story would have made a very immersive and intense book series.

The show’s supernatural creatures are based on folklore, religion, and myths from all over the world, and the two brothers hunting them never seem to run out of monsters.

3 Arcane, Based On A Video Game

While most people watching Arcane probably already know that it’s based on the video game League of Legends, the average Netflix user might not. Arcane has deep characters, an intriguing story, and a unique style. The style might suggest the show would be based on a comic book, but the story fits in perfectly with cyberpunk novels and other science fiction sub-genres.

Following Vi and Jinx, two orphaned sisters, in the undercity of the otherwise utopian city of Piltover, the show’s main theme is duality. This is shown in not only the two versions of the city, the two sisters’ very different fates, but also in the show’s relationships where each character fights for something different.

2 Westworld, Not A Typical Western

Westworld is a dystopian science fiction TV show hiding as a western. The show is based on the movie by the same name, written by Michael Crichton, who also wrote the book Sphere, another sci-fi thriller. Despite the original story being written by an author also publishing books, the TV show is based on an original screenplay.

Had Westworld been a book, it would have fit perfectly among other popular science fiction books dealing with androids and artificial intelligence such as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, also known by its various adaptions named Blade Runner. 

1 Avatar: The Last Airbender Bends Expectations

When watching Avatar: The Last Airbender it’s hard not to expect that it’s based on a graphic novel. Surprisingly, this beloved animated TV show was written as such, and its success has later extended the franchise to include both novels, comics, and an animated sequel to the series.

The series is widely popular and has received much praise, including for its cultural references, humor, and themes. The show addresses themes that are rarely discussed in children’s entertainment, such as war, imperialism, genocide, and free choice, without making the experience of watching the show traumatic. It is an enjoyable experience both for children and adults alike.

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