'Under the Dome' and 6 more TV shows based on books

by Emma Cueto

Tonight the new show Under the Dome premieres on CBS, and I am psyched, not just because the trailer makes it look awesome, but because it’s based on a Stephen King novel of the same name. The book and the show revolve around a small town suddenly and inexplicably cut off from the rest of the world by an impenetrable, force field-like dome. (You should probably go read more about it here.)

TV's been especially great lately, yes, and a good chunk of it has had a common source: Books. Could that be the reason for such quality stuff? Whatever the reason, I'll take it. Here are just a few popular shows that owe their inspiration to the pages of novels:

1. Bones: Fox’s long-running drama about a forensic anthropologist and FBI agent duo actually plays up the whole based-on-a-book thing; the show is based on real-life forensic anthropologist and FBI consultant Cathy Reichs who moonlights as an author of crime fiction starring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. In the show, main character Temperance Brennan writes crime fiction with leading lady Cathy Reichs. Hokey? Maybe. But fun.

2. Sherlock: This new (and soon to be returning? Please?) BBC series is just one of a long line of adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective, but the only one set in the 21st century. And to make the whole thing better, Watson’s blog from the show really does exist!

3. Justified: This FX series was based on a two novels and one short story by Elmore Leonard featuring a smooth-talking, damaged U.S. Marshal. The show doesn’t follow the plot of the source material as closely, but Elmore’s characters certainly shine on the small screen.

4. Dexter: Everyone’s favorite serial killer started off as the main character in a book series by Lindsay before winding up on Showtime. The show veers away from the books after the first season, which roughly corresponds the first book in the series. Lindsay is still writing the Dexter novels, however, and got to have a cameo appearance on the show in Season 3.

5. The Vampire Diaries: Say what you want about the CW, but The Vampire Diaries is teen TV drama at its finest, and it owes a lot of that to the book series by L. J. Smith. Though the show started making changes to Smith’s series from the first episode on, the fantasy world and most of the characters owe a lot to the source material.

6. Game of Thrones: No list of books that gave rise to TV shows would possibly be complete without George R.R. Martin’s fantasy masterpiece turned HBO show and cultural phenomenon. Unlike the other titles on this list, show runners have been more or less completely faithful to their source material (it might help that Martin is a producer/sometimes screenwriter on the show). If you aren't watching it, now's a great time to catch up; there won't be any new episodes until 2014. Sob.