5 movie endings that were wildly different from their book's version


Most of us have a contentious relationship with movie adaptations of our favourite books. We’re rarely happy with them, and even those we do love don’t always meet muster because they leave out parts of the book that we often consider crucial.

And then… then there are the endings.

Generally speaking, I’ve always felt that Hollywood has an obsession with endings that they consider universally appealing.

Granted, happy endings are what many people want, but a) it’s not always realistic and b) constantly only providing people with this option because it’s the most commercially viable one doesn’t allow for much exploration of narratives that are much more true to real life.

Or to the book it was based on.

There are of course a rare few book to film adaptations that work even better than the original storyline, but that’s another piece for another day.

We’ve rounded up a list of offenders that deviated from the original plot ending:


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My Sister’s Keeper

Arguably one of the book community’s biggest film ending upsets, Jodi Picoult’s bestselling novel about a girl battling with leukaemia, and her younger sister who was conceived expressly for the purpose of being a donor for her sister, had the potential to be a really, really good movie.

Instead, what happened was an ending that Jodi Picoult herself wasn’t happy with

The book deals with Anna who fights for autonomy over her own body and sues her parents because she no longer wants to assist with all the medical procedures Kate, her older sister has to endure.

In a twist of fate, she wins the court case but dies at the end of the book, thereby granting Kate the organs she desperately needs. 

In the movie though, it was switched up so that it’s actually Kate who dies at the end and not Anna – a narrative that people felt robbed the movie of the raw and real quality that made the book such a powerful read.

The Shining

The movie’s ending differed so much from the book, that it’s been reported that Stephen King himself actually loathes the film adaptation of his bestselling novel – and for more than just the ending alone.

According to Screenprism.com, one of the biggest issues King had with the movie is that Jack, the main character, was designed to be outright evil. Because his character arc is completely different, the way he dies loses so much of the impact that it had in the book.

In the book, he does have somewhat of a redemption arc since his death can be seen as a sacrifice. Readers are sympathetic to his plight because his descent into becoming a psychopath is one that is gradual – he is close to his family and isn’t evil.

He’s a straight up psychopath in the movie.

In the movie he dies by freezing to death in a maze after chasing his son - with the intent to kill him. In the book, however, the sentient hotel explodes after Jack goes down to the boiler – ultimately giving his son and wife the chance to escape. The nuance is completely lost.

READ MORE: 4 books that lived up to the hype

Jurassic Park

This is actually one of those movies where I feel that the ending was changed for the better and provided pop culture with one of the most iconic and classic movie climaxes to date.

Aside from the fact that at there are major character deaths in the book that aren’t in the movie (don’t worry, I won’t spoil THAT one for you) and John Hammond is far from the well-intentioned but ultimately flawed old man you see in the movie, the ending of the book definitely doesn’t feature a battle in which T-Rex ends up saving the day in the showdown with the raptors.

Nope, instead in the book, the raptors end up being poisoned and the park is destroyed after being bombed. A lot less thrilling than the movie ending right?

The Scarlet Letter

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic is a novel that’s rooted in deep-seated tragedy and touches on guilt, public shaming and condemnation and is very much still relevant particularly when you look at how many women today are still slut-shamed and the fact that society makes a game of crucifying people on and off social media.

In the book version, when Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale is revealed to be the father of scorned and publicly humiliated Hester Pyrnne’s child, he ends up dying because he is so wracked with guilt over Hester’s treatment.

The movie version starring Demi Moore and Gary Oldman, ends off with a much happier note, where the couple run off to start over in a new town.

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

As a rule Disney tends to be quite liberal with their interpretations of books, often with child-friendly happily-ever-afters. Perhaps it could be argued that it's because so many of their adaptations are based on stories that are much more grim.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is no exception. The movie shows everyone at the end of the movie coming together to take down Frollo at the Notre Dame. In the book, however, Esmerelda is hung and executed and Quasimodo’s bones are discovered wrapped around hers years later. 

Dreadfully grim.

What are some of your most disappointing book-to-movie adaptations? Share your list with us.

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