6 Famous Characters Who Were Way Different In The Book

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At some point or another, movies have decided to adapt everything in the $1 paperback bin. As a result, many of our favorite book characters have been given Hollywood makeovers. This generally entails glossing over a drinking problem and plopping in DiCaprio-esque good looks. But in some cases, filmmakers have disfigured literary figures so much that they’re totally unrecognizable. Here are a few of the worst offenders.

Warning: The book spoilers in this article are better than the movie spoilers.

6

Book Catelyn Stark Becomes A Vengeance-Obsessed Zombie

Game Of Thrones‘ Red Wedding was arguably the most pants-soiling scene in television history. Not only did it shock almost the entire audience to tears, but it also delighted book-reading nerds, who had been sitting on that bloodsoaked gem for years waiting to see the reactions of their illiterate friends. (You can even watch George R. R. Martin revel in these reactions like the sadist he is.) But then, to book fans’ collective surprise, something else happened — or didn’t happen, to be more specific. The most shocking part of the Red Wedding was left out of the TV show. It was not another death, but Catelyn Stark’s return to unlife.

HBONo. Not like that … at least, we don’t think …

The final depressing note of the Red Wedding is Catelyn, Mother of Badasses, dying after watching her son be brutally murdered. As the camera lingered, Game Of Thrones non-readers knew that that was the last they’d ever see of her. No red priestess was going to revive her — her throat was slit, and she was done-zo. But that wasn’t the vision of that crazy, crazy author.

No, she isn’t revived by the red priestess in the book; that would be laying it on a bit thin. In fact, it’s Beric Dondarrion, the guy with more lives than a video game character, who blows life into her corpse with a kiss. Very Disney, sure, but the aftermath isn’t. Beric dies transferring his life-giving essence into her, but even that isn’t enough to fully bring her back. Catelyn comes back … different, like a zombie. As Lady Stoneheart, her new moniker, her corpse-bod never recovered, and she still sports rotten white skin, wispy white hair, and a somewhat less-pleasant voice thanks to the julienning of her vocal cords. She’s also an actual monster, driven entirely by revenge, drained of all the warmth she ever had. After she assumes leadership of the Brotherhood Without Banners, their main mission switches from protecting the common folk to hanging anyone who ever so much as made eye contact with a Lannister.

Cracked.comWe would totally watch a Pet Semetary / Game Of Thrones crossover, for the record.

So thoroughly has Lady Stoneheart replaced any trace of Catelyn Stark that she as also forgotten she was once BFFs with Brienne of Tarth. In A Feast For Crows, Brienne, looking for Arya and the Hound, is captured by the Brotherhood. Lady Stoneheart, suspecting her once-sworn lady knight has gotten too pally with Jaime Lannister, gives her the option of finding and killing Jaime or getting hanged. Her choice is left ambiguous in the book, but Martin has confirmed that she went with the former at the last minute. Drama!

5

Book Gandalf Doesn’t Have Any Genitals

If there was one tiny criticism we could level at the Lord Of The Rings movies, it’s that the big screen really highlighted how male-centric Tolkien’s epic was. For most of the three movies, we see nothing but bands of dudes trekking through the wilderness, eating lembas bread and beans and probably farting all over each other. But the Fellowship being a veritable Hobbit feast of sausages is an illusion. In fact, one of them doesn’t have a sausage at all, or any other food-related genital euphemisms, for that matter.

New Line CinemaNope. Not those either.

Want to make a transphobic nerd squirm? Inform them that Gandalf chose his gender. It’s true! He’s a Maiar, the “nearly-primordial spirits that descended into Arda to help the Valar first shape the World.” Gandalf isn’t human in the slightest, which not only gives him the handy characteristic of not being able to die, but it also means he doesn’t have a fixed physical form. In fact, he spent ages wandering around Middle-earth unseen, journeying among the Elves and helping them by dropping visions and insights into their beautiful heads like a reverse pickpocket, because he’s a much better non-person than we are.

New Line Cinema“Boromir.”
“What?”
“It’s happening again. I’m thinking about dicks.”

It wasn’t until the Third Age that the spirit originally named Olorin assumed the form of an eccentric elderly wizard. There’s nothing intrinsically male about him that forced the decision — he could as easily transform into Katy Perry if that’s what the situation would call for. He just figured Middle-earthers would take him more seriously if he looked like a wise old man than, say, a wise old woman. Even in this world of ancient genderless spirits, you still have to account for sexism.

4

Book Forrest Gump Smokes A Lot Of Weed (And Looks Like John Goodman)

Forrest Gump is the story of a mild-mannered intellectually challenged man who stumbles his way through American historical events like he’s a time traveler with severe jet lag. In fact, his fictional life is so ridiculously full of ridiculous adventures that when Robert Zemeckis decided to make a movie out of Winston Groom’s novel, he could cherry pick which tales would get told and which didn’t. The result changed the character so much that Book Gump wouldn’t even recognize Movie Gump if they sat next to each other on a bus bench.

Paramount PicturesCould be. You wouldn’t know.

The sentimentality-drenched Oscar shoo-in we all know and love may be well-known and well-loved, but in the 1986 novel, Forrest Gump was both more amazing and less wholesome. Yes, Forrest becomes a ping-pong champion, fights in Nam, and founds a successful shrimp company, but he also tries his hand at professional wrestling, travels to space, narrowly avoids being eaten by cannibals, and stars in a movie with a nude Raquel Welch. Zemeckis cheated us all out of an R-rated Forrest Gump. Never forget.

But aside from his antics, Book Gump himself bears little resemblance to his movie version, both mentally and physically. At 6’6 and 240 lbs., the novel’s author envisioned John Goodman in the role, not Tom Hanks. His personality is a little different from what we see onscreen, too. In the book, Gump is a short-sighted, angry dullard who never gains any wisdom or maturity, with a fondness for cursing, gambling, and smoking weed. He’s a bit of a jerk, really. Can you imagine Tom Hanks doing any of that? Of course not. You can’t even imagine Tom Hanks not saying “Bless you” after somebody sneezed.

Paramount PicturesIn the original draft, he eats all the chocolates while saying, “Oh man, these are soooo good,” without offering any.

Sadly, the filmmakers were looking for awards and not the soft-earned dollars of the American stoner population, so they chose to focus on the love story at the expense of some of Gump’s more fantastic adventures. They had to tweak that a bit too, because instead of dying, Jenny originally ran off with another man. Gump’s mother is still alive in the novel, too, and she also never sleeps with anyone in exchange for favors. As usual, on the road to the Oscars, the people who get screwed the most are the women.

3

Book Sherlock Holmes Is An Action Hero Badass

Oh how we all laughed at the slow-mo fighting in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies. After all, nerdy detective types aren’t exactly known for their punching skills, and the idea of someone being so smart that they can calculate ass-kickings is just silly, right? Except it turns out that Ritchie’s Sherlock might be the most faithful adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective because of all that brawling.

Yup, Sherlock Holmes boxes. In one book, a prizefighter recognizes Sherlock not as a famous detective but as the guy who gave him an ass-kicking to remember in the ring. Does that sound like something you could see Benedict Cumberbatch do? We think not. And that’s only the beginning. The Sherlock canon is so full of breathless descriptions of his physical prowess and how impressed everyone around him is that it verges on revealing eyebrow-raising things about Sir Doyle.

Then there are all the times that Sherlock has gone toe-to-toe with ne’er-do-wells and won. Easily. In one book, he brags that he sent a “slogging ruffian” “home in a cart,” while in another, he laments that a knife-wielding thug managed to give him “a cut over the knuckles” before he smacked their ass down. He only loses one fight in the books, and that’s only because he was heavily outnumbered and still exhausted from kicking someone’s ass moments before.

Warner Bros. PicturesAnd also because slo-mo hadn’t been invented yet.

Other characters gush that he is “capable of greater muscular effort” than almost any other man. He’s so muscular and ripped that he could straighten bent steel … and now we’re no longer sure whether we’ve been reading the original novels or Sherlock erotic fanfic. But contradicting his ripped physique, the detective “seldom took exercise for exercise’s sake,” which is Doyle’s way of saying Sherlock’s the kind of manly man who eats cheeseburgers all day but never gains an ounce. He also uses weapons, including a riding crop and a pistol. Yes, that’s Sherlock Holmes — the original thinking man’s thinking man — pistol-whipping a motherfucker.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle“He’ll remain unconscious for a while. Would you like to punch him in the neck for good measure, old boy?”

But the piece de ridiculous comes in the form of the martial art in which Sherlock is an expert. In “The Adventure Of The Empty House,” Sherlock explains that he managed to evade death and throw Moriarty at it by using a form of Japanese wrestling called “baritsu,” which makes it sound like the skill involves distracting your opponent by brewing the perfect pumpkin spice latte. For a long time, fans thought it was a fictional martial art. In fact, bartitsu (with a “t”) is a real thing; Doyle just spelled it wrong. And it isn’t Japanese either, instead created by an English guy who tried to mix together “judo, jujitsu, British boxing, and” — wait for it — “fighting with a walking stick.” It was all the rage among the upper class in Victorian England, who started to worry about their safety at the hands of the growing “street gangs” of people they oppressed. A fighting form British elitists developed to show the commoners how superior they are — definitely the most Sherlock martial art ever created.

2

In The Howl’s Moving Castle Book, Howl is a 27-Year-Old Welshman Who Chases Teenage Girls

Howl’s Moving Castle is a delightfully weird Studio Ghibli movie that tells the story of a young woman cursed with an aged body finding a soulmate in a handsome but aloof wizard named Howl. But that’s not exactly the Howl we read about in Diana Wynne Jones’ 1986 novel of the same name, wherein the leading man is neither a charming antiwar agitator nor a beautifully troubled soul. Then again, we can’t really blame Ghibli for making some changes to the character, seeing as the original guy was basically a cross between the Wizard of Oz and Humbert Humbert.

Studio Ghibli“Oh, the castle tilted, causing me to lean closer to your chest. How awkward …”

While the whole point of Howl is that he’s weird, he was a whole lot weirder in the book. Creepy weird. For some reason, the filmmakers dropped the fact that Howl is a Welsh PhD who found his way into a fantasy world, made a deal with a fire demon, and spent the next few years chasing “young girls,” including main character Sophie’s 17-year-old sister, Lettie. He’s 27, by the way, so let that sink in for a second. Quick trivia: In a neat little twist, Christian Bale, who voices Howl in the English dub of the movie, is from Wales, but was not allowed to use his accent, because no one wants to hear Batman voice a magical sex pest while gargling half a gallon of spit in his mouth.

You may be inclined to be forgiving of a literally heartless creature’s fondness for jailbait, but the creep is strong with this one. Example: In the beginning of the movie, Sophie is accosted in an alley by soldiers before being “rescued” by Howl. In the book, Howl is the one who accosts her, and instead of flying romantically over the city with him, she runs away as fast as she can. Another plot point involves Howl’s 15-year-old apprentice thinking they were chasing the same teenage girl. Spoiler: The mix-up is that Howl was chasing Lettie, rather than the 16-year-old Michael loves. What a difference a year makes, eh? There are so many underage girls he’s potentially preying on that nobody can keep them straight. In the end, he marries Sophie, who at 18 is still nine years younger than he is. Now we know why his castle is always moving: He’s not allowed to live closer than 2,000 feet to any schools and daycare centers.

Studio Ghibli“How many Chuck E. Cheeses are there in this country??!”

1

Book Dracula Is An Awkward Loser

We’ve mentioned before that the original descriptions of Dracula wouldn’t heave any bosoms. But you know what? That’s unfair. So what if he has weird body hair and bad breath? He’s still a nobleman with his own castle. That and a bit of charm can get you plenty of fair maidens. Except Bram Stoker’s Dracula wasn’t terribly suave, either. In fact, he’s downright awkward.

Universal PicturesSeems on track so far.

In one passage of the 1897 fang-fiction, Dracula offers Jonathan Harker a post-supper cigar … which he, Dracula, had already lit and begun smoking. That’s bad manners all by itself, but then Dracula comments offhand that he doesn’t smoke. He says this as he’s smoking a cigar. The exchange makes Dracula seem more like a confused grandfather than a supernatural womanizer. Can vampires sundown? Is that a thing?

The Michael Scott moments don’t stop there. There’s another scene wherein Dracula escapes from a band of vampire hunters by hiding in a crowd and sneaking aboard a ship. Dracula’s a guy who tends to stand out in a crowd, so how did he accomplish this? By donning a straw hat which, as Van Helsing later recalls, “suit not him or the time.” That’s right, Dracula looked like so much of a nerd that even stoic Van Helsing couldn’t help but make fun of his wardrobe. Imagine Lord Voldemort trying to slink away from Harry by hiding under a pretty floral bonnet. How can you still be scared of a monster after that?

Universal Pictures“Oh my god, I can hear you. Just go back to your room, loser.”

Another fun Dweeby Dracula fact: He’s a stingy money hoarder. During the same straw hat escape, a hurried Dracula still can’t stop his greedy hands from snatching all the loose bills and coins scattered around his hideout. He then palms his couch money and runs, fumbling his precious loose change all the way to the boat, because apparently the master of style has never heard of a wallet. Between the bushy hair in various places and constant clinking of gold coins accompanying his every move, it turns out that instead of Gary Oldman, you should be envisioning Scrooge McDuck.

Manna’s character on Twitter is way different from the book.

The Red Wedding also comes in card game form and we’d be remiss not to suggest giving it a try. Come on, it won’t kill you!

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