Recently, it was announced that the CW is in the process of adapting Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women for the small screen. According to Variety, the show will “follow ‘disparate half-sisters Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy’ as they ‘band together in order to survive the dystopic streets of Philadelphia and unravel a conspiracy that stretches far beyond anything they have ever imagined — all while trying not to kill each other in the process.’” If this synopsis doesn’t sound familiar to fans of the book, it’s because the CW is focusing on a “hyper-stylized, gritty adaptation” of the novel. Still in pre-production, there is no word yet on casting or a possible premiere date.

Alcott’s Little Women is just the latest novel in a long list of books to receive the Hollywood treatment. In fact, adapting novels and short stories for the small screen has been a long-standing tradition in the world of television. So, in honor of all the stories that have been brought to life via the magic of television, here are five hit TV shows that got their start as classic books (and one short story).

1. Sherlock (2010-)

In 1888, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel A Study in Scarlet was published, and the world was introduced to detective Sherlock Holmes. Over 120 years later, Sherlock is as busy as ever as his detective skills are constantly put to the test in Sherlock. Set in present day London, this British show has garnered a cult following of fans all over the world, thanks in part to its superb acting and clever writing.

2. Once Upon a Time (2011-)

Technically, Once Upon a Time is not based on one book; it’s based upon a collection of fairy tales and children’s stories. While the show seems to focus on the Disney version of these classic tales, it also takes some creative leeway with the well-known storylines of different characters. In a way, then, Once Upon a Time is like the televised sequel to the books and stories, as it gives viewers the chance to watch their favorite characters go on new adventures and journeys.

3. Sleepy Hollow (2013-)

Sleepy Hollow is based off of Washington Irving’s classic short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which was published in 1820. Like Sherlock, Sleepy Hollow takes a modern spin on the classic tale, but with a twist: After being dead for over 250 years, Ichabod Crane comes back to life and tries to help solve a centuries-old mystery. While the show is somewhat dark in subject matter, it does add some witty humor to help lighten the mood.

4. Little House on the Prairie (1974-1983)

Little House on the Prairie is based off of the “Little House” series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Focusing on life on the prairie in the 1800s, the show revolves around the Ingalls family and all of the adventures and trials and tribulations they encounter. Thanks in part to its ability to entertain everyone of all ages, Little House on the Prairie is just as beloved as the books are, and re-runs can still be seen on TV to this day.

5. Anne of Green Gables (1985)

Even though Anne of Green Gables was a TV mini-series and not a straightforward TV show in the most conventional sense, it still deserves to be on this list. Based on L.M. Montgomery’s novel Anne of Green Gables (1908), the mini-series follows the book faithfully as it focuses on the adventures of a girl named Anne Shirley. Heartwarming, wonderful, and all together one of the greatest TV mini-series ever produced, Anne of Green Gables will make you laugh and cry as you simultaneously find yourself wishing you could be Anne.


And there we have it! Are there any books you love that were turned into TV shows? Are you a fan of any of the shows on this list? Let us know in the comments!

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