There are a few question on Sci-Fi and Fantasy SE asking for a comparison of a book and its adaptation. Off hand, I could find a question about The Martian, and question about Harry Potter with an epic answer. The corresponding tag is .

Given all that, what is our opinion on adaptation comparison (or book vs. something) questions?

3 Answers 3


Yes, with reservation.

I agree with Rand: if someone is particularly knowledgeable about a particular work, they're also liable to know the differences between its adaptations. They are likely to be able to give an authoritative answer on it.

However, these questions are likely to be too broad without significant limitation. The differences between the text of a work and its adaptation to another medium are often well beyond counting, and not even an expert should be depended upon for a complete enumeration.

So, my reservation is this, if the question is specific enough, it should be okay.

  • I agree about the specificity point; so long as the question is well defined then it can be answerable without becoming off-topic.
    – Möoz
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 20:28
  • Hmm, I'm not sure. Questions like "what are the main plot differences between book X and its film adapatation?" can be reasonably answered without being too broad and covering every tiny detail.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 20:47
  • @Randal'Thor It's possible. I'd want to see it in action, first, personally, but you likely have more experience in this regard.
    – user80
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 20:56
  • A couple of examples which hopefully do a decent job of showing this in action: The Princess Bride and Stardust. Not ridiculously long answers going into every detail, but still doing a good job of answering a fairly general question (not one asking about specific changes).
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 4:10


  • If someone is an expert on a particular work of literature, they're likely to also be highly knowledgeable about its adaptations to the screen.
  • Discussion of such adaptations can even lead, on occasion, to interesting new insights into the written source material.

Let's just remember to keep such questions relevant to the written material. Asking about how closely various film adaptations of Pride and Prejudice have stuck to the source material should be OK; asking a question about the Lord of the Rings films without reference to the books shouldn't.

  • 1
    Can we compare "Pride and Prejudice" to "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies"?
    – Skooba
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 20:43
  • @Skooba I don't know much about that film, but I guess so, yes (as long as you stick to comparing it to the written work, rather than e.g. asking questions about the zombies in it, which would be better done on SFF).
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 20:46

I personally think those are terrible questions. They will never be 100% accurate unless someone sits down with the book open and highlight the parts of the book (or whatever other source material) is in the movie, then distill what wasn't into an answer.

Now, questions that ask about particular differences are on-topic.

  • One should not be asking for all differences, one could be asking for major differences. Notice that that answer about Harry Potter is a community wiki, so it's been improved over time, by anyone who remembers anything. Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 20:29
  • 1
    @Gallifreian if the only way to properly answer an entire subset of questions is to have them as a community wiki answer, I don't think they're a good fit for the site. a good ANSWER doesn't make a BAD question on-topic
    – DForck42
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 20:33
  • The bulk of that answer was written by KeithS (98% contribution). Others added ~3 paragraphs. This, however, does not render my previous comment invalid - maybe someone answers own question and makes the answer community wiki for further updates. Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 20:39
  • And that would still be a valid answer.
    – Benjamin
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 11:33

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