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Top 10 Differences Between the Shadowhunters TV Show & Books

VO: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Jarett Burke
Vampire, werewolves, and warlocks! Oh my! For this list, we’re looking at the key changes the Freeform TV show made from Cassandra Clare’s wildly popular young adult fiction series, “The Mortal Instruments.” With the final 12 episodes arriving early next year, it’s important to know where the show stays true to the books and where it doesn’t. Our list includes Simon Lewis, Dot Rollins, The Marriage That Wasn’t, Lydia Branwell, Maureen Brown, and more! Join MsMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Differences Between the Shadowhunters TV Show & Books.
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Top 10 Differences Between the Shadowhunters TV Show & Books


Vampire, werewolves, and warlocks! Oh my! Welcome to MsMojo and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Differences Between the Shadowhunters TV Show & Books.

For this list, we’re looking at the key changes the Freeform TV show made from Cassandra Clare’s wildly popular young adult fiction series, “The Mortal Instruments.” With the final 12 episodes arriving early next year, it’s important to know where the show stays true to the books and where it doesn’t.

#10: Simon Lewis


For loyal book readers, Simon’s reduced role in the TV show was a dagger to the heart. Considering he’s turned into a vampire in the first season of the show, Simon’s history as a charmingly-geeky mortal from the first book in the series was all but erased along with a lot of interesting plotlines from this period of his life. On the show, Camille let Simon bite her while they were making out, and he became a vampire, which works well in the show, but we’re still bummed we didn’t get more time with human Simon.

#9: Ragnor Fell & Catarina Loss' Color


In the books, Ragnor is green and Catarina is blue, but in the show they are both regular-looking human beings. Perhaps it would cost more money to get the actors into full makeup or perhaps turning them green and blue would make their characters less attractive overall (which could be a serious downfall on a show full of really attractive people!). Either way, it’s a little change, but a change that nonetheless was shocking and hard to get used to seeing as it really is quite minor and probably should have been included just to make the book lovers happy.

#8: Dot Rollins


First off, she’s called Dorothea in the books, not Dot. But, Dot does sound a lot more 2018… especially when compared to the very traditional sounding Madame Dorothea. Second, in the books Dorothea is older than characters such as Alex and Jace and much eviller as well. After all, she is a demon trying to kill Clary, the Lightwoods, and Simon because she’s after the Mortal Cup. We can understand why the showrunners went with a younger actress, however, as Vanessa Matsui does look great in the role.

#7: The Mortal Cup


The Mortal Cup is very important in both the TV show and books, but it has different rules depending on whether you watch or read the series. In the show, if a mortal drinks from the cup they will die, whereas, in the books, a mortal drinking from the Mortal Cup will become a Shadowhunter. That’s quite a difference… Also, the cup’s value is increased on the TV show, with many more people seeking it out in order to turn a profit. It’s not a deal-breaker of a change, but it’s one that’s slightly confusing nonetheless.

#6: Jocelyn & Clary


Very early on in the TV show, Jocelyn gives Clary a stele, which is a tool used by Shadowhunters to draw runes on their skin and weapons. But such a scene doesn’t appear anywhere in the books. In fact, in the books, Jocelyn has gone to extreme lengths to hide the Shadow World from Clary, which even included erasing Clary’s memories. Also, in the TV show, Jocelyn dies in a shocking twist, seeing as she’s still alive in the books. We don’t think anyone saw that coming…

#5: The Marriage That Wasn’t


Remember when Alec felt that he had to marry Lydia Branwell in order to uphold the Lightwood name in the TV show and thus disappoint Magnus? Well, the wedding didn’t happen in the books, but the relationship between Alec and Magnus is no less complicated on the printed page than it is on the TV screen. Also, their relationship moves much faster in the show than it does in the books, but they’re cute together so we don’t mind. We’ve been wanting “Malec” to happen for a while.

#4: Lydia Branwell


The name Lydia Branwell probably isn’t familiar to fans of the book series (and for good reason, seeing as she’s not even in them!), but on the TV show she appears as a major challenge to the whole “Malec” relationship and thus takes on a pretty significant role. She’s not the only character created for the TV series, however, as (xref) Madzie and Iris Rouse are also nowhere to be found in the books, but seeing how much they add to the show we really can’t complain too much.

#3: Maureen Brown


There are two differences in Maureen’s character between the books and the TV show. First off, she’s only 14 in the books whereas in the show she’s the same age as Simon and Clary – roughly 18-years-old. Also, in the books she’s not introduced until much later in the storyline (in the “City of Fallen Angels” book in fact) whereas in the TV show she’s introduced very early on. Seeing as these changes mean we’ve gotten to see Shailene Garnett in action as Maureen for the past three seasons of the show, however, means that not all changes to the book are a bad thing.

#2: Luke Garroway


Readers of the books might be slightly confused when they come across Luke in the show, and there’s good reason why… Two reasons actually! First off, in the books he owns and operates a bookstore and is quite the reader, choosing to live the quiet life, whereas, in the show, he’s a cop defending the mean streets of New York City. Oooooh K then… That’s quite a switcheroo. Also, in the books he’s a bit more (forgive us) geeky! Seeing as he’s played by Isaiah Mustafa on the show, he comes across much more Sauvé and hunky – and, of course, we’re okay with that.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

Raphael & Isabelle Do Not Have a Relationship in the Books

Clary Is More Likable on the TV Show

Jace Doesn’t Team with Valentine in the Books

#1: Character Age


The biggest change from the books to the TV show is the age of the main characters. Since the book resides in the Young Adult Fiction genre, the characters are mostly in their mid-teens. Now, seeing as the TV screen spices things up a bit more over the written word, with sex and sexuality clearly visible and not only alluded to, the minimum age for Clary, Jace, and The Gang had to be 18 for obvious reasons. Also, by raising the age of the characters, the show increased the range of actors and actresses they could hire as a result, which is always a good move.
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