Top 7 book sub-plots that didn't make it to the screen

We all know that movie or television adaptations of novels are rarely able to include every single detail that we loved while reading it. Despite this, let’s take a look at all those overlooked sub-plots that we would have gladly sat and watched for even five extra minutes.

Harry and Ginny’s relationship

Harry Potter

Out of the many sub-plots left out from the Harry Potter book series when they were adapted to films, Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley’s relationship is one that book fans dearly miss. The steady development of their relationship in the books is also a vessel for the deeper characterisation of Ginny, which is also greatly reduced in the films. In the books, Ginny is portrayed as a strong-minded independent woman, adding to make the relationship she has with Harry more realistic and believable.

Instead, the only relationship the films include is a somehow already developed relationship in the sixth film, with hardly any prior set up. In fact, the characterisation of Ginny, in general, is greatly reduced and simplified, leading to a fairly one-dimensional character and relationship.

Percy and Annabeth’s relationship

Percy Jackson

Book fans of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series were immensely disappointed by the film adaptations for many reasons. But one of the sub-plots missing is the relationship between Percy Jackson and Annabeth Chase.

In the book series, their relationship starts with a subtle rivalry that shifts to a friendship across the first four books. However, in the film, the initial relationship between the two characters is skipped over and rushed into a romantic one in order to appeal to a more mainstream market. Since the characters in the novel were aged 12 - unlike their film counterparts who were aged up to 16 - a romantic relationship between the characters doesn’t develop until the fifth book The Last Olympian.


The Hunger Games

After an initial viewing of The Hunger Games (2012), perhaps the absence of the avoxes is not obvious. But on closer inspection, their importance in the novels becomes more apparent. Avoxes are the people punished for rebelling against the Capitol and thus have their tongues cut out, rendering them voiceless. They are also designated to work as slaves to serve the Capitol.

Although none of the avoxes serve a large role in the storyline, they do contribute to the world-building of the novels. The avoxes in the first novel are seen before the games take place and serve as a symbol for the Capitol’s extent of cruelty and brutality. Since Katniss encounters them early on in the novels, they serve as a representation of the possible consequences she could face for rebelling, making her actions seem even more rebellious and courageous.


Call Me By Your Name

The 2017 film adaptation of Andre Aciman’s Call Me By Your Name (2007) was largely a success in capturing the essence of the novel, as well as its raw atmosphere. However, one of the sub-plots cut from the original novel is that of Vimini’s character. In my opinion, her character is vital for Elio’s perception of Oliver to shift.

Vimini, though a minor character, is a complex one. She is said to be incredibly intelligent, but also terminally-ill, and becomes very quick friends with Oliver, even while Elio is still trying to figure him out.

In the novel, she serves as a way for Elio to realise that Oliver is his own person and not someone that exists merely to be with Elio. Her character also serves as a marker for temporal change and the drastic ways in which Elio and Oliver's lives change from the beginning of the story to the end. Her absence in the film is not felt as strongly as I expected, as her role is somewhat merged with Elio’s parents, but it would have been nice to see a character that juxtaposes the careless and free nature of Elio by living her own life as though it were ephemeral.

Candice’s pregnancy

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (1999) by Stephen Chbosky was an incredibly important book to me during high-school, and at the time, the 2012 film adaptation held up. This still stands true, but I can't help being slightly disappointed that Candice's role in the film is greatly minimised.

In the novel, the protagonist, Charlie, has a complicated but ultimately intimate relationship with his siblings including his older sibling Candice. And when Candice falls pregnant, she enlists Charlie in helping her to terminate the pregnancy without their parent's knowledge. Here, Charlie learns to lie to people he loves in order to protect his older sister when, for the most part of his life, it had been the other way around, showcasing a great deal of strength on Charlie’s behalf. This highlights his shift from a quiet wallflower to someone with more confidence. The film chooses to skip this sub-plot entirely, but I would have appreciated at least some hint towards the closeness of their relationship.

Exploration of Simon’s sexuality

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda/Love, Simon

Love, Simon (2018) was a massive hit this year for being the first major studio film featuring a positive gay main character. However, it does skip over certain details in Simon’s path towards becoming fully comfortable with his sexuality that is shown in the original novel, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda (2015) by Becky Albertalli.

Although I have my qualms with the novel, a pivotal scene showcasing Simon’s desire for normalcy is cut from the film. In the book, Simon and two of his best friends head to a gay bar where Simon is able to be himself and express his sexuality the way he wants - rather than how others want. Here, Simon has the opportunity to feel what it's like to be completely ‘normal’ and becomes aware that a happy and free life is possible even though he is gay. The film likely cut the scene due to time constraints and did manage to hint at Simon's journey with his sexuality, but I think the scene in the novel had the ability to contribute much more to the overall storyline.

Bonnie’s childhood

Big Little Lies

The Australian novel Big Little Lies (2014) by Liane Moriarty touches on many themes including bullying, domestic violence, and sexual assault. But one sub-plot written in the novel that is left out of its television adaptation is that of Bonnie’s childhood.

In the screen adaptation, Celeste and her husband’s relationship is seen shifting from a loving one to an abusive one, a situation that the other characters slowly become aware of at the end of the season. After a whirlwind of events, an altercation between Celeste, her friends, and her husband becomes violent, causing Bonnie to step in and push Celeste's husband down the stairs to his death to his death.

In the novel, a sub-plot reveals that Bonnie had been abused by her father as a child, causing her witnessing the violence to trigger her response and actions. In the adaptation, however, the lack of this sub-plot leaves viewers confused as to why a character, largely on the sidelines, reacts in such a way. Hopefully, the upcoming second season will clear the air and include some much needed left out details.

Thanmaya Navada is a second-year Journalism/International Studies student at UTS. She describes herself as a film-buff and bookworm, when she's not napping during literally every spare minute she gets. Also cheese. She loves cheese.