‘Heartstopper’: 5 Big Differences Between the Show and the Books

Heartstopper is bringing Alice Oseman’s best-selling graphic novels to the small screen, and the Netflix series has captured the heart of the source material with ease. However, like any adaptation, it makes a few changes to the original story. In particular, these five differences between the Heartstopper show and books stand out.

[Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for the Heartstopper TV series and graphic novels.]

1. Isaac and Imogen don’t exist in the ‘Heartstopper’ books

William Gao, Yasmin Finney, and Tobie Donovan as Tao, Elle, and Isaac in Netflix's TV show adaptation of the 'Heartstopper' books. They're standing next to one another outside, and there's a crowd of people behind them.
William Gao, Yasmin Finney, and Tobie Donovan in ‘Heartstopper’ | Netflix

One of the biggest differences between the Heartstopper books and the Netflix series is the addition of two new characters. Both Isaac (Tobie Donovan) and Imogen (Rhea Norwood) were created for the TV show only.

Isaac isn’t part of Charlie’s (Joe Locke) group of friends in Alice Oseman’s graphic novels. In fact, he replaces another character named Aled Last. Aled is the lead character of Oseman’s novel Radio Silence, and he’s also a close friend of Charlie’s in Heartstopper. The show removes him and adds Isaac instead, a decision Oseman explained to HELLO!

“Basically, Aled is a character in one of my other books, who has his whole own separate story and I decided that I wanted to be able to do whatever I wanted with this character so it worked to create a new character,” Oseman told the outlet.

Additionally, there’s no one competing for Nick’s (Kit Connor) attention in the Heartstopper books. Although his friends encourage him to flirt with girls, Imogen isn’t one of them. Her inclusion in the Netflix series brings extra tension to the table. And perhaps she’ll receive her own storyline if Heartstopper returns for season 2.

2. The ‘Heartstopper’ show gives its supporting cast storylines early on

Although the Heartstopper graphic novels explore supporting characters like Tao (William Gao) and Elle (Yasmin Finney), they don’t do so in-depth until the later installments. The early books focus mostly on the blossoming romance between Charlie and Nick.

Fortunately, the TV show makes time for multiple storylines, a pleasant switch-up from the source material. There’s a much greater emphasis on the other relationships, from Tao and Elle to Tara (Corinna Brown) and Darcy (Kizzy Edgell).

Viewers get to see Tara grapple with her sexuality, and they also get a look at the girl’s school she, Darcy, and Elle attend. Those elements give greater depth to the world of Heartstopper, and we can’t complain about that.

3. Tao finds out about Charlie and Nick earlier in the show

Just like the Heartstopper show gives its supporting characters more to do early on, Tao also learns about Charlie and Nick’s relationship sooner than he does in the books.

Although Charlie still hides his romance from Tao in the graphic novels, his friend discovers they’re together during a class trip to France. In the TV series, they get into a similar argument over Charlie’s secrecy. However, it happens on school grounds.

Season 1 of the show doesn’t cover the group’s travels, but it still made sure to tackle the friendship dynamics between Charlie and Tao. And hopefully, viewers will still get to see the France trip if Heartstopper gets a season 2.

4. Nick’s friends aren’t all bad in the ‘Heartstopper’ books

Kit Connor as Nick Nelson in Netflix's 'Heartstopper' show, which adapts Alice Oseman's books. He's wearing a school uniform and smiling, and everything around him has a pink lighting.
Kit Connor in ‘Heartstopper’ | Netflix

Although Nick and Charlie deal with bullying from some of Nick’s classmates in the Heartstopper books, not all of them give Charlie a hard time — a major difference from the show.

In fact, the boys on the rugby team catch onto their romance fairly quickly in the graphic novels. And although they aren’t necessarily as welcoming as Charlie’s friends, they seem fine with Nick and Charlie’s relationship. Nick’s friends even wonder why he hasn’t told them about it, suggesting they want to support him but aren’t entirely sure how.

With Heartstopper introducing a lot of characters in its first batch of episodes, the Netflix series probably didn’t want to throw too many supporting cast members into the mix. Hopefully, Nick’s friendships will get more screen time in season 2 — and prove not all of his pals are homophobic bullies.

5. Charlie’s little brother is missing from the Netflix series

This difference between the Heartstopper books and the show is minor compared to the rest, but Charlie’s family dynamic is slightly altered in the Netflix adaptation.

Although his sister, Tori (Jenny Walser) gets several moments to shine, the series doesn’t introduce his little brother. It’s unclear if the character doesn’t exist in the adaptation or if it simply hasn’t introduced him yet. That’s actually the case for several characters, but Oliver should have made an appearance by now. Hopefully, that doesn’t mean he won’t show up later on. His interactions with Nick are adorable and definitely worthy of some screen time.

Heartstopper is currently streaming on Netflix.

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