5 Ways The Show Is Like The Books (& 5 Ways It Isn’t)


Nancy Drew was recently brought back to television courtesy of The CW, a network also responsible for the hit shows Supernatural and Riverdale. Given the network, it’s no surprise that Nancy Drew is darker than the books. The books follow a very different kind of formula compared to the show and the show was never supposed to be a recreation of the Nancy Drew books that many audience members grew up reading.

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The books certainly lacked a supernatural entity, and the show has rewritten Nancy’s character and overall life. However, the show doesn’t completely erase the book, given its Easter eggs and references here and there, in addition to factors shared with the books themselves.

10 Same: Nancy’s Father Is Still A Lawyer


In the books, Nancy’s cases often came to her through her father’s clients, who hired her in addition to her father to investigate mysteries on their behalf. Carson Drew would also recruit Nancy to help him with his cases from time to time.

In the series, Carson tends to discourage Nancy from pursuing mysteries. In addition, Carson landed in jail after his prints were found on the knife that killed Lucy Sable, but the Carson Drew in the books was never jailed. Carson Drew is both a good lawyer in the books and in the series. In the latter, Carson just got caught up with the wrong people at the wrong time.

9 Different: Bess & George

George Bess And Nancy With Victoria Fan In Nancy Drew

Bess and George in the series are very different compared to the Bess and George of the books. First of all, George and Bess were cousins in the books. Secondly, Bess was described as a blonde with a love for food, whereas the Bess in the TV series is a brunette from England.

Also, George and Nancy aren’t friends at first in the TV series, having been described as enemies in high school. The books feature George and Bess as Nancy’s best friends, with George more tomboyish and Bess more girly in personality. The two characters, in addition to Nancy’s relationship with them, are completely divergent from the books.

8 Same: Mystery After Mystery

Both the series and the show share this characteristic in common: Nancy’s always solving one mystery or another and she doesn’t really get a break in between. She’s practically a magnet for mysteries, all of them coming to her.

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Plus, in the books, Nancy’s usually solving several mysteries that unlock one big mystery, or else solving many mysteries at once, as is the case in the 46th book in the series, The Invisible Intruder. 

7 Different: Nancy & Her Dad

Nancy and Carson in Nancy Drew

In the books, Nancy and her father have a great relationship. Having been raised by him and her motherly housekeeper, Hannah Gruen, since she was a little girl, they are her rocks and mean the world to her.

However, in the TV series, Nancy and her father have a very strained relationship and the death of Nancy’s mother only exacerbates the tension. Carson’s tendency to keep secrets from Nancy makes things worse, alongside Nancy’s constant sleuthing. With Nancy having discovered Carson is not her biological father, who knows what will become of their relationship?

6 Same: There’s A Chief McGinnis

In the TV series, there’s an established relationship between Nancy and Chief McGinnis, in that they know each other well and have been solving mysteries for years. However, Chief McGinnis is resentful of Nancy “complicating” his cases, or otherwise making him look bad by solving the case before he does. He doesn’t really care for her skills and was only too eager to pin her as a suspect when Tiffany Hudson was killed.

Meanwhile, in the books, Nancy and Chief McGinnis are friends and respect one another’s help and input, marking the difference between the Chief McGinnis in the series and in the books.

5 Different: Ned’s Background

Ned is completely different from the book character he’s based on. In the TV series, he goes by “Nick” instead of Ned. He’s also a convicted felon, and he did accidentally kill someone in his past. Plus, he and Nancy are dating secretly, at least in the beginning. In the books, Ned is a college student and prominent athlete, in addition to being a member of a fraternity, alongside his two best friends, Burt and Dave, who are often dates for George and Bess.

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Ned and Nancy’s relationship in the books is also different from the show, given that the books describe Ned as Nancy’s “special friend” and Ned’s relationship with Nancy is more explicit in the show.

4 Same: Nancy Lost Her Mother

Nancy at her mother's grave in Nancy Drew

At the beginning of the TV series, both Nancy and her father are grieving over the recent loss of Katherine Drew. It’s the reason why Nancy has opted to delay her plans for college and remain in Horseshoe Bay, and it’s one of the reasons why she and her father are estranged.

Nancy often thinks about her memories of her mother and clearly misses her. In the books, Nancy was much younger when she lost her mom and doesn’t really remember her, thus she isn’t mentioned very often.

3 Different: Supernatural Elements

One of the most compelling things that came out of season 1 was the fact that Nancy was haunted by the ghost of Lucy Sable, who turns out to be her biological mother. The supernatural elements amplify the stakes and often places The Drew Crew in danger.

In the books, there were no supernatural elements. Sometimes the mysteries were akin to an unmasking, similar to Scooby-Doo. There was always a bad guy behind the hoaxes, whether they appeared to be supernatural or not, and Nancy always got the bad guy.

2 Same: Nancy’s Love For Mysteries

Nancy investigating in Nancy Drew

Nancy’s sense of who she is, to a certain degree, comes from mystery solving. In the show, she temporarily gave up on mysteries after the death of her mother, but she found herself back in the game, looking into solving the murder of Lucy Sable. Nancy quickly found herself solving more mysteries along the way, too.

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In the books, Nancy refuses to give up on mysteries as well, always finding a genuine joy in solving them and helping others in the process. Whether it’s the show or the books, Nancy finds purpose in solving mysteries and wouldn’t give them up for the world.

1 Different: Nancy’s Character

Nancy Drew The Haunting Of Nancy Drew Episode 16

Nancy’s character in the show compared to the books is very different.  Though both versions of Nancy love mysteries, they’ve led very different lives and have separate personalities. The book’s version of Nancy’s character lies more on the old fashioned side, given the times the books were written in. Nancy wasn’t in the least rebellious or conflicted, even asking her father for permission to go places or solve mysteries despite the fact that she was legally an adult. She also wouldn’t sleep in the same room as Ned, as she thought it inappropriate.

The show’s version finds Nancy as a struggling young adult, grieving for her mother and fighting with her father, and engaged in a serious relationship with Ned. These are just some of the ways the book and show version of Nancy are different.

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Updated: November 16, 2020 — 11:00 pm

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