Is The 100 Based on a Book?

The CW series titled The 100 was a fan favorite, despite its dark and depressive undertones. Every time it seemed like we’d experience some joy watching the show, a beloved character would die, often quite gruesomely, or the earth would experience another nuclear meltdown. Ironically, however, the constant and unexpected twists and turns glued us to our screens for seven seasons. 

The 100 is very loosely based on a book series with the same name by Kass Morgan. The books and the show share a similar premise and several similar characters but proceed in vastly different directions. After the first episode, the show’s similarities with the books end. 

This piece will explore the origins of The 100 books and show. It’ll also explore the differences between television production and novels. 

Kass Morgan Didn’t Mind the Show’s Diversion From the Books

The CW optioned the rights to The 100 before the first novel – also titled The 100 – was released by Kass Morgan. Per the executive producer Jason Rothenberg, he went in a completely different direction because Morgan hadn’t completed her book.  

He only had the book proposal to use, explaining why the similarities between the show and the novels effectively end in the first episode. The premise is similar: a group of humans living in a soon-to-be-uninhabitable space station sends 100 juvenile delinquents to earth to find out whether the planet is inhabitable nearly a century after a nuclear apocalypse. 

Rothenberg wrote the show’s pilot as Morgan wrote her book. CW ordered The 100 in early May 2013, and filming started in August 2013; Morgan released the first novel in the series in early September 2013. 

The dates demonstrate that the showrunners completed The 100’s script before Kass’ book premiered, eliminating the chances of similar plots. 

Morgan didn’t mind that Rothenberg had taken her idea in an entirely different direction. She praised the showrunners for breathing life into the show in a manner she couldn’t have imagined. 

Kass saw the differences as something to be celebrated as literature and television tell stories differently. 

Differences Between the Books and the Show

The jury’s out on whether The 100 books or the series is better. The 100 fans are generally split into two: Those who love dark themes, multiple worlds, and complex character arcs prefer the series, and those who like romance with a sprinkling of dread and straightforward characters prefer the books. 

Clarke Has Romantic Interest in Wells in the Books

We’ll start with romance because everybody enjoys a bit of love in their favorite shows, even the dark ones. 

In the show, Wells dies pretty much immediately after the delinquents land on earth. Nevertheless, there’s enough time to see that Wells harbors romantic feelings for Clarke, though she only sees him as a best friend. 

Wells traveled to Earth because of his feelings for Clarke, who wrongly blamed him for her father’s death. Clarke forgave Wells after finding out the truth, but he didn’t live long after that. 

In the books, Wells has a longer storyline, which includes a relationship with Clarke. Their romance ends after Clarke believes her parents were executed. 

Clarke’s romantic life in the book is much more dramatic as Wells and Bellamy vie for her affection. In the show, Bellamy and Clarke were everything except lovers. 

Fans of the series might argue that the unexpected relationship between Clarke and Lexa was better than her dalliances in the books. We find it difficult to choose. 

Clarke Is Guilty of Treason in the Novels 

In the novels, Clarke believes that her parents were executed for performing experiments on children. However, they were alive and roaming the earth. 

Reeling from the imagined death of her parents, Clarke rebels, leading to her arrest and conviction for treason. Thanks to her parents, she has experience in the medical field, which helps her survive on earth. 

In the show, Clarke is an innocent girl imprisoned for knowing too much. Her father, Jake, learns about The Ark’s failing systems but is arrested and floated for treason before he can inform the space station’s inhabitants. 

Abby, Clarke’s mother, plays an essential role in the show and never forgives herself for her role in Jake’s execution. 

Some of the Show’s Characters Aren’t in the Books

The 100 books are narrated by Wells, Clarke, Bellamy, and Glass – the first three of whom appear in the series. Glass in the books doesn’t travel to earth and narrates about life back in the ark. 

The series introduces characters like Jasper, Miller, Harper, Raven, and many more who form part of the story. Glass and Raven are similar as both remain on the ark after the delinquents fled to earth. 

Other characters that aren’t in the books are the Grounders, ruthless creatures who still inhabit the polluted earth. The Grounders got to war with the delinquents in season one of the series. 

In Kass Morgan’s publications, people live on earth, but they are referred to as Earthborns rather than Grounders. There’s no conflict between the delinquents and the Earthborns, who appear at the end of the first book

Octavia’s Story Is Sadder in the Novels

The series and the book have some degree of dread, but it’s nearly constant in the CW show. Therefore, it’s difficult to imagine a storyline in the book being sadder than one in the series. 

However, Octavia’s character arc in the book is more heartbreaking than her series arc. Morgan hid Octavia in a closet until she was five and released her into the colony’s orphanage. 

The stressful conditions led to her drug addiction and mental health issues. She booked a spot among the delinquents after her arrest for stealing pills. 


The 100 is based on a book series of the same name, but the similarities between the production and publication start and end at the synopsis. They share a similar premise but diverge into wildly different directions. 

Kass Morgan, the book’s author, appreciated the different direction taken by the series. She opined that the different mediums of storytelling demanded unique narratives. 

The differences between the series and the books are vast, so we’ve only detailed the apparent ones. The variation between the storylines makes reading the books and watching the show worthwhile. 

Read Also: Is Stranger Things Based on a Book?

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