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18 Ways 'Gone Girl' Is Different from the Book

David Fincher's movie is a master class in how to handle a book adaptation, and here's what he and author Gillian Flynn cut in the process.


Gone Girl is finally in theaters this weekend, and the adaptation is remarkably faithful to the book thanks to a condensed script from the author herself, Gillian Flynn. The movie keeps the structure, the themes, and even big chunks of the dialogue, in tact, so book fans should definitely be happy.

To help you track how Flynn and director David Fincher so successfully adapted the best-selling book, here are 18 of the ways the movie differs from its source material.


Director David Fincher and author Gillian Flynn collaborated on adapting Flynn's book.
Director David Fincher and author Gillian Flynn collaborated on adapting Flynn's book.
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1. It's Just "Nick"

In the Book: Nick's first name is Lance. He self-consciously goes by "Nick" since he worries his fancy-pants real name will make him seem too ostentatious.

In the Movie: There's no Lance. Just Nick.

2. Nick & Amy Hook Up Immediately

18 Ways 'Gone Girl' Is Different from the Book

In the Book: Nick and Amy meet cute at a party, hanging out and kissing in a shower of powdered sugar before parting ways early in the morning. After that they get separated. (It's kind of a drawn out story, but he lost her number.) And they don't see each other again for several months when they randomly run into each other on the street.

In the Movie: The meeting happens the same, the kiss happens the same, but instead of saying, "Goodnight," Nick heads up to Amy's place where they promptly jump into bed. From that point on, they're together. (By the way, there's a lot of sex in this movie.)

3. The Perspective Opens Up

18 Ways 'Gone Girl' Is Different from the Book

In the Book: Flynn keeps the audience strictly tied to Nick's perspective, then Amy's perspective, volleying the narrative between the two. Part of the fun for the reader is figuring out that they're each, to some degree, unreliable narrators.

In the Movie: We get a third perspective by way of Detective Boney and Officer Gilpin. The movie speeds up some of the police action by occasionally cutting to these two. Fincher also throws in a device where Boney tags areas of interest with brightly colored Post-Its lest we miss something important.

4. Amy's Scavenger Hunt Has Three Clues

In the Book: Amy's anniversary scavenger hunt has four clues, each leading to a different place where Nick had sex with his mistress, Andie. Amy also uses each location to somehow further incriminate Nick.

In the Movie: There's only three clues. Fincher and Flynn cut the clue that would have taken Nick to Hannibal and in the process cut Hannibal out of the movie entirely. Instead, Amy's second clue leads Nick to his dad's house, which gets him there much faster than in the book. And in the movie when he trips the alarm at his dad's house, the cops are on him immediately.

5. Nick Proposes at the Book Release

In the Book: The release party for Amazing Amy Gets Married happens before she's with Nick. She's single at the time and has to constantly field questions about her being single.

In the Movie: Nick is at the release party and gamely saves Amy from the tedious, repetitive questions of the assembled press by proposing to her.

6. Nick Doesn't Go to the Mall

In the Book: Nick takes the investigation for Amy into his own hands when he visits North Carthage's ruinous husk of a failed mall. It's night and he goes with house painter Stucks Buckley, a couple of local tough guys, and Amy's dad. That's where he finds out Amy was looking for a gun.

In the Movie: Boney and Gilpin go to the mall themselves and find out about the gun. But this being the impressive adaptation it is, there's still a kid in the background reciting the Gettysburg Address, just like in the book.

7. Four Key Character Cuts

In the Book: Four characters from the book aren't in the movie. Stucks Buckley is a house painter whose baseball playing glory days are far behind him. Tanner Bolt's wife, Betsy, is the one who throws jelly beans at Nick. Desi Collings' mom, Jacqueline, rightly accuses Amy of murdering Desi. And Hilary Handy is one of Amy's high school classmates who allegedly stalked her. It later turns out Amy had set up Hilary much like she did to Nick (only on a smaller scale).

In the Movie: None of those four made it into the movie. Tanner and his wife were combined into one character and Tanner threw gummy bears instead of jellybeans because they hurt less.

8. The 'Cool Girl' Speech

In the Book: Through Amy, Gillian Flynn airs an epic rant against the idea of the "cool girl" that starts thusly: "Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot." (Do yourself a favor and read the full excerpt here.) Even if you find yourself identifying a little too much with her "cool girl" description, it's hard not to be impressed with the rant.

In the Movie: Amy's "cool girl" speech makes it into the movie largely in tact, but it's delivered via voiceover as Amy looks out her car window at cool girls she sees in traffic. It works for the movie, but it comes off differently. The book version of the rant positions the "cool girl" as a reaction to guys with unrealistic ideas about what they want out of relationships. The movie version lays more of the blame for the existence of cool girls at the feet of women themselves.

9. Tommy O'Hara Doesn't Get Off So Easy

In the Book: Tommy O'Hara is a Brooklyn writer who dated Amy in the gap between when Nick first met her and when he randomly ran into her on the street and they started dating for real. Nick didn't know about Tommy until Tanner Bolt told him Amy had accused Tommy of raping her. She initially went after him with rape charges, but eventually dropped them when, according to Tommy, she had probably decided he had been properly chastened. Nick finds out about this during a phone conversation with Tommy.

In the Movie: Nick finds out about Tommy himself and Tanner sets up a face-to-face meeting for the two at a local bar. In this version, Amy went through with the charges, Tommy plead guilty to lesser charges and is now a registered sex offender.

10. Nick & Desi's Meeting

18 Ways 'Gone Girl' Is Different from the Book

In the Book: Nick goes to St. Louis to meet with Desi Collings to see if he might know something about Amy's disappearance. He ends up sitting in the house Desi shares with his mom, Jacqueline, who eventually shows Nick the door.

In the Movie: Nick visits Desi on his way back from New York as almost an afterthought. Desi shuts him down at the front door without his mom's help. As we mentioned earlier, Jacqueline isn't in the movie.

11. No Viral Video

In the Book: Nick has his back against the wall as the cops and the public turn against him. Everyone hates him. So he does something kind of crazy. He goes to a bar, starts to get drunk, and agrees to an interview with a young visiting journalist looking for the Nick Dunne story. She conducts the interview in a booth, using her phone to record it. She posts the video online and it goes viral and it all works in Nick's favor because finally he's relaxing and talking about how awesome his wife is.

In the Movie: None of this makes it into the movie. Instead, Nick's media turn-around comes solely on the strength of his Sharon Scheiber interview.

12. Amy Doesn't Go Fishing

In the Book: Amy goes into hiding in a low-rent motel, where she makes friends with a couple of shady individuals, Greta and Jeff. One night Jeff asks if Amy wants to make some extra money. She goes with him to steal fish from a private fish farm, helping him kill the fish. The scene is mostly significant because after all that fish killin' Amy strips down to get in the lake to wash herself off, and this involves removing her dress and money belt. She gets a scare when Jeff makes for the shoreline, and she has to run to snatch up her money belt before he can discover it.

In the Movie: Jeff's role is downplayed and this scene was a casualty.

13. No Daily Web Videos from Nick

In the Book: After his viral interview, Nick starts making daily web videos reaching out to Amy.

In the Movie: They're not in there.

14. Desi's Got Cameras

In the Book: After Amy gets ripped off by Jeff and Greta she has nothing and she calls Desi for help. He obligingly hides her away in his lake house, keeping her from leaving the house by not giving her any money and assuring Amy he can get her anything she needs.

In the Movie: This version adds a new wrinkle to the plot. Desi's lake house is wired with lots of security cameras, which could be bad for Amy since they could conceivably prove she's still alive. But instead she turns them to her advantage. She bites Desi's lip and ruffles his hair, untucking his shirt. He thinks she's being sexy and playful, but on the security cameras it makes him look like he just got in a fight. Then Amy plays out a silent scene for the security cameras, making it look like she was beaten and raped.

15. Amy Slices Desi's Throat Mid-Coitus

In the Book: Amy waits to have sex with Desi. After the sex she feeds him a martini loaded with sleeping pills, and Amy slices Desi's throat in his sleep.

In the Movie: Amy doesn't wait until after sex. Instead she slices his throat while they're going at it on his bed. It's way more brutal this way.

16. Boney Quits the Case

In the Book: Detective Rhonda Boney doesn't believe Amy's story after she kills Desi. She thinks Amy faked her own kidnapping, tried to frame Nick for murder, and ultimately murdered Desi. Boney hangs on to this belief long after the rest of her colleagues have stopped thinking about the case. After Amy comes back, Boney occasionally gets together with Nick and Go and even checks in with Tanner Bolt, to see if there's any way they can re-open the investigation into Amy.

In the Movie: After Amy comes back, Boney meets with Nick and Go at a diner, just like in the book, but she tells them she's off the case.

17. Nick Isn't Working On His Own Manuscript

In the Book: After Amy comes back, she holds a couple things over Nick's head to make sure he can't get her in trouble. He decides to write a book to tell his side of the story. He'll publish it, divorce Amy, and let the public decide what happened. No matter what happens, he'll be done. The day that he's about to take his manuscript out and start shopping it, Amy tells Nick she's pregnant, and it's checkmate.

In the Movie: Nick doesn't have a book. Instead he's planning to tell his side of the story in a big joint interview with Ellen Abbott. But the morning of the interview, Amy drops the pregnancy bombshell on him, and he's silenced in much the same way.

18. Ellen Abbot Gets a Final Interview

18 Ways 'Gone Girl' Is Different from the Book

In the Book: Ellen Abbott is a thinly veiled Nancy Grace substitute who disappears from the story after Amy returns.

In the Movie: At the end of the movie, Amy and Nick are preparing for a major joint interview with Ellen Abbot. Nick is planning to use the interview as an opportunity to tell everyone the truth about Amy. Amy checkmates him with news of her pregnancy and instead gets him to use the interview to confirm everything about her story.

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