Based on the graphic novels by Alice Oseman, Netflix’s Heartstopper is the sweetest coming-of-age romance series on any streaming platform right now.
It has captured our hearts with its portrayal of the cute yet nuanced romance between two British teens, Nick and Charlie. They may be the core couple of Heartstopper, but they are not the only ones in focus this season. We also have the developing stories of Elle, Tao, Darcy, Tara, and Isaac.
Season two of the show brings the characters to life in new and unexpected ways, making significant changes from the source material. While staying true to the heart of the story, the show diverges in several ways, providing viewers with fresh perspectives and storylines.
Here are some of the key differences between Heartstopper season two and its source material.
11 major differences between the books and ‘Heartstopper’ season two:
Darcy’s home life
In season two, the series delves into the complexities of Darcy’s home life. We get a glimpse into the turbulent relationship Darcy has with her mother. Her decision to run away from home before the prom after a particularly ugly homophobic altercation is one subplot that is hinted at in the books.
It takes centre stage in the show, offering viewers a more intimate portrayal of Darcy’s challenges and growth.
Elle and Tao’s blossoming romance
Season two shows Elle and Tao’s budding romance. After an awkward first date where no sparks fly, they decide to stay friends on the show. Elle and Tao’s romantic journey primarily unfolds during the Paris trip in the books, without the added focus on their initial attempts at courting.
Isaac’s asexuality journey and his aromantic inclinations are introduced exclusively for the show. This representation, absent in the books, highlights the show’s commitment to inclusivity. This makes this adaptation choice a significant contribution to the show’s representation of diverse identities.
Elle’s art college aspiration
Elle’s pursuit of an art college education for her sixth form becomes a big storyline in season two. A lot hangs on her decision to leave Higgs for Lambert School of Art. Tao has to navigate his abandonment issues through Elle’s choices. In the book, Elle never applies to college and stays at Higgs. At least now we get two new characters, Naomi and Felix, who will hopefully be more developed in season three.
Tao’s backstory about his father is absent from the books, a distinct change in Heartstopper season two. While both versions portray Tao’s intense loyalty to friends, only the show unveils the reason behind his deep attachment issues. On the show, we find out Tao lost his father as a kid leading to his deep-seated fear of everyone leaving him behind.
Nick and Charlie’s evolving relationship timeline
The declaration of “I love you” between Nick and Charlie occurs earlier in the books than in the show. It becomes a cliffhanger moment in the season finale. Instead, Darcy gets to say the magical three words to Tara in Paris on the show.
Nick also comes out to his brother and estranged father in the books much later than the show.
How Charlie finds out about Tao outing him
On the show, Tao admits that Charlie’s outing stemmed from an inadvertently loud conversation with Isaac in the school’s hallway. While on the show, Charlie forgives Tao because he sees his remorse; the books present an alternate scenario.
The character Aled, absent from the show, reveals the truth to Charlie, which leads to his initial struggle to forgive Tao. But thankfully, the show is more gracious and takes a less dramatic route.
Imogen, Sahar, and James and the expanding cast dynamics
Imogen is a character that has been created entirely for the show. So anything she does on the show—be it her brief and toxic relationship with Ben or her developing crush on Sahar—is exclusive to the show.
Sahar, likely to have a more expanded role in season three, is also a peripheral character in the books. While the show reveals that she is bisexual, and Imogen might explore her sexuality with Sahar, very little is revealed about her character in the books.
James, a character with an expanded role compared to the books, pursues a connection with Isaac on the show, which is, again, not there in the books.
While both the show and the original graphic novels capture Nick’s struggle to connect with his father in Paris, their encounter diverges on the show.
In the Netflix adaptation, Nick and Charlie manage a meetup with Nick’s father, Stéphane, but an abrupt work call cuts their interaction short. However, in the books, Stéphane never manages to meet Nick.
Ben has a much smaller role in the books
Even Ben has a more extended storyline on the show. While he is easy to hate for being a bully and an A-grade a-hole to all around him in the books, Ben is shown as a more sympathetic grey character on the show, a teenager struggling to come to terms with his sexuality and acceptance.
Since Ben’s character gets extended on the show, we also get that scene where Charlie gets to tell him off. It is an important scene because it turns the trope of having to forgive your abuser on its head. While Charlie hopes Ben heals so that he stops inflicting pain on others, he does not want to (or need to) be a witness to it.
There is no bonfire and no prom in the books
In Heartstopper season two, the characters have two significant milestones absent from the books. Post-term, a bonfire party unites the Heartstopper gang, but Nick falls ill due to severe anxiety and has to cut it short. This party in the woods is an exclusive addition to the show.
Moreover, the show has an entire episode on prom, an event missing in the books. Despite the deviation, the prom helps us learn more about Darcy. Plus, prom scenes are always fun in teenage romcoms.
A “beautiful” scene exclusive to the show
While speaking to Metro, Alice Oseman unveiled an exclusive scene in the show that marks a turning point in Nick and Charlie’s relationship. “It’s just a quiet scene where Nick and Charlie have a conversation,” Oseman said, “but it’s a kind of big turning point in their relationship and their understanding of each other.
“It’s so beautifully performed by Kit and Joe. I’m really excited for people to see that because it will be a surprise.”
This is the scene that happens right after the bonfire party. Nick apologises to Charlie for being unable to come out to his friends. Charlie assures Nick that he has nothing to apologise for before going on, “There’s this notion that when you’re not straight, you’re obligated to immediately come out to friends and family. But in reality, there’s no rush. You should come out on your own terms and timeline.”
This scene’s emotional weight is heightened by Kit Connor’s real-life experience of being pushed to come out as bisexual on social media last year following accusations of queerbaiting by fans. This storyline is dealt with a lot of sensitivity, driving home the point Heartstopper has made since the beginning.