The Time Traveler’s Wife Book vs Movie vs HBO Max Show: The Key Differences

time traveler's wife differences

Design by Michael Stillwell

First section of the time traveler’s wife opens with a series of clips of Henry (Theo James) traveling through time, the asshole. Instantly, viewers understand HBO Max Time traveler’s wife The TV show will be different – both tonally and visually – from the 2009 film starring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana.

Yet the main plot points are the same, centered on the love story between Clare (Rose Leslie in the show, Rachel McAdams in the film) and Henry (James and Bana respectively), and the adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger’s 2003 novel the time traveler’s wife. Both the film and TV versions of the story are beautifully told, while Henry and Clare struggle to navigate their relationship, and each does the source material for the bestselling novel Justice.

Niffenegger has tweeted she has never seen the film adaptation, but is extremely enthusiastic about the TV show. She wrote“I might be a little overwhelmed …” So the TV show seems to have her stamp of approval.

Here are the main differences between Time traveler’s wife TV show, movies and original book.

The story of Clare and Henry’s stories is different in each version.

In the book, the chapters alternate first-person perspective between the two. The film is told largely from Henry’s perspective, following him in more chronological order than Clare, and then flashing back to her childhood. The TV show begins with live-to-camera documentary narrative of the two. In a way, the talking heads of the TV show are much closer to the book’s narrative style.

The book begins with Clare, who recounts: “It’s hard to be left behind. I’m waiting for Henry, not knowing where he is, and wondering if he’s okay. It’s hard to be the one who stays. I keep myself busy.Time goes faster than way.I go to bed alone, and wake up alone.I go for walks.I work until I am tired.I see the wind playing with the garbage that has been lying under the snow all winter.Everything seems simple , until you think about it. Why is love enhanced by absence? ”

In the TV show, the first line is simply that Clare asks the last question: “Why is love intensified by absence?” Henry’s first lines in the television program and the book are the same: “How does it feel? How does it feel?” and his monologue largely resembles his first section of the prologue.

But the film begins with Henry’s mother’s death.

When Henry rises for the first time changes.

time traveler's wife differences

Jason David as young Henry in the time traveler’s wife on HBO.

Sandy Morris / HBO

In the film, he travels time only at the death of his mother. In the book, he travels for the first time at the age of five at the Field Museum of Natural History. In the TV show, Henry travels to the museum for the first time at the age of seven to see dinosaurs. There is a significant difference here: in the film, his time travel is triggered by trauma (his mother’s death), whereas his time travel in the TV show and the book is triggered by joy (seeing a museum exhibit he loved).

Henry and Clare’s first date is a little different in all three versions.

time traveler's wife differences

Theo James and Rose Leslie as Henry and Clare on their first date.

Macall Polay

In the movie and the book, Henry and Clare go on their first date at a Thai restaurant called Beau Thai, and in the TV show it’s an indefinable restaurant – and it’s not clear if it’s a Thai restaurant. Henry brings Clare flowers in the TV show and in the book; in the show she says, “You’ve never brought me flowers before,” and in the book she says, “You’ve never given me flowers before.” In the film, Henry appears empty-handed. Finally, in the film and in the book, during the date, Clare mentions Dr. Kendrick and not drinking to prevent time travel – but it’s not part of the TV show.

In all three versions, Clare Henry freaks out with her knowledge of him and the fact that they are married in the future. Also in all three, Henry Clare blindfolds and makes her count loudly while he tidies up his apartment before they sleep together.

Henry’s hair in the TV show indicates his age.

henry time traveling wife

Young Henrik

Barbara Nitke

theo james time traveler's wife

Old (er) Henry

Macall Polay

We do not exactly get a physical description of different ages in the book – Clare only notices that he looks younger – and in the film Eric Banas Henry looks pretty much the same from the 20s onwards. In the TV show, however, Theo James’ Henry’s hair is long in his 20s and shorter in his 30s, so viewers can easily distinguish between the different versions of time travelers.

Time travel makes Henry sick in the TV show.

Every time after time he travels in the TV show, Henry throws up. “There’s a trash can in front of you,” 28-year-old Henry tells 7-year-old Henry the first time he travels in time. “In a moment you will be sick.” (He throws up quickly.) Time travel makes Henry hungry in every version, but this disease is not part of the book or movie.

We will continue to update this article throughout the season.


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