This article contains SPOILERS for Heartstopper season 2
This article contains discussions/references to mental abuse and homophobia/bullying
Netflix’s Heartstopper season 2 stays pretty close to its original source material, but some moments diverge from the books’ narrative, thus creating different outcomes. Based on the series of graphic novels by Alice Oseman, Heartstopper shows the romance of British teens Nick Nelson (Kit Connor) and Charlie Spring (Joe Locke). Nick and Charlie’s story is a wholesome look at an adolescent LGBTQ+ romance, but the story also delves into some of the more serious topics that can come along with coming-of-age and being a teen who identifies as queer. While Heartstopper season 1 took inspiration from the first two books, season 2 primarily adapts Heartstopper Vol. 3.
Heartstopper season 2 incorporates the best parts of the previous season and takes the cast to Paris for a Truham/Higgs school trip. Along the way, the Netflix show gives a closer look at some of Heartstopper’s other romances, such as Tao and Elle or Darcy and Tara, all while delivering plenty of great moments with Nick and Charlie as well. Season 2 also expands two of its new characters, Imogen and Isaac. However, while Heartstopper season 2 delivers plenty of iconic moments, not all of them actually happened in the books.
10 Ben Has A Way Smaller Role In The Heartstopper Books
Perhaps the biggest difference between the Heartstopper books and season 2 of Netflix’s Heartstopper is the role that Ben, Charlie’s abusive ex, plays. Charlie and Ben’s secret relationship was a significant focus of Heartstopper season 1, and Heartstopper season 2 continues to explore its fallout. After an ill-fated relationship with Imogen that ends during the Paris trip, Ben decides he wants to get Charlie back, culminating in Charlie telling Ben off for his treatment of him. Ben even begins to grapple with his true identity by the end. These storylines make Ben seem like a significant Heartstopper character, but this is not the case in the original graphic novels.
Compared to Netflix’s Heartstopper, Ben has a relatively small role in the original books. In fact, after Ben and Charlie stop seeing each other, Ben all but fades from the Heartstopper narrative. Ben’s presence in Netflix’s Heartstopper definitely adds plenty of drama to the TV show, but his increased presence in the show is a glaring difference from the books. However, since Ben announces at the end of the season that he will not return to Truham next term, it’s possible Ben’s book and show storylines could converge in Heartstopper season 3.
9 Darcy’s Family Problems Aren’t A Focus In The Heartstopper Books
Darcy’s complicated home life becomes a focus towards the end of Heartstopper season 2, but it doesn’t have the same amount of time spent on them in the books. The Netflix series slowly shows more and more of Darcy’s unstable home situation and rocky relationship with her mother, which culminates in Darcy running away from home prior to the prom. The aftermath of this event marks the first time that Darcy has truly let her walls down to Tara, and this prompts them to say “I love you” for the first time. While it’s a heartfelt moment in the Netflix series, it’s not shown in the books.
Alice Oseman’s books show that Darcy’s difficult relationship with her family is canonical, but its focus is much smaller in the story. The biggest glimpse into Darcy’s home life happens when Tara mentions to Nick that Darcy’s family “are horrible people.” This implies that Tara already knows of Darcy’s situation and how it affects her in the books, whereas Netflix’s Tara is finding out all of this information for the first time. While this is a small book change, it’s actually a positive one, as it allows audiences to gain a deeper glimpse into Darcy's character.
8 Elle & Tao’s Relationship Plays Out Differently In The Heartstopper Books
Elle and Tao’s relationship gets a special focus in Heartstopper season 2, but their budding romance happens a little differently in the original books. Season 2 of the iconic Netflix teen series documents Elle and Tao’s mutual crushes on each other, which culminates in an awkward first date, almost causing them to just stay friends. Luckily, the two characters find their footing as a couple over the course of the Paris trip, which helps them overcome the complication of Elle going to art college for sixth form. Watching Elle and Tao go from friends to something more is one of the most wholesome parts of Heartstopper season 2, but it happens differently in the books.
Much of Elle and Tao’s early attempts at romance in Netflix’s Heartstopper, including their first date, were created for the show, and thus don’t happen in the books. In the original graphic novels, Elle and Tao’s friendship doesn’t become a love story until the Paris trip when the two go to the museum together. Although adding new events in Elle and Tao’s story is a significant book change, getting to see more of the two characters as a couple is only a good thing.
7 Elle Stays At Higgs In The Heartstopper Books
Heartstopper season 2 shows Elle’s journey of applying to and eventually getting accepted to an art college for sixth form. Unfortunately, this storyline doesn’t happen in the books. In the Heartstopper books, Elle continues attending Higgs with Tara, Darcy, and Sahar. This change is significant for the tension and drama Elle’s art school application causes between her and Tao in the Netflix show, as Tao is insecure about being left behind. Despite being a plot point not in the original books, Elle’s art school story is a welcome difference, as it’s great to see Elle’s talents be celebrated at the exhibition later in the season.
6 Isaac’s Subplot Isn’t In The Heartstopper Books
Season 2 of Netflix’s Heartstopper develops Isaac’s character in a major way, but unfortunately, the character’s big subplot isn’t present in the books. Isaac is a show-only character, so as a result, Isaac’s journey towards discovering and accepting his asexuality in Heartstopper's season 2 isn’t present in the original novels. Instead, the Heartstopper books feature a different friend of Charlie’s named Aled, who reveals to Charlie that he has a boyfriend while they’re in Paris. Although replacing Aled with Isaac is a controversial choice in Heartstopper, Isaac’s story helps give the show some more important examples of LGBTQ+ representation.
5 Nick & Charlie Don’t Meet Nick’s Dad In Paris In The Heartstopper Books
Both Netflix’s Heartstopper and Alice Oseman’s original graphic novels document Nick’s struggle to connect with his father in Paris, but the scenario has a different outcome in the books. In the Netflix series, Nick and Charlie meet up with Nick’s dad, Stéphane, while they are in Paris, but Stephane gets called away before they can catch up. However, this subplot is far more brutal in the books, in which Stéphane never meets up with Nick in Paris at all. In each version of Heartstopper, it’s clear that Stéphane is an absentee dad, but the books’ presentation of Nick’s dad drives home how detached Stéphane is from his son’s life.
4 The Kids Don’t Have A Bonfire Party Or Prom In The Heartstopper Books
The kids celebrate two huge milestone events in Heartstopper season 2, but these moments are completely absent from the books. After the conclusion of their term, the Heartstopper characters attend a bonfire party with their fellow classmates, which is unfortunately cut short for Nick and Charlie when Nick begins to feel ill. However, no such event is present in the books, meaning the post-term bonfire party was completely constructed for Netflix’s Heartstopper.
Likewise, the second half of Heartstopper season 2 puts a big spotlight on the kids preparing for prom, which doesn’t actually take place in the books. Despite this, however, including a prom in season 2 is a fantastic addition to the show, as prom is the catalyst for more of Darcy’s backstory being revealed. Additionally, seeing the Heartstopper characters get to enjoy an important teenage milestone like prom is incredibly sweet, so including the event is a positive book difference.
3 Charlie Doesn’t Tell Ben Off In The Heartstopper Books
One of the climaxes of Heartstopper season 2 occurs when Charlie tells Ben off for everything that the latter put the former through, but sadly, this never occurs in the books. In Netflix’s Heartstopper, Ben stalks Charlie to Elle’s art exhibition and tries one last time to get Charlie back, but instead, Charlie ends up giving Ben a piece of his mind. Charlie angrily tells Ben about all the mental anguish Ben’s treatment did to him, and he doesn’t forgive Ben. As satisfying as this scene is in Netflix’s Heartstopper, it sadly only happens in the TV show.
Since Ben is a far more minor character in the Heartstopper books, Charlie’s speech to him never occurs. Charlie actually delivers a similar speech to Harry when he tries to crash Tara’s birthday party in Paris, which is just as satisfying for the books as Charlie’s speech to Ben is. Because Ben has a bigger presence in the Netflix adaptation, it was possibly decided by the writers that it would be more fitting for Charlie to tell off Ben instead of Harry in the show. Though it makes for a big book change, it ends up being positive, as Charlie’s speech to Ben is nothing short of epic.
2 Charlie Finds Out Tao Outed Him Differently In The Heartstopper Books
In Heartstopper season 2, Charlie finds out the real reason he got outed as gay at Truham, but the scenario plays out a little differently in the books. Towards the end of Heartstopper season 2, Tao confesses to Charlie that the reason why Charlie's sexuality was disclosed without his consent was because he had been talking about about him with Isaac a little too loudly in the hallway. Tao is extremely apologetic for this in the Netflix show, and Charlie forgives him instantly. While the circumstances are the same in the Heartstopper books, Charlie finds it out in another way, which begets far different consequences.
Instead of Tao confessing, Aled (who doesn’t appear in the Heartstopper Netflix show) tells Charlie what Tao. Rather than being understanding and forgiving of Tao’s mistake, Charlie understandably has difficulties forgiving Tao at first, which becomes a source of tension for the two in Heartstopper Vol. 3. In fact, Charlie is mad enough over what happened that it leads to Tao being the last to know about Charlie and Nick’s relationship prior to the friends eventually reconciling. Though it might seem like Tao’s confession is a small difference, the consequences of the action makes it a huge book change.
1 James’ Character Was Expanded For Netflix’s Heartstopper
Heartstopper season 2 sees the introduction of James, another Truham student who befriends Isaac during the season, but James’ character is unfortunately not as important in the books. Netflix’s Heartstopper greatly expands James’ character from the books, as in the original books, James only appears as the person Charlie refuses to kiss during Truth Or Dare. Although James’ increased role in Netflix’s Heartstopper isn’t part of the books, James is a huge part of Isaac’s development, which demonstrates that sometimes making changes to the original books for the screen can be a good thing.