The 10 biggest changes between the ‘Doctor Sleep’ movie and the best-selling Stephen King book

Ewan McGregor stars in

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Ewan McGregor stars in “Doctor Sleep.”
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Warner Bros.

  • Warning: There are major spoilers ahead for “Doctor Sleep.
  • Warner Bros. adaptation of Stephen King’s 2013 sequel to “The Shining” is in theaters and it features many changes from the book.
  • “Doctor Sleep” is a sequel to the original horror movie that follows the grownup Danny (played by Ewan McGregor) who meets others who have similar powers, referred to as “shine,” as they face a dangerous cult, the “True Knot,” set on acquiring their powers.
  • From some huge character omissions to a completely different ending, Insider rounds up the biggest departures the movie makes from King’s best-seller.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Danny’s visit with Dick Hallorann at the film’s start is completely different.

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Carl Lumbly takes over the role of Dick Hallorann from Scatman Crothers in “The Shining.”
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Warner Bros.

In the book: Wendy (Dan’s mother) asks the Overlook Hotel’s chef, Dick Hallorann, to visit with Dan (the young boy from the original who’s now an adult) to help him work through trauma he’s experiencing from his stay there in “The Shining.” Dan has been seeing ghosts from the hotel, mostly the naked woman from room 217.

Hallorann tells Danny about his sadist grandfather and teaches him how to lock the spirits in trap boxes within his mind.

In the movie: Wendy never calls for Hallorann. Instead, he appears as a ghost who young Danny briefly speaks with to learn about the magical lock boxes he can store with spirits in his head.


Danny Torrence is in a different state when we first meet him.

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Danny Torrence is giving Jersey a bad name.
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Warner Bros.

In the book: Danny is introduced to us as he wakes up in Wilmington, North Carolina, after a drunken night with a woman, Deenie, he met at a bar.

In the movie: For whatever reason, Danny’s now in New Jersey.


Deenie’s child doesn’t constantly haunt Danny as he does in the book.

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Deenie comes to Danny in a nightmare.
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Warner Bros.

In the book: When Danny wakes up in Deenie’s bed and discovers he’s missing $500, he decides to take the money Deenie has left in her purse. On his way out of the apartment, Danny spots a toddler, Tommy, with a bruised arm standing by a few lines of coke. The child cries out, believing it to be candy saying, “Canny. Mama.”

Danny picks up the child and brings him to his mother. It’s something that continuously haunts him throughout the book, especially because he later surmises that Tommy died at the hands of his abusive uncle and Deenie took her life as a result.

In the movie: Danny spots Tommy, but he’s never near a table full of drugs or crying out “Canny.” He plants the toddler next to his mother, just like in the book, and takes some of her cash.

Later in the film, Danny witnesses both of them in his bed as corpses. To someone who hasn’t read the book, the scene may simply play as a creepy nightmare and not a confirmation that she and her child were killed. It’s never brought up again in the film even though it’s a demon that follows Danny for a very long time because he stole from them.


Abra’s grandmother, Concetta, is basically non-existent in the film.

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Abra is really close with her grandmother in the book.
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Warner Bros.

In the book: Concetta, referred to as Momo by Abra, a girl with the “shining” power, plays a huge role in the novel.

When Concetta is dying of cancer, she’s visited by Dan. At her bedside, Dan learns a startling revelation about a connection they have (more on that in a second). Concetta is also instrumental in helping Dan defeat the True Knot.

In the movie: Momo gets nothing more than a slight mention as a nod to the book. Abra’s mother mentions that she’s going to visit her mother who isn’t doing well.


In the book, Abra and Dan are related.

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If you were weirded out about why Abra and Dan shared such a powerful odd connection, it’s because it wasn’t a coincidence.
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Warner Bros.

In the book: When Dan’s at Concetta’s bedside, he learns that his father had a child with her years ago. Abra’s mother is his half-sister, making the young girl his niece.

That helps explain why the two have such a strong connection and makes their relationship less random.

In the movie: This isn’t addressed at all. It’s skipped right over. The only nod you get to their book relationship is that Abra refers to Torrence as her Uncle Dan. However, that’s something Abra did in the book even before she knew they were related in order to explain why the two were hanging out to any onlookers.


A number of other big characters are missing from the film.

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Cliff Curtis plays Billy who is a combination of both Billy and Casey in “Doctor Sleep.”
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Warner Bros.

In the book: When Dan arrives in Frazier, New Hampshire, he receives a job from Casey Kingsley. Kingsley takes a chance on him even though he can tell Danny’s an alcoholic. He says he can work in Frazier as long as he sobers up and attends AA.

Doctor John is the bridge between Danny and Abra’s family in the book. He convinces Abra’s family the two both have special powers.

In the movie: Kingsley’s role is somewhat combined with Billy’s. Doctor John appears briefly, again as a nod to the book, as the head of Danny’s AA group. It’s never revealed whether or not he knows Abra’s family.


The majority of the True Knot die in different ways.

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The True Knot prey upon people with special powers, “the shining,” in “Doctor Sleep.”
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Warner Bros. Pictures

In the book: After killing a young boy, many of the True Knot slowly contract measles and start to die. It’s a bit of a silly death, but that’s what happens.

Others are killed when Danny unleashes a red steam on them that he breathed in when Concetta died of cancer. This probably would have been a bit confusing to adapt to screen.

Some of the other members of the True Knot part ways with their leader, Rose, when she becomes too obsessed with Abra and many of the flock are dying off.

In the movie: All of that is scrapped in the film. No one leaves Rose’s side and it becomes an all out shooting spree as Billy and Danny kill most of the True Knot by gunshot at a campsite.


Danny returns to the Overlook Hotel, which is still standing.

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Danny Torrence revisits the Overlook Hotel and his demons in “Doctor Sleep.”
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Warner Bros. Pictures

In the movie: Danny and Abra travel to the Overlook Hotel for a final showdown with Rose after the rest of the True Knot are killed.

In a long sequence of events, Danny revisits and unleashes many of the ghosts from the hotel on Rose. Danny even has a vision of his father, Jack, at the Overlook’s bar, and has a long conversation with him.

In the book: Danny returns to the campsite where the Overlook Hotel was to face off against Rose, but the hotel itself is completely demolished. On the novel’s first page that’s made clear when King writes it burned to the ground because of a defective boiler.

Like in the film, Danny sets the spirits of the hotel loose on Rose. Abra’s never physically there or in danger.


A number of people are killed in the film’s third act who survive in the book.

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Abra’s father, David, doesn’t make it through the film version of “Doctor Sleep.”
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Warner Bros.

In the movie: Crow Daddy, a member of the cult, visits Abra’s home in order to kidnap her, but only winds up killing her father, David.

After shooting Rattlesnake Andi, another member of the cult, she commands Billy to kill himself, which he does on screen.

In the book: None of this happens. While the True Knot dies, Abra’s father and Billy make it to the end of King’s book alive.


Danny is also killed by the film’s end.

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The third act of “Doctor Sleep” departs largely from the novel.
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Warner Bros.

In the movie: Danny sacrifices himself to save Abra by tampering with the Overlook Hotel’s boiler and burning it to the ground.

He’s later seen at Abra’s house, giving her advice about her powers, but it’s revealed he’s not really there. He’s a ghost.

In the book: Danny Torrence doesn’t die. He’s seen celebrating 15 years of sobriety with his new family at a birthday party for Abra. This was the most surprising change from the books.