The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones | Which One was Closer to the Book: Movie or TV Show?

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As I mentioned about a week ago, I got The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. Typically I like reading the book series before diving into movies or shows but this time was the opposite. I saw the TV show first then watched the movie and now I’ve finished the first book in the series. So I thought I would compare the three together on the merits of which one was the closest to following the plot of the book. Since I will be talking about the plot of all three, a spoiler warning is in effect.

If you like to hear my opinions on the movie and TV show, check out the comparison post I did on them.

To start off with as much as I prefer the TV Show to the movie, the movie for the most part is way, way closer to the plot of the book. As well as the characters. Now it is missing a good amount of characters and other things, but as far as representing what happens the movie is almost spot on. There are some serious differences besides missing characters but also the ending is wildly different. The show on the other hand is a loose adaptation in comparison. I’ll get more into that in a second as I’m going to break it down to few keys moments rather than going over every single detail.

Discovery Clary is a Shadowhunter

All three have Clary going to a club called Pandemonium where she first encounters Jace, Isabelle, and Alec killing a shapeshifting demon. Each where Clary has separated from Simon, but the circumstances were all different. In both the movie and show, Simon is getting booze at the bar using a fake ID. While in the book, he’s actually getting a security guard. After the group kills the demon, Clary is shocked but in the books she doesn’t scream. She actually talks to them then claims she was mistaken rather than asking about the people no one else is able to see. While in the movie and show, she is shocked no one else can see them and specifically asks them about it.

In the show, Clary goes home as she’s done celebrating her eighteenth birthday to discover her mother was kidnapped after a struggle with the Circle. Jace shows up and saves her along with giving her the first rune. In the movie and book however she goes home to an uneventful night then goes to a coffee shop for a poetry reading the next morning with Simon. Where she runs into Jace. After Clary learns her mom was attacked via a phone call in both the book and movie. After Clary deals with the demon herself, Jace arrives then gives her a rune: healing in the movie and an invisibility rune in the book.

Blocked Memories

To get her memories back, Clary first goes to the Silent Brothers in all three. She is the most resistant to it in the book. Also in the show, Simon comes with along with Alec and Izzy (more on that in the next section). However, in the book and movie only Jace accompanies Clary to the City of Bones. In all of them Clary’s memories are not recovered. However, she remembers the name Magnus Bane in all of them. Another expectation is that in the show Clary learns Valentine is her father, while she does not learn this in the other two.

Then they go to see Magnus at a party he is throwing. In the show, they offer Izzy’s necklace as payment only to learn he doesn’t have Clary’s memories and that they were taken by a demon for safe keeping. In the other two they learn the spell cannot be reversed and Clary had to go to Magnus in regular intervals to keep up the spell. And that over time it will fade either where Clary will start to remember overtime or never regain the memories of the shadow world.

Simon & The Vampires

Credit: Netflix

The point at which Simon encounters and is taken by vampires in all three are very different. While the movie was the closest at having it happen during the course of Magnus’ party. The circumstances were very different.

In the book, Simon is turned into a rat after drinking a potion then after being put in Clary’s backpack is kidnapped by vampires who mistaken him as one of their own. Jace and Clary go after him alone without the assitance of Isabelle or Alec. They stop by a church to get weapons then enter Hotel Dumort with the assistance of Raphael, who was pretending to be human. They manage to get Simon back and werewolves show up to get Clary. Simon during this event is biting vampires thus accidentally consuming vampire blood. They manage to escape onto the roof then take off using one of the vampire’s motorcycles. As they travel, dawn happens and the motorcycle runs out of energy causing them to crash in a parking lot. Simon at this point turns back into a human.

Credit: Freeform

In the show, Simon is kidnapped while Clary and Jace are in the City of Bones by Raphael and another vampire. While with the vampires, Simon drinks Bloody Mary with Camille and ends up drinking her blood during this. Jace and Clary steal a vampire motorcycle then fly to the roof of the Hotel Dumort. Meanwhile, Izzy and Alec are being a distraction for the other vampires in the basement. After they meet up and rescue Simon, they are escorted out by Raphael to the roof who doesn’t want trouble with the Clave. The vampires originally kidnapped him for the Mortal Cup.

In the movie, Simon is kidnapped during the party and taken to the Hotel Dumort. The full group goes in together to rescue him only to find him hanging by chains as a way to get to Clary for the Mortal Cup. They manage to rescue him and after he doesn’t need to wear glasses presumably due to drinking vampire blood though that is not shown at any point during the movie. As the group is fighting to leave the hotel, werewolves appear and are trying to help get Clary out of the hotel. They mistaken this as them attacking and Luke is injured during the battle.

Clary & Jace First Kiss

In the show, Clary and Jace do not have their first kiss until after Clary has gotten the Tarot card out of the police precinct since Luke had them at the time. Clary thought she initially killed Jace only for it to be a shapeshifting demon and when she gets back to the Institute she ends up kissing Jace. Clary has no clue Simon is in love with her until the following season after she’s learned Jace is her “brother”.

However, in both the movie and book Jace takes Clary to the greenhouse for a midnight picnic to see the flowers bloom on her birthday. There he gives her a witchstone then as they are going down the stairs they kiss after Clary slips. Only for them to go back to her room where Simon is sound asleep. Simon gets furious at this as he woke up to seeing them kiss outside of the room and announces he’s in love with Clary. After when she doesn’t share the same feelings back, Simon storms off. Jace is also hurt that Clary downplays the incident and leaves her as well. The lines Jace mentions in the book and movie are identical though I think they flow more naturally in the book as there was more lead up as compared to the movie where it seemed a little out of no where.

Finding the Mortal Cup

In all three, Clary learns she can push and pull items out of drawings. However, in the book she needs a rune to do so. In the show she learns about the ability after talking with Luke where she learns how he became a werewolf, when she pushed her brother’s memory box into a sketchpad after explaining that her memories are gone forever. And in the movie, she learns about it after making her cup of coffee vanish while she was reading in the library.

I already mentioned where Clary got the card in the show so I’m going to skip over the how of that one. She manages to pull the cup out and uses it to make demons leave her alone so she can escape the sewers. The book and movie on the other hand both have them being held by Dorothea who is a witch. In the show, Dorothea (Dot) is a warlock who was captured by Valentine. When they retrieve the card, Clary pulls the Mortal Cup out of the card Dorothea is revealed to be a demon or possessed by one. Which they have to defeat. In both Alec is critically wounded and Simon has to help to defeat Dorothea.

Hodge’s Betrayal & Valentine Gets the Cup

In the show, Hodge betrays the Clave during Alec’s wedding. An event that doesn’t occur anywhere else and is the same time Alec reveals to his family that he’s gay and kisses Magnus instead of marrying Lydia. I seriously love that scene, and yes I realize it’s not part of the book at there isn’t much going back and forth between Alec or Magnus during it. But still, in the show perfection (Mae kisses fingers before releasing them). Anyways… Hodge takes the cup and leaves the Institute with Valentine’s assistance to drop the punishment rune so he can turn over the cup. After he does so, Jace slices off Hodge’s hand once they encounter him before Hodge is taken to the Silent Brothers to live out his remaining days in the dungeon. Valentine also reveals during the rescue scene of Jocelyn at Renwick’s that he is also Jace’s father after Clary gives him a glamoured mug that looked like the Mortal Cup. Clary was already aware he is her father due to her trip to the Silent Brothers earlier. Later Jace tries to save the whole group while they are looking for the book of the White for Magnus so Jocelyn can be woken up. In order to save everyone, Jace agrees to go with Valentine.

In the movie, Valentine when he arrives at the Institute with Hodge’s assistance, Hodge gives Valentine the cup and Valentine announces to Jace and Clary he is their father. But it is also revealed during a conversation between Hodge and Valentine that this is a lie that Valentine was going to tell to get them to do as he wished. Clary puts the cup in the portal after she gets it back during a fight and ends up giving Valentine a fake Mortal Cup before pushing Valentine in it before destroying it. Jace and Clary both refuse to go with Valentine. Hodge also helps stop Valentine by closing a portal that allows demons to enter the Institute and sacrifices himself in the process. Alec was saved by Magnus Bane.

In the book, after Alec is gravely injured by a Greater Demon and Clary shows Hodge the cup. Hugo attacks causing Jace to go unconscious then he summons Valentine using the ring Jace was wearing. Valentine arrives and takes both the cup and Jace before freeing Hodge of his curse. Clary goes after him but just as Hodge attacks Luke as a werewolf stops him. After Clary wakes up she learns how Luke became a werewolf and that Valentine is her father. Then Clary along with the werewolves go to Renwick on Rosevelt’s Island to get the Mortal Cup, Jace, and Jocelyn. When Clary finds Jace after discovering Jocelyn, Jace informs her that Valentine is his father. Which of course he believes since Valentine did raise him and gave him the same name as his real son, Jonathan Christopher. Jace is more than willing to go along with Valentine’s plan as he believes the stories he was told about Valentine were all wrong, but also believes Jocelyn abandoned him not that she believed he was killed by Valentine. Jace eventually turns on Valentine after learning he murdered Jocelyn’s parents in a fire, causing Valentine to step through the portal to Idris before destroying it so they can’t go after him with the Mortal Cup. In the meantime, Alec was saved by Magnus Bane.

Discovery of Angelic Abilities

Clary learns the ability to use her angelic abilities during the first book after being trapped by Hodge as images of runes come to her mind. In the movie, she learns the ability after being trapped in the basement of the Institute with Simon, Isabelle, and werewolves as they are being attacked by demons. In the show however, Clary doesn’t learn it until the second season when she is trapped in a basement where a warlock named Iris is trying to have her personal demon impregnate Clary. The rune in the book frees her from the trap, the one in the movie freezes the demons, and the one in the show is pure sunlight.

Minor Details/Differences

Credit: Freeform


  1. Alec uses a bow.
  2. Hodge is scholarly and has a raven.
  3. The Institute isn’t filled of Shadowhunters.
  4. Most runes turn into silver/white scars after use and need to be re-applied.
  5. There is a garden house at the Institute.
  6. Clary is fifteen turning sixteen.
  7. The Institute has a cat named Church.
  8. Magnus has a cat named Chairman Meow.
  9. Clary hates Alec, Izzy and Jace right away. As well as for most of the book.
  10. Clary has carrot red hair.
  11. Luke owns a bookstore.
  12. Jace has topaz eyes.
  13. Clary is a scared little girl with no training and the only kills that belong to her are accidental.
  14. There are two portals one at Dorothea’s and the other was at Renwick.
  15. Joselyn was at Renwick.
  16. Lightwoods just think Valentine freed Hodge of his punishment, not that he betrayed them in the process.
  17. Simon is not a vampire.
  18. Jace recognizes Valentine but thinks he’s Michael Wayland. Learns later that he was actually Valentine.


  1. Alec uses a blade.
  2. Hodge is scholarly and has a raven.
  3. The Institute isn’t filled of Shadowhunters.
  4. Runes stay forever and are black.
  5. There is a garden house at the Institute.
  6. Clary’s age is unknown.
  7. There is no cat named Church.
  8. Magnus does not have a cat.
  9. Clary dislikes Alec and doesn’t care for Izzy. Is typically warm towards Jace.
  10. Clary has auburn/brown hair.
  11. Luke owns a bookstore.
  12. Jace has light brown almost topaz eyes.
  13. Clary is not trained by the end of the movie and manages several kills of various enemies.
  14. The only shown portal was in the Institute and was like water.
  15. Joselyn was found in the basement of the Institute.
  16. Is it not made known if the Lightwoods were made aware of Hodge’s betrayal. Though it is hinted Isabelle might know when Hodge comes to the green house.
  17. Simon is not a vampire.
  18. Jace does not recognize Valentine or mistake him for Michael Wayland.


  1. Alec uses a bow.
  2. Hodge is young and more combat focused.
  3. The Institute is full of Shadowhunters.
  4. Runes stay forever and are brown-ish in season one.
  5. There is no garden house at the Institute.
  6. Clary has just turned eighteen.
  7. Magnus has a cat named Church in the other dimension.
  8. Magnus has a cat named Chairman Meow in the other dimension.
  9. Clary dislikes Alec, but is good friends with Izzy and Jace.
  10. Clary has carrot red hair.
  11. Luke is a police detective.
  12. Jace has heterochromia eyes (blue/brown).
  13. Clary is more trained by the end of the first season and can somewhat hold her own.
  14. Portals were created by warlocks and dimensional portal in the Seelie Realm that Clary used to find her mother.
  15. Joselyn was at Renwick.
  16. Lightwoods know Hodge betrayed them.
  17. Simon has become a vampire.
  18. Valentine is glamoured as Michael Wayland when Jace and Clary find him.

So ultimately the movie is closer to the book as well as having the characters say the same lines, but still if I were to disregard which was closer as an exact adaptation I still love and prefer the show. Though I would have to say if I read the books first, my opinion would probably be insanely different and those differences would probably bother me as I love when things are very close to the books. Including the iconic dialogue, I love when those are word for word in the movies. But since I saw the show first, I don’t mind those differences at all. And honestly picture the show characters with their voices as I read the books.


Love ya,

Mae Polzine

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