First Kill: 6 Major Differences Between The Netflix TV Show And The Short Story

Sarah Catherine Hook and Imani Lewis in First Kill.
(Image credit: Netflix)

First Kill has added some new blood to the vampire genre. It’s the timeless tale of a vampire falling for a human, but it adds a fresh queer twist with the human and vampire at the heart of the show being two teenage lesbians. The First Kill TV show has been a must-see summer show because it's the right blend of melodrama, camp, and paranormal fun. If you’re already obsessed with First Kill, you may be surprised to learn that it's an adaptation of a short story.

The First Kill TV show is based on the short story of the same name by Victoria Schwab (or V.E. Schwab as she is better known). It’s included in a vampire anthology book called Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite. The First Kill TV show and the short story have a lot in common, but there are a few interesting differences.

Warning: Spoilers ahead for The First Kill TV show and short story. Proceed with caution.

Imani Lewis and Sarah Catherine Hook in First Kill on Netflix

(Image credit: Netflix)

Legacy Vampires Aren’t Invincible 

In an A.V. Club interview with V.E. Schwab (who also wrote the pilot), she shares that she wrote the short story with a pilot in mind. This means she saw the short story as a way to introduce readers to this world.

This also explains why the short story has so many elements that end up in the pilot. However, one key change that either just wasn’t explained in the short story or wasn’t thought of until the show’s development stage is the Legacy vampires’ powers.

Vampires are known to die when they get a stake to the heart or sun burns them. We’ve seen this in many vampire movies and TV shows. One way the Legacy vampires standout in the First Kill TV show is that a simple stake to the heart doesn’t kill them. They also can walk freely into the sun.

However, this wasn’t the case with the First Kill short story. When Calliope tries to kill Juliette with a stake, it doesn’t work because she doesn’t push it in hard enough, and Juliette stops her when she tries, so Calliope runs off before finishing her kill. Also, one of the ways that Calliope figures out that Juliette is a vampire is that she continues to avoid direct sunlight. She hides in the shaded areas when at school.

Juliette is also described as being a paler complexion than she appears in the show, and this is probably because the sun is not her friend. These changes are likely because when developing the show, the writers wanted to make the Legacy vampires very hard to defeat. 

This could also be because as a fan of Supernatural and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, V.E Schwab knew that to create a great supernatural villain, you have to make them really hard to beat. So many great Buffy the Vampire Slayer villains needed more than a stake to be killed. 

Sarah Catherine Hook and Imani Lewis in First Kill

(Image credit: Netflix)

The First Kill Kiss Starts With A Game Of Truth Or Dare                                

In the First Kill TV show, Calliope and Juliette have their first kiss after playing Spin The Bottle. In the short story, it happens after Truth or Dare. Ben dares Calliope and Juliette to go into the closet for 60 seconds.

The closet kiss also has some other differences, including who initiates the kiss. In the show, it’s an eager Juliette, but in the short story, Calliope starts it. The kiss is also shorter because it’s less than 60 seconds before the bite and attempted staking.

The kiss also doesn’t end how it ends in the pilot episode. Calliope runs off knowing that she failed to kill Juliette. Then they both worry about being exposed. The end of the short story is them looking at each other with a smile (flirty, I assume) as they get ready to hunt each other. 

Will Swenson and Elizabeth Mitchell in First Kill

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Family Members Are Mentioned But Not As Important

Elinor, Apollo, Theo, Sebastian, and most of the First Kill cast make an appearance in the short story. The parents aren’t given names and have brief appearances. Elinor and the Burns brothers have longer scenes.

The short story makes it very clear how much Juliette admires and wants to be like her older sister. Elinor also doesn’t quite seem as wicked as she comes off on the show, but she’s definitely a strong, fierce presence in the short story. 

The Burns brothers and Calliope hunting scene are almost exactly as it appears in the first episode of First Kill. It’s clear in the short story how important both families are to the girls and to the story, but as a short story, there just aren't enough pages to fully develop them. The Burns family and Fairmonts fully come alive in the First Kill TV show.

The family dynamic is one of the things that makes this show so appealing. 

Sarah Catherine Hook and Imani Lewis in First Kill

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Bee Scene Never Happens

One of the initial interactions that happen between Juliette and Calliope in the show is when they have an awkward conversation, and then Juliette rescues Calliope from a bee.

This is one of the few major scenes from the First Kill pilot episode that isn’t in the short story at all. It’s not even mentioned as something that may have happened prior to the events of the short story. Juliette, however, does mention that she once tried to offer Calliope a ride but her brothers showed up. The bee scene could be an evolved version of that storyline. 

Jonas Dylan Allen and Roberto Mendez in First Kill

(Image credit: Netflix)

Noah Is Named Alex In The Short Story

In the First Kill TV show, Noah is the “straight” boy that Ben is secretly hooking up with behind Noah’s girlfriend’s back. Then he gets eaten by a zombie.

In the short story, Juliette mentions that Ben has a crush on a straight guy named Alex. It’s only mentioned as a crush without implications that they’re hooking up secretly. It makes sense that the First Kill TV show turned Alex into Noah and wrote Noah and Ben as secret lovers, because it makes his death a little more impactful. 

Gracie Dzienny and Dylan McNamara in First Kill

(Image credit: Netflix)

Oliver And Tess Aren't Mentioned In The Short Story 

In the First Kill TV show, Tess is Calliope’s ex-girlfriend and best friend who is also a monster hunter. Tess and her family aren’t mentioned in the short story, which isn’t that big of a deal, because Tess is a minor character, but another major character’s absence is more noticeable.

Oliver is Elinor’s twin and the black sheep of the Fairmont family. In the First Kill TV show, his family alludes to him for a few episodes before he makes his grand entrance. Based on the short story, it seems like Oliver was a character developed after the show was greenlit. 

Oliver has been an interesting character so far, so I’m glad the writers created him for the series. He adds even more sinister energy to the Fairmont clan.

First Kill is one of Netflix’s most popular TV shows right now because it is a great LGBTQ+ romance show with plenty of drama and paranormal creatures. Stream First Kill Season 1 on Netflix. Buy Vampires Never Die: Tales with Fresh Bite on Amazon or at your favorite bookstore.                  

Jerrica Tisdale
Freelance Writer

Spent most of my life in various parts of Illinois, including attending college in Evanston. I have been a life long lover of pop culture, especially television, turned that passion into writing about all things entertainment related. When I'm not writing about pop culture, I can be found channeling Gordon Ramsay by kicking people out the kitchen.