No novel is as popular as Jane Austen’s (who I also like to refer to as the Queen of Angst) Pride and Prejudice. The 1813 novel of manners is brimming with empowering heroines (but not Lydia, never Lydia), brooding men yearning for character transformations, balls, and, of course, proposals. It is a truth universally acknowledged that any fan of Jane Austen will always be excited about watching a Pride and Prejudice adaptation – even if it has Lily James and zombies in it. 

I’ve read and re-read Pride & Prejudice countless times, participated in heated debates to explain why Joe Wright’s version is the greatest movie ever, and performed a one-person play narrating every character’s dialogue before my mirror. What I am trying to say is that I am not just a Pride and Prejudice enthusiast…I am a super fan.

Many Austen admirers share my love for the novel and its many adaptations. Although the argument always centers between the BBC series and Joe Wright’s work, other adaptations have been long forgotten. So for you, my fellow P&P fan, I ranked 15 adaptations. Watching these (not necessarily in the same order) is something of a rite of passage for every Janeite. Or so I like to believe.

15: Pride, Prejudice, And Mistletoe (2018)

We love a modern Pride and Prejudice adaptation that has a Christmas spin on it. The Hallmark movie starring Lacey Chabert and Brendan Penny is a gender-flipped version of the story — with the actress playing Darcy and Penny portraying her former debate team rival Luke (aka Elizabeth). Darcy is a big-city gal who returns home for Christmas break and helps her mom put on a charity gala. Interestingly, Luke Bennet (yes, they did that) is the very man catering to the party. 

Now, as far as an adaptation goes, it’s pretty refreshing and almost cute for a Hallmark movie, but don’t go expecting any fiery insults and angst. There isn’t much similarity to the book other than the characters’ names, and it is like a P&P adaptation on a sugar rush. Still, it is worth watching once!

14: Unleashing Mr. Darcy

My fellow Janeites, I know what you’re thinking. What kind of respectable P&P adaptation calls itself that? But take it from me, after watching so many different book-to-screen renditions, there isn’t a single one as hilarious as Unleashing Mr. Darcy. They took the title very seriously and allowed Mr. Darcy (Ryan Paevey) and all the other cast members to voice precisely what they were thinking in this one.

This movie doesn’t just put a modern spin on the book and throw our characters into a fancy New York City dog show setting — it transforms it into a comedy. In the movie, there is one scene where Elizabeth’s (Cindy Busby) mother takes one look at Darcy and goes, “He’s almost too pretty.” Yeah, he is. There’s another where Darcy looks over at Elizabeth at the dog show and says, “Fine eyes, shame about the freckles.” And right when she thinks he’s talking about her — that’s when he clarifies, “I was talking about the dog.” Don’t even get me started on the iteration of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. The punchlines in this movie are absolute gold, so make a tub of popcorn, sit back, and watch them unfold.

13: Christmas At Pemberley Manor (2018)

This adaptation — also a Hallmark movie — sees Elizabeth Bennet as a New York City-based event planner on her journey to set up the holiday festival in a small town. She meets Darcy, a high-profile billionaire who wants to sell the estate she intends to use as a venue. She eventually persuades him, and they work together to arrange said festivities and fall in love. A turn of events causes the festival to shut down unexpectedly, and Darcy decides to sell the estate (because apparently, it can’t wait). The night before Christmas, Elizabeth wishes for a miracle to reinstate the town’s holiday cheer and bring back the festival, and a magical Santa answers.

I love stories set in small towns, but this isn’t my favorite inspired adaptation, and very little of it makes sense. But I’d suggest watching it and taking everything with a grain of salt — you’d be surprised to find out that some moments are not as cheesy!

12: Pride and Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy (2013)

Pride and Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy follows Elizabeth (Kam Heskin) as a college student and aspiring writer against the modern-day background of Utah. It’s a fun spin on the story — Elizabeth doesn’t care about getting married and wants to focus on becoming a writer.  The publishing house that might fulfill her dream is co-owned by the pompous Darcy, and throw in a Las Vegas elopement from the ever-so-scandalous Lydia and some gripping Jane and Bingley drama — this is a pretty good nod to the novel! It has plenty of hilarious moments and displays the characters and their lives in the future as well.

I’d recommend watching it without any expectations — you will be rewarded with a fun P&P-inspired movie that you’ll love!

11: Pride and Prejudice (1980)

Allow me to be honest for a quick minute — I’m sure if the 1980 show was my first venture into the many P&P adaptations that exist, it would be my favorite. The remake is true to the novel and is one of the more nuanced versions. The story is the same, and everything you love is all there, but it’s the characters and performances I’d like to talk about! The five-part miniseries is filmed beautifully, you hear the chirping of birds, and even the silence between Elizabeth and Darcy speaks. Elizabeth Garvie is as close to Austen’s conception of Lizzy Bennet, but she isn’t as lively as Ehle or Knightley.

The show is subtle and stately, and David Rintoul’s version of the brooding hero is a little stiff as opposed to his other counterparts, but I think this is a story where there’s something for everyone, so it is likely that you’ll view it differently than I did. It is 100% worthy of your time and appreciation. 

10: Lost in Austen (2008)

P&P meets fantasy in this four-part series. Amanda, a woman from London, enters the novel’s plot through a portal in her bathroom. She joins the Bennet family in their world, and Elizabeth finds herself trapped in 21st century London. Their presence affects the events in their worlds disastrously. The story primarily focuses on Amanda, and how she tries her best to move through the novel’s plot, but things keep on changing because she’s there in place of Lizzie. And when Mr. Bingley expresses interest in her instead of Jane, things get tense.

Lost in Austen is so much fun to watch for any fan of the author. It’s one of those shows you cannot believe exists, but it does. It’s as if a Janeite wrote fan fiction that was made into a television show — only that it’s really good. 

9: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is honestly a fascinating experiment in genre work. Lily James and her co-stars kick everyone’s *ss because, in this version of the beloved novel, women aren’t taught embroidery, and they don’t make cushions. They spend their time cleaning guns and swords and are trained in combat.

The Bennet sisters are famous for their beauty but also their deadly warrior skills, and instead of being worried about bagging the newest bachelor in town, they say cool stuff like, “I shall never relinquish my sword for a ring.” It’s P&P, but with zombies. Elizabeth Bennet’s wit helped her outsmart Darcy in the novel, but here, her weapon and talent for battle help her save lives. I don’t think Jane Austen would mind this version, to be honest.

8: Bride and Prejudice (2004)

Close your eyes. Think of Pride and Prejudice. Now imagine if the story was set in a small town in India. Next, picture everyone singing and dancing — which shouldn’t be hard because if you’re familiar with Bollywood, you’ll know that everyone is always singing and dancing. Okay, now open your eyes. You’ve got Bride and Prejudice!

One of the most fun versions of the story I have ever seen features Aishwarya Rai as Lalita, aka the Indian Lizzy Bennet, and Martin Henderson (Virgin River) as Darcy. Everyone in this movie is very good-looking. Wickham is portrayed by Daniel Gillies (Elijah from The Vampire Diaries), and there are just way too many familiar faces! It’s a story about love across cultures, reminiscent of Austen’s labor of love and yet so highly original. It is the adaptation of my dreams, and it’s so humorous. Henderson is probably the third most-handsome Darcy ever. 

7: Death Comes To Pemberly (2013)

Ever wondered what happened after Darcy and Elizabeth got their happily ever after? Murder, that’s what happened.

This 3-part series starring Anna Maxwell Martin and Matthew Rhys is P&P infused with a classic whodunit murder mystery! Set 6 years after the events of Austen’s book, the BBC drama is based on P.D. James’s novel of the same name and is an entertaining and seriously worthy sequel to the story. Before the plot gathers steam and focuses on a murder in the woods nearby, the show gives viewers a glimpse into the enchanting Pemberley estate — the glorious paintings, libraries, and rooms are all paid thoughtful attention to. The murder mystery might take a backseat sometimes, but this adaptation is a breath of fresh air that will capture the attention of any and every P&P admirer. 

6: Pride And Prejudice (1940)

This black-and-white film stars Greer Garson as Elizabeth and Laurence Olivier as Mr. Darcy. For some reason, though, their costumes are reminiscent of the Victorian era and not regency as in the original novel, so the creators appear to have taken a fair bit of creative liberty. It’s the first big-screen adaptation of the classic novel, and the wit is sparkling, casting is spectacular, and the design is just stunning to look at.

It’s unquestionably one of the big-budgeted adaptations, and though the actors might appear to be older than the characters, the chemistry between Darcy and Elizabeth is incredible. You will find yourself swooning over Olivier, as I did.

5: Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

Bridget Jones’s Diary is based on Helen Fielding’s popular novel of the same name (which is a reinterpretation of Pride and Prejudice, by the way) and stars Renée Zellweger as Bridget Jones, a British 30-something post-feminist woman.

Dedicated to finding romance and taking control of her life, Bridget begins writing everything she hopes will manifest in her life — in a diary. Bridget’s life changes drastically after she meets Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) and Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), and they eventually compete for her affection. It features clever casting and cameos from actors in P&P adaptations and is a classic rom-com that never gets old. The movie is definitely a more modern version of the story — it has some sexual overtones but they’re handled tastefully. Zellweger also earned a Best Actress nod at the Academy Awards for her role! 

4: Austenland (2007)

Austenland is one of the most underrated adaptations of Pride and Prejudice I have ever seen. It’s funny and charming and full of witty exchanges and epic pratfalls that deserve a lot more recognition!

The protagonist is living the life of every Janeite’s dream – her room is jam-packed with P&P memorabilia, and she has a life-size cut-out of Colin Firth as Darcy (where can I get one of those?). One day, she spends an obnoxious amount of money to go to a Jane Austen-theme park where the women wear Regency-era gowns and the men wear..whatever the men in Austen books wear. It stars Keri Russell as P&P superfan Jane Hayes on her journey to finding her own Darcy, but her “copper package” does not allow her the privileges enjoyed by the other guests. Jennifer Coolidge’s golden punchlines kept me laughing through and through, and the honesty of Russell’s character is hilarious. “I am single, because apparently the only good men are fictional!” she says in a scene, making any P&P fan worth their salt scream “ME TOO!” 

3: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012)

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a multiplatform adaptation of the Jane Austen novel. The web series reimagines the classic around a fictional vlog filmed in the bedroom of Elizabeth (Ashley Clements), a 24-year-old grad student who lives at home with her parents and is burdened with student debt. The show primarily takes place in Lizzie’s bedroom, foregoes any fancy costumes and landscapes shots, and only sees the protagonist discussing the trials and tribulations of her daily life. It is dramatically different from the 1813 novel, but it honors its story and is the most creative version of P&P on this entire list.

At 100 episodes, it’s the easiest web series to binge-watch. And if you’re still unconvinced of how cool The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is, here’s a fun fact: In 2013, it became the first web series to ever win an Emmy award!

2: Pride and Prejudice (1995)

If I didn’t have so much love for the 2005 movie, the BBC series (directed by Simon Langton) would easily be ranked number one. How do I begin discussing how great this adaptation is? Jennifer Ehle is the perfect Lizzy, she’s as charming as she is lively, she embodied the character just as I imagined her to be, and gave her so much grace and poise. Colin Firth’s portrayal of Mr. Darcy, sideburns and all, is full of angst and glances that scream yearning. Every time he longingly glances at Lizzy, or gives her a soft smile — I find myself internally screaming. This is the original “I burn for you” vibe, not Bridgerton. Sorry, guys.

Remember when Firth’s version of Mr. Darcy walked out of the lake and the greatest television moment in history was born? Yeah, it was so cool that they immortalized it in a statue. It’s not like we needed to remember that on a good summer’s day in 1995, Mr. Darcy jumped into a lake, completely unaware that he would meet Elizabeth Bennet on the other side. We’re never forgetting it. If you haven’t watched this adaptation yet, drop everything and watch it STAT. You’ll find yourself breaking into applause many, many times.

PS: Remember when Colin Firth said “…your good opinion is rarely bestowed, and therefore more worth the earning” ?? I’ll go weep now.

1: Pride & Prejudice (2005)

Joe Wright’s 2005 movie starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen is ranked number one on my list. At 2 hours and 9 minutes, this movie is significantly shorter than the BBC series, but there’s something about Keira and Matthew’s iteration of my favorite mismatched fictional couple ever that always brings me back to it. There’s no Mr. Darcy jumping into a lake and emerging from it, but there’s the hand flex. When Darcy offers Lizzy his hand so she may step into her family carriage, he turns away before she can glance at him, flexing his fingers in agony. Again, classic “I burn for you” vibe which doesn’t require words to accompany it. It’s mind-numbingly romantic because this scene is entirely built on subtleties. 

Mr. Darcy’s proposal in the pouring rain, in the ancient-looking mausoleum, Lizzy’s first visit to Rosings, the exchange of glances between them when she plays the piano, the look on his face when she expresses her wishes had changed — it’s so comforting to watch. It’s an accurate portrayal of two people who are drawn to each other despite their beliefs or circumstances. No matter how many more times Pride and Prejudice is adapted for the big screen, the 2005 film will always have an audience!

Pride and Prejudice has been influential in establishing the template for romance novels that came after, and has continued to inspire filmmakers to bring the story to life again and again. It is a tale for the ages — and I can’t wait to see who brings their vision to the narrative next. But I’ll say this, there’s something about women directing empowering young fictional women that’s incredibly powerful.

So, if the gods are listening, can Greta Gerwig helm her own Pride and Prejudice adaptation next?

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  • Fatemeh Mirjalili is an entertainment writer based in Mumbai, India. Her work has appeared in publications such as TheThings, Film Companion and Times Knowledge among others. She loves writing about pop culture, watching Disney musicals and re-reading Pride & Prejudice for what may seem like the millionth time.