What is it about YA entertainment that draws us in? Gone are the days when young adult novels and films were dismissed as too trivial or immature for accolades and recognition. Today they are celebrated as a genre of universal experiences, raw writing, and incredible circumstances that attract a wide range of viewers.
Whether stemming from the mind of John Green or J.K. Rowling, young adult fiction has paved the way for some stellar film and TV adaptations that draw more readers to the books and connect people of all ages through their magic and timelessness.
Most YA adaptations have staunch followers who dream up perfect casting selections to portray their beloved characters, and who can blame them? So many are so richly written that it's difficult to not dream-cast your own Jace Wayland or Katniss Everdeen. That deep passion, however, also leads to intense dissatisfaction with the actual actor castings for many YA roles, particularly when a final production seems so far away from its source material that it's not even recognizable as a close cousin.
Fortunately for superfans, the Internet provides. Plenty of artists have reconstructed their favorite characters with more appropriate casting choices that reflect the desires of many a fan, giving us a better idea of what might have been.
From portrayals mainly focused on a different look to re-imagining characters in a more diverse or even gender-swapped light, there is no shortage of fanart featuring dream casts.
Here are 20 YA Fan Castings Better Than The Movies.
20 Ian Somerhalder As Sirius Black - Harry Potter
Sirius Black is one of the most beloved heroes in fiction, a wrongly-accused and handsome, if arrogant, wizard who came from money and spent over a decade of his life in Azkaban prison.
Fans expected someone pretty easy on the eyes to portray Sirius, even if he should have been gaunt and haunted-looking from his stint in the Wizarding prison, and while Gary Oldman isn't too shabby, he definitely isn't the startlingly-handsome man that was Sirius. Oldman was also too old.
Artist archiburning has re-imagined the role of Sirius Black with an Ian Somerhalder casting and it's definitely aesthetically pleasing. Granted, it's a new version of young-Sirius rather than Oldman's look, but we're pretty sure a bit of digital manipulation could age Mr. Smolder-holder, too.
19 Amandla Stenberg As Lyra - The Golden Compass
Dakota Blue Richards was expected to launch into a huge movie career after her impish yet clever portrayal of Lyra Belaqua in the film adaptation of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials saga, The Golden Compass. While the young star's portrayal was an enjoyable one, the movie ultimately flopped, and her career took a small-screen turn.
Replacing the actress with Amandla Stenberg, as artist askthealethiometer has done here, not only gives it a much more diverse lead, something that any story can use more of, but it also brings a little more star power to Lyra's role.
Stenberg also has a gifted array of expressions and a quiet energy that would lend Lyra a more cunning, slightly less confrontational personality, making her seem a bit more like the leader she's meant to be in the movie.
18 Emily Browning and Gaspard Ulliel as Bella and Edward - Twilight
Let's face it: Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson faced a monumental task in making Bella Swan and Edward Cullen into people one might want to watch for not just one but four long, long movies. While they have found great success in the realm of indie films, they weren't suited to the Twilight series.
Browning and French actor Gaspard Ulliel-- dubbed the Dream Team-- were the number one fan picks for their characters before casting was announced.
As artist raymond-art has shown here, Ulliel and Browning look great together, with her soft beauty and his otherworldly menace complementing the characters perfectly.
17 Natalie Dormer As Pansy Parkinson - Harry Potter
In the Harry Potter films, Pansy Parkinson was played by two actresses: Genevieve Gaunt, no relation to Marvolo (or, if there is, perhaps a bit of nepotism in Slytherin?), and Scarlett Byrne.
Both actresses lent fine scowls, whines and double-crossing gestures to the productions splendidly, but we have to admit that when we saw artist yourcherrylips re-cast Natalie Dormer as Pansy, we couldn't resist.
Dormer's trademark half-smirk is perfect for Parkinson.
Her cool glare gives the character a much more nuanced personality. Plus, she had to deal with King Joffrey, so we're pretty sure she could handle Draco Malfoy.
While we're pretty sure Pansy never has anything on Hermione, a Dormer Pansy might actually be able to hold her own.
16 Skylar Samuels As Annabeth - Percy Jackson And The Olympians
The film version of The Lightning Thief had so much wrong with it that some book fans like to forget it even exists. At best, it took the skeleton of the book and the characters' names and fleshed out a weird, disjointed story around it that had little to do with the original. In short, re-imaginings of the characters are in large supply.
Artist s-evenbigdemigods thought that Skylar Samuels might be a better character to play Annabeth Chase, the blonde tomboy who famously wore a cap and Camp Half-Blood t-shirt in the book.
While it wasn't Alexadra Daddario's fault, we could definitely see Samuels as a more accurate representation of the daughter of Athena.
15 Colin O'Donaghue As Adult Harry Potter
Why should the dashing Colin O'Donaghue be limited to the role of a pirate when, as artist biancaros3 has aptly demonstrated, he could play a wizard equally as well?
No one can argue against the greatness of Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, especially after we all witnessed his growth and development on screen together, seeing how much he matured over the years as not only Harry but as an actor himself.
This is a fun, more brooding version of Harry reminiscent of his father James.
We could see the heartthrob of Once Upon a Time portraying Harry as a young adult version of himself, building a family with Ginny Weasley and fighting wizarding crime as a new Auror. We need to see this version of Harry waving a Holyhead Harpies pennant while his wife plays on the Quidditch field!
14 Steven Strait As Jacob - Twilight
Twilight fans around the world had their own dream cast lists made up well before the film's production ever began. Jacob Black was played by Taylor Lautner, but artist lullabyofflies thought that Steven Strait might be a better choice for the werewolf.
Strait may not seem that far of a deviation from Lautner at first, but he might bring a bit more gravitas to Jacob, giving him a more responsible look rather than the moody-broody transformation that Lautner portrayed.
Still, we can't argue that Lautner's grabby, possessive treatment of the main character wasn't anything unlike what the book described.
13 Gemma Ward As Elena Gilbert - The Vampire Diaries
Elena Gilbert is a character fans love so much that they practically rioted when she exited The Vampire Diaries, even with her happy ending written in. Nina Dobrev was pretty beloved among the fandom but there's always room for improvement, right?
Some fans have re-imagined Elena as several other fun actresses and DeviantArt user elena1623 thought actress Gemma Ward would make a sufficient replacement.
The artist says that Ward has a doll-like face, which does work for Elena, who was an icy blonde in the books.
Ward, a supermodel known for movies like The Strangers and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, might look the part.
12 Geoffrey Rush As Dumbledore - Harry Potter
The adaptations of Dumbledore met several stumbling blocks. Richard Harris, while admirable, passed away between Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban, while his replacement Michael Gambon was way too riled up about the Goblet of Fire.
Jude Law may prove a great choice in the upcoming Crimes of Grindelwald, but Buzzfeed fans thought that Geoffrey Rush might be a nice re-casting choice.
Rush is an extremely talented actor, so we definitely see this as a great choice for Dumbledore.
Rush would manage Dumbledore's humor and wit without going over the top or putting us to sleep, and he'd bring an energy to the character that we haven't seen on screen yet.
11 Jennifer Lawrence As Clove - The Hunger Games
We couldn't leave Jennifer Lawrence out of a list of YA adaptations, could we? For starters, as excellent as she proved to be as Katniss Everdeen, fans knew the role should have gone to an actress of color, preferably with someone with "olive skin" as her character was described.
So where does that leave Lawrence? From the grit demonstrated in Winter's Bone to the aggressive drive she showed in Silver Lining's Playbook, we think she'd make an excellent Clove, as elleove has demonstrated in this piece of fanart.
Still, she'd have a hard time nabbing the role from Isabelle Fuhrman, who also performed admirably.
10 Lucy Hale And Ben Barnes As Rose And Dimitri - Vampire Academy
Vampire Academy fans were underwhelmed with the slaptstick horror-comedy adaptation of their beloved book, so it's no surprise that so many fans have other casting ideas when it comes to the movie of their dreams.
Fans can only hope to get another shot at a movie or TV adaptation that will faithfully adapt the Vampire Academy series.
If so, perhaps this dimitriandrose tumblr creation is a place to start. It features Ben Barnes as mentor Dimitri Belikov, replacing the film's Danila Kozlovsky, and Lucy Hale as the human/vampire hybrid, Rose Hathaway. Rose was originally played by Zoey Deutch, who readers may know from the Netflix rom-com Set It Up.
9 Idris Elba As Lord Asriel - His Dark Materials
Tumbler artist askthealethiometer came up with not only a new Lyra, but a more racially diverse Lord Asriel as well.
Replacing the handsome actor Daniel Craig with the gorgeous actor Idris Elba is definitely a fair swap.
There wasn't anything particularly wrong with Craig's portrayal of the fierce and somewhat cantankerous theologian and traveler in The Golden Compass, but Elba's command of the screen could have definitely elevated the film.
In the new TV adaptation of His Dark Materials, Elba would have also nailed the role that went to James McAvoy who, while fantastic, doesn't radiate power and conviction the same way.
8 Gerard Butler As Robert Lightwood - Shadowhunters
Artist stmungos has re-imagined the role of Robert Lightwood played by Gerard Butler. While the father of Max, Alec and Isabelle wasn't cast in the strange and unfulfilling Mortal Instruments film, Paulino Nunes plays the Lightwood family patriarch for the ABC adaptation, Shadowhunters.
Nunes is actually a decent casting choice for the gruff but ultimately caring Shadowhunter who was exiled to New York, of all places, and his portrayal is far less-cringy than, say, Jonathan Rhys Meyers' bizarre portrayal of a weird version of the charismatic Valentine.
Still, Butler is a heck of an actor, bringing both brawn and brogue to the role, and we can see why the artist chose him as Lightwood here.
7 Karen Gillan As Lily - Harry Potter
No list of fan castings of YA lit would be complete without everyone's favorite: Karen Gillan as Lily Potter, nee Evans!
Amy Pond's alter ego makes a perfect Gryffindor prefect.
There was nothing wrong, per se, with Geraldine Somerville's performance; it was fine, though she was far older than Lily's early twenties.
he Lily Evans we grew up with in the books seemed a lot more fiery and we'd love to witness Gillan stand up to Voldemort to save her son.
Artist lxvely has shown us what we might be able to expect should a Marauders era prequel ever it make it to our screens.
6 Kaya Scodelario And Daniel Radcliffe As Simon And Isabelle - The Mortal Instruments
So many YA books feature supporting characters who become much more interesting to fans than the main heroes of the story seem to be, and The Mortal Instruments is no exception.
Simon and Isabelle are easily the most compelling characters, far surpassing Clary and Jace, and as such many fans believe they deserved more star power in their respective portrayals.
DeviantArt creator liliah has re-cast Daniel Radcliffe as Simon and Kaya Scodelario as Isabelle. The runes on the actors' skin look incredible and we really like all of the neat effects created in the art. Isabelle's softer side comes out around Simon, and Radcliffe definitely looks the part.
5 KJ Apa As Edward Cullen - Twilight
Artist simplyy-imagine has another actor in mind when it comes to Twilight casting: KJ Apa. The traditional Cullen eyes and bronze hair so many fans found themselves swooning over in the book somehow look better on Apa, who also seems more vampiric in his features.
Apa is currently stealing hearts on Riverdale and could easily do so as Edward Cullen.
There are several reasons why Robert Pattinson should not have portrayed Edward Cullen in Twilight. While he didn't match the physical description of the character, the main reason is that he publicly dismissed the series several times while doing promotion for the films.
4 Ryan Gosling And Felicity Jones As Tonks' Parents - Harry Potter
The limited appearances of Nymphadora Tonks really hurt the Harry Potter films. We get that adapting every bit of every book into a movie would take hours and hours, and while most of us would actually be okay with that, we still wish there had been time for a little bit of bubblegum pink, some "Too old, too poor, too dangerous," and a hint of one turquoise-haired Teddy Lupin.
The lack of Tonks's parents, who help Harry and Hagrid early on the book, is also quite apparent. DeviantArt user lxvely has imagined the late Ted Tonks and his wife, Andromeda, as they might appear if played by Ryan Gosling and Felicity Jones.
3 Alex Pettyfer and Vanessa Hudgens as Peeta and Katniss - The Hunger Games
While both Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson received praise for their portrayals of Katniss and Peeta, respectively, neither of them looked the part.
Hutcherson was much smaller and less strapping than Peeta was described as being in the books, while Lawrence lacked the olive skin and slender frame that Katniss has in the novels.
Enter Alex Pettyfer and Vanessa Hudgens, who certainly fit the parts physically.
The two actors co-starred in another YA adaptation, so we know they have the experience and chemistry to play the Victors from District 12.
If only we could combine the appearances of these two with the acting chops of Lawrence and Hutcherson.
2 Millie Bobby Brown As Jane - Twilight
Dakota Fanning should be given credit for portraying the wickedly evil vampire Jane, but many couldn't get past her sweet smile, something we'd witnessed in everything from The Cat in the Hat to Charlotte's Web. While we can see her as Esther in the upcoming adaptation of The Bell Jar, she's had a few years to distance herself from her earlier roles since then. We still have trouble imagining her as a predator.
Enter Millie Bobby Brown of Stranger Things fame. Brown has dispatched many a villain with her superpowers. While her skills are used for good and not evil, simply-imagine's depiction of her proves that it's not too far of a stretch to make.
1 Anna Popplewell As Harriet Potter
While many fan re-castings focus on an actor or actress the artist thinks might better portray a character, some artists completely swap the character's gender for a refreshing take.
Some people may cry foul over ruined childhoods, but many others welcome this change.
That's why scrollgirl's idea of Anna Popplewell as Harriet Potter is so cool. By the time the Harry Potter films are redone, if ever, she'll be too old to play the Boy Who Lived, but we love the idea of her as a messy-haired newcomer to the magical world. Perhaps she'd be accompanied by her two best friends: Veronica Weasley and Herbert Granger.
Which YA character do you think could be better cast? Let us know in the comments!