10 Biggest Details Netflix’s One Day Leaves Out From The Book

By Mary Kassel Published 2 days ago

Though the One Day series is very faithful to the book overall, there are a few details that it leaves out, creating key differences between them.

10 Biggest Details Netflix's One Day Leaves Out From The Book


  • One Day on Netflix makes changes from the book to enhance the story for viewers, altering character development and key plot points.
  • The series follows Emma and Dexter's intertwined love story over 20 years, with some major differences from the book's timeline and character relationships.
  • Changes like omitting certain events and altering character interactions help the show create a unique and engaging adaptation of the original story.


Warning! Spoilers ahead for the 2024 Netflix series One Day.

Based on the 2009 book by David Nicholls, the Netflix series One Day isn't afraid to change details from the source material to make the story better fit the screen. Some of the plot points that are omitted are small, while others are major moments that change the development of certain characters completely. Regardless, the recent adaptation proves the longevity of the original story and how universal tales of love and loss are for audiences.

Starring Ambika Mod as Emma and Leo Woodall as Dexter, One Day follows the inextricably intertwined story of two people who meet at the end of college and can't seem to let each other go. Chronicling their journeys by catching up with them on the same day, July 15th, for twenty years, the novel's grand scale matches the depth of the love story. Due to the tragic nature of the story, in some ways, it's better to know One Day spoilers before finishing the show because it won't take away from the experience of watching Emma and Dexter's love unfold.

One Day follows the inextricably intertwined story of two people who meet at the end of college and can't seem to let each other go.

10 Dexter's Trip To India

Instead of returning in 1990, Dex goes to India in the book.

10 Biggest Details Netflix's One Day Leaves Out From The Book

This change ties into how the timeline of the series is slightly different from the book because one of Dexter's short diversions is cut. In the book, he doesn't come back until 1991 because he traveled to India after Italy. There, he writes a letter to Emma that she never receives, revealing his romantic feelings for her. The letter is placed inside a book that's picked up by a woman in India and never returned to Dex or Emma. Leaving this out doesn't change the plot, but it is early confirmation of how much Dex cares for Emma.

9 How They Met Remains A Mystery Until The End

The full story of how they met is saved until much later.


Both the book and the show save the all-important trip to Arthur's Seat and the fateful goodbye kiss during their first meeting for the end. The book hides more about that first day than the series. The novel jumps into them already together and discusses their futures, sprinkling hints at what else happened that night throughout the rest of the timeline. This makes the timeline more straightforward to interpret in the novel.

This change makes sense as it gives necessary exposition and context to the show that books easily provide through internal dialogue and descriptions. As the show doesn't have this luxury, it makes additions to fill in the gaps and create a relationship between the characters and the viewers. There's a sweetness to not knowing how they ended up talking for hours on this fateful night at the beginning of the book. It’s as if it didn't matter because they were destined to connect here and now, no matter what.

8 Tilly Sleeps With Dexter

Tilly and Emma aren't as close in the book.

10 Biggest Details Netflix's One Day Leaves Out From The Book

In the series, Tilly (Amber Grappy) is an important person in Emma's life, and the pair are quite close. If Tilly had slept with Dex in the show, it would have been a terrible betrayal of Emma's trust and friendship. However, in the book, it's more of an open secret that Emma feels is an example of Dexter's immaturity. It's easier to like Dex and Tilly in the show without this mutual mistake, and it illustrates how the series chose to soften aspects of Dexter's character. The book is unafraid to make him very unlikable at points in the story.

7 Emma's Meeting With A Publisher

Emma finds success quickly and Dexter's firing isn't as dramatic.


There aren't as many ups and downs in the career field for Emma and Dexter in the show as in the novel. A defining moment for Emma comes in 1997 when she meets with a publisher, and they assume she's interviewing for a nanny job instead of being considered as an author. It's a brutal blow to her self-esteem and is mirrored by Dexter's downward trajectory at his TV job. In a decision to tighten the pacing and ensure that Emma and Dexter get plenty of time together, the show skips the more dramatic aspects of these events.

6 Tilly's Husband's Name

He's a more prominent character and their wedding is more important.

10 Biggest Details Netflix's One Day Leaves Out From The Book

Tilly’s husband is named Malcolm in the book, and his character in the series, Graham (Adam Loxley), is a better-developed addition to his episodes. One of the best quotes from One Day is a callback from the speech that Emma gives at Tilly's wedding to Graham in the series. In the book, this speech never happens, and their relationship is an unimportant part of the background of Emma and Dexter's love affair. Elevating both Graham and Tilly in the show makes the other relationships in Dex and Emma's life just as compelling.

5 Dexter's Clothes Get Stolen In Greece

Dexter's clothes are stolen in the book.


When Dexter's clothes are stolen while skinny-dipping in Greece, and he has to run back to the hotel naked, it's a hilarious memory that the two leads share. Emma is hesitant to join Dex in one of his risqué escapades and finds it fitting that he gets his clothes taken out from under him. Instead of treating the scene as lightly as the book, the series makes Emma's reticence a bigger deal and puts the focus on the tension in their relationship without the easy out of Dex getting into trouble and distracting from the subtext.

4 Emma Lives Until 2004

She lives longer in the book.

10 Biggest Details Netflix's One Day Leaves Out From The Book

Emma's death is easily the most devastating moment in One Day, and little can prepare viewers for how quickly Em and Dex's domestic bliss is cut short. In the series, Emma dies in 2002, two years earlier than her death in the book. While this may have been in the best interest of a series with only fourteen episodes, the book had more time to work with and chose to give the pair more time together. Whether this makes the end of their story more or less tragic is debatable, but it affects how Dexter's healing process is portrayed.

3 Emma Is Gone For Good After Her Death

She doesn't appear as a ghost to Dex like in the show.


Emma appearing one last time to Dexter after her death was a good storytelling tool for the series, but when she dies in the novel, it's more permanent. Part of the tragedy in the novel is the depth of Dexter's loneliness, as he feels that he can't even connect with the memory of Emma. Including Emma back into a moment of the show after her death is the kind of moment that could only work in a TV series or film. In the book, it's up to Dexter to pull himself through his hardships for the first time without Emma.

2 Ian's Letter to Dexter

Ian and Dexter see each other in person in the show.

10 Biggest Details Netflix's One Day Leaves Out From The Book

A change between the show and the book is how Dex processes his grief and trauma following Emma's death. Ian (Jonny Weldon) is an ex-boyfriend of Emma's who shares in Dexter's distress after her passing. Receiving the letter from Ian is a turning point for Dexter in the novel, as it shakes him from his stupor and makes him realize that he isn't alone after all. The series opts for a face-to-face encounter that’s more in line with the thematic tone of the show's conclusion. In the novel, the power of the written word is on display throughout the plot.

1 Maddy And Dexter's Relationship

They end up together in the book.


One Day omits Maddy, the café manager, whom Dex ends up with in the book after Emma's death. Reading the novel after watching the series shows how the end of Dexter's story completely changes in One Day. The decision to leave out Maddy is polarizing as on one hand, it's important to show that Dex is capable of moving on and being happy again, while on the other, his ability to heal on his own is a beautiful end to his story.

Dexter had chased women and relationships his entire life while denying his true feelings for Emma. However, being with her changed him and made him a whole person no matter who he was with. In the book, his journey to healing from Emma's loss is full of mistakes, and he attempts to isolate himself until he opens up to Maddy. Conversely, the show has him lean on his friends and loved ones, who also mourn Emma's loss.

Release Date February 8, 2024 Seasons 1 Writers David Nicholls Directors Molly Manners Creator(s) Nicole Taylor , David Nicholls Where To Watch Netflix See at Netflix

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