22 Book to Movie Changes in ‘The Scorch Trials’ Movie (MOVIE SPOILERS)

We counted more changes in this movie than we did in Insurgent.


This is the case of The Scorch Trials movie vs. the book. We know you’re thinking it: They changed A LOT of things in the Scorch Trials movie! Is this becoming a trend in YA movies?

While Thomas and the other gladers encountered the cranks and WCKD grunts as we expected, their journey is very different than the ones we see in James Dashner’s books. We counted them for you and were surprised to see how drastically they changed the story! We counted more changes in this movie than in ‘Insurgent‘.

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Here are all of the Scorch Trials movie differences!


1. There’s no Thomas-Teresa telepathy.

Thomas and Teresa in The Scorch Trials

This change was introduced in the first film. Thomas and Teresa are supposed to be able to communicate telepathically. However, when the filmmakers began outlining the first movie, they decided that they weren’t going to include this story line in the movies. In The Scorch Trials, this connection between Teresa and Thomas is pretty important, but it’s completely absent in the movie.

2. The gladers’ rescuers are never hanged.

After waking up to a bunch of cranks, Thomas and the rest of the gladers find their rescuers from the first book dead. Their dead bodies are hanging from the ceiling. In the movie, this entire plot is omitted. Instead, the rescuers are quickly revealed to be part of WCKD.

3. Aris and Rachel

Like Thomas and Teresa, Aris and Rachel are supposed to have a special telepathic bond. However, Aris informs the gladers that Rachel was killed during the maze trials. In the movie, Rachel makes a very brief appearance. Aris recognizes her hanging body. She’s one of the people that WCKD is trying to harvest a cure from.

4. Janson–a.k.a. Rat Man–is a prominent character in the movie.

In the book, Rat Man (his real name isn’t yet revealed) is only at the beginning of the story and is there to charge the gladers with their next task: survive the Scorch. In the movie, Rat Man becomes one of the main two antagonists and spends his time chasing the gladers through the Scorch.

5. The Scorch is supposed to be the next trial.

This was without doubt one of the most drastic changes to the story. In the book, Rat Man explains to them that they must travel through the Scorch as part of their next trial. However in the movie Thomas and the others escape WCKD and enter the Scorch seeking refuge. (It kind of makes you wonder why they kept the title ‘The Scorch Trials’ if these weren’t actually trials?)

6. The gladers aren’t infected with the Flare.

The Scorch Trials banner

In order to motivate the gladers to complete the Scorch Trials, Rat Man explains to them that they’ve been infected with the Flare and that a cure awaits them at the end of this phase. In the movie, however, this doesn’t exist at all. The gladers are healthy and immune to the Flare (or most of them, at least).

7. There are supposed to be more gladers in the group.

In the movie, the group that escapes WCKD is made up of seven individuals. In the book, however, they’re a much larger group.

8. Teresa isn’t avoiding Thomas.

In James Dashner’s version of The Scorch Trials, Teresa is upset about something. She tells Thomas that he and the others need to stay away from her. She isn’t present very much after that. She spends her time communicating with Thomas telepathically, pretending to betray him. She’s actually working with WICKED and Aris. In the movie this doesn’t happen.

9. The cranks are straight-up zombies

In the books, the cranks are living at various stages of insanity. Most of them don’t want to tear peoples’ flesh off. Jorge is supposed to be a crank and Thomas and the others are able to talk and have conversations with him. In the book, this is completely the opposite. The cranks are straight out of ‘World War Z’. There’s no talking to them. You’ll be eaten alive.

10. Winston isn’t supposed to be killed by the Flare.

Winston doesn’t get attacked by a crank in the book, although he is attacked by a molten metal ball. He does, however, die–but he doesn’t die because of the crank bite. Rather, when the gladers are running away from the lightning storm, he’s supposed to disappear, assumed to get struck and die. In the movie, Winston kills himself in order to avoid becoming a crank.

11. Nobody dies in the thunderstorm.

Speaking of that thunder storm, seven gladers are supposed to be killed off during this sequence. However in the movie, Minho gets struck by lightning and survives.

12. The Right Arm isn’t supposed to show up until ‘The Death Cure’

The Right Arm, the organization fighting WCKD, plays a huge role in the movie. The gladers’ main motivation is to find them in hopes of escaping their past. But like it was already said, the book has the gladers racing across the Scorch for a cure. The Right Arm doesn’t make an appearance until The Death Cure.

13. Jorge isn’t a crank.

Jorge in The Scorch Trials

Like it was said earlier, Jorge is supposed to be a crank in the book. But in the movie’s he’s completely healthy and is dedicated to making sure that Brenda doesn’t catch the Flare. What’s more is that the community that Jorge lives in is supposed to be full of cranks. In the movie, Jorge mentions that the people they live with are mostly from gangs who have wandered in to seek refuge.

14. Jorge and Brenda help the gladers escape.

This was a very large addition to the plot. In the movie, one of the men living in Jorge’s community calls in WCKD, hoping to sell the gladers back to them. Jorge and Brenda help everyone escape and then blow up their shelter. In the book this doesn’t happen at all. The original version has the gladers eating dinner with Brenda when the roof caves in and Thomas becomes trapped with Brenda.

15. Thomas never gets shot.

Scorch Trials Club

Thomas and Brenda do get tricked into entering a sketchy club in the book. However “Blondie” essentially kidnaps them and plans to keep them. It isn’t until the Gladers come and rescue Thomas and Brenda that they’re able to leave. As they try to escape, Blondie shoots Thomas. The wound becomes infected and that eventually leads Thomas into the hands of WICKED. In the movie, Jorge comes to the rescue and then interrogates Marcus about the whereabouts of The Right Arm. Thomas never ends up getting shot and thus never falls into the hands of WCKD.

16. Healing Thomas, WICKED, and the Berg

In the book, after Thomas becomes infected, WICKED finds him and takes him into a berg–a sort of aircraft that they use to get around. They want to heal Thomas. While this is happening, Thomas overhears someone mention that him getting shot wasn’t part of the plan, suggesting that something about their experience has been staged. They eventually take him back to the rest of Gladers. This entire plot is non-existent in the movie.

17. Group B isn’t supposed to be friendly.

Again, another major Scorch Trials difference. Like in the movie, the book shows us that there were multiple groups of teenagers in the maze. However a major plot line didn’t get translated into the film. In the book, Thomas and his friends were in Group A. Aris, on the other hand, was in a maze filled with girls–Group B. While in the Scorch, Group B approaches Group A and attacks them. Teresa is with them. Thomas ends up being capture by them. After deciding not to kill him, they move forward hoping to get to the end of the trial. Group B is hardly in the movie. Only a few of them make an appearance, like Aris who’s present during the entire movie.

18. Teresa’s Betrayal

Teresa does, in fact, betray Thomas in the book. But it’s very different from the movie. In the book, Teresa reveals that she’s been working with Aris and that they had been in a romantic relationship before the maze. They then force Thomas into a gas chamber. After Thomas passes out, Teresa then reveals that she was being forced to betray Thomas by WICKED and that it was all part of their larger plan. However Thomas is having a hard time buying it. This is the point in which Thomas loses his romantic feelings for Teresa.

This doesn’t happen at all in the movie (surprise!)

19. Meeting the Right Arm

Scorch Trials Right Arm Safe Haven

Like we said before, the Right Arm isn’t supposed to make an appearance in the movie. However the movie leads up to the gladers catching up with the rebels and preparing to leave for a safe haven, away from WCKD. Before they can leave, Teresa betrays them by contacting WCKD with their coordinates. Of course, this isn’t in the book at all.

20. No monsters!

In the book, when the Gladers reach the “safe haven”–the place where their cure is said to be waiting for them–they encounter large monsters created by WICKED. After this ordeal, WICKED takes the Gladers (along with Jorge and Brenda). The book ends there.

21. Chancellor Ava Paige

Ava Paige never appears in the books. She’s referenced several times throughout them, but the Gladers never encounter her. In the movie, she becomes the main antagonist and is present when WCKD attacks the Right Arm.

22. That ending.

Scorch Trials Movie Ending

All of that leads up to a huge ending fight that doesn’t appear anywhere in the books. It results in WCKD capturing the Gladers. Just as they’re being loaded into the aircraft (berg?), Thomas grabs hold of a detonator that Jorge built. He threatens to blow everyone up. WCKD isn’t expecting this. Their shock gives the Right Arm and the Gladers just enough time to fight back. In the fighting, Minho is electrocuted and knocked out. WCKD takes Minho and retreats into their airship with Teresa by their side.

The movie ends with Thomas declaring that he intends to save Minho by taking down WCKD and killing Chancellor Paige.

Were these even the same stories?



Saul Marquez founded Bookstacked in 2014 and serves as the site's Editor-in-Chief. He primarily covers news for Bookstacked. He also co-hosts Bookmarked: A YA Book Podcast.

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  • SAULMARQ • 9 years ago

    I was surprised to see how much they changed the movie, but honestly, I think I liked the movie more than the book!

  • Atikah Zaid • 9 years ago

    I’m happy af because teresa doesn’t betray tom. I really ship them together. BEING HONEST , I LIKE THE MOVIE THEN THE BOOK.

    • Tracy • 9 years ago

      Teresa does betray Thomas in the movie…

      • Atikah Zaid • 9 years ago

        Ouhh. Then thomas end up with no romantic feelings with teresa ? Ok back to that bad mood lol.

    • Micaela Iampietro • 8 years ago

      You wouldnt ship them if you read the book, she betrays him in both, but one has a explanation, and they explain it on the same book. After reading the books, the one that I love is Brenda, but in the movie shes not attractive a all.. I have no idea what are they gonna do for the third movie..

      • Ren Ichinose • 8 years ago

        nah still shipping both of them. I’ve read all of the books tho. It hurts when theresa died on the kill order. But still I ship both of them.

        • Emjay Jones • 8 years ago

          The kill order is a prequel. If Theresa died, she wouldn’t be in the first 3 books. To be honest, I kind of imagine The Kill Order characters to be the parents of the Gladers. It’s set 13 years before the maze though so they most likely wouldn’t be the parents of really anyone but Chuck.

  • Tracy • 9 years ago

    I’m really confused (and surprised) that you say Teresa didn’t betray Thomas in the movie. Did we watch the same thing?

    Edit: I noticed that you changed this in point 19. Maybe you could clarify the earlier point about Teresa’s betrayal to make it less confusing?

  • Eleanor Wieczorek • 9 years ago

    Nice article by the way. I was so upset with the movie that I decided to google about it right after I got home from the cinema lol

    Brenda isn’t immune in the movie!
    She makes a great female kickass character, I don’t want to see her die out just like that. If Brenda isn’t a munie then she can’t get into the safe haven that Ava Paige made for them. The film makers probably want a Teresa-Thomas ending. Two good looking actors ending up together, boring.

    It’s also not right having WCKD capture MinHo. When did that happen?!

    The movie didn’t go through with the labels. In the book, they were all apparently labelled with roles like Minho being ‘the leader’ and Thomas ‘to be killed’.

    Ugh I just dislike the movie. If I never read the book and just watched the movie, I’d be so confused. I went to the movies with friends who never read the book and they KEPT bombarding me with questions at the end of everything! Sure, they want Dylan Obrien to bring in the female fans but seriously I don’t want to watch 2 hours of him running about. Period.

  • Brandy • 8 years ago

    I was furious after seeing the movie, mostly because I spent the rest of that day before it hurrying to finish the book all the have it be for nothing. I was not happy with the movie at all. It was more like Death Cure than it was Scorch Trials

  • Joe Nickel • 8 years ago

    Not a bad movie, but I agree with Brandy. I was REALLY ticked off after seeing this movie. The main thing that made me made was the depiction of the Cranks. It’s been a while since I read the book, but I don’t remember the Cranks being like zombies. The movie basically made them look like the runners from The Last of Us (great video game, by the way).

  • Joe Nickel • 8 years ago

    sorry, meant mad, not “made”

  • Micaela Iampietro • 8 years ago

    I told myself that I wasnt going to read the book until I saw the movie, I saw the first movie before read the first book and when I watched the movie again I hated it, actually it wasnt that bad, but changes a lot, even changing, that I dont aprove and I dont see the point to do that, the story was there, but with he second one I was told to watch the movie first or I would feel it was a waste of money, and that was right, I enjoyed ish the movie but after read the book…WOW, was the movie about the book? or did I go to another movie? Still dont know why they do that… Im pretty sure James Dashner lies when he says he loved it. This makes me mad af, sorry.

    • editor miss • 8 years ago

      I so agree! they were not supposed to see the right arm until the next book. i personally think they don’t need to make a third movie for the book lovers but for the movie fans, which is what they look like they’re trying to do at this point. if they do make the third movie like the scorch trials (not at all like the book) then please just forget even naming it death cure. i love James Dashner and all of his books, but really people. when i do something and i let other people make it even bigger then i expect them to get it right. if they don’t id be pretty mad. but I’m no James Dashner a hip, young and very modern writer (and yes id id say hip ;P) who understands the point of correct entertainment. but if Wes Ball can’t see how to portray that, then step aside and watch the book lovers make the movie.

      Shout out to:

      -Dylan O’brien (and his amazing eyebrows)

      -Ki Hong Lee (because he just know how to keep his hair right through out the whole movie)

      -Thomas Brodie-Sangster (because you can’t help but be adorable)

      -Kaya Scodelario (because i just learned how to pronounce your name. its ah Skod-el-ah-rio)

      • Ansh • 8 years ago

        I disagree. I read the book after the first movie because I liked the plot. I hated the second book, it was extremely disjointed and went on a complete tangent from what the first book was supposed to represent. I thought the third book was slightly better because it had a clear end goal but even there we had random plot points that I didn’t make sense.

        This movie was far more focused and logical in its plot point. All the changes were for the better including removal of telepathy, random betrayals of Aris and Teresa, Group B vs. Group A and removal of the trials (but retaining the journey). I even liked the extended role of Rat Man and inclusion of Ava Paige and Mary.

        I will however, say that the movie could have done a better job with character development of Newt and MInho in particular. The movie also shouldn’t have changed the cranks to zombies and I really could have done without that stupid bar scene (even though it made more sense in the movie than the book). All in all, the only thing that I think the movie got entirely wrong is the definition of cranks because it is going to change the Newt insanity scene from the third book.

  • smiles • 8 years ago

    I’m pretty sure that i hate the movies now. I loved the books, but the movie didn’t include anything that the book had. I was so excited and it let my hopes down.

  • Amy • 8 years ago

    I enjoyed the movies and the books. The differences allowed it to seem like it was two different stories based on the same story. This in turn then lets you enjoy reading the books while not spoiling the films because there so different. I prefer the books over the moveis but I love them both.

  • Kenzie Wee • 8 years ago

    to be honest every thing they got rid of kinda sucked in the books, not everything though. like them all being cranks and people dying in the lightning storm. Otherwise most of the other stuff in my opinion was badly written and didn’t make sense. But I really like the books and the movies, let’s face it it isn’t as bad as Percy Jackson.

  • unionempirex • 8 years ago

    i love wes’s directing. i mean for his first big movie(s), it was an unexpected hit. the CGI was great and the casts were perfect. dylan, thomas, kihong, kaya, alex and dexter played their characters well.

    but i hope someone can remake the movie again and this time according the book. can’t help but wanna see the movies without the ‘adaptations’. but maybe im greedy to say i want the same casts again. i mean i’ve seen spiderman played by different actors and i still love all the movie adaptations.

    but i do hope they get rid of the love stories. sorry, im all for friendship stuff.

  • Liv L. • 8 years ago

    To be honest, I liked the books a lot more. I think the whole running-from-the-bad-guys-to-the-rebels has been done way too much. I get that The Right Arm shows up in the third book, but still. The plot of the book was amazing, I loved all of the little twists and turns. I think the book was a lot more original. I’m guessing that they changed the movie because they thought that it would attract more people, since it’s so cliche and a lot of people seem to want to see the same thing over and over again. I guess it just makes me mad a little sad to think that they changed such an amazing book so much, just to get more viewers. And hey, I don’t even think that worked. I didn’t even hear that the movie was out until I saw it on my “Just In” on demand. That tends to be a sign of a bad movie.

    And just as a disclosure, I DID like the movie. I just kind of wish it didn’t pretend to have anything to do with the books, because it had no place calling itself “The Scorch Trials”.

  • Writing Wrongs <3 • 8 years ago

    What I think I found the most disappointing about the two movies were the character changes. I found myself liking Aris, which I DID NOT in the book. I also feel like they took some of the best traits from Newt and Minho and gave them to Thomas to make his character more rounded, decisive, and leader-like, leaving my two favorite characters feeling a little flat and under-developed in the film. This is not a reflection on Thomas Brodie-Sangster or Ki Hong Lee who I think were perfect casting choices and are amazing actors. It is, instead, a reflection on the writing and directing choices. However, bless the writers for letting Newt call Thomas ‘Tommy’ at least once! I needed this! NEEDED!!!

    I was also unhappy with several of the plot changes. I realize that movies and books have to have some differences to translate well, and I can even understand some of the challenges, such as with Thomas, Teresa, and Aris’ telepathic connection, but some of the other changes just don’t make any sense to me.

    All in all I was disappointed, and left very confused. I have no idea where they will go with The Death Cure.

    P.S. Just a little edit to this article. Rat Man is A.D. Janson, not Janus.

  • Micah 李 文 Jung • 8 years ago

    Winston never gets attacked by a crank and he dies or is wounded by metal balls. No he never gets struck by Lighting Thats Jacks death. Winston gets this metal balls clear that attach to him and he is wounded and is lost in the shuffle through the scorch now does he die I dont know they never mention it again

  • Boo • 8 years ago

    The film just leaves everybody confused regardless of reading the book or not they missed out important bits and don’t even get how they can do lost the third book now, the ruined a perfectly good book good first film tragic second one

  • yah • 8 years ago

    The main thing I don’t like about the movie is that they turned it into just another zombie movie and it would have been much better with all of the differing levels of insanity. When winston was bit buy the “past gone” crank he a zombie in just a few hours instead of slowly becoming insane. I also like the interaction between the group and the cranks that did not occur in the movie.

  • Chris Lawrence • 8 years ago

    The plot of the movies completely removes the need for the Maze. Having the maze in the first film makes absolutely no sense. In the movie all they need to make the cure is immunes. In the books it was brain patterns that were important, hence the Maze.

  • Florencia Carbone • 8 years ago

    I really liked the movie AND the book, but I feel like they are two totally different stories with the same characters. Still I really enjoyed both and I think they did a great casting job, each actor and actrees is perfect for their role.

  • Trevor Roberts Jr. • 8 years ago

    In the books, Jorge was pretending to be a crank. Both he and Brenda were immune. So, the departure for those two characters was Brenda getting sick.

    Movie was ok, but I wish they stuck with the book’s plot lines more

  • Nia • 8 years ago

    I hated the movie and really enjoyed the books. The plot was changed to create a more entertaining movie but it failed terribly. The writer changed too much in my opinion. He took out the parts that made the maze runner series different and stand out. The first movie was a great success because people havent seen anything like that and the scorch trials was an even bigger oppertunity for a great hit since the maze runner built up so much popularity and anticipation for the next film. I think a remake of the movie can still be great and will possibly bring back the viewers that were lost due to this movie, and there were probably THOUSANDS of veiwers lost so thats saying a lot.

  • Marc Volgers • 7 years ago

    I can understand they make SOME changes in the movie. But the changes they made are really too much. I still don’t understand why did let go of trial plot, which I essential to the story. Now they’re just running away from WCKD trying to seek refuge. With a lot of annoying mindless zombies. Dissappointed 😉

  • Watchdog • 7 years ago

    The movie was horrible in regards to following the book and I got a shirt that read “never judge a book by its movie” it fits the movie perfectly. Also it has been 2 years since I watched it but I believe in the movie Brenda actually had the glare and was a crank despite jorge’s efforts. In the book the were both immune. But I may be wrong

  • Bubble Tea • 7 years ago

    If they’re going to make a movie based on a book they should at least respect the plot and the author’s imagination. These differences are HUGE!! The movie makers they made the trial (if there’s a trial) looks like real easy. I watched the movie first and then read the book and tbh I loved the book 100x more than the movie. This could’ve been an amazing movie if the makers had gone with the original story.

  • Emma • 7 years ago

    I think the writer has completely destroyed the point of it being the ‘scorch TRIALS’. It’s not even a trial because they are running through the scorch to escape WICKED, (which they changed to WCKD in the movie?!?) to be honest they might aswell just change the name of the movie, and I am completely clueless to where the death cure movie will go. It just makes us who read the book look like were describing something from plants vs zombies.

    • SUP • 4 years ago

      Yeah, is WCKD like World Catastrophe Killzone Department. Like they didn’t even try. It’s obviously World IN Catastrophe Killzone Experiment Department. They literally missed two whole words.

  • Andreas Rossing Angeltveit • 7 years ago

    The differences are worse than The Lord of the Rings. I’m glad I didn’t waste my money on cinema on that one. I hope the third film turns into a flop and teaches them a lesson.

  • Josh Seitzer • 6 years ago

    The movie is not worth the title it was called. It’s called SCORCH TRIALS. Not Scorch Run. All the characters did was escape Wicked and run into the scorch. That’s not a trial. The premise of the second book was to be phase 2 after the Maze Trials. And that got completely lost in the movie. No, you don’t expect it to be a verbatim copy of book, but it should at the very least follow it’s blueprint, like the first one did. There was just no sense of direction. It would have been more inline with the book had Jansen been taking the kids that were called in the cafeteria and throwing them out in the Scorch to gain data, and then he did the same to Thomas and his friends. That would have been better than them just harvesting the children.

    On top of that, the only real threats they saw in the Scorch were Cranks who weren’t even depicted right. The movie made it seem like they were mindless zombies, when in fact they were infected people who were going insane. No bulb monsters, or metal balls.

    I hate when directors are given free reign to try to make their own story in a book to movie adaptation and fail to follow the blueprint of the book at all. And it’s especially mind-boggling when the writer of the books is there as an advisor and allows this to happen. The same thing happened with Veronica Roth in the second and third movies of her Divergent series.

    After having watched The Death Cure last night, seeing it have to pick up the pieces left by the Scorch Trials, I’d say it came closer to matching the book, even with all the inaccuracies.

  • Anonymous • 5 years ago
  • TMRFAN • 3 years ago

    I actually am really sad about all of the changes. I wish that in the movie, the scorch was still a trial. And that final battle scene, I am so sad they missed that. Also I remember specifically in the book, the thing about Thomas’ infected cut.