To celebrate Jane Austen’s 244th birthday, we discuss the most well-known movie and TV Pride and Prejudice adaptations, ranking them from worst to best.
Jane Austen adaptations have won over the hearts of Janeites around the world for over 100 years. From the time actress and playwright, Rosina Filippi first adapted Jane Austen novels for the stage in 1895 to the several adaptations we love today. Arguably, the most popular of Jane Austen’s books (and by extension – adaptations) is Pride and Prejudice. Hence why so many Pride and Prejudice adaptations exist.
If you’ve yet to read Pride and Prejudice (and you should), here’s what you need to know. The classic tale tells the story of the independent and high-spirited Elizabeth Bennet, who meets the proud and wealthy Mr. Darcy only to overhear him personally insult her. However, Mr. Darcy soon falls in love with Elizabeth despite her being below him in class.
But will they be able to each defeat their pride and prejudice to be together? With vibrant and amusing characters, witty dialogue, satirical representations of society, and even feminist touches, it’s no surprise the now-beloved 1813 novel stood the test of time.
Today, Jane Austen is a pop culture phenomenon, remaining a continually trending topic with no signs of slowing down. So, now, on her 244th birthday, I thought it would be fun to rank the most well-known adaptations of her famous novel. From classic favorites to looser adaptations, this list has it all.
Now, as all rankings go, this is my subjective rankings of the Pride and Prejudice adaptations. So, consider this a fun experiment rather than a definitive list – if that could ever exist anyway.
I ranked based on how much I enjoyed each production, taking into consideration actor performances, scripts, production quality, how it relates to the source material, importance of adaptation, personal taste, and more. For each production, I’ve given a Silver Petticoat award, pointing out what’s best or unique about it.
Overall, while a few productions have room for improvement, these Pride and Prejudice adaptations all have something to offer.
#15 Christmas at Pemberley Manor (2018)
If you’re a fan of Hallmark, then you’ll probably love this loose (very loose) adaptation. In this contemporary version, Elizabeth Bennet is a New York event planner sent to a cute small town to plan their Christmas festival. There, she crosses paths with William Darcy, a grumpy billionaire she needs to work with during the holiday. Of course, sparks fly.
While I loved Michael Rady as Darcy and enjoyed the holiday escapism, this version didn’t attempt to pay tribute to Jane Austen’s story and instead borrowed character names. More emotional depth would have improved this one. Still, it’s a fun watch.
Silver Petticoat Award: Most idyllic small-town
Where to Watch: You can buy it on Digital or DVD. The movie re-airs on December 24th on the Hallmark Channel. Check your local listings.
#14 Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe (2018)
In a gender reversal, Darcy is a wealthy businesswoman who returns to her hometown for Christmas to help her mother plan a charity event. There, she reconnects with her old high school rival, Luke Bennet. This Hallmark movie comes from Melissa De La Cruz’s contemporary Jane Austen retelling. While this one departs from both source materials, it’s an entertaining Christmas movie that stands on its own.
While there are some similarities, I prefer this one over Christmas at Pemberley Manor and enjoyed the fun banter between the leads.
Silver Petticoat Award: Most fashionable wardrobe you want to own (Darcy).
Where to Watch: Watch onFubo TV and Philo. You can also buy on digital and DVD. The movie re-airs on December 20th on the Hallmark Channel. Check your local listings.
#13 Unleashing Mr. Darcy (2016)
Pride and Prejudice comes to the world of fancy dog shows in this contemporary Jane Austen retelling. It was so popular on Hallmark, they made the sequel, Marrying Mr. Darcy. I found the humor entertaining and recommend it if you’re looking for something sweet and modern.
Silver Petticoat Award: Cutest Dogs in a Jane Austen movie
Where to Watch: You can buy this Pride and Prejudice adaptation on Digital or DVD. The movie re-airs on January 5th, 2020, on the Hallmark Channel. Marrying Mr. Darcy re-airs on January 11th. Check your local listings.
#12 Pride & Prejudice: Atlanta (2019)
Perhaps the most underrated contemporary Pride and Prejudice adaptation on the list, this Lifetime movie brings welcome diversity to the classic romance genre. Sure, it’s more romantic comedy than a satire (like the novel), but it’s a pleasure to watch.
In this version, Lizzie Bennet (Tiffany Hines), an activist in her community, clashes with Mr. Darcy over politics when she tries to save a local theater from developers. It’s a sweet, family rom-com where Mrs. Bennet (Jackée Harry) gets to tell the story. And that’s what I love most about it. Harry understands the character and brings out a new version to enjoy.
Overall, while mostly faithful to Jane Austen’s story, it’s more optimistic toward men – with no villains around. And that’s not a bad thing.
Silver Petticoat Award: Most empathetic Mrs. Bennet
Where to Watch: Currently unavailable to watch. Follow Lifetime for updates.
#11: Pride and Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy (2003)
I admit I have a personal stake in this Pride and Prejudice adaptation. I lived where this movie was filmed and even recognize people I know. Plus, the satire in it is spot on if you’re familiar with Utah culture.
In this indie adaptation, Elizabeth Bennet is a 25-year-old aspiring author working in a bookstore. She crosses paths with the prideful businessman (he owns a publishing company), Will Darcy. And the two butt heads, only to start falling in love – despite their prejudices against each other.
While the film makes a few silly choices, much about this movie works. Orlando Seale is dreamy as Mr. Darcy, the Elizabeth and Jane friendship (they’re roommates in this one) is lovely, and Mr. Collins is hilarious. You’ll enjoy this one if you don’t take it too seriously.
Silver Petticoat Award: Most Underrated Mr. Collins
Where to Watch: Stream on Prime Video and Tubi. Rent/buy on Digital/DVD.
#10 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012)
This award-winning web series tells the story of Pride and Prejudice through a series of vlogs. It’s excellent, creative, and addictive. It’s only lower on the list because I happen to enjoy the other adaptations more, and I’m not that into vlogs in real life. Still, this series is good stuff.
Silver Petticoat Award: Most Creative Modern Retelling
Where to Watch: YouTube
#9 Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)
If you enjoy fantasy and comedy, this is the Pride and Prejudice adaptation for you. Plus, it stars one of today’s most popular period drama stars, Lily James. In this version, the Bennet sisters live in an alternate version of Georgian England. And as they search for husbands, they also fight against zombies.
While I love the satire and enjoy the cast, I needed some time to adjust to Sam Riley’s unusual interpretation of Mr. Darcy. But it’s an entertaining romantic movie I enjoyed enormously. Even with zombies, it’s surprisingly faithful to Jane Austen. Also, Matt Smith is a standout as Mr. Collins.
Silver Petticoat Award: Best Choreography in an Adaptation.
Where to Watch: Stream on IMDB TV and Sony Crackle. You can also rent/buy on Digital and DVD.
#8: Lost in Austen (2008)
Lost in Austen is the adaptation for anyone who’s ever imagined marrying their own Mr. Darcy. In this twist on the story, a Jane Austen fan in modern-day London switches places with Elizabeth Bennet, only to fall in love with Mr. Darcy.
At times, I found the main character, Amanda Price (Jemima Rooper), to be a little on the annoying side. She was just too abrasive for my taste. But overall, this is a must-see miniseries that will entertain you from start to finish. And with actors like Tom Mison, Alex Kingston, Gemma Arterton, Hugh Bonneville, Lindsay Duncan, Elliot Cowan, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and more, in the ensemble, you won’t want to miss it. Yes, this requires a massive leap in logic to appreciate, but just embrace the wackiness, and you’ll have a good time.
Silver Petticoat Award: Best Jane Austen Pop Culture References
Where to Watch: Stream on Tubi and BritBox. You can also buy on Digital and DVD.
#7 Death Comes to Pemberley (2013)
In this Jane Austen continuation, the BBC put together a brilliant adaptation of PD James’s novel. If you love British period dramas and British mysteries, this adaptation is a must-watch. Set six years after the Pride and Prejudice story, Wickham (played perfectly by Matthew Goode) becomes the main suspect in a murder.
This miniseries is good fun with an all-star British cast, including Matthew Rhys, Anna Maxwell Martin, Jenna Coleman, Eleanor Tomlinson, James Norton, and more.
Silver Petticoat Award: Most Handsome Mr. Wickham
Where to Watch: Buy on Digital or DVD.
#6 Bride & Prejudice (2004)
As a big fan of Bend it Like Beckham, I was thrilled Gurinder Chadha’s next movie was a Jane Austen retelling, and I wasn’t disappointed. Faithful to the novel, this modern adaptation fittingly moves the story to India with Bollywood dance numbers and an attractive American Mr. Darcy played by Virgin River’s Martin Henderson.
As the East meets the West, cultures clash, but a romance blooms at the same time. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan plays the Elizabeth role to perfection – though Lizzie’s name’s been changed to Lalita Bakshi to fit the location change.
As a whole, Bride and Prejudice is just so much fun to watch. I love the over-the-top romantic goodies and beautiful costumes. So, if you enjoy dreamy music videos and unabashedly sweet love stories, this one is for you.
Silver Petticoat Award: Funniest Musical Sequence: “No Life Without Wife”
Where to Watch: Stream on Hoopla. Rent/buy on Digital/DVD.
#5 Pride and Prejudice (1980)
If you’re looking for a close adaptation of the novel, this is the version for you. David Rintoul as Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Garvie as Elizabeth Bennet shine in the lead roles and have fantastic chemistry.
While Rintoul is less romantic than Firth or Macfadyen and harsher, he gives a solid performance and a sensible interpretation some may prefer depending on how you read the book. While it feels a little bit “too” close to the source material, sometimes creating clunky dialogue, this is an excellent adaptation that was well-cast and true to the book. However, be warned, this feels more like watching a play at times than a movie.
Silver Petticoat Award: Most Underrated Adaptation
Where to Watch: Stream on Prime Video. Buy on Digital and DVD.
#4 Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
Based loosely on Pride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones, a single British woman in her early thirties, tries to improve her life while also keeping a diary. In the beginning, Bridget overhears Mark Darcy insult her, prejudicing her against him. But he falls in love with her just the way she is – faults and all. But she’s fallen for the bad boy, Daniel Cleaver instead.
This hilarious romantic comedy brings Colin Firth back to play Mr. Darcy – further cementing him as the definitive Mr. Darcy of this generation. And with the sizzling chemistry between Firth, Zellweger, and Grant, plus the witty script from Helen Fielding, Andrew Davies, and Richard Curtis, this was a sure hit.
The movie had two sequels, ultimately giving Bridget and Mark Darcy the happy ending they deserved.
Silver Petticoat Award: Funniest Adaptation. Best LOL Sequence: Mark and Daniel fight while “It’s Raining Men” plays.
Where to Watch: Stream on Hoopla, Cinemax on Amazon Video, Direct TV, Fubo TV. You can rent/buy on Digital and DVD.
Content Note: The movie is rated R for language and sexuality.
#3 Pride and Prejudice (1940)
Yes, the costumes are historically inaccurate, and the script takes vast liberties. Still, Laurence Olivier gave a trailblazing performance of Mr. Darcy, bringing out the broody, romantic qualities of the character onscreen. His performance went on to influence all Mr. Darcy’s that followed.
Greer Garson, on the other hand, captured Lizzie’s wit and independent spirit, further entrenching the likability of the literary heroine in pop culture.
While this Pride and Prejudice adaptation is more light-hearted than the book, it’s an excellent classic movie. Just go in expecting a screwball comedy set during Victorian times rather than a romantic Georgian/Regency drama.
Silver Petticoat Award: Most Groundbreaking Adaptation
Where to Watch: Rent/buy on Digital and DVD.
#2 Pride and Prejudice (2005)
And thus, we come to the ongoing debate. Which Pride and Prejudice is better? The 2005 adaptation? Or the 1995 adaptation? Some fans feel passionately one way or the other. I, on the other hand, love both adaptations equally. It’s hard to ever define something as “best” anyway.
While the 2005 adaptation with Knightley and Macfadyen is the most visually artistic, the 1995 version arguably has the best screenplay. They balance each other out, and I watch both versions depending on my mood.
Still, if I had to choose at the end of the day…
Silver Petticoat Award: Most Swoon-Worthy Declarations of Love
Where to Watch: Stream on STARZ/STARZ on Amazon, and Direct TV. You can rent/buy on Digital and DVD.
#1 Pride and Prejudice (1995)
I only give the edge to the 1995 adaptation because it’s so iconic and the epitome of perfection. The 1995 adaptation truly set the bar for what makes a fantastic period drama and a great book adaptation. From the synergistic chemistry between Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle to iconic scenes such as Darcy taking a swim, this one has everything a Jane Austen fan could ever want.
Silver Petticoat Award: Best Mr. Darcy
Where to Watch: Stream on Hulu, BYU TV, and BritBox. You can rent/buy on Digital and DVD.
BONUS MOVIES AND SHOWS
While not adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, the movies Austenland and Becoming Jane include enough elements of the story to interest P&P fans. Austenland brings a Jane Austen fanatic to England for the ultimate Jane Austen experience – only to meet a Mr. Darcy (named Mr. Nobley) of her own. You can stream Austenland on Sony Crackle for free or rent/buy on Digital and DVD.
Becoming Jane, on the other hand, tells a fictionalized account of a young Jane Austen who falls in love with the Irish Tom Lefroy. While more guesswork than reality, the romantic drama depicts their love story as the inspiration for Pride and Prejudice. You can stream Becoming Jane on Netflix or rent/buy on Digital and DVD.
Both movies, while wildly different, are excellent movies about Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice and worth watching. They’re two of my personal favorites I watch time and time again.
OTHER PRIDE AND PREJUDICE ADAPTATIONS
While I covered the most famous film and TV Pride and Prejudice adaptations, many others exist. Unfortunately, a high number of older ones have been lost. From the 1938 TV version to the 1952 miniseries and the 1958 version. Other copies are harder to come by.
That said, you can watch a few clips of the 1967 production on YouTube. And there’s hope yet for this version since the British Film Institute has a full copy in their archives.
Well, that covers the best available Pride and Prejudice adaptations. What is your favorite version? Drop a comment below to discuss!