Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Thriller
|Pilot Scene Count||Screenplay Scene Count|
Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the attempted DC Cinematic Universe, the Marvel tv shows, and all the other superhero media, there was Heroes. Now obviously there were shows (Smallville) and movies (X-men, Spiderman) that aired before Heroes, but it wasn’t a saturated market like it is today. Heroes used drama mixed with superpowers that were more of the spice than the main ingredient to create a mysterious drama that gave us an entertaining first season. If Heroes were to be pitched in today’s market, it wouldn’t have too many interested parties given the media both DC and Marvel are pumping out on television and on the big screen.
Heroes did not hold back on the diverse casting needed for its story, which took place with characters from all over the world. Like the eclipse being a global event, Heroes doesn’t focus its story locally, instead choosing to have a diverse cast with backgrounds ranging from Japanese, American and Indian. Having a diverse cast is certainly not new, but the distances between locations of the storylines and the uniqueness of characters having no prior relationship before connecting offers something different than most shows, where everyone is already acquainted on some level.
The show is written like a comic book marking chapters throughout its episodes. Even the pilot script has images inserted throughout. This is a homage to the origins of superpowers from the comic books/graphic novels that inspired the show and although it wasn’t based on a source material, its characters inspired its own brand of comics.
CLAIRE BENNET, (17.)…Clair has “girl-next-door” looks, and to complete the cliche, she’s dressed in a CHEERLEADING OUTFIT.
No differences noted.
Ethan is a hospice nurse, hence the uniform. A warm and gentle soul, selfless, almost a saint.
Ethan Cambell was changed to Peter Petrelli.
Peter was changed from Nathan’s twin brother to younger brother.
HIRO TANAKA, (24). Hiro is slight and nondescript in his short white sleeve shirt and black tie. A worker bee in sea of worker bees. However, Hiro has a hint of the nonconformist in him. A little “spike” to his hairstyle. His tie a little too thin. A small “punk” bracelet tucking out of his sleeve.
Hiro Tanaka was changed to Hiro Nakumura.
WIDEN to meet Professor MOHINDER SURESH, (mid-30’s), a slightly nerdy East Indian academician standing in at the front this LECTURE HALL in an old, faded British colonial building.
No differences noted.
Nathan's name in the screenplay was Harrison Cambell and he was Peter's twin brother.
No changes noted.
Noah was originally just named Horn Rimmed Glasses. Claire's dad, who they combined his character, was named Kent Bennet.
Simone was originally named Stella in the screenplay.
Angela was originally named Alice Cambell in the screenplay.
No changes noted.
Zach, Claire's friend, was originally a girl named Zoe in the screenplay.
Peter thinks he can fly and has a destiny.
Mohinder finds out his father is murdered and goes to New York.
Niki is on the run from someone she owes money too.
Claire thinks she’s a freak and cannot be killed.
D.L’s storyline is cut from the aired pilot. D.L is eventually introduced later in the series with the same power, but as a secondary character in Niki’s story instead of a main character in his own. And to be quite honest, his storyline was the worst part of the script. D.L had several scenes of accidentally escaping prison because he would sleepwalk and then use his power to phase through the wall. There were no prison fights or anything intriguing besides him discovering his power.
Peter has a few dream sequences cut from Act 1. However some of the dream sequences are shown in later acts. In the pilot, the old man is always sleeping and doesn’t interact with Peter.
Peter’s storyline is spread out throughout the pilot instead of bunched in the first act. This is due to the elimination of D.L. Hawkins storyline, which gave more flexibility for arrangement of scenes.
In the original screenplay, Mohinder is fired by the dean for teaching topics that are considered fringe science.
In the aired pilot, Mohinder’s colleague tells him his father has died.
This change, although small, is important and had a lot of rippling effects throughout the series. Mohinder’s motivation is completely changed. Instead of going to New York because he was fired and on the run, he goes to New York to find his father’s research and to find out if there was any foul play involved in his father’s death. His father was researching the phenomenon of human evolution, tying back to what Mohinder was teaching and why an external group is after his work.
Narration by Mohinder is added to start the show.
Niki’s story stays exactly the same in Act One, except Micah is not a typical kid. He’s more composed and intelligent than the script implies.
Claire’s storyline stays the same in Act One with minor changes. She jumps off equipment instead of a cliff and her friend is a guy named Zack instead of a girl named Zoe.
Hiro discovers he has the power to stop time.
Niki finds out Micah has been kicked out of school due to financial reasons and turns to an old friend for help.
Peter talks to his politician brother about his dream and bails his mother out of jail for shoplifting.
Claire rescues a firefighter from a train wreck fire.
Hiros storyline stays the exact same throughout the pilot.
Niki’s storyline had a few changes in Act Two, but it made the story fundamentally better and highlighted the motivation of Niki.
First, in the screenplay, Micah is kicked out of school because the school can’t help him. This is a horrible reason given that it’s a private school with a paid tuition. The pilot changes the reason to Niki’s checks are bouncing, so no payment has actually been made. Not only does it highlight the money problem Niki is running from, but it makes the audience more sympathetic and understanding of the need to be a cam girl as she is trying to give her son the best education opportunity.
Mohinder finds father’s research and puts together a research board.
Peter rejects a job offer from Nathan and crosses paths with Mohinder.
Niki is taken hostage and knocked out, but her alter ego kills both men.
Hiro and Ando discuss superpowers in a bar.
The eclipse is seen by all characters.
Originally introduced in Act One of the screenplay, Isaac finally makes his first appearance in Act 3. His storyline stays relatively the same with a few scenes combined.
The scene of Isaac destroying his painting and telling Simone off in the script are combined into one scene in the pilot. In the script, Isaac tells Simone about his future paintings by showing a winning horse race he predicted through his paintings. In the pilot, he shows her a picture of a terrorist attack he painted before it happened.
In the script, Isaac handcuffs himself when Simone leaves. He doesn’t do this in the pilot, but it is made clear he doesn’t want to do drugs anymore.
A scene is added of Nathan offering Peter a job to help him campaign, but Peter rejects it.
Originally in Act Four, Niki being caught by men in her home and then waking up after killing them is moved to the end of Act Three.
Peter and Simone save Isaac from an overdose.
Mohinder runs from Noah.
Claire has a family dinner and greets her dad.
Hiro teleports to Time Square in New York.
Peter and Simone still find Isaac passed out, but there is no added drama of Isaac cutting off his arm.
The ending of the screenplay is left open with Nathan holding on to Peter in the air. In the pilot, Peter’s hand slips and he falls.
Same as the script.
Same as the script.
The family dinner in Act Three was moved to Act Four.
Instead of telling her parents about her powers, the big reveal is that the man chasing Mohinder is Claire’s father. This was probably the smartest change made in the pilot. Combining Noah with Claire’s father added more mystery to the character and connected Claire to the overall story.
A lot of screenwriters ask if they can use images in their screenplay. It’s not common, and I wouldn’t recommend it, but if you want an example of how to do it professionally, check out Heroes screenplay.
Hiro and Ando speak Japanese, but their dialogue is in English. Always use parenthesis to denote when someone is speaking another language.Keep in mind the language of the people reading your script.
Heroes has several dream states so if you’re wondering how to transition from someone dreaming to someone awake, check out Peter’s storyline.
Although Heroes aired on NBC, the original pilot had swearing and nudity in it. It’s never a bad option to include, but don’t rely on it as crutch for the story. It was easily removed from Heroes, and it should be easily removed from your script, if needed.
Action scenes come inherently with superpowers, although there isn’t much action here. However there are scenes of powers being used such as Claire entering a burning building and Nathan flying to save Peter.
1. Story Structure
Heroes story structure went through a lot of changes from script to screen. Cutting D.L Hawkins entire story line gave more room to expand scenes with the other characters. Comparing the two structures side by side, the pilot uses the first two acts to group scenes of the same character before alternating scenes in the final two acts. In the script, Act one only had grouped together scenes of the same character, and then took an alternating approach for the other three acts.
2. D.L. Hawkins Story Line Cut
D.L. Hawkins story was cut from the pilot and his character is not seen until later on in the series. The story itself was not interesting. With the remaining lead characters having no connection with one another, it made sense that either D.L. or Niki had to be a secondary character to the other. Niki’s storyline was more interesting and it had good pacing.
3. Noah combined with Claire's dad
Claire’s dad was originally named Kent and he had no significant part in the story. Combining him with the character chasing Mohinder put a lot more mystery in the overall storyline and added more depth to the character especially living with someone who has superpowers.
Almost all names were changed from the script. I’m not sure the reasoning, but they likely tested them out with audiences until they found some that worked.
5. Fathers research
Mohinder goes from a scorned crazy scientist to a curious son looking for his fathers work. The research would go on throughout the series and is used as an explanation for why people suddenly have superpowers.