In 2014, Netflix announced that they had begun developing a TV series based on the books. Due to the cancelled sequels of the film, Daniel Handler was happy with the announcement and joined production. Unlike the film, the TV series would adapt all 13 books instead of the first 3.
Season 1 premiered on January 13, 2017.
Before season 2 was released, Daniel Handler revealed that he was taken off the project. Although he worked on the scripts for season 2 and 3, he was unsure of how much would change in the final release. 
Season 2 premiered on March 30, 2018.
Season 3 premiered on January 1, 2019.
|“||Look away. This show will wreck your evening, your whole life, and your day. Every single episode is nothing but dismay. There's nothing but horror and inconvenience on the way. Ask any stable person, "Should I watch?" and they will say: Look away.||”|
— Look Away, the main theme
After the loss of their parents in a mysterious fire, the three Baudelaire children face trials and tribulations attempting to uncover dark family secrets.
In episodes 1 and 2, "The Bad Beginning", Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are placed in the care of actor Count Olaf, their alleged family relative and guardian, by their family banker Mr. Poe. He forces them to accomplish many difficult and unreasonable chores. Olaf concocts a diabolical plan to steal their fortune by making Violet and Klaus partake in his play, which his troupe of actors are involved in. Olaf's plot is revealed, but he escapes. The Baudelaires are sent to their next guardian.
In episodes 3 and 4, "The Reptile Room", the children go to live with another relative, Uncle Monty, who is revealed to have been their actual chosen guardian. He is kind and the Baudelaires enjoy their time with him. Unfortunately, Count Olaf reappears, disguised as Uncle Monty's new assistant, Stephano. He murders Uncle Monty, and tries to take the Baudelaires to Peru, but is stopped by the Baudelaires, who uncover proof of the murder. Olaf disappears, and the children go to live with their next closest relative.
In episodes 5 and 6, "The Wide Window", the Baudelaires meet their aunt Josephine, their new guardian, who is afraid of everything. Count Olaf is disguised as Captain Sham, a sailor with a wooden leg. He forces Aunt Josephine to write a note placing Violet, Klaus, and Sunny in his care. Sham murders Aunt Josephine, but Sunny bites through his leg, proving his true identity to Mr. Poe. The Baudelaires, tired of Mr. Poe's failed attempts at finding them a suitable home, hitch a ride in a delivery truck to a local lumber mill.
In episodes 7 and 8, "The Miserable Mill", the children are forced to work at the Lucky Smells Lumbermill. Olaf is disguised as Shirley, a receptionist working for the local optometrist, Georgina Orwell. Orwell hypnotizes Klaus, causing him to be responsible for an accident that injures one of the workers. The mill owner, Sir, threatens to put the children in Shirley's care if they cause one more accident. Klaus is hypnotized into nearly killing Sir's partner Charles with a sawing machine, but Violet manages to break his trance. Olaf escapes again and Mr. Poe locates them with the help of his wife, Eleanora. Mr. Poe enrolls the children in a boarding school known as Prufrock Preparatory School.
In episodes 1 and 2, "The Austere Academy", the children cope with life at a boarding school called Prufrock Preparatory School run by Vice Principal Nero. They meet and become close friends with Duncan Quagmire and Isadora Quagmire, two orphaned triplets, after being defended by them.
In episodes 7 and 8, "The Hostile Hospital", the children take refugee in a half-built hospital while trying to research V.F.D. After Violet is caught, Klaus and Sunny must act to prevent Violet from undergoing unnecessary surgery.
- Main article: List of ASOUE television stories
The first season, for the most part, received critical acclaim, despite a few mixed to negative reviews.[source needed] Some were underwhelmed by the destruction of Josephine Anwhistle's house, feeling it was not as epic compared to the film.[source needed]
The second season had similar reviews. Some viewers enjoyed season two more because starting from The Vile Village, the series breaks away from much of the formulaic tradition of the first six installments. Lucy Punch has also been complimented for her role as Esmé Squalor.[source needed]
The third season, again, had similar reviews. Some viewers were somewhat disappointed by The End, feeling it was a rushed adaptation of the book which could been improved by being longer.[source needed]
The TV series received its own fanbase - many of which are comprised of those who are already fans of the books and/or the film.
Those already familiar with the series have compared it to the books, as well as the film adaptation. Some have praised the TV series for being closer to the books than the film. However, starting with season two, the series begins to expand itself more and change more things compared to the books.
Although Daniel Handler has been involved with helping with the scripts for the TV series, he has never said that it is canon to the books. While Season 1 is rather faithful to the first four books, especially more than the film was, Season 2 and 3 contain more and more discrepancies and changes to the point where many consider the book universe and the TV series universe a separate universe.
While the TV series is faithful to the main plot and the general ideas, there are some differences in the details. For example, in both the TV series and books, Sunny climbs up an elevator shaft; in the TV series, she uses the railings; in the books, she uses her teeth. Because of this, the TV series does not necessarily replace the books, and is almost like an "alternate reality" of the books. Someone who watches the TV series will get the basic gist of the books, although there are a lot of aspects of the books that were changed or were not carried over to the TV series. Sometimes, the TV show occasionally adds information which explains the books. For example, if someone only reads the book version of The Miserable Mill, the workers seem oddly complacent with being paid in gum and coupons. The TV series reveals Georgina Orwell has hypnotized them to accept it. It is unclear what is canon or not.
Differences compared to books
Here are some general noticeable differences between the books and the TV series, without going into too much detail (for more specific details, they are listed on each individual episode article):
- Both the books and TV series feature absurdist comedy, although there is much more comedy in the TV series, while the books have a more serious nature.
- In the books, the Baudelaires cry at least once in each book on average, conveying they are emotionally vulnerable, upset and depressed. In the TV series, they have more of a panicked and inconvenienced mood and are able to withhold their tears during emotional scenes, such as when Jerome leaves them, or when Klaus realizes he's spending his birthday in prison. Perhaps the most important crying scene is removed in The End, when the Baudelaires finally accept their parents are gone forever: "They cried for the world, and most of all, of course, the Baudelaire orphans cried for their parents, who they knew, finally, they would never see again."
- The books dive deeper into how the Baudelaires feel, along with their thoughts, concerns and emotions.
- In the books, Violet is always about a head taller than Klaus, as she about a couple years older. In both the film and TV series, they are about the exact same height, although Klaus in the TV series even becomes a bit taller than Violet as time goes on.
- In the books, due to being 2 years older than Klaus (as well as being taller), Violet has a stronger role as a protector figure for him and Sunny, as she has promised her parents. The TV series rarely mentions this promise (notably in The Bad Beginning: Part 1 and The Miserable Mill: Part 2) and Klaus looks out for Violet just as much as she does for him.
- In the books, the Baudelaires fight and argue more due to sibling rivalry. For example, in The Bad Beginning, it is mentioned Klaus did not like Sunny at first. In The Wide Window, Violet and Klaus call each other "stupid" and "unbearable". In The End, it mentions before the fire, Violet and Klaus once argued over whose turn it was to take out the garbage. Throughout the books, Violet and Klaus become closer in their relationship due to experiencing their hardships together. In the TV series, they already get along very well from beginning so this aspect is rather lost.
- The books only show the perspective of the Baudelaires, with a few exceptions such as Lemony Snicket briefly mentioning Olaf has disguised himself as a rabbi and is boarding a train at the end of The Wide Window, or that Kit is water-skiing in The Penultimate Peril. In the TV series, it often shifts perspective to show what other characters are up to, such as what Count Olaf and his group are doing.
- Some characters were rather omitted from the show. These include Bruce (who was gender-swapped into Brucie for the show), an annoying reporter named Geraldine Julienne (although Eleanora Poe takes her place), and Captain Widdershins who only appears in a portrait and as a voice on a radio.
- A new character named Jacquelyn is added and given focus. She is Mr. Poe's secretary and a VFD member.
- Olivia Caliban, Jacques Snicket and Kit Snicket appear a bit earlier and are given more focus. Larry the Waiter, who briefly appeared during the book The Wide Window, is given more focus. Because of this, the viewer is able to see what V.F.D. was up to during the TV series, which was rather a mystery in the books.
- Mr. Poe is much more involved physically in the series, while he was more absent in the books.
- The books claim Violet hates pink, but Violet sometimes dons pink clothing in the TV series.
- The TV series depicts more racial diversity, which Daniel Handler advocated for. For example, in the books, Josephine is noted to have "pale" skin, while she is portrayed by a dark-skinned woman in the TV series.
- The TV series changes some of the physical appearances in the books. For example, Georgina Orwell is blonde in the books and brunette in the TV series. Vice-versa, Esmé Squalor is brunette in the books and blonde in the TV series.
- The White-Faced Women are older than their book illustrations.
- The TV series makes it far more clearer that certain characters are LGBT. These include Sir, Charles, Jerome Squalor, Babs, Mrs. Bass and Fernald, The Hook-Handed Man.
- The TV series occasionally removes the more nonsensical aspects of the books that would not transfer well to the medium. For example, Sunny does not have a swordfight and she does not climb up an elevator shaft with her teeth. Instead of someone mistaking a bag of flour for Sunny, a doll on wheels is used.
- In the books, when Count Olaf brought an associate, if they were in disguise, the children did not recognize them until it was too late (Dr. Lucafont, Foreman Flacutono, Officer Luciana, etc.) In the series, their disguises didn't fool them as Olaf's never do.
- In the books, Count Olaf's acting troupe got little to no focus. In the series, they get more focus, and the Bald Man with the Long Nose and the Henchperson of Indeterminate Gender live longer.
- VeryFlammableDandelions.com – from crate in the first teaser trailer, lead to a concept art image of Olaf's house.
- VisceralFantabulousDebut.com – from newspaper article title in second teaser, lead to a concept art image of Uncle Monty's reptile room.
- VitalFanDisclosure.com – from a Facebook message with the first official trailer, lead to a concept art image of Aunt Josephine's house.
- ValorousFarmsDairy.com – from the backdrop of holiday video released on Facebook, lead to four grim holiday greetings.
- VariousFrequentDisasters.com – from statement made by Lemony Snicket in "The Facts" trailer, lead to page with nine Count Olaf gifs.
- VeryFalseDocuments.com – from a Facebook message with the theme song, led to a special message.
- VastlyFrighteningDecision.com – within a miserable message from Netflix, led to renewal letter.
- VerseFluctuationDeclaration.com – from a New Year's Facebook message, initially page stated season 2 release date before changing to a new message.
- The rest of the sites had 404 messages.
- The music of the series has never been released, leading to hundreds of fans signing a petition.
- The viewer should be aware that there is a benefit to watching in HD. Throughout the series, there are many close-ups of newspaper articles and the like which briefly appears for a few seconds. If the viewer pauses, they can find some hilarious tidbits such as backstory that would be missed. For example, a Daily Punctilio article reads "POLICE SEARCH FOR MISSING MOUSTACHE."
- The series has quite a lot of rewatch value because characters often foreshadow future events. For example, in The Austere Academy, Jacquelyn asks Larry if he is in the mountains, saying "we're not due there until the end of the season" which would go over a viewer's head if they have not read the books. This is a reference to how The Carnivorous Carnival, the finale of season two, ends in the Mortmain Mountains.
- The series is set in the Land of Districts.
- In a video interview, Neil Patrick Harris clarified that the series is intentionally ambiguous with its era, saying it should not be modern, but at the same time, not too old-timey.
- In July 2015, a YouTube channel using the username "Eleanora Poe" released a single video titled "An Unfortunate Teaser". The video was made to look as a teaser trailer for the Netflix series. The official Netflix channel commented on it: "Nope, this isn't an official Netflix teaser, but we won't call Count Olaf - THIS IS MOST MARVELOUS." It also disclaimed the video to multiple news outlets. Despite this, some fans believe the video was made by Netflix given its high quality, as well as the Lachrymose Leech being essentially identical to what would appear in the show.
- The Incomplete History of Secret Organizations: An Utterly Unreliable Account of Netflix's A Series of Unfortunate Events
- Cawley, Terence (October 26, 2017), Daniel Handler (a.k.a Lemony Snicket) explains why he's less involved with 'Unfortunate Events' on Netflix, The Boston Globe