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Literature: Coma
1976 medical Conspiracy Thriller novel by Robin Cook. In the novel, Susan Wheeler is a medical student working at the Boston Memorial Hospital. Young, healthy patients are coming in for routine operations and leaving in permanent comas. Susan investigates, eventually unearthing an Organ Theft conspiracy.

The Film of the Book was released in 1978, written and directed by Michael Crichton. In the film, Susan is played by Genevieve Bujold and her character is changed from a medical student to a full M.D. The movie also stars Michael Douglas as Susan's boyfriend Mark and features a score by Jerry Goldsmith.

A Mini Series version by Ridley Scott and Tony Scott aired on A&E in 2012. Susan, once again portrayed as a medical student, is played by Lauren Ambrose with Steven Pasquale as Mark. Also, the Boston Memorial Hospital is changed to the Peachtree Memorial Hospital, accommodating a change in setting from Boston to Atlanta.

Provides examples of:

  • Ambiguously Evil: The movie has some fun making it ambiguous whether Mark genuinely doesn't believe in the conspiracy or if he's actually in on it. His actions make sense for either interpretation, until the end of the movie when we find out he really didn't know, which is good because someone needed to save Susan's life at that point.
  • Alternate Reality Game: For the miniseries. The Coma Conspiracy website and social networking accounts on one end and the Jefferson Institute presence at Comic-Con on the other.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Susan is blonde in the novel, but brunette in the film and redheaded in the miniseries.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: When Susan wakes up from her operation, much to Dr. Starks' dismay (he had intended to make her his next victim to ensure her silence), the final scene is of him standing in the now-deserted operating room, with the police outside waiting for him. Will he surrender peacefully, commit Suicide by Cop or do it himself? We never find out, but either way it's safe to say his career is about to end in disgrace.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Susan wakes up this way at one point in the movie.
  • The Conspiracy
  • Convenient Coma: Averted. None of the characters put into comas recover. Although they're not technically dead, they're essentially the requisite dead bodies.
  • Deadly Doctor/Mad Doctor: And how. Starks is essentially killing people in order to sell off their organs without their consent and convincing himself that its somehow all for the greater good when it's really about the money he's making.
  • Death by Adaptation: In the miniseries, Starks is killed by his fellow conspirators.
  • Emotionless Girl: Mrs. Emerson, the nurse running the Jefferson Institute.
  • Fakeout Escape: Used by Susan during the Jefferson Institute sequence.
  • He Knows Too Much: Or she, rather.
  • Hospital Hottie: Susan, Mark.
  • Karma Houdini: Lindquist in the miniseries, who's the only conspirator not arrested and is revealed to have escaped to China. It's left ambiguous whether her invitation to Mark to join her was simply working at a new hospital or in starting the entire thing up again.
  • Killed to Uphold the Masquerade: A maintenance worker who was going to tell Susan the truth.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident:
    Kelly: [as he's being murdered] What'd you do that for?
    Hitman: They told me to make it look like an accident.
    • Additionally, when he is sent to kill Susan, he is told to "make it look like a rape", as if Susan were the victim of a random street crime rather than an orchestrated hit.
  • Medical Horror
  • Organ Theft
  • People Farms
  • People Jars
  • Write What You Know: Robin Cook and Michael Crichton were both doctors.
  • You Go Girl: The novel made much of Susan's struggle to be taken seriously in a male-dominated profession. This is toned down and nearly eliminated from the film, in which she's already an M.D.

Christ Clone TrilogyThriller LiteratureThe Day of the Jackal
Capricorn OneFilms of the 1970sComing Home
CoDominiumLiterature of the 1970sCorum

alternative title(s): Coma; Coma
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