'The Hardy Boys': Where is Iola Morton? Joe Hardy's girlfriend from the books does not appear in series at all
Was Iola's death too dark for the show to include?
Spoilers for 'The Hardy Boys' Season 1
Longtime 'The Hardy Boys' fans are in for a treat this December 4, as all episodes of the show's first season dropped on Hulu, bringing the beloved characters from the novel to life. Of course, there are some changes to be expected, from the death of the boys' mother, to the gender-flipped Biff Hooper (Riley O'Donnell) and even the youngening of lead character Joe Hardy (Alexander Elliott). These changes are easily overlooked, however, as the show does a great job of bringing the book's supporting cast of characters to life. There is one character whose absence is quite notable, however - Joe Hardy's girlfriend from the books, Iola Morton.
In the books, Iola Morton was the younger sister of Chet Morton. She was a headstrong young girl who dated Joe quite steadily, much in the way Callie Shaw (Keana Lyn) dated Frank Hardy (Rohan Campbell) - the two girls were, in fact, the best of friends. In one of the later Hardy Boys novels, however, a car bomb meant for Frank and Joe killed her instead, a surprisingly dark turn for a series of boys' adventure books. Joe was devastated, but seeing as Iola's body was never recovered, he never gave up hope of finding her again, a plot point that persisted in one form or another through the series.
We see Chet Morton appear on the show, played by Adam Swain. However, there is no mention of him having a sister, much less the appearance of an Iola Morton herself. By gender-flipping Joe's friend, Biff, it's possible that the show is merging both characters into one - it's also possible, however, that they decided to leave her out of the series entirely. The death of Iola Morton is a dark moment for 'The Hardy Boys', and in a series that's already killed the boys' mother, the showrunners might have been hesitant to fridge another female character - especially one so young - or even imply that that would happen.
However, it's also possible that the show is holding Iola in reserve, for later seasons, possibly introduced as one of Chet's younger cousins or something similar. We know very little of Chet's home life, aside from the fact that his farm is having issues, and if 'The Hardy Boys' gets a Season 2, we hopefully get more insight into the Morton family. Bringing in Iola Morton give the show a chance to rectify the mistake the books made with Iola, giving the series another confident, competent, headstrong female character on the series to rival Joe. Biff does that already, yes - but you can never have too many competent detective on a series.
All episodes of 'The Hardy Boys' Season 1 are now streaming on Hulu.