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Someone is one species in the original work but a different one in the adaptation. Though this trope sounds simple enough, it does break down in a few different ways.
It usually happens for three reasons, usually relating to the character being an animal in the original:
- It's part of a Pragmatic Adaptation. If someone was an animal in the original, having them be human is just simpler in a low-budget live action remake. Alternatively, the original animal may be dangerous to work with, hard to get ahold of, or simply fictional which can lead into the second.
- Sometimes it's just a breed change. If the dog is a Golden Retriever in the original, then they may be a Beagle in the film.
- It's a consequence of a Setting Update. As values change, sometimes the characters have to be retooled to fit what the audience wants and expects to see. For instance, in many "imaginary" Family Guy episodes that place the family in other locales, Brian can become a sheep, an ox, a pig, etc.
And for how it doesn't qualify:
- The character switches species during the story. Twilight turning into an Alicorn doesn't invoke this trope for G1 Twilight's character.
- It's a full species AU. Equestria Girls does not count since everyone in that universe is human.
- Their birth place is different. Say you read a Star Wars fic where Luke was born on Coruscant. He'd still be labelled as human. Now if he was a Chiss, then it'd be this.
Compare Beethoven Was an Alien Spy for when a real world figure is, sometimes, shown to have not been human.
Anime and Manga
- In GoLion, Hiroshi/Pidge was a human. In Lion Voltron, he's a humanoid alien instead. To change the destruction of Earth to the one of Pidge's home planet.
- Same goes to his "brother" Chip from Vehicle Voltron, whose original self Yasuo was a human too.
- In Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics's rendition of The old woman in the woods, Elisabeth the maid was aided by a talking owl. In the original tale, it was a talking dove. Subverted: he was a human under a spell.
- In Transformers Cybertron, Soundwave, usually a native of Cybertron, hails from Planet X which might invoke this for him, depending on what one takes as Planet X's backstory.
- Some comic books have rendered The Mighty Thor and the rest of the Asgardians as cosmic beings instead of magical gods, which is something that carried over to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
- In The Dalek Chronicles, the Mechanoids are a race of naturally occurring Mechanical Lifeforms as opposed to being human built, and later abandoned, robots like they're presented as in the Doctor Who Expanded Universe.
- DC Elseworlds:
- In Red Son, Krypton is not another planet but Earth several billion years in the future. As a result, all Kryptonians are humans. In fact, this was the original origin for Superman before Krypton was established.
- In Last Son of Earth, Clark Kent is a human who was sent to Krypton to escape Earth's doom.
- In 2018's Go-Bots, the eponymous characters are full-on Mechanical Lifeforms as opposed to the Brain In a Jar cyborgs of the original cartoon.
- In IDW's ROM comic, Rom is an Elonian rather than a Galadorian, the latter species being the intellectual property of Marvel Comics.
- In IDW's Star Trek ongoing, despite the fact that the timeline diverged from the prime universe in 2233, Landru, who was a Human Alien that lived around 3733 BCE in the original timeline, is now a human scientist from the 22nd century.
- In Transformers Robots in Disguise, Garrison Blackrock, a human in the original comic, is revealed to be a Cybertronian sleeper agent sent to Earth by Onyx Prime.
- Ultimate Marvel loves this but the premier example would have to be making Galactus (here Gah Lak Tus) a Horde of Alien Locusts Robotic Hive Mind instead of a Cosmic Entity.
- A lesser example was turning Mar-Vell from a human looking Pink Kree to the more predominant Blue Kree.
And now you can ignore everything we said in the header because this is where this trope truly lives. Reasons for doing it can be simply wanting to explore a fun "What If?" scenario or simply because the author was bored and wanted to see it done.
- In Child of the Storm, Harry Potter is the son of Thor making Harry half-Asgardian. Then he's hinted to be a Heinz Hybrid because Thor has blood from other pantheons and the Phoenix Force made Lily Evans something but it sure as hell wasn't human.
- In Defenders of the Universe Keith is a Galra, Hunk is a Balmeran, and Lance is an Altean.
- In the Doctor Who fandom, there are many, some might even say too many, fanfics where Rose Tyler is revealed to be a Time Lady under a chameleon arch. Other candidates for this treatment are Clara Oswald and Amy Pond.
- In The Girl Who Could Knock Out The Hulk, Delphini, Voldemort's daughter from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, is a demigodess daughter of Hecate rather than a witch.
- The Last Son reimagines Alison Blaire as a Composite Character with Power Girl making her a mutant/Kryptonian hybrid.
- In the infamous fanfic My Immortal, Draco Malfoy is a vampire.
- It's a Fandom Specific Plot in Steven Universe to have AUs where Connie is the Gem/Human hybrid and Steven is human.
- In the original myths, Hercules was a demi-god. In the Disney film, he was born a full god before Pain and Panic made him mortal.
- In the original Jungle Book film, King Louie was an orangutan. But since orangutans aren't native to India, they made him a Gigantopithecus in the 2016 live-action remake which, while native to India also went extinct... a few million years ago. Notably, he was still an orangutan in the 90s remake.
- In the Peter Cushing Dr. Who films loosely based on the first two Dalek stories, Dr. Who and Susan are humans rather than Time Lords.
- In the How to Train Your Dragon books, Toothless was a Garden Dragon. In the films, he's a Night Fury.
- The Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- Drax and Mantis are aliens, though their races are unnamed, as opposed to genetically altered humans.
- Ego is a Celestial, a race he has no ties with in the comics. Though in fairness, there is some ambiguity on whether or not Ego truly is the last of the Celestials or just a powerful entity that co-opted the name.
- By consequence, this makes Peter Quill half-Celestial instead of half-Spartax since Ego is a Composite Character with J'son of Spartax.
- This is Pragmatic Adaptation: in the comics, Ego was an Elder of the Universe, the same race as the Collector and the Grandmaster. Non-comic-reading audiences would have been confused if a "living planet" was identified as being of the same race as Human Aliens Collector and Grandmaster, while Celestials are more "alien-like" and thus easier for non-comic-readers to accept Ego as one of them.
- Hela is Asgardian, being presented here as Odin's biological daughter, rather than a Jotun. Fenris also goes form Jotun to Asgardian Wolf.
- In the comics, Thanos was a Deviant Eternal, the Eternals being a race of humans who were altered by the Celestials and emigrated to Saturn's moon, Titan. In Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos is a Titan from the planet of the same name, unrelated to Saturn's moon. The comics also show that Thanos is a mutant among his kind, hence the Deviant notation, while MCU!Thanos' most notable trait, among his own kind, is his purple skin tone, which was rare in their society but hardly an unseen trait.
- In the comics, Redwing is a falcon who has a telepathic link with Sam Wilson. In Captain America: Civil War, Redwing is a drone.
- Thanks to rights issues, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff aren't mutants in Avengers: Age of Ultron. They're humans who were experimented on by Hydra with their powers coming from the energies of the Mind Stone. Something which eventually made its way into the comic.
- The Elementals were Humanoid Aliens in the comic. In Spider-Man: Far From Home, they're robotic monsters controlled by Mysterio. Also applies to the specific characters being Composited: Sandman, Hydro-Man, Molten Man and Cyclone, who were mutated humans in the comics. Subverted, however, with the Elements of Doom, that are as a whole also composited with the Elementals.
- Dormammu was a sorcerer who'd ascended to Humanoid Abomination status in the comics. In Doctor Strange, he's an Eldritch Abomination.
- Sonic the Hedgehog Zig-Zags this. While Sonic has been depicted as being from Earth in the games, he is depicted as being from Planet Mobius in the cartoon shows and the comics. The movie, while mostly being an adaptation from the games, has Sonic come from an alien planet.
- In The War of the Worlds, the invaders aren't from Mars. Steven Spielberg made this change because of advancing scientific knowledge about the climate of Mars and the likelihood of their being life there.
- Due to budgeting limitations, the nut-sorting squirrels are replaced by golden egg laying geese in Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. The 2005 film returned brought the squirrels back.
- In the interest of saving time, in the X-Men film series, Deathstrike, Yukio and Juggernaut are mutants. Silver Samurai gets the opposite treatment, being a human thanks to Decomposite Character.
- In Beast Wars: Uprising, many once organic, human or Nebulan, Headmasters are reimagined as Cybertronians.
- Several characters in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are recast as Inhumans.
- In Lost in Space (2018), the Robot is now an alien machine instead of a human built one.
- War of the Worlds retconned the Martians as coming from a planet called Mor-Tax and re-dubbing them the Mor-Taxians.
- Avengers, Assemble!:
- Like his Marvel Cinematic Universe counterpart above, Thanos is a Titan, not an Eternal. Unlike his MCU self, he's explicitly labelled as a Deviant among his own kind, splitting the difference.
- The Ghost is now an Inhuman who has natural phasing abilities, his suit simply serving as a means of better controlling and amplifying them.
- Dagon in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien is based off of the dragon in the tale of Saint George and the Dragon. In the show, he's not a dragon but an Eldritch Abomination.
- In the DCAU:
- Brainiac is reimagined as a Kryptonian AI as opposed to a Coluan. Became rather odd when Justice League Unlimited introduced Brainiac 5 as a Coluan.
- Supergirl, as part of DC Comics' then mandate that Superman be the only survivor of Krypton, was an Argoan.
- The alien invaders, the Imperium, in the premier episode of Justice League are clearly based off the White Martians but are invaders from another planet who stole the Martians' shape shifting abilities.
- Brimstone is a human built robot rather than one created by Darkseid.
- In Loonatics Unleashed, the Foghorn Leghorn and Pepe Le Pew expies are human.
- In G1, Scorpan Was Once a Man. In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Scorpan was born as a Gargoyle.
- Madame Webb is a Cosmic Entity in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, as opposed to being the mutant that she was in the comics.
- In the old Star Wars EU, Depa Billaba was a Chalactan, a race of Human Aliens. In Star Wars: Rebels, the Chalactan became just a subset of human culture.
- In G1, the Headmasters were either Nebulans binary bonded to Cybertronian partners (the American version) or small Cybertronians that turned into heads and controlled large drones (the Japanese version). In Transformers Animated, the singular Headmaster is human.
- In Animated, the Dinobots, Soundwave, and the Construticons are first introduced as advanced human technology (dinosaur animatronics, a musical toy, and construction vehicles respectively) before AllSpark energy reformatted them into Cybertronians.
- In the G1 cartoon, exactly what the Quintessons were was never made clear (though later media seemed to lean towards techno-organic). In the Transformers Aligned Universe, the novels portrayed them as organic squids in mechanical shells while The Covenant of Primus portrayed them as Mechanical Lifeforms. Transformers vs. G.I. Joe went the unusual route of making them Eldritch Abominations.
- Transformers: Cyberverse featured this thrice. In the first case, the Sharkticons are a wholly separate alien race, unconnected to the Cybertronians. In the second, Air Hammer and Bantor are now the names of whole interstellar species (that is to say, space-bore animals), not individual fuzors. In the last, the Dweller in the Depths is now a Titan, rather than a Quintesson Trans-Organic.
- Voltron: Legendary Defender:
- In GoLion/Voltron, Akira/Keith was a pure-blooded human. Here, he's half-human/half-Galra.
- Interestingly, in the questionably canonical Voltron Force, meant to be a sequel to the original, Keith was revealed as half-human/half-Arusian so this still holds no matter what one considers canon for the original continuity.
- Hys/Nanny was an Altean/Arusian in GoLion/Voltron. In Legendary Defender, her expy Dayak is Galra.
- After Voltron had them be Arusians, Allura and Coren are once again Alteans.
- Pidge is another recursive example. She was a Human Alien in Voltron but is human here, just like in GoLion.
- In GoLion/Voltron, Akira/Keith was a pure-blooded human. Here, he's half-human/half-Galra.
- ↑ Soundwave is either a descendant of Cybertronians from another reality or a wholly unrelated Mechanical Lifeform whose Cybertronian like biology is merely the result of parallel evolution.
- ↑ Though in fairness, the idea of Time Lords was still a few years away, and the canon television series had hinted a few times that the Doctor was a human from the far future.