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Sometimes when Hollywood decides to do a movie adaptation they'll try to make a character more interesting by giving him some angst not present (or not discussed) in the book. Reasons vary: it makes the character easier to empathize with, it is an attempt to avert a Boring Invincible Hero, it adds more conflict to the story, etc. Often used to add more Character Development.

It may be caused by historical Values Dissonance. Many of the examples below are adapted from older works, or even The Oldest Ones in the Book. In the past, The Hero of the Monomyth was expected to accept his destiny as a great hero and leader, but modern ideals would rather support the character of a Cincinnatus-style humble everyman.

Compare and contrast with True Art Is Angsty.

Examples of Adaptational Angst Upgrade include:

Anime and Manga

  • The title character of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha in The Movie manga continuity. Fans gave this version of Nanoha the Fan Nickname of "Emoha". This is especially noticeable in the part after the movie's events where, in contrast to the anime where she's pleased with the outcome but somewhat worried about Fate, she believes in the movie manga that she failed to help anyone. At the beginning of their mock battle in the manga, Fate believes that since she caused Nanoha trouble, she doesn't deserve to be friends with her.
  • The first Fullmetal Alchemist anime had this happen on a few occasions. Ed had a Ten-Minute Retirement from being a State Alchemist after hearing about Nina's death and Tucker's execution which actually turned out to be a cover-up.
    • There's also the scene from the manga, when Al thinks that Ed may have fabricated his entire personality when binding his soul to the armor. Originally, it only takes Winry telling him that the question Ed was scared to ask was whether Al hated him to bring him to his senses (that and hitting him on the head with a wrench). In the first anime, he parts ways with Ed, but realizes the truth when helping a pair of Ishvalan refugee brothers.
  • Surprisingly inverted in the Slayers franchise in regards to Zelgadis' chimeric state; despite being used as a Butt Monkey ploy several times in the anime, he's actually less prudish in regards to his appearance, and even embraces the awe and nicknames that he recieves from strangers (i.e "The Heartless, Mystical Swordsman); if for nothing else, he gets upset when he's being used for a silly ploy (such as being used as an anchor.). In the original novels, he is far more sensitive about his appearance and not frivolous at all; a side-story featuring him emphasizes this angst in which he broods over the fact that he made friends who see beyond his appearance in the first place.
  • Vision of Escaflowne's Darker and Edgier movie adaptation begins with Hitomi attempting suicide, and a huge part of her Character Development involves overcoming her depression. In the series she was fairly more balanced, with most of her issues stemming from her romantic conflicts and lack of confidence.


  • Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings films reveals his inner conflict more often than in the books, and is not convinced that he should return as king until the last movie. The DVD commentary for the film outright admits this was done as a way to give him a character-building arc, although it is easier to rationalize considering the opinion the film's Elves hold about the will of Men in general during the story... which also wasn't so prominent in the books.
  • Peter in The Chronicles of Narnia films, especially Prince Caspian, is far less confident and kingly than his book counterpart. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader also adds subplots where Lucy worries a lot about her looks and the consequences of worrying about it, Edmund angsts about his time as a traitor to the White Witch, and Caspian has daddy issues. Arguably all of these are justified given that the movie adds a villainous island that enhances/picks at their worries and fears.
  • King Leonidas from 300. Turns his wife into a major character and makes her the voice of reason and confidence.
  • The eponymous hero in the Christopher Lambert version of Beowulf.
  • This happened to James Bond in the latest movies.
  • Stuart Little was changed (understandably) so that Stuart was adopted instead of Mrs. Little actually giving birth to him, leaving George with disappointment about getting a mouse instead of the "real" brother he'd wanted and a bit of a complex about being overshadowed by the novelty of Stuart. In the book George was a fairly minor character whose defining characteristic was being kind of a know-it-all.
  • Hook, a movie sequel to Peter Pan, makes the grown-up Peter into a distant workaholic dad who has to learn that his kids are more important.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory gave Willy Wonka Daddy Issues.
  • The Last Temptation of Christ.
  • Film adaptations of Bible stories will typically add this - for example, the book of Exodus never says that Moses had no idea of his Hebrew heritage. In fact, it implies the opposite, but most versions have his true heritage be a surprise, to up the angst. Other such examples are:
    • A film version of the Book/Life of the prophet Joel gives Joel a love interest who is killed (in front of him) by the oppressors, spurring Joel onto his passionate, even frenzied preaching.
    • The story of Ruth, already an impressive one in and of itself, is given an extra punch by making Ruth a priestess of the Moab religion, rather than just a Moabitess, and therefore her conversion to Judaism is much more meaningful.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Movie!Aang spends most of his time angsting over his job as the Avatar and being the last airbender. While Cartoon!Aang isn't a stranger to angst, he's The Pollyanna.
  • Spider-Man in the movies is a lot more somber. Peter Parker was always as angsty as he was in the films, but usually he puts that angst aside when in his Spider-Man persona; not so here.
  • Master and Commander: The Far Side Of The World, the only film so far of the Aubrey-Maturin novels, has a plot condensed from several of the books plus some stuff that's just made up. A few characters suffer Death by Adaptation; in particular, one midshipman is Driven to Suicide by a major subplot expanded from a minor and suicideless one in one of the books. Presumably due to Values Dissonance, the decision to have a sailor flogged is also played as a rare event and significant moral dilemma for Aubrey, while in the books it's treated as a routine if sometimes distasteful part of his job.
  • Goku in Dragon Ball Evolution suffered this trope. In the movie, he has zero self-confidence and feels that he "can't get the girl", a far cry from his actual personality, where he had no worries in the world at all, and initially had trouble identifying what a girl was.

Live Action Television


  • One could argue that this trope was the basis for the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. In fact, it was precisely this reason that many people initially protested the film -- because the all-powerful Christ isn't supposed to show feelings like the rest of the mortals, dammit (never mind that the Bible does have several entries in which he does just that.)

Western Animation

  • Moses in The Prince of Egypt, compared to other films such as The Ten Commandments. In the original source however he's arguably even more angsty.
    • Aside from not realizing he was adopted (see above), this version also emphasizes the fact that he and Ramsees were raised as brothers and friends, giving them a tragic Cain and Abel dynamic not present in the Bible or other versions.
  • Disney's Treasure Planet ages up Jim Hawkins and gives him single-parent/teen-rebel angst.
  • In The Frog Prince, the female lead is a princess whose worst worries are getting her ball out of a pond and having to deal with her promise to a frog. In The Princess and the Frog, Tiana is a workaholic bordering on a nervous collapse because she feels that if she doesn't achieve her dream of owning her own restaurant, she will let down her dead father (who shared the same dream and, in fact, inspired her). She also seems aware of what her friends, family, and the town in general thinks of her devotion to her dream and it gets to her.
  • In Joseph: King of Dreams, Joseph is clearly very resentful of what his brothers did to him. This escalates to the point where he concocts an elaborate plan to first punish them and then enslave Benjamin, who he didn't even know in the movie and who wasn't even born when Joseph was sold into slavery.
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