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"Not everything in a book will work in a movie... I think it's the director's duty to keep what he can use and throw out or change the rest."
Roger Ebert, Questions for the Movie Answer Man

Sometimes when you're doing a version of a story, the writers are smart enough to know that for whatever reason -- budget, censors, pacing issues, et cetera -- there are things that just aren't going to make it through. So they make the best of a bad situation and explore other aspects of the story. Hopefully, this will put a new and interesting spin on the series.

Time is often a factor in this. When you're adapting a 600-page book (or, for that matter, a seventy-year old comic series) into a two-hour movie, something's gotta go.

Fan Dumb tends to be rabid about this kind of change, although the rise of DVDs and bonus production commentary often include rationalization (or guilt-passing) at this sort of thing.

Various signs of this include:

  • Canon Foreigner: Adding a new character, often to play the role of The Watson in the adaptation of a book with a lot of dense exposition.
  • Composite Character: Combining character roles (and subsequently enlarging the role of one character) to make a simpler narrative to follow.
  • Woolseyism: Dramatically altering key points but holding to the spirit of the original.
  • Adapted Out: Omitting characters and subplots that don't really add much to the story.

Contrast with Adaptation Distillation: in a distillation, a complex story is simplified, without much substantive change. In a Pragmatic Adaptation, the story is changed with the shift in medium.

Examples of Pragmatic Adaptation include:


Anime & Manga

  • Area 88: The anime adaptations of the manga leave out the quirky humor that occassionally showed up in the manga. It also wisely chose to leave out the quasi-Science Fiction elements that seemed to belong more in G.I. Joe than a serious war melodrama. In the manga, the anti-government forces employed devices such as land based aircraft carriers, robot controlled F-18 fighters, a drill missile, laser sentries, and a massive Air Fortress. There was also an inexplicable connection between the Asran Civil War, The Mafia, Communists, and various other groups. The anime adaptations remove all of the byzantine subplots, conspiracies, and eccentric guest characters. In the original manga unlike the OVA, Kanzaki's arrest is hardly the end of him. The anime's focus is on Shin's perceived loss of his humanity. Also, it should be noted that the manga series, which lasted seven years (1979-1986) inexplicably lasted more than twice as long than Shin's forced mercenary contract of three years. It was still running when the original OVA was produced. The OVA's ending had to be different from the manga in order to avoid spoilers. The U.S. manga adaptation lasted briefly (42 issues and then briefly in Animerica magazine) and was nowhere close to the end but by the time of the brief Animerica run, the series had already began to Jump the Shark due to the meandering subplots. What little is known (to non-Japanese speaking readers) about the manga's ending is that fans feel it was a copout. The OVA's strong and powerful ending is widely considered preferrable.
  • Mazinger Z: Several things were toned down in the anime of Mazinger Z. In the original story, Dr. Kabuto was pretty much another Mad Scientist with his face scarred who had never met Dr. Hell. In the anime, he was a well-meaning, nice old man who shared a backstory with Hell and built Mazinger Z for defending the world (apparently this was later retconned into manga continuity, since in the Great Mazinger manga Kouji claimed Dr. Hell had killed his grandfather). However, Kouji was nicer and less exist -albeit a bigger pervert- in the manga, and Sayaka was a Type B Tsundere instead of a Type A, and their fights were worst in the anime. Many manga characters (such like Inspector Ankokuji, the twin sisters Loru and Lori or the Gamia assassin androids) and storylines never showed up in the anime, or their story was altered (such like Lorelei's story). Likewise, the anime came up with new characters (such like Professor Gordon and his daughter that modified Mazinger Z to be able to swim, or Viscount Pygman and Archduke Gorgon) developed some situations (such like Mazinger getting its Mid-Season Upgrade and other minor upgrades, or the birth of Boss Borot) and characters (such like the other scientists of the Institute, or Kouji and Sayaka's families) in a greater depth than the manga. On the whole it can be told it was an Adaptation Distillation.
  • The anime of Death Note has a bit of this. There are several things left out. However, while nothing too important to the story is omitted, several bits of information that would help explain things a bit better are in the manga. This causes a problem in that the manga is left feeling wordy and droning, while the anime feels abridged in which the characters pull information from nowhere. For example, when Near detects that Mikami is X-Kira, the manga lays out his entire thought process. The anime makes it seem like he just had a lucky guess.
  • The anime of Berserk certainly toned down much of the series's violence, but is perhaps more well known for emphasizing themes of friendship and ambition -- and not in an optimistic way -- more than the manga did. This was a compromise with Berserk 's long supernatural plotline; most of the series is actually a flashback. The changes are usually accepted by fans, seeing as creator Kentarō Miura gave his approval.
    • Also, the anime did away with all the slapstick and face faults, which created a more consistently dark and adult mood, which a number of fans actually prefer to the manga where it can actually vary wildly in tone. Some also believe that removing things like Gut's emotional breakdown during his sex scene with Caska and making it look like he got out of the Eclipse without Skull Knight's help actually made the main character more strong and likable.
  • Zoisite of the Sailor Moon anime is a fairly standard foppish, gay shoujo villain. He was inevitably adapted into a woman in the North American dub, with very little change noticable.
    • By the same token, Haruka and Michiru's lesbian relationship is glossed over from many dubs, such as the North American dub which changed them to cousins. Amusingly, the dub seemed primarily concerned with modifying only the most blatant comments; the two are still unusually affectionate, if not outright unplatonic.
  • The first Galaxy Angel video game was delayed enough that The Anime of the Game would have to be aired at least a year beforehand. Rather than risk Adaptation Decay with the little information they had, the writers turned Galaxy Angel into a Gag Series that parodied Adaptation Decay, using even less source material than they had and stepping up Character Exaggeration to outrageous limits. It worked. Galaxy Angel Rune, on the other hand...
  • The Haruhi Suzumiya Light Novels' narration are one of the things that people like most about them. Unreliable Narrator Kyon tells us the story in a unique way, but adding the visual media to it destroys this naturally, since you aren't told what happens anymore. And still, the anime is a very good adaption, maintaining the sarcastic style of Kyon as narrator and/or commentor, despite having a visual medium, even maintaining the occasional narration/speaking ambiguity with strategic camera angles. In fact, some things are downright better suited for, or improved in the anime, such as the episodes "The Day Of Sagittarius", "The Adventures Of Mikuru Asahina" and "Live Alive".
    • Especially Live Alive, where we get God Knows.
    • A good example is how Kyon does not have quotation marks when he talks, so it is ambiguous if he's talking or narrating. You can assume he is narrating for the most part, but sometimes character will reply to his supposed narration, much to the surprise of the reader. The anime actually manages to keep this by changing the camera perspective away from Kyon's mouth, so you don't actually see if he is narrating or talking.
  • FLCL: The manga adaptation isn't so much a retelling of the story in the anime as it is taking the same premise and characters and telling a completely different story.
  • The Grenadier anime, Grenadier ~The Smiling Senshi~, follows a Broad Strokes account of the manga, but without the After the End connotations of the later volumes of the manga, the last four members of the Juttensen, and the JesterIron-Masked Baron's final assault on the Capital. Oh, and Rushuna's surrogate big sister's name is completely different in the two adaptations. Then again, the manga was four volumes finished out of seven at the time, and Namari was first named in volume six, so...
  • The 2003 anime adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist was put into production when only a few volumes of the manga had been released, and the writers had to not only come up with a conclusion based on the existing material, but make a story that would span about 50 episodes. So, in addition to expanding on certain scenes from the manga, most of the characters were given wildly different characterizations, and the entire plot was changed. (The original mangaka even encouraged them to do this.) In addition, the tone became much less optimistic, and the focus became much more about themes like sacrifice and the value of life. The result was an anime that is widely praised by critics, but is very different from its source. Whether or not it's as good as (or better than) the manga is subject to much debate.
    • They also added in characterization earlier in the 2003 anime for characters who became important in the manga later. For instance, the manga's Kimblee and the 2003 anime's Kimblee are vastly different. Also of note, the anime team worked extensively with the mangaka on the ending--what tone should it have, what feeling should the audience leave with--she didn't write any of it, but she had a lot of input.
    • It is surprising how many elements after the manga and 2003 anime diverge are fairly similar, whether thematically or literally.
  • When Excel Saga was made into an anime, the manga was still ongoing. The anime turned what content was already written into different show parodies, and wrote its own ending ased on what original content they made themselves.
    • The Mexican dub also toned down Excel's genkiness a little bit, because in the Japanese original she screams so much, that American dubber Jessica Calvello ended up destroying her vocal cords.
  • Persona 3 -Trinity Soul- supposedly takes place in the same universe as Persona 3. (At least, the presence of Akihiko implies that much.) However, the rules for Persona summoning are drastically changed for pragmatic reasons. In the games, a Persona has to be repeatedly summoned for every skill you use. This works wonderfully for a turned based game, but it would lack the same effect in an animated series. So in Trinity Soul, the "rules" for Personae were changed so that the battles would look more visually engaging.
    • Some of the other changes to the series probably fall more under the Adaptation Decay side of things (statements that are contradictory to the games, such as that adults can't have Personas).
  • In Persona 4: The Animation which condenses a 90+ hour game into 26 half-hour episodes, the anime seems to be showing no class time and cutting out the vast majority of the dungeon crawling--basically showing condensed versions of the dungeon plots and then skipping straight to the boss battles. It seems that they will also be showing the very sidestory-ish Social Link plots, however.
    • Similarly, the team no longer uses weapons, since it's a whole lot harder to convince viewers that the investigation team has been sneaking swords and chairs into Junes under their clothes when everything is being fully animated.
  • Many, many things were shortened, or taken out, of the Higurashi no Naku Koro ni anime. The manga mostly subverts this by leaving in most of the details, just shortened since most arcs are two volumes long.
  • In Rebuild of Evangelion: You Are (Not) Alone, Ritsuko's "hedgehog dilemma" speech from the show was comparatively glossed over. Due to all the material that's been condensed into the movies so far--2.0 consists of events from episodes eight through nineteen--this has happened with several other parts. This has lead to the ironic situation that a lot of the canon that fans took ages to figure out may not even apply to Rebuild at all.
  • While the anime version of Hana Yori Dango closely follows the original manga, the live action show compressed the story into a neat two-season package. There are instances of both characters (Kazuya and Makiko's roles are now given to Sakurako, making her much more devious) and events (important events from three separate parties now all occur at one party) being combined, and several storylines where someone tries to seduce Tsukasa or Tsukushi are done away with entirely.
  • Dragon Ball: Path To Power goes through how Goku met his friends, and his fight against the Red Ribbon Army rather than Emperor Pilaf, it also removes a few characters (such as Tao Pai Pai), managing to compress the entire thing within an hour, with fairly entertaining results.
  • Bokurano, since the director of the anime didn't like how the story got way too dark for his taste. OTOH, the manga itself didn't finish until years later...
  • This was apparently what they were going for with the Wandering Son adaptation. Starting In Medias Res, the various changes, etc. To fans of the manga though it comes off as Adaptation Decay.
  • Kanamemo did this, amplifying a bit more the comedy, but also adding tons of Character Development for Kana, making her whole orphan sutuation much more realistic than in the manga.
    • It even added backstory on the Fuushin Gazette by adding a new character that was never in the manga. Episode 8 was quite dramatic, filled with bittersweetness all over, maybe even Wham! Episode material.


Film

  • Most comic book inspired movies are like this, though many fans can't get past They Changed It, Now It Sucks (or whatever it is). Examples:
    • As noted in the Related in the Adaptation page, the real Mandarin will be the Archnemesis Dad of Shang-Chi in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. This is mostly to avoid using the character who filled that role in the comics, Fu Manchu, who is full of Unfortunate Implications due to being a Yellow Peril stereotype (or at least, being perceived as such by most people). In addition, using Fu Manchu would mean negotiating the rights with the Sax Rohmer estate.
    • Most of the issues Avengers: Endgame raised in the Inferred Holocaust page are not gonna be answered because the goal moving forward is to have upcoming movies be more self-contained, and so the next Black Panther and Doctor Strange and Captain Marvel movies don't have to grind to a halt to adress the issues of Endgame (most likely long after the general audience has forgotten about them). It's the same reason why, in the DC Extended Universe, none of the questions lingering from Justice League are adressed in Shazam.
    • The original example is Superman: The Movie and its sequels. The first half of the film maintains the backstory of the characters, and Supes looks just like in the comics as do many supporting characters; but makes stylistic changes and alters the backstory (e.g. Clark was never Superboy) yet is still very much the character of the comics up to that point.
    • The Batman movies, mainly the 1989 movie (to some Batman Returns) and Batman Begins and its sequel, The Dark Knight, are generally well received despite making up various plot points (that, in the case of Batman 1989, eventually became Fanon). The others, not so much.
    • The Spider-Man movies, Spider-Man 2 in particular being praised. Not so much Spider-Man 3.
      • One item that certainly caused controversy at first was the change from I Love Nuclear Power to Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke in regards to Spider-Man's Super-Hero Origin. But the point of doing so was that it was slightly easier to Hand Wave a scientifically altered spider than a random million-to-one chance of an irradiated spider (not to mention that irradiating a spider wouldn't make it do that).
      • Fans also initially balked at Peter having organic webshooters in the movie. The comic book's artificial ones were dropped because the movie didn't have time to believably show Peter inventing them (and because they felt that a single teenager being able to invent a wonder adhesive that 3M couldn't strained Suspension of Disbelief). The comic book version had followed suit, prior to part of Spider-Man's past including his marriage being retconned. Ironically, the Spiderman character was originally envisioned with organic webshooters, but Stan Lee decided on artificial ones instead because he thought it would be more believable.
      • Writer Peter David sometimes likes to remind fans that he first came up with the idea of organic web shooters in Marvel's Spider-Man 2099 series.
      • James Cameron's interpretation of the webshooters in his aborted script was very interesting: Spider-Man has organic webshooters but makes fake scientific webshooters in order to avoid people thinking he is a freak, a monster. At the end of the script, the bad guy tears off the fake shooters and tells to Spidey he isn't human and in fact a predator of the human race.
    • The X-Men movies, which focus on the human-mutant conflict, greatly simplify the Marvel universe, cutting out the magic powers, scheming alien empires, and the like, and taking place in a continuity separate from the other Marvel films. Several characters who aren't mutants are made into mutants for simplicity's sake, the Phoenix Force is a destructive aspect of Jean Grey's personality which was psychically repressed by Prof. Xavier, and almost none of the characters are referred to by their "superhero" names except in passing. The films are generally praised for being great interpretations, especially the second movie.
      • That explanation for Jean's Phoenix powers was in fact the original one, before later comics RetConned them by creating the Phoenix Force as a godlike cosmic entity.
    • The Iron Man movie was very well received, likely due to almost entirely to being directly produced by Marvel Studios and Robert Downey Jr.'s brilliant performance. One key change was Obadiah Stane being an old friend of Tony and his father to heighten the sense of villainy and betrayal. The sequel went a little bit further, conflating Whiplash and Crimson Dynamo into a single character and changing Justin Hammer's age to closely match that of Tony Stark.
    • Say what you will about the Fantastic Four movies, but at least they had a legitimate reason for Johnny and Sue to go out to space.
    • The Watchmen film has numerous changes to the source material, most of them extrapolated from the comic. However, two significant changes -- ( Dan Dreiberg seeing Rorschach's death and subsequently beating up Ozymandias, and changing some of the dialogue for the ending) -- were most likely done to prevent the audience leaving with a complete and horrible Downer Ending (though the graphic novel leaves the thread open).
      • As for the climax, they decided upon a device that emulated Dr. Manhattan's energy signature, allowing the world to scapegoat him, rather than the alien squid. People are undecided as to which works better overall, but it's definitely the best they could have done with that ending in film.
      • The moment where Rorschach snaps was changed, mostly to avoid comparison with Saw. But the new scene also allows us to see the moment his mind snaps without an overabundance of narration. The end result works better on screen, in no small part due to how well Jackie Earle Haley can act with his face completely obscured.
  • The first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was praised for combining choice elements of the bright and silly 80's cartoon show (the colored masks, love of pizza, April as a reporter) with the darker and more mature comics (Raphael's anger issues, Casey Jones' violent vigilantism, The Shredder's murder of Splinter's master) into a movie that was engaging enough for adults but not too scary for kids with enough action and one-liners to satisfy both. 2007's TMNT was similarly praised with the main discussion now being which one is better.
  • The Thor film didn't use the pseudo-Elizabethan English that the character has historically been known for in the comics. In fact, the comics themselves have already dropped this highly campy element.
    • While movie Thor doesn't use the pseudo-Elizabethan English, he does still speak in the largely antiquated and hammy style of the comics to largely the same effect (just minus the Thous and Thys).
    • In animated versions, Thor usually has an educated and polite English accent. A Nordic accent would be more appropriate, but let us be honest: To most English speakers, such accents sound rather... comical. Not a good choice for a god.
  • The Avengers seems to be winning over critics and fans, and took a number of liberties with the source material to make it more palatable for a mainstream audience. Among the major changes were having Hawkeye forego his classic purple costume in favor of his more realistic leather outfit from The Ultimates, as well as both he and Black Widow being made into founding members of the Avengers. The plot also combines elements of both the first issue of The Avengers from back in the 60's as well as first storyline from The Ultimates.
  • Jurassic Park contained huge chunks of material and detailed exposition about the nature of the dinosaurs, the setup of the park, and the complex interplay of chaotic factors in the environment. It was impossible to include all of this in a movie, so they trimmed it down and presented it in the form of a park orientation cartoon. There are also a large number of exciting incidents that were cut because they added little to the actual plot. In this case, author Michael Crichton had a heavy hand in adapting his own novel for the screen.
  • Adaptation is this trope on MetaFictional steroids. In essence, faced with the task of adapting the un-adaptable Susan Orlean novel The Orchid Thief, a nonfiction book which is essentially simply about flowers, screenwriter Charlie Kauffman instead wrote a script about himself trying to adapt The Orchid Thief, and ending up writing a script about himself trying to adapt the book instead. The film features Orlean as a major character, but largely discards the content of the novel. Most viewers seem to think this was a great improvement over the original.
    • Pragmatic, or simply hallucigenic...given that the entire final third of the movie is the punchline to a joke made in the first fifteen minutes.
    • The 2005 movie Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story is similar. It's a mockumentary about the filming of the famous (and "unfilmable") book. The premise of the book is that it's a autobiography written by an author so distracted that he doesn't even get to his own birth in the first 3 volumes. The movie is about a production of the book that gets so sidetracked and distracted that it, also, goes nowhere... it's brilliantly meta.
  • French comedy Le Jumeau (The Twin) is based on Donald E.Westlake´s novel Two much! You can bet how .."much" of the novel´s comical aspect is highlighted and how much of the original violent ending survived the adaptation.
  • American Psycho by necessity had to be streamlined, as most of the excruciatingly detailed murders (and the similarly detailed sex scenes right before) in the book would not have a hope in hell of being let through by the MPAA (for those who have read the book: the use of the rat in particular).
    • In addition, the chapters in which Bateman talks about his music choices are generally combined with the murder scenes. This actually improves some scenes, most obviously the 'Hip To Be Square' scene, and helps play up the Black Comedy elements of the novel through the sharp juxtapositions.
  • Dune: In the 1984 David Lynch film, The Bene Gesserit Wierding way was changed to weirding modules that employed sound as a weapon. Lynch justifies this by explaining that he didn't want a Kung Fu Movie in the desert. The Talking Heads nature of the novel was replaced with a more moody and atmospheric environment, thanks to surreal direction and trippy visuals.
  • The well-known 1980 film, The Elephant Man, while generally held very highly as a good movie, has little to do with the events in the title character's life. However it has earned good standing with most Joseph Merrick aficionados.
  • The Lord of the Rings movies were an excellent example of this, and indeed makes up a majority of the Director's commentary.
    • At the start of the movie, several years of time in which Frodo has the Ring in the Shire are left out.
    • Arwen has a much more active role in the first movie than in the book. This caused some controversy but generally works well. The Ass Pull of her "fate being bound to the Ring" in the third movie is much less well-received, however.
      • Arwen was also intended to fight in the Battle of Helm's Deep, but the filmmakers thought this was a bridge too far.
    • One of the most reviled changes in the movie, the alterations of Faramir's actions and motivations in The Two Towers, are a result of this. The Shelob scene that provided the cliffhanger in the book doesn't chronologically take place until the battle of Minas Tirith, so according to Jackson something else had to form the climax of the second movie for Frodo and Sam. Further, it was noted that every other character in the films had an adverse reaction to being in the presence of the Ring, and for Faramir to let them go without a second glance felt somewhat off to Jackson and company.
      • The changes to Faramir make sense for the films, since they are a logical progression of Jackson and company heightening the effect of the Ring on people, like an added scene where Boromir picks up the Ring while crossing the mountains. However, this is not true for the books, and Faramir's rejection of the ring is more nuanced than the above makes it out to be. The screenwriters arguably missed the point Tolkien was making when contrasting the two brothers. Faramir and Boromir have different views about fighting for Gondor (in brief, one seeks to defend, the other seeks to crush their enemies), and Faramir unlike his brother has done his homework about the Ring. Also, note that Jackson and company have Aragorn reject the Ring out of hand in an added scene in the first movie - just after Boromir snaps. Perhaps Faramir was downgraded to reinforce Aragorn as the noblest human character, and thus kingly material.
      • Narrative concerns helped too. With Shelob moved to Return of the King (since Jackson rightly felt that anything would pale after Helm's Deep), Frodo and Sam needed to be placed in peril somehow, and Faramir was there.
    • Just about all adaptations of The Lord of the Rings omit Tom Bombadil; most people see this as a painless way to save screentime, not to mention that his scenes were much more suited for the books than for movies.
    • The Scouring of the Shire was entirely cut out, both because it would have added another hour to the films, but also because it would have ruined the pacing of the end sequence; Ring gone, Big Bad gone, now let's get to the Where Are They Now-- for twenty minutes in slow motion.
    • This is more the effects of Jackson and company's adaptation choices - by focusing on the Aragorn/war-centric aspect of the books so much, more than a little of the hobbit-centric stuff got cut out.
    • Some of Jackson's additions are rather bizarre, though. He spends time bringing Elves to Helm's Deep as reinforcements, then has them all die in the first part of the battle so that they have no actual impact. The new stuff with Faramir is internally consistent with the rest of the film narrative, but adds at least a half hour to the film when he had to cut original content for time. The theatrical release doesn't even finish off the Uruks, leaving the viewer wondering why they don't just regroup and attack again. Actually, that's the point of the extended cuts, to include as much cut content as possible without worrying about time restraints.
      • Perhaps the most bizarre change is that Jackson adds a grand total of three scenes featuring Aragorn and Arwen, none of which happened in the books and all of them eating up tons of screen-time. One such scene was needed to remind the audience of the love story, but three scenes that all say the exact same thing? Then there's also the Warg attack and Aragorn "falling", none of which took place in the books (well, wargs did attack, but they attacked the Fellowship). This was probably done in part to help prevent the movies from being a sausagefest, which for the most part the books were, for better or for worse. Indeed, considering the sheer volume of Ho Yay that can be read into the story, it probably helped to have one undeniably heterosexual romance.
    • The books in general did not focus on a great deal of Character Development, as the idea was these were noble characters acting in a noble quest. The movies gave a lot of dedication to how the characters behave at the start of their journey and how that journey changed them. Particularly, the first book had Aragorn rather quickly taking on his role as the next King of Gondor and he took up the reforged blade of Narsil, Anduril. At several points during the books Aragorm steps in place and asserting himself as the King of Gondor, brandishing Anduril. The films had Aragorn being given Anduril towards the beginning of the third film and from there he asserted his place as King, while earlier he was hesitant to step on others toes.
    • Also notable is that Eowyn makes no attempt to hide her identity from Merry (and therefore the audience) while riding to Gondor. It was obvious that we could tell it was Miranda Otto no matter how she disguised herself, so Merry would have looked quite dim for not figuring it out.
  • The Harry Potter films have some instances of this, depending on the movie and on the director.
    • Despite Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix being the longest book of the series adapted into the shortest movie so far, the choices of what and how to cut and add has made it possibly the best film in the series. On the one hand, everything related to the Quidditch B-plot was cut, but partially cutting it instead would have no doubt made things choppy and awkward. A nice touch was also significantly emphasizing Harry's Not So Different fears -- which in the book take the form of fears of being possessed.
    • It does, however, leave out a crucial scene from Snape's Worst Memory, where Snape calls Lily a Mudblood, destroying their relationship and sending Snape on his Start of Darkness, instead making it seem like he was only affected by James' bullying into becoming who he is. Deathly Hallows Part 2, during The Prince's Tale scene, shows this moment, though.
      • In a minor (for the moment) aversion, they wanted to cut out house-elf Kreacher of Order of the Phoenix -- JKR herself stepped in and told them to leave him in. It wouldn't have hurt OotP at all, but would've left giant holes in subsequent films (particularly for The Deathly Hallows).
        • Only they didn't end up using Kreacher in those movies anyway, so it now just seems out of place.
      • Also, to replace Rowling's gobs of exposition for off-Hogwarts stuff (usually via Hermione in the book), OotP uses a high-end Spinning Paper visual to quickly fill in the audience of the important stuff away from the castle, and it works brilliantly.
    • A good example from Goblet of Fire was how they cut down the book's Xanatos Roulette. The plan revolved around chance encounters, backstories, and things we don't know about until the book basically pauses for 100 pages to explain it. Voldemort himself, in the graveyard scene with Harry, spends quite a few pages detailing much of his plan (though even then, there are depths yet to be revealed until we get to Dumbledore and Barty Jr). The movie omitted almost all of that: the explanation of how Barty escaped Azkaban is ignored, nothing is stated about how Barty assumed the form of Moody, nor the status of Voldemort before Wormtail found him. This leaves a few things unexplained, but considering the sheer mass of plot they had to work with, they did a pretty good job.
    • In Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince, they figured out how to work around the non-visual aspect of everyone reading and talking about the attacks by the Death Eaters: they scrapped all the scenes with people reading about loved ones being attacked and/or killed, and created one with Harry being attacked at the Weasleys. It also gave Ginny Weasley a lot more Character Development and a more proactive role. On top of that the Death Eaters burn down the Burrow.
    • Another volume-specific example is that Dobby is only ever seen in the second movie, The Chamber of Secrets, and is hardly ever mentioned much again since. The book, however, brings him up and makes him reappear again from time to time, such as his appearance in the Goblet of Fire serving as the reason and apparent source alongside Neville for Harry to use Gilliweed in the second challenge, whereas the movies simply made Neville give a passing reference to the weed and again later down the road in the saga. Another less-volume specific example is Peeves, who doesn't exist anywhere in the movies whereas he's a reoccurring character in the book and somewhat so in the games, and so his roles and scenes involving him were either minced or cut entirely.
    • Judging by test screen of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1, the final films will be doing in regards to certain plot twists which work better in books than in film. Probably the best example is how the film handles the Taboo (which is also mentioned by Ron much earlier than in the book). Instead of a blink-and-you'll-miss-it Idiot Ball moment from Harry which would look very anticlimactic on film, Xenophilius Lovegood calls the Death Eaters to ambush the Power Trio inside by yelling out Voldemort's name.
      • Since the scene where Dumbledore and Harry talk What the Horcruxes could be was cut from the HBP movie, Harry's scar acts as a "Horcrux sense" of sorts.
    • The movie version of Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban is probably the most filtered in the series as nearly the entire quidditch season is cut from the movie. This was the last year Oliver Wood was captain of Gryffindor team and the first year Harry actually won the House Cup. The movie only shows Harry being attacked by dementors while chasing the snitch.
      • And the scene where Harry and Hermione rescue Sirius while on Buckbeak's back would never work in a visual medium. Changing the scene made it a lot better.
    • The change from the spell that kills Sirius Black from Expelliarmus to Avada Kedavra. In the book, Expelliarmus (a relatively harmless spell) was used to push him into an artifact that sent him into afterlife (or somesuch) with no hope of return. However, this left many fans hoping he'd get better and come back in later books. Avada Kedavra is instant death (kinda like getting shot in the head but less messy), which means there's no such ambiguity in the film.
  • James Bond:
    • Goldfinger is a case where the filmmakers top Ian Fleming himself with a better story than the original book. For instance, they condensed an extended golf game scene to just the critical point where Bond thwarts Goldfinger's cheating. Furthermore, the film changes the book's ridiculous plot to physically steal the gold of Fort Knox (which the movie Bond points out is impossible) which includes poisoning the soldiers through the water system before they can react to such a slow method and using a nuclear bomb to open a door with everyone suicidally close. The movie changes the scheme into a genuinely ingenious plan to have the poison as a gas sprayed from a quick aerial pass over the fort and then Goldfinger's troops raid the fort just long enough to use a high power laser to open the vault building's door to place a nuclear bomb in the main vault. Then the villains get away for the bomb to detonate and whatever gold survives the blast would be radioactive, and thus worthless, for decades while Auric Goldfinger's own gold's value jumps at least tenfold.
      • In a bit of Fridge Brilliance, anyone who scoffs at this new plan working should remember that the Fort personnel were warned about it by Bond and they played along to make it seem to work so they could ambush the invaders.
    • Casino Royale (the straight adaptation starring Daniel Craig, not the David Niven sendup from the 1960s) featured one in the change of the card game from baccarat to poker. It removes the problem that, considering Baccarat is almost completely a luck-based game, there was no reason MI 6 needed to send Bond himself so badly by saying he was their "best gambler". While admittedly playing into the fact that Texas Hold 'Em is wildly popular these days, it also allowed a level of psychological warfare between Le Chiffre and Bond during the game that isn't possible in baccarat, and allows the audience to understand what's going on without an explanation (as more people are familiar with poker than baccarat).
  • The Battle Royale movie is generally considered as good as or better a work than the novel it's based on, by removing most of the more ludicrous political justifications for why a school class would have to fight each other on a deserted island, giving the Big Bad a more sympathetic relationship to the class, and generally attempting to focus on fewer characters. The Manga on the other hand is condensed Rule of Cool, to the point where it almost parodies itself.
    • On the other hand, they also cut out the backstories and development for several characters, glazed over their deaths, and completely changed some of the characters. No longer is Kiriyama a classmate without emotions who chooses to play to win -- he's just some random guy who volunteered for fun. Same with Kawada; no longer a classmate, but a stranger who got pulled back in.
  • Most of the Transformers cartoons have Hammerspace to explain the Transformers gaining or losing mass between forms. For the 2007 movie, director Michael Bay insisted upon avoiding this, which lead to changes such as Optimus Prime being a Peterbilt rather than a cab-over-engine tractor-trailer, which would have given him a much smaller robot form, as well as not using the magically-appearing/disappearing trailer (which has also been picked up in Transformers Animated). Whether you consider this Pragmatic Adaptation or outright heresy varies from person to person.
    • The comet protoforms were created for the first movie partially to work on a Fridge Logic they had with the Transformer spaceships, which is why would robots who can transform into vehicles need a spaceship? The comet protoforms keep the action focused on Earth and not turning the story into Star Wars. In the Expanded Universe and Revenge Of The Fallen they've introduced the Transformer spaceships but continue to downplay their role to focus on the planet-bound story.
    • Of course then there is the nature of having humans playing a major role in the battle between the Autobots and Decepticons because this is a Live Action Adaptation.
    • The third film showed a space battle between an Autobot spaceship and pursuing Decepticons in space fighter form. It also gave Optimus a trailer. However, it doesn't disappear when he transforms. It also transforms into his field armory.
      • The third film itself is an adaptation of the G1 episodes "Megatron's Master Plan" and "The Ultimate Doom".
  • James Ellroy's books are good examples since the outrageous number of subplots and characters make them pretty much unfilmable (Ellroy has admitted that he does it on purpose).
    • The scenarists who made L.A. Confidential into a movie were aware of the difficulty, and ended up cutting part of the plot while keeping the complexity of the story, focusing the movie on the evolutions of the three main characters and reorganising scenes from the book (with the climax of the movie being the first scene in the book), making the movie almost a Crowning Moment of Awesome in itself.
    • The scenarist who worked on the adaptation of The Black Dahlia, however, tried to keep every single detail of the book in. It didn't work that well.
  • The novel of Hard Core Logo took a "scrapbook" approach (telling the story through character monologues and documents such as journal entries and phone messages) that would have been difficult to convert to film. The movie is a Mockumentary with an Unreliable Narrator. The movie script also added lots of Ho Yay and substituted a main character's suicide for the rather anticlimactic ending of the book, creating a more emotionally compelling work.
  • A particularly good Made for TV Movie adaptation of Gulliver's Travels does this a lot. One excellent example is how they handled the Aesop that people covet immortality without seriously considering just what that might really entail. In the book, this is conveyed through the plight of the Struldbrugs, who have eternal life without eternal youth becoming decrepit and senile for eternity -- and this along with the usual immortal problem of losing everything they knew, and social penalties designed to keep the country from collapsing under the weight of supporting them, or their abusing their immortality in an attempt to gain disproportionate power; however, this is conveyed in a monologue that doesn't translate well to television, so they dropped it and substituted a new scene with the same moral.
  • The stage musical version of Little Shop of Horrors (itself a distilled adaptation of an overlong Roger Corman comedy horror) finished with a rave-up ending. The action breaks off when Seymour Krelborn confronts Audrey II, the Greek Chorus announces that this scene is being repeated in places up and down the country, and the cast file on and perform the final number -- "Don't Feed the Plants!". The writers knew that this wouldn't work in a feature film, even if it was a musical, and so ditched it and wrote a new final number, "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space" against which the final confrontation could play out to its conclusion.
    • At first, the writers wrote an even more extravagant ending, also set to "Don't Feed the Plants!" that was already filmed and ready to go. The film's current ending is a result of test audiences rejecting an ending in which the main character and his innocent girlfriend get eaten alive by Audrey II, and the plants go on to go Godzilla on New York.
  • The Bourne movies revitalized the spy thriller genre, making it popular and profitable again, even displacing the books to most. However, it outright discarded significant portions of plot from all three books (especially the last two) - most would argue that this was a straight-up improvement, though.
  • In original In the Heat of the Night novel, Virgil Tibbs is a quiet, deferential African American detective who never seems to lose his temper or ever seem annoyed working in a deep south town even as the racial slurs are thrown at him. For the film version, director Norman Jewison realized that this would never fly in the late 1960s, nor would the star, Sidney Poitier, would want to play this kind of character yet again. So, the film was rewritten with Tibbs being someone who does not hesitate to assert his status to bigoted neanderthals with a hearty "They Call Me Mister Tibbs!" or instantly striking back at a bigot slapping him, a bold action for an African American hero to do on film at that time.
  • The film adaptation of The Prestige directed by Christopher Nolan has very little in common with its source material, the lesser known novel by Christopher Priest. The changes are so many, it would be pointless to list them all here, changing everything from the plot to characterization, going so far as to actually leave out the main characters from the book. Without detracting from the original work, all the changes make for a film far better than your usual adaptation, and despite the wild differences it's obvious the Nolan brothers love the novel and prioritized respecting its spirit and originality instead of the superficial details.
    • After the premiere, Priest himself said that the film was better than anything he'd written.
  • The film version of The Mask differs significantly from the original comic book version in that where the former takes a mostly clean-cut, slapstick approach, the latter is much more violent and dark overall. This was because no matter how many initial drafts that kept the original's tone, director Chuck Russell felt it just wouldn't work on-screen and asked the studio to take a more comedic approach. The film turned out to be a commercial and moderately critical success.
  • In About A Boy, the ending of the book is centered around Kurt Cobain's (the character Elle's favorite musician, and the guilty pleasure of Will) suicide. In the movie, Will's guilty pleasure is changed to hip-hop music, as the novel was written in the early 90s and the movie made nearly a decade later. The end of the movie also focuses on a talent show instead, completely different than the novel version- yet it still plays out rather well.
  • There's quite a difference between Field of Dreams and the book it's based on, Shoeless Joe. For instance, the movie omits lengthy subplots about Ray's twin brother Richard and an elderly ex-Chicago Cub named Eddie Scissons; and the movie uses fictional writer Terrence Mann as a replacement for J.D. Salinger from the book (undoubtedly for various legal reasons). Plus, the movie saves the bit about Ray's late father joining the team as a big reveal for the end, when it actually is revealed pretty early on in the book and is significantly less poignant.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit? differs significantly from its source material, the novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit? (Literature). For one thing, the book deals with comic book and comic strip characters, not cartoon characters, who all speak in physical, tangible word balloons. This is clearly unadaptable to film, wherein all Toon characters would have had to be mute, so they received the power of speech. Additionally, they became animated cartoon characters and the story was set in 1947, smack-dab in the middle of the golden age of American theatrical animation. Not to mention that Toons went from being just as vulnerable as humans but possessing an elaborate method of faking their own deaths for theatrics' sake (it's complicated) to really being as unkillable as they seem.
  • David Cronenberg's adaptation of the unfilmable Naked Lunch took story elements from the book and melded them together with parts of William S. Burroughs' biography.
  • The Films of The Chronicles of Narnia have done this.
    • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was faithful to the book in many respects, but added a scene about the bombing of London - given all of half a line in the novel - which helped give some background to the Pevensies' situation and subverted the lack of angst on the kids' part. The Pevensies' characters were also much more fleshed out. Case in point, in the movie, upon hearing the prophecy, they initially try to leave, having just gotten away from a warzone; in the book, their reaction is basically, "Great, where do we sign up?" The Battle of Beruna, which occurs off-page in the novel and is only described to Lucy and Susan after the fact, is made a major focal point of the last third of the movie.
    • Prince Caspian was much more deviant than its predecessor. Angst? What Angst? is again invoked in the book, as the Pevensies seem to have had no trouble returning to their lives as children. The majority of the book is Trumpkin retelling what has happened to the kids, and at the end of the book, not a word is mentioned when they hand Caspian the crown of Narnia and leave for London. Compare to the movie.
      • The kids (Peter being the worst) have not completely adjusted back to life in London.
      • Portions of the book are put in out of order to give the story better flow. For example, in the book, Caspian did not blow Susan's horn until he and the old Narnians are being seiged in Aslan's How, while in the movie, he blew it when he was first found by the Telmarines, causing the Pevensies to arrive much earlier.
      • When the Pevensies arrive at Aslan's How, Peter tries to take command and immediately clashes with Caspian. The entire castle invasion scene was added to highlight why they had to work together. Compare to the novel, in which Peter assures Caspian almost immediately upon his arrival that he's there not to take Caspian's throne but to help put Caspian in it.
      • Edmund and Susan both Take a Level In Badass. Edmund, to show how much he's matured, and Susan, because, as the directors put it, if she was going to stay in the kitchen (as her book persona tended to do) she should have been given a slab of bread and some butter, not a bow and arrow.
      • In the book, Miraz is just a generic tyrant; in the film, Miraz is styled as a Borgia, Medici type tyrant.
      • And finally, Susan and Caspian were Promoted to Love Interest, which, though secondary to the main plot and bit unnecessary, did not feel particularly forced.
    • Also, in the book, the good Narnians specifically avoid recruiting the Always Chaotic Evil old Narnians who had previously sided with the White Witch, using the argument, "We don't want their kind of help." In the movie, you can see that minotaurs and other such creatures among the Narnians. Honestly, if you've been driven into hiding and hunted like animals, you aren't going to care who your allies are, as long as they share your goals.
      • Unless you know they're going to betray you first chance you get. Besides, you're trying to apply realist rationality to books where the key themes are purity and good conquers evil. You can't conquer evil by recruiting it. Jesus didn't hire Lucifer to protect him from the cross. The books applaud the courage to fight an impossible battle rather than to compromise your ideals. The monsters were added because they looked cool, undermining the original values of the stories.
        • Or it could be said that the movie was exercising the virtue of forgiveness and that people can change in a thousand years. Sins of the father and such.
        • It should be noted that the movies don't really have Always Chaotic Evil creatures the way the books did-- the closest the LWW movie comes is the creatures that attend the White Witch's ceremony at the Stone Table, which includes chicken-headed hags and the like who haven't appeared on anyone's good side just yet. The minotaurs, at least, have been shown as of Voyage of the Dawn Treader to be just as capable of being good as anyone else.
        • Plus, if you don't have the time to set up the fact that the Always Chaotic Evil creatures are in fact always evil, saying "We don't want their kind of help" just sounds racist.
    • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader adds a plotline about the green mist, the "Dark Island," and the swords of the lost Narnian lords in order to turn the novel's string of individual adventures into a more unified storyline.
  • While Old English purists loathed the Beowulf adaptation's plot changes, from a modern standpoint, the original story would be a tough sell, simply because of its one-dimensional character development and basic plot (though understandable, given its epic poem status). Even with the major alterations, the core story didn't change entirely. The plot liberties were only created to cater towards the new theme (i.e., making the title protagonist a more ambiguous hero), while respecting existing ones (like warriors seeking to create legacies through their heroic actions). This move proved to be pretty effective, since the more subtle tribal warfare theme would've been lost in translation, and because many viewers weren't too fond of the original text anyway.
    • The liberties are taken mostly in the parts where the storytellers would have nothing to go on except Beowulf's word. Further consider that the written piece is mostly Christian propaganda meant to convert "barbarians" and you're in a situation where you really can't take anything for honest truth anyway. Ripping the Christian values out would likely be rendering the story more accurate to the original versions. Note that Beowulf being humbled at all for his "slaughter everything in my way and achieve glory!" is a Christian theme, in most ancient myths he'd be treated as a hero so long as he showed proper deference to the gods.
  • The Film of the Book for Twilight cuts out most of the filler and streamlines the story.
    • Perhaps most notable is that the first book is pretty much nothing but Bella and Edward's developing relationship, until a more typical vampire story is shoved into the last few chapters. The film makes Victoria, James, and Laurent present in the story from the beginning as they occasionally show up to kill a minor character. Though the attempt to do the same thing in the second film with the Cullens chasing Victoria off as she tries to kill Bella, never to be seen again until the next film, comes off more as a Big Lipped Alligator Moment.
    • This is understandable as, in the book, Bella intentionally has no personality. The intention is that the reader overlays their own personality on her. This, unfortunately, doesn't work very well in film, so a personality had to be manufactured.
  • The Silent Hill movie features a drastically simplified backstory for Alessa Gillespie, a major character in the movie and in the first video game. Since a lot of viewers still didn't know what was going on, this wasn't probably for the best.
    • Not just Alessa was simplified. The antagonist went from a demon-summoning cult with Chronic Backstabbing Disorder that was heavily into drugs and deliberately kept Alessa alive to feed the demon on her pain to a blindly-fanatic intolerant church that wanted to burn her as a witch and was prevented from doing so by the good people of the town.
  • The adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events changes the order of some of the books' chronology. In the books, Count Olaf is exposed as a villain at the end of The Bad Beginning, after which the children go on to stay with their Uncle Monty and later Aunt Josephine. In the film, the children are taken out of Olaf's care after an apparent display of irresponsible parenting and go on to their respectful guardians before winding up back in Olaf's care where they finally expose him. In the DVD Commentary, Brad Silberling says this change was made for the sake of narrative, it wouldn't make sense for Olaf to be unmasked as early as the first act.
  • The Made for TV Movie of Avalon High does this with Ellie (Allie in the film) rather than Will is King Arthur. Rather than Marco, Mr. Morton (Mr. Moore in the film) is Mordred, whereas Miles is Merlin as opposed to Mr. Morton. Presumably, this is to make the film more unpredictable. Also the students are the reincarnations of the actual characters as oppose to merely corresponding to them. Many scenes were cut out and scene settings were changed to make the movie more appropriate for younger children because the book has violent and some threatening scenes.
  • Irving Berlin's World War II revue This Is The Army gained a storyline when adapted into a movie, because Berlin knew that plotless Sketch Comedy didn't work so well on film.
  • In Mortal Kombat, Raiden became a mentor to the others instead of a fellow combatant. This was seen as an acceptable change by the fans, and ended up carrying over to the game series' canon.
  • Both The Thing and The Thing from Another World. The original novella Who Goes There had 37 men accidently recovering a shape-shifting alien monstrosity that proceeds to start eating the crew and creating perfect copies. Due to technical limitations, The Thing from Another World replaced the shape-shifting alien with a literal vegetable alien, although it's cast is still a similar size to that of the original story, and some elements of it are present in the narrative. The Thing is said to be more faithful as it actually uses the shape-shifting alien, but it updates the setting to the year it was released and simplifies the cast to only twelve men (although most of them were in the original book).


Literature

  • The Warcraft novel Tides of Darkness is an adaptation of a Real Time Strategy with two opposing campaigns with conflicting storylines, consisting mostly of generic "destroy the enemy base/capture an object" missions and scarce on memorable characters at the Alliance side. So the novel took the most memorable and significant parts of the campaigns, forming them into a cohesive narrative, interleaved them with heavy references to later canon, and "enlisted" the Five-Man Band from Beyond the Dark Portal for the protagonists.
  • The Novelization of Revenge of the Sith was written by Matt Stover. Obviously, a book of the film loses the visuals, the music, and any appeal from various actors. Most novelizations are basically phoned in, since they'll be bought because of the title. But Stover didn't phone this in. Most of the dialogue is the same as in the movie, it ends the same way, scenes go in the same order and directions, but the whole thing is considerably darker and more thoughtful. The mood is darker; lows are lower, highs are more fleeting, there is a sense that things will get better but it will take a long, long time. This, plus the near-total axing of Narm and the addition of quiet Continuity Nods to the Star Wars Expanded Universe, makes a number of fans prefer the book.
    • You can compare two scenes from both to illustrate this perfectly. The scene where Vader's suit is completed and he wakes up, in the film, is known best for the infamous Big No. The novelization doesn't have that. Instead, the entire scene is in second person - This is what it feels like to be Anakin Skywalker, forever - and between the description of constant pain, the intrusiveness of Vader Breath, and details like how different senses filtered through the suit are, it's thoroughly unsettling. Plus, he tries to kill Sidious using the Force - but he's so reduced that he can't, and the end doesn't want to, because this is the only thing remotely like an ally he has left.
    • The audiobook of this is even better. There are sound effects and sometimes music in the background. More importantly, the person reading it, in that scene, is able to transition seamlessly from the Emperor's quietly malicious gloating to Vader's rapid succession of emotions - stunned pain, stark disbelieving horror, denial, realization, mounting self-loathing, despair...
  • S.D. Perry wrote a series of novels based on the Resident Evil games. The four that were straight adaptations (of 1, 2, 3 and Code Veronica, two of the novels were original stories) streamlined the events considerably by adding in an original character named Trent, who provided the protagonists with intelligence on the sites in question, thus allowing the signature (if somewhat nonsensical) item puzzles and fetch quests to remain in place while not bogging things down and also making a bit more sense. These were also streamlined a bit as well. For example, the crest door from the first game became an emergency lockdown system, and Wesker forced Barry to collect some of them instead of Chris/Jill finding them all.
  • Some of the old Target Doctor Who Novelisations broaden the stories and provide insights into the characters' thoughts and evoke wonderful moods not necessarily shown in the televised stories. The novelisations for "The Crusade", "The Daemons" and "The Silurians" are particularly good examples.
    • The nature of the novelisations in general required some level of Pragmatic Adaptation; they were, almost uniformly, about 100 pages long -- which, considering the length of the stories they were adapting ranged from two-to-six (or in some cases ten or twelve) episodes long, meant that they would often either have to compress or add things in order to meet the page requirements.
  • Crysis: Legion played around with the plot of Crysis 2 a bit, such as having Alcatraz encounter a Ceph very soon after getting the Nanosuit whereas the first combat encounter ingame is later. There's a short note in front that points out the need to rework some things for the prose experience.
  • The first three Bionicle Chronicles books by C. A. Hapka, based on the story told through the comics and the Mata Nui On-Line Game, are generally this, with some examples of Adaptation Expansion and Compressed Adaptation thrown in here and there. A lot of the lines are recited word-for-word, and some classic scenes survived intact, but several other scenes received a unique spin, and the thoughts of the characters are explored better. Sadly, they are also ripe with Continuity Snarl, especially the first book (which, despite being the longest by far, had to leave out too many details), and a lot of the material is considered Canon Dis Continuity.


Live Action TV

  • Mash did this extremely well; most who read the original novels are very startled to discover their contents pile on the Black Humor, make the characters far more conservative (and often unlikeable Jerk Asses in the process), and are far more sexist in nature. M*A*S*H the TV series is widely regarded as one of the most commercially and critically successful series in television history. Mash, on the other hand, is almost forgotten, especially in comparison.
  • The phenomenon of many people preferring the The Incredible Hulk TV show to the 2003 big budget CG-fest movie. While the former removed and simplified elements from the comics original, the latter added whole layers of story that were never there - the "more is less" principle at work. (Agony Booth recap)
  • The BBC show Being Human had to do this with vampire lore. Vampires are not supposed to have reflections, but it would take huge amounts of effort to CG away the actor's reflection in every window he passed by. So, they changed it to being unable to see their reflection in anything silver-backed (both camera film and mirrors.) This led them to being able to have the traditional "no reflection" scenes while saving the effort and sanity of the editing team. (Although it leaves something of a Plot Hole when a vampire can't be seen on a digital camera.)
    • Ditto for Moonlight, although they do make it clear that digital cameras work just fine, to the vampires' chargrin (the older cameras only made blurry photos). No silver-backed mirrors are shown in the show, probably to avoid extre CG costs. The vampires are also able to walk in the light, as long as they stick to the shadows and cover as much skin as they can. Bursting into flame or dusting is also CG-costly, so they instead went with extreme dehydration in sunlight, although vampires still dust when exposed to flame.
  • The Dresden Files TV series replaced the talking skull Bob from the books with a ghost inhabiting said skull so they could have an actor providing a visual component and emotions to the character.
    • The original "Storm Front" pilot did have Bob as a skull.
    • Jim Butcher says that the TV series is essentially an alternate universe.
  • Merlin, the BBC series, has Merlin as the same age as Arthur, early 20's at the latest and his servant, living with the Court Physician and former sorcerer Gaius, Uther is still alive and banning magic on pain of death, Gwen and Lancelot being commoners, Gwaine (Gawaine) pretending he's a commoner and Percival only being introduced as a minor character in the 3rd season finale. Gwen also has a brother and . And somehow it all works really well.
  • The Dexter novels eventually get a lot darker and weirder than the first book, with Dexter's "Dark Passenger" turning out to be a fragment of an ancient god of murder. The series maintains the balance of dark humor and creepiness evident in the first book, and keeps things realistic by comparison.
  • In the transition from The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries book series to HBO's True Blood; cutting out Sookie's (often Wangsty) first-person narration and adding in occasional snatches of thoughts Sookie catches made Sookie instantly a more sympathetic protagonist.
  • Engine Sentai Go-onger was a light-hearted comedy series that parodied the usual anime and Super Sentai tropes, and its main theme revolved around cars and racetracks. Its Power Rangers counterpart, RPM, while still hanging a healthy amount of lampshades, has a story that started out with the Earth presumably nuked and most of the human population killed off by homicidal robots.
  • Some of the characters from Homicide: Life On the Street are changed from their Real Life counterparts. Tom Pellegrini who inspired Bayliss was an older detective from Pennsylvania who came to police work later in life and was assigned to Homicide two years before the Latonya Wallace/Adena Watson case. Other changes include changing Irish-American Mclarney to Italian Crosetti and removing his legal training. Italian D'Addario became Black/Italian Giardello and Landsman became Munch with his family history in the department removed.
  • The TV series of Lark Rise to Candleford was very different to the original books, sharing only one or two complete stories, the names of Laura's family and Dorcas Lane, and some peripheral characters and situations (the Pratts, Cabbage Patterson, the Arlesses) with Flora Thompson's memoirs. Part of it seems to be the book has some perspectives on late Victorian society that modern audiences would find disquieting (Laura's age when she goes to work at the post office, for instance, or the lack of UST between many of the characters). The book provides a lot of plot hooks for many episodes, but the writers went out of their way to create a series that expanded on the books, provided modern audiences with a nostalgic "theme park" experience, and made more dramatic sense than the book allows for.
  • In the live-action series Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, numerous alterations to the setting were made to make the show a little more plausible. The talking cats are replaced with talking stuffed toys, a Toyetic decision to rationalize carrying a stuff animal is more likely than an actual cat; the Sailor Senshi themselves look like normal Japanese girls when they're not transformed; and many settings and accessories that were typical of an early 90s teenager are updated to what a modern teenager would be associated with. The plot also dealt more strongly and harshly with the implications of their past lives. Not that it didn't indulge in some of the campy stuff...
    • It was also more faithful to the manga in regards to the baddies; since the individual villains feature more heavily, each basically had to be reverted back to their original personality in the comics rather than the memorable but slightly more one-note show.
    • More modern sensibilities means Jupiter is more openly a tomboy; her initial obsession with femininity became an initial aversion to it. Ironically, the English dub had done this years ago...
    • Sailor Venus is portrayed as somewhat of a distant loner, an enormous change in her canonical personality. Writers have admitted this was basically to have the conflict a Sixth Ranger provides as well a persistent attempt to make her different than her Expy Sailor Moon. Fans unpleased by the change just labeled her an Expy for the Outer Senshi.


Music

  • Cover songs run the spectrum from awful to tolerable to better than the original. One example is "Jolene." A good song from the beginning, Dolly's version was a very light-sounding, upbeat song... about a woman begging Jolene to not steal her man. When it was covered by Mindy Smith, she turned the song into a slow, sad, painful ballad, which makes more sense with the song's lyrics.
    • Mention must also be made of the White Stripes' cover -- rather than monkey around with the lyrics, Jack White simply sang it as is... and it became a song about a nebbishy gay man worried about losing a bisexual lover to a woman.
  • Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" has been covered many times to to varying qualities a few that stand out are the Rufus Wainwright version and the Jeff Buckley version, while the original was more of a traditional christian type of song but both Buckley's and Wainwright's versions turned it into songs about searching for God in desperate times.

Theater

  • Wicked the novel was about anarchy, cruel dictatorship, persecution, and watching a woman's descent into insanity. The Broadway musical changed around the story into being about friendship, shoes, and drama over stolen boyfriends.
    • And extremely romantic female friendships. In the book, it's less noticeable on Elphaba's side, but arguably more noticeable on Glinda's side.
    • Another change, albeit a minor one, is that Elphaba's sister Nessa doesn't have arms in the book. Obviously difficult to portray onstage, so they just stick her in a wheelchair instead.
      • And of course the biggest- Elphaba and Fiyero live.
  • The musical The Most Happy Fella abandoned most of the social commentary of its source play, They Knew What They Wanted, so it could focus more on the love plot, which provided better opportunities for singing.
  • The Takarazuka musical adaptation of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney only dealt with a single case (written for the play), unlike the multiple case formats of each game. They also ditched the spirit channeling plot device, having Phoenix mock Maya for believing she was a spirit medium, and made Edgeworth a simple ruthless prosecutor rather than Phoenix's childhood friend in need of redemption.


Video Games

  • Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War was quite well-received for capturing the "grim and dark" feel of its source material. Of course, there are fanatics who claim it was not close enough to the tabletop game's gameplay mechanics and either prefer the earlier title Final Liberation, which followed the system even more closely, or are working on mods that attempt to replicate the tabletop's style.
  • Fate/stay night: In various degrees among various adaptations.
    • Anime adaption: You really can't do Fate/stay night justice by just following the Fate route, but the episode/continuity limits don't really let you do two and tell a coherent story. So they took Fate and add a little Unlimited Blade Works to it and came up with something, even if it doesn't match the original in quality. They also threw in the odd reference to Heaven's Feel as well- namely the revelation that Rin and Sakura are sisters.
    • Unlimited Blade Works film: Especially noticeable, where some of the romantic undertone between Shirou and Rin is lost, as well as merging separate visits to locations in the original into a single very eventful one and things happening for different (but more easily explainable) reasons.
  • Q-Basic Gorillas is, in its original form, a very simple strategy game with no real plot. The fanfic that wants to become a film adaptation of it only shares three things in common: primates, exploding bananas, and buildings being destroyed. Virtually everything else is either completely new, or borrows tropes heavily from pre-existing action movies and toy lines.
  • The NES version of Metal Gear is this.
    • As is Castlevania: Dracula X for the SNES.
      • Cutting the levels and playable characters back to fit the SNES hardware is acceptable. There was no excuse for cutting Shaft from that port. And he went on to be an important character in Symphony of the Night!
      • There is an excuse. Legal Issues. Apparently, NEC managed to prevent them from doing a straight port.
    • And Vampire Killer for the MSX
  • Street Fighter 4 on the Ipod Touch probably qualifies. While it's highly simplified from the console/PC version. (only 10 characters, reduced movelists, simplified controls, and lots and lots of contents removed), it manages to be a fun experience on it's own right, despite the system not being fit for such a type of game. Of course, YMMV.
  • Astyanax for the NES has a completely different story than the arcade game it's loosely adapted from.
  • Most RPG games made under the infinity engine (Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment) employed a Pragmatic Adaptation of the original tabletop rules to fit better into a more action-oriented isometric computer game.
  • The Lord of the Rings Online is built heavily on this. So far, the players characters has yet to take part in any of the events straight from the books (Justified, since the game has only reached the end of the first book, and most of the events from the first book either happened to the Fellowship only, or had all characters present named), and instead have been adventuring on the side of the main story. Some changes are made to allow this; Angmar rising again gives us a villain for the first part of the game (Angmar at that time is supposed to be deserted), and a company of Dwarves trying to reclaim Moria days after the Fellowship passed through gives us an excuse to adventure there (Moria was not reclaimed until after the Ring was destroyed), for example.
    • Lot RO serves almost like a POV Sequel to the books, where the player is experiencing the events of the books from the perspective of someone outside The Fellowship. The player does interact with members of The Fellowship (and other famous characters) and even assists them in important plot points (The reforging of Narsil, walking with Frodo before his journey and more recently delivering Arwen's banner to the Grey Company and riding with them.
    • Most of the liberties taken with the story is a result of the implications of having thousands of "heroes" at the disposal of the people of Middle-Earth. Because of that extra manpower it does seem reasonable that certain events could be pushed forward - such as the reclamation of Moria, and the assault against Dol Guldur.
  • The N64 version of Quake II had its story changed from the original, and most of the levels replaced with all-new ones, which were generally shorter than the PC version's. The crouch function, hand grenades, and several enemy types were removed, the chaingun was nerfed, and the submachine gun's recoil was reduced.
  • The [iPhone] version of Metal Gear Solid 4 was stated to be this by Word of God. The original game had a stealth element, but when Konami playtested it they found that it was really tedious and distracting for a casual game. So Kojima Productions took over development themselves, concentrating on shooting-range stuff.
  • The Turbo Grafx 16 version of Impossamole.
  • A number of changes were made to the Wii remake of Golden Eye 1997 plot to fit with the change in timeline to 2010. Most notably, 006's motivations are changed from getting revenge for Britain's betrayal of his Lienz Cossack parents (which would make him 71 in 2010) to anger over the War on Terror and the Great Financial Meltdown, and how big banks made a killing while everyone else suffered.
    • Zukovsky is killed a couple dozen seconds after you meet him. After all, he does die in the films eventually, and it's not like they're planning on making a The World Is Not Enough game later.
  • Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys for the PC-Engine, released a month after Ys IV: Mask of the Sun for the Super Famicom, was produced by a different developer (Hudson Soft), had a significantly different story and gameplay, and is not part of Falcom's canon, but is generally regarded as the superior game.
  • Most Sam and Max media, while most of the media is a bit Lighter and Softer than the original comics (well, until The Devil's Playhouse, of course), they've more or less had some pretty good games for quite a while now, demonstrating the dark comedy and wit that the series is known for.
  • The Rainbow Six novel deviates from the game in a number of ways by having different missions, plot points, snipers that were not available in the game, and a different ending.
    • This is because the book and game were actually made separately and the game came out first, after which the book's ending was changed.
    • The console adaptations of Rainbow Six 3 have a completely different story and considerably different gameplay, although some of the locales from the PC version make an appearance.
  • More of a technical limitation, but if anyone asks why Armored Core Formula Front has a very wildly different gameplay (simply designing and tuning a Humongous Mecha's autopilot instead of directly piloting it), it's because ACFF was released in PSP. See, the games before that were released in PS/PS2, whose controllers had far more buttons than the PSP. Not knowing how to efficiently use the PSP's button layout, FROM decided to make it a game which require as little input as possible from the players. To seemingly prove their point, the Play Station 2 version of Formula Front does enable direct piloting of your mechs. It isn't until Armored Core 3 Portable that they finally figured out how to map the controls.
  • Invoked in The Matrix: Path of Neo, where the Wachowski brothers literally stop time and interrupt the game to explain that the sacrificial ending to the movie wouldn't have worked in a videogame.


Western Animation

  • Nearly every adaptation of Wolverine in a Marvel TV series tends to focus more on building his characterization (notably X-Men: Evolution) than on his violent berserker rages, because of Media Watchdogs and their attitude towards violence in children's TV.
    • Wolverine and the X-Men takes elements of the vast, contradictory mythology surrounding the Pheonix Force that look like they might work well together, and constructs a basically new story out of them. Likewise combining a number of the various Bad Futures of the comics into one.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles started as a violent and gory (if satirical) black and white independent Comic Book with an ongoing storyline. (Shredder dies messily in the very first issue; later his surviving minions feed what is left of him to a colony of worms that take his form and his intelligence. Worm-Shredder destroys the Turtles' and April's home, and nearly kills Leonardo. After a year of healing, Leo heads back to New York, chops off Worm-Shredder's head, and burns him.) In the early process of licensing and adaptation, the Turtles developed a litany of catch phrases, color coded costumes, a Garfield-like food fetish, and an army of ineffective recurring villains; Raphael changed from a sociopathic Jerkass to "cool but rude", Baxter Stockman was changed from a homicidal black man to a feeble white guy, Splinter's whole backstory was rewritten to avoid the question of death; they abandoned character and plot development for syndication-friendly standalone episodes... and yet it all kind of worked. The 2003 series is a much closer adaptation of the comics (even bearing some traits of Adaptation Distillation); any carry-over from earlier adaptations (such as Michaelangelo's use of lingo from the earlier show) is generally Lampshade-hung. There's still much conflict over which cartoon was actually better -- ratings and profit wise, they did the same.
    • In the comics, Splinter is the mutated pet rat of a ninja murdered by Shredder. In the (first) cartoon, Splinter is a human ninja (and rival to Shredder) mutated into a rat. This change feels less like a bowdlerization (even though it is) and more like an Adaptation Distillation. It simplifies Splinter's back story, gives the turtles a more direct tie to ninjas (trained by an actual ninja as opposed to the pet rat of a ninja), and gives scenes between Splinter and Shredder a personal edge. The show even did a good, touching episode where Splinter briefly regained his human form.
      • This change was commented on in Turtles Forever, where the 80s turtles are surprised that the 2003 turtles see Splinter as a father figure. As noted on the Adaptation Distillation page, whether or not the change is an improvement or not is up to the viewer's interpretation.
  • The second animated adaptation of Herge's Tintin comic book series often streamlines the original narrative to make the story of each comic book fit into two half-hour episodes by cutting out subplots that don't affect the main plot overall, but otherwise faithfully follows Herge's original plotlines.
  • Frank Maggiore commented on a change made to a Winx Club episode; in the dub, Sky went from being killed (it's never explicitly said as such, but Flora mentions his lack of pulse at one point) to being put into a deep sleep (by having the Trix, who "killed" Sky, explicitly mention this a few times). It seemed to him that it made a lot more sense when Bloom revived Sky; this changed a never-before-seen magical Back From the Dead ability to a Sleeping Beauty-style awakening that seemed more 'probable', especially since that these new powers were played as "healing powers" in either version. The kicker? Not only did a normally eyeroll-worthy Never Say "Die" edit give some cred to the story, it was made by 4Kids! Entertainment. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
    • That said, they still left in Flora mentioning Sky's lack of pulse, thus confusing the viewers a bit. Also, Bloom's resurrective powers would become a plot point later on... and then get retconned again!
    • There's another change in a different episode, where the girls (except Flora) cut school and go to Earth. Layla, Stella and Musa are stopped by a police officer and asked why they're not in school. In the original, Layla gives the excuse that they have permission from their parents to be out of school and offers to give the cop the phone numbers, but the cop declines and lets them go. In 4kids, Layla speaks a foreign language, making the cop think they're not from Gardenia and so he lets them go. The 4kids version is more believable because, by law, the cop should've taken in all three girls and called their parents (not that he could call them, but you get it) since skipping school (aka truancy) is illegal. Of course, Italy's truancy laws may be different...
    • Then again, Gardenia is implied to be an American city (Mike and Vanessa are not Italian names, let alone Bloom)
  • The first half of Superman: Doomsday runs The Death of Superman fairly straight save for the absence of the Justice League, but the second half, based on The Reign of the Supermen, gives us a single replacement Superman, who's a clone like Superboy, but with elements of both the Eradicator (crimefighter with extreme zero-tolerance policy) and the Cyborg (a villain secretly working with another a villain), and drops the complex Mongul plot entirely in favour of a straightforward battle of the Superman.
    • It also manages to squeeze in a little of Funeral For a Friend which took place in between with a funeral scene and a few mourning scenes. One effective choice was leaving out Pa Kent which cut his heart attack subplot and intensified Martha's mourning by leaving her without both of them (it also ties in better with the Superman movie franchise which audiences would be familiar with.)
  • Green Lantern First Flight literally breezes over Hal Jordan's classic origin story in about 5 minutes to focus on the intergalactic dealings of the Green Lantern Corps. This was partially because of plans for the Live Action Adaptation of Green Lantern that would likely go into that origin, but also because of examining much of the same story in Justice League: The New Frontier and they didn't want to rehash his origin with every new DTV.
  • Watership Down's Animated Adaptation left out a number of rabbits from the book, including Bluebell, the comedian, and Strawberry, from the snare farm. Speedwell, Buckthorn, Hawkbit and Acorn aren't much missed, though.
  • The Adventures Of Sam And Max Freelance Police was given a very Lighter and Softer treatment, but it kept a lot of the strange hijinks and ideas that the duo are known for.
  • The series of the DCAU have a lot of this. Most of the time when a characters and their origin were changed it helped to enhance the essence of the original comics. In several cases, changes in the DCAU were so well-received that they were actually integrated into the main DC universe. (Harley Quinn and Mr. Freeze's backstories are probably the two most well-known cases.)
  • Young Justice does this with many characters, usually with positive effects. Artemis Crock for instance went from being a Caucasian supervillain to a biracial superhero, with the big twist being that her older sister (she never had one in the comics) is the Vietnamese assassin Cheshire. The decision to reimagine Zatanna as a teenager also went over well with fans.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man made some slight visual changes to Spider-Man's supporting cast, notably making several white characters into minorities for the sake of diversity and giving slight modernized designs to a number of Spidey's villains. However, the characters are still true to their comic book counterparts.
  • The Batman could be considered this; while the show has a bit of a Broken Base, it still pulled a fairly decent job on the mythos, and some of the villains got a lot of popularity, such as Hugo Strange and Clayface. The show's quality is up to debate, but how it handled some of its villains definitely gave it some recognition.
  • The Mega Man cartoon had the decision to change Proto Man from Mega Man's Aloof Big Brother Mysterious Ally to his Worthy Opponent on Wily's side. Given that Dark Man, Proto's impersonator from the fifth game, shows up in the series, it's more likely this was a conscious decision in order to give Mega Man an appropriate rival (Bass from the seventh game didn't exist yet) than Did Not Do the Research.
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