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An interactive work is being adapted into another, non-interactive form -- a video game into a TV series, for example. The original required the audience to choose one option above the others, such as picking a member of your Harem in a Dating Sim. As such, in the adaptation, there will be an active move by the writers not to have any choice evident, so that no portion of the audience is validated or invalidated in their choice. Sometimes comes out of an adaptation of a work with Multiple Endings.

This can also be done if it's an adaptation of a non-interactive work, by refusing to pick any one of the Loads and Loads of Characters to have more spotlight or importance than the others if the audience is divided on which is best and there's no main character.

Contrast Cutting Off the Branches, which does choose one and leave the others in the dust. Original Generation might be used in conjuction.

Examples of Third Option Adaptation include:


  • Pokémon Red and Blue required the player to choose among Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle. The Pokémon TV series adaptation started with Ash having overslept and, as a result, all the starter Pokémon have been picked by other trainers already when he shows up. He ends up with a spare Pokémon the prof happened to have on hand, a Pikachu (an outside fan favorite by that point), instead. They then rolled this back into the games in Pokémon Yellow.
    • It was subverted by having Ash get all three starters later; however, only one of them (Charmander) ever evolved. Later, they confirmed once and for all that Gary's starter was a Squirtle, while his in-game counterpart always chose the Pokémon that had a type advantage over the player's choice. In Pokémon Yellow, though, Gary's in-game counterpart received Eevee as a starter. As acknowledged below, he got one in the anime as well, but not as a starter.
    • Ash also got all three starters (Chikorita/Totodile/Cyndaquil) from Pokémon Gold and Silver/Crystal, but once again only one of the three (Chikorita) evolved at all.
    • Cyndaquil eventually evolved - once, into Quilava, just like Chikorita->Bayleef - but it wasn't until late into the "Diamond and Pearl" arc (over 10 Seasons since it first appeared) that this happened at all).
    • In Hoenn, adapting Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, Ash only got one starter (Treecko), while May got the Torchic and Brock took the Mudkip.
    • Ash also has two of the three starters from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl/Platinum: Turtwig (now Torterra), and Chimchar (now Infernape), with the third (Piplup) belonging to Dawn.
    • In Pokémon Yellow, your rival evolves his Eevee into Flareon, Jolteon or Vaporeon based on how often your beat him in your early battles. In the anime, since Gary never battles Ash until much later seasons (and since he started out with Squirtle, not Eevee), he Takes a Third Option, and evolves his Eevee into an Umbreon.
    • For an in-game version, Pokémon Gold and Silver and its remake features battles against Red and Blue, the characters Ash and Gary are based off of, respectively. Red's team features all four possible starters (which includes a Pikachu to represent Yellow Version), with the remaining Pokémon being forced encounters or gifts in the original games. Blue's team is based off of his Red & Blue team, omitting the starter; whereas in the original he had three potential Pokémon, one of which is replaced by the starter with the same type, Gold and Silver uses all three non-starter Pokémon.
    • In Pokémon Black and White, you can only only face one of three possible gym leaders at the first gym, depending on your starter Pokémon. In Best Wishes, Ash fights all three.
    • The Best Wishes series also made Ash have all three starters again.
      • Additionally, instead of Ash fighting Drayden or Iris (who is this series' female companion), Ash will battle Homika, who appears in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 for his final badge.
  • The first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film had Splinter and Casey Jones, rather than one of the turtles, defeating Big Bad Shredder.
  • The Fallout games allow players to be male or female, any race they choose, and a bunch of other customization features as rudimentary as nose size. How could boxart get all of this represented at once? It doesn't; instead opting for pictures of an undefined character in power armor.
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Heart of Gaia, an abortive video-game translation of the pen and paper RPG, had the main character as a redeemed Black Spiral Dancer, thus avoiding using any of the main tribes in the game.
    • Which is ironic, given that the editor of the RPG line had spent years trashing "redeemed" Black Spiral Dancers as being obvious cliche's used by people way too into Wangst. Though other reports say that the character was actually the last untainted White Howler who ended up unfrozen to discover all his descendants went evil. Both ideas were probably being tossed around in beta planning.
      • The pen and paper version has some advice on methods to redeem Black Spiral Dancers (most are unpleasant for everyone involved), and one tribe, the Children of Gaia, are pointed out as the most common home for Dancers who turn away from the Wyrm. The books also take pains to point out that the Gaian werewolves never trust former Dancers and that Black Spiral Dancers make a point of hunting down and killing any traitors even more than they make a point of hunting down and killing other Gaian garou.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, the player character's gender and appearance are customizable, and you have a choice between helping the Republic defeat Malak on the one hand, and overthrowing him as the Dark Lord of the Sith and then turning against the Republic. Although the character is canonically male and the Star Forge is canonically destroyed (a Road Cone example), the second game allows you to retroactively specify that character's gender and alignment via dialogue options, and the rest of the game then reflects the choice. The spin-off comic series also avoids establishing the character's appearance: in all appearances, the Revanchist is wearing a bulky robe and face-obscuring hood, and is never referred to by name or gender-specific pronouns.
  • The Star Ocean series always has mutually exclusive characters, particularly in the second game. The anime adaptation of The Second Story, which covers the events of the first disc, cuts a few corners and has all the disc 1 characters join Claude and Rena. This caused a small-scale Urban Legend of Zelda, where people started to believe that it's possible to recruit both Ashton and Opera in the same game as well as recruit Dias on Claude's route. Neither situation is possible in the game.
  • Tales of Symphonia: None of its endings are possible for Dawn of the New World (as it isn't possible on a single playthrough to obtain the title "Item Collector"- because you normally can only obtain one of the three ending items), rather, its manga adaptation's ending (where all three ending items are given to Lloyd) is canon.
    • However, Road Cones are still there for the pairing: Colette is canonically Lloyd's soulmate.
    • There are other differences in the manga's ending, too, like the party taken to the final battle. In the game, because of the limit on the number of party members, you had to take either Zelos or Kratos. In the manga, not only do both of them go along for the final trip to Derris-Kharlan, but so does Yuan.
  • It's amazing the Epileptic Trees that have come from trying to figure out which, if any, endings of the various Geneforge games are canonical. A popular one for the third game argues that the main character died at the very beginning and was replaced by someone else who acted out most of the game's events before getting killed off in turn.
    • The fifth game manages to revive all those trees in theories on the protagonist's identity. All this is probably due to the fact that the canon endings are combinations of multiple endings with some obfuscation thrown in as well.
  • Deus Ex Invisible War establishes that all of the three possible endings for Deus Ex are partially canon, meaning that none of them completely are. JC Denton does merge with Helios (ending #1), but he doesn't immediately become God; instead he recognizes that to seize control over the world right now would be unjust and foolish, so he also lets Tracer Tong destroy Aquinas (ending #2) in hopes that Tong's Great Collapse will give him time to perfect the technology for a "universal democracy", but in order to ensure that the world remains intact throughout the Collapse he allows Everett back into Area 51 (ending #3) to rebuild the Illuminati. Ultimately JC/Helios' goals as ApostleCorp in Deus Ex Invisible War bear little resemblance to any of the three endings and may be seen as a Word of God "best compromise" among the three (the best way to achieve stability, liberty and perfection for the human race).
    • Elder Scrolls, similarily, had all the endings of Daggerfall happen, although in a different way that works less well in a universe with less... fluid... metaphysics: all of them happened, because time itself broke as a result of the use of Great Numidium.
  • The Resident Evil sequels favor a scenario in which all four main characters from the first game (Chris, Jill, Barry and Rebecca) survived the Mansion incident. The only problem is that this actually impossible to pull off in the game itself: when you play as Chris, Barry goes missing never to be seen for the rest of the game, while Jill never actually encounters Rebecca.
  • The Resident Evil film series also employed this trope. Rather than focusing on any of the canon characters from the game series, the films are centered around a new character named Alice. Though interacts with characters and situations from the games, in is clear that the movies are Alice's show, and the rest are just along for the ride. This allows the movies to take many liberties and diverge significantly from the game canon.
  • Clock Tower has an ending where one friend (either Anne/Ann or Rolla/Laura) survives along with Jennifer (Ending S). Rather than pick between Anne and Rolla and have one appear in both the sequel and the various spinoff media, the developers decided to use the other endings where Jen survives but no one else does (Endings A, B and C).
    • Actually, Ending C is established as canon in the ending of the later game, when Dan's name (which Jennifer only learns in that ending) is mentioned and Jennifer shrinks back. Which is kind of strange, because you'd have to be using some wacky moon logic to get Ending C normally...
  • At the end of Metal Gear Solid, Snake can try to save Meryl depending on a choice made during an Electric Torture at the middle of the game - if the player chooses to resist, Otacon stays behind in an attempted Heroic Sacrifice to hold open a gate (although he lives), and Snake tells his real name to Meryl; and if the player submits, Otacon comes up onto Rex to talk Snake down (the gate has already been opened by Otacon), and Snake tells his real name to Otacon. Both the novel and comic book adaptations went with an ending where Snake escaped with both Meryl and Otacon at once, and told both of them his real name together.
    • Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty seems to go with this as well: when infiltrating the tanker in the opening cutscene of the game, he has the stealth camo Otacon gave him in his ending. Coupled with Meryl not appearing at all in the game, this would suggest she died in the first game, up until Snake reveals late in the game that he also has the infinite-ammo bandanna he received in her ending.
    • And then Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots reveals that the ending where Meryl lives is canon.
  • Kind of sort of done in a way with Persona 3 FES. Practically every female social link in the game involves the female in question falling in love with The Protagonist (Even the Hermit, who turns out to be the Protagonist's homeroom teacher). However, no matter what you do, it's Aigis who feels the strongest bond with you. As a result, it's Aigis who obtains the Wild Card ability in The Answer. (Though, one could make an argument for Elizabeth having the strongest bond, considering how she leaves the Velvet Room to try and revive him, but not counting bonus content in Persona4, Aigis is always "the one".
    • In the PSP remake, this is altered so that any of the female SEES members (Aigis, Fuka, Yukari and Mitsuru) can have the strongest bond with him and share the final scene with him, not just Aigis. The female can have Aigis or any of the male members of SEES (Akihiko, Ken, or Shinjiro if you saved him, except Junpei, who feels no romance for the main, have the strongest bond. Of course, The Answer isn't in the PSP remake and the Answer wouldn't work the way it was if the female was chosen anyway so how this affects Persona canon is currently unknown.
    • In the first Persona, Its implied that both the main and Snow Queen plotlines are canon...somehow.
      • The ending of the Snow Queen Quest puts it right before the first boss of the SEBEC quest, ending with the gang going to SEBEC to save Maki (who was left there when Mark panicked after being overwhelmed by the demons) Presumably, after reuniting with Maki, things went as they did in the main game, only with Yukino there.
  • In Sakura Taisen expanded media such as the OVAs, musicals, drama CDs and movie, it never clearly states which girl(s) Oogami has a romantic relationship with or Taiga in the New York stuff. There is usually slight hints toward Sakura (as the poster girl) but since games have a serial progressing plot and the OVAs and Drama CDS fill in the gaps it wouldn't jive to take the controller away from the player, and thus in the OVAs Status Quo Is God
  • Advance Guardian Heroes combines this with Cutting Off the Branches: it is based on one ending of the original game... but then takes it off into a direction that doesn't actually exist in the original game.
  • The sequel to Heileen makes all of the endings All Just a Dream. Canonically, only Robert and Ebele made it to the island with Heileen even though in the previous game, you always end up with the male love interest if you didn't trigger either of the Gay Options, even if you did nothing but treat him like garbage the entire game.
  • The ending of the Makai Senki Disgaea anime featured an amalgamation of the game's good and bad ending, with Laharl sparing Lamington's life, but still sacrificing his own in order to resurrect Flonne.
    • Oddly, future games set in the same universe suggest this might be the canon ending.
  • Some of the spinoffs from the Tenchi Muyo! universe pair him up with an entirely new girl, rather than stick him with a member of his Unwanted Harem.
  • At the time that the Maple Story anime was created, there were already four available classes in the game, so there would naturally be some difficulty in deciding which one the protagonist belonged to. So what do the writers do? Make him a perma-beginner! (explained in the anime as him being a human while the other classes are represented by monsters from the different in-game towns)
  • Tsukihime is a Visual Novel. A fighting game based on it, called Melty Blood, came eventually, and it had its own storyline. Unfortunately, Tsukihime is made up of two different sets of routes, 'Near Side' and 'Far Side', and each set gives practically no development at all to half the cast, who get their development in routes in the other set. But all the characters have to appear in Melty Blood, so what's the solution? The game follows the Sacchin Route, a route that does not actually exist involving the main character's Unlucky Childhood Friend actually surviving the game while everyone else gets their problems solved. It's weird. If they ever remake Tsukihime, maybe there would be an actual Sacchin Route to explain how any of this makes sense.
  • In Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Ruby Heart, a pirate with an interdimensional, time-traveling, flying ship, was created to be a neutral protagonist between the Marvel and Capcom sides.
  • Breath of Fire IV had a "good ending" and a "bad ending" based on whether Ryu ultimately agrees or disagrees with Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds Fou-lu that Humans Are Bastards - which is complicated by the fact that Ryu and Fou-lu are two halves of a Physical God who was Split At Birth due to a botched summoning, and the choice made dictated how the resulting Split Personality Merge would go. In the recently completed Comic Book Adaptation of the game by Mag Garden, they manage to include both endings - first going to what appears to be the "bad ending", then having Ryu conduct a Battle in the Center of the Mind with Fou-lu, culminating in his use of Mami's bells in what amounts to a Humans Are Special psychic bitchslapping, thus forcing the initial Split Personality Merge apart, then going through the "good ending" sequence.
    • As if this weren't enough, then the manga then takes this trope very literally with an ultimate THIRD ending where Ryu and Fou-lu split again, Fou-lu is basically Brought Down to Normal, and the two live/hide out as monks at the Chek monastery where Fou-lu is basically trying to learn why Ryu thinks Humans Are Special. The latter resulted in Much Rejoicing in Japan, among others.
  • Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri is the unofficial sequel to Civilization, picking up from where that game left off - when the spaceship reaches Alpha Centauri. However, while in Civilization the starship would be built by one nation (it's one of the win conditions), the starship in Alpha Centauri was a United Nations project sponsored by several nations.
  • The story of the original Bible Black game has two main routes: viewpoint protagonist Minase either keeps the eponymous grimoire and becomes Kitami's apprentice in the dark arts, or (more conventionally) lets it fall into Saeki's hands and winds up trying to save his Unlucky Childhood Friend Imari from Kitami's plot. The anime sacrifices the story's integrity (which, yes, it did actually have) in order to maximize the sex scenes, following the former route up to Minase delivering Imari to Kitami, at which point Kitami abandons Minase for Saeki, prompting an instant Heel Face Turn in Minase, and the latter route takes over. Now, this combination might actually have made some sense if they'd just included a line or two about Kitami stringing Minase along to get at Imari (although it still wouldn't have excused Minase's just-too-late "change of heart"), but they didn't.
  • The original Two Worlds has two possible endings: either you choose to join Gandohar and rule the world, or you kill Gandohar and save your sister Kyra. Two Worlds 2 doesn't follow from either ending; instead it posits that you actually lose the final battle against Gandohar, and spend the next 5 years as a prisoner in his dungeon while he takes over the world, which is where the game picks up.
  • Fate/hollow ataraxia is the sequel to a route that couldn't happen in Fate/stay night – all the Servants and Masters are still alive, even those that died in every route.
  • In Clue, the board game, the culprit always ends up being one of the players (Mr. Green, Miss Scarlet, etc). In one of the endings to the film version, the murderer turns out to be ALL of the dinner guests (except Mr. Green), as well as an added character, Wadsworth the butler.
  • Amagami SS retells the story six times, each one following a different route from the game.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha As Portable: The Gears of Destiny assumes that all the routes in the first game occurred, plus some extra stuff that never happened on-screen such as Fate and her Evil Twin Levi facing one another. This means that canonically, the Materials were destroyed multiple times over the course of that one night.
  • The Legend of Zelda is famous for having an Alternate Timeline from the two endings of Ocarina of Time. All well and good, except for the classic games not fitting in either one. Instead of making some game connecting them to the modern entries, Nintendo made a third timeline taking place if Link dies in Oo T's final battle.
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