Created By: truepurple on June 19, 2012 Last Edited By: Arivne on November 20, 2012

Adaptation Decay

When differences between parts that remain faithful to source source and changes in adaption cause figurative cracks in the overall story structure.

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This trope is a important reminder that when you make a change to a story, you have to consider the whole story. And that some changes require a rewrite from the ground up, and frequent enough to deserve its own page.

There isn't many examples where I have experienced multiple adaption versions of one story line, and of them, a good number were done well, like Lord of the rings. But many examples of movies I have watched that I know come from books, where impressions of this trope have come to me, where movies not from another source that I know of, tend to not have this issue.

Movie "Ant bully". I have never read the book it is based on (and it has been a long time since I have seen this movie) There is a ant character who randomly hates humans, watching the movie that bugged me how there is no motivation for this. Having seen a deleted scene of his past where many of his fellow ants and his hive were killed my pesticide by the exterminator villain, him barely surviving, which I am sure was in the book, the character was fleshed out for me alot more.

But I know I have seen more extreme examples of this, where the reason for someones future actions were omitted or changed, but the actions were not. To give a fictional (as in, this is no movie or book I know of, and admittedly extreme) example to show what I mean since I struggle to find a good real example to show what I mean.- In original source, Joe was attacked and abandoned by his mom who use to be very loving, but who was actually possessed by a demon. He survives, in part thanks to the church that adopts him, growing up to be a exorcist looking to find his mom and save her from her demonic possession. In the adaption, Joe never leaves the custody of his mom and she isn't possessed, instead she is rich, and travels the world alot, leaving him home alone with paid servants. Joe still grows up to to be a exorcist searching for his mom, who just happens to get possessed eventually.

So this fictional extreme example, the background story is radically changed, but many other things in the future from source are left the same, which can lead to many of said actions and outcomes suddenly not making nearly as much sense. Then a sequel 2 adaption comes out based on further story from source, yet it wants to be consistent with sequal 1 too. These inconsistency between changes and source grow as things go on, becoming ever larger cracks in the storyline with further adaptions or sequels. Which is one of the bigger differences between this and or This also can be much more subtle then a plothole, which can allow it to be more destructive too.

  • spoiler alert*

A wrinkle in time, the book was great, but clearly the director behind the movie did not get the book at all.(Its been ages since I have read/seen either, so please forgive for not using all the names)

In the book, they meet this seer person who appears to be neither male nor female, yet both. Turns out ze used to be a sun/star, and was reborn in this form. Ze laughs at joyful things she sees around the universe in her crystal ball.(what she is laughing at is undescribed in the book in specific detail, but the impression is that of joyful things)

In the movie, the seer is more like a transvestite, and while the book does not describe what ze sees, the movie shows scenes from like Americas funniest home videos or something, people falling on their asses or otherwise getting mildly hurt. he genderless-ness indicated the lack of being human and previous nature as a star, her laughter was suppose to be that of heavenly joy and love, not watching people getting hurt. I find it hard to put into words, but these premises are important in the book, and bases for other things to follow that also get screwed up.

Much content was omitted like Adaptation Explanation Extrication, yet the tesseracting scenes were much longer then they needed to be/should have been. Some of which was omitted was important to establishing the story and making everything work. Which makes it belong to this trope, rather then AEE.

In the book, IT, was was a giant pulsating brain controlling Charles mind since he let it in. Meg enters in close to IT to try to save her brother (Charles). It tries to get into her mind, and she is struggling to fight it off, and she can not reach her brother at all, (mentally, not physically) who is zoning off with IT controlling him. But she realizes the one thing that IT doesn't understand is love, she can't get herself to love IT, but she can love her brother, that love frees both her and her brother to escape via tesseract.

In the movie, IT was a guy in a suit (man with red eyes found earlier in the book and not like this) with long scenes where she struggles with various illusions and stuff (I really didn't watch this part of the movie all that closely as it was clear how sucky it was) This near end, ending, misses the point once again, and because these points keep the story together, to me, it falls apart even further. And if there was ever a sequel movie based on the first, these cracks would just grow.

Code geass: The first part/season of the anime suffered from this in many small quantities, events shuffled around and changed and the story fell apart a bit. It wasn't till R2 where they broke cleanly from the manga, and simply hand waved the previous stuff, that the series found its legs.
Community Feedback Replies: 12
  • June 19, 2012
    Corrected the title's spelling.

    In Universe examples of this in fiction are under the already existing trope Adaptation Decay. *edited in by TP* There is already a a fix it thread for renaming Adaption Decay entry, freeing up this name.

    There are a number of tropes that cover Real Life examples of this listed in Adaptation Decay. You might want to read them to see if any of them cover your idea.
  • June 19, 2012
    A couple things: I object to the Adaptation Decay name because Decay is a general term for becoming worse and less like the original This seems to be a specific case of it. Also, see Handling Spoilers for advice on spoiler tags, but in general it's bad design to have spoilers in the description, because then people have to read spoilers to understand what the trope is. See This Troper. It's bad form to talk about yourself, especially in the description. I'm just saying this instead of fixing it because I'm not sure this is a thing.

    Is the trope situations where the plot carries over to an adaptation, but context gets cut or altered for whatever reason, leading to a situation where characters are taking actions that make no sense in the new context? I don't get your explanation of how this is different from Adaptation Explanation Extrication. The idea that important establishing points are omitted is part of that trope, so this isn't a distinction. I'm not sure what you mean by tesseracting. A tesseract is a four-dimensional extrapolation of a cube or square, but I have no idea what it means as a verb. Adaptation Induced Plot Hole in fact talks about how changes can make things difficult for sequels (this is the basis of several of the Harry Potter examples), so I'm not sure how that is a difference, either. Perhaps more (any) examples would help. See How To Write An Example. I've read A Wrinkle In Time, but not seen the movie and I'm having trouble following that example. There should generally be at least a dozen to launch a trope.

    An adaptation that gets a sequel which is different than the sequel to the original is Alternate Continuity (which also covers some related issues). This could be caused by changes to the original as here, but also could be a case of Real Life Writes The Plot, Executive Meddling or any number of other reasons.
  • June 19, 2012
    I was hoping to have help with examples, and this was written more for you guys, then as a final entry thing. So I was informing those who would be helping me.

    "Decay is a general term for becoming worse and less like the original" Half right, decay is to break down. "Less like original" has nothing to do with anything here. As far as the use of "decay" here, please read the following.

    Ace, with Adaptation Explanation Extrication- any explanations omitted are covered by this troop. Adaption decay only covers explanations omitted that directly and continually break down AKA decay the story.

    Same with Induced Plot Hole, not every plot hole will break down the story, some are a minor break in Willing suspension of disbelief and don't have significant impact on latter story, no crack form and travel the story.

    This trope covers all differences between source and adaption that continually decay the story. Whether they be AEE, IPH, or something else. So there is overlap, but its not significantly more specific or general then these, nor is it redundant with either of these. And I have seen many other entries with greater overlap then this one has.

    And Ace, you read A wrinkle in time, but you apparently forgot most of it else you would not need to ask what tesseract means as a verb. In short (as best I can, might have a detail or two wrong) tesseract the verb, is to fold space to travel great distances(and/or take shortcuts through space itself) It is how the group of protagonists get around to various surreal places, how their father got trapped on a distant planet.

    BTW, how come some entries don't have any examples at all?

  • June 19, 2012
    I read it in middle school. My point is that we shouldn't have to be familiar with a work to understand this.

    So are you saying this should be any adaptation that's worse because of changes made? That's what it already is.
  • June 19, 2012
    If you are going to try and make this completely objective we already have that definition in Adaptation Induced Plot Hole. Trying to find some variation off the "adaptation takes something out and creates a plot hole" is not going to create a new trope.
  • June 19, 2012
    To clarify: Are you saying this is like Adaptation Induced Plot Hole, but worse? That wouldn't be a trope.
  • June 19, 2012
    No, not "any adaptions that is worse because of changes" changes can negatively effect the storyline without creating these cracks. No, the current entry isn't that either, and there is some consensus to make the entry even more neutral anyway, so don't mention how it is now, mention how it will be.

    "Trying to find some variation off the "adaptation takes something out and creates a plot hole"

    That isn't it at all.

    And no ace, that isn't it at all.
  • June 19, 2012
    Then what is it? I am having trouble following. Create an Alice and Bob example that would fit into this, but not be Adaptation Induced Plot Hole or Adaptation Explanation Extrication. That would go a long way to explaining how this is different.
  • June 19, 2012
    You have to explain the meaning of "figurative cracks in the story." A plot hole? A plot... gap? General detriment?
  • June 20, 2012
    truepurple: Please do not edit other people's posts just to add things to them, as doing so puts your name on the post instead of the original poster's, and is considered rude. Instead, make a new post with your information and include a reference to the other person's post.

    So, instead of editing my post (as you did above), you could have done this:

    ^ x 9 @Arivne: There is already a a fix it thread for renaming Adaption Decay entry, freeing up this name.
  • June 30, 2012
    You REALLY need to change the description to something acceptable for a trope. First person is very aggravating when trying to learn about a trope, not to mention the examples are not in the TV Tropes format. I think there's a trope in there, but it's hard to follow, much less come up with examples for.
  • November 20, 2012
    Soo...I'm confused. It sounds like "Adaptation X deviates from Original Work Y in such a way that attempts during the production of Adaptation Z to uphold both versions creates something akin to a Continuity Snarl" from what I've gathered but I'm still pretty lost.

    Also, you shouldn't be using first person or This Troper in an article, it's unprofessional.

    EDIT: Bump?