Some popular works never get adaptations, or if they do they have long and difficult production processes. It's not for lack of trying, however. Some works are just hard to adapt into certain mediums. One common reason for this is an Audience-Alienating Premise. What might be popular for one medium is not for another. For example, xenofictional literature works are rarely ever adapted. Most are too dark for kids, but older audiences aren't interested in serious films or shows about talking animals. This often coincides with differing writing and content standards between mediums. Books are allowed more wiggle room than film or television, which is why Childrens and Young Adult books contain more mature topics than what appears in many cartoons for that same demographic. Prose works that rely heavily on internal monologues are hard to adapt to film or television mainly because depicting one often stops a movie dead in its tracks. Stories with a Tomato Surprise plot may be difficult to adapt to a dramatic medium as it is harder to hide the twist element (especially if The All-Concealing "I" is involved) without tactics that are so obviously artificial that they tip off the viewer in themselves. Video games also have a completely different way of writing than film (assuming they have plots), which is a component in why Video-Game Movies Suck. This can lead to No Adaptations Allowed if a work is deemed too difficult to work with. This is also a major reason adaptations fall into Development Hell. Compare to Polygon Ceiling, i.e "hard-to-be-3D game".
Examples:Anime & Manga
- Berserk is a very long series that gets much of its atmosphere from a combination of decompressed storytelling and highly-detailed art. It's hard to cut out content because it has a lot of sensitive topics and Broken Bird characters, which without the original context risk becoming pointlessly dark and nonsensical. Most adaptations tend to follow the Golden Age arc, since it's a Flash Back that's largely self-contained.
- This was the main reason given why it took decades for Wonder Woman to get her own feature film or animated series. She's a part of the "Big Three" at DC but, except for the 1970s series and the animated direct-to-video film that sold worse than expected, she never starred in her own work until 2017. Wonder Woman has been regulated to co-starring alongside other Justice League members. Wonder Woman doesn't have a concrete personality, lore, Rogues Gallery, or supporting cast compared to Batman or Superman, so she was considered hard to work with. The Girl-Show Ghetto also didn't help. In 2017 Wonder Woman (2017) finally came out and was very successful, paving the way for more material starring Wonder Woman.
- For Supergirl, it's been difficult (outside of the 1984 movie and 2015 series, for Kara Danvers to make any stand-alone appearances in other mediums, and she hasn't even had a DC Extended Universe movie made, unlike Batman, Superman and The Flash. The fact her character is Depending on the Writer and the fact that Alternate Self Power Girl version exists contribute to this.
- Dune has proven difficult to successfully adapt to the big screen due to its length, complexity, and significant amounts of spice-induced psychedelia. The director's cut of David Lynch's film is over three hours long and still has to cover large portions of the book in narrated Time Skips. The Sci Fi Channel had a little more success by adapting Children of Dune as a miniseries.
- An animated Tailchaser's Song adaptation is in the works, however nothing has been heard of it for a few years. The book is rich in lore, has Loads and Loads of Characters, and has quite a bit of violence, but it stars perfectly normal, non-Funny Animal cats. As a result, it's hard to adapt without severely watering it down into a Lighter and Softer adaptation. Kids aren't interested in it because it's more The Lord of the Rings than Garfield, but adults don't want to see a film about talking cats.
- Adaptation. is an adaptation of the Susan Orlean book, The Orchid Thief about how it's hard to adapt a that very same story, that basically has no plot, and is mainly about flowers.
- Isaac Asimov's short story "Gold" is an In-Universe case. A writer requests from a movie producer to make one out of his work, which is recogniseable as the second part of Asimov's own The Gods Themselves. Starfish Aliens are involved, to those who don't recognize the context.
- For the longest time, The Lord of the Rings was considered this. We did have an animated version headed by Ralph Bakshi, but it was considered "the book series that could not be filmed" for the longest time. However, it took Peter Jackson and his visionary work and a rather high budget, but the label was eventually cast off, turning LOTR from an impossible-to-film work into arguably the single greatest adaptation of a literary work onto the big screen.
- The works of H.P. Lovecraft; have a reputation for being uncinematic and exposition-heavy. Mainly due to their reliance on Eldritch Abominations that can drive anyone who merely looks at them insane, which is hard to put to film without it becomming Narm, Special Effect Failure and Nightmare Retardant. Doesn't stop filmmakers from trying though.
- Being very monologue-centric, along with the fact its author J. D. Salinger forbids it, is why there have been no screen adaptations of The Catcher in the Rye.
- Despite being a popular children's book, for the longest time A Wrinkle in Time was considered "unfilmable" because of the fantastic elements and philosophy in what is ostensibly a children's story. Two attempts to adapt the work to live-action have been made, one a tv movie in 2003 and the other a theatrical release in 2018, but neither were successful with either the book's fanbase or general audiences.
- In-Universe example in Sherlock Holmes: Sherlock often reproaches Watson for using cheap tricks like environmental descriptions verging on Scenery Porn or deliberately retaining information from the reader to make for a more interesting story, which he feels makes the actual scientific part of the case (i.e., his deductions) less important. In the two cases narrated by Holmes, he finally admits that Watson had a point, and that presenting the story in a compelling manner is harder than he thought.
- A Warriors film has been greenlit, however a film adaptation has previously been in Development Hell for this reason. The series has over two dozen books and over a thousand named characters. This alone makes it difficult to produce a self-contained film based off of even the first arc due to its length and the number of characters, however the major issue is that the series is about feral cat colonies. With its crap ton of Family-Unfriendly Violence and Family Unfriendly Deaths (with the first book more-or-less beginning with a cat being murdered), it's impossible to get a kid's film out of the series but it's unlikely the film would appeal to the teenage demographic. Warriors already had adaptations in the case of Comic Book Adaptations, but they have heavily toned down compared to the books and full of Bloodless Carnage.
- Grey's Anatomy is one of those series that has proved harder to adapt outside of Live-Action TV, with a video game adaptation which got poor reviews from critics for being a Minigame Game and Loose Canon at best. As such, it's had no other adaptations since the 2009 game.
- Police, Camera, Action!, due to being a Documentary has proven to be harder to adapt to another medium (aside from an obscure 1996 book with photo-stills) due to being a Real Life documentary, although a video game based on it would be a difficult exercise, and costly. Outside of parodies, there's been no real adaptations since.
- Catch Phrase had a Board Game adaptation in The90s, but it's proved difficult to adapt except for as a smartphone game, where it makes sense
- LEGO has turned down every adaptation of their popular BIONICLE line because every script given tries to add in humans.
- Andrew Hussie has said that Homestuck was meant to the be the sort of story that could only be told on the internet, as it makes extensive use of Infinite Canvas and multimedia. When asked by a fan how he would hypothetically adapt Homestuck as a film, Hussie answered that he would throw the plot away entirely, and just write something set in the same universe and that conveyed the same themes as the comic.
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