Adaptational Badass / Live-Action TV

  • Smallville:
    • Season 9 transformed B-list villain The Icicle II into a Game Breaker whose presence alone was enough to turn any room into an arctic wasteland. He's able to take out three Justice Society members before being stopped. Season 10 does the same thing with Desaad, changing his from a snivelling Dirty Coward into a Serial Killer whose Psychic Powers allow him to take on Superman.
    • Lana Lang in the original DCU continuity wasn't even half as badass as she comes off in Smallville. Even at her best, she was the outspoken Daily Planet Editor who was a vocal supporter of an aged Batman. In Smallville Lana is apparently a kickass martial artist, skilled hacker, and master tactician whose skill could apparently rival that of renowned, albeit younger, Chess Master Lex Luthor, much to his chagrin and respect.
    • In the comics Lex Luthor's fighting abilities vary, but typically he isn't much of a physical threat (intellectually is another matter) without his warsuit. On Smallville he was a deadly martial artist who once battled Green Arrow to a draw in a Gun Kata duel.
    • Lionel Luthor, Lex's Abusive Dad, is usually little more than an alcoholic brute. Smallville made him the prototypical Lex, a grandiose Corrupt Corporate Executive and master manipulator, as well as a top-tier Badass Normal. Said one Internet reviewer "even in a show with meteor freaks and aliens, Lionel always managed to feel like the most powerful person in the room."
  • Game of Thrones:
    • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Eddard Stark is a capable general, but is not particularly large or strong. Word of God states that Ned is a pretty average fighter and never as good as his bigger, stronger brother was. In the show, the badasses Jaime Lannister and Barristan Selmy both speak very highly of Ned's skills as a fighter. When Ned and Jaime duel, Ned matches the famous swordsman blow for blow and might be getting the better of the exchange before they're interrupted. Littlefinger also calls Ned "an even more impressive specimen" than his late brother Brandon.
    • In the books, Shae is a shallow prostitute that does little more than sleep with men and tell them what they want to hear. In the TV series she has way more attitude, seems to care genuinely for Tyrion and takes on a protective role over Sansa to the point of threatening another woman that was going to rat on her with a knife. She also carries the same knife while the city is under siege and says that she is ready to use it on any enemy soldier that tries to rape her.
    • In the books, Ygritte is just another spearwife wildling in terms of her combat abilities. In the show, she's a precision archer who's considered one of the deadliest members of the raiding party.
    • Ramsay Snow in the books normally hunts down defenseless women with a pack of dogs, and his most impressive martial feat was killing an elderly knight who thought they were allies until he cut off the man's arm. His father notes that he fights like he was chopping meat, with the strong implication that he'd be killed by any skilled opponent. In the show he's shown to relish battle and charges into a fight shirtless against armed and armored ironborn, emerging unharmed.
    • In the books, Brienne has a very awkward and insecure personality, while in the show she's far more confident and bossy. In the books, she's a skilled swordfighter, but tends to just barely survive her encounters. She's on the losing side of her fight with Loras before she tackles him, and only manages to defeat Jaime because of his emaciated condition. In the show, she defeats both Loras and Jaime rather handily and even defeats Sandor Clegane in both swordfighting and brawling.
    • In the novels, Stannis Baratheon may not be a slouch, but he prefers to lead as a general instead of at the front like his brother Robert. Not so in the show, where he leads the storm of King's Landing personally.
    • In the books, Alliser Thorne is never seen fighting and is implied to be a bit of a Small Name, Big Ego. In the show, he takes control of the Wall's defenses during Mance's siege, delivers a Rousing Speech, and fights expertly before receiving a wound and being dragged away by his men.
  • In a series that typically keeps most characters similar to the originals, Kat from Power Rangers S.P.D. is shown to be a better and more competent fighter than her counterpart in Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger. Unlike her counterpart, Kat does battle a group of mooks unmorphed, and generally is presented a lot more serious and determined. (This even continues into the episode where Swan/Kat gets a one-shot Ranger morph. Perhaps the only differences between the two versions of that episode: Kat fights the Mecha-Mooks unmorphed for quite some time; Swan morphs the moment they appear. Kat gets to do Judgment Time; Swan doesn't.) Also, Ben-G, who had had a beef with sentai Doggie for capturing him earlier, is now a general of the invaders who nearly wiped out Doggie's planet in the backstory, and gets a two-parter as Doggie tries to overcome his Heroic B.S.O.D. and avenge his world.
    • A minor version with the Fear Cats and Tyzonn in Power Rangers Operation Overdrive (Minor because it's confined to one battle.) While the Fear Cats school the Overdrive Rangers as badly as the Questers did the Boukengers, there's one difference: The Overdrive Rangers have some vehicles in their arsenal the Boukengers don't, and the Questers' power source interferes with the Boukengers' suits so badly they could barely stand, let alone fight, making the Sixth Ranger with the new power source the only one who could fight at all in his debut episode, while this plot point was left out of Power Rangers. This means where the Questers beat up on highly compromised Rangers who could barely stand, the Fear Cats were pounding the daylights out of Rangers who were fighting at 100% potential and breaking out things like flying bikes with laser cannons and the Mini-Mecha that once took out two monsters at once without breaking a sweat. It also means Tyzonn, the Sixth Ranger, must be very powerful, able to take them on singlehandedly and force them to retreat. Of course, Boukenger has the starting five get the upgraded power source and fighting the Questers became much more doable; this was not explained in Power Rangers but it's not unusual in either series - in any superhero series, really - for villains and heroes to be much more powerful when they debut, and the Fear Cats were still pretty tough, so nobody much said "wait a second, these guys were handing them their asses when they first showed up but now they're... handing them their asses a bit less!"
  • Once Upon a Time: Snow White is an Action Girl, Red Riding Hood is a werewolf and an Action Girl, while her grandmother is a former werewolf and a crossbow-wielding badass.
    • Also, Rumpelstiltskin is a future-seeing, dark magic wielding Magnificent Bastard and the miller's daughter is a dark sorceress and a ruthless queen.
    • Also, Prince Charming is a tried and true sword fighter who is also impeccably brave. He was trained to sword fight by none other than Princess Anna.
    • Peter Pan goes from being Badass to also getting brains, having his Shadow be an extension of his power and running Neverland like a prison warden.
    • Also, Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk is now a giant slayer rather than a giant evader.
  • The Worst Witch
    • Agatha Cackle and her cronies in The Worst Witch were quite easily defeated by Mildred casting a spell to turn them into snails. In the TV series they manage to outwit her and reach the school, even succeeding in turning Miss Cackle into a frog. They return in the season 1 finale with another plan that comes quite close to succeeding.
    • Miss Cackle and Miss Hardbroom in the books were merely just the girls' teachers with little mention of their powers. In the TV series they are very powerful witches and demonstrate great power. Miss Cackle is able to freeze Agatha and her cronies effortlessly while Miss Hardbroom is able to stop a powerful magical blizzard that would have covered the entire world.
  • Elementary: While the Watson of this series is less physically capable than the Watson of the books, being a surgeon rather than an army doctor, her intellectual capabilities are enhanced. In the books, Holmes is the one who brings down Moriarty. In "Heroine", Watson is the one who figures out that Moriarty is in love with Sherlock and launches the plan to capture her.
  • Done once in a while in the Granada adaptations of Sherlock Holmes. For example, in "The Lady Frances Carfax", Watson chases down and shoots the villain at the climax (in the original the villain got away), and in "The Solitary Cyclist", we get to see Holmes and Woodley's fistfight rather than just hearing Holmes mention it.
  • Sherlock:
  • The Walking Dead upgraded many of the Non Action Guys, Neutral Females and emotionally-wrecked/unstable characters from the comic into Stronger Than They Look Action Survivors, if not, full-fledged action type characters.
    • Glenn went from a Non-Action Guy to an Action Survivor from the comics to a combat-proficient Action Survivor from the get-go in the series.
    • In the comic, Lori would often fumble with her gun, and Carl saved her on more than one occasion. In the show, she is making headshots at night without panicking.
    • Maggie Greene went from an emotionally fragile girl from the comic to an emotionally strong and assertive in the show. Not only that, but the series also made her the most competent Action Girl of the group until Michonne joins in season 3. And if you take into account that Michonne is bad with guns, Maggie is still the group's ace female marksman. Not that Maggie is bad at melee either.
    • Because Carol is given tons of Adaptational Angst Upgrade, she Took a Level in Badass in season 3 and becomes much, much more combat proficient and emotional stability than her comic counterpart.
    • Due to being Spared by the Adaptation, Shane was able to showcase a lot of his Badassness in the TV series.
    • The series also gave the already Badass Governor a strong set of manipulative skills.
  • Good Eats often painted Louis Pasteur, father of bacteriology, as a heroic historical figure (as his discoveries led to improvements in food safety). One episode, "Milk Made", definitely fits the trope, as it features him taking down a Food Police helicopter with a flamethrower.note 
  • In Arrow, this is done to the titular Arrow himself, Oliver Queen, at least in terms of his capabilities in hand-to-hand combat. While Ollie in the comics was never a bad fighter per say, he couldn't hold a candle to the much deadlier hand-to-hand combatants of the DCU (such as Batman or Lady Shiva) and instead relied more on his Trick Arrows and expert marksmenship. In the show, Oliver regularly goes up against expert fighters and, due to a limited number of arrows and lack of tricks, he tends to spend more time during fights smacking people with his fists and bow rather then shooting them. This comes to a head in Season 3 where Ra's Al-Ghul considers him a Worthy Opponent after coming back to life from their first duel and tries to make him his heir before Ollie manages to kill him at the end of the season.
  • Gotham:
    • In the comics and most adaptations (such as the Batman: Arkham Series), Victor Zsasz is just a serial killer who relies mainly on ambush tactics and fear, but who's not very tough in a straight fight. In here, he's the most feared mob hitman who can throw down with the best of them.
    • While the Penguin has always been one of the most formidable villains, he is usually depicted in a comedic manner. This Oswald Cobblepot is substantially more serious and dangerous than most past incarnations, is more willing to kill, and is a Magnificent Bastard to boot.
    • In both Batman Begins and the story arc "Wrath Child", flashbacks to the night the Waynes died had Gillian Loeb, the corrupt police commissioner from Batman: Year One, as a captain at the time. Here, he's already commissioner.
    • Every other version of the Batman story has Bruce's parents being simply there to get killed in front of him and instill his hatred of crime. This time, Thomas is revealed to have been well on his way to becoming a crime fighter himself when he was killed, and it's clear that Bruce's transformation into Batman will be built on what he started. This seems to be inspired by the comic's story "Flashpoint", which presented an alternate universe in which Thomas became Batman.
  • In the Shadowhunters episode "The Mortal Cup", Dot helps Jocelyn fight off some of Valentine's minions, although she ultimately fails to stop them from kidnapping Jocelyn. Her counterpart Madame Dorothea does no fighting in either City of Bones or The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.
  • In the Star Trek franchise, the genetically engineered superhuman augments of the late 20th century (as personified by Khan) have gotten increasingly badass in each progressive series (due largely to progressively better special effects budgets). In the original Star Trek Khan "had the strength of five men", but Kirk could still hold his own against him in a fistfight by being a Combat Pragmatist. The young Augments in Enterprise could dodge disruptor bolts, punch Klingons across the room, and even resist stun shots from a phaser. Finally, Khan in Star Trek into Darkness is a One-Man Army who wipes out an entire Klingon platoon pretty much single-handedly while dual-wielding a phaser rifle and what looks like a vehicle-mounted beam weapon, turns the other cheek and lets Kirk beat on him to absolutely no effect, and shrugs off phaser stun shots and even the Vulcan neck pinch.

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