Abled in the Adaptation

Sometimes in adaptations a characters physical or mental illness is removed or downplayed compared to the source. This could be for pragmatic reasons (such as the disability being difficult to adapt) but often times the disability is simply removed. One reason for the removal is to make a character more threatening.

This is inverted in many fanworks. "Disabled AUs" are a popular type of fanfic.

Sub-trope of Adaptation Deviation. Compare to Throwing Off the Disability.


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Examples of a disability being removed or downplayed:

    Anime & Manga 
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
  • In Tales from Earthsea, Therru has half of her face red, like a bad sunburn. The original books had her suffer burns which burned that side to the bone, making her lose an eye. Her hand was burned to uselessness as well.
  • Latifa from Amagi Brilliant Park was originally blind in the light novels. This was downplayed to being physically ill with no mention of blindness in the anime adaptation.
  • The first Fullmetal Alchemist anime downplayed a few from the source material:
    • In the manga, Alphonse's body is extremely malnourished when it is finally restored. In the anime, it remains in the very same state (stalled aging and all) when it was taken.
    • Edward zig-zags this. In the anime's Grand Finale, he briefly regains his lost arm and leg before performing a Heroic Sacrifice to bring Al back which results to Ed being sent to an Alternate Universe where he once again lost his restored limbs. The source material's Grand Finale has Ed at least getting his arm restored.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animation 
  • Ronno from Bambi is a buck whose has a lame leg due to surviving a gunshot. In the Disney adaptation and its interquel Ronno's age was decreased, he became a rival to Bambi, and he lacks any disabilities.
  • In The Hunchback of Notre Dame Quasimodo is deaf due to working with loud bells. In the Disney adaptation he is able to hear and speak.
  • Shere Khan in The Jungle Book is referred to as a "lame tiger" who was born with a crippled hind leg - he is a man-eater specifically because his disability stops him from being fast enough to catch a deer or a bull. Adaptations (including the Disney cartoon) tend to leave out this trait to make him a more threatening villain.
  • According to religious texts Moses was "slow of tongue", indicating a Speech Impediment or speech disorder. In The Prince of Egypt this is absent.
  • Pinocchio (1992) has the Wolf and the Cat at the ending. The Fox and the Cat from The Adventures of Pinocchio become disabled for real after faking disabilities. That doesn't happen with the Wolf and the Cat of this version; they just get imprisoned.

    Film — Live Action 
  • In the comics Hawkeye spent most of his run being partially deaf, wears a hearing aid, and can use American Sign Language. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe none of this is included.
  • Peeta from The Hunger Games loses his leg in the books but not in the film adaptation.
  • Thor: In the comics, Thor's "Donald Blake" alias on Earth is a crippled medical student whose cane would transform into Thor's hammer, which Odin set up in order to teach him humility. Because of the circumstances of Thor's being sent to Earth being different in the MCU, "Donald Blake" is instead an incredibly buff vaguely Scandinavian guy.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past: In the comic book on which the film is based, Magneto is paraplegic by the time of the Bad Future. In the film's depiction of the future, he's up and walking around on two feet.
  • In What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Arnie keeps his mental retardation, but in the novel he also was missing an eye.
  • Barbarella: In the original comic books, the Black Queen wears an eye patch, and since she never takes it off, it implies she's blind in that eye. In the movie, she only has the eye patch for one scene where she's King Incognito, and both her eyes appear to be perfectly healthy.
  • In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the Wicked Witch of the West is missing an eye. Many adaptations like the 1939 movie show her as having both eyes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Walking Dead:
    • In the source material, Rick loses his right hand after the Governor chops it off. This was omitted in the show.
    • In the comics, Dale loses both of his legs before dying. This is omitted in the show due to him dying much earlier in the timeline, though said storylines were distributed to different characters.
    • Andrea got some nasty facial scars in the comics. It was omitted in the show.
    • In the comics, Carol's mental illness becomes so out of hand that she committed suicide. In the show it is more subdued and she is Spared by the Adaptation (for now).
    • Speaking of the Governor, the source material has Michonne greatly mutilating him, namely: taking out his left eye, right arm, and penis. In the show, Michonne only took out his eye, and it's the right one at that.
    • Carl's Moe Greene Special is much more severe in the comics, as the injury also took out his right ear and causes him brain damage. In the show, it is a traditional Eye Scream. Likewise, his Creepy Child tendencies from the source material are greatly toned down.
    • In the comics, Morgan never really got back from his Sanity Slippage after his son's death. In the show he got his act together, and like Carol, he is Spared by the Adaptation (again, for now).
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The show downplayed Doran Martell's gout to the point where he is able to move around without his wheelchair while leaning to Ellaria's help to walk around for a bit. In the books, his gout is already so severe that his legs are deformed, which crippled him and gave him constant pain.
    • In the books, Jaime had difficulty in using his left hand after his right hand was chopped off and while he tries to remaster his sword-fighting abilities with his left hand, it actually takes a lot of patience and time for him to adjust. In the show, he initially had trouble in using his left hand but he was able to fight well and used his right golden arm as his shield.
    • In the books, Tyrion actually lost his nose in the assassination attempt on him during the Battle of Blackwater. In the show, it's only a typical facial scar.
    • In the books, Ramsay actually chopped-off Theon's toes and fingers and even plucked most of his teeth, plus his castration is only implied. Theon only got castrated in the show, though he suffers from a limp for a while because of Ramsey's tortures.
    • The show's version of Euron has both of his eyes in display. In the source material he is wearing an eye patch on his left eye, and it's vague if it is still intact.
    • In the books, Myrcella Baratheon loses an ear and gets her face heavily scarred. This is omitted in the show. She gets fatally poisoned instead.
    • In the books, Gregor Clegane's undead corpse is missing his head due to it being sent to the Martells to appease them for Gregor's role in the deaths of many of their family members (Ellia, her children, and Oberyn who in turn was the one who caused Gregor's death). The show's version of the undead Gregor has his entire body intact.
  • Arrowverse:
    • In the comics, Mia Dearden is HIV positive. Her Arrowverse counterpart, Thea Dearden Queen, displays no such illness.
    • In many comic stories, Dinah Drake Lance succumbs to cancer long after passing her Black Canary mantle to her daughter Dinah Laurel Lance. Here, the elder Dinah is in good health and even outlives her daughter.
    • Hunter Zolomon is paraplegic in the comics. Here, he is just fine, and is instead Secretly Dying from a speed drug overdose. However, Eobard Thawne pretends to be when posing as Harrison Wells.
    • In the comics, Roy Harper loses his right arm during the battle with Prometheus. That did not happened here due to Roy being absent during the adaptation of the Prometheus arc.
    • In the comics' Bad Future Flash storyline, the future Iris West becomes paraplegic. Here, she isn't due to her being long dead in that Bad Future. The disability was given to Wally instead.
    • In the comics, Nathaniel Heywood has an amputated leg thanks to an undiagnosed infection. Here, all his limbs are intact and his only disability is hemophilia.
  • Adam West's Batman notably lacks the PTSD the character is known for.

    Theatre 
  • Wicked:
    • In the original Wicked book Elphaba has an allergy to water. She bathes using oils and avoids water. Her death involves Dorothy splashing water on her. In the theatrical adaptation there are rumors that water can melt her—and in the song "Thank Goodness" Fiyero gets upset at the absurdity of the idea—but it's not true. Elphaba ends up Spared by the Adaptation when she fakes her death. Also played straight, as Elphaba's design is based off the MGM Witch and not the original book one, meaning that she has both eyes intact.
    • In a case of Pragmatic Adaptation, Elphaba's sister's disability was changed for the musical. Nessarose was born with no arms in the books; however, due to the difficulty of representing that in a play, she was changed to being wheelchair bound.

    Web Animation 
  • DC Superhero Girls combines pre-52 elements and post-52 elements of Barbara Gordon. She had a background as Oracle before becoming Batgirl. She isn't disabled and in fact became Oracle before becoming Batgirl. The Joker, who is the reason Babs became paralyzed, hasn't even been mentioned in the series.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Killing Joke the first Batgirl, Barbara Gordon, was shot by The Joker. She became paralyzed due to the incident but later became the Disabled Badass "Oracle" until the New 52 reboot retconned her to having recovered the use of her legs after the shooting. In the DC Animated Universe there are no signs of Batgirl ever having been wheelchair bound. In Batman Beyond she is shown as a senior but her legs work perfectly fine.
  • Likewise in Beware the Batman, Barbara Gordon skips becoming Batgirl and goes straight to Oracle without being paralyzed.
  • In the comics, Starfire's sister Blackfire can't fly due to a childhood illness. She can't absorb ultraviolet radiation like others of her species. In Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go! she can fly faster than the speed of light.

Examples of a disability being added or intensified:

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • In the Frozen fanfic Café Liégeois, Elsa was born blind. It's also played straight, as she lacks main!Elsa's depression and anxiety.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Most humanized fan-art portrays Jasper as having Vitiligo, though least a few gave it to Garnet instead.
    • In the fan series Connieswap, Steven needs hearing aids.
  • The plot of Waiting is worth it is about Izuku manifesting a quirk after becoming crippled and ending up in a wheelchair. It is also mentioned that Shota Aizawa was partially blind in his youth while Hizashi Yamada had hearing difficulties. Disabilities due to one's own quirk seem to be more common that one thinks, with UA having a program to helping their students with these problems.
  • Marinette in Nymph and the corrupted Miraculous ends up permanently in a wheelchair after pushing Chloe out of the way of a speeding truck, taking the blow in the process.

    Film — Live Action 
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Bolivar Trask is able-bodied in the comics but played by Peter Dinklage (who has dwarfism) in the film.
  • In Iron Man 3, Tony suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after the events of the Avengers' film. Tony doesn't suffer PTSD in the comics. They allude in the first two films without mentioning it to the disability Tony has in the comics: he's an alcoholic. (Specifically, in Iron Man 2 he becomes alcoholic because of stress from the fact that he's dying. Both problems are fixed by the climax.)
  • In Power Rangers (2017), Billy is autistic, something that was not in the original series.
  • In the DC Extended Universe, Lex Luthor clearly suffers from a form of mental disorder in addition to being a sociopath which is traditionally what he is in the comics and most media.
  • Batman Returns:

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Walking Dead:
    • In the source material, Hershel dies with his entire body intact. In the show, he loses his right leg in the Season 3 premiere before getting beheaded in the following season. Interestingly, both mutilations actually belonged to two different characters in the comics. The left leg amputation actually belonged to Dale (see above), while the beheading belonged to Tyreese.
    • In the comics, Bob is alive and well. In the show, his left leg was chopped-off by cannibals and dies a few hours later. Much like Hershel, this arc originally belonged to Dale in the comics.
    • As mentioned above, Tyreese dies in the comics by getting beheaded. While the mutilation is less severe in the show (he got his arm chopped-off instead), it was done so because he got bitten. However, said infection, in addition to the pain that was heightened by the Life-or-Limb Decision, directly led to his death.
    • The show's version of Ron goes through a severe case of Sanity Slippage after Rick kills his Asshole Victim of a father. In the comics, Ron is still a Love Martyr for his father, but more-or-less remains a sane kid till his death.
    • In the comics, Denise dies because she refuses to have her infected arm chopped-off. In the show, she dies due to a severe Moe Greene Special.
    • Denise's aforementioned death in the show actually belonged to Abraham in the source material. So how did Abraham die on the show? By getting his head repeatedly whacked by a barbwire-laced baseball bat until it's nothing more than a pile of mush.
  • Arrowverse:
    • In contrast to many Green Arrow stories and adaptations, Oliver Queen's PTSD from his time away from home is heavily emphasized.
    • Deadshot's right eye is badly damaged (if not completely blind) in this version and his advanced Eyepatch of Power essentially serves as his artificial eye. In the comics and most media, his right eye is just fine and the advanced eyepatch merely serves as a gadget for his job.
    • In this version, Slade Wilson kills his Evil Former Friend Billy Wintergreen by a brutal Moe Greene Special. Wintergreen never lost any eye in the comics.
    • Slade also chops-off Anthony Ivo's right hand. Ivo was never mutilated in the comics.
    • Quentin Larry Lance suffers from a weakened heart after the battle with Deathstroke and his minions. He has no such illness in the comics (nor did he fight against Deathstroke).
    • Jefferson Jackson suffers a Career-Ending Injury thanks to performing a Heroic Sacrifice. He remains a healthy high school athlete in the comics.
    • Felicity Smoak becomes paraplegic and is only able to walk again thanks to a chip attached to her spine. She wasn't injured that way (if, at all) in the comics.
    • Oliver chops-off Malcolm Merlyn's right hand during their Trial by Combat. In the comics and most media, Merlyn's limbs are all intact. This is mitigated with Merlyn getting an Artificial Limb shortly after.
    • While Eliza Harmon/Trajectory is reliant on a speed drug in the comics, a side-effect of her gaining Split Personality is added in this version.
    • In the comics' Bad Future Flash storyline, the future Wally West is dead. Here, he's Spared by the Adaptation and becomes paraplegic and shell-shocked. This storyline actually belongs to Iris in the comics, whereas here she's the one who is killed-off.
    • The same Bad Future Flash storyline also features Vibe losing both of his hands, and then the use of his powers since he can't channel them through his Artificial Limbs. No such storyline happens to him in the comics.
    • Savitar is ultimately revealed to have suffered an Eye Scream, as shown by his right eye being discolored gray and surrounded by burnt skin. The comics Savitar never had such an injury, and neither did Future Flash, Savitar's true self.
  • Game of Thrones: Jorah Mormont gets infected with greyscale in Season 5 after rescuing Tyrion from Stone Men. In the books, this Story Arc belongs to Jon Connington while Jorah himself remains healthy. Jorah gets cured in Season 7, though.
  • Spartacus:
    • Oenomaus loses his left eye near the end of Season 2. No historical records prove that this also happened to his Real Life counterpart.
    • Agron, who is a Decomposite Character of the historical Castus, loses the ability to clinch his hands near the end of the Finale Season due to being crucified. Like Oenomaus above, no historical records prove that this happened to the historical Castus.

    Theatre 
  • In a 2015 production of Spring Awakening, many of the major characters were played by deaf performers while hearing people would translate their sign language.

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