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.

Examples of a disability being removed or downplayed:

Anime & Manga

Film - Animation
  • 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.
  • Ronno from Bambi is a buck whose has a lame leg due to surviving a gunshot. In the Disney adaptation Ronno's age was decreased, he became a rival to Bambi, and he lacks any disabilities.

Film - Live Action
  • In the comics Hawkeye is 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.

Live-Action TV

  • 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.
    • In a case of Pragmatic Adaptation, Elphaba's sisters' 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 the Joker hasn't been referenced in the series (though he might undergo Adaptational Heroism if he does, just like most other villains).

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 DCAU 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.

Examples of a disability being added or intensified:


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.
  • In the Steven Universe fan series Connieswap, Steven needs hearing aids.

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.

  • 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.