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Films — Animation
- It is well-known that Hayao Miyazaki does not do adaptations, he simply uses the source material as a convenient jumping off point to tell his own story.
- Frozen is based off The Snow Queen... except the eponymous queen is a protagonist, isn't Ambiguously Evil or Ambiguously Human, doesn't kidnap children, and "Kai and Gerda" are the names of two adult servants instead of the main characters. So really, not that much like The Snow Queen.
Films — Live-Action
- All Tim Burton films have a distinct style of dark quirkiness, making movies like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Alice in Wonderland (2010) far less colorful than other adaptations, while things like Batman (Returns), Sleepy Hollow, and Planet of the Apes become weirder.
- The Harry Potter movies had different inspirations in visual tone and what the directors emphasized. Goblet of Fire had several boarding school comedy pieces, some of which weren't in the book at all. Alfonso Cuarón gave a candy shop Day of the Dead touches and food, such as candy skulls. The first two movies (directed by Chris Columbus) feel very much like Steven Spielberg films, while the third one (directed by Alfonso Cuarón) feels more like a Tim Burton film.
- Speed Racer felt more like a live action anime movie.
- The Shining novel is unabashedly supernatural; the Stanley Kubrick film favors Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane.
- Blade Runner is based upon the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, but takes the exact opposite stance on its theme.
- Desert Heat is loosely adapted from Yojimbo and even gives it a cute Shout-Out near the end.
- Godzilla (1998) was, in theory, an American adaptation of the famous Japanese film series, but in reality it bears only a very slight resemblance to its namesake. Both versions feature a reptile that grows to enormous size because of atomic testing, but the similarities end there. Where the Japanese Godzilla is an ancient dinosaur that mutates into a slow, Nigh Invulnerable behemoth that is hostile towards humanity (at first), capable of releasing a deadly atomic beam from his mouth, and decidedly male, the American Godzilla is an iguana mutated into a hermaprhoditic Fragile Speedster that wants no conflict with humanity, only came ashore to lay eggs, and has standard fire breath (Dinosaurs Are Dragons, or at least big lizards that look like dinosaurs are dragons.) Additionally, the original Godzilla was a metaphor for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as he was specifically mutated by American nuclear testing, while the American version pushes the blame to the French and lacks any kind of symbolic depth. The animated series which followed was much closer to the original Japanese monster.
- The modern American remake tells a markedly different story; by having the titular beast be an ancient creature, older than the earliest dinosaurs, the theme shifts from a direct allegory of nuclear destruction to primal, unstoppable forces of nature keeping the world in check, with the MUTO being the threat to humanity and Godzilla himself the inevitable response. The bombing of Hiroshima is mentioned, and gives context to Dr. Serizawa's concern over a nuclear strike (his father was killed in the blast), but the continuous American atomic testing in the Pacific, then current in 1954, is also quantified in-story — it was a cover for the Navy's repeated efforts to kill it. The plot and ending, in turn, reflect the modern conception of Godzilla and his Character Development into a heroic figure; rather than being killed and crumbling into dust before he can destroy again, he defeats his ancient enemies and walks triumphantly back into the ocean, with press outlets heralding him as the savior of the city.
- Clueless is a loose adaptation of Emma, except that the novel is about class status in 19th century England while the film is about popularity at a Los Angeles high school.
- Most The War of the Worlds adaptations have been updated to a later time period and location than the original. The only thing most have in common are alien invaders with tripods and their defeat by our microorganisms:
- The original took place in 1900s England at the height of its power.
- The infamous 1938 radio version is set in what was then The Present Day.
- The 1950s version focused on scientists in Los Angeles.
- The 2005 film had an almost war documentary feel to it, focusing on an East Coast family trying to survive.
- The Lowlands of Scotland Series is based on the biblical story of Jacob, but it is very much a modern novel series, with all the setting details and character development and intricacies of plot that that implies.
- Battlestar Galactica (2003) is the original series turned Darker and Edgier.
- Kings takes the Biblical story of David and puts it in a modern political drama.
- Sherlock is Sherlock Holmes, in the present day, with Stale Beer Spy Fiction elements. Or, taken another way, as a mundane Superhero series, with a Batman, a Catwoman, a Joker, and special guest appearance by Lex Luthor.
- Elementary, despite having a similar premise, is Sherlock Holmes in the present day as a Cyberpunk Police Procedural.
- The 100 TV series keeps the basic premise and a few of the characters from the book, but takes them in its own direction, focusing less on the Lord of the Flies-esque situation and more on conflict between different civilizations on the Ground.
- Solid advice for any new GM for almost any system: obey this trope!
- This happens a lot to public domain works, since people can be reasonably expected to know the original or at least the gist of it, so instead of doing the same thing for the umpteenth time they make Hamlet IN SPACE!!
- William Shakespeare is one of the most frequent targets of this.
- Dinotrux takes the general idea of Dinosaurs and Construction Vehicles merged together from the Chris Gall book series, but goes in an entirely different direction with it, featuring more mechanical robotic character designs versus the organic ones seen in the illustrations of the books.