Examples (listed by the original work):
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Anime & Manga
- Mahou Sensei Negima! probably gets the award for the most thorough invocation of this trope in the shortest amount of time. At present, there has been the original manga, two broadcast Animated Adaptations, a Live-Action Adaptation, a few OVAs, a second manga released parallel to the first, a Spinoff Babies series, and a movie covering an alternate end to the manga. Only the OVAs and the first manga seem to occupy the same continuity. At this rate, by the year 2020 there'll be eight or nine movies, a couple of noir or western-themed animes, and an opera.
- Appleseed (manga, 1980s anime OVA, recent CGI movies, and now a new CGI series)
- Ghost in the Shell (manga, movies (animated and live action), Stand-Alone Complex anime TV series, Arise OVA series).
- Neon Genesis Evangelion is famous for this. The original anime and manga series are set in similar, but distinct continuities. Then after that you get into the Raising Project games, the Raising Project, Girlfriend of Steel/Iron Maiden, Rebuild of Evangelion, Angelic Days, Campus Apocalypse, Eva Pucchi, the reportedly-still-under-development live-action movie... oh, and of course End of Evangelion as possibly alternative ending.
- Boys over Flowers has no less than three official live action series adaptations (one in China, one in Tokyo, and one in Korea), plus a second, unofficial Chinese adaption, an anime, and the original manga.
- Robotech spun off of Super Dimension Fortress Macross, merging it with Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA. Then there were novelizations and RPG and comic adaptations, none of which quite perfectly matched with the others. There were spin-off novels and comics, as well. Then there was an abortive 3-episode sequel series, which was again adapted and continued three different ways in comics, novels, and game. Then there was the sequel Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles.
- The Gundam franchise. 11 main series and loads of OVA, films, manga, novels, games and plastic modeling kits, spread over 7 different continuities. There are also spin-offs like Super Deformed Gundam.
- The Saiyan, Namek, and, to a lesser extent, Androids/Cell arcs in Dragon Ball Z might count, as almost every game released ever since they started back in 1988 covers one or several of them and quite a few cover those and just those. The only exceptions are either sequels to them or the ones that cover Kid Goku stories (either Dragon Ball or Dragon Ball GT), which are very few. They're also the first arcs to be adapted on Dragon Ball Kai, with a long gap before the Buu Saga was confirmed.
- Cutey Honey has four animated incarnations, two live action incarnations, and five manga incarnations. Try asking a fan of the show where Honey's powers come from. Heck, try asking them whether or not she's human; the answer changes in just about every version. You'd think they'd run out of answers to a yes/no question eventually, but no...
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica. The original TV anime, a manga (plus two Spin-Off manga), a novelization, a PSP game, and now a pair of Compilation Movies. And all of this was announced in less than a year after it started, so there's still the possibility of more still being created.
- Code Geass has only one full-length anime, but there are four separate and completely different manga adaptations as well as three games based on it. As of early 2012, two spinoff OVAs, a film version of the original series, and yet another alternate-viewpoint manga are planned (the original anime came out in 2006).
- Himitsu no Akko-chan has three anime and a Live-Action Adaptation.
- Sailor Moon has, in rough chronological order: the Sailor V manga, the actual Sailor Moon manga, the original anime adaptation in the '90s, the original set of musicals from the '90s (which lasted until 2005), a live-action adaptation in 2004, a bucketload of video game adaptations/spin-offs/what-have-you (from typical '90s beat-em-ups and arcade games to an official smartphone game), a new batch of musicals unrelated to the first in pretty much every way, and the 2014 anime. This is discounting the attempted American cartoon-live-action hybrid thing in the '90s, and — if one wants to consider them different adaptations because of how different they are — various dubs from around the world. Also, a weird set of American novelizations from the '90s, and who knows what other obscure (but official/licensed) adaptations from other corners of the world. And note that every adaptation is very different from the rest.
- The Pokémon anime has two different multi-volume manga (The Electric Tale of Pikachu being the first and Satoshi to Pikachu being the second), a theatrical musical adaptation, multiple theatrical films, numerous manga adaptations of said films, various Tie In Novels, several novelizations (the most famous being Pocket Monsters: The Animation), and several radio dramas.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Starting as a comic book series it has expanded to four cartoon series (one only loosely based on the original comics; another that started out a direct adaptation but later diverged; the third somewhere in between), two anime OVA's, two live-action specials (song themed), a live-action series, three other comic book series, a daily strip, five live-action films, a CGI film, several kids' books, novels, magazines, games and crossovers, and heaven know how many toys and merchandise (including a set of "automutating" TMNT transformers of all things).
- Hellboy, despite being a relatively young property owned by one guy, has at least three continuities, including the comics, the animated series, and the live-action series. There are also at least two "little Hellboy" spinoffs.
- Of all the superhero properties, Spider-Man has been rebooted the most frequently in recent years: his appearance in Captain America: Civil War and subsequent solo film Spider-Man: Homecoming has marked the third iteration of the character in just over ten years.
- The Batman mythos seems to be falling prey to this. Batman was already one of the most commonly-adapted character, with three adaptations/series in the last ten years (The Dark Knight Trilogy, the DCEU, and The Lego Batman Movie). But then there's the Batman: Arkham Series, Suicide Squad (which is part of the above mentioned DCEU), an upcoming unrelated Joker film directed by Martin Scorsese, and Gotham, not to mention the classic Adam West live-action series and at least five animated series (at least seven if you count Justice League and Justice League Unlimited as separate from both each other and Batman: The Animated Series).
- Archie Comics has had one made-for-tv film, one live action show, numerous animated adaptations dating back to the 1960s, and at least one radio show.
- Peanuts inspired many animated films and television specials, two stage plays and some video games, a Boom! Studios comic book, and feature film. Not to mention lots of merchandise.
- Likewise, Garfield has lots of television specials, two cartoons (Garfield and Friends and The Garfield Show), two live-action movies, a few straight-to-video animated movies, many video games, a Boom! Studios comic book... and some different approaches, such as the book/special Garfield: His 9 Lives and the Pet Force series.
- Little Orphan Annie has had several film adaptations, a fairly popular radio series, and, of course, a hit musical which spawned three of its own film adaptations as well as sequels both on screen and in the theatre.
- Sherlock Holmes definitely deserves to be mentioned separately, having been played by over 75 different actors in 211 films.
- Starship Troopers has spawned a 1988 anime miniseries,three strategy tabletop games,a 1997 live-action film with two sequels, a CGI television series, a CGI film, a video game, and a live-action Hollywood reboot on the way.
- A Christmas Carol: Has been made into no less then 40 films, including animated versions, made-for-tv movies, musicals, silent films, and a Muppet version. There are also many stage adaptations, and at least one ballet version! And that's not even getting into the Yet Another Christmas Carol trope. Best exemplified by Twelve Hundred Ghosts, which is 400 adaptations of the work in one video and still isn't all of them.
- I Am Legend has had three movies since it was written in the 1950s, and all of them take the plot and characters in different directions.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was originally a 6-expanded-to-12-episode radio comedy, then a series of novels based on it, an adventure game, a TV series, a sequel radio comedy series, and a movie. Each one of them considerably different from the others. Unusually, this was intentional on the part of Douglas Adams (who was the primary or sole writer of the radio, TV and novel versions).
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has 39 books, a series of silent short films, the classic musical adaptation which itself has a sequel, a prequel and an Andrew Lloyd Webber-helmed stage version, a Muppet version, an anime series, stage plays including a pop music-driven reimagining with an all-black cast which itself got a film adaptation helmed by the unlikeliest of directors, a modernized TV series, an alternate interpretation of Oz and the villain (which in itself has a musical and an upcoming film), cartoons, and a Russian translation that diverges considerably as it goes on.
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has 16 different film adaptations, including two by Disney, a Darker and Edgier video game, a TV miniseries, an anime remembered in many places that aren't the States, a re-imagining book series, Sci Fi,...
- Mutiny on the Bounty: At least three film versions, a few novels, probably a play or two.
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was published in 1964, and by its 50th anniversary in 2014 had already yielded one sequel, several audiobook versions and a pop-up book abridgement, and the following adaptations, all of which are distinct takes on the story:
- Two movie versions (1971 and 2005)
- A stage play in The '70s
- A touring stage musical in The '80s
- A ZX Spectrum video game
- A BBC radio play
- A ride at England's Alton Towers
- An opera
- An island in the online game Poptropica
- A 2013 West End stage musical (which includes Internal Homages to and one song from the film adaptations but is not a Screen-to-Stage Adaptation at all)
- The two film adaptations have each been incorporated into other media: The 1971 film was greenlit to launch a still-extant defictionalized candy brand, its songs appeared in a 2005 stage musical (Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka) that otherwise stuck closer to the novel, and in 2013 it was the basis for licensed casino slot machines. The 2005 film was the basis for several tie-in video games.
- Every decade or two, The BBC goes on a Jane Austen kick and remakes most of her most famous works (usually Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, and Emma) as miniseries. Each of those four novels has three or four BBC adaptations as well as several movie adaptations. Her works also frequently receive the Setting Update treatment (Bridget Jones books and movies, Clueless or The Lizzie Bennet Diaries).
- And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie has had multiple film adaptations. The novel's plot has even become a trope in its own right.
- There have been several adaptations of most of H. G. Wells' books, especially The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine. The former is especially prone to getting a Setting Update about once a generation.
- Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper, in addition to being part of a 5-book series, has itself been adapted to film at least five times, with the last (most famous) one being a remake of a previous screenplay; a graphic adaptation by Marvel, and inspired a series of classical oil paintings when it first came out in 1827, along with having some local landmarks named after the characters.
- Zorro has been adapted many times.
- The Phantom of the Opera began as a novel by Gaston Leroux. Has since been adapted into goodness knows how many movies, at least six stage musicals (seven if you count Love Never Dies, which is a sequel to the most famous musical version), quite a few additional novels and numerous spoofs/reworkings on TV. Not to mention songs about it by Iron Maiden and Iced Earth.
- Little Women has been made into several stage plays, movies, TV miniseries, anime, an opera and a Broadway musical.
- Anna And The King Of Siam has given us one Broadway musical, four movies (two of which are based on the musical), and a short-lived sitcom.
- The Jungle Book has had so many film and TV adaptations, both live action and animated, that Rudyard Kipling's version is probably the least well-known.
- Similarly, Tarzan has had so many movies, TV shows and cartoons based on it that the original books by Edgar Rice Burroughs are obscure by comparison.
- The Ring has been made into a film four times - twice in Japan (once as a semi-pornographic TV movie!), once in Korea (as The Ring Virus), and once in America. There have also been two Japanese TV series, three Japanese sequels, and one American sequel (directed, oddly enough, by the same guy that directed the original Japanese film). It was also adapted into a manga.
- The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. A quick search on IMDb returned 48 results. This page has a very incomplete list of adaptations.
- And one of the book's sequels, The Vicomte de Bragelonne, has been adapted to film many times as The Man in the Iron Mask (the article covers only the 1998 Leonardo DiCaprio version).
- Douglas Fairbanks adapted both books, the first as The Three Musketeers in 1921 and the second as The Iron Mask in 1929.
- The Count of Monte Cristo, also by Dumas, has also had a ton of adaptations. The film with Jim Caviezel is only one of many.
- Dracula. The fact he has his own page on this very website should be proof enough of how much often he tends to appear in mediums of every shape and form. Most tend to adapt more from the famous 1931 Universal film then the original novel by Bram Stoker.
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley has spawned many adaptations. Thomas Edison produced the first movie in 1910! Not to mention many a Spiritual Successor stories using its Artificial Human plot.
- The Girl Who Leapt Through Time one novel that received: three televisions series, four live-action films, one animation film, and two manga adaptations.
- Les Misérables has over 60 adaptations for radio, anime, theatre, TV, film (the latest being a big-screen adaptation of the stage musical) and at least one fighting game. Yep.
- Treasure Island has many film adaptations, including an Anime, a muppet version and a couple of versions set in space. There are also a number of television series, as well as theater, radio, video games and music.
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë gets adapted in film or miniseries or on stage a lot, and not only in English-speaking countries. Check the work's film page.
- All James Bond books and almost all short stories had film adaptations (twice in the cases of Casino Royale and Thunderball, and the former was adapted for television as well), and many were also translated into comics, radio plays, and the occasional video game - though in most places, the film series is the one serving as inspiration.
- Tolkien's Legendarium has been made into two three-part film series, three full-length animated films, several radio plays, and many video games and tabletop games.
- Heidi has received many film adaptations, as well as an anime series.
- The The Divine Comedy has been adapted hundreds of times (although most of the adaptations focus on the Inferno), including at least twenty-four films, four operas, video games for the Commodore 64 and Xbox 360, and even a few comic book issues during certain runs of the Disney Mouse and Duck Comics and the X-Men.
Myths & Religion
- The Bible has been adapted literally hundreds of times, covering just about every medium there is, which can be expected, since it's the religious text for the world's largest religion. Among the most commonly adapted Bible stories:
- The King Arthur mythos, of course. Every few generations needs a new adaptation of the old stories, starting with Le Morte d'Arthur by Malory and moving on to Tennyson, T. H. White, Peter David...
- Robin Hood also has a ridiculous amount of adaptations, including TV shows, movies, books, video games, and that's not even getting into "Modern Robin Hood" territory.
- Many stories from Classical Mythology are a popular choice for all kinds of adaptions, be it the The Iliad and The Odyssey, the adventures of Herakles, the journey of Jason and the Argonauts, the quest of Perseus...
- Carmen is known for its frequent adaptations. Although most of them are derived from one particular adaptation, Bizet's opera, with the original novella falling victim to Adaptation Displacement.
- Stage versions of William Shakespeare's plays don't count as adaptations, but the many straight up stage-to-screen adaptions, and the inspiration for new scripts, easily number into the hundreds. The BBC appears to feel a need to produce a definitive TV version of the compleat Shakespeare folio, approximately once every fifteen years or so.
- Chess started out as a Concept Album in 1984. It was adapted into a stage musical for the first time in 1986, but a mixture of Executive Meddling and attempts to cope with The Great Politics Mess-Up meant that for some time, every time the show popped up in a new location it was practically a new musical, sometimes venturing pretty far from the album's storyline. Even a couple decades later there's no consensus on which staged version did it right if any did at all, so new variations of the story continue to pop up.
- Transformers has to take some kind of a record. It has — let's see now — several lines of toys, the original American cartoon The Transformers, several successive anime that continued from where the American one left off (Transformers Headmasters, Transformers: Super-God Masterforce, Transformers Victory, Transformers Zone), five or six different comic book series (The Transformers: All Hail Megatron, The Transformers (IDW)), spanning all the different TV show and toy eras (Transformers Generation One, The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers), American and British (The Transformers), Beast Wars, the Japanese spinoffs (Beast Wars II, Beast Wars Neo), Beast Machines, several more Transformers anime set in Alternate Universes that were dubbed for American consumption after Hasbro succumbed to fan backlash over Beast Machines (they originally intended a sequel to that named Transformers: TransTech), the live-action films which occupy their own AU and possess their own novel and comic adaptations, two more American cartoons which are also their own universes, and a Japanese toy and manga series called Kiss Players which involved Interspecies Romance on the Autobot side and vorarephilia on the Decepticon side.
In short: Look at this full listing of everything and try to not go too cross-eyed. And that's not even counting the Diaclone and Micro Man Japanese lines whose overstocks and remainders were sold to Hasbro to become the original Transformers toys.
- Likewise, sister franchise G.I. Joe (both are by Hasbro, and earn the occasional Crossover). Ever since the second generation in 1982, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, was accompanied by a comic book and an animated series, the franchise has since earned plenty of other comics and cartoons, two movies, and the occasional game.
- The Lunar series keeps making new versions of the same games. The first game in the series was first released on Sega CD and later reworked for the Saturn and PlayStation, followed by a GBA remake, followed by a PSP remake. The PlayStation version is generally best-known (and pretty troperiffic compared to the Sega CD original). Plus, most of the other games in the series have their own remakes, except just one a piece instead of three. And that's without getting into the novelizations, manga and audio dramas.
- Super Mario Bros.. Less so now, but as well as the games there are the spinoff games in about ten series, three cartoon shows, about four anime films, the live action film, various manga series, three series of American comic books, German comics in Club Nintendo, the Ice Capades, books, and random series that have very little to do with anything (Mario All Stars cartoon series consisting of recycled stuff from the first three, King Koopa's Kool Kartoons).
- Sonic the Hedgehog has an anime, an adaptation of that anime, an OVA, two American animated series that were launched simultaneously, a later American animated series, another American animated series over a decade after those three, a theatrical movie, a U.S. comic series, a later U.S. comic series, a UK comic, several manga, and numerous '90s book adaptations not based off any comic. And we haven't even mentioned the spinoff games.
- Pokémon: There's the original games, the spinoff titles, the remakes of the older games (which both expand upon the originals and retcon certain aspects of them), the anime, at least three manga adaptations of the anime and several movie-specific ones, various adaptations of the games, over 30 other manga which seem to do their own thing separate of other continuities. And that's just the beginning.
- Scooby-Doo spawned numerous animated series, including a Spinoff Babies series, as well as many animated movies (Reluctant Werewolf and The Ghoul School), several live action movies, more animated movies (Zombie Island, The Alien Invaders, etc.), another animated series with a modern update, and many more animated movies based off of that series.