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Adaptation Overdosed
Let's say you write a book. The readers love it, the critics love it, and everyone wants to see a movie of it. But when the movie finally comes out, it's a major letdown. Or perhaps it works out fine, but a few years later, people still love the book yet don't seem to remember that the movie ever happened.

Not wanting to waste a good story, the studio makes up its mind to try again.

And again, and again, and again.

Anyway, this trope is all about stuff that doesn't merely get multiple or long-running adaptations, but actually has a whole bunch of Alternate Continuities (preferably at least three within the same medium) as a result. Perhaps in some cases, the audience will "win" and one adaptation will cement itself in the public memory for all time.... Perhaps the studios will keep playing anyway. In most cases, it seems they just can't seem to get it right, but that's always a matter of opinion.

This trope is not about works that simply have lots of sequels or vast expanded universes within the same continuity; in other words, Star Wars and Star Trek are not examples. Star Wars almost could count as an example for the sheer number of times the individual storyline of each film has been adapted. A New Hope, for example, has two Novelizations, three comic strip versions, a manga version, a Radio Drama version, some journals written from the POV of the characters, is retold in part of the LEGO Star Wars video games, and a version written In The Style Of William Shakespeare. However, all but the Lego and Shakespeare versions supposedly take place in the same continuity.


Examples (listed by the original work):

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     Anime and 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's 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 has begun, 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, Stand-Alone Complex anime TV 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 manga, Girlfriend of Steel/Iron Maiden, Rebuild of Evangelion, Angelic Days, Gakuen Datenroku, Eva Pucchi, the reportedly-still-under-development live-action movie... oh, and of course the End of Evangelion as possibly alternative ending.
  • Hana Yori Dango 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 Macross above, merging it with two other anime series. 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 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 DB or GT), which are very few. They're also the only arcs to be adapted on Dragon Ball Kai.
  • Cutie Honey (or "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...
  • 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).

     Comic Books  

     Literature 

     Myth and Legend  

  • The King Arthur mythos, of course. Every few generations needs a new adaptation of the old stories, starting with Le Morte Darthur 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.
  • Myths in general have a LOT of adaptations, especially as different forms of the same legend. Even a myth dating from the Middle Ages will have a lot of different versions floating around.

     Theatre  

     Toys  

     Video Games  

  • The Lunar JRPG series began on the Sega CD, was reworked for the Saturn and PlayStation, had an updated version of the PS reworking, another GBA remake, and is now being remade a fifth time. The PlayStation version is generally best-known (and sadly rather thicker in cliches than the Sega CD original).
  • 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, a US comic, 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.

     Western Animation  

  • 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 Invasion", etc.), another animated series with a modern update, and many more animated movies based off of that series.


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