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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 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 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 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, 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 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 Dragon Ball or Dragon Ball GT), which are very few. They're also the only arcs to be adapted on Dragon Ball Kai.
  • 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 animes and a Live-Action Adaptation.

     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  

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


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