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Adaptational Bad Ass
Guess the people behind Namco × Capcom didn't dig the original.

"I'm not really into this fighting stuff unless it's in a courtroom. ...Oh, and with words!"
Phoenix Wright, playable fighter in Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3 note 

There are characters in the media who are known, simply put, for being less-than-dangerous. They might even be The Load, or at least a Damsel in Distress. When danger rears its head, the character generally beats feet and lets their tough-guy friends deal with the problem.

But then, for some unexplainable reason, when the work is being adapted into another type of media, the character is made a bonafide Badass. The reasons for this are myriad. Regardless of the whys, there are two things to consider with such a change:

At its core this causes a significant dissonance with those familiar with the original character. It is not about a change in personality (Martial Pacifist to Blood Knight), method of fighting (defensive Simple Staff to offensive BFS) or battlefield intelligence (Dumb Muscle to Genius Bruiser), but in terms of how relevant they are in a fight. The key is how they are able to navigate through the story. Consider as a result of Power Creep, Power Seep that Superman himself has varied from simply "above human" in strength to near godlike, but he has always been Superman.

When this is done to a real-life person, then it's Historical Badass Upgrade.

As the name suggests, this is based on different interpretations between adaptations. Took a Level in Badass is the same concept except treated as Character Development in the same continuity. For a sister trope specializing in female characters, see Xenafication.

The inverse of this trope is Adaptational Wimp. Examples of inversions for this trope should go there.


Example subpages:


    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • Vertigo's Fables cranks most fairy tale characters' attributes Up to Eleven. The talking wolf of Red Riding Hood becomes a reformed half-god terror, Snow White is a master strategist and diplomat, The Pied Piper of Hamelin is a psychotic ally to an Eldritch Abomination, and a kindly woodworker is the puppeteer of a multi-planetary empire. This is because they've all lived for hundreds of years, giving them ample time to practice.
    • Mowgli is an international spy who can fight wolves with his bare hands and win. In this case, though, his awesomeness compared to the original may be mostly due to the fact that we're seeing a grown-up version.
  • Amy has always been a fairly realistic character for her age. You don't expect her to be badass or whatnot, she's just a girl who's in love with Sonic. In Sonic the Comic however she's quite The Lancer to Sonic. She's far more lethal than any other version of her to date, and sports some Improbable Aiming Skills. Reflected in the games where, while still much more humble and goofy than in the comics, she is a Badass Normal whose Piko Piko Hammer makes her a key powerhouse in certain titles.
  • Speaking of Sonic, Antoine D'Coolette of Archie Comic's Sonic the Hedgehog series. In the Saturday Morning Sonic the Hedgehog series, he was a Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey who tend to let out a Girly Scream now and then and was pretty much The Load. This changed when issue 46 came out and he ended up dating Cyborg Bunnie Rabbot. By this point, he started growing braver and braver, becoming a competent swordsman, being tough enough to survive over a year in an Alternate Universe, slugging Evil Sonic unknowingly at one point and impressing his dying father enough that he gave his blessings for him and Bunnie to be married. Then he goes and nearly gets killed saving Prince Elias and his family.
  • The short In the Interim... from Issue #4 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) features Epic battle-damaged, trident-wielding Spike riding Celestia in the middle of the fight against the giant Cockatrice attack. And he ends up saving everyone!
    • Issue 7 in the main story has this to Spike as well.
    • And issue 8 does this to the citizens of Ponyville.
  • While H.P. Lovecraft's original Deep Ones were described as "degenerate fish-frogs" who have trouble moving around on land and are only a threat due to sheer numbers and relationship with bigger eldritch critters, Alan Moore's Neonomicon treats us to a seven-foot armored-skinned man-coelacanth with the physique of a bodybuilder who can pull down wrought iron gates and fight an entire SWAT team to a standstill single-handed.
  • The Transformers IDW: Has the Sweeps as this. The original Sweeps were just mooks and often ended up as Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains, here, they are still Mooks who go down en masse, but they're a lot more deadly, storming Kimia and killing most of the crew, even tearing one bot apart with their teeth.
  • Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers: Did this with Overlord, while he was always powerful, even back in Masterforce, here he's established as one of the most powerful cons period, having brought destruction to countless worlds.
  • Transformers: Robots In Disguise: Has this with Devastator, who was the biggest con to fall victim to The Worf Effect, even in his debut episode. In this series, he Took a Level in Badass, rampages through the city unopposed, and easily tears Superion in half. In the Dreawave continuity he couldn't even land a hit on Superion, and only won because of the seekers.

    Literature 

    Religion and Mythology 
  • Ares from Greek Mythology. Originally, he was portrayed as a bully who could only win against unaided mortals, got his butt kicked by anything supernatural, and was casually dismissed by fellow gods Zeus and Athena. Then the Romans came around and identified him with their god Mars, making him the patron god of Rome, second in importance only to Jupiter (the Roman version of Zeus), an ideal soldier, and an all-around badass. This might make him the Ur Example. In many modern adaptations, Ares is usually portrayed more in the style of Rome's Mars in order to make him an imposing and threatening character.
  • Satan tends to get upgraded from a fallen angel whose defeat is a given from day one and whose antics on earth are basically a bully picking on the teacher's pets to a full-blown God of Evil only kept from creating Hell on Earth by the forces of light remaining ever vigilant.

    Real Trailer Fake Movie 
  • In 2007 the CGSociety (for Creative Digital Artists) held a contest to create images and pieces using Greg Bear's book Eon as a reference point. The winning trailer was titled "Worlds Within Worlds". In it, the frant breaks a soldier's neck. In the book, frants are actually rather peaceful (they're useful due to their Hive Mind), and there's no danger at the moment in the book that the trailer portrays.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 


Adaptational AttractivenessDerivative WorksAdaptational Comic Relief
AcrofaticSkills and Training TropesDrunken Master
Adaptational CurvesMedia Adaptation TropesAdaptational Intelligence
Actual PacifistCharacterization TropesAdaptational Intelligence
Action MomHidden BadassAgent Peacock
Action SurvivorBadassAmbadassador
Dig DugImageSource/Video GamesCowboy Cop

alternative title(s): Badass By Adaptation; Took A Level In Badass By Adaptation
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