Adaptational Badass

Guess the people behind Namco X 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 bona fide Badass. The reasons for this are myriad. Regardless of the whys, there are three 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:

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    Comic Books 
  • Balder wasn't much of a fighter in Norse Mythology, but in Marvel Comics, he's one of Asgard's greatest warriors (not as great as Thor, but close) called Balder the Brave. (He also survived Loki's attempt on his life in this reality and many others due to Odin's personal intervention, because much like his mythological counterpart, his death is the catalyst that would trigger Ragnarok, and Odin is taking far greater precautions to prevent it.)
  • 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 Comics' 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! A far cry from the Butt Monkey who usually sits out on most of the mane six's adventures.
    • Issue 7 in the main story has this to Spike as well.
    • And issue 8 does this to the citizens of Ponyville. Usually in the show, the best they can do is panic while the mane six deal with whatever problem falls upon Ponyville. With the mane six gone and the Princesses rallying them, however, they're able to keep the Nightmare Forces at bay.
  • While HP 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.
    • Wheelie also becomes this, going from the the robot equivalent of a ten-year-old with a slingshot to a skilled tracker, marksman, and survivalist.
    • 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 Dreamwave continuity he couldn't even land a hit on Superion, and only won because of the seekers.
    • Hellbat debuts as one in Drift: Empire of Stone. Originally Hellbat toed the line between Dirty Coward and Butt Monkey one of his most notable acts being that he engaged in a gunfight, and hid behind a rock begging for his life and shooting randomly until he killed the guy. Now Hellbat's more serious and threatening. Tired of the war, he's been killing Autobots and Decepticons all to power a stone army which he intends to use to kill as many things as he can.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IDW: Bebop and Rocksteady, in this comic, could well be the epitome of this trope. The original cartoon has the two of them be completely idiotic, ineffective and useless. In this comic they are still a pair of morons, who also happen to be violent murderers (even before they are mutated), insanely strong, and bulletproof. One issue showcases how it took a total of ten fighters with varied skills and weaponry to fight them, and they still couldn't actually defeat the duo, opting instead for slowing them down long enough to make a clean getaway.


    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.
  • Heather Dale's version of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The song that was originally about Gawain's failure, became a story of how perfect he was.


    Web Original 

  • 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.

Alternative Title(s):

Badass By Adaptation, Took A Level In Badass By Adaptation