Adaptational Comic Relief

This is when a character is turned into Fun Personified or a Plucky Comic Relief in an adaptation. May be a sign of Flanderization or Character Exaggeration.

This trope is often found in Derivative Works that are Lighter and Softer or Denser and Wackier than their source.

Sometimes this new characterization becomes more popular and is later adapted into the original work.

See also Adaptational Heroism. Contrast Adaptational Angst Upgrade.


Anime and Manga
  • In the Fruits Basket manga, although Shigure was often a comic relief character in the beginning, he has a dark side that's evident even in the first volume, and eventually he becomes pretty menacing. In the anime, he's pure comic relief.
  • Grelle Sutcliffe of Black Butler is a truly menacing villain in the manga, and also has only appeared twice over the course of eighty chapters. In the anime, her flirtation and flamboyance are Played for Laughs and she's a much more major character, resulting in both an Ascended Extra and severe Villain Decay.
  • Bianca is portrayed as a less competent trainer in the Pokémon anime and is more of a Plucky Girl, while her game counterpart is more subdued and shy.

  • In Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings, Merry and Pippin are given funnier moments than the books, particularly in Pippin's case, such as getting into Gandalf's fireworks. After the Fellowship splits up, one character breaks out into comic relief for each group. For instance, Gimli provides physical comedy and gruff one-liners in contrast to Straight Man and Elf Aragorn and Legolas. His book counterpart is a much more dignified, well-respected character. Some of his funny moments in the films did come from the books, such as his Orc-slaying competition with Legolas, although even that one was altered to his detriment. Word of God confirms that they heightened this role for Gimli, a Dwarf (stereotyped as being crude), to accomodate Merry and Pippin's Coming of Age.
    • Of all the characters, Gollum becomes quite funny compared to his book counterpart (only Smeagol, however). See his over-the-top misery and occasional moments of Ugly Cute.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien described Radagast as a down-to-earth character, but never wrote very much about his personality. In Peter Jackson's The Hobbit, he is an eccentric Cloud Cuckoolander. Similarly, the dwarf Bofur was one of the least-described characters in the book and only had a few lines, but was given the role of a cheerful, wisecracking dwarf in the film.
  • In The Secret Of NIMH, Jeremy was a comical, clumsy character while his counterpart in the original book had more of a 'young and inexperienced' role. The film made several characters darker, which may have influenced this change. Jeremy is also an example of Ret Canon since his more whimsical characterization was adapted into the book's sequels.
  • Ralph Bakshi's animated film of The Lord of the Rings turned Samwise into a goofy, incompetent oddball of a hobbit, but in the books, he is brave and loyal. He was meant to become more serious in the second film, which was never made.
  • Whatney Smith in Outlaw of Gor is roughly equivalent to Harrison Smith in the book of the same name, but Harrison doesn't go to Gor and isn't a comic relief character. Whatney is supposed to be funny - opinion varies as to whether he is or not.
  • Scotty in the recent Star Trek reboot movies.
  • In the Harry Potter films, Ron suffered some Character Exaggeration into outright comic relief. While Ron is a big source of comic relief in the books, it's usually thanks to his snarky one-liners. The movies tended to make Ron the butt of jokes, specifically his incompetence and Rupert Grint's astonishing array of terrified faces.
  • The Jungle Book was intended to be Lighter and Softer than the book it was based on. Baloo became a fun-loving character who has a scatting duel with an orangutan, rather than a serious law teacher.
  • Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park and its sequel The Lost World: Jurassic Park is a Deadpan Snarker who provides most of the laughs. In the novel, he mainly serves the role of explaining chaos theory and is a relatively serious character, although he still has some funny moments. An especially prominent one is found in the second book, which was written to hold some similarities with the original film.
  • In the Sherlock Holmes films:
    • Nigel Bruce as John Watson, who is a bumbling oaf compared to the original books where he was dignified and professional.
    • Reversed by Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes, who was very witty and showy in the stories but became increasingly a straightlaced hero-type throughout the films (although he did have some moments of hilarity, like impersonating a music hall performer singing "I Do Like To Be Beside the Seaside.")
  • While he's the main character in most of the movies he appears in, the film version of Iron Man is much funnier than the comic version who tended to be a little more grim (although after the movies, writers have been giving him a little snark lately).
  • Both Hannibal King and Hal Jordan in their respective film appearances end up like this, thanks to the writers of both trying to take advantage of Ryan Reynolds comedic talents. Despite Reynolds proving himself a capable serious actor and action star, both instead rewrote the characters to be goofy Deadpan Snarker types, with King almost resembling Deadpool, a character that Reynolds was, at the time, working with the developers of the Blade franchise to bring to film with him playing the role.
  • Inverted with The Last Airbender—Sokka hardly makes a single joke, despite being both Plucky Comic Relief and The Snark Knight in the original show.
  • Big Hero 6 has three examples:

Live-Action TV
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Samwell Tarly is characterized by his extremely low self-esteem due to abusive treatment by his father and continual cruel mockery for his weight, and this never really improves, even after he makes some friendships. In the adaptation Game of Thrones, once he makes some friendships early on, Samwell plays the role of Plucky Comic Relief and even responds in kind to (good natured) mockery by his friends. However, after some of them abandon him during the second season's Bolivian Army Cliffhanger, he is more like his book counterpart during the third season.

  • The Thénardiers in Les Misérables, while still villains, were made into the main comic relief because the play was already very dramatic.
  • In the opera Boris Godunov, the second act (as revised) has several lighthearted songs for Feodor and the Nurse to sing, adding comic relief to an otherwise almost entirely serious dramatic work based off real life.
  • Shrek the Musical makes Big Bad Lord Farquaad a much more over-the-top and comical character, to the point where he has a big, show stopping musical number about how great he and his kingdom are (which replaces the tournament in the film). He even uses the "Welcome to Duloc" dolls as backup dancers!

Web Original

Western Animation
  • Ultimate Spider-Man:
    • Peter Parker/Spider-Man is usually funny to begin with as a Deadpan Snarker, but the cartoon makes him a Deadpool style fourth wall breaker and foregoes some darker elements, like how he is usually constantly haunted by the death of his uncle, as well as his massive guilt complex/martyr syndrome, in favor of jokes.
    • Another figure of note is Deadpool himself. Though he was always considered a comic relief, this adaptation makes him a great deal Denser and Wackier than his grimmer and occasionally more homicidal self, even though this version is no stranger to killing. In fact, his defeat practically comes about in the Chibi imaginary sequences when Spidey forces Deadpool to face some degree of responsibility for his actions as opposed to avoiding it with humor (which was mentioned in a way in his newer, S.H.I.E.L.D.-related backstory).
  • Scooby-Doo:
  • The Super Hero Squad Show does this for most of the Marvel Universe (mostly as a result of being both Lighter and Softer and Denser and Wackier than the comics). Of the bunch, the Silver Surfer probably gets it the worst. He goes from a reflective, serious intergalactic figure to a Totally Radical stereotype of a California Surfer Dude.
  • In Teen Titans Go! just about every character from the original Teen Titans cartoon is turned into a more comedic version of themselves.
  • Albert the Fifth Musketeer inflicted this on the original four.