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Adaptational Context Change

In an adaptation, a line of dialogue or action from the original work gets transposed to a different character or context, thus changing its meaning.

Note that just moving an event to a different place in the story or giving a line to a different character is not in itself enough to qualify. When adding examples, please explain how the change gives a new meaning to the event/line. For example, it may cast a different light on a character, create a different mood, or convey a different moral.

Can be a cause or effect of Adaptation Decay, Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole, Adaptation Distillation, Adaptation Expansion, or Adaptation Personality Change (among others).

Not to be confused with Adaptation Displacement. The Cover Changes the Meaning is this trope's musical equivalent.


Anime & Manga
  • The context of revealing Megu-nee is a figment of Yuki's imagination is different between the School-Live! anime and manga. In the manga Yuki has a flashback due to being reminded of words Megu-nee said prior to her death. We see Megu-nee's death scene and Yuki faints. It's revealed in the next chapter that Yuki had fell into a deep sleep due to the trauma of Megu-nee's death. When she woke up she was hallucinating Megu-nee had never died. In the anime instead the reveal is done later both episode wise and context wise. Miki is already a character and she asks Yuki who Megu-nee is.
  • In the anime for Higurashi: When They Cry, the kids playing "zombie tag" was moved to the second season when it was originally from the first arc. It fits the pre-Cerebus Syndrome theme of Onikakushi better as well.
  • The 2003 anime of Fullmetal Alchemist changed the order in which Winry's parents died. In the manga they died after Trisha while in the 2003 anime they died beforehand.

Comic Books
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In the original Civil War storyline, Steve Rogers gives an impassioned, now infamous speech about how when you are told to change, even by the whole world, you have to stick to your guns. It was criticized by many by being a possible excuse for bigotry, racism, and more, and so in Captain America: Civil War, the speech was attributed to Peggy Carter, who had to fight sexism in her field as a spy (she was typically given office work after Captain America's death) to eventually found SHIELD.
    • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Superior says his LMD bodies are "designed only for killing", an obvious reference to M.O.D.O.K. However, while M.O.D.O.K. chose this name to show his willingness to kill, the Superior — while he is a killer — means the bodies were originally created as targets and he sees them as disposable; they're designed to be killed.

  • Star Wars:
    • This is a common source of humor in Darths & Droids: all the famous lines from the movies are included, but never said by the original character(s) and/or never in the original context.
    • In the GBA game based off Revenge of the Sith, Obi Wan calls Grevious "so uncivilized" before their fight. In the actual movie this line was directed towards the blaster that he had to use to kill him. In the novelization, Obi-Wan says it more as a Bond One-Liner after defeating him.
  • In Knights of Buena Vista, a Campaign Comic largely about the Disney Animated Canon:
  • Mary Poppins has a few songs swapped around in the stage musical, so that their context is different.
    • The film has "A Spoonful of Sugar" as the first song Mary sings to the children, helping them tidy up the nursery and serving as an introduction to her general magic. In the musical it happens later after the children accidentally mess up the kitchen.
    • "Feed The Birds" is changed from a lullaby in the film, to a duet between Mary and the bird woman as she personally takes the children to visit the bank.
    • "Let's Go Fly A Kite" is the film's finale, establishing the new bond between Mr Banks and his children. In the musical it's instead sung by Bert trying to cheer the children up after they've fled from Miss Andrew.
  • In the stage version of The Little Mermaid:
    • Unlike in the film, where Ariel found it in a sunken ship, the fork that Scuttle calls a "dinglehopper" is thrown overboard from Eric's ship along with several other royal treasures.
    • The music from the film's sailor jig scene is lyricized as "One Step Closer" and used for Ariel and Eric's Dance of Romance.
    • The Broadway production had Sebastian and the sea creatures perform "Under The Sea" to console Ariel after the destruction of her grotto, rather than to get her mind off Eric as in the film. The revised production restored it to its original context.
    • The song "Beyond My Wildest Dreams" is based on the film's leitmotif for Scuttle, who is not present during this number.

  • The Lord of the Rings
    • Sam says the exact same line to Frodo at the end of both the book and movie version of "The Fellowship of the Ring": "Of course you are, and I'm coming with you!" In the book, Frodo has just said, "But I am going to Mordor!", but in the movie the line is changed to "I'm going to Mordor alone!", which makes Sam's response a lot more comical.
    • In the book the whole "fear no nightly noise" speech was said by Tom Bombadil in his house in the Old Forest on the borders of the Shire. When they decided to cut Bombadil from the film adaption they gave this line and some others to Treebeard in Fangorn forest. This changes the meaning of the line from "no matter what you hear tonight, it won't harm you" to something more like "sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite".
    • In the book, Sam interrupts Gollum at a moment when he is having second thoughts about his betrayal of Frodo. He accuses Gollum of "sneaking" about, putting Gollum on the defensive and hardening his resolve to feed the hobbits to Shelob. In the movie, the dialogue is the same, but the scene is very different, as Sam has surprised Gollum disposing of the lembas. Sam's accusation thus seems more justified, and lacks the negative consequences of the original.
    • The mournful elegy Pippin sings to Denethor in the movie is actually adapted from Bilbo's cheerful walking song in the book. Some of the original lines are removed in the film version, but the only actual word change comes in the last line, which has been changed from an optimistic "Mist and twilight, cloud and shade, away shall fade! Away shall fade!" to a much more ominous "Mist and twilight, cloud and shade. All shall fade. All shall fade."
    • In the book, Eowyn says the line "Do you not know?" to Faramir, in order to let him know that she has fallen in love with him. In the movie, her relationship with Faramir is downplayed, and her feelings for Aragorn emphasised, so the line is kept the same, but said to Aragorn instead.
    • Sam's vision of the star over the Ephel Dúath shows up in the extended edition of the movies, but is given slightly different significance. In the book, the vision is a private experience of Sam's that gives him strength to continue the journey. In the movie, Sam points out the star in order to encourage Frodo, taking the focus off of Sam's inner struggle and shifting it to Frodo's need for support.
    • The LEGO The Lordofthe Rings video game borrows sound clips from the movies and changes the context of some of them. One example is "Looks like meat's back on the menu, boys!" In the movie, it was a Bond One-Liner and reference to cannibalism. In the game, the orcs are celebrating getting a pizza delivery.
  • The novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, from Different Seasons, is narrated by "Red" who got his nickname because he's a red-haired Irishman. In the film adaptation, The Shawshank Redemption, Morgan Freeman plays the role of Red. He still claims that he got the nickname because he's Irish, but here it's a bit of obvious sarcasm.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The part of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets where Draco calls Hermione a Mudblood and the subsequent explanation of the term is played for far more drama in the film version. In the book Hermione doesn't know what the word means and the scene is an explanation of the general Fantastic Racism pure blood wizards have against Muggle borns. In the film Hermione already knows what the word means and the scene is far more of a Tear Jerker, with Hagrid reassuring her.
    • The trial of Barty Crouch Jr in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a Tear Jerker in the book - since Harry already has foreknowledge that the man was sent to Azkaban and later died. Barty Crouch Sr is clearly shaken and his wife is sobbing away behind him. It's not until later that his guilt is revealed. The film instead has Karkaroff shouting Jr's name out as a shock reveal. Sr's I Have No Son moment in the book is a dark Tear Jerker where we're supposed to sympathise with Jr. In the film it's meant to be one of Sr's Awesome Moments and we're supposed to root for him.
    • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Harry is shown a photograph of the original Order of the Phoenix by Mad-Eye Moody. Harry finds it disturbing, especially since so many of them died shortly after it was taken. In the film version, Sirius shows Harry the photo instead and it's a more tender scene - with Sirius reminiscing on the people he misses.
    • Same movie changes context of Sirius's famous "the world isn't split into good people and Death Eaters". In the book Harry suspected Umbridge is a Death Eater because of her cruelty, and when he told Sirius about his suspicions he answered with said quote, meaning that Death Eaters aren't the only evil in the world. In the movie Sirius says it when Harry is doubting himself, and the quote is supposed to mean that no one is realy Pure Good or pure evil. Ironically substituting "Evil" with "Death Eaters" makes the quote opposite of the original meaning since it suggests that Death Eaters are all the evil in the world.
    • In the book Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry asks if Voldemort can feel his Horcruxes being destroyed, saying "they're pieces of his soul", but Dumbledore responds that Voldy has been separated from his fragments for so long that he can't feel them. In the film of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Ron instead says "they're pieces of his soul", but instead arguing that Voldemort should be able to feel their destruction, which in the film he does.
  • In the novel Brideshead Revisited, Julia marries Rex Mottram over her family's objections, exemplifying her independent, rebellious spirit. In the movie, the marriage is the family's idea, and Julia's acquiescence demonstrates how subjugated she is to them.
    • In the book, Charles's cousin Jasper warns him off of Anglo-Catholicsnote  in general, saying "they're all sodomites with unpleasant accents". In the movie, Jasper makes a similar remark, "Sodomites, all of them!", in specific reference to the Roman Catholic Sebastian and Anthony Blanche. Thus a piece of rhetorical bigotry becomes a specific comment on the characters' sexuality.
  • In Michael Crichton's book Jurassic Park, Dr. Grant is told he's witnessing a baby Velociraptor, which he responds to with wonder. In the film Jurassic Park, he responds to that with disapproval, angry that the scientists would clone such a dangerous species.
    • Returning babies (or eggs) to their parents is a frequent tactic in the film, with the parents leaving with their offspring afterwards. In the book Tim and Lex try the same thing with a baby raptor (the same one seen by Grant) and the adult raptors appear to take it in... before eating the baby alive.
  • The Gasmanís name in Maximum Ride. In the book it was because he had an iffy digestive tract causing him to fart a lot, in Max Ride: First Flight itís because heís good with machinery - in particular explosives.
  • In Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the Hatter complains about his watch being two days off. He, in fact, has a special watch which indicates the day of the month rather than the time of day. In the Disney version, the Hatter still uses a version of this line, but it's turned into a humorously nonsensical objection to the White Rabbit's ordinary watch.
  • Game of Thrones: Jon Snow saving Sam from Alliser Thorne's bullying is changed in the series. In the books, it's purely Thorne's pettiness that motivates Thorne to order the other recruits to beat on the weaker Sam, and when Jon unites everyone against Thorne, it's a triumphant moment in which the recruits stand up to Thorne's tyranny. In the show, the scene doesn't end there and Thorne angrily counters this defense of Sam, pointing out that going easy on Sam is counterproductive, as when they get out in the field, none of the enemies will show him such mercy. The show takes Thorne's side and portrays his Training from Hell as tough, but necessary to survive in the Night's Watch.
  • In the Wicked book series, Elphaba and Nessarose have a younger brother named "Shell". Their mother died giving birth to him. In the musical adaptation it's mentioned that Melena died giving birth to Nessarose, not Shell. Shell was one of the several characters that was Adapted Out.
  • The novel The Princess Bride has a frame story narrated by an adult looking back nostagically at his childhood (as represented by the times his father used to read him the story-within-the-story The Princess Bride), and he gets in a few cynical zingers about what he's learned from growing up. The movie The Princess Bride has a more hopeful frame story, about a child being read The Princess Bride for the first time, but some of the cynical zingers are retained and given to characters in the inner story: Westley says "Life is pain... anyone who tells you differently is selling something" when he's angry at Buttercup for (he thinks) abandoning him, and Miracle Max, who's become very cynical after his mistreatment by Humperdinck, gets the line about True Love being the greatest thing in the world except a good sandwich.
  • The Name of the Rose: the novel's title is ambiguous, as it ends with the lines "Stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus / the rose of old remains only in its name; we possess naked names." The film makes the title explicit; the "rose" is the peasant girl that Adso loved, but whose name he never learned.
  • Starship Troopers opens with a monologue about why the narrator "always gets the shakes before a drop." Rico is delivering it and mentions that a doctor explains it as the same kind of excitement a race horse has before being let out the gate; Rico's inner monologue then concludes that he's really shaking because he's scared shitless every time he drops. The movie Starship Troopers: Invasion opens with the same lines; a new character gives the monologue and claims it's because he's excited, like a race horse.

  • The U2 song "Pride" is about the power of individuals to effect social change, with particular reference to Martin Luther King Jr. In the movie Moulin Rouge!, the lyrics get changed from "one man in the name of love" to "one night in the name of love", and the song becomes a seduction ballad.

Professional Wrestling
  • In an exception to their usual stance on Gimmick Matches, CMLL B Show Universal Pictures Propaganda Event - Hulk el Hombre Increíble changed The Hulk and Abomination's battle in the climax of the 2008 movie into a sanctioned street fight.

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
    • In the radio series and book adaptation, Arthur tries to tell Marvin about a glorious sunset he's just watched, to which Marvin replies "I've seen it. It's rubbish." In the movie, Marvin says this about a video recording.
    • The original radio version has Arthur convincing Prosser to hold the bulldozers while he goes to get a drink. In the book, Ford not only performs this act, he also convinces Prosser to lie down in front of the bulldozer as a guarantee that it won't destroy Arthur's house. The former version makes Arthur look a bit eccentric, but the latter showcases Ford's alienness.
    • When the Vogon captain asks Arthur and Ford what they thought of his poem, Ford is the one who, surprisingly, says, "I liked it!" It's even more surprising in the book, however, where the line is said by Arthur, and Ford hasn't even thought of taking this approach. While the original can be taken as just another example of Ford's weirdness and pragmatism, the adaptation shows how Arthur's unfamiliarity with the world he's been thrust into gives him a fresh perspective and allows him to think of things Ford wouldn't.

  • Some productions of Macbeth move the Porter's Act II humorous soliloquy to the beginning as a prologue spoken by one of the three witches, changing it into a dark forshadowing of things to come.
  • Different quartos of Hamlet place the iconic 'To be, or not to be' monologue in different points in the play, significantly changing its implications on the eponymous protagonist's mental state when it is uttered. In one quarto it is used as a more generic philosophic musing, and in another it is Hamlet seriously contemplating suicide, his mental stability in shambles.
  • In the original Richard III, the opening "Now is the winter of our discontent" monologue is Richard lamenting how great the world is right now and what a Card-Carrying Villain he is. In the 1995 film with Ian McKellen, Richard gives the first half as a public speech, appearing to be genuine praise about how great things are in the kingdom now... until he mutters the second half of the soliloquy while at a urinal, rambling about how unfair the world is while metaphorically pissing on his rivals.
  • Tommy was originally a concept album Rock Opera by The Who in 1969.
    • When it was filmed in 1975, they changed who died in the confrontation between Tommy's father and his mother's lover (originally the lover dies, in the film Tommy's father dies.) In both cases the survivors sing the "You didn't see it, you didn't hear it" number to Tommy
    • When it was staged as a Broadway musical in 1993, they rewrote the meaning of the ending so that instead of Tommy insisting you have to work and suffer for the spiritual revelations, you should strive to be normal because that's the best gift. In both cases his disciples reject him with the "We're Not Gonna Take It" song.
    • Some amateur productions of Tommy, particularly those which might have younger or more conservative audiences watching, have staged the "Fiddle About" number as a song about Uncle Ernie taking advantage of the Walkers' trust by using their home for romantic trysts with women, rather than molesting Tommy.
  • The 1936 adaptation of The Children's Hour, These Three, censored the plot. In the original play the accusation is Martha and Karen are a couple, and Karen is cheating on her fiancee. In the 1936 version it's assumed Martha and Joe are cheating. Thus many of Joe's lines are given to Karen, and his anxiety over the concept of his girlfriend cheating on him is transferred to her. The climax and ending are completely different. Instead of Joe leaving Karen it is Karen who didn't believe Joe. The dialogue afterwards between Karen and Martha is considerably less dramatic as Martha is calmly confessing her unrequited feelings for Joe instead of giving a gayngst filled Anguished Declaration of Love to Karen. The ending is a Bittersweet Ending where Karen and Joe reunite but the reputation of their school remains ruined instead of the Downer Ending of the play where Martha killed herself and Karen and Joe stay separated.
  • Les Misťrables swaps the order of a few songs around in the 2012 film:
    • Fantine sings "I Dreamed A Dream" after she's fired from the factory in the stage version. In the film "Lovely Ladies" happens first and Fantine sings it when she's in despair after becoming a prostitute.
    • "The Runaway Cart" takes place after Valjean saves Fantine from arrest onstage, but in the film it takes place just after Fantine loses her job. (In the novel, it happens several years before either of those events, making both the stage and the screen versions examples of this trope to begin with.) Both versions of the scene eventually lead to the reveal that a lookalike has been wrongly arrested in Valjean's place. In the stage version, Javert simply mentions that he's only known one other man as strong as "the mayor," an ex-convict who happens to have just been recaptured; in the film, as in the novel, the earlier cart-lifting incident makes Javert start to suspect that "the mayor" is Valjean, eventually leading to his reporting him, only to learn that "Valjean" has already been caught.
    • Javert's solo "Stars" was originally placed in the middle of Act I, before the time skip from 1823 to 1832, and centered on Javert vowing to find Valjean despite having lost track of him. But early in the London production's run it was moved to a later point, after the time skip; the new context was Javert vowing to find Valjean after regaining track of him for the first time in nine years. The film puts it back in its original placement and context.
    • Éponine sings "On My Own" in Act II of the stage version, after the rise of the barricades and just before she decides to rejoin the battle despite Marius having sent her away. In the film she sings it after the "Rue Plumet" sequence, before the stage version's Act I finale "One Day More," and before she sets off to the barricade for the first (and in the film, only) time.
    • "Do You Hear The People Sing" happens much later in the film than it does in the stage version. Onstage its sung as the students whip up support for the pending revolution; in the film it's sung at the actual beginning of the revolution, as the barricade is built.
  • In the stage version of West Side Story, "Cool" is sung before the Rumble, while "I Feel Pretty" and "Gee, Officer Krupke" are sung afterwards. In the film version, to create a rising "line of tension" with no lighthearted moments after the Rumble, "Gee, Officer Krupke" and "Cool" switch places and "I Feel Pretty" is also moved to an earlier scene.
  • In Perfect Pie Marie's apology to Patsy is thought to herself in a diner in the play, but is said at Parsy's bedside while she's in her coma in the movie. This, combined with her sounding on the verge of tears and kissing Patsy's forehead before she leaves, makes her come across as far more horrified and in the throes of guilt and self-loathing than she did in the play, which implies she left as soon as she was well enough to walk.

Video Games
  • In Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, most animations and lines are kept intact with Frank West using Chuck Greene's place. However, there are a few lines modified for the newer story, yet the animations still fit the context perfectly. For example, Psychopath and CURE member Brandon Whitaker is the one who bombs the arena gates instead of Sullivan in Chuck's outfit. Chuck reacts to the footage with shock and is outraged at being set up while Stacey backs away from him in fear. In Off the Record, Frank reacts to the footage and is outraged at Stacey while she backs away explaining her organization's being set up.
Web Comics
  • Steven and the Crystal GMs turns Amethyst's "I never asked to be made" speech from On The Run into a direct allegory about a child born from an unwanted pregnancy.