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When adapting an existing character for a new work the character is often altered in transition from the source material. They might become nicer
, more badass
or a lot less badbass
Or they might become smarter. This trope is about taking a character who wasn't particularly
smart in the source material and might even have been The Ditz
and turning them into The Smart Guy
There are several reasons why a character might gain IQ points in an adaptation. Some reasons include:
See also Adaptation Personality Change
, Adaptational Comic Relief
, Adaptational Heroism
, Adaptational Villainy
, Adaptational Badass
, Adaptational Wimp
Compare and contrast Dumbass No More
where a character increases their intellect inside the particular work.
- The Dinobots from the Transformers Generation 1 comics typically are portrayed as smarter and more cunning than their animated counterparts.
Live Action Film
- The Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame makes Esmerelda smarter than she is in the book. In the book, she's very naive and in the film, she's more savvy.
- Most modern adaptations of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory turn Mike Teavee into an Insufferable Genius. He did have a few Jerkass Has a Point moments in the book but was mostly just an excitable TV obsessed little kid. In both the 2005 film and the West End musical adaptation he has been depicted as a jaded computer hacker.
- Get Smart
- In the TV series Get Smart Max was a general purpose bungling idiot who only succeeds by luck and Agent 99's competence. In the film he's genuinely a clever guy and a great analyst, just a klutz who isn't well suited to field work. This was apparently done to make a romantic relationship with 99 more believable as modern audience would not accept someone as buffoonish as the original Max being attractive to a woman as capable as 99.
- Larrabee in the original series is even more of a dunce than Max (he has been referred to as "Max's Max"), whereas in the film he's a jerkass but competent agent.
- In Fantastic Four and its sequel Ben Grimm (also known as The Thing) is a lot smarter than his comic book counterpart (though even in the comic book some writers have explained that Ben employs Obfuscating Stupidity..) For example in Rise of the Silver Surfer he instantly deduces that a picture taken of Silver Surfer arriving in Earth's atmosphere isn't a comet because "the trail is wrong". This is quite apt considering that Ben, like the rest of the Four, is a trained astronaut.
- In Jurassic Park Lex is made older than she was in the book and given knowledge of computer systems. Contrasting, her brother Tim was made younger and loses the computer systems scene, but maintains his knowledge of dinosaurs.
- The Steve Martin reboot of The Pink Panther is predicated on the idea that Clouseau is to some degree employing Obfuscating Stupidity, quite unlike the book character or previous versions in film.
- in Captain America: The First Avenger, Red Skull is upgraded to the head of the Nazi science division; the comics version is no fool, but he's certainly not a brilliant scientist on his own.
- In their brief appearance in Star Trek: The Original Series Orion women are presented as mindless nymphomaniacs. Dialogue from the original pilot even explicitly compares them to animals, suggesting they might not even be fully sapient. The 2009 reboot film gave us a sympathetic and obviously fully intelligent Orion woman as a supporting character whom writer and producer Roberto Orci theorised had escaped to the the Federation via an underground railroad.
- This also occurred in the fourth season of the prequel series Star Trek: Enterprise, in which the Orion women turned out to be the brains behind the Orion Syndicate.
- While Gwen Stacy has always been smart in the comics The Amazing Spider-Man 2 raises her to being an outright brilliant, as smart or perhaps even smarter than Teen Genius Peter Parker himself.
- In the X-Men movie series, Jean Grey was turned into a doctor. Originally, they were going to include Beast as the resident smart guy of the team but when he was removed from the final film, they gave the job to Jean Grey.
- In the original Sleeping Beauty, it took Maleficent sixteen years to find Aurora, because she was relying on her grunts. In her own movie, it takes her about a day, because she sends out Diaval instead.
- In the original film version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy started as a Brainless Beauty who turned out to have Hidden Depths and went through some serious Character Development, leaving her pretty smart by the end of the movie. Not nearly as smart as she was in the First Season of the television show however. TV Buffy, especially in the first few episodes was whip smart, extremely perceptive, a better researcher than Giles and explicitly singled out as having a first class mind by one of her teachers. In fact her brilliance was subtly downplayed in the Second Season to make Giles look less useless.
- In Arrow, Malcolm Merlyn is a clever schemer with shades of Corrupt Corporate Executive; in the comics, Merlyn is merely a Professional Killer with archery skills that rival those of Green Arrow.
- Similarly, Solomon Grundy goes from the Hulk Speak zombie of the comics to a much more articulate Psycho for Hire with regenerative powers thanks to Pragmatic Adaptation.
- The Clock King goes from the doofy version of the comics to a skilled hacker and computer expert.
- In the 2000 Dune mini-series, Irulan is far more clever than she is in the books (in which she's still fairly intelligent - she becomes a respected historian, after all - but otherwise just a typical princess.) In the mini-series, she quickly figures out that her father aided House Harkonnen in its violent overthrow of House Atreides, and actively works to spy on the Harkonnens by sending one of her servants to seduce Feyd.
- The 2013 Dracula television series upgraded Mina Harker from a reasonably smart school teacher to a brilliant, ahead of time medical student.
- Joan Watson in Elementary. Watson in the Doyle stories was competent enough, but as a normal person working with Sherlock Holmes, he frequently found himself Overshadowed by Awesome. In Elementary Joan shows above-average observational skills from the start, and she becomes a competent detective in her own right over the course of the series.
- The TV adaptation of The Walking Dead made The Governor a Dangerously Genre Savvy Manipulative Bastard who knows how to charm his way through people. It helps that he also underwent Adaptational Attractiveness.
- In Batman: The Animated Series, several villains receive intelligence upgrades:
- The Riddler is reinvented as a technological genius, capable of creating advanced virtual reality devices and inventing best-selling, sophisticated toys. He even manages to accomplish all of his goals in his first appearance and get away scott free!
- The aforementioned Clock King becomes a true example of the trope that bears his name, and, like the Riddler, is one of the few villains to escape Batman in their first encounter.
- Inverted with the show's take on Hugo Strange, however, who is far less clever as a manipulator or as an inventor than his Psycho Psychologist and Mad Scientist comics counterpart.
- Slade from Teen Titans is by no mean stupid in the comics, but he is more of a Hired Gun and mercenary more comfortable on the field, and while he can be good at manipulation, there are plenty villains more competent than him. In the Teen Titans cartoon, he is portrayed as a criminal mastermind and the show's biggest Magnificent Bastard.
- In Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Debra Whitman went from a Shrinking Violet in the comics to an intellectual rival to Peter Parker.