Adaptational Jerkass

Regardless of the medium, characters are introduced and established as having certain traits and, as such, the fans of those works expect those characters to adhere to them. If they're The Hero's trusted friend in the novel, the film adaptation should convey that as well.

But wait — why is the hero's trusted friend from the novel, suddenly giving him the cold shoulder in the motion picture? Why is the faithful Love Interest from the manga two-timing him in the anime? And the Lovable Rogue, who gives to the poor in the television series, only cares about lining his own pockets in the Made-for-TV Movie. They weren't like that before, so what happened?

The answer is: the character has suffered from Adaptational Jerkassery, the narrative equivalent of Taking a Level in Jerkass.

Whatever the reasons, the writer(s) has seen fit to change the character's original postive portrayal, to make them more of a jerk. Perhaps the character was a Jerk with a Heart of Gold in the original work, but the adaptation failed to convey the "heart of gold" aspect. Thus, turning them into a total jerk. Or it could be due the adaptation being Darker and Edgier than the original, and the character's portrayal was changed accordingly.

However, while there may be some overlap with Adaptational Villainy, the key difference here is, the character isn't necessarily villainous. In many cases, they're still on the good side and can range from being a Comedic Sociopath, to an Anti-Hero, or just The Friend Nobody Likes.

Because of the nature of the trope, it's obviously related to Took a Level in Jerkass and by extension contrasts with Took a Level in Kindness.

A subtrope of Adaptation Personality Change.

Its inverse is Adaptational Nice Guy.

Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Amy Rose from the Sonic the Hedgehog games was a lot nicer earlier in the series, but in Sonic X, she is short-tempered, aggressive, violent, and downright nasty to others, most especially in the third season. This personality in the anime bordered to the games later on, but it is toned down.
  • Downplayed in Blazblue Alter Memory: in the original games, Jin is already quite a Jerkass, but he still has a soft spot for his Childhood Friend Tsubaki. Here, that soft spot is gone.
  • DD Fist of the North Star has Toki, who does have jerkass tendencies in comparison to his original counterpart who is Kung-Fu Jesus and a Nice Guy. DD has Toki attempting get a job as a part-timer in Ryuken's store, and will use any means to get the job, such as having Raoh arrested for murdering Jyuza.
  • In Kirby, King Dedede, while he's a lazy and rather greedy king whose "royalty" is questionable, he can be a pretty good guy every now and then who helps Kirby saving the day. In the Kirby of the Stars anime, Dedede is more of a jerk who wants to "clobbah dat dere Kirby" almost every episode and treats other people like crap.
  • Sailor Moon: Rei is an Aloof Dark-Haired Girl in the manga, but in the first anime adaptation, she is Hot-Blooded and often picks fights with Usagi. Rei is very prone to insulting Usagi, much more than the other way round and in many cases without provocation or reason other than teasing Usagi. Despite their bickering, they're still the closest of the senshi (in the manga Rei is closer with Minako than Usagi). The Dic dub takes this a step further. Rei is made even meaner to Usagi, losing almost every little hint of strong companionship they have in the original version.
  • Pokémon:
    • This is utilized with several Gym Leaders. Many, most notably Lt. Surge, Erika, and Skyla, are egotistical Jerkasses with a condescending demeanor towards their challengers (or, in Erika's case, towards those who don't appreciate the perfume her gym makes). Pryce is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who is cold towards Pokemon due to a misunderstanding with his Piloswine long ago, although he does get better when the Piloswine is found and the situation explained. In particular in the games, Pryce is a perfectly pleasant and decent man, Erika is a laidback Ojou, and Lt. Surge, while cocky in the games, isn't nearly as mean about it as he is in the anime (being a Type 2 Eaglelander instead of a Type 1). All of them make friends with the heroes in the end.
    • Misty downplays this more than the others, as her anime counterpart is a tsundere with a temper (though she calms down once Togepi enters the picture) while her game counterpart doesn't seem to be that way. The English dub also toned down her narcissism compared to the Japanese version.
    • In Japan, Gary and Ash are friendly rivals, and Gary is respected. The dub has Gary be far more hated in general and he is a jerk towards Ash. This makes him more in-line with his game counterpart, Blue.
    • Iris in the games is very peppy and nice; however in the anime, while heroic, her Catch Phrase is telling Ash that he is "just a kid" due to his immaturity (despite being the same age as him) and she's brattier than in the games.
  • Pokémon Adventures: Norman, the protagonist's father in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. In the games, Norman is a kind, gentle person who respects his child's wishes and would most likely not use physical violence. In the manga, Norman is a lot meaner and beats up his son for disobeying him. Despite his harshness, he is on the side of good — he is genuinely supportive of Ruby.
  • Killua is an Anti-Hero in all versions of Hunter × Hunter; however, in the 1999 anime adaptation, there are more allusions to his dangerous Creepy Child nature from the get go.
  • Girls und Panzer has a few examples from the manga adaptation:
    • An odd example comes with Anchovy, since the manga was released before the anime showed her match with Oarai. In the anime, Anchovy's competitive but fairly good-spirited, and after losing, invites the Oarai crew to eat with her and the people who set up the match. In the manga, she starts off by accusing Miho of having a "weak" way of tankery, and at the end, accuses Miho of costing her old school the championship by abandoning the flag tank.
    • Erika is a Jerkass in the anime, but mainly to the extent of being snide and condescending toward Miho (for example, in the finals, saying that Oarai must be weak if she became its commander). In the manga, between the semifinals and the finals, Erika flies over to Oarai, confronts Miho, and angrily accuses her of not just costing them the victory, but abandoning them in their time of crisis, and vaguely insinuates that Miho traded her vice-captaincy of her old school for captaincy of her of her new school. She's significantly more vicious and angry in that scene from the manga, and leaves Miho in tears at the end of it.
  • Leon MacNicol in the Bubblegum Crisis OVA was supportive of the Knight Sabers. Leon in the Tokyo 2040 remake considers the team vigilantes and a blight on the AD Police.
  • Sonic in Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie is more easily annoyed and angered than his portrayal in the games.
  • In the Advanced Variable Geo series, Yuuki is shown to be a Good Samaritan who protects other women from muggers and rapists, but the OVA adaptation nearly makes Yuuki out to be a rapist, herself, by having her sexually harass Satomi during their fight.

    Comic Books 
  • Sonic the Hedgehog is a heroic, laidback character in the games, and at the time of Sonic the Comic comics was written in western canon as being a Totally Radical Mascot with Attitude. But in here, he's a bullying, immature Jerkass, especially with the way he treated Tails. Despite caring for his friends, he really has a hard time showing it.
  • Jem and the Holograms:
    • The Misfits are still the antagonists and still not nice girls (except Stormer), but it's slyly demonstrated that each of the band stands solely on their own. Pizzazz's temper is even worse, and feels she literally cannot trust anyone in her life. Roxy and Jetta aren't down each other's throats anymore, but they'd just as easily laugh if one was the butt of a joke. Pizzazz, Roxy, and Jetta still gang up on Stormer, but Stormer is actually more likely to snark back at them, insult them and even scream at them, unafraid to stand up to even Pizzazz. Clash in the cartoon also wouldn't have tried to seriously injure, or outright murder, Jem like that.
    • At the same time though, this is inverted as their softer sides and Hidden Depths are more present. Jetta went from the Token Evil Teammate to being calm and relatively nice (especially towards Roxy, who she's best friend with in the comics but is enemies with in the cartoon). A lot more emphasis goee into giving Pizzazz's Hidden Depths focus. She has a lot more moments of sincerity, happiness, and vulnerability. In one issue she actually listens to Stormer's wants to do a ballad and ends the issue on a middle ground. She'll allow a ballad on the next album, not the current one. In the cartoon scene that was inspired by Pizzazz outright just shredded the lyrics because she doesn't like "soft" songs.

     Films — Live-Action 
  • In Fantastic Four (2015), Johnny comes across as a cocky, spiteful, and combative individual — and unlike his comic counterpart, he doesn't get to show his devotion to his friends and family. Even his quip toward Ben (calling him "the Thing nobody wanted") comes across as mean-spirited instead of playful teasing (which is made worse by the fact that Ben in this movie was scarred by bullying growing up). The only justification he has is that he suffers a bit from perceiving himself as a "Well Done, Son!" Guy, but even then, he doesn't make an effort to learn anything that his father tries to teach him.
  • A minor case of this happens during the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. In both the book and the movie, the Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge thinks Dumbledore is planning to turn the Hogwarts students against him. To prevent this, he forbids them from learning practical defensive magic and sends Dolores Umbridge to Hogwarts to enforce this prohibition. Harry and his friends start an illegal study group named Dumbledore's Army, secretly teaching the students how to cast defensive spells without Umbridge knowing. In the book, Dumbledore's Army is willingly revealed by the best friend of Harry's love interest Cho, followed by Harry and Cho having a fight about this in which both sides actually have a point. When Umbridge discovers Dumbledore's Army in the movie, the group is unwillingly revealed by Cho, who is obviously forced to show its location, as she was dragged along by Malfoy. Yet Harry seems to treat it as if Cho willingly did so and alienates her like the rest of the school does, making him look like a bit of a jerk to her.

     Live-Action TV 
  • L from Death Note is subject to this in the TV drama. Though not exactly a hero (with Word of God admitting that he's a bit evil), he usually comes across as A Lighter Shade of Grey when compared to Light, and a few spin-offs (namely the film L: Change the World and the light novel Another Note) portray him more sympathetically. The drama, by contrast, draws more attention to the amorality of his actions and he is generally far more smug and arrogant than most portrayals.
  • Several characters in Game of Thrones are subjected to this in contrast from the books:
    • Ellaria Sand is a Nice Girl and an Only Sane Woman in the books who knows that getting revenge against the Lannisters will not bring back her dead lover and his relatives. In the show, she's antagonistic towards her lover's older brother who refuses to participate her revenge against the Lannisters and she even kills him personally.
    • Robett Glover is a loyal Stark bannerman who helped Wyman Manderly in his plot to overthrow the Boltons and bring House Stark back to Winterfell, and - so far as we know - isn't bigoted against the Wildlings. In the show, he refuses to help Jon Snow and Sansa Stark in retaking Winterfell not only because Jon's army had Wildings in them but because he lost his trust on his brother Robb after the Red Wedding and he rudely told Sansa that House Stark is dead. Fortunately, after Jon and Sansa successfully retook Winterfell, he realizes his mistake and apologizes to them.
    • Yara Greyjoy (the show's counterpart to Asha Greyjoy) is rather rude to her brother Theon as she comes off as a Karmic Trickster in terms of her baiting him.

    Video Games 
  • While Shadow is far from a nice guy in the Sonic the Hedgehog games, in Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, he is more of a Jerkass here. He is an abrasive, bullying Jerkass who calls Sonic weak for relying on his friends. His rivalry with Sonic is a lot more antagonistic than in the games as he's only there to fight him for no reason other than to antagonize him.
  • Mega Man Battle Network: Downplayed with ProtoMan.EXE. The original Proto Man in Mega Man (Classic), while aloof, is a supportive big brother figure for Mega Man. In BN timeline, ProtoMan.EXE is considered a rival to MegaMan.EXE because their operators are also rivals, but ProtoMan doesn't take it personally; he's also more willing to scold and even fight MegaMan if it's necessary.
  • Harry Potter himself is a bit of a cartoonish jerk in the LEGO Harry Potter games. For example, during the Dueling Club scene in Chamber of Secrets, he deliberately commands the snake to go after Malfoy, looking smugly when Malfoy flees from it. In the original he merely ordered the snake to stand down. He was also highly amused when he saw Snape being humiliated by his father during the flashback he saw in his Occlumency lessons, while the real Harry was actually disturbed seeing his father act like this.

    Web Video 

     Western Animation 
  • Anyone familiar with Link, the hero of The Legend of Zelda, knows he's near consistently portrayed in adaptations as, and implied in the games to be, a brave, humble, all around heroic person who saves the land of Hyrule and its princess without expecting anything in return. People familiar with Link's other portrayals will probably be surprised that in the The Legend of Zelda cartoon, that came after the NES games, he's the complete opposite. This Link was lazy, self-centered, whiny and is only motivated by getting Zelda to kiss him.
  • In the Witch cartoon, Cornelia is presented as more of a straight Alpha Bitch than the Lovable Alpha Bitch she is in the Witch comics. She's ruder and generally more aggressive. In the comics she is a Bully Hunter but in the cartoon, prior to her Character Development she was The Bully herself.
  • Scooby-Doo franchise:
    • In Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated Scooby is more of a jerk, which adds to the attempt in developing the characters. He gets better, of course.
    • Velma in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated is more cynical, self-centered, vain, and sarcastic, similar to the titular protagonist of Daria. Most of these changes however, are to do with her being written a lot more like an actual teenager would act.
    • Fred has become this in Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!, rendering him into a dimwitted, control freak and an unmasking hog.
  • In Teen Titans, the Titans are straight-laced heroes. In Teen Titans Go!, they regularly display Jerkass behavior, are often Vitriolic Best Buds, and are Heroic Comedic Sociopaths.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine:
    • Gordon in The Adventure Begins comes off as far more antagonistic and rude to Thomas than he was in the original book and the first episode of the TV series "Thomas and Gordon". His trick dragging him along with the express is similarly revenge for Thomas heckling him earlier, however this itself was only in retaliation for Gordon belittling him a fair deal beforehand.
    • The Flying Scotsman seemed relatively humble and respectful in his few speaking roles in The Railway Series, but in his first appearance in the special The Great Race, he's much more pompous and arrogant, has a low opinion on Sodor's engines, and often makes remarks to rile up Gordon, his brother.
  • While Donald Duck has always been a bit irritable, Mickey Mouse (2013) portrays him as rather assholish and more prone to being inconsiderate and insensitive toward his friends.

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