Adaptational Modesty

Crafting a quality adaptation can be a tricky process, one that often brings with it many things to consider. Between media, there are not only different techniques, but also different standards about what is acceptable for certain audiences, especially when it comes to nudity or otherwise sexual content.

This is where Adaptational Modesty comes into play. It can involve things like making the revealing outfits of the resident Ms. Fanservice slightly less revealing, or reducing what was a lengthy and detailed sex scene in the original work to a Sexy Discretion Shot. Other times, it can be something as simple as putting clothes on a character in scenes where the character was actually naked in the original material.

It is most problematic if the clothing in question is heavily associated with the character. Taking away or changing it too much leaves them as not having their iconic look. Wonder Woman has had a long history of trying to stay true to her classic look while making the outfit look more practical and protective.

This trope often comes into play with film or television adaptations of literature or comic books, since ideas about what is generally acceptable tends to differ among these media. This usually overlaps with Pragmatic Adaptation, seeing as the human body cannot usually replicate the impossibly perfect shapes of a drawing and physically wearing some outfits either are wildly impractical or would look silly if replicated exactly. Also often invoked when working with child actors, because of laws regarding minors in show business, and producers will want to take extra care to avoid landing in legal trouble.

See the inversion in Adaptational Curves.

Compare Bowdlerization, which is applied to edits applied to the original work. Related to Lighter and Softer and, on a career level, Bleached Underpants. A very specific inversion of Hotter and Sexier.


Anime & Manga
  • The anime adaptation of Basilisk censors some of the scenes where the manga which it was based on featured bare breasts. The most prominent example being a scene in which female ninja Akeginu covers her breasts with a scarf whereas she was topless in the manga. Strangely, a later OP, and a couple of scenes featuring a character naked are redesigned so that we see slightly less of them than was shown in the manga.
  • The anime version of Bleach removed Harribel's Underboobs and made Nelliel's torn-up rags a little bit less torn up so that her breasts and undersides weren't as exposed as they are in the manga. Likewise, Yoruichi and Soi-Fon's Shunko outfits are given an undershirt so they don't show off sideboob, and a couple of scenes featuring a character naked are redesigned so that we see slightly less of them than was shown in the manga.
  • Lupin Family All Stars: A 10-minute animation based on a story in the second Manga volumes.
    • Goemon just slices Lupin's chair apart; in the original, he did both the chair and the sexy puppet show Lupin puts on.
    • There was more Fanservice in the original manga story, especially on Fujiko and Goemon's part; Fujiko wasn't wearing any underwear when Jigen shot her disguise apart, and Goemon spent most of the story in his Fundoshi.
  • In the Sgt. Frog manga, the platoon invents a gun to zap Natsumi with that leads to her wearing a skimpy oni-girl outfit. In the anime, the outfit is still skimpy but the bottom is changed from bikini briefs to a pair of shorts.
    • An episode of the anime from season 1 shows Koyuki hanging upside-down, where the skirt part of her ninja uniform flips over and we see her wearing a black pair of shorts. Had this happened in the manga we would have had a view of her panties.
    • In the manga chapter where Keroro gets ill, Angol Mois transforms into a different, more revealing outfit in order to destroy the Earth. In the anime version of this episode, she stays in her regular outfit.
  • The Soul Eater manga gives main character Maka Albarn many, many panty shots, all of which were removed for the anime. Although by the time the anime was made, the manga had basically stopped doing this.
  • The first anime adaptation of Mahou Sensei Negima!, added clothes (usually swimsuits) to nude scenes and reduced all the Clothing Damage the series is known for to almost nothing.
  • In the manga version of Seikoku No Dragonar, Avdocha the Executioner wears nothing but a metal snake-thing that's coiled around her to hide her naughty bits. In the anime, she wears a sort of tribal bandeau and skirt.
  • Fairy Tail is full of fanservice in both the manga and anime version, but the anime is somewhat tamer as it leaves out things like panty shots, naked asses and some sexual actions like Natsu grabbing Lucy's bare boobs. It also cuts longer fanservice scenes (unless they're very plot-relevant) from the broadcast episodes and use them for OVA's in which the series can get away with riskier things.

Comic Books
  • The New 52 reboot did this for a number of female superheroes with normally skimpy outfits:
    • Zatanna briefly ditched her trademark fishnets for a pair of leather pants. This new design was quickly ditched for one closer to her classic look, fishnets and all.
    • Black Canary kept her stockings but was given a more segmented, armored top meant to seem more practical than her usual leotard. In Birds of Prey #19, she says that they might look like fishnet stockings, but they're actually kevlar-mesh leggings.
    • Power Girl was given a new costume that not only gave her pants, but also removed her iconic Cleavage Window. Like Zatanna, fan outcry resulted in the new costume being done away with in favor of a return to her classic look.
    • Poison Ivy, who used to sport little more than a bikini made of foliage, now wears a full body stocking.
    • Carol Ferris, one of the Star Sapphires, now wears a fully clothed uniform with black cloth where her exposed skin used to be.
    • In a partial reboot in 2015, Starfire is finally getting an outfit that better lines up with her outfit outside of comics (see Western Animation and the page image.)
  • Prior to this, Wonder Woman had been given a complete overhaul in J. Michael Straczynski's short-lived Continuity Reboot. The new Wonder Woman outfit featured a leather jacket and a pair of pants to make her seem more "modern", but both of these elements were ditched for the New 52 relaunch of the series.
    • Going back to the New 52, Wonder Woman was supposed to have her bikini bottoms replaced with a pair of pants, however, general grumbling about all the changes in so many of the costumes led to DC caving and reverting Wondy back to her original look. This, in turn, annoyed another group of fans, who felt like Diana was a little too dignified to run around in such a skimpy outfit. It didn't help that the first image was from her Justice League look, which wasn't as well received as how she would have looked in her solo series.
  • Perhaps to better sync up with her more modest film counterpart (see below), Gamora from the Guardians of the Galaxy was redesigned to sport a suit of black and white body armor after the Marvel NOW! relaunch. Prior to that, she was well known for her Stripperific outfits.
  • Marvel Adventures sees Black Cat's uniform modified to get rid of her Absolute Cleavage and Tigra trade her biniki in for a one-piece.

Films - Animated
  • Both GoGo Tomago and Honey Lemon is Big Hero 6. In the comics, GoGo’s costume in the comics consisted of a black bodysuit, a metallic corset which had no purpose other than propping up her breasts, and a thong made of the same material and Honey‘s outfit in the comics includes a crop top exposing Absolute Cleavage and her midriff with skintight pants, as shown here. In the film, both wear more practical armor and Honey never shows more skin than anyone else.
  • In Justice League: War, Wonder Woman sports a faux-turtleneck look complete with sleeves.

Films - Live Action
  • Amongst the changes to the Gor series for the films, the Beautiful Slave Girls go from naked (or very revealing clothes) to wearing bikinis.
  • In the X-Men films the main team wear black leather costumes that, while maybe tight, are generally covering the entire body. Other mutants tend to wear either casual street clothes or punk attire. This is all in contrast to the spandex, leotards and/or stripperiffic outfits that many characters use in the comics. The exceptions are Mystique, who is actually less modest as they made her technically nude (naughty bits covered by her mutation) under the concept that she couldn't shapeshift her clothes, while her comic/cartoon counterparts typically wear something skimpy (Interestingly, in the comics, her clothes even in her true form are also just made by her shapeshifting.), and Emma Frost in X-Men: First Class (in which her classic look is almost restored; she wears what looks like lingerie in most of her scenes). Storm is especially notable since most of her costumes either resemble leotards or bikinis, while her movie costumes rarely show any skin.
  • In the Guardians of the Galaxy comics, Gamora is a Green-Skinned Space Babe who usually wears what could best be described as the space equivalent of Red Sonja's gear. In the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, her costume was heavily redesigned to incorporate a pair of pants and more covering on her torso.
  • In Sin City, exotic dancer Nancy Callahan does not dance with bare breasts and vulva as she does in the graphic novel, at the request of Jessica Alba, who plays her.
  • In the John Carter of Mars novels, Mars has a nice climate and the inhabitants don't bother with clothes much; visual adaptations (including John Carter and The Asylum's Princess of Mars) always give them at least enough clothing to avoid trouble with the censors.
    • In John Carter, Deja even feels the need to state that she feels that the skimpy wedding outfit she wears wasn't her idea and that she considers it vulgar.
  • The cinema adaptation of Ian Fleming's James Bond story, Dr. No, had this problem in filming the iconic scene where Honey Ryder comes up out of the sea and walks up the beach. As generations of short-changed Bond fans have pointed out, in the novel she is stark buff naked. In the film, Ursula Andress has to wear a bikini to meet the social conventions of early 1960's movies.
  • In 300, plenty of people found something to joke about with the Spartans wearing leather speedos, but that was a step up from the original graphic novel where often they were completely nude (reflecting Greek art in depicting warfare).
  • The 1968 Planet of the Apes movie had the wild humans wearing loincloths, while they were nude in the book.
  • The Big Sleep has Phillip Marlowe interrupting a porn shoot and finding a naked girl. Obviously this wouldn't fly on film in the 1940s, so the movie gets as daring as it could by putting her in a nightgown.
  • In the book Enders Game, the kids are frequently casually naked, though it's devoid of any sexual context. This includes Ender's introduction to Petra (who he doesn't notice is a girl), meeting the slobby Rose De Nose, and Ender's fight with Bonzo (who specifically strips because Ender is naked from showering, so Bonzo will make the fight even.) In the film of the book, all the nudity was cut out, along with the kids being made older.
  • Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away has the Water Bowl segment from Zumanity, an adults-only show, which is made safe for a PG movie via 1) dropping the nudity and 2) changing it to a turn for a solo female performer, whereas onstage it's performed by a female duo.
  • In Darren Aronofsky's accompanying graphic novel of The Fountain (which was released at the same time as the film, but started before it), Tommy and Izzy are both naked when they're seen together in the spaceship, and their sex life is depicted in a bit more detail than it was in the film; in particular, Brother Tomás is explicitly shown making love to Queen Isabella in the scene where she gives him her ring, and there's a flashback scene to the first time that Tommy and Izzy made love that didn't make it into the movie.
  • In the 2004 live action film adaptation of Cutey Honey, the heroine's main outfit looks more like an armor than the skin tight unitard of power that she wears in the original manga, and the few portions of visible skin are covered with a flesh colored undershirt. It makes no sense considering that the original suit wasn't that revealing (only her shoulders and cleavage are exposed) and the actress playing her, Eriko Sato is a swimsuit model and even appears in some parts of the film wearing only underwear. This looks more blatant when compared to the animated opening a la Re: Cutie Honey, where drawn Honey wears a suit that barely covered her.
  • In Flowers in the Attic Chris catches Cathy admiring herself in the nude in the bathroom. Specifically they're both noticing that she's finally got breasts. The TV film has her just wearing her underwear (probably because actress Kiernan Shipka was the same age as the character while filming). Likewise Chris's rape of Cathy is changed to a kiss and implied consensual sex.
    • The 80s film is technically this as well. Cathy is merely in the bath and Chris is only sitting in the room with her, not notably checking her out. Their actual Brother-Sister Incest is left out of the movie completely.
  • In The Lovely Bones before Susie is murdered, she is raped by Mr Harvey - in graphic detail. The film omits the rape completelynote  - apart from one line about another of Harvey's victims "he had only wanted to touch her", which could imply some form of rape. But it's left ambiguous.
    • Also just before Harvey disposes of the safe with Susie's body in the sink hole, Ruth allows Susie to inhabit her body and have sex with Ray before she moves on. The film changes it to just a kiss between Susie and Ray.
  • Very delicately played with in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, regarding Wonder Woman's appearance. Strictly speaking, it's a very close approximation of her iconic outfit, except with different coloration and looking more like armor. But several key differences make it into this trope. Her actress, Gal Gadot, has a much more modest bust than the comic version and that leaves the costume as not looking like she is being "strapped down." Instead of a skirt or leggings she still has a swimmer's cut on her legs, but with flayed strips of fabric to hide the seams. And instead of putting on shoulder straps for the bustier she is wearing a sword sheath on her back that wraps around her, creating a similar look while not changing the core appearance.

Live-Action TV
  • Game of Thrones is no stranger to nudity; however, this has occurred several times.
    • Scenes in Qarth do not depict the custom of women wearing gowns that expose one breast, as described in the books, mainly because this would have been way too distracting.
    • They also mention that several scenes in the first season, such as a clear case at Daenerys' wedding where a man is having sex with a woman Right Through His Pants, was done because they were worried that they might violate public decency laws in Malta, the filming location.
    • The scene where Bran witnesses Cersei and Jaime having sex in the first episode of the series is changed from both characters being naked to them being covered up, partly out of consideration for Bran's underage actor and partly because Lena Headey is one of the few actresses in the show with enough clout to insist on a no-nudity clause in the first season.
    • A scene where Catelyn and Ned Stark are naked and Talking in Bed is changed to them both being clothed.
    • Due to laws about child nudity, a scene where Sansa Stark is stripped naked is changed to just having her dress ripped (with the implication that it would have gone further had Tyrion not intervened). Tyrion also spares her from having to undress on their wedding night; in the book, he doesn't back off from consummating the marriage until everyone's naked.
  • Arrow
    • Black Canary's trademark fishnet stockings are replaced with a pair of leather pants. The second Black Canary takes it a step further, taking the original Canary's cleavage baring corset top and replacing it with something more like a turtleneck.
    • Huntress is given a more modest outfit as well. This is hilariously lampshaded when she poses as a stripper... wearing the costume from the original comics.
  • In Power Rangers, though they're People in Rubber Suits and not very sexy to begin with, characters like Jellica from Power Rangers Jungle Fury often have more boob-coverage than their Super Sentai counterparts. Necrolai from Power Rangers Mystic Force almost always has her arm in front of her chest. However, human villain Nadira from Power Rangers Time Force has a more revealing outfit; mostly the same but with midriff bared, and bare legs instead of stockings, whereas her counterpart, Mirai Sentai Timeranger's Lila, was designed with an eye toward not being as Stripperific as recent past villainesses.
  • The failed Wonder Woman pilot for NBC originally had the heroine wearing a pair of rubbery blue pants, but outrage from the fanbase led to the inclusion of a more comic-accurate version of the iconic costume. A third option, a pair of pants that were darker and not as rubbery was received a lot better from several groups (both those that disliked the first pair and those who want Diana to have a costume that's a little more dignified than her typical swimsuit look,) but clearly sticking with that made too much sense.
  • The live-action Witchblade series did away with the Clothing Damage aspect of the titular Instant Armor.
  • In Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, the skirts of the Sailor Senshi are much longer than the ridiculously short mini skirts the Sailors wear in the manga and anime.
  • In the Generation X TV-movie, Emma Frost wears an almost-modest white strapless corset-like top, and usually has white suit jacket over top of that.

  • Zigzagged on the Three Graces, on how they were portrayed over time. For instance, they were initially nude during the Classical Era, then they were covered with sheets in The Middle Ages, then Botticelli's Primavera portrayed them with transparent underwear, and finally nude again by the 17th century.
  • Poked at with the mock Saturday Morning Cartoon of Watchmen, where Dr. Manhattan (typically nude in the graphic novel and movie) is given some briefs to wear. It's all part of the absurdity of trying to make a famously dark story Lighter and Softer.
  • It's commonly believed among biblical scholars that Jesus was naked on the cross. But just try to find a painting that depicts him that way, even from the permissive Renaissance period that gave us Michaelangelo's David.
    • Averted in the highly controversial Die Kreuzigung Christi (1888-1891) by Max Klinger.
  • In Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book, Mowgli goes about naked in the jungle, as is made clear not only in the text but also by some illustrations, including the early ones produced by the author's father, John Lockwood Kipling. However, in many later illustrations and pretty much all adaptations into comics, animation or live-action film he is shown wearing a loincloth.
  • For the Super Hero Squa toyline and related media, any female character wearing clothes had their costumes modified to cover them up more.

Video Games
  • In LEGO Harry Potter, Harry wears underwear when taking a bath in the Prefects' Bathroom, while he was naked in the book. Justified because in this version, Myrtle shows up before he undresses rather than surprising him when he's already in the water.

Western Animation