Adaptational Nice Guy

This trope is when a character is made nicer (or at least a bit more sympathetic) in an adaptation than they were in the source material. For instance, a character who is a Jerkass in the source material becomes a Jerk with a Heart of Gold or even a Nice Guy in the adaptation of said material.

While there may be some overlap with Adaptational Heroism, the key difference is that the character doesn't necessarily become heroic if they were villainous or neutral in the source material, and doesn't make them more heroic if they were heroic in the first place. Characters affected by this trope will generally stay on their respective alignments (whether good, evil, or neutral), but they will become a bit more approachable in the adaptation.

Its inverse is Adaptational Jerkass.

A subtrope of Adaptation Personality Change. Compare Took a Level in Kindness (which is basically what this trope does to a character in an adaptation), and by extension contrast Took a Level in Jerkass.

Examples:

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    Multiple Media 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Doraemon: Nobita in the Wan-Nyan Spacetime Odyssey: While he is by no means a full-blown Jerkass, in the manga, Hachi acts more hostile to Nobita and the gang and even scolds Duc for nearly revealing their secret by pulling his tail, and only acknowledges Nobita as his friend after the drill incident. In the movie adaptation, he befriends Nobita after the chase scene, and even going as far to wish him luck in his quest to find Ichi right in that moment. He does retain his distrust at the gang at first regarding their secret in the movie though— however, the scene of him pulling Duc’s tail was cut from the movie.
  • Dragon Ball. The English dub tends to increase Goku's more noble aspects while downplaying his more selfish side present in the Japanese version, such as valuing fighting a stronger opponent over the safety and wellbeing of others. Furthermore, Akira Toriyama himself has stated that even the Japanese version of the anime severely downplayed Goku's selfish aspects, which may or may not be why those aspects are notably more emphasized in Dragon Ball Super (made a few years after Toriyama's comments on Goku's characterization).
  • Elfen Lied: While still a murderous Villain Protagonist, Lucy is considerably less sadistic and Ax-Crazy in the anime than in the manga, where she was prone to Evil Laughs and Slasher Smiles while literally tearing people to shreds.
  • Little Witch Academia: In the OVAs, Diana is a fairly jerkish Academic Alpha Bitch who is prejudiced again Akko for not being from a magical family, never misses a chance to berate her for lack of skill when it comes to magic, and refuses to help her when there's nothing for her to gain. In the TV adaptation, Diana is helpful to the other students and a very hard worker when it comes to learning magic, while her criticisms of Akko comes from a genuine (if slightly condescending) desire that she be a better student.
  • Pokémon:
    • Generally speaking, any Pokémon species that's sinister, a jerkass, or insanely violent even by Pokémon standards in the games, can and will get those traits toned down or outright omitted in the animé. Dark-type Pokémon (which includes the likes of Tyranitar, Hydreigon, and Hoopa Unbound) get hit with this more often than not.
    • Clair's anime personality is far nicer than her game one.
    • This happens with Gladion:
      • In the Pokémon Sun and Moon games, Gladion is an enforcer for Team Skull who is incredibly abrasive in conversation and a perfectionist in battle due to being disowned by Lusamine as a result of not wanting to follow her example. While his counterpart in the Sun and Moon series has shades of these traits, he is also shown to have a more noble attitude towards his relationships with people; such as treating Ash in a more friendly manner and fighting off Team Rocket and the recurring Team Skull grunts.
      • He also doesn't seem to have any relation to Team Skull and has a different reason for running away from home, which may imply the anime version of the character may be an even more morally-gray rival than his video game counterpart.
    • Misty gets this treatment in the English dub. In Japan, she was very narcissistic in Kanto (especially before she got Togepi) but the dub toned her down.
    • Both Charizard and Pikachu get this treatment in Pokémon: I Choose You!. In the main continuity, Charmander lost his respect and loyalty towards Ash when he evolved into Charmeleon and it takes a long time for Ash to earn its respect again. In I Choose You, he keeps his friendly personality even after evolving. On Pikachu's part, he kept his original personality from before the Spearow attack, however he lost most of his other bratty or jerkish moments from the Original Series.
  • This happens with Silver in Pokémon Adventures. His game counterpart from Pokémon Gold and Silver is the most Jerkass rival thus far, literally pushes you around, and is mean to his Pokemon prior to his Character Development. Silver in the manga is aloof but not as confrontational or aggressive.
  • School-Live!: The anime changes The Reveal that Megu-nee has been Dead All Along and Yuki hallucinates her presence to happen much later than it did in the manga, and has Miki be a character from episode 1 instead of being rescued early on (thus adding her into certain scenes and having certain chapters become flashbacks). To avoid spoilering Megu-nee's death the anime removed all of Miki's confrontations with Yuki and Rii early on, making her a far more subdued character.
  • Aquarius in Fairy Tail was a virtually through-and-through Jerkass who belittled, threatened, and sometimes even attacked Lucy whenever the two appeared together, with just a few Pet the Dog moments to show that she wasn't totally heartless. The anime adaptation sprinkled in a few more kind gestures towards Lucy and toned down her harsh attitude, particularly in the Filler arc leading up to her Heroic Sacrifice in the manga's next major arc, which helped make the scene more poignant.
  • The film version of A Silent Voice had to remove a lot of scenes and elements in order to fit the story into such a short timespan. Kawai in the manga is an Academic Alpha Bitch and a narcissist, while Satoshi is a violent Bully Hunter. The film had to tone down or remove these elements.
  • Saint Seiya's Saori Kido was often a cruel Jerkass to the Bronze Saints charged with protecting her during her younger years and was not above manipulating Seiya. In the movie Saint Seiya: Legend of Sanctuary, all of her negative traits have been removed in favor of making her into a Plucky Girl. She is seen being far nicer even at a young age, as she used her power to heal Seiya after he protects her from a feral dog.
  • Knuckles in Sonic OVA. Compared to how Knuckles of the games was usually portrayed back then, he's pretty much just close friends with Sonic and Tails, and there is no hinted animosity past or present.

    Comic Books 
  • While still antagonists, Jem and the Holograms toned down The Misfits compared to the original Jem. Their antics are a lot less outlandish and they no longer get away with obviously criminal or career ruining things, like destroying property every other episode. While they still can be mean, the comic puts much more emphasis on their friendship and Hidden Depths. Jetta in particular also changed fom the least sympathetic Misfit who barely cared for her band to a rather nice ladette.
  • Unlike a crapton of other characters in the Ultimate Marvel universe (including Betty Brant), J. Jonah Jameson in Ultimate Spider-Man underwent this, as he was more reasonable, ultimately realizing that Spider-Man is trying to help, and starts trying to better Spidey's public image. And unlike when he learned it in Civil War, when this Jonah learned Peter is Spider-Man, he not only rehired Peter, he wanted to pay for Peter going to college and refused to act against Miles Morales.

     Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • In Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, George and Harold are still pranksters, but are given more heroic moments compared to their borderline-Designated Hero counterparts. That being said, they're also still Anti-Heroes who do have their less-than kindhearted moments...
    • While Mr. Krupp is still a Dean Bitterman, he is given a Freudian Excuse of secretly being lonely rather than just plain cruel like the books. George and Harold secretly set him up on a date with the lunch lady that he has a crush on during the ending, which improves his mood dramatically and even causes him to give the kids the comics that he's confiscated while admitting that he found them funny.
  • Coraline: In the book, the cat is extremely egotistical and aloof, only helping Coraline if he happened to be in the area anyway and if helping her didn't hinder him in any way. In the film, he's her Mysterious Protector and Servile Snarker, often going out of his way to watch over her, warn her against and save her from the Other Mother even when she's very rude to him.
  • DC Universe Animated Original Movies:
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • The Fox and the Hound: In the novel, Tod intentionally lured Chief to the tracks to be killed. In this adaptation, it was a genuine accident on his part.
    • Hercules:
      • By modern standards, the Hercules of Greek Myth wasn't exactly a paragon of heroic virtue though Values Dissonance is in play here as well. He killed more than one innocent person simply for being too close when his temper got the better of him (although he was always remorseful when this happened), and he would go stage a HUGE war for a mere verbal insult one day, although he did go to great lengths to help his friends and his deeds did the world a lot of good. The fact that his volcanic temper was usually the result of Hera's doing is also a big factor. The Hercules in this movie is a wide eyed boy scout who doesn't have many, if any, vices. The worst thing he does is lash out at Phil for trying to warn him about Meg being in league with Hades, but he immediately comes to regret that.
      • Anyone who knows their Greek mythology knows that Zeus is a self-righteous, womanizing jerk and rapist. Here, he's pretty much a cross between Grandpa God and Bumbling Dad who certainly loves Hercules and stays loyal to Hera, making his status as a Top God of Mt. Olympus and Big Good of the series a lot more plausible.
      • Hera herself is this. She is just as mercurial and tempermental as Zeus and made A LOT of problems for Hercules by giving him plenty of moments of unstoppable anger (though she stopped when he saved her life). Here, she's as kind and caring as Zeus. Probably helps that Hercules is her biological son here.
    • In the original The Jungle Book, while Baloo genuinely loved Mowgli, he was a Stern Teacher to the man-cub who did not shy away from Corporal Punishment to discipline him. In Disney's The Jungle Book, he's a laid-back Big Fun character who would never hurt Mowgli.
    • Pinocchio:
      • Pinocchio lacks the mean traits of his literary counterpart.
      • Geppetto was clearly a loving father in the book, but rather mean and grumpy. Geppetto is far nicer and better tempered in the film.
    • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: While still a heroic character, book Quasimodo was much more asocial and inclined to violence, displaying a softer side only toward Frollo and Esmeralda due to them being the only human beings to treat him somewhat decently. This incarnation pretty much is a Nice Guy with no resentment​ or animosity toward anyone.
    • Eeyore in the original Winnie-the-Pooh books is a Deadpan Snarker and has the tendency to guilt-trip his friends into feeling sorry for him. The Disney cartoons omit this side of his personality, making him more of The Woobie.
  • While still somewhat insensitive in How to Train Your Dragon, Gobber is nicer in comparison to his book counterpart, who was a great deal nastier.
  • A behavioral example with Mr. Peabody in Mr. Peabody & Sherman. In the original cartoon, he was a strict and distant authority figure towards Sherman, and considered himself Sherman's master, not his father. He also treated Sherman like his pet and lowly assistant rather than his son.
  • The Peanuts Movie: Snoopynote  and the kids are certainly nicer to Charlie Brown than they were in the strips or TV specials (with the exception of Lucy, who is as much of a jerk as always).note  Probably a case of Society Marches On as the sort of behavior and circumstances Charlie Brown endures would be even less funny in the time of the film's release.
  • Disney Fairies: Vidia in the animated films is rude at worst. In the books she's much, much meaner and is a Token Evil Teammate.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Amazing Spider-Man, Flash is a much nicer guy than in the comics and the previous films. When Uncle Ben dies, Peter goes sullen and violent in his grief, and when he gets violent at Flash, Flash just takes it and then asks, "Feels good, doesn't it?", implying that he has gone through something similar.
  • Zigzagged with the Beast in Beauty and the Beast (2017). On one hand, his animated portrayal imprisoned Maurice as soon as he found the old inventor at the fireplace, while this version of the Beast leaves the man alone until he tries to steal a rose. On the other hand, in this version it's the servants who give Belle a room, rather than the master.
  • In Elektra, Stick is a nicer, more caring person than the cynical hustler who put Matt through Hell while training him.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • The movie version of Bobby Drake is much sweeter and more mature than his comic book counterpart's Jerk with a Heart of Gold/Manchild persona.
    • In The Wolverine, Harada is far less of a Jerkass than his comic counterpart, who is a foreigner-hating bigot.
    • Logan's version of Zander Rice is nicer than his comics counterpart. They both see Laura as a weapon, but comics Rice also delighted in torturing her and went out of his way to make her life pure hell. (Now, movie Rice is utterly without mercy and a strong contender for the worst villain in the film franchise. However, comic Rice is known for a level of sadism-for-its-own-sake that isn't to be found in movie Rice's Pragmatic Villainy.)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: In the books the titular wimpy kid is a huge Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist. In the movies, many of his Kick the Dog moments are removed and others are made more justified by the circumstances. Because of this, Greg's rivals (Patty, Chirag) act worse in order to make Greg's actions more understandable.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Master Pakku is a sexist prick who initially refuses to teach Katara water bending and only warms up when it turns out Katara is his ex-fiancée's granddaughter. In The Last Airbender, Master Pakku immediately accepts both Aang and Katara as his students without any hesitation.
  • Punisher: War Zone:
    • The Bulats serve as normal Russian criminals types, and Cristu is also a smuggler in New York City though Tiberiu is referred as being a Retired Monster. In the comics they were former war criminals who became human traffickers.
    • Pittsy and Ink are now father and son rather being those two henchmen and serve as Jigsaw's good teammates. In the comics they were equally as unhinged as their boss in the comics, Nicolas Cavella.
    • Finally, Maginty is now the gang leader in a Urban Freeflow Gang who do their thing with Le Parkour. In the comics he was involved in a gang war where he kidnapped an elderly former "cleaner" for the Irish Mob and made him slowly slice up a living rival.
  • The version of The Joker in Suicide Squad (2016) actually seems to genuinely care for Harley and even pushing her out of a helicopter to save her life when he goes crashing, though Joker being Joker, he survives.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit:

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Sansa Stark doesn't do things like calling Arya cruel names, such as "Horse-face", the way she did in the novels.
    • Tywin Lannister is a Magnificent Bastard Pragmatic Villain Jerkass who mistreats his own children in both versions, but his scenes with Arya in Harrenhal in the show bring out a softer and paternal side that's not present in the books.
    • Arya Stark has warmer relationships with Gendry, Hot Pie and even Sandor Clegane than she does in the books.
    • Loras Tyrell is much more mild-mannered and level-headed than the arrogant hothead of the books, as shown by his sympathy for Sansa and his intention to be a decent husband instead of simply treating her with empty chivalry as in the novels.
    • His sister, Margaery Tyrell, became nicer and friendlier to Sansa in the show where after her planned engagement to Loras was foiled by Tywin, who decided to have her wed to Tyrion. Margaery comforted her and reassures her that marrying Tyrion might not be bad. However, her book counterpart shuns Sansa after the plot to marry her to one of her brothers fell through out of political necessity (though still feeling bad for her), with only her Adapted Out middle brother, Garlan the Gallant, continuing to interact with her in a meaningful way.
  • Gotham sees Victor Zsasz as an Affably Evil merc for Carmine Falcone and the Penguin rather than the homicidal Ax-Crazy maniac of the comics.

  • In 13 Reasons Why, while Clay does undergo Adaptational Jerkass, he also does more in getting justice for Hannah than he did in the book.

    Podcasts 
  • The Film Reroll version of Frozen skips the entire subplot where Hans tricks Anna into falling in love with him, making him come off as less of an emotionally-manipulative jerkass, but he's still the main villain of the story and still tries to kill Elsa at one point.

    Video Games 
  • In Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, this happens with Obed Marsh. In the original story (The Shadow Over Innsmouth) Obed was implied to have been a Card-Carrying Villain who summoned the Deep Ones to Innsmouth purely out of Greed and who was willing to give them whatever they wanted in exchange for their gold. His journals in the game make him out to be more of a Well-Intentioned Extremist, who only summoned the Deep Ones in order to save his dying city and then had to keep working with them because breaking the deal meant they would slaughter his people. His descendants are still just as evil as they ever were, though.
  • In South Park: The Stick of Truth, this happens with Cartman. In the cartoon, he's always been a racist asshole who only looks out for himself and uses others to get what he wants, but in the game, Cartman is the first one to befriend you and provides tutorials for your character to defend yourself from enemies.
  • Subverted in South Park: The Fractured but Whole, where Cartman (as The Coon) is your mentor figure for most of the game and is the one who unlocks classes. He's eventually revealed to be the true villain of the game (via his Mitch Conner persona) and leaves your party permanently in the final day after it's revealed he kidnapped your parents (and eventually forces you to kill one of them).
  • In the original Mega Man (Classic), Doctor Wily the Big Bad wants to Take Over the World with his robots because he wants to get back at Dr. Light for being Always Someone Better. In Mega Man Battle Network, Wily is still a resentful villain (perhaps even more so), however he was close friends with Dr. Hikari Sr. (Dr. Light's counterpart), and he also took time to raise a child of his friend when said friend goes to war, and he also disapproves of his son's actions, as he's an even worse Big Bad than Wily.
  • The Joker (Or as he's currently known, John Doe) of all people gets this treatment in Batman: The Telltale Series. He seems to genuinely consider Bruce his friend, and also admits to him that he's in love with Harley Quinn, whom he usually doesn't give a crap about in other continuities. At the end of the second episode of the second season, if Harley is left behind, John will be visibly distressed, and demand to go back to help her.
  • BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle did this for Weiss Schnee. In the web series, she was introduced as a cynical, arrogant, spoiled and somewhat racist girl who looked down on almost all of her peers before Character Development kicked in and evolved her into a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. In her announcement trailer at least she is shown speaking in a much softer tone and believes that teamwork is the only way to success.

    Web Original 
  • Freeza gets this in Dragon Ball Z Abridged. He's still a genocidal tyrant, but he shows much more care and concern for his higher-ranking minions than his canon counterpart ever did.
  • While Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series made Kaiba more of a jerk, the Season 0 adaptation goes the other way, making Kaiba a creepy-looking but otherwise friendly Nice Guy, to contrast Season 0 Yami. Naturally, Kaiba being a nice guy ends up being such a dramatic contrast from his usual characterizations that it winds up disturbing everybody.

    Western Animation 
  • Avengers, Assemble!: Captain America's father is shown here to be a good parent, judging by the photo of him and a young Steve fishing together. In the comics, he was a drunk, a wife beater, and generally an unpleasant person.
  • Since Baby Looney Tunes is a show meant for little kids, the Looneys are much sweeter and innocent than their adult counterparts.
  • DuckTales (1987):
    • The series' incarnation of Gladstone Gander isn't as self-centered and smug as the comics version. Instead of gloating about his luck to his relatives, his flaw is relying on his luck to solve all his problems.
    • The cartoon's version of Scrooge Mc Duck is also more sentimental and jovial than his comic book counterpart who, while not a Jerkass outright, is far more acerbic and has a history of unscrupulous moments.
  • In Justice League Action, while she's still a villain, Killer Frost is nicer than her other incarnations, especially compared to Justice League, Young Justice, and Batman: Assault on Arkham.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), this happens with this incarnation of the Shredder, where his love for his daughter, Karai, is very genuine. The problem is that he has rooted himself so deep in his hatred toward the Hamato Clan, even his love for his daughter doesn't seem to matter, culminating in her mutation, which he still blames on the Hamato Clan despite him being the one using her as bait for the trap that did it.
  • Teen Titans Go!: In stark contrast to the rest of the Titans, who are much meaner than in the previous series, Starfire became far nicer, to the point of being Stupid Good.
  • This was put on display in the Thomas the Tank Engine special The Adventure Begins which was a readaptation of some of the earliest stories of the The Railway Series books and TV series:
    • Thomas is far more idealistic and innocent than he was in his debut novel in where he would play tricks on the other engines and is something of a Bratty Half-Pint.
    • Henry is far more meek and gentle, and his hatred of the rain is treated more as a phobia (in the books he was merely pompous about getting his paint spoiled, if you don't go by the theory that Henry was actually having mechanical issues that day and had stopped in the tunnel to cover them up).
  • X-Men: Evolution:
    • Compared to his — shall we say, controversial comic-book counterpart, Scott is kind to his friends, likable, and much more unambiguously heroic in this series.
    • Due to the series' changes to certain character's ages, Wolverine never falls in love with teenage Jean Grey, and therefore never has the heated rivalry with Cyclops that is the cause for much of his Jerkass behavior in the comics (though the two did briefly have a leadership struggle). Also, while he always was fond of young mutant daughter figures, it would take decades of Character Development for him to be anywhere close to willing to play father figure with Storm and Xavier for an entire group of mutant children before any school for gifted youngsters or superhero team was properly established.
    • Sabretooth is more reasonable and plays well with others, as opposed to being completely Ax-Crazy.
    • Avalanche is a much more sympathetic character, as well as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. He acts as Kitty Pryde's major love interest and even has a brief stint as a member of the X-Men before returning to the Brotherhood of Mutants.
    • Apocalypse is a Well Intentioned Extermists trying to help mutants.
  • The Sonic Boom incarnation of Eggman is still a villain who antagonizes Sonic and friends, but rather than having the plan to Take Over the World he is more of a Punch-Clock Villain doing it to cause random mayhem for the lulz. He occasionally helps Sonic without any ulterior motives, gives Tails advice on girls, and even befriends Amy after they find a common interest. This is especially in contrast to Shadow the Hedgehog, who went from a reasonable Anti-Hero to a Jerkass who harasses Sonic for petty reasons.
  • In the comics, Miles Morales's father, Jefferson, detested people with super powers and only warmed up to his son's alter ego some time after learning it was Miles. In Marvel's Spider-Man, he's okay with both Peter and Miles's alter egoes from the start.
  • DC Animated Universe:
    • Batman: The Animated Series:
      • Several villains whose comics incarnations were essentially doing things For the Evulz gained sympathetic motives or personalities. The Mad Hatter originally had no backstory in the comics, but was introduced in the series as a victim of Love Makes You Evil; minor gimmick crook Mister Freeze's reimagining as an Anti-Villain was so successful it was later imported into the comics, albeit with Darker and Edgier elements.
      • The Crime Doctor was introduced in Detective Comics #77 as an outright villainous character. The B:TAS episode of the same name turns the character into a sympathetic figure, a good-intentioned doctor who helped his brother (crime boss Rupert Thorne) in the hopes that the latter would use his influence to restore his medical license.
    • Justice League Unlimited:
      • Huntress is a more heroic figure after she resolves her issues with Mandragora.
      • The Cheetah, Wonder Woman's arch-enemy, is instead a Tragic Villain who only desires to become normal again and desires no role in evil whatsoever.
      • Ultra-Humanite is an Affably Evil Anti-Villain who never hurts an innocent rather than the insane conqueror he's usually portrayed as.
    • Static Shock still sees Hotstreak as a Jerk Ass supervillain and Static's Arch-Nemesis, the show omits his white supremacist leanings. In fact, he works with multiple non-white villains without issue.

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