Adaptational Sexuality

Dennis Hensley: The book is extremely explicit and in some places very homoerotic. Has that been toned down?
Dana Delany: Yeah, it's very much a heterosexual island. It's too bad, because Anne Rice has a great homosexual following, but I think Garry Marshall is aiming for a Middle-American audience. There are two things I think about this: In movies, I think, people only want one lover — they want the hero and they want the heroine. They get confused otherwise, even though that's reality.
Movieline interview for Exit to Eden.

Elements of a character changing when a work is adapted from one medium to another is an extremely common occurrence. Nice Guys might turn into Jerkasses, platonic friends might become love interests, an ally might become an enemy, etc.

One of the most controversial ways of changing a character (much like a Race Lift, and for similar reasons) is to alter their sexuality. This could mean making a homosexual character straight, giving a sex life to someone described as asexual, making a straight person gay or bisexual, or any combination or variation of the above. It's debateable whether establishing a gay orientation for a character with a previously-unknown sexuality counts - presumably, "I'll just tell the missus I'll be home late tonight" would slide right by for a minor male character whose marriage wasn't established in the source material, but would raise eyebrows for a female.

Sometimes a form of Bowdlerization, when the change is made to appease Moral Guardians or to avoid controversy. Compare Hide Your Lesbians and Promoted to Love Interest. Not to be confused with Situational Sexuality.

NOTE: If a character (most importantly if s/he is based on a Real Life person) is merely speculated to have a certain sexuality and a depiction does not follow that, it does not count as this trope, even if said speculation has been generally accepted as fact through Pop-Cultural Osmosis.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Classi 9: In real life, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s homosexuality is a known fact. Some expert even made it one of his reasons behind his semi-permanent depressive disorder, and his brother, who was also gay, discussed it in his biography. In the manga, he is bisexual, or possibly pansexual, as he doesn’t care about someone’s gender so long as they are weak enough to be attractive to him.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • In the manga, Kunzite and Zoisite's sexuality was never addressed but there is a piece of artwork Naoko Takeuchi made whilst hashing out plot points that were eventually dropped that shows Zoisite and Sailor Mercury and Kunzite and Sailor Venus embracing. In the anime however Kunzite and Zoisite are Yaoi Guys (and in the DiC dub "Zoycite" is a woman). Also Fisheye was never into guys in the manga, again showing romantic interest in Sailor Mercury, but chased men in the anime and once more became female in The '90s English dub.
    • The Cloverway English dub of the original anime did this to Haruka (Amara) and Michuru (Michelle). In the Japanese version and later dubs they are unrelated and an Official Couple. The dub changed them so that they're cousins. In combination with that, the dub edited a scene so Michelle mentions her first kiss was with a boy named Brad and Amara also mentions being attracted to boys. Michuru is Ambiguously Bi but her kissing a boy was nowhere in the Japanese version. The dub, however, accidentally made the cousins come off as gay or bisexual anyway (though with a Kissing Cousins slant) because their scenes together are still heavily romantic even with dialogue changes.
  • This happens to Juri Arisugawa in Revolutionary Girl Utena. In the anime series, she's a closeted lesbian who is secretly in love with her childhood frenemy Shiori Takatsuki, whereas in the manga (which was a simultaneous project, despite beginning serialisation before the anime started airing) she's straight and in love with Touga Kiryuu except in that version, she actually has a torch for Ruka and just sees Touga as a stand-in in Ruka's absence; incidentally, Shiori doesn't even exist in the manga. Part of the reason for this seems to be that Juri in the manga is a combination of Juri from the anime and Nanami (who is in love with Touga and a Clingy Jealous Girl much like manga!Juri) making her something of a reverse Composite Character. Meanwhile, in The Movie Juri is once again in love with Shiori, and in the movie-manga and Light Novels, her sexuality is never specified either way. In interviews, Chiho Saito said that since the manga was shorter, she wanted to keep the story as focused on Utena as possible, so she decided Juri's love triangle couldn't be as separate from the main character as it was in the anime.
  • In the anime adaptation of Spice and Wolf, Lawrence's male friend Yarei is changed to the female Chloe, with implications that they've been romantically involved. This can lead to possible Ho Yay for fans who saw the anime before reading the novels or manga.
  • Prince of Stride: Takeru Fujiwara was a straight bachelor in the dating visual novel the anime is based on. In the anime he has been changed to gay, with no romantic interest in the heroine, and is instead heavily implied to have feelings for Riku... As well as any man with attractive and muscular legs.
  • Tokyo Mew Mew's Minto was clearly into Zakuro, but she was more Bi the Way and also showed attraction to a couple of guys. When making Mew Mew Power, the translators for 4KidsEntertainment realized that there was no way they could write around the lesbian subtext between the two characters, and apparently decided that having Corina be gay would raise fewer eyebrows than having her be bisexual. So while they toned down Corina's romantic feelings toward Renee where they could, they excised any hint that she might have feelings for anyone else, most notably in a scene where the Mew Mews were imagining their ideal man; Mint's imaginary boyfriend was replaced with an image of Renee.

    Audio Drama 

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 

    Film 
  • Barbarella: The Black Queen in the comic books is a Psycho Lesbian who only shows interest in getting it on with Barbarella and ignores Pygar. She was changed to a Depraved Bisexual for the movie, still showing interest in Barbarella but also Pygar, even having dreams about him, which suggests she prefers him to Barbarella. Barbarella is not adverse to female attention herself in the comics, but she's clearly not interested in the Black Queen in the film. She's also openly promiscuous, but in the film has to be coaxed into sex (though is quite eager once she experiences it for the first time). This is Played for Laughs however.
  • Confirmed for Gaston's Comic Relief sidekick LeFou by Word of Saint Paul in the Live-Action Adaptation of Beauty and the Beast (2017). Josh Gad even admitted to being proud of playing the first openly gay Disney character. How "open" he comes across is up to viewer interpretation in the actual movie.
  • The gay, unnamed protagonist of Truman Capote's novella Breakfast at Tiffany's (whom Holly calls by her brother's name, 'Fred') becomes the film's straight love interest Paul. Famously referenced in Seinfeld, when George's attempt to bluff through a book club meeting, having only seen the film, fails spectacularly when his girlfriend has to tell him, "George... Fred's gay."
    • Capote's unmade script for the The Great Gatsby would've had Nick as a closeted homosexual and Jordan as a vindictive lesbian.
  • In the novel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Rebecca Gillies was a passive-aggressive Alpha Bitch who was setting her claws on Mark Darcy. In the film version, she was changed to a nice Brainy Brunette with a crush on Bridget.
  • Cabaret: Christopher Isherwood's autobiographical collection of short-stories Goodbye to Berlin never hide the fact that the protagonist was gay, but when they adapted it into the film they turned the main-character bisexual, had him hook up with the cabaret singer Sally and had them being the official couple for the majority of the play, with a token mention of his attraction to men at the beginning and the end of their relationship. This apperantly pissed off Isherwood to the point that he wrote Christopher and his Kind in an effort to (pardon the pun) set the record straight. This book was given a movie adaptation in 2011, staring Matt Smith. Watching the two movies back-to-back is actually a really good case-study of the LGBT-movement's progress in the last forty years.
  • In Tennessee Williams' 1955 play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Brick's friend Skipper killed himself after drunkenly confessing his love, and Brick's own feelings are rather violently conflicted and ambiguous. The 1958 film strips out this aspect, which some critics have suggested leaves the central conflict of Brick's character somewhat muddled.
  • The documentary The Celluloid Closet was supposed to feature a sequence detailing Biopics where the subject was known to be gay or bisexual, but was nevertheless portrayed as straight. It was cut due to rights issues. Some of the films meant to be featured were:
    • The Agony and the Ecstasy: Charlton Heston denied the film rights because he insisted that his portrayal of the famous sculptor Michaelangelo as straight was historically accurate.
    • Alexander the Great, starring Richard Burton.
    • Hans Christian Andersen, starring Danny Kaye (the filmmakers were denied the rights to this because the studio mistakenly thought the documentary would claim that Kaye was gay, rather than Andersen).
    • Night and Day, starring Cary Grant as a straight Cole Porter.
  • The first film adaptation of the play The Children's Hour, These Three, changed the story of two teachers having their lives ruined due to rumors that they are having a lesbian affair to rumors that one of them slept with the others' fiance. This is because The Hays Code outlawed even the slightest hint of homosexuality. Even the title had to be changed (to These Three) because the stage play was so well known as a work that dealt with lesbianism. There were other changes as well such as Martha not being Driven to Suicide.
  • The Color Purple did not include the lesbian relationships detailed in the book.
  • Ron Woodroof, the straight homophobic protagonist of Dallas Buyers Club, was likely bisexual in real life.
  • The film Emmanuelle portrays the titular character's mentor, Mario, as ostensibly straight. In the original novel, upon which the movie was based, Mario was bisexual, with a strong inclination towards other men.
  • Fried Green Tomatoes portrayed the relationship between Ruth and Idgie (which is quite clearly a lesbian union in the book) as friends, with strong implications of Les Yay.
  • Get Carter: Peter the Dutchman is a misogynistic homosexual in the book.
  • The Handmaiden: In the Fingersmith novel Gentleman was gay, and his interest in Maud was entirely monetary. His movie equivalent Fujiwara has an overwhelming desire for Hideko.
  • The Robert Wise version of The Haunting (1963) has a female character who is implied, but never outright stated, to be attracted to women. The Haunting (1999) remake makes the same character openly bisexual.
  • Shows up from time to time in the James Bond franchise:
    • The film version of From Russia with Love eliminates Rosa Klebb's scene from the book of outright trying to seduce Tatiana. In the movie Klebb plays uncomfortably with Tatiana's hair while talking of "a labor of love".
    • Pussy Galore's lesbianism is downplayed in the film version of Goldfinger, where she merely tells Bond she is "immune" to his charms. Tilly was also a lesbian in the book and in love with Pussy, but is depicted as purely heterosexual in the film.
  • The biopic Killer Nurse depicted serial killer Charles Cullen as a necrophiliac, despite there being absolutely no evidence he was one in real life.
  • The film adaptation of David Gerrold's autobiographical novel Martian Child had the openly gay Gerrold played as straight by John Cusack, giving him Amanda Peet to flirt with.
  • In the One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Harding was as heavily implied to be gay as was possible in 1960s literature, depicted as effeminate and forced into the asylum for unnamed sexual acts, and getting a long speech about the ridiculousness of the society that condemned him. In the movie, however, he's reduced to a background character who gets at most three lines, which might not count as this trope if not for the fact that his appearance is totally different - and far more masculine - as well. Book readers usually don't even recognise him until the nurse uses his name.
  • The Other Boleyn Girl (both the film and the book) portray George Boleyn as gay. In real life he was a notorious womaniser due to his shrew of a wife. In the book he is having an affair with a male courtier while in the film it is mostly subtext, his wife challenging him about why he never sleeps with her.
  • In a The Picture of Dorian Gray adaptation, Basil was played by a woman.
  • In Power Rangers (2017), Trini the Yellow Ranger is hinted to have been in a relationship with another girl, and the movie's creators have said that she's at a point where she's questioning her sexuality. It is confirmed that she's not straight, at least.
  • Supposedly, the producers wanted to remove all homosexual allusions from the film adaptation of Queen of the Damned, so Louis (Lestat's long-suffering fledgeling) wasn't included in the movie despite playing a fairly pivotal role in the book, and Lestat was given a female love interest in Jesse (who showed absolutely no interest in him in the book).
  • In Rope (the original play) Brandon, Philip and Rupert were explicitly gay. In Alfred Hitchcock's film adaptation (which was made in 1948) it was reduced to subtext between Brandon and Rupert with Brandon also referring to a past relationship with Janet implying he's possibly bisexual.
  • In Saving Mr. Banks, absolutely no mention is made of the fact that, during the time of the film's events, P.L. Travers was engaging in an openly lesbian relationship with her live-in girlfriend, and the girlfriend in question is never once seen.
  • In the movie of A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche's story about her ex-husband's suicide changes from homosexuality (as in the play by Tennessee Williams) to "weakness".
  • In the film adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Peter Gulliam is portrayed as gay, and though he was never said to be explicitly straight in the novel it's never elaborated on. Not that it makes much of a difference in either, since his sexuality is relevant to anything for all of six seconds. Word of God for the movie is that they made him gay because the idea of him being closeted fit in well with the themes of secrecy and concealment throughout the entire story.
  • The Tomie films portray the title villain as a Depraved Bisexual who has several Schoolgirl Lesbian lovers. This is in sharp contrast to the manga, where Tomie outright hated other girls, and was very contemptuous and territorial around them.

    Literature 
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe:
    • Some of the Missing Adventures portray the Doctor (mainly shown as asexual in the classic series) as bisexual or omnisexual. For instance, the First Doctor Missing Adventure "The Plotters" involves a sequence where the First Doctor gripes about the outrageously gay King James I's interest in his crossdressed female companion over him, acting jealous and complaining that on his home planet "I had been considered quite a looker". The "Shada" novelisation also gives the Fourth Doctor a few lines that allude to him having an interest in men, such as saying the villain is trying to kill "[Clare and] all the other lovely girls. And all the lovely boys".
    • The original pitch for rejected book Campaign would have made Ian bisexual through placing him in a romance with Alexander the Great - the pitch document even specifies that "his feelings about bisexuality could provide a good forum for modern viewpoints, seen through a Sixties mentality". The book that eventually got written is so far removed from the original pitch that these elements were excised except as backstory, with the only remaining parts being Alexander calling Ian 'my beloved', and a scene where Ian talks to Susan about how beautiful he found Alexander, saying that he got drunk with him and 'gave him my all'. Both of these happen fairly early on in the story when it's still possible it could be a pure historical and are soon abandoned once it goes into a metafictional Jigsaw Puzzle Plot - possibly even subverting this trope as it turns out the more important relationship Ian had on Alexander's campaign was with a Persian Queen who seduced him, while the Alexander relationship is firmly restricted to innuendo and Susan being Shipper on Deck. (Ian does get involved in a married relationship with another version of himself in the Great Fire of London, though this is influenced by Law Of Narrative Causality and it probably isn't gay if it's with yourself.)
    • The Target novelisation of "Power of the Daleks" goes out of its way to give Lesterson, who in the serial was Married to the Job and seems to display a mild sexual fascination with the Daleks if anything, a crush on Janley that he tries to ignore. It seems to be mostly there so Janley's beauty can be described through Lesterson's internal monologue.
    • The Target novelisation of "Invasion of the Dinosaurs" makes Professor Whitaker into a giggling Sissy Villain implied very heavily to be gay (such as gushing over how when he masters time travel he will collect Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward from history to keep to himself, and saying admiring things about the physique of the tied-up Doctor). His onscreen portrayal was not at all like this.
    • The novelisation of Shada also gives Named by the Adaptation Victim of the Week David an internal monologue where he thinks about going to a gay club and worries that being a Cilla Black fan is a bit stereotypical. Part of the reason he gives the Villain of the Week a lift is because he finds him attractive.
  • In the Tomoe Gozen Saga Jessica Amanda Salmonson re-imagines the title character as a lesbian.

    Live Action TV 
  • Chuck Bass of Gossip Girl is a Depraved Bisexual in the books, but is straight The Casanova in the TV series.
  • The NBC sitcom Love, Sidney made waves when it was first announced, as it would be the first major television show to feature an openly gay main character. However, the show later faced criticism from the gay community because aside from some very subtle Sub Text, Sidney's sexuality was never mentioned outside of the pilot (a TV movie based on a short story by Marilyn Cantor Baker).
  • ITV's Poirot (1989) and Marple (2004) make some of the exclusively straight cast members gay, for example in Five Little Pigs, The Body in the Library and Cards on the Table (in the last one it was done to at least three characters). In A Murder Is Announced, a subtle lesbian subtext in the original novel is made much more explicit.
  • Irene Adler, who is straight in the original Sherlock Holmes canon, is a self-professed lesbian in Sherlock, though she does suffer from If Its You Its Ok where Sherlock is concerned.
  • In Pretty Little Liars, Emily Fields went from bisexual in the books to a lesbian in the television series, likely to avoid the Unfortunate Implications of the former, where she ends up with a guy.
  • Honorable mention: prior to Starz taking on co-production duties, the UK series Torchwood was farmed around to the Fox network. It was reported in the media that had a Fox series been made, the pansexual character of Captain Jack Harkness would have likely been rendered straight for the series. Not surprisingly, the Fox deal fell through and soon after not only did cable network Starz get the rights, but the subsequent season ramped the sexuality (and the gay aspects of Jack's character) Up to Eleven.
  • The ITV adaptation of Christopher Brookmyre's Quite Ugly One Morning turned gay police officer Jenny Dalziel into the (male) main character's love interest—an odd and unnecessary move, considering his actual love interest from the book wasn't even Adapted Out (though her role was significantly reduced).
  • Amanda from Lost in Austen gets Trapped in Book Land, specifically in Pride and Prejudice. Miss Caroline Bingley is a closeted lesbian in this version. (True, there are some Les Yay moments in the book when Caroline gushes about how perfect Miss Darcy is, but it's done mostly for Mr Darcy's benefit.) Her coming out to Amanda was triggered by Amanda's 'Sorry, I'm Gay' gambit on Bingley who found her refreshing and was hitting on her, but she shipped Bingley/Jane which is consistent with Jane Austen's pairing. Amanda wonders what Miss Austen would have thought and whether she had any idea who she had created in Caroline Bingley.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Once Upon A Time reimagines Mulan as a bisexual woman who is in love with Aurora.
    • The show's vision of Red Riding Hood was also revealed to be bisexual after she formed a relationship with Dorothy Gale.
  • Arrow:
    • Nyssa al Ghul (Nyssa Raatko in the original comics) is a lesbian. More significantly, she was in a relationship with Sara, the first Black Canary. This would indicate that Canary is likely either bi or pansexual in the show, though the creators avoided putting an exact label on her sexual orientation. In the original comics, Black Canary is generally depicted as heterosexual and the longtime lover of Green Arrow, though longtime writer Gail Simone has stated she considers Canary to be bisexual, even if it's never been made canon. (Although, strictly, the Canary who was in a relationship with Nyssa isn't the series's version of Black Canary from the comics, but her sister.)
    • Michael Holt (Mr. Terrific in the comics) is gay, with a husband. In the comics, his primary motivation as a hero was the death of his wife.
  • Gotham:
    • James Gordon's fiance, Barbara Kean, is reimagined as a bisexual woman who used to date Renee Montoya.
    • The Penguin has romantic feelings for the Riddler.
  • Francis Urquhart from the original House Of Cards is heterosexual, while his Transatlantic Equivalent, Frank Underwood, is bisexual.
  • Jeryn Hogarth is a straight male in the comics, but in the Jessica Jones live-action show, Hogarth is Gender Flipped into a lesbian woman.
  • Clarke Griffin from The 100 is straight in the books, but bisexual in the TV series.
  • Eretria is bisexual in The Shannara Chronicles, flirting with Amberle at one point, and having a past relationship with a Canon Foreigner villainess.
  • Riverdale: Moose in Archie Comics has never been presented as anything but straight. In Riverdale he is sleeping with Kevin behind his girlfriend's back and hiding his bisexuality due to being an athlete.
    • In the reboot comics, Jughead's asexuality was a core defining trait of his character. In the show, not so much.
  • In the Legends of Tomorrow episode "Camelot/3000", Queen Guenevere regards King Arthur as a good friend and has a Big Damn Kiss with Sara Lance.
  • The Handmaid's Tale: Ofglen is a lesbian here, and was in a same-sex marriage. Her sexuality is not mentioned in the book at all.

    Theater 
  • For the stage adaptation of High School Musical, Ryan was made gay. In the film he is Ambiguously Bi at most, being very flamboyant and fitting many gay stereotypes yet falling for a female character.
  • A Very Potter Musical has the Scarf of Sexual Preference in addition to the Sorting Hat. Scarfy declares Harry to be metrosexual and Ron to be bi-curious.
  • Mozart's first true opera, Apollo et Hyacinthus is based on a myth involving a gay love triangle (Apollo and Zephirus are both in love with Hyacinthus). Rufinus Widl, the librettist who adapted the myth for Mozart, didn't think this would go over well with an eighteenth-century audience, so in his adaptation Apollo and Zephirus are both in love with Melia, Hyacinthus' sister, while Apollo's just best friends with Hyacinthus.
  • In the Reduced Shakespeare Company's Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play (abridged), which blends characters from all the Bard's works, Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing and Kate from The Taming of the Shrew end up together. When Richard III has his hump temporarily cured by magic and becomes Richard II, he becomes gay (a reference to claims about the earlier Richard by Thomas Walshingham) and starts a relationship with John Falstaff.

    Webcomics 
  • In Arthur, King of Time and Space, Sir Kay (noted for his boorish behavior towards women in the original stories) is in a relationship with Bedivere in the contemporary and space arcs (in the baseline arc, he's still noted for his boorish behavior towards women, explaining in one Fourth Wall Breaking strip "Yeah, like we're going to be openly gay in the Middle Ages. We probably don't even realize ourselves.") And contemporary and space Tristram is still in the canonical relationship with Isolde ... only Tristram's female.

    Web Original 

    Web Video 
  • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a Setting Update of Pride and Prejudice. Colonel Fitzwilliam in the book likes Elizabeth a lot and flirts with her, which might make Mr Darcy a bit jealous. Fitz Williams in this vlog version is gay, and he and Lizzie become great friends. The authors did lots of changes for this adaptation (set in the modern-day USA, they had very diverse cast with Age Lifts and Race Lifts). Word of God claims that they didn't want to involve Fitz in any romantic plot lines and therefore decided to give him a boyfriend. It worked.
  • In Lovely Little Losers, a loose modernized adaptation of Love's Labour's Lost, two of the main male characters are a gay man and a bisexual man, and theirs is the main romance of the story. It probably goes without saying that that was not the case in the 16th-century play.

    Western Animation 
  • Young Justice depicts Beast Boy's mother Marie Logan as a lesbian. It's only mentioned in the tie-in comic series and Word of Gay. The closest thing to a hint in the actual series is the fact that Marie apparently doesn't have a husband or boyfriend and was vulnerable to Queen Bee's mind control, which only happens to those who are attracted to women, which was unfortunately how she died when Queen Bee used it between seasons to make Marie commit suicide.
  • Static Shock. Richie/Gear is based on a character from the comics who was gay, though he didn't share that character's full name. He was portrayed as straight during the series but declared gay by a writer some time after it ended.
  • Word of Gay from Greg Weisman stated that Irma Lair of W.I.T.C.H. was supposed to be a lesbian, though the only real hints towards this was Irma's suggestive hand positioning when she passes out with Cornelia in one episode and the fact that, by the end of the series, Irma's the only one without a boyfriend.
  • In Freedom Fighters: The Ray, Ray Terrill is gay, drawing on the Ray of Earth-10 in The Multiversity over his straight pre-Flashpoint version.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AdaptationalSexuality