Elements of a character changing when a work is adapted from one medium to another is an extremely common occurence. 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 gay character straight, giving a love interest to someone described as asexual note
, making a straight person gay or bisexual, or any combination or variation of the above.
Sometimes a form of Bowdlerization
, when the change is made to appease Moral Guardians
or to avoid controversy. Compare Hide Your Lesbians
. 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 Culture Osmosis
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Anime and Manga
- In the Sailor Moon 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 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 dub.
- 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.
- Colossus of X-Men fame is straight in the 616 universe, but gay in the Ultimate Universe and in a relationship with Northstar, who's gay in both continuities.
- Exiles traveled through many of Marvel's multiversal realities, picking up an alternate-timeline Mariko Yashida (Sunfire), who entered into a lesbian relationship with the Mary Jane Watson (Spider-Woman) of another reality. In the mainstream timeline both characters were or are straight (Mariko one of the most important of Wolverine's deceased love interests, Mary Jane Spider-Man's wife).
- DC has now gone there too, with the all-new version of Alan Scott (the original Golden Age Green Lantern and very much Married With Children in the old continuity) revealed as being in a same-sex relationship on the all-new Earth-2. Word Of God says that this was to make up for the fact that his son Obsidian, who was homosexual, was erased from continuity.
- This is the point of Slash Fic. However, some fan fic authors are vexed by the premise that all characters are straight unless proven otherwise in canon, and they genuinely think that slashing them is consistent with the original works.
- The gay, unnamed protagonist of Truman Capote's novella Breakfast At Tiffanys (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."
- 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.
- 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".
- Shows up from time to time in the James Bond franchise:
- The film version of From Russia With Love eliminates Rosa Klebb's lesbianism.
- Pussy Galore's lesbianism is downplayed in the film version of Goldfinger, where she merely tells Bond she is "immune" to his charms.
- 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 Ectasy: 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 Childrens Hour 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.
- The Color Purple was criticized for not including the lesbian relationships detailed in the book.
- Similarly, 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.
- 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 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.
- 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 a The Picture of Dorian Gray adaptation, Basil was played by a woman.
- 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 Jessie (who showed absolutely no interest in him in the book).
- 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 1999 remake makes the same character openly bisexual.
- The biopic Killer Nurse depicted serial killer Charles Cullen as a necrophiliac, despite there being absolutely no evidence he was one in real life.
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.
- Recent adaption of Miss Marple and Poirot has some of the exclusively straight cast members turn gay, for example in Five Little Pigs, The Body in the Library and Cards on the Table (in the latter 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.
- Sherlock Holmes himself is subject to this in practically every adaptation to date. In the original novels by Arthur Conan Doyle he is asexual and aromantic, but subsequent re-makes portray Holmes and Irene Adler sharing a mutual attraction, or even being outright love interests.
- Xaro Xhoan Daxos, a Qartheen merchant prince from A Song of Ice and Fire is gay, particularly being interested in young boys. Despite claiming to be in love with Daenerys and proposing several times to her, she can see right through him. The TV series, Game Of Thrones, made him straight, black, and a widower. It also appears that aspects of his character from the books was transferred to the minor character the Spice King. This was also not a case of Hide Your Lesbians since the series has several other clearly gay characters (including making a relationship only hinted at in the books explicit).
- 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.
- For the stage adaptation of High School Musical, Ryan was made gay.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- W.I.T.C.H.: Irma was straight in the original comics, but is made into a lesbian here. However, this is never brought up in the show and we only know this due to Word of Gay.