Adaptational Villainy
Kaa in the original Jungle Book vs Kaa in Disney's adaptation

"As many people have noted throughout the years though, Disney has been rather...lax when it comes to adapting books and fairy tales into movies. This is understandable in some cases. Still, it can be a bit galling when one knows that the fire-breathing, demonic witch on the screen was a kindly old lady in the source material."

The villain of an adaptation or retelling of a story is a familiar character who wasn't as bad in the source material. Sure, they may have been a bit of a jerk, or couldn't care less about the good guys, but they weren't evil. Maybe they were even an ally of the main characters who leaned a little too far on the evil side, or a villain with standards or who was known to show a softer side. Maybe the character rubbed the heroes the wrong way, but never caused any real harm and was otherwise a decent person. In any case, the character seriously Took a Level in Jerkass in the P.O.V. Sequel, The Movie, The Film of the Book, or any other reimagining of the original material. Where they were simply a pest before (and never treated as anything worse than that), or even friendly, they now kick dogs for fun.

This trope can take several forms, depending on the adaptation and the character. The True Neutral figure is actively villainous instead of simply not caring or choosing not to get involved. An imposing and potentially dangerous, but ultimately helpful, ally may become an enemy instead. The Anti-Villain and Tragic Villain will probably lose most or all of their sympathetic side and have fewer, if any, nicer moments. The Jerkass companion who is merely contemptible (but still entitled to the same protection as any other non-villain) in the source material will start committing acts in the adaptation that make them an actual enemy. The dangerous but tragic Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds will lose any sympathetic parts of their characterization or backstory, and the Noble Demon will lack most or all of their code of honor. Meanwhile, the Well-Intentioned Extremist's belief that they are doing the right thing is gone, and they do evil things just For the Evulz, even saying so. Sometimes it can be as simple as ignoring a reformed character's Heel–Face Turn or The Atoner's remorse over their past bad behavior. An Unintentionally Sympathetic character or a Designated Villain in the source material may also be given a Kick the Dog moment or two to make the character more obviously vicious and prevent the audience from feeling too sorry for them.

This occasionally happens to characters who were explicitly good guys in the source material, and if it does, it's sometimes a Take That! an unpopular one or to make the character Darker and Edgier. It may be a sign of Character Exaggeration. It can also be done to preserve a twist in the original story by surprising the audience with the identity of the villain, using an unexpected character as opposed to the original villain, who turns out to be innocent in the adaptation.

This isn't always a bad thing, however, and indeed some iconic villains have come about in this way, although it will probably lead to accusations of Adaptation Decay or Character Derailment from purists. Sometimes is the result of Composite Character - the composite mixes the harmless character and a more villainous one - or Adaptation Expansion, when there is no obvious villain in the original work, and a Ghost or another minor character gets the part. Sometimes it's to make the moral lines of an otherwise edgy story more clear or to simplify a complex character. A Perspective Flip often uses this deliberately along with Adaptational Heroism to subvert the audience's expectations of who the hero and villain are. If the adaptation does well, the darker incarnation of the character may become more popular and eventually overshadow the original, for a variety of reasons.

It's not Adaptational Villainy if an entirely new character is created to be the villain. This trope only applies if the villain in question is recognizable from the original work, but was a more sympathetic or tragic figure, had some form of standards or sympathetic motivations, had sympathetic moments or people that the villain genuinely cared about, was strictly neutral, was eventually redeemed, showed remorse, or wasn't evil at all. It is also not Adaptational Villainy if a character is Flanderized into being more outright evil than they originally were within a canon, their original, more understandable motives behind their actions are downplayed or completely ignored as the material goes on, or if constantly switching sides is an established character trait.

This trope is Older Than Dirt, since this sometimes happened to religious or mythological figures who, over time, became more malicious than they were in the older versions of their myths due to displacement or conquest, hence the Super Trope Demonization. Also a subtrope of Adaptation Personality Change. Compare Everybody Hates Hades, which is this trope applied to certain Dark is Not Evil gods in mythology, and Historical Villain Upgrade, which is a variant for Real Life figures. Ron the Death Eater happens when a section of a fandom demonizes a character rather than one specific adaptation. Contrast Took a Level in Jerkass, in which the character becomes more unpleasant canonically, because of Character Development.

For the inverse where a villain or Anti-Hero is softened in the adaptation, see Adaptational Heroism.

Example subpages (the medium is the adaptation's):

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    Fan Works 
  • Last Child of Krypton: Kaworu's role and personality greatly changes between both versions of the story: while on the original he is forced to fight Shinji via Brainwashed and Crazy (and before and after the fight he is a very useful ally), the Redux version starts as a slimy bastard and only gets more horrible as it goes.
  • Damion, a one-shot character from Pokémon, was originally just a Jerkass becomes a dangerous psychopath in Symbiosis. He is willing to kill Ash to get revenge on Brock and Misty for reporting his crime.
  • Count Mott of The Familiar of Zero is "merely" a decadent noble who sexually harasses his servants. In Unfamiliar, he's an outright psycho who tortures, murders and tortures to death anyone who crosses him.
  • Timon and Pumbaa in The Lion King Adventures, where they're turned into a soul sucking Evil Sorcerer and his helper. And Zazu is turned into a Chaotic Neutral backstabbing royal vizier.
  • In The Simpsons AU The Fourth Simpson Child, Lisa goes from a socially isolated smart girl who is somewhat The Unfavourite to a Smug Snake who is openly jealous of Samantha (her older sister and the title character).
  • Touhou fanfiction:
    • Wriggle is just a run-of-the-mill insect youkai and, while still dangerous, she usually has no malicious intentions against humans and will attack only if provoked. In the fanfic No Such Thing as Fairy Tales, Wriggle is a fae, who spirits aways humans and torture and rape them for no other reason because she can.
    • Touhou Ibunshu does this to almost half of the cast. Rumia, Mystia, and Remilia are Creepy Children that eat people, Cirno, Wriggle and Hina are sadists that try to kill people for no reason, Sakuya is a Serial Killer and succeeds in killing the humans, and Yukari and Mokou both try to obliterate Gensokyo. Strangely, the ones that get some Character Development end up being more sympathetic than the originals (most of whom are petty violent jerks), even if they are worse people overall.
    • Imperfect Metamorphosis takes Yuuka Kazami (a powerful and dangerous individual who nonetheless mostly leaves people alone) and turns her into The Dreaded who makes every character crap their pants whenever she's mentioned, and more than lives up to her reputation by being a full-blown Outer God.
  • Dirty Sympathy does this to several characters: Daryan Cresend ( already Dirty Cop) into a Domestic Abuser who abuses Klavier and constantly makes death threats. Kristoph Gavin ( an Amoral Attorney and poisoner) into a Bad Boss who traps Apollo into All Take and No Give relationship and abuses him because Apollo has no one else to turn to. Machi's portrayal as innocent child, albeit an accomplice to drug smuggling, is done away, presenting him as angelic-looking, distrubed smuggler and he is actually guilty of killing LeTouse. Lamiroir is a cold-blooded Mama Bear, who thought nothing of framing someone and threatening someone with death to protect Machi. And the story's leads, Klavier and Apollo become Villain Protagonists.
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, Dr. Wily and several Robot Masters are far more villainous than in the show.
  • In I'm Here to Help, the senshi of the future, as well as Neo-Queen Serenity, are portrayed as considerably more villainous than their canon counterparts. While we don't see much of them, it's established that they are essentially the Big Good of the future, to the point where they were willingly asked to rule the now-united Earth. In the fanfiction though, their adoration comes from Neo-Queen Serenity "purifying" all negative emotions out of them, allegedly turning them into placid zombies. While Emerald is something of an Unreliable Narrator due to being insane, one segment told from the point of view of the future Jupiter and Mars has them discuss how they attacked/killed several children who Emerald had help with one of his plans, dismissing the whole thing as the children having made their own choices in the matter. Needless to say, the canon senshi would never willingly harm children, whether or not they were helping a villain.
  • System Restore:
    • The first and second victims, while acting similarly to how they did in canon (hoping to kick-start the mutual killing and planning a murder so that Kuzuryuu can gradaute, respectively), come off as somewhat less sympathetic, since their motives are revealed after their deaths. The second murderer, in particular, seems to have fewer reservations about killing, and even tries to convince Kuzuryuu to go through with killing.
    • The second murderer, and the first who's different than canon, is Sonia Nevermind, who not only never killed anyone in canon, but was also one of the nicer cast members.
  • In the MLP / Green Lantern crossover In Brightest Day, this treatment gets applied to Mitta and Ruby. In the canon of Story of the Blanks, both were in fact friendly and helpful towards Apple Bloom. However in this story, while Ruby feels constant remorse and guilt for her horrific actions, Mitta seems to be completely villainous and relishing in the pain and suffering of her victims. The reason of this has yet to be explained...
  • Kitsune no Ken: Fist of the Fox:
    • Utakata, Yagura and Gaara are the three most villainous members of the Kyuushingai introduced, with Utakata being an Ax-Crazy Serial Killer who'll even murder children in his rampages, Yagura being a cold-blooded gang leader who's infamous for making witnesses set to testify against him "disappear", and Gaara being an aspiring drug kingpin who's in an alliance with Yagura. Contrast their canon counterparts from Naruto, where Utakata was merely disillusioned after being mistreated due to his jinchuriki status but wasn't otherwise stated to be evil, Yagura only had his bad reputation because he was manipulated into committing bloody actions during his time as the Mizukage, and Gaara is one of Naruto's staunchest friends and allies (though he did start out Ax-Crazy and only wound up undergoing a Heel–Face Turn following being defeated in combat by Naruto).
    • Konan is a member of Akatsuki and determined to kill the Kyuushingai no matter what (in canon, she's also a member of Akatsuki, but there she's a Well-Intentioned Extremist who later becomes one of Naruto's supporters).
    • The members of the LOVE syndicate's Council of the Dawn, of which Gaara is the leader and Yagura is a member; aside from them, the members include Temari, Kankuro, Matsuri, Chojuro, Darui, Menma, Yura, Sumaru and Kurotsuchi. All of them are criminals, with Temari and Kankuro being Gaara's personal guards, Matsuri being the group's secretary and an assassin in her own right, and the rest being the heads of their own minor syndicates. Contrast that with their canon counterparts: Temari and Kankuro, while they started out as antagonists alongside Gaara, eventually became allies of Konoha; Matsuri, Chojuro, Darui, and Kurotsuchi were allied to Konoha along with their respective villages during the Fourth Great Ninja War; Sumaru started his filler arc being rude to Naruto but eventually became his friend; Menma (the filler character, not the one from the movie) was The Atoner who'd tried to pull Laser-Guided Amnesia on himself in an effort to leave his bad past behind; and Yura was loyal to the welfare of the Hidden Sand Village even while he was Sasori's sleeper agent.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness:
    • In canon, Tsukune's ghoul form was largely depicted as an instinctive, mindless Berserker. Here, it's shown as a full-fledged Superpowered Evil Side with its own identity and personality.
    • Though Hokuto was always an antagonist in the manga, he was more of a Wild Card to the extent that he helped Tsukune and Moka stop his own plan. Here, he's a straight-up no-gray-area villain and a blatant Straw Nihilist who openly expresses the view that life itself is nothing but a meaningless plague that must be wiped out.
    • The fic does away with the sympathetic backstory that Alucard had in canon completely. In the original manga, Alucard was originally supportive of human/monster co-existence, but turned evil after humans invaded the country he founded for exactly that and killed most of his loved ones. Here, Alucard began as an arrogant, overly powerful vampire who decided to simply destroy all life, human and monster alike, out of sheer nihilism, and eventually devolved into nothing but a mindless beast.
  • In Necessary To Win, Anchovy of Anzio is based off of her manga counterpart, and as such, is a Sore Loser who criticizes Miho's decision to save one of her school's tanks at the cost of winning the tournament. On the other hand, she does go through some Character Development and gains respect for Oarai, unlike in the manga.
  • TNG Recut, The Abridged Series of Star Trek: The Next Generation, turns the entire crew of the Enterprise-D into a bunch of crazed nutcases. Picard takes the cake, though, ultimately leading his crew to strand him on the saucer section and launch it into a planet to get rid of him. And even then it doesn't work!
  • Ms. Maia from Twilight Valley. In the sixth The Land Before Time movie, she is simply an overprotective mother that tossed out Ducky when Ducky was the one who invaded her nest in the first place. In the fanfic, Ms. Maia is portrayed as a traitor who attempts to murder Ducky.
  • In Frozen, Princess Anna is one of the most kind-hearted, non-malicious Disney characters ever. An Alternate Universe of songs turn this on its head, likely a result of the memory wipe from the film Gone Horribly Wrong, and turns her into a Serial Killer who kills people and hides their bodies in caves (including her parents and her sister), and happily proclaiming it's useless for her victims to run because she'll kill them anyway and have fun doing it.
  • Calvin At Camp does this to Lucy and Eddy.
  • The fan film Grayson seems to present Chief O'Hara as a Dirty Cop, aligning himself with Catwoman, yelling at Superman to get Dick Grayson out of the way, and preparing to hit a tied-up Commissioner Gordon.
  • Dib in Kingdom Crossovers is the replacement of Riku, and thus follows the same path as him.
  • Five Nights at Fuckboy's: BB was no more dangerous or evil than any of the animatronics in Five Nights at Freddy's 2 (which were implied to be Tragic Villains more than anything), and he cannot even kill directly. In all three games, however, he's a scheming swearing enragement child with ambitions of godhood.
  • Magolor in Kirby: Right Back At Ya! Season 2. In Kirby's Return To Dream Land, he was a kindly alien that gave Kirby advice as he tried to repair his ship. Here, he's effectively an Expy of Customer Service from the original show, being the one who sends King Dedede his new monsters. It's downplayed compared to most examples, as Magolor was already the Big Bad of his own game, but he kept it hidden until the final level, whereas this Magolor is known to be a villain from the first chapter.
  • The Power Rangers fan film, Power/Rangers does this to Rocky, having him sell out to and join the Machine Empire. Bulk and Skull are also imagined as meth users who sold out Jason and killed him for the drug, and Zack is a Blood Knight who joined the Machine Empire just so he could fight again.
  • Pokémon Reset Bloodlines:
    • In the games, MissingNo was a glitch that, while damaging to the game, didn't have any malice. Here, it's the Pokémon equivalent of Satan, complete with Faustian bargains. It appears only to mess with Ash's head and tell him that bad things will happen to his friends from the original timeline, done as vaguely as possible with the full knowledge Ash can't do anything to realistically stop it. It also mentions that some of these horrible events have already happened, such as the deaths of Brock's parents. It even expresses disappointment that Norman managed to prevent May from suffering a tragedy.
    • In the Pokémon anime, the Sensational Sisters were merely irresponsible and uninterested in their duties as Gym Leaders. While they teased Misty, they were never actually cruel in doing so and genuinely cared about her. At the end of their debut episode, they gave Ash a Cascade Badge out of gratitude for him saving their gym. The fic makes them flat-out corrupt (it's implied they offer trainers money and/or sex in exchange for them throwing matches), keep their Pokémon confined in balls for months at a time, outright hate Misty (referring to her as "it" and kicking her out as soon as they can), and trick/force Ash into a battle they're sure he'll lose so they can keep their gym, not caring that he'll be barred from taking part in Gym Battles for a year if he does.
    • Paul is an interesting example, because his actual character doesn't change that much. But considering Pokémon have a higher chance of getting seriously injured or even killed this time around, his callous attitude comes off as even worse. At one point, he actually insults Lt. Surge for not wanting to risk his Raichu being horribly maimed by a super-powered Razor Leaf attack.
  • The Love Hina fics An Alternate Keitaro Urashima and For His Own Sake, both written by the same author, make Granny Hina and the Hinata girls far more malicious and bitchy than they're depicted in canon.
  • In the Digimon Adventure 02 fanfic Digimon 02 The Story We Never Told, there are a couple of characters that are a lot more unpleasant compared to their canon (scratch that, censored) incarnation:
    • Mimi and Matt, the former is an Alpha Bitch who is willing to run away from all her problems regarding the Digital World, shunning anyone whose name is either a Digidestined or the Digital World. The latter, is a nostalgic man who prefers the old over the new and as a result, hates the new generation of the Digidestined and will not hesitate to denounce them at any opportunity they made a mistake. Fortunately, thanks to The Power of Friendship, they slowly but surely began reverting back to their original canon selves through gradual Character Development.
    • Cody's Black and White Insanity is a lot more prominent in this fic as no matter how much Ken does to redeem himself and atone for his mistakes, he is the only one who still refuse to believe that Ken is actually reformed when everyone else thinks he has atoned enough. It is only when Ken dies that Cody express sufficient enough regret to return back to his former ways.
    • In canon, Oikawa is a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds whose desire to enter the Digital World lets him get possessed by Myotismon and subsequently, any heinous acts done in the anime is blamed to him. But in the fic however, Oikawa is a Psychopathic Manchild who is incredibly addicted to his experiences as a Digidestined in the Digital World so much that he is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve such goals. This includes arranging the death for two of his own Digidestined members as an accident, creating a Digi Armor, fake Digivices & turned Ken into the Digimon Emperor, and kills Ken without a second thought when he feels that he has outlived his usefulness.
  • The Predespair Kids manages to make Ultimate Despair far more insidious, subtle, and cruel than they are in the series. Rather than go full-force with murders and killing sprees, they're biding their time, acting quietly and learning everyone's weaknesses before making their moves. They also have absolutely no problem killing their own members whenever they're discovered. And the scariest part about them? None of them are brainwashed. They're doing all of this because they were charmed by Junko or, in Maverick Storm's case, For the Evulz.
  • Throughout Poké Wars, several Legendary Pokemon get this, including Uxie and especially Ho-Oh, who is a genocidal Fantastic Racist and Knight Templar who wants to Kill All Humans. In the games, the lore surrounding Ho-Oh suggests that it's reclusive but benevolent.
  • The Day of the Barney Trilogy takes Barney and Baby Bop, who are portrayed as sincere and good friends to the kids on Barney & Friends, and portrays them as villains who successfully get the world's children to kill any adult they come across, kill their male Special Friends when they turn thirteen, and take the thirteen year old girls away to fatally mother mutated offspring. They're even revealed to be Really 65 Million Years Old and to have been the harbingers of many of the world's evil dictators and catastrophes.
  • In The Stalking Zuko Series, Arnook, a wise and benevolent leader who made the mistake of choosing a jerk like Hahn as his daughter Yue's husband, is portrayed as having a severe case of Moral Myopia, grieving over his daughter while rejoicing when Fire Nation soldiers die. He also doesn't care much for the Southern Water Tribe, as he didn't come to their help when the Fire Nation raided them, and when Hakoda or Sokka try to contradict him, he has the gall to claim that Hakoda's loss of his wife is less painful than his losing Yue.
  • With This Ring: Nabu's actions are not excused as a necessary evil, he is fully portrayed as villainous and needing to be stopped. It's very telling that in the Crime Syndicate Mirror Universe, where all the heroes are villains, his counterpart Doctor Chaos is a good guy.
    • Klarion has always been a villain, but he is by far worse in this version. He's actually a Lord of Chaos, an opposite to Doctor Fate, making him easily one of the most powerful magic users in existance.
  • Rio in The Ice Queen Cometh. Her swapping story roles with her brother caused her to be a lot angrier and colder than in canon, though she generally stays in the realm of darker hero than villain.
  • Fade: While how heroic he is in canon is up to interpretation, L in this story is a Tautological Templar who will go to any lengths to save his life and protect "Justice" from Kira, refusing to acknowledge that this path has led to him becoming Kira.
  • The Child of Love does this to Gendo Ikari. In the original series he was a broken shell of a man who made horrible things to get his wife back, and cared about his son deep down but sent him away because of his fears that he wouldn't be a good father to Shinji. In this story he makes horrible things because he has delusions of godhood, does not care about Shinji at all, and he is willing to use babies to fight his war.

     Fan Works-My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic 
  • Fittingly for a franchise with an entire page of characters under Ron the Death Eater My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction is full of examples from Rainbow Dash secretly being a high ranking member of a fascist Cloudsdale that has children ground up into rainbows to Pinkie Pie secretly being a serial killer and to the many Alternate Character Interpretations of Celestia:
    • While Discord in canon was certainly malicious and powerful, he was presented more along the lines of a misbehaved brat than anything else, and the episode "Keep Calm and Flutter On" demonstrates that once he's exposed to The Power of Friendship he starts a friendship with Fluttershy and becomes an occasional helpful, if still jerkish, Trickster Mentor. However, many fan stories (most prominently the Pony POV Series and The Nuptialverse) present him as an unrepentant monster, responsible for multiple genocides and the Greater-Scope Villain behind many other villains, among other crimes. This is somewhat more justified for fanfics that were written before "Keep Calm and Flutter On" and the character development Discord got in that episode; later works have less of an excuse.
    • Discord gets this bad in The Immortal Game, where he is almost a full-blown Eldritch Abomination who delights in turning ponies into hideous monsters, Mind Rape, and tricking ponies into committing horrifying acts. He is responsible (though not willingly) for the Face–Heel Turn of the fic's Big Bad. His comedic demeanor is significantly toned down, while his nastiness is turned Up to Eleven.
    • While it's mostly Played for Laughs, Princess Celestia gets this a lot. There are memes of her being a tyrant who rules with an iron hoof and sends people to the moon at the slightest annoyance, a Discord-like prankster causing the cast's problems for the fun of it, or a Memetic Molester. Look up Tyrant Celestia, Trollestia, and Molestia, respectively. In Freedom Through Harmony, Celestia is corrupt and banished Luna for trying to reason with her. That still does stop her from becoming Nightmare Moon, though.
    • In Harmony's Warriors, a rather expansive crossover with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, many friendly side characters or background ponies are full villains, including Fancy Pants, Snowflake, Cheerilee, Carrot Cake, Fleur de Lis, Gustav, Hoity Toity, and Filthy Rich.
    • In the G1 special that he premiered in, Scorpan was a Nice Guy who happened to work for Big Bad Tirac, and in Friendship is Magic it's mentioned that Scorpan befriended the ponies and helped them imprison Tirek in Tartarus. The Warmistress of Equestria, however, portrays Scorpan as a manipulative, bloodthirsty Lord of Chaos whose Evil Plan is to break Tirac out of the Warp and sacrifice Equestria to the Dark Gods.
    • In the Alternate Universe Fic series The Dashverse, the canon villains become much more threatening. They aren't too monstrous that the series is grimdark, but they do sink to depths not approachable in canon.
      • In Rainbooms and Royalty, the re-imaging of the pilot, Nightmare Moon assaults and repeatedly tries to kill the Mane 6, especially Rainbow Dash, brainwashes Shining Armor and Ditzy Doo into her loyal minions, and threatened to drop the rest of the Mane 6 to their deaths and forcing Rainbow Dash to choose which ones to save. By the end, it is not surprising that Rainbow Dash hasn't forgiven Luna.
      • In Hot Heads, Cold Hearts, and Nerves of Steel, King Sombra, who was already a Crazy-Prepared and evil dictator in canon, kidnaps the foals of Ponyville and brings them to the Frozen North. When Rainbow Dash reaches his lair he enters Rainbow's head and tells him his backstory: he started out as just as snobbish prince before he obtained the Alicorn Amulet. Afterwards, he sought even greater power, he murdered his wife, manipulated Luna into falling in love with him, and even after his defeat by the Princesses, he knew he had driven Luna into the despair that would create Nightmare Moon. He then reveals his plan, to sacrifice the foals to increase his power and become an alicorn god. And he comes pretty damn close as well.
    • Moonstuck is a weird case, as while Discord is just as nasty as his canon self with the same personality and powers, the comedic traits of the former are strongly downplayed while the latter are played up to almost Eldritch Abomination levels, and the fact that he's doing all this to a child makes his usual antics ten times worse. The character design also helps; while his canon goofy Mix And Match Critter appearance makes him hard to take seriously sometimes, in Moonstuck he's drawn in a monochrome, overbearing, heavily sketchy style reminiscent of the Anti-Spirals.
    • In the fanfiction Sunset Of Time, the Big Bad Vesper Radiance is a re-imagining of a canon antagonist. For it, she's not only far worse than she was in the canon, she's worse than any of the other villains too. She's ambitious, hungry for power, casually murders (or attempts to murder) several characters, and her ultimate goal is to become a Physical God to rule over Equestria — after killing off all three Princesses, Twilight and her friends, and anyone else who dares try to stop her.
    • In The Elements of Friendship, nearly every villain qualifies, as they go from threats dealt with in one or two episodes to powerful threats that need whole doorstoppers to stop.
      • Trixie flat out cons the town as opposed to simply being a traveling showmare as in canon.
      • Moondancer is part of an organization working for the Greater-Scope Villain. Justified, as she had not even made an appearance on the show when the series started.
    • Played for laughs in fanfic series Evil Belle, where for no particular reason, Sweetie Belle decides to become the most feared villain Equesria has ever known. Hilarity Ensues.
    • The Clockwork Consequence: Because this story takes place in the "Nightmare Moon wins" timeline shown in The Cutie Re-mark Part 2, Nightmare Moon's most loyal servants include the likes of Rarity, Pinkie Pie, (called "Diane") Rainbow Dash, Applejack, and Trixie. Fluttershy has yet to appear, but by the the way things are going she too is loyal to Nightmare Moon.
    • In the Persona crossover Persona EG Fluttershy is this of all people. She only acts shy and friendly around others, but actually keeps her dark side hidden. Though glimpses of her true self are hinted at before she is discovered. She became a cyberbully after she was bullied one too many times, but took it too far and accidentally crippled a teacher once. She is eventually revealed as the dark persona user, Eris, and her friends were all shocked to discover her reasons behind doing this. Though Character Development eventually turns her just as nice and caring as her canon self, if with a little more snark.
      • Babs Seed and Pinkie's parents count too. Babs was only a bully in the show to avoid being bullied herself, but she is describe here as being worse than Diamond Tiara, actually hitting people and smoking in the bathroom. Pinkie's parents, despite being old fashioned, accept their strange daughter in the show, but here they are complete jerks who treat her as The Un Favourite and eventually disown her entirely.
    • Pony Age: Catalyst Miss Harshwhinny. In the show she was a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Here however, she's a Rich Bitch Corrupt Politician. There's also Iron Will, when you're a Minotaur in a crossover with a game where Minotaurs are enemies, what choice do you have?
    • Princess Trixie Sparkle does this with Trixie, who in the show was (not counting when she was under the influences of The Alicorn Amulet) a egotistical Jerk Ass at worst, and even then outside of that aforementioned incident, she arguably had not done anything morally. In this story, she is a manipulative bitch who tricks Twilight into letting her steal her identity, frames her and her friends and arguably crosses the Moral Event Horizon she has Twilight locked in the dungeon and sadistically gloats that she will be trapped in there alone for the rest of her life. Granted, she is being influenced by the true Big Bad and does make Heel–Face Turn by the end, but even so, she went above and beyond what she was actually supposed to do and it understandably takes awhile before anyone is ready to forgive her.
    • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse is explicitly an AU with the premise that it was Celestia rather than Princess Luna who went insane. This trope also applies (to a lesser degree) to the Celestiaverse Elements. Lack of the friendships of the others has left them all (but most especially Twilight and Applejack) somewhat... warped.

  • The Doctor Who Expanded Universe novel The Resurrection Casket is Treasure Island IN SPACE! Drel McCavity (the Squire Trelawney character) turns out to be a villain, but not quite as much of one as Salvo (the John Silver character) who's been "upgraded" to Faux Affably Evil.
  • In the original story of "Saint George and the Dragon" and most reworkings of it, Saint George is the hero, or at worst a Well-Intentioned Extremist (usually in versions where the dragon is misunderstood and George assumes it's dangerous). For example, in The Reluctant Dragon, he becomes the title character's friend. Even in retellings where the dragon is Spared by the Adaptation, George usually convinces it to make a Heel–Face Turn. In the Dragon Keepers series by Kate Kilmo, Saint George is a Villain with Good Publicity who enslaves magical creatures and kills harmless and intelligent dragons for purely selfish reasons (to drink their magical blood) while the princess he saved is an evil witch. The dragon from the original tale tells his own side of the story, in which he was a benevolent sorcerer betrayed and killed by George.
  • Myth-O-Mania has some in-universe examples: When Zeus rewrote the stories of Classical Mythology, he exaggerated monsters' scariness to glorify the heroes. (eg, The Minotaur went from being a vegetarian to eating humans.) Plus, Zeus claimed that Hades kidnapped Persephone, when actually she hitched a ride on his chariot while running away from her overprotective mother.
  • The mice from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy — in the radio play, they are fairly amiable, and upon discovering that Arthur is in the ideal position to find the ultimate question, offer to make him "a reasonably rich man" if he does. In the book and subsequent adaptations, however, they are much more sinister, plotting to steal his brain in order to read the question from it.
  • Frankenstein's Monster gets this a lot. Literally dozens of interpretations of the character portray him as an evil fiend, rather than the misunderstood and rejected outcast he was in the original novel. (Mostly due to Artistic License as a plot demands.)
  • Land of Oz:
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland:
    • The Queen of Hearts is clearly a mean woman and a blustering Jerkass type, but calling her evil might be stretching the definition a little; though she often calls for people to be beheaded, her husband secretly pardons most of the people she condemns, and the Griffon tells Alice that, "It's all in [the Queen's] fancy, you know. They don't actually execute anyone." Nonetheless, you can be sure in almost any modern story where Alice is portrayed as the protagonist, the Queen of Hearts (often conflated with the Red Queen) will be the villain, and portrayed as far more evil than Carroll could have ever imagined. Whereas Alice's trial in the book ends with her realizing that the Queen of Hearts' threat against her is empty and dismissing the Queen's court as a pack of playing cards, in the 1951 Disney version, the Queen of Hearts is portrayed as a genuine threat, and the trial ends with Alice running for her life from the Queen and her soldiers before waking up.
    • Then there's Tim Burton's movie and the popular video game. Then Queen of Hearts is a mad tyrant in the first, and an Eldritch Abomination in the second.
    • The Jabberwock is often both this and an Ascended Extra in such works, seeing as the evil beast wasn't even an antagonist for Alice in Through the Looking-Glass, only appearing in the now-famous poem that she read. The poem became so popular that most modern adaptations include the creature as an adversary for Alice and the heroes in general.
  • By the end of Magic Duel, it seemed like Trixie made a full Heel–Face Turn (Which the comic follows through on), which makes her return to an antagonistic role in Twilight Sparkle and the Crystal Heart Spell rather jarring.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog, Knuckles was misled by Dr. Robotnik into fighting Sonic in Sonic the Hedgehog 3, but quickly made a Heel–Face Turn after realizing his mistake and has generally been a firm ally ever since. In The Sonic the Hedgehog Joke Book, he seems to be one of Robotnik's full-time minions.
  • In Noob, the novel version of Donteuil in regards to the webseries one. When that fact that Fantöm's avatar was illegally enhanced get revealed in the webseries, Judge Dead is the one who decides to blame the whole thing on its Locked Out of the Loop victim. A couple of webseries scenes give the impression that Donteuil has a My God, What Have I Done? feeling towards the victim in question and it's via Donteuil that the audience eventually finds out that the victim's situation isn't as bad as it first looked. In the novels, Donteuil seems to be the one who decided to pull the "blame the victim" move, while the "situation not as bad as it first looked" reveal comes from a Fictional Document provided by another character that gets no mention in the webseries.
  • In The Land Before Time, even though Sharptooth managed to terrify an entire generation of children, it's not clear if he can truly be called evil, and there's a distinct possibility that he's just hungry. The novelization, however, portrays him as a narcissistic serial killer who's after the hatchlings out of petty revenge and is implied to kill For the Evulz.
  • The swan knight in German legends (usually named Lohengrin) is a hero who rescues the girl and marries her. In Robert Southey's ballad Rudiger, he's the villain who sold his soul to the devil and nearly threw his infant son right into hell as part of the deal.
  • In the Secret Agent Mummy series, Sobek is a vicious God of Evil who demanded to be worshipped above the other members of the Egyptian pantheon, was temporarily destroyed by the other gods when he threatened to destroy Egypt in revenge, and later attempts to forcibly turn the world's animals into crocodiles. While Sobek was a complex and ambiguous figure in mythology, he wasn't outright evil, had several prominent positive aspects, and didn't cause trouble for the other gods.

  • In the picture book The Butterfly Ball, Sir Maximus Mouse, the cheese tycoon, is simply a workaholic who's too busy to go to the Ball. In Roger Glover's concept album adaptation, he's a borderline-demonic Corrupt Corporate Executive.
  • Played for Laughs in Within Temptation's song "Gothic Christmas" where Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer becomes an Evil Overlord.
    Rudolph, he will change his name.
    'Cause Rudolph just sounds pretty lame.
    From now on I'll call him Ragnagord
    The evil reindeeer overlord
    His nose shall be red no more
    It will be blacked to the core
    His eyes will glow an evil glow
    To guide the chariot through the snow

    Newspaper Comics 
  • The 1978-1988 Winnie-the-Pooh comic strip, syndicated by King Features and based on the Disney movies based on the book, has gained some memetic steam on the Internet for its portrayal of the usually kind-hearted and sugary-sweet Pooh as a complete jerkass, usually for the sake of a punchline. It's all the more funny (or disturbing) because his face is still fixed in that innocent Disney-merch smile.
    Pooh: You take yourself too seriously, Eeyore.
    Eeyore: You mean I should laugh at myself, Pooh?
    Pooh: Why not? Everyone else does.

    Pooh: How are you, Piglet?
    Piglet: Well, actually, Pooh…I didn't sleep too well last night and…
    Pooh: Please, Piglet! I was just being nice! I don't have time for all that today!


    Tabletop Games 

  • Wicked the musical is still an example, but is more sympathetic to The Wizard than the book version above, portraying him as a sort of a Well-Intentioned Extremist who is puppeteered by Madame Morrible and generally seems to want the best for Oz, as long as he remains its leader.
  • This happens to several characters in Love Never Dies, the sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. The trope applies in two ways, both because characters from the first musical undergo villain transformations and because in The Phantom of Manhattan (the Frederick Forsyth novel that was the result of early work on what became this show) contains no such transformation, instead having the villain be a completely new character who didn't make it to the stage. Madame Giry is more-or-less the main antagonist, and only helps the Phantom for the reward it earns her. Meg gradually loses her sanity while trying to start a relationship with the Phantom, culminating in her kidnapping and attempting to drown Gustave, then ultimately shooting Christine. Meanwhile, more adaptational Jerkass than villainy, but Raoul is now a cranky alcoholic whose gambling has put the family in a load of debt, and no longer feels the love for Christine that he once did.
  • In Wonderland: Alice's New Musical Adventure, the Mad Hatter becomes female and the play's main antagonist, with the March Hare as her Dragon. In the book, he's scatterbrained, but not particularly malicious about it.
  • Brecht's The Three Penny Opera makes Macheath considerably more unpleasant than he was in The Beggar's Opera. In the original play, Macheath is a gallant highwayman who doesn't kill except in self-defense, and while utterly incapable of remaining faithful to one woman, is an overall nice guy. In contrast, Macheath in Brecht's play is a mass murderer and rapist and only rarely pleasant. An additional change is that lines from the original play given to Peachum involving plans to sell out criminal associates to the authorities with full knowledge they will be hanged is given to Macheath in The Three Penny Opera, changing Macheath from an example of Honor Among Thieves to one of No Honor Among Thieves.
  • In The Golden Ticket, an opera adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Spoiled Brat Veruca Salt agrees to a deal with a TV reporter to secretly film and photograph the titular, top-secret factory during the Golden Ticket tour — which makes her and her dad, who goes along with the plan, spies. As well, she's much nastier in her selfishness than in other versions, and specifically contrasted with poor-but-good Charlie Bucket throughout. With this in mind, while the novel and all other adaptations have them the third group to be eliminated from the tour, here they're the fourth and last to go.
  • In The Ring of the Nibelung, Hagen goes through this. He is largely a Composite Character of Hagen from The Saga of the Volsungs and Nibelungenlied. However in the Volsung Saga he is Gunther's heroic brother and though a more villainous figure in the Nibelungenlied, murdering Siegfried, there he is acting out of loyalty to Gunther. In the Ring Cycle Hagen is the son of the main villain Alberich and murders Siegfried and Gunther for the Ring of Power.
  • The Boyg was originally a troll/monstrous abomination from the stories of Asbjřrnsen and Moe. The original Per Gynt managed to finish it by shooting it point blank between the eyes. In the play Peer Gynt, written by Henrik Ibsen, the Boyg is an almost invincible Eldritch Abomination that does a Mind Rape on the titular character, and who is the driving force for Peer´s demise throughout the play, actually the real Big Bad (set up against the true Big Good: Solveig).

    Visual Novels 
  • In Astoria: Fate's Kiss, Hercules - who certainly has problems but is generally considered a hero in Classical Mythology - is the main antagonist of Hydra's route, taking advantage of his status as the son of Zeus to use H.E.R.A. resources while acting outside of their chain of command. He turns out to have assaulted several people, including his own ex-wife, in order to steal the Auras that are the sources of their power for his own use.

    Web Comics 
  • After minus ended, the author created some gag strips that parody scenes from the original webcomic, and whhich are not in continuity. If they are interpreted as a Compressed Adaptation of the original work, then minus gets hit with this trope, big time. Whereas in the original she is merely a Trickster Archetype who only does bad things because she doesn't understand the consequences of her actions and frequently softens her antics to make them not as bad, in the extras she is a cruel and vindictive psychopath who takes out horrifying revenge on people for excruciatingly minor slights, behavior which the minus from the main webcomic would never do. In the strip that has been linked, she actually turns one of her classmates into a chalk drawing and smudges her, even after the classmate apologized.
    • When it comes to other characters, the extras actually contain a spectacular Inversion. One strip features a man who stuffs minus in a briefcase after luring her in with promise of sidewalk chalk, and who would certainly have tried to abduct her if he wasn't stopped. His counterpart in the extras, on the other hand, is an innocent bystander who doesn't do anything to deserve being antagonized by the villainized minus.
  • Sonic the Comic – Online! does this with many games characters. Shadow, Rouge, the Babylon Rogues, Bean, Silver... even Cream the Rabbit! Blaze is immune to this, being almost identical to her game counterpart.
  • Knights of Buena Vista does this to the bishop in Frozen. In the movie, he just officiates Elsa's coronation. In this comic, he's using magic to hypnotize Elsa. This is then subverted when it's revealed to be a magic doppelganger impersonating the real bishop.
  • Darths & Droids does this to Han Solo, who shortly before being frozen in carbo... er, alcohol, admits he's been feeding information the the Empire for months. Jim was really impressed with how Annie roleplayed Anakin's Start of Darkness and wanted to do the same. Similarly, this also applies to Padme Amidala, due to the fact that she's Darth Vader in this version.
  • In Roomies!, Mary started out being intended as a Voice of Reason, and gradually became portrayed as more hypocritical as the author found himself questioning his fundamentalist upbringing and, therefore, Mary's opinions on things. In Dumbing of Age, she's straight-up one of the least sympathetic characters from the get-go, representing everything Willis dislikes about his background. Similarly Joyce's mom in the Walkyverse went from "background mother character" to "background mother character who has lots of sex with her husband" to "deeply obsessed with having grandkids", while her Dumbiverse counterpart is mostly characterised by religious intolerance.

    Web Original 
  • This page lists five well-known characters who were reimagined into villains through Disney movies in this way.
  • Francis E. Dec insisted in his letters that his brother was a "deadly felon-murderer and secret assassin-spy agent against me for this Gangster Government". Seeing how Dec saw the entire universe Through the Eyes of Madness, we can safely guess that this wasn't the case.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
    • Vegeta in the original series is portrayed as a gradually softening Byronic Hero whose villainy was caused largely by Freeza's mistreatment of him. This incarnation, however, is openly, hilariously evil, actively denies any possible mitigating factors from his upbringing, and many of his cruel acts are done with joyful sadism.
    • Mr. Popo. In the original show, he was a kind, peaceful man who helped the protagonists. In this version, he is a rude, sadistic and intimidating bully who all the main characters fear. He puts his students through hellish training for the fun of breaking them, is implied to be a rapist, has a magic carpet fueled by souls (suggesting he kills people for their souls), plots to destroy the world with Shenron, and Kami states that the last time Mr. Popo kicked him off the lookout, when he came back "I found five corpses. He laughed when I said five". Ever since Kami's fusion with Piccolo he seems to be adding a more affable nature to his interactions with the cast, though it's clear he can switch back whenever he wants.
    • Guru. Unlike the kind grandfather-like figure he was in the actual series, here he caused a huge drought that nearly wiped out the Namekian race, blamed the Albino Namekians for it, and ordered their genocide. He also orders Nail to murder Krillin, and sends Nail to fight a battle with Freeza knowing he stands no chance. When the heroes summon the dragon, Guru dies on purpose and ruins everything just to be a dick. Guru also laughs when he hears that Vegeta slaughtered a Namekian village, and is finally killed brutally by the Namekians rather than dying of old age by being Eaten Alive after he confesses his sins about the drought and then realizing he wasn't dying quite yet again. In the Lord Slug movie, it was revealed that he was Slug's evil half, and that he suggested to Slug that he attack Earth in the first place, telling him that their defenses suck.
    • Doctor Briefs' descent into this started with the occasional sexist remark. He's since turned out to be an amoral Mad Scientist with a laundry list of prejudices who considered giving his own daughter an Explosive Leash. Oh, and the reason his wife never seems to age? Cloning. He grows them in his basement. He's still better off than Mr. Popo and Guru though since he performs nowhere near as many Kick the Dog moments as them, helps the cast more often than he hinders them, and most of his villainy is in his remarks rather than actions.
    • Downplayed example with Android 16. While he remains the Gentle Giant Friend to All Living Things he was in canon, he was also monomaniacally focused on killing Goku much moreso than in DBZ. It wasn't until 17 suggested that he get a hobby that his character started softening, but his default response to any given situation is still "Kill Goku".
    • Bardock is a strange case in that Team Four Star didn't change his personality, but rather they kept it consistent. TFS has said that they liked Bardock as the Jerkass Villain Protagonist he was in Father of Goku and openly expressed distaste for his gradually softening into into a gruff Anti-Hero in Episode of Bardock, feeling that it took away the things that made him stand out among the DBZ cast. As a result, in their adaptation of Episode of Bardock he retains his original personality, fighting Chilled's minions because of his own vendetta against Freeza rather than for any kind of noble or high-minded ideal.
    • In the original History Of Trunks special, Future Gohan clearly loves his parents and doesn't seem to hold a grudge towards either of them despite their treatment of him but in the abridged version, he outright hates his parents and cares very little of either Goku or Chi Chi to the point that he didn't even care that the former had died. Case in point, in canon Gohan wears Goku's clothes because it reminds him of his father and wants to be as strong as him to fight off the androids while in abridged he only wears it because it's the only thing that Goku left him with. As for Chi-Chi, in canon she is worried about Gohan constantly fighting the androids implying that they at least are still in decent terms which contrasts the abridged where Chi-Chi has fallen into depression because Gohan abandoned her meaning that she could never be the grandmother she wanted in his whole life.
  • In RWBY, Weiss Schnee started out as a total Jerkass and a Spoiled Brat, with some racist attitudes towards faunus. However, she had a number of Jerk Justifications for her poor attitude and a solid Freudian excuse for her racism. Weiss eventually became a nicer and more selfless person over time, along with mostly overcoming her prejudices against faunus. In RWBY: The Abridged Series, Weiss Schnee is a much worse person. She’s introduced fantasizing about performing an ethnic cleansing on Beacon Academy while physically assaulting one of her workers because he politely asked if she’d stop making him sleep in the freezer. She outright admits that she doesn’t want her workers to be happy. Weiss is stated to kidnap people and repurpose them, heavily implying she either sends them into forced labor camps or the slave trade. Weiss enjoys killing faunus and believes the fact they don’t have civil rights is a justifiable reason to oppress and mistreat them. She also has a drug problem from sniffing too much dust to hide a German accent.
  • Danganronpa Abridged Thing does this to the first murderer. In canon, the crime was committed in what was arguably self-defense, although it's pointed out that the killer technically went out of his way to get to and finish off the victim. In the abridged series, the murderer accepted the victim's invitation, hoping to "get some," and killed her when she called him a "weenie."
  • In Downfall Hermann Fegelein is simply Heinrich Himmler's Number Two man who Hitler killed for trying to leave the Bunker and flee Berlin. In Hitler Rants, however, he's portrayed as a malicious Trickster Archetype and Screwy Squirrel whose "antics" constantly bamboozle Hitler at the drop of a hat, making Fegelein the Big Bad. Granted, this stuff is Poke the Poodle compared to the real-life Fegelein's "antics" in Byelorussia.
  • Hilariously, the Lighter and Softer version of the game Warhammer 40,000, Brighthammer 40000, does this to the Tau Empire. To explain, Warhammer 40000 is an extremely grimdark setting, with a number of genocidal, xenocidal and one or two omnicidal factions locked in a Forever War. The sole exception is the Tau, who are still bad in a sense but one of the more sane, if totally unsympathetic, factions. For Brighthammer 40000, every faction except the Tau have been made more sympathetic, while the sinister aspects of the Tau have been played Up to Eleven, along with some new ones added. This has the effect of turning the Tau into the setting's Big Bad. Water Caste Tau are all conniving schemers and cheating merchants, Air Caste Tau are all cowards who launch unprovoked bombing runs and orbital strikes on defenceless worlds, Fire Caste Tau are all violent brutes who bully other Tau and use prisoners of war for target practice (when they bother to take prisoners at all), and the Ethereals run the empire as this horrible 1984-esque society and often use mind-control to order Tau to kill themselves, sometimes for fun. Only the Earth Caste escape this treatment, being poor schmucks who are abused, exploited and left to die when they're no longer useful.
  • Since the fan who is recalling JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders replaced characters from the series with characters from other works in Vaguely Recalling JoJo, this trope was bound to happen. He replaced Ebony Devil with Negi Springfield, Nena with Bridget, Steely Dan with Atobe Keigo, ZZ with Captain Falcon and High Priestess with Blossom.
  • The Midwestern Brotherhood of Steel are just downright fascist in one of the worlds from We Are Our Avatars, they even tortured an Enclave soldier even though he's a Punch Clock Villain.
  • Prostitute Mickey does this to a few Disney characters, mainly to establish exactly how crappy Mickey's life is in the series.
    • Mickey's best friends Goofy and Donald have become a drug addict prone to committing robberies and a legless cripple prone to giving Mickey violent threats respectively.
    • The Christmas Episode features a character named Ebenezer, who is essentially the series' version of Scrooge McDuck. While most incarnations of Scrooge have been greedy and cheap at worst, Ebenezer was a pedophile who paid children to let him urinate on them, and one of the children he did this to was a younger Mickey.
  • Teletubbies in Supermarioglitchy4s Super Mario 64 Bloopers.
  • The various "Grounded" videos made through GoAnimate tends to make "baby show" characters, such as Caillou and Dora the Explorer from well-adjusted and lovable characters to spoiled brats who enjoy causing all sorts of destruction and mayhem. It doesn't help that, at times, their parents are just as bad.
  • In the Goodtimes Entertainment version of Beauty and the Beast, Beauty's father is a kind and loving man. Phelous, however, makes him a selfish, greedy, and manipulative Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who mistreats his children.
  • In Pokémon Red and Blue, Missingno. is a glitch that doesn't make much effort to impede the player, is often encountered by accident, is laughably pathetic in battle, and is outright beneficial in duplicating items. However, in Atop the Fourth Wall where it is first known as the Entity, it's a nigh-invincible Eldritch Abomination that desires to absorb all of existence into itself, and its power is great enough to reduce worlds to nothing.