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When a show is redubbed
for release in another country, the dubbers often will replace the cultural references with others more easily recognized by the foreign audience.
In the best of cases, Cultural Translation
will change obscure cultural references that many viewers would not "get" into related, but more familiar, footnotes without interrupting the flow. In the worst of cases, it can come off as a pandering attempt to edit anything vaguely foreign or potentially offensive
out, even when the images make it blatantly clear that the characters aren't, and were never, in [insert home country here]. Willing Suspension of Disbelief
gets a hard day from overzealous Cultural Translation
in a Foreign Remake
Compare with Woolseyism
, where the changes are generally made for aesthetic reasons, and rather than translating the concept, instead replace the original with something completely different but which fits better with the new target audience.
Dub Name Change
and Keep It Foreign
Anime and Manga
has its own page.
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- In a Multigrain Cheerios commercial that ends with "The box says 'Shut up, Steve'" — the British-accented voices of the two actors are dubbed over into American English for American audiences (both versions are aired in Canada, which is surprising the first time you see whichever you haven't seen before).
- It can happen the other way around, too. This Just for Men commercial was given the British-English dub treatment. 
- In Australia, American-made advertisements are frequently redubbed with Australian accents.
- This is quite common in advertising. The same thing happens in Ireland with British ads.
- The same in Switzerland, where advertisements originally from Germany (and in Standard German) are often redubbed to Alemannic German.
- The Greek "ΚΟΜΙΞ" ("comix") magazine, a publication focusing on quality reprints of classic Disney comics (mainly Duck family stories), uses cultural translation to great effect. Although most accents can't be rendered in Greek, the translators make extensive use of off-beat vocabulary (also appropriately rural or dated where needed), folk tradition or classic, timeless references rather than contemporary/modern pop culture, and straight-up neologisms. Arguably faithful to the spirit of the original stories, the result works extremely well and never causes the reader to stop and think about translation issues.
- There was a French digest compiling several issues of various, mostly X-Men-related Marvel comics (which bore the name Titans somewhat ironically) printed in the late-80s or early-90s, in which the names of American superheroes were a wide selection of direct translations, non-translations, and cultural translations. Nightcrawler, for instance, was still "Nightcrawler," but Phoenix became "Phénix" and Wolverine (this was well before the character became a household name) became "Serval."
- In most of French translations, "Nightcrawler" is "Diablo". The exact translation of "wolverine" is "glouton", but it also means "big eater", not really appropriate for a super-hero. Wolverine retains his original name in most current French-language versions.
- Although the Teen Titans were published at the same time, the mag that featured it was titled "Les jeunes T." (Young T.), presumably to avoid using a similar title.
- In the early 80s, the French editor who published the Avengers and the Defenders lost the rights of Marvel comics. He then proceeded to keep the French names of the magazines (Les Vengeurs and Les Defenseurs) where were printed the Legion of Superheroes and Infinity Inc series. French readers were confused, to say the least.
- In Italy, old traslation of Marvel comics renamed Nightcrawler as "Lombrico" (Worm). Note that it's just the most offensive, but hardly the only one. Namor the Sub-Mariner lost his nickname for years, because no traslation was fitting.
- The funny thing is that "nightcrawler" is an American word for a type of worm, so it is actually not a cultural, but a literal translation.
- Astérix In Switzerland featured Asterix and Obelix having their cart repaired by the mascot of French oil company Antar◊. The English translation replaced him with the Michelin Man◊, which kept the "mascot" gag as something Brits would recognise, but was totally bizarre in context, as instead of a short Gaulish warrior, Asterix is confronted with a man made out of tires.
- In Asterix In Belgium, one of the Belgians becomes obsessed with the idea of cutting root vegetables into chips and frying them. Upon finding a bit of pirate ship with mussels growing on it, he wonders if they'd go together, referencing the Belgian dish moules-frites. The English version has him leap from mussels to fish, as a reference to fish'n'chips.
- Asterix does this quite a lot, partly due to the series being a Hurricane of Puns. However, the translators generally manage it rather skillfully - one of the strangest examples was in Asterix in Britain, when two background characters are arguing over the price of a "melon." In French, "melon" can mean "bowler hat," but it doesn't have that double-meaning in Britain. Therefore, for the English edition, the exchange was translated to, "Oh, so this melon's bad, is it?!" "Rather, old fruit."
- One Punisher story has Frank describe a gunman as "shoots faster than greased lightning". The French translation used "shoots faster than his own shadow".
- Early English translations of the Tintin comics tried to rehome the heroes away from their native Belgium. There are references to British currency, and Captain Haddock's mansion (Marlinspike Hall in English, originally Château de Moulinsart in French) is located in the fictional English county of "Marlinshire". The artwork betrays the non-English setting — cars drive on the right-hand side of the road, and police officers are seen wearing the uniforms of the Belgian Gendarmerie. The CGI movie adaptation takes this Up to Eleven by being set in Britain, and everyone has British accents.
- Word Of God has it that the movie was supposed to be set in a generic "European" location.
- An issue of The Simpsons parodies this process by presenting supposed examples of The Simpsons, as adapted by other cultures. "The Simpsons Comics Internationale!" presents a Bart Simpson manga (drawn by none other than Nina Matsumoto, whose claim to fame was her original manga Simpsons drawing), a story from Mexico, and a Belgian comic that mixes elements from both Tintin and The Smurfs.note
- A bad example of this are the recent Italian translations of the old MAD comics from the fifties. What happens is that you get American comics from 70 years ago filled with contemporary Italian pop culture.
Films — Animation
- The Neil Gaiman novel Coraline, in its adaption to film, has been remodeled from an England-based storyline to one based in the United States.
- In Fantastic Mr. Fox the animal characters are all played by Americans - but the setting is still in the English countryside. Presumably this is a form of Translation Convention for Talking Animals. Interestingly, the human villains are English accented.
- Lampshaded by Bill Murray in promotional interviews for the film. When asked why all the animals had American accents but the farmers had English accents, his reply was "BECAUSE they're the bad guys!"
- Disney's Robin Hood has a mix of American and British accents.
- The Polish dub of the Shrek movies are full of Polish pop-culture references. For example Donkey sings the theme song of a Polish TV drama when Shrek decides to go to the Potion Factory in Shrek 2.
- The original Hebrew dub of Shrek 2 changes the line "give him the Bob Barker treatment" (i.e. neuter him) to "give him the David D'Or treatment" (an Israeli male singer with a high feminine singing voice). After the singer threatened to sue, the line was changed.
- Ditto the Czech dub. For example, the "let's neuter him" line continued "we're not Srstka and Kubisova", which referenced two very well known celebrities (a stuntman/actor/moderator/sportsman and a singer) who are known as animal lovers and devoted to a long running pet adoption TV programme.
- The Arabic translation of Disney's Hercules compares Hercules to Antar, the legendary Arab hero.
Films — Live-Action
- The American sub of Kung Fu Hustle replaced an offhand reference to two beautiful lovers Chinese mythology with Paris and Helen of Troy. The sub script is Woolseyed in other areas as well, while the dub is more straightforward, including keeping the reference to Xiaolongnu. The French dub preferred the less subtle Romeo and Juliet.
- A rare example in which only cultural references were changed. In the European versions of Demolition Man, all references to Taco Bell were re-dubbed as Pizza Hut, due to Taco Bell's relatively small foreign penetration.
- Let's talk a bit about Russian dubs. The latest example is the 17 Again trailer. Michael says to his friend: "You look like Clay Aiken!". In Russian version of the trailer his line was replaced with "You look like Elton John!". Apparently this is done because most Russian viewers don't watch American Idol and have absolutely no idea who the hell Clay Aiken is, while Elton John is quite famous. But the problem is that this guy does resemble Clay and in fact doesn't look like Elton.
- The Russian dub of Evolution replaced the song Wayne sings to attract the dragony alien with Alla Pugacheva's song Iceberg. The result was hilarious. (The song is basically a love song addressed to a man, to begin with...) "And you're so cold, like an iceberg in the ocean..."
- At the end of Ocean's Eleven as Danny is leaving the jail, he tells Rusty "Ted Nugent called. He wants his shirt back." In other versions, the reference is changed to Elton John.
- Madagascar. In the original, the two apes learn that Tom Wolfe is coming to New York and plan to throw poo on him. In the German translation, he was replaced by - Hillary Clinton, for whatever reason.
- Monster In Law, when Jane Fonda chews out the unnamed pop star for not knowing about "Roe vs Wade". Now abortion was / is a controversial topic in Germany too, but an American character referencing German laws wouldn't have made sense, so in the German translation, she mentions Richard Nixon instead.
- In the German dub of Full Metal Jacket, the Drill Sergeant Nasty calls Leonard "Private Paula" (to go with the privates = "ladies" theme, one may guess), since Gomer Pyle is almost unknown in Germany.
- François Truffaut's film version of Fahrenheit 451 is set, surprisingly, in England, whereas the novel is set in the United States. It's never stated, but everyone has British Accents (except the German star actor), the post boxes and houses are very period British, the clothes◊ are as well, and the children in the school (one of the last survivors after The Good Old British Comp was created the previous year) chant "Twice two is four, twice three is six..." Americans generally say "two times two", not "twice", when doing math.
- An adaptation of Akira is in the works. An early script review has indicated that it is now Manhattan that has been destroyed and rebuilt. However, the setting is kept intact (Japan buys what remained of Manhattan Island after the U.S. took a dive). It's still called "Neo Tokyo", Tetsuo is now Travis and half the characters are now American. The review indicates that the plot itself remains faithful to the manga.
- The Indian In The Cupboard's movie adaptation did this with a British work, changing the setting from England to New York and making the main characters all American. The American cowboy and Native-American action figures from the book remain American in the film.
- The American comedy Jungle 2 Jungle starring Tim Allen was a remake of the less slapstick-y French comedy Un Indien dans la ville (which was billed variously as Little Indian, Big City or An Indian in Paris for international release), but the American remake actually eventually found its way back into French theatres under the title Un Indien à New York.
- Countless kung fu movies get dubbed in English with the main character's name changed to something like "Freddy Chan" or "Ricky Lee". In China, and especially Hong Kong, where many of the films were originally made, it's fairly typical for people to have a western given name for use when talking to western people. For example, Jun-fan "Bruce" Lee.
- The live-action film version of Street Fighter made the All-American soldier Guile into the protagonist instead of Japanese warrior Ryu, the franchise's usual lead character. Somewhat justified since Guile was one of the few characters in the Street Fighter II series who was motivated by his grudge against the Big Bad M. Bison, whereas Ryu's rivalry was primarily with Sagat at the time. Ironically enough, Jean-Claude Van Damme, the actor who played Guile, couldn't fake a convincing American accent if his life depended on it.
- The fact that the Big Bad is called "M.Bison" is this trope plain and true.
- The Hilary Swank film PSI Love You is set in New York City, with an American heroine. The novel it is based on by Cecilia Ahern, is set in Dublin, with an Irish heroine. The husband remained Irish, though, but was played by Gerard Butler, whose Scottish accent never ceases to perplex.
- Fever Pitch was originally a autobiography about a fan's obsession with the Arsenal Football Club in England (in fact, Nick Hornby's, who also wrote High Fidelity below). It was adapted into a American movie about a fictional person's obsession with baseball's Boston Red Sox. Conveniently, the word "pitch" applies to both football/soccer and baseball, so the title remained the same. The ending had to be changed at the last minute due to the Sox actually winning the World Series. The ending actually mirrors that of the British-made first film adaptation, in which Arsenal wins the First Division for the first time in 18 years. Unlike the Sox win, the Arsenal win was, at that time, historical fact.
- The 2007 film The Seeker, based on Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising series of books, stayed in Britain but made the main character and his family Americans.
- Constantine changes the nationality and location of the UK-set (American-owned) comic Hellblazer to Los Angeles. Since the release of the movie, the comic book character of Constantine has stated that there's another guy with his name and a similar job in the US.
- The film version of Nick Hornby's novel High Fidelity moves the setting from London to Chicago (and changes the central character's name) while otherwise remaining fairly faithful. The Broadway musical shifts the location to Brooklyn.
- What makes the American remake of the Japanese film Shall We Dance? rather bizarre is the fact that part of the plot has to do with ballroom dancing being somewhat taboo in Japanese culture, something that doesn't translate into American culture. They dealt with this by making it about the male dance taboo in American (i.e., only gay men dance.) This gets reinforced as all the characters are paired off at the end except J.Lo's, though as she had a relationship with her previous pro partner perhaps that's implied, suggesting that the only reason to ballroom dance is to either find a mate or repair your extant relationship, while the Japanese version was simply about the social taboo around a sport requiring male/female contact.
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen added Tom Sawyer as a character. Sawyer's character as a young adult was based on Mark Twain's less well-known novel Tom Sawyer, Detective.
- Yes Man is Very, Very Loosely Based on a True Story; the book of the same name by and about Danny Wallace, a Dundonian living in London. The film is set in LA and stars Jim Carrey. The film bears almost no resemblance to the original book.
- The 1963 movie The Great Escape tells the story of a group of Allied prisoners who in 1944 escaped a prison camp in Nazi-controlled Poland. While American prisoners were held in the real camp, none of them were among the escapers — but for the movie version two major characters are Americans (Steve McQueen's Hilts and James Garner's Hendley). Balanced to an extent by James Coburn's Aussie and Charles Bronson's Pole, and the fact that the there appear to be only three Americans in the whole camp.
- Shown Their Work: Hendley and Hilts are the only Americans. Hendley was part of The Eagle Squadron, as an American volunteer fighting in the British RAF, not American USAAF. Hilts was a USAAF pilot.
- When Godzilla King Of The Monsters was brought to the United States, scenes with an American reporter played by Raymond Burr were added into the film, with dialogue changes and edits used to make it seem like he was interacting with the Japanese cast. Interestingly, this version was later dubbed back into Japanese and shown in Japan under the name Monster King Gojira, and it was a hit, with future kaiju films including reporter characters inspired by Burr. The makers of Godzilla were suspicious of the poor dubbing of the time and thought American audiences wouldn't watch a subtitled version. Plus, they probably felt that more Americans would get the message about atomic weapons if it was in English.
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens was adapted into a film in the early 2000s, changing the location from 19th century England to 20th-century Southern California.
- The War Of The Worlds by H. G. Wells is set in Victorian England with the narrator traveling to London. In the 2005 film, the invasion begins in New Jersey and the narrator travels to Boston.
- The earlier 1953 film adaptation similarly moved the story to southern California, while the famous 1938 radio version by Orson Welles took place in New Jersey.
- Insomnia is a 2002 remake of a 1997 Norwegian film with substantially altered plot and characters from the harder, more cynical Film Noir original. The constant daylight of the Scandanavian summer was a crucial plot point and symbol in the original; so the American remake was located in Alaska in order to preserve that aspect of the story, while still managing a US location.
- The Birdcage, a 1996 remake of the French film La Cage aux folles (the American a direct translation of the original French). Unlike most American remakes of foreign films, it is not set in New York, but rather in Miami, Florida. The contrast between the LGBT-friendly South Beach and highly conservative (and religious) politics more closely reproduces the contrast between the Saint-Tropez nightclub scene and ultraconservative politics of the original.
- Point of No Return was a relatively faithful remake of Luc Besson's La Femme Nikita. The original featured locations in both France and Italy; while the American version remained entirely within the continental US, albeit moving from Washington D.C. to southern California (a shift arguably as great or greater, both geographically and culturally).
- One Missed Call, the American remake of the Japanese horror film Chakushin Ari, changes the setting to America. The scene in which a famous TV evangelist tries to exorcise the ghost from an unfortunate victim was based on a similar scene with a Buddhist priest.
- Dark Water. The Japanese movie was based on a book written by the same author of The Ring. The constant raining (which is a major element of the movie and book) made more sense in the Japanese version, since Japan is a very wet country and it's not strange that more than one heavy rainfall occurs there daily. But in the American version, it takes place on an island in New York. While a lot of rainfall does occur there, it's not enough that it would permeate the entire movie.
- The second film adaption of Lord of the Flies changes every British reference into an American one.
- Inverted with Run Fatboy Run! which is actually a Britishized version of Michael Ian Black's original script.
- In the book that The Bridge on the River Kwai is based on, Major Shears is British. In the movie, he was made into an American.
- Matilda has its setting transferred to the United States, and all the characters are Americans — except the evil headmistress, making her an Evil Brit by default.
- This may be a borderline case since the cartoon series based on the original book was crammed with ethnically and racially ambiguous characters, but it's quite remarkable how populated the Wachowski Brothers' 2008 big-screen version of Speed Racer is with Occidental actors (mostly American and British) as the characters.
- The French comedy The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe was remade in the US as The Man With One Red Shoe, with the humorous violence made more sadistic, the sexual content turned quite prudish, and the characters more finely defined as heroes and villains.
- French actor Pierre Richard could well be considered the patron saint of this trope: He starred in The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe mentioned above but also in Le Jouet (The Toy) which was remade as The Toy starting Richard Pryor, and Le Jumeau (The Twin) remade as Two Much starring Antonio Banderas (though both screenplays were based on an American novel called Two Much). With Gérard Depardieu he made Les Compères (Comdads) remade as Fathers' Day with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams, Les Fugitifs (The Fugitives) remade as Three Fugitives with Nick Nolte ans Martin Short and La Chèvre (The Goat) remade as Pure Luck with Danny Glover and Martin Short.
- An odd case with Straw Dogs and its 2011 remake. The original was directed by Sam Peckinpah and starred Dustin Hoffman, both Americans, but took place in the UK. The remake will take place in the Deep South, swapping the negative portrayals of rural Englishmen for negative portrayals of American rednecks.
- The German comedy Bella Martha (American title: Mostly Martha) tells the story of a gourmet chef in Hamburg who after the death of her sister in a car accident has to look after said sister's daughter and who also falls in love with another cook. Both the cook and the child's father are Italian and the ending of the film is set in Italy, the epilogue showing that Martha marries her colleague and lives with him and her niece in Italy, where she sets up a new restaurant. In the American remake No Reservations, the story is set in New York, the inconvenient father of the niece is removed from the story, and the chef and her love interest are both white Anglos, removing the immigration subplots (the Italian cook in Bella Martha had difficulties communicating in German, Martha moving to Italy in the end). Which is all the more remarkable considering that the United States usually prides itself on being a nation of immigrants.
- Before dubbing became the method of choice, early sound movies were sometimes produced in several versions simultaneously on the same sets. For instance Laurel and Hardy did a German and a French version of Pardon Us, learning their texts phonetically and interacting with different supporting actors. In some cases this led to cultural translations as well, e. g. in the 1932 German film F. P. 1 antwortet nicht the main protagonist was cast and performed in a way that played to the expectations of the intended audiences of what a masculine hero should be. In the German version Hans Albers (aided by sidekick Peter Lorre) was brash and ebullient, in the French version I. F. 1 ne repond plus Charles Boyer was more suave, and in the English Floating Platform 1 Does Not Answer Conrad Veidt was cool and reserved.
- In the French dub of Back to the Future, Marty's brand name was changed from Calvin Klein to Pierre Cardin.
- Most of the Lone Wolf gamebooks were trimmed for US release. The implication was that most of the page trimming was more for purposes of cost-cutting to maximize profit (even if that meant creating an inferior product), not because of cultural editing. Later books in the series suffered from this far worse than earlier ones, because by that point, the series wasn't selling as well.
- After some deliberation on her blog, one of the Hungarian translators of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels decided to translate the name of the character Susan to Hungarian Zsuzsa. This hasn't met with universal approval among fans, some of whom pointed out that Sto Helit (where Susan is from) was so obviously unlike Hungary that giving her a Hungarian name was jarring. To be fair, the translator really made a heroic effort to get most of the puns translated, and leaving Susan's name alone would have displeased the other half of the fandom.
- Replacing many of the cultural references in Soul Music with Hungarian ones was a similarly controversial decision.
- The Spanish language versions of Lee Iacocca's books Iacocca: An Autobiography and Talking Straight also does this, but to ridiculous levels: All the references about American-style football are replaced as American Rugby (since the translators though that Spanish-speaking audiences will not be able to know what American-style football is.)
- Not to mention the translation of those books are the Spanish-language version of Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe, despise the books not being fiction literature and not taking taking place in the Middle Ages or Ancient Times.
- As it is mentioned on Woolseyism's entry, Polish translation of Honor Harrington cycle replaced Haven's State Sec with the name of the local State Sec from the time when Poland was a Real Life People's Republic of Tyranny.
- In the Spanish translation of a Captain Underpants book, Cher is replaced with Julio Iglesias.
- The first Harry Potter book had Americanization in addition to its title change, and despite selling well (to say the least) the publishers bore the criticism they received about it in mind when releasing the later books.
- Ron still calls his mother 'Mum' however. J. K. Rowling put her foot down for that one, saying in an interview "Mrs Weasley is NOT a 'mom'".
- The Danish translation sometimes replaces typical British food with alternatives that are more known to Danish readers. For example is the steak and kidney pie in chapter 9 of the first book replaced with minced meat patty, and the sherbet lemon that Dumbledore mentions in the very first chapter is reverse-translated into "citronsorbet" (lemon sherbet) which is icecream (sweets similar to sherbet lemon is eaten in Denmark, but icecream is much more popular).
- The USA version of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's Good Omens had, on request by an editor in the New York publishing house, an extra 700-word section included near the end assuaging the readers about the fate of the American character Warlock.
- The original version had Crowley as a fan of the American show Cheers. In the American version, this was changed to another American show, Golden Girls, which is just silly.
- It seems that was a compromise between the collaborators' different tastes in TV shows. Golden Girls is Terry's.
- The US edition of Artemis Fowl and the Time Paradox, by the proudly Irish Eoin Colfer, has equally proudly Irish Artemis start referring to his mother as 'Mom' after making an emotional breakthrough. She gains the title 'Mum' in the UK edition, but even that may be a version of this trope, as she's referred to indirectly as the very Irish "Mam" in the first book.
- In 1991, Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder published a highly successful juvenile novel called Sofies verden (Sophie's World), which has been translated into 54 languages. It contains references to the geography of the Norwegian capital, Norwegian authors, and a Norwegian poem, which is quoted in the text. Most foreign-language editions kept these references and translated the poem as directly as possible, but the U.S. edition substituted American geography and references to English-speaking authors.
- The English edition of P. J. O'Rourke's Modern Manners turned all the US-specific references into English ones. And rather clumsily at that: "the Democratic Party" became "the Social Democratic Party" (the Labour Party would have been a much better equivalent) while a series of jokes about US regional accents got mapped onto various regions of the UK seemingly at random.
- Medieval Icelandic translators of works dealing with Classical Mythology often substituted the names of the Greek gods with Norse ones. For example, Jupiter becomes Thor, Mercury Odin, Juno Frigg, and Venus Freyja. Snarls were inevitable — for instance, both Diana and Minerva become Gefjon.
- Ryuichi Sakamoto had a modest hit in the UK with Field Work featuring Thomas Dolby in 1984. This led to his 1984 album Ongaku Zukan being released internationally in 1986 with a new tracklisting under the title International Musical Encyclopedia. This version removed five of the original album's tracks, and added the singles Field Work and Steppin Into Asia and the track Ma Mere L'Oye (renamed to Zen-Gun) from a 7" single that originally came as a bonus disc with the original LP release of Ongaku Zukan. It renames the song Haye No Haneshida to In A Forest Of Feathers as well. Because of this the reworked album has a markedly different feel - it is more in line with the western view of Japanese music and does not have the more formal jazz and classical pieces the original album had.
- One of Gary Larson's 'The Far Side comics was a whale singing into a microphone underwater (Referencing Whale Song). The caption originally read "A Louie, Louie...wowoooo...We gotta go now...", but was changed for the Danish book version into "I'm singing in the rain..." Because that was more of an international hit. In the collection Prehistory of the Far Side, Larson noted that he found the Danish version funnier in retrospect.
- A strange semi-example: Traveller: The New Era is peppered with references to 20th-century pop culture, which caused many people to wonder why people in the 50th-something century were so fixated on pre-spaceflight Earth. Word Of God has it that this is supposed to be a Cultural Translation along with rendering 50th-century English as modern English.
- When Steve Jackson Games issued an American version of the French roleplaying game In Nomine, they did a complete rewrite. Interestingly, rather than specifically "Americanizing" the game's originally Franco-centric setting, they tried to make it more global.
- The Miser features a scene where numerous worthless kitschy objects are listed, including "tapestry hangings representing the loves of Gombaud and Macée"; these were apparently characters from "an old comic pastoral" sometimes depicted on tapestries at that time. The Polish translation of the play (by Tadeusz Boy-Zelenski) replaces this with "...the courtings of Jupiter", which is much less hopelessly obscure to modern audiences.
- In the Japanese version of Final Fantasy VIII, Zell's Trademark Favorite Food that he keeps trying to get from the cafeteria is a particular type of bread. In the English version it's hot dogs, and in French it's pretzels. This causes a minor Dub Induced Plot Hole in the Dance Party Ending, where Zell is seen stuffing his face — he finally got some of that damn bread! Fortunately, the bread looks enough like hot dog buns that most American players, at least, were able to get the punchline of the Brick Joke.
- The original Animal Crossing was heavily influenced by Japanese culture. Much had to be replaced to something the Western market can relate to, like a Japanese fireplace being replaced by a barbecue grill, during localization. However, the Japanese team liked the changes so much they released the game as Dōbutsu no Mori e-Plus in Japan as well.
- In God Hand, the Tension Gauge-increasing powerup item was Curry in the Japanese version. It was decided that curry wasn't a very common dish in the States, and so the American release features pizza instead.
- Subversion: The NES game Chubby Cherub, a localized version of a Q-taro Famicom title. The title character's sprite and the title screen were the ONLY graphical alterations. This runs contrary to other localized licenced games of the era, when all references to the show it was based on were removed.
- The two ''Daiku No Gensan'' games to arrive in the US before Hammerin' Hero received a particularly half-assed version of the "poorly-done pandering" version, renaming the main character from Genzo to Harry, and a few other minor touches, such as renaming the ramen stands in the first level to different things. (Kuromoku-gumi to Rusty Nailers is justified, as without translation notes, Kuromoku-Gumi is nothing more than gibberish to English speakers). Please note, however, that Harry still dresses unmistakeably like a Japanese carpenter, and the enemies who come out of what are now diners and pasta stands still throw what are visibly Japanese noodle bowls.
- The Cute 'em Up game Kiki Kai Kai ~ Nazo no Kuro Manto for the Super Famicom contained many references to Japanese mythology; the two player characters are a miko and a tanuki, the former's weapons are ofuda and an ōnusa, and the enemies are various types of obake. The official English version went by the title of Pocky & Rocky instead of attempting to translate the original title, and correspondingly renamed the aforementioned player characters to Pocky and Rocky. (The Theme Naming was not present in their original names, Sayo-chan and Manuke.) The ofuda and ōnusa were referred to as "cards" and "magic stick". Finally, Manuke / Rocky was referred to as a raccoon, rather than a raccoon-dog (the correct English name for tanuki).
- Could it be a contrived reference to The Beatles' song "Rocky Raccoon"? Also, the obake were called "Gorgonzola Goblins".
- At the beginning of Grim Fandango there is a clown who can make balloons shaped like Robert Frost. As Robert Frost is not well known in France, the balloon is said to be shaped like Captain Haddock (from Tin Tin) in the French version. When Manny Calavera examines the balloon he says: "That doesn't look like Captain Haddock at all."
- EarthBound has the statues shaped like a pencil and an eraser. In the original Japanese version, they are shaped like an octopus and a type of Japanese wooden doll.
- This was changed for a cute bit of wordplay - the Japanese word for eraser is "keshi", while the wooden doll is named "kokeshi". The name that erases the doll statue, therefore, is called the "kokeshi keshi".note The English version's changes not only preserve the joke (the "kokeshi keshi" is now the "eraser eraser"), it added one as well (the pencil eraser now makes a lot more sense)!
- The English translations of the Ace Attorney games change the setting from Tokyo to an unnamed metropolis in southern California, albeit one which looks a lot like Tokyo. English-speaking fans have lampshaded this by referring to the setting as "Japanifornia".
- Maya's Trademark Favorite Food is either ramen or burgers. This throws people off when people first meet the ramen cart man.
- The Punny Names get the treatment even with characters that have Japanese names start appearing. Although Amanogawa probably got shortened due to technical issues.
- There are various older Japanese games which, during German translation, received lots of pop-cultural references and in-jokes, often in the form of replacing various NPC's non-relevant statements.
- The German version of Secret of Mana has many German pop-culture references including an NPC called Heino, a musician often parodied for his look, looking for his sunglasses.
- Saiyuki World was based on Journey to the West, but most Americans didn't understand that, so it became a generic American Indian theme.
- Dynamite Headdy did quite a bit in changes also; removing the dialogue which cuts out a lot of the story is one such example.
- The few Kunio-kun games that were released internationally have this in some way or another, and are usually considered separate series' overseas:
- The first game in the series, Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun, was released overseas as Renegade. Kunio was renamed Mr.K and his white school uniform was replaced with a matching brown vest and pants getup obviously inspired by The Warriors. The outdoor train station from the first stage was replaced by an underground subway and all the enemy characters were redrawn as well with the exception of the final gang (although the Yakuza hitmen were oddly enough recolored black).
- Super Dodge Ball (the American version of Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu) had the simplest change in the series. Since the game already had an international theme, the nationality of the main team and their first rivals was simply changed from Japanese to American and the CPU-controlled American team became Japanese. In the NES version, the Russian team, originally the penultimate team, become the final team in the American localization.
- River City Ransom, the American version of Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari, anglicized the names of every character (with Kunio becoming Alex) and replaced their Japanese high school uniforms with t-shirts and jeans. Oddly enough, the Game Boy Advance remake features an Americanized script with the same anglicized names from the original NES game, but keeps the school uniforms from the Japanese version.
- Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu: Soccer Hen was released overseas as Nintendo World Cup. Originally all the 13 teams in the game were Japanese, but were given different nationalities in the overseas version, with some of the sprites and palettes changed and their stats switched. However, the Famicom version was programmed so that only allowed the player to use one team in Tournament Mode and one of five teams in Vs. Match Mode. The localization staff attempted to compensate for this by allowing the player to change the nationality of the main team in Tournament Mode, which changes the team's overall palette and power shots.
- A rather peculiar example would be Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan and Elite Beat Agents. When OTO became a surprise hit through imports, the developer decided to make a sequel tailored towards an American audience. Needless to say, it was still really strange for Americans (the basic concept is made even weirder). Unlike most examples, however, fans (including Japanese fans) reacted positively to EBA; enough that the Agents make a cameo appearance in OTO 2.
- In Kirby 64 The Crystal Shards, one of the health-recovery foods you can find lying around the levels is, in the Japanese version, a large piece of sushi. The American version had it changed to a large sandwich instead.
- Clock Tower: Ghost Head, all that was done was name changes, like Yuu becoming Alyssa or Shou becoming Bates. The setting, however, while changed from Osaka to San Francisco, looked exactly the same — the first house you explore is very Japanese, the hospital you visit has signs in it written in Japanese, and the whole thing takes place during a endless thunder storm. Storms are normal occurrences for Japan during the summer, but they would be very rare for San Francisco.
- In the first Trauma Center game, all names were changed to English, and the series was relocated to "Angeles Bay", California. However, just about everything else remains the same.
- The North American arcade game Bust-A-Move Again is the regional name for Puzzle Bobble 2, but the iconic bubble dragons Bub and Bob have been replaced by hand sprites. The hand sprites were not in any release of the first Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move. Thankfully they kept Bub and Bob in the console/portable releases of PB2/BAM2 due to probable Canon Discontinuity...except the US release of Taito Legends 2.
- A minor case occurs in Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey. Interviews with the dev team have noted that the setting was originally Tokyo, the traditional setting for the Mega Ten games, but moved to the region neutral Antarctica because of the series's increasing number of western fans.
- Averted in Pump It Up; nearly every Korean pop song appears in both the Korean and international releases.
- The Japanese releases of the Giga Wing series use kanji to separate digits in the freaking huge scores that players often get. The non-Japanese versions lack any kind of digit separators (not even commas), making reading scores in those versions a little trickier.
- The Tokyo Xtreme Racer series changes all units from metric (the system used in many non-American countries, Japan included) to U.S. units.
- Police 911: In the Japanese version, you start in Tokyo, then travel to Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. In the US version, it's the other way around, in addition to the stages being in a slightly different order.
- Tecmo's 1st Captain Tsubasa is translated into Tecmo Cup Soccer Game upon exporting. It features blondes and non-Japaneses who represent a strangely named national team instead of Japan.
- Most Rhythm Games change the songs' languages to fit the localizations region.
- House of the Dead: Overkill might just be better than the original series. The original series (at least the first two parts of it) consisted of English VAs literally reading Engrish text, loads of "satanic" and Tarot Motifs, and a lot of zombies in jeans walking shirtless...For dessert, it got its inspiration from horror B-movies. Overkill...makes it even more of a B-movie, except it get inspirations from places where the original series didn't. Namely, the Grindhouse films. The Mutants now include a foul-mouthed two-headed beast, an extremely loud girl who holds an uncanny physical resemblance to the ghost from Chakushin Ari (to the extent that Caesar fed his phone to her), bloody nurses and, of course, a cussy prison warden called Clement MOTHERFUCKING Darling. Add a film grain and everything (well, almost everything) Grindhouse had, and you get Overkill. And all this was developed by the British company Headstrong Games.
- The Japanese version of Police Quest redraws the game to make everyone look like Anime characters.
- Fan Translations of the Touhou series often run into this problem due to ZUN's (in)famous fascination with obscure elements of Japanese mythology and mind-bending wordplay (Japanese, natch). Cultural translations have occasionally resulted in local Fanon differing between countries, though the internet has been helpful in getting everyone on the same track.
- Although the arcade version of Contra, and its sequel Super Contra, were released almost unaltered in Europe (the former came out as Gryzor and actually inspired a set of 8-bit computer ports under that title), when it came time to release the NES version in PAL territories, Konami had to alter the character designs of the human characters (both players and some of the enemies) into robots, since Germany in particular had strict censorship laws which forbade the selling of video games that depicted human characters killing each other with machine guns. Thus, the NES Contra became Probotector and all the Contra sequels on home consoles followed suit. This lasted all the way until, ironically enough, Contra: Legacy of War for the PS1, in which all subsequent Contra sequels (at least the ones that came out in Europe), were identical to their American counterparts (aside for the Virtual Console re-releases of the older games).
- Alex Kidd in Miracle World had rice balls replaced with hamburgers in the version included as a built-in game with some models of the Sega Master System.
- A strange version almost happened with Least I Could Do. When the comic's creators looked into turning it into a cartoon, Teletoon mandated that the comic had to be changed to remind the viewersnote that it takes place in Canada; this would have included slapping a hockey jersey on one character, making the only girl an Inuit, and turning the protagonist's Walk and Talk into ice fishing. Creator Ryan Sohmer said no way and began working on his own cartoon while Teletoon produced a knock-off.
- A fan-made one from Square Root Of Minus Garfield: this strip mirrors this◊ real Garfield strip (in the literal sense) so that it makes more sense for people who live in countries who drive on the left side of the road (such as the author, who is Australian).
- Early Brazilian redubbing of The Simpsons included several local references so that things would sound more familiar (some of them are infamously remarkable). It seems they stopped by the sixth season.
- The Italian dub of The Simpsons and Family Guy normally replace obscure American references with the ones known in all the world. In a Simpson Season 11 episode they replaced the Dixie Chicks with Spice Girls, and they were onscreen. Everybody would state they didn't look similar.
- By the way, it seems to be pretty common in Brazilian dubs, especially in Adult Swim cartoons, like Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Sealab2021
- More common in dubs placed in Rio de Janeiro studios than in São Paulo studios, but yet, both apply this trope in an awesome fashion, making people consider Brazilian dub one of the best of the world. It's a common denominator even to foreign people who learn Portuguese, or people from other countries that speak this language.
- Fairly common in Québec, notably The Simpsons. The Québec dub is generally considered to be about as good as the original (if you can get over Homer having a deep, gruff voice), replacing some celebrity appearances with local ones when it fits, and generally making it sound both natural and very close to the original.
- In the German dub of the Futurama episode Parasite Lost, the parasites in Frys indestines greet the miniaturized heroes with "Welcome to Darmstadt", which is an actual German city whose name has changed over centuries to now sound exactly like "indestine city".
- Futurama also parodied the pandering variant in the episode Reincarnation, part of which was done in a pastiche of a badly-dubbed 80's anime. Several distinctly Asian landmarks were shown with English text directly superimposed over their names, reading things like "Omaha, Nebraska".
- The English dub of the French series Code Lyoko avoids falling into this trap, mostly by removing all spoken references to the show's setting. The animation itself is unchanged, thus keeping the show pretty firmly in France. This particular example is an interesting case, as the show was dubbed in France by a French company rather than in America.
- Sit Down, Shut Up is adapted from an Australian live action Sitcom, apparently with the help of the character designer for Code Name Kids Next Door. If it sounds a bit like Summer Heights High The Animated Series it's because both shows share a writer.
- The American Animated Adaptation of Street Fighter, being a pseudo continuation of the live-action movie, also had Guile as the main character, although later episodes would focus more on the franchise's iconic duo of Ryu and Ken.
- After years of getting the European French dub of South Park, a Québec French dub was recently made, probably with The Simpsons' success in mind. Except in that case, it turned out inferior to the European French, and seemed like it had ridiculous amounts of gratuitous swearing even compared to the original.
- The same thing happened to Family Guy, although its quality compared to the European French dub (which was generally disliked in Quebec) is more debatable. American Dad, however, has a similar Quebecois localization that is widely praised.
- The earliest case of Quebec localization would be the The Flintstones, where not only were the voices dubbed locally, but many character and place names were changed to make them sound more "Quebecois", even if this made them different from the European French dubs. Fred Flintstone was renamed Fred Caillou (a small rock) in Quebec, while in France he was named Pierrafeu (or "Pierre a Feu", the french for Flintstone). And Mr Slate, the owner of the stone quarry, was cleverly renamed "Mr Miroc", a reference to a ciment company operating in Quebec at the time. The show kept the European French name of "Les Pierrafeux", however.
- In the Taiwanese dub of South Park, Kyle's family is Buddhist. Other jokes are changed as appropriate: for example, when learning that the Tooth Fairy is fake, Kyle also asks if it's true that Mainland Chinese live "in hot fire and deep water" , as Taiwanese children learn in school. "They're fine." "Ahhhh!!"
- Uter, the German exchange student from The Simpsons is an exchange student from Switzerland in the German dub.
- But to be fair, the stereotypes the character is based on are not very German but rather Swiss or Austrian.
- The Russian dub of Drawn Together had references to Russian commercials and reality shows inserted into it, replacing some of the more obscure references to American culture.
- The Polish dub of Johnny Bravo replaces Farah Fawcett (in the episode "Johnny Meets Farah Fawcett") with Pamela Anderson, since the former was much more obscure in Poland (back when the translation was made in the late nineties) than the latter, and "Johnny Meets Someone You've Never Heard About" is hardly an interesting title.
- Something similar happened to the episode "Johnny Meets Adam West", which was re-titled to "Johnny Saves Mom", also likely due to West's obscurity in Poland (though in that case only the title was changed, West remained West in the episode itself).
- One Mexican Spanish-dubbed Family Guy episode had Jenna Jameson referred to in dialogue as Pam Anderson, as well.
- The following references from Drawn Together have been changed for the show's German dub:
- In the episode "Spelling Applebee's," references to Tori Spelling are replaced with Rosie O'Donnell and Tim Allen. One reference to Ellen DeGeneres is also replaced with Jodie Foster.
- In the same dub of the episode "Little Orphan Hero," Bell Biv DeVoe is replaced with Marilyn Monroe.
- In "Super Nanny," Captain Hero's line "Auf Wiedersehen, Frenchie!" is dubbed over with "Vaya con dios, darling!"
- Forrest Gump is mentioned in place of Jose "Daddy Long Legs" Martinez in "The Lemon-AIDS Walk."
- In "Wooldoor Sockbat's Giggle-Wiggle Funny Tickle Non-Traditional Progressive Multicultural Roundtable!," Wooldoor asks Clara, "David oder Copperfield (David or Copperfield)?," in which Clara replies, "Copperfield." In the original, he asks her, "Street or Vegas?," which she gives "Vegas" as an answer.
- In "Mexican't Buy Me Love," Bell Biv DeVoe is once again replaced, but this time with The Pussycat Dolls.
- In the original version of "Lost in Parking Space, Part One," when thinking of names beginning with "Captain," Foxxy lists Cap'n Crunch as one of them. While in this dub, she lists Captain Planet instead.
- In the same episode, Captain Hero refers to his right hand as his Stephen Hawking hand, where he refers to it as his Bob Dole hand in the original. This is due to Dole's obscurity in Germany.
- In "Lost in Parking Space, Part Two," the reference to Invader Zim is dubbed out, and is instead replaced with Sponge Bob Square Pants.
- Mary Lou Retton is replaced with Britney Spears in "Breakfast Food Killer."
- Quiznos is referenced in the original "Toot Goes Bollywood." But in this dub of the episode, McDonald's is.
- The Italian dubbed version of the Drawn Together episode "Freaks & Greeks" has the "Seacrest" in Ling-Ling Hitler bin Laden Seacrest replaced with Obama.
- In the Hungarian version of "Little Orphan Hero" on Drawn Together, Captain Hero sings Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Under the Bridge," whereas in the original he sings Five for Fighting's "Superman (It's Not Easy)."
- In the English version of the U.S. Acres quickie following the Garfield And Friends episode "Attack of the Mutant Guppies" has the guppies wanting to guest star on Muppet Babies. In the Spanish version, the guppies wish to appear on Sabado Gigante, a long-running Spanish variety show that is almost a century old.
- The Dutch dubs of Rugrats and All Grown Up! changed the setting from the USA to The Netherlands, replacing American cities with Dutch ones etc.
- The same was done initially for the Dutch dub of Phineas and Ferb (again with references to Dutch cities, and the Tri-State Area becoming the Region), but this was dropped around season 3 (when they started referring to the Tri-State Area as the Tri-State Area like in the original version, and stated several times that the Flynn-Fletcher family lives in America).
- The Danish dub of the Cartoon Network TV series The Life And Times Of Juniper Lee changed several references to America to Danish ones, including references to Jutland, Zealand and other Danish areas.
- Happens a lot with regional accents: British English, for example, is often rendered as European Spanish in Latin American dubs.
- The Kansai dialect of Japanese was often dubbed in English as a Brooklyn accent, due to similar stereotypes about the people who speak with them.
- Though the convention seems to have changed to a Texan accent, which still often works due to different nuances in the stereotype.
- In French, the Kansai-equivalent is usually the Marseilles accent.
- In Spanish, they usually go for the Andalusia accent (south of Spain), also due to similar stereotypes. Although that happens more often in translations, and only in fantasy worlds. It's almost never used in dubs nor when the story is set in Japan.
- People with German accents usually get Bavarian (or occasionally Swiss) accents in German dubs while British people have English German accents.
- Unless they are the stiff Prussian kind, in which case they usually speak in more or less standard German. However, Gert Fröbe dubbed himself in Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines with his native Saxon dialect and the German dub of Hogan's Heroes has Colonel Klink speaking in a Saxon and Corporal Schultz in a Bavarian accent.
- This also happens with Arabic, which tends to provide a wealth of accents within the same country, and where the differences in spoken dialect are so big that people often can't understand each other. Since most Arabs understand Cairene dialect of Egyptian Arabic, this would be translated as the "standard" dialect of the work; if the movie is American (for instance), a "normal" Midwest accent is translated as "regular" Cairene, a redneck would be given an Upper Egyptian accent, an Englishman Lebanese/Syrian or (if villainous) Standard Arabic, a Valley Girl "high class" Cairene or perhaps Lebanese (it's a long story), a New Yawker might be rendered as Port Said, etc.