Examples (sorted by the original media):
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Anime & Manga
- The PlayStation Vita game for Yuki Yuna Is a Hero features an unused character design for Karin, which has reddish hair instead of brown.
- The Fruits Basket anime accidentally Gender Flipped a major character. Akito was revealed late into the series to have been Raised as the Opposite Gender. The anime gives her a male voice and a male chest.
- Early promotional pictures of the Saint Seiya anime showed Shun holding a single chain in his hands, instead of having two chains coming out from his armor's forearm guards like in the manga and in the final anime design. That picture not only was kept around anyway, but the original action figure was based on it and featured the single chain.
- The first manga "adaptation" on The Vision of Escaflowne was based on preproduction materials and released before the main show even went on air. As a result, it is markedly different from the final product.
- Pocket Monsters: The Animation is a novelization of the Pokémon anime that consists of almost nothing but this. It was written by Takeshi Shudo, a director of the Original Series, and contains multiple ideas that aren't consistent with the anime itself (though early episodes do support some of the concepts). For example: The series takes place in the future, Pokémon are aliens who co-exist with humans and animals, Ash's dad is a deadbeat, ten year olds are legal adults who pay taxes, and Misty's sisters wear wigs.
- The The Legend of Zelda manga portrayed Link as a blond instead of a brunette like in the game. This could be a case of Adaptation Dye-Job or it could be a a reference to concept art that depicted Link as a blond.
- A few 1998 Sailor Moon dolls put out by Irwin Toys in Canada referred to Haruka, Michiru, and Setsuna as "Corrinn", "Nerissa", and "Celia". When the characters finally appeared in the dub, their Dub Name Changes were "Amara", "Michelle", and "Trista".
Films — Animation
- Frozen went through significant story changes even during the year before release. One of the licensed picture books, A Sister More Like Me, have Elsa and Anna actually interact with each other, if only barely. Meanwhile, the final film has Elsa completely shut-out Anna and remain in her room, with the coronation being the first time in years that the sisters have even seen each other. This also has the side-effect of having Elsa come across as more a content loner rather than depressed and stoic like in the film.
- A huge amount of merchandise uses a stock image of Elsa with a DreamWorks Face. It uses an older model of Elsa's which is noticeably rougher around the edges than her final model.
- The novelization contains a difference near the end that was from a developmental change. Kristoff was going to have a larger role in the climax, knocking Hans out after the guy has a villainous second wind and tries to attack again. The novelization kept the scene.
- A plush doll of Elsa with a voice box contains a cut line: "But I am still your queen". Word of God is that it comes from the scene where Anna and Hans ask for Elsa's blessing and she refuses to give it, saying that Anna can't marry a man she just met. The final product has Anna to snap back that she knows more about love than Elsa, at which point Elsa just ends the conversation. A previous version had Anna's retort be that she doesn't even need Elsa's permission because she wasn't her mom, which causes Elsa to reply with "I may not be your mother, but I am your queen."
- The Simpsons Movie: Russ Cargill underwent a complete design overhaul late in production, but a tie-in Burger King figure retains his original design.
- In the Picture Book Novelization of The Great Mouse Detective the scene where a drunk mook of Ratigan insults him and is then fed up to his cat is slightly changed: Ratigan thinks he heard someone insult him, and choose one random gangster (the same drunk fool from the movie) to make an example (which is arguably even more evil).
- The original picture book for Alice in Wonderland featured the Jabberwock scene that was cut in the final film.
- The Lion King video game contains several levels and enemies inspired by concept art that never made it into the film, including the scenes that were eventually truncated into "Hakuna Matata". You can see a bit about it here, with Louis Castle of Westwood Studios (who worked on the game).
- Some merchandise for Zootopia still alludes to an older version of the story, where Nick was the main protagonist and being framed for a crime he didn't commit, and was being chased down by Judy, who was a seasoned detective rather than a rookie cop.
- Deadly Tide was originally a licensed game for an animated film named Blue Planet, however the film fell into Development Hell and ended up being cancelled.
- The toy line to The Good Dinosaur contains dinosaurs that were meant to be in the film but were scrapped.
- The manga adaptation of Big Hero 6 contains multiple differences from the film due to being based on unused concepts. The Japanese version even has Aunt Cass as Hiro's and Tadashi's mother, which she was in earlier drafts.
- In The Road to El Dorado, originally there was a scene of Chel escaping being sacrificed to the gods. This is why she is seen being chased by the guards when Tulio and Miguel first meet her. This was cut out of the film for being too dark, but was left in some promotional media like the tie-in book on tape.
- Toy Story:
- In Toy Story 2, Other!Buzz's final scene was supposed to be him carrying Zurg's supposedly dead body and lamenting to the others that he now had to go bury his father. It was deemed too dark however it was too late to remove it in the novelization.
- The "Nightmare Buzz" boss from Toy Story is based off of a deleted scene from the movie.
- Joy from Inside Out originally wore a light yellow dress, but was changed to lime green late in production. The majority of the film's merchandise still have her in the yellow dress.
- The novelizations for the BIONICLE movies feature deleted or altered scenes, and sometimes described the characters looking differently. Takanuva's very brief death is absent from the first novel, as he simply walks out of a dust cloud to the other characters' delight, instead of having to be resurrected by them. The third novel contains awkward innuendo which was cut from the film, and the fourth novel has a much serious and dramatic tone compared to the more comedic and lighthearted movie. The regular, non movie-based books also portrayed certain character with weapons that the prototype action figures carried but were removed from the final products, like Jaller Mahri's second sword or Nuparu Mahrii's blaster shield.
- The novelization of Doug's 1st Movie retains the scrapped subplot of Roger having a crush on the disguised monster.
Films — Live-Action
- Star Wars:
- About a year before the movie Return of the Jedi was released, at least one licensed toy was labeled with the title of the forthcoming sequel Revenge of the Jedi. Theatrical trailers said the same thing. Apparently the title was changed because revenge is not part of a Jedi's character. Star Trek II: Vengeance of Khan changed its name Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan to avoid similarities to the then-upcoming Star Wars film.
- The Empire Strikes Back is famous for having Yoda as a blue creature, not green.
- The Marvel comic adaptation of Episode IV (A New Hope) includes a deleted scene of Han Solo chatting with Jabba the Hutt, who looks NOTHING like the Jabba who would first appear in Return of the Jedi, and would later be added to A New Hope in the special edition and later releases. The novelization also includes Luke's cut scenes with Carrie and Biggs.
- The toyline for Star Wars: The Force Awakens includes an action figure of Constable Zuvio, a character whose scene was entirely cut from the final film.
- Transformers Film Series:
- Averted in the toyline for the first film: The heads of Megatron and Starscream were changed late during production of the film, but the toy headsculpts were redone in time. The picture on the back of the boxes of Leader Class Megatron and Deluxe Class Protoform Starscream still show the original designs.
- Played straight in many other pieces of merch such as books, where Megatron's original face design was still used.
- The transformation scheme and overall design for Optimus Prime was dramatically changed in the film, as the toy for the film quite accurately reflected the original model. The general look of Optimus was similar enough to not be a big deal (all variations on the window chests, smokestacks on the shoulders and the grill for abs), but he got a significantly more accurate toy for the sequels.
- The Novelization of the first Night at the Museum film (not to be confused with the original children's book that the movie was based on) was based on an earlier draft of the script that had Akhmenrah unable to read heiroglyphics, requiring Larry to seek the help of his Love Interest to translate them.
- It was intended that the character of Robin be introduced in Batman Returns. Reportedly, Tim Burton collaborated with DC Comics artist Norm Breyfogle to redesign the Robin costume so that it would coincide with the one planned for the film. Kenner Toys even went so far as to produce a corresponding action figure, but when Robin was eventually written out of the script, Kenner released the toy anyway, as the character newly rendered in the comic books.
- The Star Trek: Generations action figures were this. Most notably a Kirk figure was made in a space suit which he doesn't wear in the film, as it was based on a Deleted Scene. More subtly, the whole crew wears a uniform designed for the film that was ultimately scrapped.
- Dark Horse Comics released a comic adaptation of Army of Darkness that was based on the early script of the film.
- The novelization of Back to the Future is based on its earlier drafts, with changes so drastic the novel (thanks to exposure courtesy of Ryan North's B to the F: The Novelization of the Feature Film) got its own trope page.
- Supergirl had a headband during the 80s because she originally wore one in the Supergirl film. The headband was ultimately scrapped from the film, but it was too late for it to be removed from her comic design.
- Star Trek:
- Many of the original Star Trek: The Original Series Novelizations by James Blish were based on early scripts, and contained elements that didn't make it into the finished episodes.
- The first couple of Star Trek: The Next Generation novels included concepts that, while used in the Pilot "Encounter At Farpoint", did not appear in the rest of the series. The first novel, "Ghost Ship", featured Deanna calling Riker "Bill" instead of "Will", Deanna wearing a micro-dress uniform instead of the normal bunny-suit, and her and Riker having a fully fledged psychic link. Picard tended to be intensely French in it to a degree he never was in the series proper. The cover art also appears to have a picture of the classic Battlestar Galactica only upside-down on it instead of the Enterprise.
- Doctor Who had a retrospective example in the novelisation of "The Massacre of Saint Bartholomew's Eve". The original scriptwriter disliked the changes made to his story in development, and years later novelised his first-draft scripts.
- The Decepticon Logo seems to be a stylized version of Soundwave's face, and the Autobot Symbol appears to be based on Prowl's, suggesting at some point that these two were intended as the leaders - This was obviously changed, but the logos remained.
- Often, toy designs, colour schemes, and even whole alt modes are based on earlier designs or concepts that become changed in the finished comics, cartoons or movies.
- In G1, characters had their character models drawn based on their toys... or pictures of their toys... or in some cases, concept drawings of their toys. This resulted in some of the biggest deficits in Show Accuracy/Toy Accuracy in the series. For a good example, Grapple's character model◊ shows his crane arm going down his back, but the artists and animators interpreted it as a part of his leg, including the person who drew the back view of the model.
- One of the My Little Pony G3 cartoons prominently featured a pony named "Fiesta Flair". She was never released, which fans theorize is because she was deemed too stereotypically Mexican, and her design was reused for "Candy Apple".
- Several pieces of BIONICLE media depict the characters based on the toy prototypes rather than the finalized models, such as all six Piraka on the cover of the book Dark Destiny, most characters in the Voya Nui Online Game, the Toa Metru having exposed chest-gears throughout the 2004-05 comics, Hewkii Inika being brown instead of gunmetal in the 2006 web animations, or the Bone Hunters looking like Rock Tribe Agori and the Thornax fruit appearing as an orb of glowing energy in the movie The Legend Reborn.
- Ruthie Smithens and Molly McIntire from the American Girl toy line had brown eyes in the tie-in books that came with the dolls, yet the latter shipped with grey eyes for some reason.
- Blaine in the Pokémon anime is based on a developmental design instead of his finalized design.
- The first Pokemon manga, a 4koma anthology, featured Red with straight hair similar to his prototypical Capsule Monsters design.
- Many of the early artworks and illustrations released in Japan when Pokemon Red and Green were released showed many details from preliminary concepts for the game, such as Pokeballs splitting in half when the Pokemon inside is released, Pikachu's and Charizard's prototypical designs, and even the unused female character was shown in an origami book and an image of Red, her, and Blue with the starters exists (her design was recycled for Blue in Pokémon Adventures and in the remake games for the female protagonist, Leaf).
- Ho-Oh as shown at the end of the first episode of the anime is from a very early design that differs from the finalized Pokémon Gold and Silver design.
- An early Universe Bible for Donkey Kong Country named "Donkey Kong And The Golden Banana" shows an unused plot where a Kremling steals the special Golden Banana of "Grandpa Kong" (the prototypical Cranky Kong) and Donkey Kong has to retrieve it. The Golden Banana appeared in the Donkey Kong Country cartoon. The Golden Banana was later used in Donkey Kong 64.
- The Planescape: Torment novelization is based on an early draft.
- Sonic the Hedgehog:
- Splats the Rabbit, an unused enemy from Sonic the Hedgehog, appeared in Sonic the Comic, Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, and early merchandise. Splats didn't make it into the games themselves until Sonic Mania - around 25 years after said appearances in tie-in materials.
- The first promotional manga for Sonic the Hedgehog, named Sonic The Hedgehog Story Comic and dating to summer of 1991, shows Sonic with fangs. These were supposedly cut from his finalized design to make Sonic look less scary. His shoes have buckles like in his original concept art as well. The manga has Sonic being in a band, which was cut soon after his Token Human girlfriend Madonna was removed and the enemies were changed to Badniks.
- An in-character interview released in a Japanese magazine not soon after the release of Sonic the Hedgehog has Sonic as a rock star, despite the fact the concept was supposedly changed before release. This idea was later made reality by the short-lived Sonic Underground cartoon.
- According to Sonic the Hedgehog 3's standalone sound test option, Flying Battery Zone was originally supposed to be the fifth level in the game, taking place in between Carnival Night Zone and Ice Cap Zone, with cutscenes showing a cannon from Carnival Night launching Sonic into Flying Battery and Sonic using the door from Flying Battery as a snowboard for Ice Cap. However, because no proper transition cutscene between Mushroom Hill Zone and Sandopolis Zone was made, or possibly to keep the levels even between Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles, Flying Battery Zone didn't make it as a playable zone for Sonic 3. It was later used as one of the zones for Sonic and Knuckles, taking place in between Mushroom Hill and Sandopolis. Nevertheless, the bag for the Sonic 3 McDonald's happy meal tie-in shows Flying Battery as one of the zones for its activities.
- Though not exactly a tie-in, Wayne's World cameoed Marble Zone from the first game in an early format. It shows the infamous scrapped UFOs.
- The Prima Strategy Guide for Paper Mario: Sticker Star mentions various enemies that aren't in the game, such as 4-Fold Goombas and Shiny Dry Bones.
- An unofficial strategy guide for Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped was based on an early build of the game and features various beta elements such as different time requirements for relics or different amounts of fruit in a level.
- Sands of Destruction's opening shows Morte looking serious and pensive, praying in a church of some sort before walking out solemnly. The anime version of her is also quite somber. In the game proper, however, Morte is more of a Genki Girl Mad Bomber who jumps up and down with happiness when she wins a fight. The game's opening also shows Rhi'a walking around with Naja, and the anime has them working together in the World Salvation Committee, with Rhi'a angry and indignant that Morte wants to end the world; in the game, Rhi'a joins the World Annihilation Front out of curiosity and sees the end of the world as its unavoidable fate, whether at Morte's hands or not. The anime was created midway through the game's production cycle, and it's obvious they were working with old scripts: the locations and characters are all there, and even in mostly the same order, but characters' personalities - especially the girls - and the precise chain of events are quite different.
- My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic:
- One of the early books refers to Princess Luna as "Selena", which was her original name.
- Many pieces of merchandising used artworks based on concept art, with some design differences such as pegasi having five visible feathers in each wing instead of four, every pony having visible eyelashes on the bottom of their eyes rather than only on top and Sweetie Belle having oval-shaped eyes rather than round. The limited edition glow in the dark Zecora figure released in 2013 takes the crown, since the artwork on her box is literally a colored version of one of Lauren Faust's first sketches for the character which had narrower head and eyes than the definitive model.
- The Flintstones: A Little Golden Book from 1959, a year before the series premiered, features a son in the family named Junior. In the series, Fred and Wilma were childless until they had a baby girl in 1962.
- In the original The Simpsons shorts appearing on 'The Tracey Ullman Show'' Bart wore a blue shirt. Despite him having an orange shirt in the series proper, a lot of merchandise had Bart wearing a blue shirt during the 90s.
- According to Britt Allcroft, Bertram from the Thomas the Tank Engine episode "Toby's Discovery" was supposed to be a tank engine, but due to financial difficulty in making a new model, Duke's model was repainted and given Smudger's face. Bertram's 2000 and 2011 Wooden Railway models depict him as a tank engine, while his 2016 model depicts him with his tender.
- The first He-Man and the Masters of the Universe action figures were based upon early concepts of the characters that were changed by the time the Filmation cartoon series aired.
- The The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius video game for Attack of the Twonkies uses Cindy's movie design with the Girlish Pigtails, instead of her cartoon design which has a ponytail and looks older.
- A song for The Powerpuff Girls is called "Signal in the Sky", however the girls use a hotline installed in the Mayor's office instead of a Bat Signal. In two episodes they have a signal (most notably the first episode), but that was a Early Installment Weirdness related leftover from the original Whoopass Girls short.
- The tie-in books for SpacePOP were written before the cartoon was made, and the first one has differences like Captain Hansome actually looking like his disguise, Rand being blue, and Chamberlin being very old.