This occurs when a derivative work (an adaptation, a sequel, a remake, a reimagining) is so different from the work it took its name from that the only thing actually tying it to the original work is the title. Occasionally this will expand to include character names and the setting.
This can happen when the work was originally intended as something completely different, but, being slightly similar to an existing franchise, it is changed to fit in that franchise, or it can be straight-up title hijack.
Established properties are much easier to get greenlit than original ideas. In some cases producers purchase franchise rights for the name alone, and slap it on their own original product as a way of getting it pushed through the studio system. Video games and cult franchises are especially popular for this approach as they are relatively cheap to buy and, being "only" popular art, so called, any established canon for the work can be dismissed as unimportant. Many a Cash Cow Franchise has descended to this at least once. It may be considered the Oddball in the Series.
Important: This is not automatically They Changed It, Now It Sucks. An In Name Only work may well be decent, or even good, if it's assessed on its own merits rather than being measured by how faithful it is to the original work.
If the work in question is not an attempted adaptation of another work, but merely sports a misleading name, that's a Nonindicative Name. If the name used to be relevant but less or even not later, it is Artifact Title. If a franchise continues after the original source material runs out, that's Overtook the Series. If multiple works share the same name but are unrelated, you have Similarly Named Works. A good way to tell if an example is really this trope or just a bad adaptation: if one were to change the title to something else, would anyone understand that the work is supposed to be an adaptation? If the answer is "no", then the adaptation is this trope.note Changing character names is not necessary for the test; there is always the possibility of coincidence, or of Shout-Out Theme Naming.
Compare Dolled-Up Installment. See also Old Guard Versus New Blood.
Contrast Serial Numbers Filed Off, Exactly What It Says on the Tin, Expy. Not to be confused with Non-Indicative Name.
Subverted in Ga-Rei Zero-. The first episode introduces an entirely new crew of Badass main characters, completely different from the ones in the manga. The episode ends with Yomi appearing and taking them all out. Turns out the anime is related to the manga in that it centers around Yomi's Start of Darkness.
Kirby of the Stars isn't really about Kirby, despite the fact that the Theme Song says so. He's Badass Adorable and occasionally causes mischief, but doesn't have enough personality to carry the show as a central character. The real focus comes from his two friends, the townsfolk, and King Dedede.
Idolmaster: Xenoglossia retains some of the characters' personalities from the original video game, but changes... well, everything else.
Osamu Tezuka's manga Metropolis is "suggested" by Fritz Lang's Metropolis, in that Tezuka was inspired to write the manga by a single still image he saw from the film: that of a female robot being born. The two works have a few basic similarities, but they're coincidences- Tezuka hadn't seen the film, or even known what it was about, when he wrote the manga.
A 2001 anime film, also titled Metropolis, is another, quite interesting case. It claims to be based on Tezuka's manga- even billing itself Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis- but is in fact an odd mishmash of that manga, several other Tezuka mangas, and the Fritz Lang movie. The film mostly does its own thing, merely borrowing a lot of elements from those works, making this an In Name Only adaptation of an In Name Only adaptation!
In-Universe, Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam has a moment where one transfer student talks about the Space Pirates supposedly having a Gundam and another student remarks "These days, the media calls anything with two eyes and antennae a Gundam". A margin note from artist Yuichi Hasegawa reveals that Yoshiyuki Tomino (the creator of the Gundam franchise) specifically asked him to include this line.
The manga adaptation of Princess Tutu has little to do with the show—the names of Ahiru's friends were changed, Ahiru isn't a duck, Mytho isn't really a prince, Drosselmeyer never appears, and the only animal is Professor Cat, for some unexplained reason. The most unrecognizable is Edel, who goes from being a quiet, mysterious woman in doll-like clothing and a huge updo to an energeticObi-Wan who wears slinky dresses and her hair down—oh, and just happens to be the Big Bad of the manga. The consensus among fans range from "It's sort of funny I guess..." to pretending it doesn't exist at all.
Despite the title and what the credits claim, Romeo X Juliet has nothing to do with Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet aside of the characters' names (but not their personalities). The English version made use of some Shakespearean dialogue.
Voltron fans back in the day felt this way when the Lion series ended and they first saw Vehicle Voltron. The reason for this is because it is actually a Dolled-Up Installment of a completely unrelated anime series.
Hades Project Zeorymer - Originally a hentai manga. The title mech and the name of a female character are the only thing the manga and anime share.
Some of the characters in Ame-Comi Girls. For instance, Jade goes from being the daughter of the Golden AgeGreen Lantern to a blind Chinese teenager. She ends up being chosen as the new Green Lantern of Earth, rather than being born with her powers like the original Jade.
The second Bloodstrike team is made up of longtime team leader Cabbot Stone, and Legacy Characters to his original teammates. The legacies have very little in common with the originals in terms of powers, personalities, and costumes, but share their codenames. For instance, whereas the original Tag was a woman with the ability to freeze enemies in place, the new Tag is a woman with super speed. In-universe there's no explanation for this, but writer Tim Seeley went on record saying that it just didn't feel right to have Bloodstrike without Deadlock, Shogun, Fourplay, and Tag, even if they were new characters.
The Challengers of the Unknown keep being reinvented. In the 1991 miniseries by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale Prof was dead, Rocky was an alcoholic, Ace was Doctor Strange and Red was Rambo. The 1996 series by Steven Grant introduced an entirely new team, as did the 2004 miniseries by Howard Chaykin. And in the New 52, Dan DiDio creates a group of nine characters with the names of the original and 1996 Challs, but none of the personalities.
Michael Fleisher's run on Harlem Heroes was focused on a gang of convicts caught up in a conspiracy to assassinate the President, rather than the sport of Aeroball the original strip. In fact, the only reason that the name came up in story was due to the games being played in prison and the skill of the protagonists at Aeroball.
There's an AnimesqueBrazilian spin off◊ of Little Lulu where the characters in question are teens. The plot is basically a generic teen Slice of Life (with some drama here and there) with characters whose only similarities with the original are their names.
Novas Aventuras De Megaman was a Brazilian comic attempting to place the characters in an After the End scenario where Dr. Wily managed to Take Over the World. Beyond the general appearance of the characters, though, there wasn't much left tying it to the video games. Radically altered backstories, personality changes and Roll's increased importance are the most obvious changes compared to the games.
Many of the characters in Marvel's Noir series of Elseworlds are notably different from their mainstream continuity counterparts:
Of particular note is Dr. Otto Octavius, one of the primary antagonists of Spider-Man: Noir: Eyes Without a Face. Noir's version of the character is a sickly, emaciated, wheelchair-bound neurologist. He's a white South African, a Nazi sympathizer, and heir to a large fortune. His actions are motivated by racism. The only thing he has in common with mainline Dr. Octopus is the use of mechanical arms, in this case surgical aids attached to his chair.
In X-Men Noir, there aren't even mutants. Instead, Professor Xavier has a theory that The Unfettered are the next stage of human evolution, leading to an entire team of non-powered Sociopaths that share names and a couple of character traits with the mutant heroes.
Many a Super Mario Bros. comic adaptation. The German comics are the strangest here; they share some Mario characters with the series and those characters generally behave how they should, it's just the rest of the plot is outright bizarre to the point of being a Widget Series. Some notably strange ones include Super Mario in Die Nacht des Grauens (Night of Horror) which has a bunch of random Nintendo characters living in a skyscraper attacked by the legions of hell and various movie monsters including Jason, Chucky, and Leatherface and Sag niemals Holerö where Mario goes skiing and has everyone turn into cheese... There were also numerous elements from Street Fighter II and Mega Man included.
This trope is a deliberate unifying premise in DC's "Tangent Comics" line and the "Just Imagine Stan Lee " series. Unlike Elseworlds, which is a re-imagining of a DC character that usually retains most of the core elements, Tangent and Just Imagine attach the existing names to completely different characters with different powers, costumes, origins, appearances, and personalities — the latter having been co-designed by Stan Lee. Usually, the only common element is that they're metahumans in a modern setting.
In the foreword to the Wonder Woman Trade Paperback "Gods and Mortals", George Perez mentions that there were several proposals for the Post-Crisis reboot of Wonder Woman, some of which had nothing in common with the original but the name.
Back in the early 2000s, Marvel decided to radically revamp two titles — X-Force and Thunderbolts. X-Force went from the exploits of a mutant paramilitary team to the exploits of a mutant celebrity superhero team obsessed with fame. The title was well-received (and rebranded as X-Statix), partially because it inverted the whole "hated and feared" aspect of mutant culture. Thunderbolts, on the other hand, went from the tales of a team of former supervillains seeking redemption to following an underground fight ring centered around C-list villains. This change was quite a bit less well-received.
DC Comics created several characters during the Golden Age, but by the end of WWII the interest in superheroes died down, and most titles (except Superman and Batman) were closed or moved to other genres. The Silver Age began with the relaunch of The Flash... besides the name and the speed, Barry Allen had nothing in common with Jay Garrick. The same thing was done with Green Lantern, Hawkman, and others. But the prize goes to The Atom, who went from a rough-and-tumble boxer who was kinda short to a physicist who could shrink to subatomic size.
Though in this case, things were retconned twice. The first time, it had been revealed that the Golden Age characters lived on Earth-2, while the Silver Age characters lived on Earth-1.
The second time it was retconned to fit into the new continuity created by Crisis on Infinite Earths. Alan Scott, for instance, was revealed to have received his power from the Starheart, an artifact created by the Guardians of the Universe (i.e., the same guys who made the Green Lantern rings), and Jay Garrick and Barry Allen were later revealed to both have received their power from the "speed force".
Since DC's business theory (such as it is) is about hanging onto trademarks as long as possible, they have a long history of reusing names in some odd fashion or another. Such as the 1940's superhero Johnny Thunder, the 1950's cowboy Johnny Thunder, and the 1980's noir detective Jonni Thunder. Or all those unrelated characters named Starman. This often leads to the point where a story tries to reconcile these different incarnations somehow.
Also The Vision. The Golden Age Vision was an alien police officer from another dimension. The new Vision introduced in The Avengers during the 60's was a Ridiculously Human Robot created by Ultron. The only thing the two have in common is the recycled name and similar costumes.
When Vertigo Comics publish a series that shares a name with a DC Comics property, that, and a few loose concepts, will be all it shares (with a few exceptions, such as Animal Man, Swamp Thing, and Doom Patrol). The most extreme example (if you don't count Sandman) was Beware The Creeper! which was about a 1920s Parisian surrealist who wore a costume vaguely similar to Jack Ryder's.
His Rush Hour fic is actually about the board game of the same name.
Also, his Across the Universe fics are essentially about wars between the Beatles (who can only say "Liverpol") and ABBA.
Homestuck High bears very little resemblance to the original Homestuck, with pretty much the only thing even remotely related to the alleged source material being the character names and the title of the fic itself, and after the first chapter has nothing to do with high school.
The infamous Harry Potter fanfic My Immortal takes this trope to ridiculous levels - to the point where it stops being a Harry Potter fanfic even in name. Many of the characters are given new names. Good vs. evil is replaced with goffs vs. preps, Muggle bands constantly perform in Hogsmeade (though it is more likely to be Vlodemort and da Death Deelers), and there is NO character that could be remotely mistaken for their canon counterpart. Seriously, Hedwig is Voldemort's gay lover in the fic. In the original series, she is a female owl.
Ponies are not present except for a few offhand mentions of the show itself.
The eponymous bureaus of The Conversion Bureau are not present and there is no human-to-pony transformation. Instead, the bureau is a bioterrorist group inspired by MLP:FiM to engineer and release a Synthetic Plague that feminizes men.
The 1997 animated film Anastasia was supposedly "based on" the play by Marcel Maurette. Don Bluth turned it into a musical with Rasputin as an undead sorcerer with a talking bat sidekick, among other changes (the play had already been faithfully adapted to a 1956 film starring Yul Brynner and Ingrid Bergman).
Barbie as Rapunzel has little to do with the actual Rapunzel story except for having a girl named Rapunzel, a witch, and a tower. The famous "let down your hair" scene is relegated to a dream. Instead, the focus is given on a magic paintbrush.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was about a scientist with a strained relationship with his father turning water into food and having the food turn giant. The book Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs was about a place where food came down from the sky instead of rain, no scientists involved, and it started getting larger until they had to leave. This crosses over with Adaptation Expansion, as the original was a very short picture book.
Lampshaded in Walt Disney's original Fantasia in the Nutcracker Suite segment. The narrator says "You won't see any nutcracker on the screen. There's nothing left of him but the title."
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is a noted example. Direct sequels notwithstanding, the Final Fantasy games all take place in different settings, but at least have some shared elements: fantasy worlds (with steampunk and bits and pieces of sci-fi increasingly mixed in for later games), heavy use of magic, swordplay, revolutionaries, tyrannical political institutions, series mainstay creatures like Chocobos, etc. Unlike the high fantasy settings of the games, the film was set in a distantly futuristic Earth, one that had essentially none of these mainstay elements. And perhaps most damning of all: Square themselves made it, and series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi was involved in the film's production. Yes, even creators can fall victim to this trope.
The notorious 1966 release of The Hobbit takes this to ridiculous levels. Several character names are changed, such as Smaug to Slag, and others such as Bard, Thranduil, and most of the Dwarves are cut out. One major character in this movie is a Canon Foreigner named Princess Mika, who is princess of Dale (despite no royal family being present in Dale at the time the book takes place in). Bilbo slays Smaug himself and marries Princess Mika.
Frozen is billed as an adaptation of The Snow Queen, but it's probably better to say that it's just an adaptation of the title. The original fairy tale was about a peasant girl trying to rescue her friend from an Ambiguously Evil member of The Fair Folk, with random encounters along the way; the Disney movie is primarily about a good, human queen with uncontrollableice magic and her relationship to her sister, with the threat of Endless Winter and a few original characters thrown in. They both include a reindeer sidekick, though.
At one point in the Kipling stories, Kaa the python hypnotizes a troupe of monkeys into becoming his helpless (ahem) dinner guests; later on, Mowgli singes Shere Khan's fur with a burning branch, and when that fails to get rid of him, Mowgli and the wolves stampede a herd of water-buffalo over him. As if that wasn't enough, in the story "Red Dog", Mowgli causes the marauding dogs of the title to be attacked by millions of angry bees; those who survive this by jumping into the river are attacked by Mowgli with a knife, and any that are left must then face Mowgli and his enraged wolf pack. Incidentally, Mowgli does most of this while he's naked. It should come as no surprise that none of this makes it into the Disney version.
Using fire against Shere Khan does show up in the movie. The branch was tied to his tail, but he was never directly singed. Well, not that we see, at least...
Shere Khan is a suave and dangerous badass, rather than the crippled but occasionally dangerous shadow of a once great predator from the book.
King Louie is an original character; the monkeys in the book, called Bandar-log, have no leader. The vultures aren't present in the book either; the most prominent bird character is Chil the Kite.
The King and I incorporates many of the original songs and characters from the Rodgers and Hammerstein play of the same name that it was based on, but in trying to be kid-friendly introduced many plot elements, comic relief, and supporting characters that made it jarringly dissimilar from the play. There's now a villainous subplot to take over the Kingdom of Siam, evil wizardry, a generic teenage romance, and annoyingly cute animal sidekicks. Fans of the play and moviegoers alike did not take kindly to this version and the estates of Rodgers and Hammerstein pulled all support for anymore animated films based on the duo's works.
Shrek and all its sequels, though it is entirely justified - the William Steig novelty children's story that inspired the series would barely have stretched to a five minute short.
Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas has nothing whatsoever to do with the stories about Sinbad the Sailor other than featuring a character named Sinbad who happens to be a sailor. Further, it removes "Sinbad" from the original story's Arabian Nights background and places him in a completely Greek setting. (This being 2003, the producers might have felt that it was Too Soon after 9/11 for an Arab hero.)
Ćon Flux had nothing in common with the TV series except for three character names, a couple of prop designs, and that it involved an Action Girl. The creator of the TV show has been complaining ever since. Interestingly, the video game is actually a wonderfully faithful adaptation of the cartoon, despite being produced as a tie-in for the movie.
The Red Queen shares only her title with the chess piece from Through the Looking Glass, and is in every other respect based on the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland.
The Alone in the Dark video game series is a rather atmospheric experience, usually residing within the territory of Survival Horror, but Alone in the Dark (2005) is just a hardcore action flick with a few horror elements stolen from various sources, with almost no story elements from the games. When Uwe Boll was handed a working script, his first comment was "There weren't enough car chases." Also, at no point are any of the characters ever alone in the dark. They are either with someone else at the time, or they are not in the dark.
The film Film/Frankenstein1931 has very little in common with Mary Shelley's novel except a few names and the concept of person made of corpse body parts being brought life.
The classic Ray Bradbury short story, A Sound of Thunder and the film of the same title both involve time travellers accidentally altering the past while hunting a dinosaur — and that's literally it. The movie even kills the concept on which the book was based in the first five minutes. That's like Marty getting run over by a semi before he can hit 88 MPH in the first Back to the Future.
The best part is how, in the original story, the possible effects of the altered past are built up to be unspeakably disastrous during the course of the story. When the Time Safari does get back, however, everything is basically the same... and then they notice the wonky spelling... The story's ending was apparently too subtle for Hollywood, so we got a city overgrown with jungle (it doesn't even make sense in context) and crawling with killer baboon-things and sewer sharks. Oh, and there's also something about a catfish-man. Of course.
The worst part is the movie can't even keep its own mythology straight. In the original story, it was simple - changing something in the past changed the future. In the movie, changing the past causes time to change in six "waves", and the protagonists remember everything that happened before the change. At the end, when the timeline is set right, the changes happen instantly and nobody remembers what happened.
The film adaptation of the novel Avalon High. In the movie, the main character turns out to be the reincarnation of Arthur, rather than Elaine of Astolat/The Lady of the Lake, changing the entire plot completely. Similarly, Marco is Kay instead of Mordred, and a teacher turns out to actually be Mordred. With half of the characters swapped around, it definitely becomes a case of this trope.
The new character Batgirl introduced in Batman & Robin is considered by many fans to be this due to the liberties taken with her origin, changing her from Commissioner Gordon's daughter to Alfred's niece, and dropping any original characterization and backstory.
The Battleship movie may well have a completely different title as the only thing it has in common with the board game other than its name is the fact that it took place on the sea, with the only real nod to the source being the alien canister bombs that embed themselves into ship decks before exploding much like the pegs from the board game.
Andre Norton's The Beast Master series tell the story of retired veteran Hosteen Storm, an American Indian in the far future who was recruited into an elite commando force, the titular Beast Masters, which were telepathically bonded to a team of genetically enhanced animals (a horse, tiger, pair of ferrets and hawk in Storm's case) to fight an interstellar war. With Earth destroyed on the way to a costly victory, he is discharged with honors to seek his fate and sort out his life on a distant colony world. It's been adapted to other media a number of times... In a manner of speaking:
Hype Williams, a hip hop video director, took a shot at directing a movie in 1998. The result was Belly. Now it may not have won any Oscars due to a mediocre plot, but the film became a cult classic with its distinctive narrative and visual style that Williams videos were known for. Eight years later, Millionaire Boyz Club was finished and ready to be released straight to DVD. This movie has no connection to Belly whatsoever. For reasons unknown to even the actors, the film was released as Belly 2: Millionaire Boyz Club. The original film featured heavy Music Video Syndrome (specifically videos Hype Williams directed), narration from the main character, themes of self destruction, knowledge of self, redemption, salvation, albeit done very sloppy in terms of writing, and dropped many anvils towards the end. This "sequel" had a completely different cast and director, none of the themes of the first film, and lacked the visual style and narrative that the first film was known for.
The title change may also have missed the point of the original. The title "Belly" was meant to mean "Belly of the Beast". The "Beast" supposedly meaning the evil of men, or in this case the evils of the ghetto (drugs, alcohol, violence, etc). The second film however was a cookie cutter "gangsta' flick" that glorified every tired cliche used in 'hood movies.
Ironically enough, a true sequel titled "Beast" was supposed to be released around the same time as Millionaire Boyz Club, and was meant to follow up on the two main characters since the last film. This was either scrapped or put on the shelf. The main cause was of course the many legal troubles of one of its main actors, DMX.
Hitchcock's suspense classic The Birds was inspired by a Daphne du Maurier short story of the same name. The only thing they have in common is that there are birds and they attack people.
Blue Lagoon: The Awakening is supposedly a retelling of The Blue Lagoon. Yes, there is an island, and the two teenage castaways learn to survive and fall in love. But it's set in the modern day with two American high schoolers, who get stranded on the island after fleeing the Tobagoan police during a senior trip. They only live on the island for a few months before getting rescued, and in the meantime they have lots of casual sex knowing full well what it is that they're doing (and she doesn't even get pregnant).
The Bourne Series have nothing whatsoever to do with Ludlum's novels, aside from the name of the main character and his amnesia. They cut out the primary villain (since Carlos the Jackal is just a teensy bit in prison at the moment), changed the time to present day, completely changed the backstory behind Bourne's skills, changed the last name, nationality, profession (and, in the second film, lifespan) of his love interest... The movies are generally considered good, mind you (especially the first one). Just... expect to be disoriented if you read the books afterward.
Bratz is only really about the toy line in name only. However, there wasn't much to go on to begin with.
The forthcoming Cabin Fever: Patient Zero has nothing in common with the previous two films outside of having a virus and from the premise, seems to read more like a combination of Outbreak and The Human Centipede.
Catwoman: Go read a Catwoman comic. AnyCatwoman comic. Then compare it to this movie. Other than the main character being a cat-themed antiheroine who dresses in black leather and wields a whip, there's almost no resemblance. The closest this film gets to having anything in common with the source material is an off-hand comment about "other people who have had such abilities", and one of the photos on the table is Selina from Batman Returns.
Cheaper by the Dozen: The book is about the world's first efficiency expert and how he raises his twelve children, while the movie is about a husband trying to raise twelve kids while his wife is away on a business trip. Note that this only applies to the remakes. The original movies made in the 50's and 60's were much, much more faithful to the events in the books - which were actually loosely based on events in real life, reminiscent of the Little House on the Prairie books.
Apparently City of Angels is a Foreign Remake of Der Himmel Über Berlin (Wings of Desire), but aside of the central premise (angel longs to live a human life) there's nothing left.
The Hungarian movie Colonel Redl purports to be an adaptation of John Osborne's play A Patriot for Me. Aside from featuring Alfred Redl as the main character, and a prominent duel scene early in the film, they have nothing in common.
The film The Hustler is a reasonably close adaptation of the book of that name. They each have a sequel called The Color of Money, but the film and the novel have almost nothing in common.
Conan the Barbarian (1982) scarcely bears any relation to the books (and comics), besides some few elements like names and most notably Mako's narration at the start. Conan's character is fundamentally altered since he now grows up in slavery, becoming what he is all due to others (e.g. devoting his life to revenge against the warlord who left him an orphan, being educated in the arts and in swordsmanship by Eastern masters). The Conan of the books was always master of his own fate, Walking the Earth because he felt like it and absorbing knowledge as he went.
Happens all the time with comic book movies. Given that Constantine doesn't even keep the Hellblazer title out of confusion with Hellraiser, you have to wonder why they bothered.
Constantine is a curious case, in that while it is viewed as a poor adaptation, it is viewed as a good stand alone movie.
Roger Zelazny's 1969 Damnation Alley was set in a post-apocalyptic Nation of California in which the aftereffects of WWIII twenty years ago have spiraled way beyond nuclear winter to bring the entire Earth to the brink of death, including continuous several hundred mile an hour winds that continually roar by about 500 feet above the ground to produce a blanket of radioactive rubble and garbage mixed with the contents of a good part of the world's oceans (which regularly results in a shower of horribly mutated sea life raining down to feed the giant abominations that dominate the land) in the sky. The story follows a Sociopathic Hero (the last living Hell's Angel) who has been forced into a lone suicidal medicine delivery mission through the inland no-man's-land to the U.S. East Coast as the result of a murder conviction. The movie Damnation Alley was instead set in a toned down version of this two years after the fireworks, with the protagonist recast as a soldier at a missile base in the desert. After braving some drunken hillbillies and rubber cockroaches to investigate a mysterious radio signal, he and his squadmates discover a completely untouchedhaven and live Happily Ever After. The film was the more strongly favored of two "Sci-Fi" films being made by Fox at the time. The other film was Star Wars (1977); this one's budget was 1.54 times larger.
The "remake" of Day of the Dead is nothing like the original except for being a zombie movie. Except for the setting, the monsters, the downbeat ending and the dying hero turning plot.
Garfield actually insisted on the changes. Due to his hatred of the sequels to the film version of Death Wish, he would not sell the film rights to Death Sentence unless the main character was not Paul Kersey and the adaptation didn't follow the film series. This in turn led to a long development hell period for the project.
For that matter, Death Wish; the film's supposed glorification of vigilantism goes against the intended message of the novel.
Most film versions of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are like this. They have a setting of Victorian England and a doctor who turns evil by drinking a self-made potion... and that's it. Jekyll is usually young and sexy, not middle-aged, and he has a girlfriend or wife; Hyde looks disfigured and terrorizes prostitutes, a bit like Jack the Ripper. The main reason for this is that, in the original story, the revelation that Hyde and Jekyll are one and the same was a Twist Ending, but is now a case of It Was His Sled. Since the chances of shocking the audience while sticking to the original narrative are nil, adaptations tend to show the story from Jekyll/Hyde's point of view (he's actually not the protagonist in the book) and spoil the "surprise" early on.
Doom has very little in common with the game series it is supposedly based on other than the title. Both the games and the movie feature humans on Mars trying to repel a sudden outbreak of horrific monsters whose origins are initially unknown. The name of the Evil Corporation responsible for the outbreak is the same, but that's where the similarities end. When the origin of the monsters is eventually revealed, it is completely different than the games, being more akin to another video game series featuring similar monsters.
Even the monsters themselves (at least, the three types of them that actually appear in the movie) qualify for this trope. Though they do vaguely resemble their counterparts from the games as far as their physical appearances are concerned, the behaviour they display is noticeably different and they possess none of the signature abilities that their game counterparts have.
The original script was closer to the game, Doom 3 at least, but the idea of opening a gateway to Hell was not considered acceptable for a mainstream film, so it was hastily retconned to be genetic engineering gone wrong.
Dragonball Evolution has some elements in common with the original manga, such as the presence of Goku and a girl named Bulma who are in search of the seven Dragon Balls. But nearly everything else is heavily modified from the original canon. Goku went from a twelve-year old ChasteWild Child to a sixteen-year old negative High-Schooler who wants to get with a girl. He learns the Kamehameha too late, and is too serious to even be considered the same character. Amd Krillin, a highly important character in the original, was cut out (While Oolong and Puar may be understandable). Bulma and Mai go the other way and Took a Level in Badass. It was declared Canon Discontinuity by Toriyama.
Dr. Dolittle, with Eddie Murphy, is named after a literary character named Doctor Dolittle who talks to animals — but beyond talking to animals itself, the two productions have essentially nothing in common with each other. The book is set in Britain sometime in the past, the movie is set in the USA of today. The main character got a Race Lift. And that's just the beginning.
The Earthsea movie had very little in common with the books except the names, and sometimes it didn't even get the names right. (Specifically, "Ged" is the protagonist's real name, "Sparrowhawk" is his username. The movie switches that around.)
And given that it's Earthsea, where knowing the correct names for things is the root of magical power, that's kind of horrible.
Only the 1974 Emmanuelle bears any relation to the novel from which it derives its name, and even that movie deviates from the source material in several respects (in the original novel, for instance, Mario is an openly gay man.) The rest of the Emmanuelle movies were just attempts to cash in on the success of the original.
This trope is present in Existo, the strangest installment in the Ernest canon. Existo was a mentally unstable stage magician played by Bruce Arntson in the Ernest movies and TV show. In The Nineties when Ernest was relegated to straight-to-video releases, Existo got his own movie...sort of. Existo starred Bruce Arntson, but changed his character into an obsessively antiestablishmentary singer/songwriter and put him at the center of a morbid political satire set in Nashville.
Free Willy: Escape from Pirate's Cove is this, very much. The only thing it has in common with the original films is a whale named Willy. And even then, it's a different whale.
Ghostbusters had nothing to do with the 1975 Filmation kid's show. (See "Western Animation" below which explains that the animated Filmations Ghostbusters had nothing to do with this movie.)
The 1998 Godzilla strays so far from the source material, many fans like to call it GINO (Godzilla In Name Only), and Toho went so far as to rename the beast "Zilla" because they believed that Emmerich managed to remove the 'God' from Godzilla. They even went so far as to incorporate him into their own Godzilla series as an antagonist in Godzilla Final Wars (thus making it clear that he and Godzilla are two different characters), only to have the real Godzilla defeat him with two hits in an 11-second battle. Strangely enough, after that film, many fans who previously hated him now accept him as just another monster in Godzilla's Rogues Gallery. Curiously, the series that followed the movie was well received.
The Halloween series was originally intended to be something of a Goosebumps for adults, with new, unrelated stories released every year. After the first two films had concluded Michael Myers's story, Halloween III: Season of the Witch told a completely new and unrelated story about an insane Irish-American novelty-maker and his scheme involving android mooks and planting tiny shards of Stonehenge into his company's Halloween masks in order to "sacrifice" millions of American children via a TV broadcast. The film's poor financial performance led to Michael's return.
The Korean film Hansel and Gretel borrows some concepts from the original tale but overall it's a completely different story.
Hello Mary-Lou: Prom Night II has no connection to the first outside the setting and being a prom-themed horror film. Likewise, the fourth is unconnected to the previous three outside a brief appearance by Hamilton High (the third film was a legit sequel to the second film). The remake is similar to the original in only the most basic sense, having a completely different story all together. Some even consider it to be a completely independent film. The reason the second Prom Night flick was this was because of Executive Meddling. Originally it was supposed to be called "The Haunting of Hamilton High", and be a scary tribute to the slasher genre (featuring references to Carrie, The Omen, Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, The Exorcist, Prom Night (1980), along many others), but because it was a prom-themed horror film with a school of the same name as Prom Night (which was done on purpose as a homage to the original Prom Night), the original film's distributor picked it up to cash in on Prom Night's success, and retooled it as a Prom Night sequel. Needless to say, the director was not happy about this...
Any Home Alone films after the second one have only tenuous connections to the ones before them. 3 and 5 feature completely different families and antagonists (a group of international criminals working for North Korea in 3 and a trio of thieves in 5.) Home Alone 4 technically has the MacCallisters, but they have little to nothing to do with the MacCallisters from the first 2 movies, nor do any of the new actors look anything like their previous counterparts. Similarly, the Wet Bandits are back (though they're never called that), but Harry has been replaced with Marv's wife. Also, instead of building his own traps, Kevin just relies on a technologically advanced smart home to thwart them.
The movie version of How To Eat Fried Worms has nothing in common with the book other than that the main characters gets stuck in a bet that involves having to consume earthworms. And even then, the film still gets it wrong by saying he has to eat ten worms in one day, when in the book, he had to eat one worm a day for 15 days.
I Am Legend: The only thing the film and the book have in common is a disease that turns people into monsters. And even then they didn't get it quite right: the infected in the book are traditional vampires (which the book painstakingly comes up with scientific explanations for all their weaknesses: sunlight, aversion to mirrors and holy objects, garlic, staking) who are slow and stupid like zombies, while in the movie they are just hairless, pale cannibals like the monsters from The Descent. In the new movie it's a virus that was developed as a cure for cancer, but in the old book, it was a type of bacteria carried by dust storms. Also, a Caucasian-to-minority Race Lift for the main character, Robert Neville, who is nothing like the Neville of the book. While Neville loses his daughter and wife in the film, it's not because of them being infected. Neville's unique immunity is just something that he was born with, and there are plenty of others who are also immune. The setting was a suburb in a small town, while the movie takes places in a desolated New York city. There is no Ben Cortman character (unless you count the nameless infected leader, and even then he shares nothing in common with the Determinator neighbor-turned vampire character from the book). There are no scenes of the infected harassing Neville at home. There is no separate faction of intelligent, civilized vampires (maybe because they thought viewing audiences would be too dense to understand that concept). The woman that Neville meets does not turn out to be one of the intelligent vampires and betrays him. Of course, I Am Legend isn't The Film of the Book so much as a remake of The Omega Man, which is itself an In Name Only adaptation of the book I Am Legend... Except for the name, of course, and the film gives the meaning of the title an entirely different meaning. Robert Neville is a legend because he developed a cure, while in the book Neville is a legend because in a world inhabited entirely by vampires, the one normal human that hunts them is the monster. He walks in the daylight, he stalks them while they are sleeping and impales them to leave bloodless corpses behind. It makes him the "human Dracula" of this world. The original ending would've given it some connection with the book it was apparently based on, but that was changed too.
I Know What You Did Last Summer was based on a book from the 1970s (yes, there was book). The film and the book have almost nothing in common, besides the vaguely similar plot and some character names. Lois Duncan, the writer of the book, was apparently pretty unhappy about this.
Classic Humphrey Bogart film noir In A Lonely Place shares its title and the character's names with Dorothy B Hughes' novel, and absolutely nothing else. One can see Dix Steele's (successful) attempt to adapt a trashy novel into a screenplay as a metaphor for adapting Hughes' book into a film.
I, Robot, has several passing similarities to the namesake series (it does prominently feature robots being Three-Laws Compliant), but the actual storyline is nothing like the original. However, that book was an anthology of nine separate stories in a common universe, mostly revolving around the central character Susan Calvin. The film features many of the concepts of that universe. The conceit of the film is that it's a loose prequel to those stories, a new tale in the overall series of stories whose blanket title is I, Robot.
It does take inspiration from different Isaac Asimov stories, including one called "Robot Dreams." One of the Asimov short stories, "The Evitable Conflict," featured massive, central robot minds taking over the planet because they could run it better than us. While that story was more subtle (the robots took over without humans even knowing it, versus the Robot War of this film), VIKI's motivations are close to what Asimov wrote. Spooner himself bears resemblance to the protagonist of Asimov's Robot series, Elijah Baley, who is a New York detective who overcomes his distrust of robots when he is forced to work with a robot partner. The similarities end there, however.
"The Evitable Conflict" is one of the stories in "I, Robot" the short story collection, and there are in fact slight nods to it beyond those already listed. "Little Lost Robot", for example, involving a robot who is not impressioned with the entirety of the Three Laws, and is ordered by an irate technician to "get lost", is compressed into the factory scene alluded to under Mathematician's Answer below.
I Spy. Has none of the wit or coolness of the original. In fact, the director begged the studio not to use that as the title for the movie, but Executive Meddling won the day.
The Italian Job 2003 shared only the concept of a gold heist in Mini Coopers and a few names with The Italian Job 1969. Notably, the remake's Mini Cooper heist is set in LA instead of Italy. The remake's title refers to another heist shown at the beginning.
The Jackal, the very loose remake of the earlier film The Day of the Jackal, so impressed both the director of the latter film and the author of the book from which it was adapted (Frederick Forsyth) that they both demanded that their names be completely removed from the credits of the remake.
Jonah Hex bears very little resemblance to the comic book, save for the scarred protagonist. The filmmakers added an inexplicable super power to temporarily resurrect the dead, which served no purpose, as he just uses this ability to pump the dead for information, something the hardcore western Hex of the comic would have accomplished simply by shooting the living in the kneecap.
Jumanji was vastly different than the book. Of course, the book, by Chris Van Allsburg, was a children's picture book and so would've made a movie that lasted around 4 minutes. But the whole plot of the movie revolving around Robin Williams' character and his love interest was made just for the movie.
Jumper shares the title, two character names, and the fact that the main character can jump with the book. Also the fact of the bank robbery itself, but none of the details of it. The book is a character study with a science fiction twist, the movie is a science fiction action flick. The author of the original book tries to remedy this with the third book in the Jumper series, "Griffin's Story," which is slightly closer to the movie than the first book in the series "Jumper".
Kemper: The Co-ed Killer has almost nothing to do with the killer it claims to be based on. A few other biopics of serial killers and other infamous criminals also count, especially any created by Ulli Lommel.
All that Key Largo has in common with the play it is supposedly based on is there being a couple of fugitive Seminoles falsely blamed for a murder. The characters of the play have completely different names and backstories. The play does not feature a gangster taking people hostage, and is not set during a hurricane or even in a hotel.
The 1995 remake of the 1947 crime drama Kiss of Death kept the basic plot and included a fleeting Shout-Out (that most people will miss), but changed the characters' names. It would have been polite to call it something else, since the 1947 original is a very good thriller and still quite scary.
The Lawnmower Man has nothing to do with Stephen King's short story of the same name. They had the gall, originally, to call it Stephen King's The Lawnmower Man anyway, and he successfully sued to get his name taken out of the title. The short story is about a creepy satyr who mows lawns. The movie is about a mentally deficient gardener who has his brain transplanted into cyberspace and becomes a god of computers. The short story's climax — in which a man is chased down and killed by an animated lawnmower — is a scene in the film.
Steven Spielberg's Lincoln was promoted (and even credited) as an adaptation of Doris Kearns Goodwin's nonfiction book Team of Rivals. A tie-in version of Team was even reprinted around the time of Lincoln's release. However, Team covers Lincoln's entire presidency, devoting only a few pages to the 13th Amendment and its ratification - the movie's entire focus. Somewhat justified, as Spielberg originally planned a miniseries adaptation of Team and later pared it down to the extant film.
Pedro Almodovar's movie Live Flesh was supposedly based on a novel of the same name by Ruth Rendell. Both featured a policeman crippled by a shot from a criminal who, when released from prison has an affair with the policeman's partner... and that's it.
The Man Who Knew Too Much was a collection of detective short stories by G.K. Chesterton. Hitchcock had the right to adapt some of these stories and used that as justification for using the name (which he thought was too cool not to use).
None of the sequels to Meatballs had anything to do with the original outside of being set in a camp. The second film was a Dolled-Up Installment shot under the name Space Kid while the third and fourth films threw out the concept of the relationships between the campers and the counselors in favor of ripping off the Porky's franchise.
Men In Black: The first five minutes of the first movie is a faithful reproduction of the first few pages of the first issue of the comic. After that, they have almost nothing in common.
The third movie in The Neverending Story series shares no plot at all with the book. The only element from the book it uses that wasn't in the first two movies is the Old Man of Wandering Mountain - and in a very different context.
As the Old Man of Wandering Mountain chronicles the story that is Fantasien, and the Childlike Empress is the collective imagination which allows the land she rules to exist, the two are never supposed to meet. The situation is akin to a mirror looking in a mirror, and can cause the end of the universe.
A person is only allowed to meet the Childlike Empress once, at least, until her name is changed again, and Bastian had already met her. note a good part of the premise to the second half of the book hinges on this
AURYN can only exist in Fantasia, as its power is Fantasien, the world of human fantasy. A person cannot make things from their imagination magically appear in the human world.
The Fantasians are not supposed to enter the human world, due to the fact that they are then no longer part of the imagination, but become lies. That was part of the problem with the Nothing - the things it ate up were sent off to the human world, which destroyed both Fantasia and the human world.
The Russian Urban Fantasy movie based on the book Night Watch, itself titled Night Watch, was faithful to the book, except for the depth of the story, the ending and the fact that in the book Anton and Yegor are unrelated and Anton never went to that old witch. But the book is divided in three stories, and only the first was made into the movie Night Watch. The second movie, Day Watch was completely unrelated to the book of the same name: it was a completely new story with the beginning taken from the second story of the book Night Watch and some elements from the third one (namely, the magic chalk).
The film Pathfinder is a remake of the 1987 film of the same name. Other than having a Scandinavian main character and the same title, they are completely different films (the title even became Pathfinder: Legend of the Ghost Warrior when Fox realized this).
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is based on the book The Lightning Thief' in that it is about a boy who is the son of the God Poseidon and he has to find the Lightning Thief; pretty much everything else in the film differs from the source material.
Peter Benchley's Creature is almost completely different from the book its based on. Several characters have the same names from the book, but there is no guarantee that they will have the same personality, race, or role. It has a completely different setting and backstory. Even the titular creature is completely different (the only similarities they have are that they are humanoid amphibious creatures, but one is a scientifically modified human with steal claws and teeth and one is a genetically engineered shark with human DNA.) While some scenes from the book survived for the adaptation (often heavily edited), they are spliced in all over the place and interspersed with completely made up subplots. To top it all off, it really doesn't even share the name. The original novel was called White Shark, but was renamed for The Movie. The original novel was retroactively renamed Peter Benchley's Creature. Although, that said, it wasn't really that bad of a movie....
Both film versions of Planet of the Apes share nothing in common with the novel that inspired them except the existence of a planet ruled by intelligent apes with humans as savage animals. Both movies... well, ape the Twist Ending of the novel the narrator returns to Earth after his voyage only to find that it too has been dominated by intelligent apes, though in significantly different ways. Oddly, the third movie in the series, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, is similar to that of the original novel (loosely), but with the roles of humans and apes reversed.
Somehow the book Please Don't Eat The Daisies, which was a collection of essays and articles, became a feature film starring Doris Day and David Niven.
Other than having protagonists with plant-themed names, and being about seductive women causing drama, the movies in the Poison Ivy series have practically nothing in common with the original 1992 film starring Drew Barrymore. The closest thing that the original has to an actual sequel is the third film, Poison Ivy: The New Seduction—which has a completely new cast of characters, and features Ivy's (heretofore unmentioned) sister, Violet, as the protagonist.
In Argentina, there's a pornographic film called Pollémon, leading one to believe that it's a Pokémon porno spoof. The film's cover even advertises, "Vive las fascinantes aventuras de Pollachu!" ("Live the fascinating adventures of Pollachu!") If you were expecting to see someone in a poorly-designed Pikachu costume, Team Rocket, or anything else having to do with Pokémon, well... let's just say you'll be PRETTY disappointed.
The 1960 film of Pollyanna has the title character, the Glad Game, something of the setup, and a few character names/traits in common with the book. The plot, much of the characterization, and some of the side plots are entirely different.
The Kevin Costnermovie of David Brin's very fine novel The Postman is barely recognizable (starting with the fact the movie is not so 'very fine'). The scene where the main character discovers the postman's uniform is pretty much the only scene from the book to make it into the movie. Otherwise the main character and his motivation is completely different (in the book he's much less of an obvious white-hat), the love interest is completely different, the villain is completely different (in the book being a genetically-enhanced warrior, in the movie just a weird guy with a beard), there is a second 'hero' who doesn't appear at all in the movie and there is an interesting subplot about a super-powerful AI that is guiding a remote village of survivors back to civilization that isn't even mentioned in the film. The author is quite aware of the necessary changes for a movie adaption and is rather pleased with the result.
Priest is a rather unique and strikingly drawn manwha combining Religious Horror, Zombie Apocalypse and The Western, as Badass Preacher Ivan Isaacs treks across the American frontier battling a band of rebel angels. The movie...is about a bunch of priests fighting vampires in the far future. About the only thing the two have in common is a main character with a cross on his forehead. The only people who are happy about this are the ones who've never read the comic.
The director made this change as he didn't want people saying that he was copying his previous film Legion.
The first The Princess Diaries film took the basic plotline of the books and the character names and did its own thing, probably because they got Julie Andrews to play the grandmother, but the sequel basically did its own thing entirely. The fact that Mia's mother married Mia's teacher and had a baby is the only thing the sequel took from the book series.
The sequel to Pure Country shares literally no characters or actors with the first film.
Queen of the Damned shared only the title and character names with the book. Important plot elements and characterizations were either changed or completely ignored. As a matter of fact, Warner Bros. made it no secret that the only reason the movie was made was because the rights to the book were about to expire. When book author Anne Rice offered to pen the screenplay for free, the studio flat-out refused, preferring to make a low-budget cash-in as quickly as possible.
The plot of the 2012 film The Raven has nothing to do with the Edgar Allan Poe poem "The Raven", even though Poe is the main character (unsurprisingly, as an adaptation of the poem would not fill a feature film).
The Running Manfilm and novel are both set in a dystopian world and center on a television show where a man is hunted. Beyond that, they have nothing to do with each other. In fact, the film adaptation has far more in common with an earlier Robert Sheckley short story entitled "The Seventh Victim", but presumably, Sheckley's relatively-obscure name wouldn't sell as many tickets as the Stephen King pseudonym. "Based on the novel by Richard Bachman" is placed in the opening credits, and copies of the novel featured Arnold Schwarzenegger's face on the cover, advertising the film.
The Saint: Val Kilmer plays a character with the same name as the classic character created by Leslie Charteris, but Kilmer's character is an angsty, semi-OCD, nonentity. And That's Terrible.
The character is specifically said to have been inspired by Charteris's stories, which are Recursive Canon within the movie.
The film Saint Sinner had nothing to do with the Clive Barker comic book series.
Neil Gaiman used to tell a story about receiving a prospective script for a Sandman movie. Near the beginning, he read a scene in which the title character is attacked by soldiers while declaring "Puny humans! Your weapons have no effect on Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams!" Gaiman then put the script down and refused to read another word.
Rafael Sabatini's novel The Sea Hawk was a tale of an English gentleman framed for murder by his fiancée's brother, getting shanghaied to the Mediterranean, and converting to Islam that he might become a pirate and wreak vengeance on the people that threw him away. The Errol Flynn movie The Sea Hawk is a tale of an English privateer and his affair with Queen Elizabeth, with a bit of background about the Spanish Armada.
The movie adaptation of The Dark Is Rising, which in its primary market didn't even keep the name, being re-titled The Seeker. One reviewer joked that "They only changed one thing in the plot - everything", and it's not far wrong. The Stanton family, who in the books are warm, caring and British, are now dysfunctional and American; Will is changed from a thoughtful, wise-for-his-age eleven-year-old to a whiny fourteen-year-old hormone-addledjerkass who's more interested in stealing his brother's girlfriend than completing his quest for the Signs, and all the Arthurian mythology is hacked out and replaced with Christian allegory. The director himself pretty much bragged about how unfaithful it was, admitting that he didn't really care for fantasy works anyway.
The 2006 version of The Shaggy Dog has completely different characters from the 1959 film, and a different mechanism for transformation (genetic engineering versus a magical ring). Essentially everything is different except for the part where a person is turned into a shaggy dog.
The fourth and fifth entries in the Silent Night, Deadly Night series are unrelated to the previous three movies, which features Ax-Crazy siblings of Santa imposters. The fourth film is almost unrelated to Christmas and involves some kind of ancient Egyptian witch cult and the fifth has evil toys connected to an enigmatic toymaker by the name of Joe Petto. The films have homages to the original three though, with scenes of them being briefly shown on televisions and the villains dressing up as Santa at least once.
And his enemy, the Octopus, is an intimidating and powerful gangster obsessed with not letting anyone see his face. In the film, he's a lower-tier scientist with ambitions of godhood who is incredibly vain and showoffy about his good looks. It's like they were trying to do the exact opposite of the comics.
The irony? Will Eisner gave the rights to Michael Uslan, the producer, on the understanding that Uslan wouldn't give the project to anyone who 'Didn't get it'. There were further ironies in the fact that Frank Miller was a big fan of Eisner, one of Eisner's friends, and showed himself to be capable of understanding the concept of The Spirit as indicated by his Daredevil work.
Stage Door, the play by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber, had so little in common with Stage Door, the movie nominally adapted from it, that Kaufman joked that the movie might as well have changed its title to Screen Door. The movie's vast changes in characterization, plot and dialogue (barely any of the play's lines were retained) were for the better.
Starship Troopers, which was really more of a Take That against the original book than an adaptation. The producers didn't even buy the rights to the original until after the script was written. Verhoeven didn't even read more than a chapter or two into the book, by his own admission.
The film version of Steel cuts all Superman references apart from the title character wearing a Superman tattoo...which is unintentional, since Shaquille O'Neal, who plays the title character, already had it.
The Stuart Little movies. The books were set in the late 1940s, Stuart was born from a human mother rather than adopted, and only the boat race in the first movie bears any resemblance to the events of the book.
If Kevin Smith is to be believed, Jon Peters' Superman Lives, a movie that was never made, would have had Superman's iconic outfit be replaced by an all black one, Superman wouldn't fly, and he'd fight a Giant Spider, it would have also given Lex a pet named "Chewie", as well as making Brainiac fight polar bears. This is true folks. Fortunately, Kevin Smith tried to make a script that worked the changes in while still throwing in the traditional Superman feel, but Superman Lives was never made to this day.
Alfred Hitchcock's adaptation of The 39 Steps is considered to be this by John Buchan's family due to how far it deviated from the source material after Hannay sneaks out of his flat; that said, they still regarded it as an entertaining film in its own right.
To Have and Have Not, the film, has very little to do with To Have and Have Not, the Ernest Hemingway novel. This may have something to do with the fact that director Howard Hawks, though a Hemingway admirer in general, hated the book.
The 1990 film, Troll 2 is not related to the 1986 B-movie Troll in any way but name. It's also about goblins, not trolls. Amusingly, there are two films that claim to be the sequel to Troll 2, both directed by Joe D'Amato: Crawlers: Troll 3, which is about killer tree roots, and Troll 3: The Sword of Power (AKA Quest For The Mighty Sword), which uses some of the goblin costumes from Troll 2, but is actually one of the sequels to Ator). Ultimately the Troll "series" immediately became a dumping ground for whatever genre horror film came along.
Troll 2 was part of a trend of Italian in-name-only B-movie sequels in the 1980s and 1990s. There were such instances of an Alien 2 and a Terminator 2 long before such films existed. Low-budget Threatening Shark film Cruel Jaws was promoted as the fifth Jaws film. There was even a sequel to Dawn of the Dead (titled Zombi in Italy) that spawned a franchise of its own. Why the producers of these films' "predecessors" never filed lawsuits is unknown. These "sequels" were later retitled for overseas release, but Troll 2 is the only instance of such title being retained worldwide.
The UnderdogMovie: Well, it uses some of the names from the cartoon. Everything else is different.
Wanted takes out almost all of the the original comics story and background. The premise in its most broad strokes stays the same: the main character is a cuckolded loser who is brought into a World of Badass by a love interest due to his long-lost and supposedly deceased father. Beyond that, the story and setting are completely different.
The 2005 movie adaptation of The War of the Worlds features Earth being attacked by hostile aliens in three-legged "tripod" machines. After all the human military's attempted counterattacks are ineffective, the aliens are ultimately defeated by illness due to their immune systems not being able to cope with Earth's bacteria. Beyond that, it has nothing in common with H. G. Wells's original novel. Most notably, the movie is set in the United States in the early 21st century instead of the novel's late 19th century England and the aliens are never stated to be Martians in the movie as they are in the novel.
There's a movie called Watcher in the Woods and there's a book called Watcher in the Woods. The claim has
Wild Geese II features no actors (or even characters!) from the original, and also is in a different genre.
Wild Wild West. The original show was a merging of The Western with the Spy Drama. It didn't really have much Steam Punk elements, just some technology that would have been high-tech for the time period. The movie ran with Steam Punk and the specific James Bond-style "save the world" spy escapades. The show didn't have anything like the Spider Tank or the magnetic collars, which makes it a very stark contrast going between the two. According to Cracked, the premise of the Wild Wild West movie is based on a Batman: The Animated Series episode that originally starred the above-mentioned Jonah Hex. It isn't exactly known how it became a Wild Wild West story. The above clip linked about Kevin Smith working on the unreleased Superman movie has him mentioning that the same guy that wanted all the weird changes worked on the script for Wild Wild West, and he got the giant spider he was so adamant about.
The movie adaptation of Andzej Sapkowski's Witcher books had little if any resemblance to the source material and many fans have decided to simply deny its existence. The later video games are much more faithful.
The 1925 film version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz features a completely different plot from the novel, incorporating a few elements from later Oz books that do not apply to the characters in the first book. Dorothy is not a farm girl from Kansas but a kidnapped princess of Oz, and is also a young woman instead of a young girl. The Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion are not characters but the disguises of three farmhands. The Tin Man and Uncle Henry are villains in this version. The Wicked Witch of the West does not appear at all and the villain is Prime Minister Krewl (based on King Krewl) instead. It ends with Dorothy marrying a prince.
Leech. The movie ditches his defining trait of not passing for normal and not being able to do anything about it because most mutant powers don't work on him. Also, his powers no longer temporarily nullify whoever he touches, he has an area of effect that fully humanizes whoever enters it. Granted, it serves as a better justification for using him as a source for The Cure, as using the original comic book plot would have left no screen time for the Phoenix plotline.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is fairly notorious for it, with many of the featured mutants having little (or nothing) to do with its comic book counterparts:
Emma Frost. The only attributes that she has in common with her comics counterpart is that she's blonde and can turn her skin into a diamond-like form. First Class would ignore her appearance in this story and present its own version of Emma as much closer to her comics counterpart. Then again, she's called "Emma", but the surname is never said. However, in one of the character TV spots, they clearly use Frost as her surname.
Agent Zero. Not only do they use his New Weapon X callsign instead of his Weapon X one (Maverick), he somehow has Agent X's powers as well. Neither his powers as Maverick (kinetic energy absorption and redirection), nor his powers as Agent Zero (corrosive skin secretions designed to defeat Healing Factor abilities) make an actual appearance. Oh, and he's no longer East German.
Bolt. Or Bradley, for those who missed him because he's long-dead in the comics. He's not only not called by his callsign, he's also no longer the kid Maverick teaches in the use of his powers after retiring - he's now Maverick's comrade-in-arms. Who, instead of lightning-flinging powers, has electric-appliance-powering-and-controlling powers.
Deadpool retains his sarcastic sense of humor, Motor Mouth & katanas... and even those fall by the wayside by the time of the main events of the movie. While he does undergo a procedure to give him a copy of Wolverine's Healing Factor that leaves his body horrifically scarred just like in the comics, he's also saddled with Cyclops' optic blasts, Wraith's teleportation (He uses a device in the comics) and a pair of Blades Below The Shoulders, and just to add insult to injury, his mouth is sewn shut.
In the comics, Blob's fat body was a part of his mutation, with the super strength more of a Required Secondary Power. In fact it's the fat that made him virtually resistant to any weapons.
X-Men: First Class has nothing to do with the comic book of the same name and features entirely different origins for many of the characters. Despite this, the movie was very well-received by critics and was a hit at the box office.
A notable aspect is the complete reinvention of one character in particular, Azazel. Azazel in the comics is an immortal mutant/demon warlord who was banished to another dimension because he looked and acted like the devil and got many women pregnant to have an army of children to free him...somehow. In the film, he's a Russian Knife Nut who looks like the devil but other than killing a few people, doesn't act like it. He instead appears more like his Son, Nightcrawler, only red and evil. This is not a bad thing, and as he original was so despised, the film gave the character a well welcomed overhaul.
The comics Kenuichio Harada is THE Silver Samurai, Shingen's arrogant illegitimate son and a mutant seeking to rule the Yashida clan for himself. He despises the "gaijin" and the Yashidas especially his half-sister Mariko. In the film, most of his personality reflected on Shingen while Harada is relegated to the Yashidas' bodyguard, Mariko's ex-fiance and not even the actual Silver Samurai. His closest reference to the comics is his affiliation with Viper.
Viper aka Madame Hydra is a high-ranking member of HYDRA (and eventually leader) who is a human with superb martial arts skills and knowledge with poisons. Much like Juggernaut before her, the film depicts her as a mutant scientist with snake-like attributes who mainly works for herself. Confusingly, Fox was still allowed to use her, even though she's much more tied to Nick Fury and SHIELD. Strangely enough, it's the Silver Samurai who is one of HYDRA's leaders during the events of X-Men: The Official Game.
Yes Man is a fictional story using only the central premise of Danny Wallace's non-fiction book.
Other than being about twenty-somethings entering a program to go undercover in a high school, does 21 Jump Street have anything to do with the show of the same name? It might has well been called Never Been Kissed Goes Undercover. It's meant to be a Stealth Sequel, not an outright remake of the show. There's even dialogue at the beginning that makes it clear that the old 21 Jump Street program is being revived, they use the same old church as home base, and several original characters from the show make appearances.
Philip K. Dick stories sometimes get this treatment, except they tend to change even the name.
Blade Runner took the title of one book (The Bladerunner by Alan E. Nourse) and slapped it on a movie made from a completely different story (Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). But except for the broad concept of a man hunting for renegade androids, and a few names, everything else differs from Dick's original. In fact, the whole dynamic is reversed: in the story, the androids are soulless villains, the threat of what humanity is becoming. In the film, the androids are tragic Byronic Heroes and the humans are callous slavemasters.
Minority Report only takes 4 or 5 characters and the concept of Precrime from the original short story of the same name. Differences include a setting relocation, adaptation expansions to characters, name changes, adding new characters and what not. The biggest most significant gap, however is the actions the protagonist takes towards the end in their respective stories.
Next is based on The Golden Man, and differs greatly from its source material even for a movie based on a Philip K Dick story: Both share the general idea of the government trying to capture a main character who has the ability to foresee the immediate impact of anything he does before he does it. However, the setting, the main character's background, personality, and appearance, and what the government wants with him are all changed beyond recognition: In the original story, it was a post-apocalyptic future, the main character was a golden-skinned, non-sapient mutant, and the government was trying to wipe out all mutants with superhuman powers. On the other hand, the film takes place in the present, where the main character is a perfectly normal-looking, sapient human, and the government wants him to use his abilities to help them stop a nuclear threat. Reportedly, the original script was much more faithful to the source material before some drastic rewrites kicked in.
The original Total Recall (1990) is very loosely based on a short story called "We Can Remember It For You, Wholesale.". Actually, both the film and the story begin being roughly the same, but there's a point in which they divert: just after the protagonist has his malfunctioning memory trip. Viewers of the movie will instantly recognize that point as the same one in which the movie has a sudden Mood Whiplash from classic sci-fi to pull-all-the-stops action movie, while the story turns into a spectacular Mind Rape.
Some films snag the title of a self-help book that is selling well at the moment.
The Natalie Wood romantic comedy Sex and the Single Girl, though it references the original Helen Gurley Brown bestseller and its author, has nothing to do with the original, which was a self-help book.
Woody Allen made an "adaptation" of the advice book Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex (But Were Afraid To Ask).
What To Expect When You're Expecting is a fictional story about pregnant ladies based on a pregnancy guide.
Mean Girls is a fictional story about the destructive effects of high school cliques on girls based on a self-help book, Queen Bees and Wannabes.
There have been many modern day film adaptations of Shakespeare plays which may or may not retain the original play's title. These films typically follow roughly the same plot as the original play, but have next to nothing in common with it beyond that. They are usually set in the modern day United States as opposed to the historical settings of the original plays, and in many cases the names of the characters are adapted to modern equivalents if not outright changed.
This was common with movie versions of Broadway musicals produced in the 1930s, 1940s, and sometimes in the 1950s:
The 1956 film version of Anything Goes bears next to no resemblance to the musical it's based on. Aside from five songs (sung in completely different contexts) and the fact that there's a boat (going from France to New York, where the original show was going the other direction), they might as well have called it something like Road to Broadway and not stepped on anyone's toes.
The 1949 film Red, Hot and Blue shares its title with a Cole Porter musical and absolutely nothing else.
The 1936 movie version of Rose-Marie resembles the original musical play in score only. They share a number of songs and a few Leitmotifs, but the plots have almost nothing in common other than both having a title character trying to protect a wanted man from a determined Mountie. Between the versions, these three characters all have different names (the "Rose-Marie" of the 1936 movie is a pseudonym), and the relations between them are very different: in the musical play, the wanted man is Rose-Marie's lover, not her brother as in the movie.
Broadway Rhythm was nominally an adaptation of Very Warm For May; though the show had been a flop on Broadway, its writers, Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein, were hired to write Movie Bonus Songs. However, the film producers ended up throwing out almost everything from Very Warm For May aside from its Breakaway Pop Hit, "All The Things You Are."
The 1952 film version of The Belle of New York replaced all the songs, and most of the plot as well. However, the original musical dates back to 1897 and has not lasted well in popularity.
The Band Wagon is actually a Jukebox Musical that borrowed several songs from the 1931 Broadway revue The Band Wagon. The revue, of course, had no plot, but that hadn't stopped 20th Century-Fox into adapting it into the 1949 movie Dancing in the Dark. Fred Astaire starred in both the revue and the movie The Band Wagon, but performed none of the same numbers.
Funny Face has a completely different plot from a 1927 Broadway musical which had a few of the same songs and Fred Astaire.
Very common with Spaghetti Westerns, as Italian studios frequently retitled generic Westerns to cash in on successful films. Django provides the most extreme example, with at least thirty unrelated movies featuring Django in the title. Other popular characters like Ringo, Sabata, Sartana and Trinity inspired similar ripoffs. There were even crossovers between several of these franchises!
Virtually every movie with Poe's name in the publicity has little or nothing to do with the author. Roger Corman took this to an extreme when he made The Haunted Palace; it's actually based on H.P. Lovecraft, but Corman thought Poe's name was more famous and thus would put more seats in seats. Today he'd probably do the opposite....
Baywatch Nights which was still starring by David Hasselhoff as Mitch Buchannon, which was the only reason to keep the name since he was not a lifeguard anymore.
Boardwalk Empire is supposedly inspired by Nelson Johnson's non-fiction History book Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times and Corruption of Atlantic City, but is actually a fictional crime drama set in 1920s USA that follows a very fictionalized version of an historical character mentioned in the book.
The 2001 revival of Card Sharks had contestants predict whether cards were higher or lower than each other... but other than that? Where were the survey questions? The second player's row of cards? And what the hell are Clip Chips?!!? It quickly got the Fan Nickname of "CaSINO", an acronym for "Card Sharks In Name Only".
The Electric Company: Its 2009 "revival" has almost nothing in common with its predecessor but its name! Bad enough they threw in a "they fight crime with superpowers" motif, that has little, if anything to do with phonics, but they even ruined the softshoe silhouettes. Why even bother calling it The Electric Company?
Slightly averted case: In the 1980s, an American production company approached John Cleese with the intention of remaking Fawlty Towers for an American audience. When he asked them about it, they told him they'd only made one slight change from the original; they'd removed the character of Basil Fawlty. They end up making it, without the Basil Fawlty character, but changed the name right before air. It was called Amanda's and it starred Bea Arthur.
Ferris Bueller, the 1990 sitcom. The protagonist is a teenager who can do virtually anything and often breaks the fourth wall, he has a bratty sister and a suspicious principal who are constantly trying to bust him, and he has a neurotic best friend and a cute girlfriend. The similarities to the film end there. The series takes place in L.A. instead of Chicago, the soundtrack is absolutely wretched, Ferris and Jeannie's ages are reversed, Ferris is regarded by his peers as a nerd, Cameron's characterization is reduced to "He's a hypochondriac; laugh at him", and the whole general environment is wacky and over-the-top, ensuring that Ferris blends right in instead of standing out. Oh, and Ferris and company attend school in every episode.
The 2010 Human Target TV show shares the title and the name of the main character. That's about it. Just like in the title sample, you get the feeling that they had a bodyguard show lying around waiting for a name.
The BBC's Lark Rise To Candleford and The Paradise exported the setting and characters, but not the plot, from Flora Thompson's book and Emile Zola's Ladies' Paradise respectively.
Legend of the Seeker, while not technically bearing the same name as Sword of Truth, is very much in the spirit of this Trope. The series is "based" on the first book, Wizard's First Rule, but past the first half of the pilot episode, you can basically take everything you remember from the book and just stop expecting any of it to match. There are a ton of characters that share the same names but have completely different appearances, attitudes and role, and while there are a few episodes that are closer to chapters in the book than others, overall most fans of the book who watch it would be sorely disappointed. Anyone who hasn't read the book or just doesn't care about the changes might enjoy it, though... if they could get past the campy fantasy stereotypes.
Given that the first book's Big Bad is killed (rather anticlimactically and not by the protagonist) at the end of the first season, and the Zedd reveals the second wizard's rule at the beginning of the second season, it can be assumed that the show's creators hoped to have a book-per-season sort of deal. This leaves the viewers (even those who haven't read the books) wanting, when each season is quickly wrapped up in a single episode. Oh, and Rahl gets better in the second season.
Some of the changes were simply pragmatic. For example, the likeliest reason why Darken Rahl is Richard's brother instead of father is that Craig Parker (Rahl) is not much older than Craig Horner (Richard).
Some of the differences from the book, at least, received some nods in the show, such as one of the biggest complaints by the fans of the books that Rahl doesn't have white hair in the show. The flashbacks in season 2 reveal that Panis Rahl, his father, had white hair.
In the early nineties, a fifty-ish Terrence Hill starred in the Italian movie and following TV-series Lucky Luke, about a gunfighter in The Wild West with a Badass Longcoat, dressed entirely in white, who took up a job as sheriff in Daisy Town. The whole thing looked as if someone had read the back-cover of a Lucky Luke comic and based everything around that.
MADtv bore no resemblance at all to the magazine that is its namesake. For the first few seasons, there were Spy vs Spy cartoons in every episode, but even those were eventually removed.
The live-action version of Spanish children's books Manolito Gafotas. The eponymous Kid Hero was Demoted to Extra, his popular little brother even more so, and much of the plot centered on his parents and neighbours, most of which were bit players on the novels. In particular, Manolito's dad and his godfather became Ascended Extras, getting even more role than Manolito himself at times. Oh, and the plots of the novels were all but ignored. In short, it was basically a generic Spanish Sitcom with the names of the Manolito Gafotas cast.
Merlin: Take everything you thought you knew about Arthurian Legend and throw it out the window. Arthur is a Prince right from the start, there's a dragon under the castle, Merlin is Arthur's servant who is around his age rather than much older, magic is outlawed, Morgana is not a villain, Gwen is dark-skinned... Then again, the Arthurian Mythos has been doing this with every iteration of King Arthur since before the written word, so it's tradition.
As of series 3, Morgana is, in fact, a villain - and, to be fair about that, the seeds of her Face-Heel Turn were planted with the introduction of Mordred in series 1.
For further deviations from previous versions, however, a number of the named Knights of the Round Table are killed off over the course of the series, well before the Round Table is formed. (EG: Owain and Pellinore at the hands of the Black Knight.)
In-Universe: In one episode of Murder, She Wrote, some film execs buy the rights to one of Jessica's novels merely so they can use its title for a crappy slasher film.
The ITV/AMC remake of The Prisoner bears only the faintest resemblance to the original — it occurs in a place called The Village, the hero is called Number Six and the villain is called Number Two, and that's about it. The underlying premise is almost totally different.
Given how unique the original version was, making an In Name Only version with some of the same inspirations and preoccupations was truer to the original spirit than a slavish remake would have been. Unfortunately, it wasn't awesome enough to deserve to carry the name.
The French version of Ready Steady Cook was just a straight cookery show. As bemused executive producer Peter Bazalgette later put it, "for four or five years they paid us a format fee to NOT make Ready Steady Cook!"
A European series called Katz And Dog turned into this when it was aired in America. It was renamed Rin Tin Tin:K-9 Cop, presumably because the distributors hoped it'd sell better, but it had nothing to do with the original Rin Tin Tin franchise.
As the series went on Robin Hood kept moving further and further away from its source material. By the time Tuck shows up (black, fit, not a Friar and pontificating on the "idea of Robin Hood" instead of spiritual matters) and Robin Hood is paired up with a whiny village girl called Kate instead of Maid Marian, you begin to wonder what the point was.
Japanese Spider-Man: The eponymous hero looks like Spider-Man and has the same powers, but he is more a tokusatsu superhero (in fact being the predecessor for Super Sentai's Humongous Mecha elements) than a comic book superhero. He has a wrist-worm transformation device (although it merely stores the Spider-Man suit in this case), a Spider car (technically the comic had one too, but it was totally different and short-lived), his webshooters are voice-activated (he would shout Spider String!) and last but not least, he has a Humongous Mecha. Yeah. Imagine Peter "constantly strapped for cash" Parker being able to buy, repair, refuel and run general maintenance on a robot the size of a skyscraper.
Nevertheless, Stan Lee was actually involved in the production, and has said several times that he thought the series was excellent, even praising its creativity (and thus its deviance from the character he created). There's an interview with him on the Japanese DVD box set. Apparently, Lee is not too familiar with Japanese media. While the battle mechas would be seen as creative at the time, seeing how Spider-Man was the first to do that, everything else, from the transformation device to most of the plot, seems to be copied straight from Himitsu Sentai Goranger and J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai, two show which were already released at the time. This was likely Lee's first exposure to Japanese Tokusastu as Marvel would later produce Battle Fever J and Lee would later attempt to unsuccessfully bring Super Sentai to America.
Stargate Universe is very different from the previoustwo series in the Stargate Verse, swapping out the Genre Savvy characters, theme of exploration, and Cool Gate for Angst, grit, and a million year old space ship that's ready to fall apart at the seams. Half the time the gate on the Destiny seems to serve only as a reminder that yes, this is Stargate.
Super Sentai in Korea is named as Power Rangers instead of the Super Sentai names of the series that air there.
In 2011, NBC made a pilot for a Wonder Woman TV series. Their version of Wondy more in common with Batman than Wonder Woman, being a rich corporate executive who moonlights as a superhero. Little is made of her Amazon upbringing. Her Lasso of Truth is used only to snag enemies, and never to reveal the truth from anyone, or does it in a more mundane manner. The concept of using the Wonder Woman persona as a company symbol for the public also mirrors the premise of Batman Incorporated.
Many a Poorly Disguised Pilot ends up being this in regards to the show it's being pitched during. The characters the series usually centers on barely have any screentime at all, if they even get any.
The trend over the last decade to produce in-name-only remakes of 1970s-era series has led to new versions of Bionic Woman, McCloud and Kojak, that tended to port over character names but little else (including the formulas that made the original shows successes). A new in-name-only remake of Ironside has been announced for the fall of 2013 as the trend continues.
The TV series based on the movie Fargo is looking like this, as none of the film's characters (not even Marge Gunderson, the film's heroine) will be included and will instead be a different story with similar characters taking place in the same setting as the film.
The series I Was A Sixth Grade Alien (aka My Best Friend Is An Alien) is ostensibly based on Bruce Coville's "My Teacher Is an Alien" books, except for the part where its main similarity is that aliens are involved. None of the characters make the transition, the goal of finding out if your teacher is an alien and/or winning a Humanity on Trial situation is pretty much dropped, and the aliens are openly visiting Earth and even have an embassy rather than spying on us to see if we merit continued existence. In the series, Pleskit is the eponymous sixth-grade alien's name; in the books, it's the name of a foodstuff. Enough said.
The 2014 series The Last Ship has a different premise, story, and setting than the original novel. While the name of the destroyer remains the same, the fact that the events take place in the 21st century means that the "Cold War going hot" theme won't play out. The plot is, instead, a global pandemic that wipes out a sizable percentage of the world population, and the destroyer is the location of a lab by a scientist attempting to find the vaccine. With the world governments collapsing, the danger is still real, as the destroyer is soon attacked by a half-a-dozen Russian helicopter gunships (the Russian government has ceased to exist). Commander McStea-, sorry, Chandler, together with his XO Jayn-, sorry again, Slattery has to keep his ship away from civilization, while a doctor tries to figure out the cure.
In 2010 or so, AC/DC released a compilation CD of several of their existing songs. It's called the Iron Man 2 soundtrack, apparently because the director likes AC/DC. Only two of the songs on the CD are in the movie (one was in the first one).
The 2008 reformation of Captain Jack bears no resemblance musically to their predecessors. (Francisco Gutierrez, the original Face of the Band, passed away in 2005)
Aphex Twin has said that some of his "remixes" for other acts were done without even listening to the originals, let alone using any part of them. He's probably not the only remixer who's done this, but most wouldn't admit to it. If you enjoy Aphex's work then it probably isn't going to make much difference to you whether he uses any of the originals or not.
That's not all. They've rearranged many of their older songs in their new style; while some are simply rerecorded with minimal alteration, much of the older material have been entirely rewritten.
The Meat Puppets' Golden Lies was originally intended to be an entirely new Curt Kirkwood project called Royal Neanderthal Orchestra, hence his being the only original member of the band involved. As with the Red House Painters example, this is because he couldn't get the label to put the album out without the Meat Puppets name attached to it. Golden Lies was at least in a similar style to what the Meat Puppets had been doing in the mid-90's, albeit with a somewhat heavier sound and the curious addition of some Rap Rock influences. This lineup of the band also put out a Live Album that was a mix of Golden Lies material and older Meat Puppets songs.
The group Gregorian is closest to its namesake in that it's a choral group. Their music involves harmony and full instrumentation, neither of which are involved in true Gregorian chanting.
Guns N' Roses. Actually, they have been since 1985, two months after LA Guns and Hollywood Rose merged, when Axl Rose fired all the former LA Guns members (making the name of the band confusing) and replaced them with Slash, Duff McKagan, and Steven Adler. And now it is that band In Name Only, because, except for Face of the Band Rose, everyone in that lineup left the band by 1997; and besides, the band's style shifted more toward industrial metal than plain old hard rock.
A rare case of a singer In Name Only-ing his own song. Ike Reilly's "Duty Free" was covered by Cracker. Reilly then re-wrote the song, keeping only the opening line and part of the chorus the same for his album "Salesmen and Racists."
Insane Poetry was once a group consisting of three rappers and a DJ. One of the rappers, Cyco, continues to release music under the name Insane Poetry even though the group has pretty much disbanded.
Queen + Paul Rodgers on The Cosmos Rocks. Might as well have been called 'Paul Rodgers, and two ex-members of Queen were at the studio that day'.
Red House Painters' fifth album, Songs For A Blue Guitar was originally supposed to be a solo Mark Kozelek effort, but when 4AD dropped Kozelek and his project and he got picked up by Island Records, he was pressured into renaming it to a Red House Painters effort. What listeners were treated to was something so vastly removed from the nightmarish, stark textures of the first 4 albums that the album was only lukewarmly received at first. Many were a little jarred to hear Mark suddenly singing slightly more upbeat, borderline Southern Rock songs with some minor folk influences. The album has warmed up in overall opinion, though.
Most Velvet Underground fans consider Squeeze to be this, especially since none of the original members - especially core songwriter Lou Reed - play on it.
All remixes of The Vengaboys - Kiss (When The Sun Don't Shine), the best known of which is the Airscape remix.
The "Inferno Mix" of Xorcist's "Scorched Blood" sounds nothing like the original.
Yes had a particularly bizarre example, where after a complicated series of membership changes, there existed a band named Yes (centered on bassist Chris Squire) that was Yes In Name Only, while simultaneously Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, made up entirely of ex-Yes members, essentially was Yes in everything but name.
The reason being Squire, as the only member of the band continuously present throughout all the numerous lineup changes (and accompanying changes in direction for the band), meaning "ABWH" couldn't call themselves Yes, despite being closer to the band's prog roots and original sound (as well as membership) than the official Yes.
Many bands where none of the founding members exist, yet the band is still going qualify.
Any instrumental mix of a song which remains credited to the original singer, even when that person had no artistic input beyond their singing in the first place (which, of course, no longer appears!) Examples might include this vocal-less mix of Kylie Minogue's early hit "I Should Be So Lucky" (back when she was still a puppet of the Stock Aitken Waterman "hit factory"); she neither wrote, nor apparently appears on this mix of the song, but it's still credited to her. This goes as far back as the 50s. Calypso singers would normally be backed by a jazz orchestra, and backing tracks would be recorded in advance. Sometimes, the singer would not get round to voicing a track in time for its inclusion on an album or single, so the song would be released as an instrumental. If it was filler on an album it would be credited to the singer, if it was a single track, the orchestra would normally be credited on their own. Lord Melody was infamous for this because he often missed deadlines by being in other countries recording for other record labels. Ska, rocksteady and reggae artists of the 60s and 70s also did this sort of thing, leading to at least one mistake on a Bob Marley And The Wailers box set "Man To Man" where the song Mellow Skank, an instrumental track by The Hippy Boys(a group that featured several members of The Wailers backing band but none of the singer-songwriters) was included. The song was actually an instrumental of a song called Talk Of The Town by Glen Adams.
Since the 1980s (if not earlier), there have been numerous cases of musical groups legally (and sometimes illegally) using the name of a well-known rock and roll or pop group, even though the group in question has no original members. This has been a sore spot for years with original group members, especially those who wish to continue performing under their original name, only to find "imposter" groups holding the name rights. (Note: naming groups impacted by this would violate the "No Real Life Examples" rule on this page, so please do not add names here).
In Brainbug's "Nightmare (Sinister Strings Mix)", the only vestige left of the forgotten original mix is the Dream Melody from the breakdown. The rest of the original was a piano trance tune in the style of Robert Miles.
Atop the Fourth Wall: Several in-universe namings of the trope (though this applies to single characters more than franchises).
By two-thirds of the way through his Superman at Earth's End review, Linkara can only bring himself to refer to the title character as "Bearded Idiot."
In an early text review he dubs the title character of All-Star Batman and Robin "BINO" (Batman In Name Only). In the video version he decides that "Batman" must actually be an insane hobo who found a Batman costume and dubs him "Crazy Steve."
During a review of a later issue of All-Star Batman and Robin, he deduces that the version of Wonder Woman as seen in the comic is an escaped mental patient who wears Wonder Woman's costume, and dubs her "Bonkers Betty".
The plot of Godyssey is so in contrast to Jesus' actual life and teachings that Linkara suggests the Greek gods found the wrong crucifixion victim, naming him Jesús note pronounced closer to 'Hay-sus', the Christian martial artist. He was All Just a Dream anyway.
There is a Flash Gordon comics series available for the iPhone, and probably other portables. Flash is a former CIA operative, and Dale a current one; they know each other from the Agency, and Dr. Zarkohv is a close friend of Flash. He's also considered a terrorist, and believed to be creating WMDs.
In computing, there is a technology called "Redundant Array of Inexpensive/Independent Disks" (RAID). One version, RAID 0, has no redundancy (which makes it extremely vulnerable to one drive error ruining the entire array, kind of defeating the purpose of a RAID, which is to set up multiple physical drives as a single logical array, wherein a single error does not necessarily mean a failure of the array).
Similarly, starting in 2012, Stern Pinball released lower-priced home versions of their games under the moniker of "The Pin". Transformers: The Pin came out in 2012 as an Amazon exclusive, while The Avengers: The Pin was released in 2013. As both games shared the same cabinet and layout, removed the originals' dot-matrix display, animations, and sound effects, and are limited to two players, they ended up being In Name Only versions of their originals.
Despite sharing the same name and many game rules, the Nintendo Entertainment System version of Roller Ball is significantly different from the MSX version, with a completely different playfield, a new bonus screen, and a gratuitous New York skyscraper setting.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. The company seemingly embodies this trope increasingly by the day. The ultimate kicker here was on October 14, 2010, where there was so much emphasis on putting over Hulk Hogan's Immortal faction revealed at Bound For Glory as The Illuminati that in the first hour of Impact only ten seconds of wrestling had occurred. That number expanded to nine minutes by the end of Impact, and 20 total minutes of wrestling within the full three-hour block of Impact and ReAction.
The 1940s radio series, The Weird Circle specialized in Book-To-Radio adaptations that had nothing in common with the source material other than the titles.
This is Older Than Feudalism, as it is a recurring theme of The Bible in both the Old and New Testaments. Jesus himself explicitly warned that people would pretend to serve Him, but actually be forging His signature on their own self-will. Talk about Harsher in Hindsight.
Similarly, most "Eastern" religions as practiced in the US would likely be considered in-name-only adaptations of their origin religions by said originators.
The most blatant example would probably be Buddhism, where most western branches reject reincarnation, i.e. the entire reason the eight-fold path exists. Roughly equivalent to a branch of Christianity rejecting the idea of a God and all that "peace and goodwill" stuff and saying it's all about beating up moneylenders.
How many other Christians see Mormonism, to the annoyance of the Mormons.
As the old VFL expanded to become the Australian Football League, most of the Melbourne-based teams lost their links to the suburbs (U.S. = neighborhoods) whose names they bear. Collingwood, Hawthorn, and St Kilda no longer have any connection to their original home suburbs, and the other local grounds are only used for training and social purposes. Also, the Brisbane Bears were originally based 70 miles from Brisbane, and their mascot was a koala (Koalas are not bears). They have since moved to actually play in Brisbane, and merged with Fitzroy to be known as the Lions.
Rifts Manhunter started live as a property completely unrelated to the RiftsRole-Playing Game. Then Myrmidon Press got permission to use the Palladium Rules system for their title, and decided to tack on the Rifts name. The only thing that connects the game to Rifts is that magic and technology exist side-by-side, and sparse, obviously shoehorned in mentions of rifts in time and space appearing later in the setting.
The musical version of Wicked is starkly different from the book. While it shares the core element of "Deconstruction of The Wizard of Oz from the point of view of the Wicked Witch", its otherwise much Lighter and Softer, makes both Elphaba and G(a)linda much more sympathetic, adds in a number of plot points, and removes a number of others. Considering both it and the book are very popular, though for different reasons, it reminds us that Tropes Are Tools.
The 1919 Broadway musical Irene was revived in 1973 with a completely different book and most of the score replaced by miscellaneous song hits from the period.
The 3rd Birthday is a sequel to the Parasite Eve games, but abandons its science fiction roots for half-science spiritual stuff. Mitochondria, the series Body HorrorGreen Rocks are not mentioned once. Souls are a legitimate plot point. Four previous characters return, but two are so out-of-character that they could have been original characters, and the other two never had much story to begin with.
The modern "Atari" is itself an example, being essentially a trading name for what is — or was — Infogrames (who acquired rights to the name and some IP in the early 2000s). It has little connection with the original Atari Inc., creators of the VCS console, arcade games, and home computers. It's open to question when the "true" Atari died- following the 1983 video game crash, its arcade and computer divisions were sold separately as legally new companies to new owners (Atari Games and Atari Corp), but with some continuity of business and products. However, both are now defunct; Atari Games was later renamed by Midway who then shut down their entire arcade division. Atari Corp basically threw in the towel after the failure of the Jaguar console and their merger of convenience with hard drive manufacturer, JTS, in the mid-90s; their name and IP were sold off separately and later ended up in Infogrames hands.
Battle Zone 1998 was related to BattleZone in that both involved tanks and green vectors. However, 1998 is a hybrid FPS/RTS/Vehicle combat game, where you build bases with mobile factories and fight over bio metal with the Soviet Union (or the USA). The main menu of 1998 is a callback to Battlezone, with tanks (all rendered with green vector lines) fight, though everything in-game is fully textured. Both games were made by totally different companies - Atari made the first, Activision made 1998 and the sequel, Battlezone II: Combat Commander; Activision licensed the name "Battlezone" from Atari.
BIONICLE Heroes has its characters named after their toy counterparts and they also look like them more or less, but apart from that, the settings, the story, the personalities and powers are completely made-up. This was deliberate on the creator's part — the original story didn't lend itself to an easily manageable video game and didn't have much in the way of Mooks... although they could have tried to include some of the main characters' more video game-y abilities or at least made sure that their own ideas didn't directly contradict the source canon.
When the Game Boy Advance franchise Boktai finally got a DS port it was almost completely different from the original in every way. 90% of the Spaghetti Western elements were removed, there was no continuity of plot from the original game series, and most tellingly the game no longer had to be played outside in direct sunlight to access certain abilities (though that one at least is probably for the best). The only major similarity is that the two main characters, Django and Sabata, retain their names and appearances (and even they were renamed in certain localizations) but they both have entirely new backstories and motivations.
Contra Force for the NES is a localization of an unreleased-in-Japan Famicom game titled Arc Hound. The game has nothing to do with the rest of the Contra series, being set in present times with human enemies instead of aliens. The American localization of Contra III for the SNES did try to make a connection by establishing in the manual that the first stage of the game was actually Neo City, the setting of Contra Force.
A rare positive example (also being a license) is the Def Jam, which has very little to do with hip-hop aside from the music and is instead a wrestling/fighting game hybrid, of which the first two were fantastic. Def Jam Rapstar was a more traditional hip-hop rapping game, which provided a rare example of a traditional medium fitting for the source material actually being less accepted.
Descent: Freespace has nothing to do with the Descent series except the name. The sequel dropped the act and is simply called Freespace 2.
The game was originally going to be called just Freespace, but there was already a drive-compression product with the same name that could've caused trademark issues. In Europe it was called Conflict: Freespace instead.
Die Hard Arcade, being a dolled-up version of Dynamite Deka / Dynamite Cop, has nothing to do with the movies, other than the protagonist being an expy of Bruce Willis. The sequel kept its original name and Project X Zone also kept the main character as his original self, though that could be because the licensing was cheaper. (However, at least in the English version of PXZ, there is a Shout-Out to Die Hard during a Dynamite Cop-based level.)
Dino Crisis 3 has next to nothing to do with the first two games aside from dinosaurs as foes, and they're not even true dinosaurs in 3. Even Gaiden GameDino Stalker is more effective as a sequel.
The Lunar Subterrane stage is based on the canyon surface of the Red Moon in Final Fantasy IV. The real Lunar Subterrane in IV are the first series of underground caves within the Red Moon. However, this only applies for the English version of Dissidia, as the stage is called 『月の渓谷』 (Tsuki no Keikoku) in the Japanese version, which translates to "Moon Canyon". That name actually makes sense.
While some Dragon Quest games are actually direct sequels or prequels (the first three) as well as being related by other games (Monsters has Kiefer from VII star), most are pretty much this. Sans a few passing references or plot devices (Zenithia in IV through VI, which are considered a "trilogy" just like the first three games but are tied much more loosely). VII and above go even further from any form of semblance to the previous games, unless you count the legacy bosses and DLC of Dragon Quest IX to count.
Westwood's Dune II RTS game had very little to do with the book, movie, or the first game. The later remake Dune 2000 and sequel Emperor: Battle For Dune tried a bit harder, but it still doesn't change the fact that Dune II is an RTS, and a completely different genre from the original Dune game.
The third Ecco the Dolphin game, Defender of the Future, had no connection to the first two games in the franchise other than Ecco being the main character. The storyline was very different.
The FarCrySeries. Even Word of God has explained that the series does not maintain continuity of plot, but style. As the series tries to expand and improve the mechanics of the predecessor, effectively making it akin to the Final Fantasy of shooters:
Far Cry has ex-Special Forces operator Jack Carver stranded on a archipelago in Micronesia, and is trying to find a missing female journalist.
Far Cry 2 has a chosen protagonist who is working in Africa trying to stop a man named "The Jackal", a mercenary trying to create further conflict between two factions.
Far Cry 3 has tourist Jason Brody holidaying on an Indian/Pacific Ocean island with friends, only for the group to be abducted by pirates who intend to sell them.
The Expanded Universe novels tried to retcon the change between the first and second game by introducing a character that supposedly served as a mentor to both protagonists. Other continuity nods also exist between games, such as a briefcase of diamonds from the second game appearing in a DLC mission for the third.
Fighting Force 2 has almost nothing to do with the original. The first game was a pure 3D Beat 'em Up starring four characters and set in a contemporary setting. The sequel had a Cyberpunk setting, was a 3D action/adventure platformer with very basic brawling elements, and featured only one character from the first game (Hawk Manson), who did not act or even (after the CGI intro) look like his first game self.
The EA FPS GoldenEye: Rogue Agent was seen by many as a weak attempt to capitalize on the much revered GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo 64: the only connection to the movie/game is the presence of Xenia Onatopp and the "Uplink" multiplayer level. The only justification for the name "GoldenEye" is that you play as a rogue MI6 agent that gets his eye shot out and is given a golden prosthetic replacement by Francisco Scaramanga. The rest of the game involves you being a pawn in a war between Auric Goldfinger and Dr. No and fighting a bunch of iconic James Bond villains in a pretty generic FPS. The only appearance by Bond lasts 10 seconds and is revealed to be a simulation.
The 007 Classic mode revived the non-regenerating health bar and body armour so take that as you will.
The arcade version of Ikari III: The Rescue is an overhead beat-em-up instead of a shoot-em-up like the original games. It still had Ralf and Clark in it.
Inverted with the NES game Journey to Silius. Released in 1990 by Sunsoft, Silius was originally developed as a game based on The Terminator, but Sunsoft lost the license during development. Sunsoft went back, changed a few character designs and official story, but leaving the stages largely intact.
King's Quest: Mask of Eternity, whose only connection to the previous installments is being ostensibly set in the same location, and a couple of cameos. However, there is still a Shout-Out in Silver Lining, with more to be expected. (If the player tries to have King Graham grab something he can't reach, the narrator says, "Tis Beyond his REACH!" in a way similar to Connor in Mask of Eternity).
Kung Fu Master was released in Japan as a licensed game based on the Jackie Chan film Wheels on Meals, which was titled Spartan X over there. It has nothing to do with the movie, aside for the names of the hero and heroines (Thomas and Sylvia).
Apart from the battle system being reused, Legaia II: Duel Saga has effectively nothing to do with the first game. Each game is entirely self-contained, and Word of Godconfirms that despite both games taking place on a continent called "Legaia", the two take place on entirely different worlds.
Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude and Box Office Bust are mostly a separate series from the Al Lowe series, apart from being set in the same world. The Larry here is different (though related to the previous one), the gameplay is completely different, and the connections to the Al Lowe games feel sort of tacked on.
The Final Fantasy Legend games. They were actually from an entirely different series (SaGa) that was renamed for American consumption.
Although Max Payne 3 retained various gameplay mechanics from previous Max Payne games such as Bullet Time, noir narrative and use of painkillers to replenish health, several criticized the game for its use of cutscenes (instead of the more traditional graphic novels), change of setting and atmosphere (from dark and gritty New York City to sunny Sao Paulo, Brazil) and Max's appearance in which he shaves his hair halfway through the game. Despite this however, the game was still a moderate success.
Mario Golf: Advance Tour for the Game Boy Advance. A unique and fun little game, but the "Mario Golf" in the title (not to mention the cover of the game) is about all that was carried over to remind you of what you're playing. You spend very little, if any time with Mario and his colorful crew. It's a Golf game with RPG Elements where you take the role of an amateur golfer working your way up the ranks. This applies to any of the portable Mario sports games, aside from the 3DS Mario Tennis.
Mega Man Legends abandoned everything that defined the original and X series (no, there aren't even any Metools), to the point that it might as well have just been another franchise altogether. About the only things it had in common were two protagonists named Mega Man and Roll. That's it. At least the Zero and ZX continue the story from where X leaves off, and reboot series Battle Network has stuff like its own versions of certain Robot Masters from the classic series. Legends has no connection whatsoever with any of its prequel series, and even came out before Zero. However, according to Inafune, Legends does fit on the Megaman timeline, millenia after the end of the Human-Reploid schism where both are extinct, and a new race that is decendants of the two, human/Reploid hybrids known as "Carbons", finally resolve the tensions from both races. The only problem is that the Legends series takes place around 'three thousand years after the end of the Zero & ZX series, so the connection is somewhat hard to see.
It's not even just the plot or familiar aesthetics that it lacks, it's that the gameplay is completely different as well. Things were changed up in the Zero and ZX series, but those games still shared most of the core mechanics seen in the classic and X series while having others altered to an extent and a few new ones added. Despite the quality of Mega Man X7, it was still much closer to a 3D representation of the Classic/X formula than the Legends games. That said, the Legends series was far closer to the other games in the main timeline than the Battle Network and Star Force games ever were.
The Super NES game version of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie has nothing to do with the film itself, as it was originally intended to be a video game adaptation of the show's second season. While the Genesis version does remain true to the actual plot of the movie, the only things the SNES version has in common with the movie (aside from the Rangers themselves) is Ivan Ooze as the final boss and a cameo by the Ninja Megafalconzord in the ending. That's it. The enemies are still Putties and a few monsters from the second season of the TV series (along with robot enemies made up for the game), and the Rangers fight their way through none of the same places they had been to in the movie.
Monster Rancher EVO was a drastic departure from the Monster Rancher formula. It completely changed the training formula—instead of training stats one week at a time, you give your monsters "stat potential," which you can only turn into real stats via a rhythm mini-game. Tournaments were all but gone in favor of an RPG plot, with dungeons full of Random Encounters. While the old monsters were still in the game, one of the new species introduced—the Maya—was even quite stylistically different from other MR monsters, not quite fitting in.
Little-known The New Adventures of the Time Machine from Cryo Interactive is said to be based on The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, but the only thing it has in common with the book is a scientist from Victorian London who invents a stationary time machine and travels to the 8000th century (although the year was changed from 802701 to the round 800000), plus his servant is also named Mrs. Watchett. But once he gets there, Wells' plot is completely abandoned and instead of struggle between the Eloi and the Morlocks we have the strange Hourglass City whose citizens randomly switch their age between childhood, adulthood and elderhood every time a mysterious Wave Of Time comes from the god Khronos. The funny thing is that some ten years ago, the Polish edition included copy of Wells' original novel, even though it wouldn't make much difference if it was "Treasure Island" or "Uncle Tom's Cabin" instead.
The NES version of Ninja Gaiden was advertised as being based on the "No. 1 Arcade Smash Hit", despite the fact that it was not a port, but a parallel project developed at the same time. The two games barely resembled each other aside for their vaguely similar premises (a ninja travels to America to fight his enemies) and a very similar setting for the first stage.
The Xbox games are also completely different from the NES games, although they're stated to be prequels.
Ninja Gaiden Shadow was a modifiedGame Boy port of Natsume's NES game Shadow of the Ninja.
Invoked by the developer of the original Operation Flashpoint when Codemasters announced Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising and billed it as the sequel. The original's developer protested that all Codemasters had won from their legal falling-out years before was the name, whereas the developer had kept both the engine (and implicitly gameplay-style rights) and the exclusive right to develop sequels to the original.
Outrun 2019 was originally supposed to be released under the name of Junker's High, which in turn was a remade version of a canceled Sega CD game called Cyber Road. The Outrun name was added to the released version with no other modifications made.
Phantasy Star Online is Phantasy Star In Name Only, for most critical points and purposes, not in the slightest connected to the Algol star system, setting for or at least critical element every previous game (including even basically disconnected side games). Then again, Dark Force being dead for good in the last game kind of sealed that plot line - and the obvious way out was already explored to its end one game previous. Phantasy Star Universe, in turn, is both Phantasy Star Online In Name and Some Mechanics Only, and Phantasy Star In Name Only, with a muchly new setting. It was originally intended for Phantasy Star Online to be connected to the original series. The derelict starship that makes up the Ruins level was supposed to be the remains of the Alisa 3, the ship from Phantasy Star III. This idea was dropped in development.
Phantasy Star Online and Phantasy Star Universe are in fact in the same universe, with characters and locations in the former appearing as virtual reality records in the latter.
Daryl Gates' Police Quest: Open Season and Police Quest: SWAT (later just SWAT). SWAT 4 also has absolutely nothing to do with the Police Quest series despite the name of the protagonist being Sonny Bonds.
When Purple Moon was taken over by Mattel, the two games they released were received this way by the fans. Rockett's Camp Adventures had a bunch of minigames and made you choose between two dialogue options instead of three, plus it recast almost all the voice actors. Secret Paths to Your Dreams wasn't even a puzzle game like the other Secret Paths games — in fact, it wasn't even a game, it was an electronic dream journal.
Quake II and its sequels have nothing to do with Quake whatsoever, apart from all being first person shooters. "Quake II" was originally just the game's working title, until id Software found themselves unable to find a different name they could use that wasn't already trademarked. IV is a direct sequel to II, at least.
There's also Enemy Territory Quake Wars, which is a prequel to II. Furthermore, that game is a gameplay sequel to Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, despite taking place in the Strogg arc initiated by II.
Quake III: Arena and its Expansion Pack, Quake III: Team Arena, fit this trope as well. Despite having similar weapons and some of the first two Quake's characters (andthe Doomguy), the most story connection you get is an All There in the Manual quip that the greatest warriors in the world have been teleported to an "Arena" to do battle for the amusement of a Sufficiently Advanced Alien. Likewise, while the first two placed a large amount of focus on their single-player campaigns, Quake 3 went all-out multiplayer. All of this is by-and-large because it was made as a competitor for Unreal Tournament.
Is Rayman even in the Raving Rabbids games? Some people believe he's the one shooting the rabbids. Michel Ancel took note of that fact when making Rabbids Go Home, an adventure game for once, Rayman-less.
When Data East picked up the license to The Real Ghostbusters, all they did with it was take the Japanese arcade game Maze Hunter G and replace the heroes and powerups with Ghostbusters-related themes, before releasing it to the States. Nothing else in the game involves the Ghostbusters.
The sequel to Rockstar's Red Dead Revolver, Red Dead Redemption, has no connection to its predecessor other than the Western setting, the title, the two main character's scars, and a single game mechanic. This is a rare positive example, as Revolver was a half-completed game Rockstar bought from Capcom and was a level based arcade shooter, while Redemption was wildly successful both financially and critically, being considered one of the best video games of 2010.
Naturally, quite a few characters from the first game do get name-dropped, and eventually turned up as skins for multiplayer.
After Infocom, the undisputed master of Interactive Fiction text adventures in the 1980s, went under, Activision released a CD-ROM graphic adventure called Return to Zork, which had very little resemblance to the original Zork games outside the title. All the references to characters, items, and places from the original Zork universe sound painfully forced, as if the makers of the game just randomly took names and used them to fill in blanks in dialogue.
Activision went on to release another two Zork games, Nemesis and Grand Inquisitor, both of which were much better than Return to Zork, were properly researched and (with a few exceptions) tied in nicely to the old games. Activision even promoted Grand Inquisitor by releasing a freeware Interactive Fiction Zork game, The Undiscovered Underground, written by one of the original creators of Zork.
Shining Force Neo and Shining Force EXA for the PS2 don't have anything in common gameplay-wise with previous Shining Force games; they're Action RPGs. Although the Shining Series consists of installments with varying gameplay styles (as pointed out in Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360), it typically gives different names to games with different gameplay styles (as was the case with Shining Force, a strategy RPG, having a different name than the first Shining game, Shining in the Darkness, which was a dungeon crawler), which makes it odd that these installments were named similarly to strategy RPGs in the series.
Soldier of Fortune: Payback was outsourced to Cauldron, an East European budget title developer, and thus the gameplay and story have nothing in common with the first two games, other than the PC's organization being named The Shop.
Space Invaders Infinity Gene for the iPhone is a game that has little to do with Space Invaders beyond a brief segment of the original Space Invaders and some returning enemies. Instead, it's a shooter that gradually "evolves" as you play it, going in gameplay style from a classic arcade shooter of the '70s or '80s to a modern danmaku shooter with multiple "characters", kill chains, and a special scoring method (in this case, called "Nagoya Attack", which triggers when you pass through an enemy's shot during a short window just after firing when it won't kill you). The resulting game was so cool, fun, and original that few people complained.
Spec Ops: The Line, came out in 2012, ten years after the previous installment. It contains absolutely no story or gameplay elements from the previous entries in the series, aside from the fact that the main characters are special forces. Unusually, it is thus far the most well-received entry in the franchise
Star Raiders II (Atari Corp's 1986 sequel to the pioneering 1979 original) started life as a never-released license based on 1984 movie The Last Starfighter. When the license fell through, the game was renamed into a Star Raiders sequel instead, to generally positive reviews (though it was felt to be more "arcadey", less strategic and less intense than the original).
Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight was a futuristic platform game for the NES that really didn't have much to do with the original Street Fighter (or Final Fight, which only became part of the title in the international version) other than its title. The localization team attempted to establish a connection by claiming that the main character Kevin, a cyborg policeman, was actually Ken from the first Street Fighter 25 years in the future.
Still Life 2 had large expectations following it, primarily due to its predecessor leaving the killer's identity unrevealed at the end. When the sequel finally came out, it barely resembled the original in any form. The cliffhanger was resolved in a couple brief flashback sequences that revealed the most obvious suspect as the killer. The remainder of the game, aside from its protagonist, had absolutely nothing to do with the original storyline.
The only thing the Suikoden series has in common with Sui Hu Zuan is the fact that both have the protagonist gathering 108 heroes to oppose the government. Otherwise, they have completely different characters, a completely different plot, and are set in completely different universes. This isn't a bad thing by any means, but Suikoden is no more valid a name than, say, The Rune of Eternal Awesomeness. Later entries including Tierkreis and Centennial Tapestry (still doesn't have an official English name) have become this trope, given their setting in completely different worlds from I-V, although they do retain the 108 characters and some game mechanisms.
Super Mario Bros. 2 was a drastic change in gameplay compared to its predecessor, and also featured a completely different cast of enemies, many of which would never be seen again (along with Big Bad Wart.) This is because the game derived from another game called Doki Doki Panic, which originally was going to be a Mario game.
Tetris Attack has nothing to do with Tetris. It is a localization of a Super Famicom puzzle game called Panel de Pon. Later versions of the game were localized under the Puzzle League name (with the exception of the Pokémon Gold and Silver-inspired Pokémon Puzzle Challenge for the Game Boy Color, as Pokémon Puzzle League was a different game for the Nintendo 64 inspired by the anime rather than the games).
Total Annihilation: Kingdoms was nothing like Total Annihilation at all. Different universe, different playstyles... everything except the graphics engine was completely different.
Oddly the gamestyle is what Chris Taylor wanted to do with Total Annihilation but was forced to change due to engine limitations.
The Turok comics were about a Native American (the title character) who finds a Lost World valley of dinosaurs. The video games made "Turok" the title of a lineage of warriors fighting to keep the Omniverse from collapsing in an alien land. Some characters have the same name as characters in the comics, and there are bio-mechanical dinosaurs. Then you had the 2008 Turok game, which was this to both the comics and the video game franchise to date. Instead of being a chosen warrior, Turok was a Space Marine of Native American origin. Instead of a lost world, it was an alien planet that just happened to have dinosaurs on it. Instead of protecting it from an evil overlord or Eldritch Abomination, he was protecting it from his CO, who'd pulled a serious Colonel Kurtz.
Ultima IX is so far removed from the other games in the series, that most fans consider it to be non-canonical.
Other than featuring a VTOL-capable combat plane, the 2007 Warhawk game has nothing to do with the original, being a Battlefield-style multiplayer TPS instead of a single-player only, mission-based action game.
It's probably safe to say that none of the Wayne's World or The Blues Brothers games have anything to do with either the SNL skits or the movie (beyond voice clips, character likenesses and half-hearted token references.)
Win Back II: Project Poseidon's story is completely unrelated to the first game.
The original Yars Revenge is a top down shooter featuring weaponized Insectoid Aliens. The 2011 Yar's Revenge is an anime-inspired rail shooter featuring a humanoid girl (with some insectoidtraits) as the protagonist.
Invoked in Dresden Codak "Dark Science" arc: Ronnie Awning made adaptations of famous works without reading them. Which allowed his sponsor to use the authors turning in their graves for energy generation.
Platypus Comix's longest-running series, Scrambled Eggs, received inspiration from a juvenile fiction novel titled Hello, My Name is Scrambled Eggs, but Peter Paltridge says the only similarities the current comic and the novel have include some characters' names and the use of "No kidding!" as a Catch Phrase.
Napster is another example. The original Napster shut down in 2001, but it was resurrected in 2002 as a new name for the subscription music site by the same people that shut it down. As one article termed it, "It was as if a victorious Darth Vader had licensed the rights to rebrand the Empire as the Rebel Alliance."
KidsWB.com, supposedly the relaunched version of the programming block from which it got its name, is more like a website for pre-1997 Cartoon Network.
TF-Media is a site called, "Transformation Media". However, the transformation you'll actually find on the site is limited to Transgender. (And even then, most people who go there think "female to male" transgender is "Pass the Brain Bleach" anyways, so it's really male to female) The users in the chatrooms are different, and have gotten much better about the transgender saturation, but the site is still predominantly Transgender transformations in between the one or two different types. Even the users are well aware of this and point out that it's really, "TG media".
In the original comics, Achille Talon (known in English-speaking countries as Walter Melon) is a pseudo-intellectual bourgeois who works for a magazine and occasionally has wacky adventures. In the Animated Adaptation, he's a bumbling "hero for hire" who substitutes for various action hero expies.
A few episodes of the The Berenstain Bears cartoons that were based on the books bore little resemblance to the books the episodes were based on. A good example is "The Bad Dream". The book is about Sister having nightmares about the Space Grizzlies movie (based on a line of action figures that Brother liked but Sister didn't) because she found it too scary. (Brother later has a nightmare about the Space Grizzlies too.) The episode of the 2003 cartoon with the same title portrays Space Grizzlies as a TV show, which the entire family (including Sister) likes. Sister is afraid of a specific villain on the show and not the franchise in general.
Another TenNapel adaptation, Catscratch, also did this, but turned it Up to Eleven. Not only did they change the entire premise, but - in a similar vein to most Phillip K. Dick adaptations - they didn't even keep the name.
Gear, the source material, was a borderline Grimdark comic about anthropomorphic animals fighting a gruesome war by piloting various Humongous Mecha. While it contained the Aesop that war is sometimes justified and even necessary, it didn't shy away from the idea that it was stillabsolute Hell regardless.
Catscratch was a light-hearted comedy about 3 anthropomorphic cats and the zany adventures they have after inheriting a fortune from their now-deceased human owner. The only thing it retained from the comic was that it kept the same main characters (minus Simon, who, for better or worse, was not carried over to the show).
DuckTales as a whole isn't this, but some of the episodes "adapted" from individual comic book stories take no more than the basic premise and invent an entirely new plot around it. Stories taken from the comics also inevitably starred someone other than Donald Duck; Fenton Crackshell or Gyro Gearloose usually took on his role, and Donald scarcely appeared in the show at all. Part of the problem is that he's The Unintelligible in animated form, a problem that doesn't exist in his comics.
The King and I forms the basis of a Family Guy parody of this trope. By the time Peter gets finished rewriting the script, it's changed from a British tutor dealing with the king of Siam to a ninja robot in the future ("A.N.N.A.") battling a post-apocalyptic dictator. Initially furious at the changes, and at the audience's approval of them, Lois later admits that "anyone who could take The King and I and turn it into, well, that, has gotta be creative."
The rather obscure cartoon series Honey Halfwitch managed to be this to itself. The series consists of two sets of shorts, one of eight and one of four, so radically different in art style, tone, setting, design and characterization that each set is this to the other.
Lola Bunny from The Looney Tunes Show only has her name the same as Lola Bunny from Space Jam. Where Lola Bunny from Space Jam was a no nonsense tomboy who would kick the butts of anyone who called her doll and fell for Bugs after he saved her, in The Looney Tunes Show she is a Stalker with a CrushDumb BlondeValley Girl. Word of God admits that they based Lola's new personality around her voice actress' style and have never seen the film.
Martin Mystery was drastically different from the Italian comics they were adapted from. For example, changing Martin's lover into his stepsister and making him like 20 years younger.
The main cast of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic all take the names and basic appearances of characters from previous generations of the franchise, but the resemblance pretty much ends there. Lauren Faust primarily based the mane cast's personalities on how she used to play with her own My Little Pony toys as a kid — toys that weren't even of the same characters except for Applejack. She also used the ponies from the G1 cartoon as inspiration.
Also goes for many background ponies, both those that have been given a name in the show and those that only have Fan Nicknames.
Frankly speaking, fans who collect the toys to satisfy their love of little colorful fillies agree that the My Little Pony franchise itself has qualified since G3.5. They agree that G3.5 and G4 ponies are not ponies. A subset of them also feel the same way about G2 ponies though (which they feel look more like steeds or giraffes than ponies).
Scaredy Squirrel has literally nothing in common with the children's books it's based on, save for the title character being a squirrel named Scaredy. To be fair, there really wasn't too much they could do if they'd stayed true to the books, as the original books are very short and targeted to toddlers.
Parodied in The Simpsons, where Alan Moore is said to have had a run as the writer of Radioactive Man. During his tenure, he changed the title character, a cape with super-strength acquired from exposure to a nuclear explosion, into "a heroin-addicted jazz critic who's not radioactive". Bart didn't notice.
The only thing Sonic Sat AM has in common with the games is Sonic, Tails, the rings, Buzzbombers, and Robotnik who, even then, barely resemble the games characters in personality and in Robotnik's case both personality and appearance.
Although it retained the creator's trademark sense of humor, The Random! Cartoons adaptation of Doug TenNapel's Solomon Fix was, in all other ways, nothing like the original comic. The comic was about a cheerful, Unfazed Everyman cat who prepares to throw a party for his estranged cousin and was an Affectionate Parody of Stereotypical British Ettiquettenote Word of God was that the comic was based on the "fancy Englishmen" he worked with while creating Earthworm Jim. The cartoon was about a Large Ham, magical teddy bear who "fixes" other people's problems. Oddly, none other than TenNapel himself helmed the adaptation.
The 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon pretty much took EVERYTHING from the original comics and flipped it on its head. Whilst the comics were aimed at those in their mid-late teens, the show was cheesy entertainment for kids. The personalities of the characters were changed quite a bit (Raphael was a jokester instead of an anger-laden badass) and the premise was made FAR more into Sci-Fi than anything seen in the comics (considering some of them included aliens and the main characters are mutant reptilians, that says something). Another thing to note is that in the comics, the 'Ninja' part of the title was actually relevant to what the Turtles' activities were (moved around at night, stayed out of sight of as many bystanders as possible and actually fighting other ninjas), whereas in the '80s cartoon they were known to the general public, had no problem walking around in daylight (albeit usually in disguise), and spent the majority of their time fighting robots. It did, however, give the franchise more mainstream and wider appeal, eventually paving the way for darker adaptations closer to the comics. Played with, like everything else, in Turtles Forever: the more comic-based 2003 Turtles had to keep the 1987 Turtles from running out in public.
Young Justice has virtually nothing in common with the original 90's comic book of the same name, though showrunner Greg Weisman has said that it was never intended to be an adaptation of the series to begin with and that the title was essentially given to them by some Warner Bros. execs. However the title does fit the central theme of the show, and there are some shout-outs and callbacks to the series' comic book namesake. Originally, there was going to be a series closely based on the comic book, but it turned into Teen Titans, keeping the comedy of Young Justice while using the latter's characters. The new series essentially does the opposite, using Young Justice characters with serious stories more in line with the Titans comics.