Ink Stain Adaptation

'Hi, Ah'm Rawbin Hood. Where's the Maid Marry-ann? And the Sheriff of Nottin'ham? Ah’m a Notting'ham man, born 'n bred....' We wouldn't believe an English-accented Robin Hood! 'Hello. I'm Robin Hood.' 'No! You don't have the Nottingham twang.'
Eddie Izzard, Glorious

An adaptation to a long running franchise which irrevocably colors the public's perception of the franchise as a whole. This is rarely for good reasons.

This can not only kill a show, but may also kill any interest in doing future adaptations unless we are promised the next one will be very good. Even if it doesn't, people who aren't fans, who might never even have seen any of the installments, will bring this one up to mock because of the ink stains. In the worst scenarios, the good installments aren't freely available in one's country, while the bad ones are.

Sometimes, an Ink Stain Adaptation is used for Lost in Imitation. The results can be disastrous.

See also Adaptation Displacement and Never Live It Down. Not to be confused with Ink-Suit Actor.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The first few seasons of the Pokémon anime will always be how the Pokémon franchise is most known, for better or worse. In many people's eyes, Ash will always be present, Pokémon will always speak Pokémon Speak, Pikachu is the only Pokemon, the controversial episodes are the only Pokemon episodes exist, Team Rocket will always be humorous, seizures will always be a danger to the audience, there will be no reason for adults to enjoy Pokémon other than nostalgia, and it'll always be considerably more toned down than the games. Certain characters can't quite break the rep of their anime counterparts.
  • Because of 4Kids Entertainment and their infamous macekres, anime dubs are almost always disliked by a subset of anime fans no matter how accurate they are to the original versionnote , thus causing the neverending Subbing versus Dubbing wars that have torn North American anime fandom apart.
  • The 4Kids dub of One Piece has probably kept many anime fans away from the series, since they believe it's a childish series with no serious story to it. It's not just about a kid made of rubber wanting to become King of the Pirates and having to face bad guys armed with "poison suction cups" or brightly-colored "pop-guns". It also hasn't even been owned by 4Kids since early 2007. However, the ink stain may be lifting. Since Funimation bought the rights, uncut DVD releases have been big sellers on Amazon's anime section; and when the uncut version was added to the revived Toonami block in 2013, it regularly garnered some of the highest ratings of the evening, along with Bleach and Naruto.
  • A lot of entry-level Galaxy Angel fans immediately split into two camps. One believes that the anime, for throwing out the plot and turning it into a Sitcom with more Character Exaggeration than previously thought possible, has ruined the serious games. The other believes that the games, for having a far-reaching Space Opera plot that mutes the characters to realistic personalities instead of exaggerations, has ruined the funny anime. Both camps invariably grate on the nerves of those that have learned to enjoy both.
  • Perhaps a mild version, but many people only know Dragon Ball Z for its anime adaptation. This causes people to stereotype it as having whole episodes of powering up, pointless filler, and many an Inaction Sequence, whereas the manga had none of these. Still, Dragon Ball Z is a very popular anime, so it's not all bad.
  • Shōnen Anime such as Naruto have become a version of this to non-fans of anime. Despite the medium encompassing multiple genres, with many having extremely fluid animation and mature story lines, the popularity of the mainstream Shonen anime as led many detractors to view anime as being filled with cliches, low-budget, filler-packed, and poorly animated.
  • Indecisively the case with Sailor Moon. Some argue the DiC-produced dub of the anime that ran in North America is a more offensive Macekre than anything 4Kids ever did. Nonetheless it still earned the series a large number of fans of both sexes, and had enough staying power that 15 years later, the uncut release of the original manga shot to the top of the graphic novel sales charts (often coming in second only to Batman).
  • People will always associate Yu-Gi-Oh! with the Merchandise-Driven second anime series and its spinoffs, where card games are Serious Business and are as important to society as politics and business are to Real Life, and as such are unable to take the original story seriously at all, which is a bit of a shame because the very first version of the story wasn't actually obsessed with the card game at all, actually has proper Character Development, and it is very clear that Duel Monsters is simply a hobby; the Myth Arc doesn't have anything to do with it, in fact.

  • In 1995, Judge Dredd had a film adaptation starring Sylvester Stallone that had a very devastating impact in the US. While in Britain, Dredd is an old warhorse of a comic that isn't going anywhere, the movie was the first exposure most Americans had to the franchise. Almost two decades later, the impact can still be seen in DC's failed attempt to market Judge Dredd trade paperbacks in American comic stores, and in how the latest film adaptation was a Box Office Bomb despite being much closer to the source material and winning the acclaim of those who actually saw it.
  • The movie adaptation of Tank Girl, which many critics saw as the comic's swansong (and which pissed off the original creator so badly that he didn't write the character again for a decade). Members of its cult following might disagree, though.
  • Though the original Godzilla (1954) was a serious and scary movie, Godzilla is best remembered by the general populace as a camp icon from the 60s, or by the 1998 In Name Only adaptation.
  • The first sound version of Frankenstein simplified and compressed the story considerably and changed the character of Frankenstein's creation. In particular, the monster in the original story was actually about as lithe as a human, could speak, and was very intelligent, not the stiff, shambling, groaning monster of the movies. He also did not have bolts in his neck or a cylindrical flat-top head. The movie solidified the idea that the monster was called Frankenstein, though this mix-up was already in effect in the preceding decades. And the idea of the monster being brutish, unintelligent and unable to speak was established by the book's first dramatic adaptation, Richard Brinsley Peake's stage play Presumption, or the Fate of Frankenstein, as early as 1823.
  • As with Frankenstein, Dracula is best known today through movies (take your pick: Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Gary Oldman, etc.) and other forms of popular culture rather than the original novel.
  • The success of the The Lord of the Rings films has dramatically colored public perception of the work, for better or worse, since the films put their own dramatically different spin on various themes. The number of people who read the books for the first time prior to seeing the films or knowing everything that happens therein is expected to approach zero. The studio struggled for a while to get the prequel, The Hobbit, off the ground, due in part to the pressure of making it conform to the existing films (and turning it into a trilogy).
  • It seemed that the 2004 adaptation of Catwoman starring Halle Berry would kill any chance for a reasonable adaptation for quite some time... though the character appears in The Dark Knight Rises, played by Anne Hathaway. (Notably, this version of Selina Kyle doesn't wear the iconic outfit and is not even called Catwoman — possibly because of this stigma.)
  • The Conan the Barbarian franchise has been a series of ink-stain adaptations building on each other, for better or worse, until the original Howard stories were Lost in Imitation. Some aspects of the Expanded Universe Conan, such as the classic Arnold Schwarzenegger film and Frank Frazetta's artwork depictions, are more successful than others, such as the sequel Conan the Destroyer which with Red Sonja nearly killed the entire genre as well as franchise. And the Conan remake seems to have done it all over again, as it did poorly at the box-office and was savaged by critics.
  • Ultimately averted for the film adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Critics unfamiliar with the source material (since it's, y'know, a cartoon) wrote off the series completely, thinking that the TV show must be just as bad as, if not worse than, the movie. This frustrated fans of the series—who by and large hate the movie—to no end, critic Roger Ebert among them. But skip forward a few years and everyone's singing the praises of the cartoon's Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra, while the movie is mostly forgotten, except as perhaps M. Night Shyamalan's official fall from grace.
  • Averted with Popeye. This 1980 Robert Altman adaptation, with Robin Williams as the world-famous sailor man, notoriously tried to recreate the 10-minute cartoon format at feature length and failed miserably. Most critics and audiences, many of whom were unfamiliar with the original source material, were so disgusted with the movie that the Max Fleischer cartoons looked much, much better by comparison. Those cartoons continued to be popular on TV long after the movie was forgotten.
  • For most people, Superman is synonymous with the Christopher Reeve movies, to the point that many critics of Man of Steel were off-put by the fact that it wasn't as light and tame as the Reeve films.
  • The failure of Disney's quarter-billion-dollar 2012 John Carter has killed any further attempts to bring Edgar Rice Burroughs' other hero to the big or small screen by Disney or anyone else for at least a few decades.
  • While it's largely dismissed by most, Dragonball Evolution was so bad that it prompted series creator Akira Toriyama to create his own film after having not been involved with the series in over a decade. (With the exception of Self-Parody Neko Majin Z).
  • Howard the Duck fans will always have to deal with the negative reputation the series had from the film adaptation. This got so bad, that The Stinger to Guardians of the Galaxy was a bit of a Base Breaker. You still have Marvel fans saying that there should never be another film adaptation.
  • The Prequel Trilogy of Star Wars was notorious in its handling of certain characters that upset some fans, but most famously Darth Vader was hit hard due to having his younger self being rather full of Wangst to many fans, which they felt ruined the awesome stoic persona he gave off (and still could have in-universe) in the originals.
  • The original, Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man films with Tobey Maguire have became so iconic with the character that a good part of the reason for the Mark Webb reboot being so contentious is for rebooting it. Notably, changes made to make it closer to the source material are often criticized simply for not being like the previous films. In a more direct manner, the depiction of Mary Jane Watson has shaped the general perception of her, and combined with the way Gwen Stacy is depicted in the reboot, has lead to a significant hamper to MJ's popularity among fans of the franchise who don't read the comics (for reference, MJ is typically a Heroic Bystander in the comics, while Gwen was a more traditional Distressed Damsel love interest in the comics).
  • Ang Lee's Hulk movie is often blamed for the failure of the MCU reboot, The Incredible Hulk, which despite being better received by fans, sold even less tickets than the original. The character's cinematic reputation has been somewhat restored by The Avengers, but Marvel is still wary of giving the property another chance, which is why there's no Hulk sequel in the works as of 2020.
  • Because of the TV series noted below, and because of the Schumaker films, Robin (Batman's sidekick and partner) is seen as more of a joke than anything outside of comic book audiences, and even The Scrappy among the Serious Business fans, and the idea of him appearing on film again is generally derived (notably, both Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan refused to let Robin appear in The Dark Knight Trilogy, as they both fell into the view that Robin was lame). This, even though in the comics Robin has been modernized as much as the rest of the Batman mythos, and has long since grown out of being just his sidekick as he became leader of the Teen Titans and Took a Level in Badass and donned the new identity of Nightwing. For a brief period Dick Grayson even led the Justice League! What's baffling is when some fans will admit that, even though he became cool in the comics and cartoons now, he 'just wouldn't work in film', without really any answer as to why he wouldn't; there's also some that think he would need to be made really gritty and violent, in order to justify why Batman would train a teen, which ignores the point of Robin in the mythos.
    • They don't offer any answer because they don't care enough to forward the actual reason. I do. Any adaptation of the origin stories for three (Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Damian Wayne) of the major Robins have to be adoption stories, which puts adapters and the studio in a tricky situation. They want Batman, regardless of tone beyond that, to be relentless $150 million+ tent-pole action (The Dark Knight Rises was $250 million) but, regardless of tone, to introduce a kid, you have to be working with simpler, cheaper, action and shorter time frames than said tent-pole stuff mandates. So they age him up strictly to not have to worry about visible aging, in spite of the fact that the youthful contrast is what Robin is there for, especially in the origin. The Dark Knight Rises technically did something that was better on paper (remove the adoption stuff entirely, composite three Robins (Dick, Jason and Tim) together, tying him into cops because Dick Grayson was a cop at one point and that franchise was 60-70% a police corruption drama, even as, in practice, nothing interesting was left), than how Batman Forever handled it, with Batman adopting someone of college age with little to no justification.
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is this for its source novel, Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. That film has become so iconic and parodied that outside of the U.K. — and especially in the United States — the novel has suffered Adaptation Displacement. There are actually many other adaptations of it out there, but fans of the 1971 film tend to bristle at any telling that doesn't slavishly follow the lead of Gene Wilder and orange-skinned, green-haired Oompa-Loompas, never mind that said tellings are usually Truer To The Text (such as the 2013 stage musical, though that adaptation tosses in one song from and several Internal Homages to the '71 version). Dahl himself disowned the film, so he likely wouldn't be happy about this at all.

  • The King James version of The Bible, with its antiquated (it was deliberately a bit archaic even in James' day) version of English, seems to have produced in some people the rather bizarre notion that God speaks Ye Olde Englishe exclusively, and that it's very nearly sacrilegious to use modern English when speaking to or about Him. To this day, there are a great many Christians and Christian denominations (especially those on the fundamentalist end), known as "King James Onlyites", who will insist that the King James Version is the only English translation "approved" by God, and can get very touchy on the subject. However, these people are in the minority in much of the world. This is especially ironic/silly when you consider just why people like the KJV: Because it is the version of the Bible with the most artistic merit; rather than just a translation of the Hebrew, it is a work of English verse in its own right. In other words, it isn't a literal translation.
  • The later runs of The Princess Bride include post-novel content in which Goldman tells us (Kayfabe) that Stephen King felt this way about Goldman's abridged version of the story.

    Live Action TV 
  • Lana Lang has played a minor role in the many adaptations of Superman, including Superman III and Superman: The Animated Series, but unfortunately she gets immense hate for her first big appearance in Smallville, where she is infamous for 8 seasons of non-stop Romantic Plot Tumour.
  • The 70s Wonder Woman series starring Lynda Carter colored, and continues to color, peoples' cultural knowledge of the character. Unlike Batman, however, Wonder Woman has never had the benefit of a successive adaptation that mitigates the Camp elements of the 70s show. The Justice League animated series has helped to some extent, but popular culture still looks almost exclusively to the Carter version, and a recent adaptation with Adrianne Palicki was cancelled before it aired. And because, unlike the Batman show, it very rarely attempted to adapt any of the villain concepts from the comics, it's also left future filmmakers floundering to find a villain from the comics that the mainstream will care about.
  • While Power Rangers is a successful franchise on its own, many Super Sentai purists view it as the reason why Super Sentai will never get the proper international recognition it deserves, since the adapted footage of the costumes and giant robot battles are so deeply ingrained with Power Rangers, Super Sentai could never stand on its own merits. It's not uncommon to see Super Sentai videos on the internet (such as the "Legendary War" scene from Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger) to be labeled as Power Rangers videos. This is especially prevalent among fans from countries such as Brazil, the Philippines, or France, which used to air locally-dubbed versions of Super Sentai before switching to Power Rangers dubs.
    • On another level, the individual Sentai seasons can be tarred with the Rangers brush. Some past seasons get a bad reputation simply because of the following Rangers adaptations. Some fans who watch Rangers first looked a little skeptically on Gaoranger or Boukenger simply because of how badly they were adapted into Wild Force or Operation Overdrive.
    • This also applies to tokusatsu in general. Fairly often people would call any costumed superhero from Japan "a Power Ranger", despite having no resemblance to one whatsoever.
  • The 60s high Camp TV interpretation of Batman still lingers on as some people's view of the character, despite several adaptations and major character changes since. This has continued to the extent that Warner Bros. Consumer Products has approached Adam West and 20th Century Fox (producers of the TV show) in 2012 about producing merchandise based on the TV shows. (Also, greeting cards from Hallmark tend to follow the Adam West design, which most closely resembled the traditional comic book design.) The Jim Holmes incident may further encourage this revival of the West version.
    • The TV series was a distillation of the very silliest of The Comics Code/Silver Age era Batman comics, roughly late '50s to mid '60s. In fact some say that the later (1970s-80s) portrayals of Batman were a backlash against the show. In Amazing Heroes#119 in 1987 (two years before the Michael Keaton film), Max Allan Collins had an interview. He said the following:
      “I’m afraid what I’m running smack up into is the old Batman TV show controversy: the old business about, Gee that was a TV show that made fun of Batman and made fun of comic books, so we have to show people that Batman and comic books are serious and they’re adult and accordingly all the fun goes out of it. There was a reason why that TV show was played for laughs and that is when you put actual human beings in those costumes and act out those stories, it looks stupid. They betray their juvenile roots. It can’t be done straight. I defy them to do the movie straight”.
    • In some ways, Batman was an ink stain for the genre of Western superheroes. Until 2000 or so, when superhero movies started being huge, any outside journalism on the genre would feature "Bif! Pow!" in the headline, as if Adam West was the last word on the subject.
    • Notably, The Dark Age of Comic Books may have revitalized interest in the show as a backlash against all the grimdarkness. Batman: The Brave and the Bold was something of a love letter to both the show and Silver Age DC comics, and even included episodes written by Paul Dini, who had done plenty of serious work for the comparatively serious Batman: The Animated Series. Also, DC Comics debuted Batman '66, which treats the TV show as an alternate universe, in 2013 to modest success.
  • Masked Rider, Saban's adaptation of Kamen Rider Black RX, was not just an ink stain to the Kamen Rider franchise itself, it was also an ink stain to its very own name. Originally "Masked Rider" was the official romanized name of Kamen Rider (kamen simply means "mask" in Japanese), but because the name "Masked Rider" is so closely associated to the Saban version outside Japan, most fans refuse to use it despite its prominence in many products. When Adness made Kamen Rider Dragon Knight (a remake of Kamen Rider Ryuki), Executive Producer Steve Wang insisted on using "Kamen Rider" instead of "Masked Rider" since he wanted to distance the show from the Saban version. The Japanese shows, which were using the romanized name of "Masked Rider" on the logos since Kamen Rider Kuuga, followed suit by switching to "Kamen Rider" beginning with Kamen Rider Double.
    On top of that, some time ago Saban applied for a trademark for "Power Rider", which many believe is their giving "Kamen Rider" another swing.
  • Warehouse 13 uses this as a major plot point. All of the stories children grew up with, such as Cinderella and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, were bowdlerized Warehouse-issue fabrications designed to downplay the more horrifying aspects of the true stories.
  • Although the book series it was based off of was reasonably popular at the time, the Dinotopia miniseries has colored the view of the entire franchise in the minds of many.
  • The infamously cheap and horribly produced Doctor Who story "Warriors of the Deep" pretty much codified all of the negative opinion of 1980s Who. This was because the problems with the story were exaggerations of problems that were already there at a more manageable level for years, and because its more embarrassing clips were often pointed to by the show's detractors to point out how silly it looked. Even now that the thoroughly better made revival series has eroded much of this, it's still common to hear commentators talking about wobbly sets, bad acting and dodgy monster costumes over that clip of Whatsherface trying to kick a pantomime horse.

    Video Games 
  • Bloody Roar: Each sequel after the 2nd further destroyed people's perceptions that the game involved any skill or strategy, culminating with Bloody Roar 4, where one could almost justly assume the entire series was just a Button Masher.
  • Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, the Japanese-only PC Engine installment of the Castlevania franchise, received one in the form of the SNES adaptation, Dracula X, which eschewed all of the stages as well as a playable Maria, and ratcheted the difficulty upward to ungodly levels. It did not go over well at all, and anyone unaware of the original would immediately think of the SNES game instead even when the PC Engine version was specifically mentioned. Luckily, this was all remedied with the release of the PSP mini-compilation The Dracula X Chronicles, which included both the original Rondo along with the remake, as well as its sequel Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and subsequently, the appearance of a perfectly emulated Rondo for the Wii's Virtual Console.
  • Toe Jam And Earl had many Rogue Lite elements and many aspects that were rarely seen in console games, but a glance at its good but less creative side-scrolling sequel or the unimpressive third game can make a casual observer overlook the original.
  • For Call of Duty, the later entries in the Modern Warfare sub-series, while being one of the biggest selling trilogies in all of gaming, have ultimately tainted many gamers' view of the franchise as a whole, to the point that any future releases are unfavorably deemed as being "mere MW re-skins". Try to point out how much different the games from Treyarch and Sledgehammer are, and most will still write them off as being just recycled assets all dressed up. Not helped by the fact that the first post-MW Infinity Ward release, Call of Duty: Ghosts, was essentially everything that the detractors claimed the series has becomenote , leading many to call the next upcoming release, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, as the derogatory nickname "Call of Duty Recycled Warfare", in spite of the many changes it had, in addition to using a new engine and being in development for three years (one of the things which helped make Call of Duty 4 as good as it was, was that the developers were brainstorming ideas for it since 2004).
  • The nigh-impossible difficulty of the NES/Famicom version of Spelunker is a HUGE meme (especially in Japan), but not many people realize this is only because it's a Porting Disaster of the arcade version. Most people don't even know the NES version is a port.
  • Many fans of the Resident Evil film series will take one look at the games, particularly Resident Evil 3 where there is quite the resemblance, and mistake Jill for Alice. Needless to say making this mistake or even believing Jill was based on Milla Jovovich within earshot of the game's fanbase will make them go nuclear.

    Western Animation 
  • Super Friends has crippled Aquaman as a character forever. Give him a harpoon hand, replace it with a magical water hand, point out how life at the bottom of the ocean has made him stronger, faster, and more resilient than most humans... and everyone will still be like, "He's just some guy who swims fast and talks to fish." It's gotten to the point where DC finally decided to kill off the old Aquaman and create a new one. But the original is back now, and in New 52, all bets and gloves are off with DC, as they hire expert comic book fixer Geoff Johns to fix Aquaman's bad cred. As Geoff has had Aquaman face all of the 'fish man' jokes and blow them to shreds with all of the awesome things he does, it seems to be working. Additionally, he's expected to become a part of the DC Cinematic Universe, with the casting rumors pointing to actor Jason Momoa. Between Khal Drogo and Conan, if there's one person in the world who can rescue Aquaman's reputation as a stone-cold badass, it's him.
  • Everyone remembers the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, while the much darker original comics and more recent cartoon and movies seem to be living in its shadow... Much like the '60s Batman example earlier in the page.
  • Everyone remembers He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983), with its goofy takes on the characters and the moral segments at the end. Very few remember the previous DC Comics take on Masters of the Universe, where the Sorceress is referred to as 'The Goddess' and lives in a cave (and not Castle Greyskull—and she and Zoar the falcon are separate characters), Prince Adam (He-Man's alter-ego who didn't appear in the toyline minicomics... at first) is known for 'wenching and carousing', and Skeletor is a much more dangerous villain who kills a rival wizard in combat. There were also illustrated books released with the original action figures which gave different origins for the characters (Teela, instead of being the Sorceress' daughter, is a magical clone of hernote ), and had a storyline where He-Man's Sword of Power was split in two (with He-Man possessing one half and Skeletor the other—this was reflected in the original action figure accessories with two 'sword halves' with the characters' figures that could be put together). Later takes on He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (such as the 1987 live-action movie and the 2002 series) don't seem to be talked about as much as the 80's Filmation cartoon.
  • A rare positive example is the effect that the episode "Heart Of Ice" had on the character of Mr. Freeze in Batman: The Animated Series. The episode had given him a tearjerking backstory and a beautifully done characterization that is considered canon by comics and fans, overriding his relatively flat '60s version.
  • When people think of Aladdin, odds are they'll think of the Disney version with its storybook version of Persia/Arabia, rather than the Chinese setting that the original story employed. To be fair, nearly all adaptations of Aladdin were set in Arabia well before Disney got their hands on the story.
  • Pocahontas, meanwhile, is one of the biggest subversions. The legend of John Smith and Pocahontas being lovers had built for centuries—but once Disney put that myth to celluloid, the Vocal Minority that knew its inaccuracies raised such a stink that everyone now knows the real Pocahontas was only twelve years old at the time and Smith probably didn't even care that she existed. She even married John Rolfe and moved with him to England, a fact that Disney inexplicably got right in the direct-to-video sequel.
  • Inverted in the case of The Real Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2. It's been said GB2 is seen as the runt of the franchise because RGB set such a high standard with writing and characterization. At least until RGB was tragically torn apart by Executive Meddling in the later seasons.
  • My Little Pony is frequently dismissed as a Glurge outlet. This is almost entirely because of G3, which consists almost entirely of saccharine nonsense. People turned onto the franchise by My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic are often surprised to find the G1 TV specials, movie, and cartoon show can be remarkably mature, and even a bit dark.
  • Any time that a Video Game receives an animated adaptation (no matter which side of the Pacific produces it) fits as this. And 9 times out of 10, the only way to displace an impression from an animated series, is with a new animated series (e.g. The Mega 'Toons overriding Captain N: The Game Master for Mega Man and Dr. Wily.)