What happens when a work of fiction, so old or so well-known that knowing its ending doesn't even count as a spoiler
, is adapted into a new installment? Mostly the adapters choose to keep the main plot points, so the twist ending will stay, and thus there will be no twist at all. But that's not the only option!
Sometimes the production team do
want the viewers to be surprised, and so they will change the twist at the end. This is, of course, especially prone to leaving plot holes if the producers do not change the rest of the plot that leads to the original ending accordingly, leaving the new twist hanging over the plot as if suspended by wires. When well done, though, it can lead to genuine surprise, a satisfying new resolution, and an excellent application of Death of the Author
, in other words, awesomeness.
As a sub trope of Meta Twist, it's never too much warning that HERE BE SPOILERS
. In fact, these spoilers are even more dangerous than the usual variety, since it's impossible to not spoil the twist ending from the moment the name of the work is stated if you're familiar with the original, as well as spoil yourself on both
versions if you aren't. Proceed with caution.
Contrast with It Was His Sled
, the trope that leads to this.
As a clarification, this Trope deals with Adaptations and Alternate Continuities
; de-twisted sequels fall under Meta Twist
. Also, if the plot twist was added by a more successful adaptation
and removed by a later adaptation/reboot, the later adaption/reboot counts here since the audience was expecting the earlier imitation; the original, however, would not
count and that
instance should be taken to Lost in Imitation
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Anime and Manga
- The Comic Book Adaptation of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The Movie First appeared to be an All There in the Manual affair for the first season (For those who don't know, The Movie First is a remake of that season), much like the A's and StrikerS comics that came before it. Indeed, this seemed to be the case until it reached the series proper in Chapter 5, where it gave a summary of the first Season, except that in place of Nanoha successfully befriending Fate and the two of them joining forces to stop Precia like everyone was expecting, Bardiche is destroyed, Fate never comes out of her comatose state for the final battle, Precia dies without giving Fate any sense of closure, and our last shot is of Nanoha crying about how she wasn't able to save Fate in the end, quickly revealing how this manga was actually another alternate retelling of the first season. Nanoha ultimately succeeds in befriending Fate after a sparring battle later on.
- While not particularly well-known, people who have read the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga will be surprised when watching the Toei anime, where many stories were given twists that weren't in the manga. For example, during the Burger World episode, the villain wasn't the robber, but rather the manager of the store. Or maybe more notable in the Tamagotchi episode, where the villain wasn't Kujirada, but rather an inconspicuous classmate who liked to keep people as pets, complete with whipping as a punishment and questionable rewards.
- Rei Ayanami NOT dying in Rebuild of Evangelion.
- It could still happen later on, of course. A better example is that Toji is not piloting Unit-03.
- Or, you know, that instead of unit 01 absorbing Shinji into itself and killing Zeruel monkey-style before shutting down, Shinji takes control of Unit 01 at its full berserk power, forcibly yanks Rei's soul out of Zeruel, and proceeds to ascend to godhood and nearly kickstart Third Impact before Kaworu stops him. Needless to say, some people were a bit surprised at these developments.
- They actually managed to twist the part with Ayanami not dying back again between 2.22 and 3.33. However, since it's Ayanami, she still appears in 3.33 as a clone.
- In the Death Note live-action films, Light Yagami dies much, much earlier than he did in the anime, on account of L writing his own name in the Death Note before Light can kill him, making his own death a certainty in 23 days but an impossibility at any time prior to that. Because of this, a third movie is made entirely about L's character stopping a completely DIFFERENT group of criminals.
- In The Amazing Spider-Man, Spider-Man's archnemesis, the Green Goblin, tossed Spidey's first love off a bridge in one of comics' most iconic moments. It was a huge twist when the comic was published (never before had a superhero let someone die, except in an origin story) and shocked many readers. Since then, however, whenever Gwen Stacy is present, it's become more shocking not have the Green Goblin kill Gwen Stacy.
- The most straight example of this is in the mini-series Powerless, which re-imagines, among others, Peter Parker becoming a cripple due to the spider-bite, rather than getting superpowers. When Norman Osborn kidnaps Gwen Stacy, they both fall off a balcony, but Peter manages to catch Gwen Stacy, saving her.
- In Ultimate Spider-Man, instead of throwing Gwen Stacy off a bridge, the Green Goblin throws Mary Jane, and she ends up surviving. On the other hand, Gwen Stacy is killed by Carnage instead. But then, Gwen's memories and personality were absorbed by Carnage which wasn't sentient before, resulting in Carnage essentialy becomming Gwen, making her technicaly alive.
- Played straight or averted in Marvel 1602, depending whether or not you consider the spin-off, Spider-Man: 1602, canon. Virginia Dare is said to fill the role of Gwen Stacy, and she survives in the original mini-series, and it's heavily implied she and Peter end up together. In the spin-off, however, not only is she killed by Osborne, but Peter very quickly gets over her to get together with Marian Jane Watsonne, effectively restoring the status quo that the original mini-series worked to avoid.
- Also played straight with Marvel Adventures, in which Gwen Stacy is present, but her death is never explored.
- As with the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the new continuity created by Flashpoint went out of it's way to change things up in the DCU.
- A sort of double-subversion occurs with the new version of the Crime Syndicate. In previous continuity, most of the evil counterparts of the justice league had radically different backstories than their main counterparts. For instance, Ultraman (the evil Superman) was an astronaut who was experimented on by aliens, and Jhonny Quick (the evil Flash) gets his powers from drugs. In the New52, the crime syndicate member's backstories are dark, twisted parodies of the main heroes of the DCU. Not only is this a subversion, but it's also an inversion since their backstories are now much closer to the pre-crisis CSA.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic inspired an Abridged Series by the name of Friendship is Witchcraft. For the most part, the episodes have more or less started and ended the same way as their counterparts in the actual show. Along comes Foaly Matripony, a parody of the Season 2 finale "A Canterlot Wedding." Instead of a changeling queen, Princess Cadance Notevil Goodpony really was a not-evil good pony, all the business with the changelings was completely skipped, and Twilight's had a crush on her brother since day one. Oh yeah, and at the end, Twilight leaves Cadance to die so she can marry Shining Armor. They're not biologically related, so it's okay!
- The premise of Coming Home in that James Sunderland didn't kill his wife and Mary dies of her terminal disease. Unfortunately Silent Hill still wants him.
- In Pony Fantasy VI, a romhack of Final Fantasy VI featuring the cast of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Fluttershy stands in for Shadow, and during the game's ending, shoos her dog Angel away while opting to stay in Discord's tower as the place collapses. This time, however, Rainbow Dash/Setzer will have none of it and drags her to safety.
- Xenonauts being a Fan Remake of X-COM, you might expect that psionics and energy weapons are your endgame tools. Nope! Humanity has no psionic potential and aliens highly resistant to energy weapons come into play. You have to take a different path and hope you can go far enough before it's too late.
- A few cases in Necessary To Win
- In Girls und Panzer, while spending time in town after their practice match against St. Gloriana, the girls run into Hana's mother, who disowns her after finding out that she's been doing tankery. Here, the girls just miss Hana's mother, although she finds out later.
- Several canon matchups are different. Anzio loses to Oarai in the first round, rather than the second. St. Gloriana, rather than losing to Black Forest in the semifinals, loses to Oarai in the second round. Pravda makes it to the semifinals, but loses to Black Forest rather than Oarai; Oarai's semifinals opponent is Saunders instead.
- During the semifinals, an incident similar to Rabbit Team stalling in the river happens (but to Octopus Team), and at that point, Momo is forced to reveal that Oarai is at risk of shutting down unless it wins the tournament. In the finals, Rabbit Team makes it across the river, but loses a tread and has to stay behind.
- During the finals, Rabbit and Duck Team are eliminated early on, while the Maus quickly defeats Leopon and Turtle Team, forcing a change of tactics later in the battle.
- Inglourious Basterds changes the ending of World War II itself, having Shoshanna and the Basterds succeed in assassinating all of the top Nazi officials, including Hitler himself.
- The Live-Action Adaptation of Death Note loosely follows the structure of the first arc of the manga, though many important plot details are changed and some are combined with the second arc. The arc's climactic scene, in which Light manipulates Rem into killing L with her Death Note, first diverges when Light writes his father's name to make him hand over the task force's Death Note and then changes completely when L re-emerges alive and well, Light and Misa are arrested by the task force, Light's Note is revealed to be a fake, and Ryuk writes Light's name in his Note after he decides there is no more fun to be had. After this clears up, L dies peacefully three weeks later, as he had written in the Death Note; since his name was already written, he could not be killed by any other notebook.
- Subversion of this in the Live-Action Adaptation of Speed Racer. Near the end of the movie, Speed suspects that Racer X is his long-lost brother, and asks him to take off his mask. Not His Sled because it turns out he looks completely different from the Rex Racer we saw earlier in the film. Subverted at the end when we find out it really is Rex after all, he's simply undergone extensive reconstructive surgery and won't tell his family to protect them.
- The remake of Miracle on 34th Street changed the post-office ending.
- My Bloody Valentine 3 D changes the final revelation of the killer's identity.
- Screamers, which was based on "Second Variety" by Dick, retains the original surprise ending that the woman the hero met and bonded with is one of the robot decoys, but changes it so she has broken her programming and isn't out to kill humans. It further departs from the original ending by having her "dying" and putting the hero safely on the shuttle to Earth in a happy Hollywood ending...until it reveals that the teddy bear the hero kept as a souvenir is another deadly robot decoy. The direct-to-video sequel briefly mentions the first film's protagonist choosing to destroy his ship rather than allow the teddy bear to get to Earth, although it's difficult to imagine a single killer robot being able to wipe out the human race without the means to make more of itself.
- The film adaptation of The Turkish Gambit changes the Secret Identity of Anwar, the Turkish spy in the Russian camp.
- The false end of the Tim Burton adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory uses this to great effect. When Charlie asks if his parents can come with him to live in the factory, Wonka responds:
"My dear boy, of course you can't! ... You can't run a chocolate factory with a family hanging over you like an old, dead goose!"
- And then they never end up flying out in the elevator. This is justified because Dahl's will prohibited anyone making Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator into a movie, so there was no point in a Sequel Hook.
- In the original Land of the Lost, Enick is a good, monk-like person, helping the heroes as much as he can. In the movie version, he's a Villain with Good Publicity Big Bad who plans on using the portal to Earth to overrun it with Sleestaks.
- In the Savini remake of Night of the Living Dead, Barbra survives and turns into an Action Girl. Not only that, but the black hero who steps out of the farmhouse at the end does so as a zombie, which she and the rednecks kill. Then the film's Jerkass emerges, having survived by locking everyone else out of the cellar, to greet Barbra with relief that he's alive ... and she shoots him dead, then calls to the rednecks that there's "another one for the fire".
- Used brilliantly in A Series of Unfortunate Events:
- In the first book, Violet avoids marriage by signing the marriage contract with the wrong hand. The movie resolves the plot differently than in the book, and when that moment comes up Olaf insists on her using the correct hand to sign.
- The movie consisted of the first three books squashed together, so the ending of each individual story was changed. The segment taken from The Bad Beginning ends with the children taken from Olaf's care after he tries to leave them trapped in a car about to be hit by a train, and Mr. Poe chastises him for letting Sunny sit in the driver's seat. The rest of the plot of the first book is stuck at the end, after the plots of the second and third book are gone through. The segment that was taken from The Reptile Room did not end with Klaus proving that the death of Uncle Monty did not match up with what Olaf claimed (that a snake bit him), and Sunny biting off the Hook-handed Man's fake hands, revealing his identity. Instead, Uncle Monty's death is blamed on the Incredibly Dangerous Viper, and Sunny proves the story false by going over and showing that the viper is perfectly harmless towards her. The segment taken from The Wide Window ends with Count Olaf saving the children without his Captain Sham disguise, leading Mr. Poe to mistakenly believe he has their best interests at heart and put them back in his care.
- A Streetcar Named Desire: The 1951 film version still ends with Blanche being committed, but Stella decides to leave Stanley and take the baby with her. This change was done less to surprise the audience with a new ending and more to conform to The Hays Code, which dictated all immoral acts (Stanley's rape of Blanche) must be somehow punished.
- The Odyssey-inspired O Brother, Where Art Thou?:
- From the moment John Goodman's "cyclops" appears on screen in, one expects him to get a skewer in the eye. He doesn't, stopping a Confederate flag from impaling him inches from his face. But then, the twist is immediately untwisted when Everett cuts the wire holding up the Klan's burning cross and it falls directly onto Big Dan's face, no doubt taking his other eye.
- The Fly: The 1958 film has the scientist and the fly switching heads in the matter transporter. The David Cronenberg film features the scientist stepping out of the transporter completely unharmed. However, it turns out the fly's DNA merged with his own, and as his cells divide over the next few weeks, his body gradually mutates into a grotesque hybrid.
- Tromeo And Juliet: Not only do Tromeo and Juliet not die, they discover they're actually siblings, but then decide to get married anyway, and raise a family of mutant children. (Of course, the original ending has them run off and get married, then kill themselves in a motel room.)
- Roxanne is an updated version of Cyrano de Bergerac, with Steve Martin in the Cyrano role. He gets the girl.
- The Recursive Adaptation of Hairspray (the film of the musical) has, among other changes, Tracy hidden in the giant hairspray can, Velma losing her job, and Little Inez winning the paegant. Of course, much of the stage version's Act 2 was modified and swapped around to facilitate some of the changes, but the third one is a true example.
- Fantastic Mr. Fox plays with this trope: the Fox's Feast which the original book ended on happens around the 2/3 mark, and is rudely interrupted when Bean floods the tunnels with apple cider. However, the actual ending is much the same: the animals toast to their survival while Boggis, Bunce and Bean are left standing around a hole waiting for Mr. Fox to come out (which he never will, since he's so thoroughly outsmarted the farmers that the animals are now all living quite happily off of food stolen from them).
- All of the film adaptions of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None (with the notable exception of the Russian version) use a different ending from the book; the killer's identity is usually left unchanged, but their Perfect Crime doesn't go as perfectly as it does in the book.
- That said, the ending the movies usually go with is the one from the stage play, which Christie also wrote herself.
- In the remake of The Wolfman (2010), Lawrence is not killed by his father, nor does it turn out that Malevra's son is the one who bit him. Instead, his father is the werewolf that killed Lawrence's brother and bit him. The film ends with Lawrence, as a werewolf, killing his transformed father and in turn being shot by Gwen. This leads to a Sequel Hook where we see that the police officer investigating the entire situation had also been bitten.
- Roger Ebert joked about this trope in his review of the last Harry Potter film: "I dare not reveal a single crucial detail about the story itself, lest I offend the Spoiler Police, who have been on my case lately. Besides, you never know. Maybe they've completely rewritten J. K. Rowling's final book in the series. Maybe Harry dies, Voldemort is triumphant, and evil reigns." The film series didn't go that far, though they did flirt with this:
- The final act of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone:
- At first, it seems the way Devil's Snare is thwarted has been changed: In the book, it was susceptible to fire; in the movie, it was made up so that you have to relax to get pulled through to the other side. However, Ron is unable to relax, so Hermione ends up thwarting it the same way she did in the book, by targeting light at it.
- The confrontation with Voldemort: In the book, Harry spends the whole scene adamantly refusing to give Voldemort the Stone. In the movie, Voldemort tempts Harry with the possibility of bringing his parents back to life and, for a moment, it looks like Harry might actually hand over the Stone, but then he doesn't.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: In the book, Voldemort tries to kill Neville via flaming Sorting Hat; then the cavalry arrives and Neville pulls the Sword of Gryffindor out of the Hat and kills Voldemort's snake with it. In the movie, he pulls the Sword, swings at the snake - and gets promptly thrown aside and knocked out. Then follows a lengthy sequence of Ron and Hermione chasing the snake around with the audience sitting at the edge of their seats ready to froth at the mouth if Steve Kloves didn't let Neville kill Nagini. He did.
- Watchmen: Yes, Ozymandias is still the Big Bad. Yes, he still kills millions and thus succeeds at uniting mankind against a fictitious common enemy. The twist is that, in the film, he frames Dr. Manhattan for the destruction instead of teleporting a squid-thing into NYC.
- In Angels and Demons, just when you think Langdon won't be able to save the drowning bishop who's been weighted down in the fountain and dies in the book, a group of passers-by jump in and help lift him out of the water. Of course, the villain is still the same character, and he still gets caught. But the Red Herring doesn't win the papal election as he does in the book - this honor goes to the bishop who was saved from the fountain and who was originally a frontrunner in the election, anyway.
- In the The Dark Knight Rises, a loose adaptation of the Knightfall story arc from the Batman comics, Bruce Wayne doesn't wind up paralyzed, and the Big Bad is ultimately revealed to be Talia al-Ghul rather than Bane. For bonus points, they manage to throw off fans of the comics by giving Talia Bane's origin story. It isn't until The Reveal towards the end that we realize that "The Child" born and raised in that hellish prison was actually Talia, not Bane.
- This is actually foreshadowed earlier in the film: when confronting Batman, Bane says that "I didn't see the light until I was already a man," meaning he couldn't have escaped as a child.
- Earlier, in The Dark Knight, both Harvey Dent and Sal Maroni appear, and it looks like we will see Two-Face's origin the way it was in the comics, with Maroni throwing acid in Dent's face. However, that doesn't happen, and Harvey becomes Two-Face in an explosion set-up by Joker instead.
- Inverted in the now-lost German Expressionist film The Janus Head, starring Conrad Veidt. The Twist Ending is that the movie is actually an adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The twist ending is the same as in the source material, but nobody in the original audience realized this because all the names had been changed and because of general ignorance of everything except the twist of the original story.
- Played with in the case of the DL-6 Incident in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. The confrontation takes place in the evidence room, and almost everyone involved believed that Gregory Edgeworth was trying to destroy von Karma's key evidence (a handgun, which was later used to shoot von Karma and kill Gregory). Because the movie did not include Gregory revealing of von Karma's use of fraudulent evidence during the case (as he did in the game), von Karma has no motive to kill Gregory, which is brought up in the final case. Phoenix manages to turn it all around and prove that von Karma did have a motive - the gun was forged evidence, Gregory was in the process of figuring this out, and Phoenix is able to prove it in front of the entire courtroom.
- The remake of Oceans Eleven whilst obviously differing significantly from the original still manages to use this, with the heart attack now being part of the plan.
- Star Trek Into Darkness: The moment Khan is revealed, viewers that saw Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan are likely to jump to the conclusion that Spock will pull a Heroic Sacrifice again by fixing the Warp Core, complete with his Famous Last Words being mentioned early on as foreshadowing. Nope, it's switched up: Kirk does the sacrifice and Spock watches him "die" through the radiation door. This also serves as a Meta Twist for those who were expecting a completely different resolution due to the first movie in this new continuity implying that the previous continuity no longer applied.
- In the book of Avalon High, the Love Interest Will is revealed to be the reincarnation of King Arthur, in the movie in it turns out to be Protagonist Allie (which was a Foregone Conclusion considering her name was Allie Pennington)
- Roger Corman's The Raven opens with Dr. Craven in his study, reciting or paraphrasing lines from a certain poem and more or less following its arc as he does so. Until...
Craven: Are you some dark-winged messenger from beyond? Answer me, monster, tell me truly! Shall I ever hold again the radiant maiden whom the angels call Lenore?
: How the hell should I know? What do I look like, a fortune teller? Ooh! I'm chilled to the bone - why don't you get me some wine?
- The film of Blood and Chocolate ends with Vivian not getting stuck as a human-wolf creature and instead defeating the bad guy and everyone living happily ever after.
- In the comic book version of X-Men's The Dark Phoenix Saga, Wolverine managed to open his way to Jean, and she accepted her fate and requested him to kill her. But he goes back at the last moment: he loves her, he can't bring himself to kill her. Same thing on the animated series. Same context in X-Men: The Last Stand... completely opposite outcome.
- The biggest twist of the original Evil Dead was that Sheryl - the withdrawn artist set up as the movie's Final Girl - was actually the first to go, with the only survivor being her jockish, doofy brother Ash (who becomes a total Bad Ass in the sequel). The remake seems at first to be going in the same direction, but after a fair bit of flirting over which character is going to be the movie's Ash equivalent ( one girl even cuts off her own demonically-possessed hand, just as Ash did in the second film, while another character is simply given Ash's exact character relationships within the story), ultimately reveals that the Ash equivalent is also the Sheryl equivalent, making her also a straight example of the Final Girl - the very trope the original subverted.
- In the live-action version of Space Battleship Yamato (Star Blazers), the nature of the Gamilons, Iskandar, their relationship to each other, and the Cosmo DNA, are all radically altered.
- "The Tortoise and the Hare" by James Thurber tells the story of a Genre Savvy tortoise who knows from reading books that in a race between a tortoise and a hare, the hare always loses. The tortoise finds a hare, challenges him to a 50-yard dash, and has proceeded less than a foot when the hare crosses the finish line.
A new broom may sweep clean, but never trust an old saw.
- The Tale of the Rose by Emma Donoghue is a Twice Told Tale of Beauty and the Beast with a Beast who constantly wears a mask around Beauty. When the Beast confesses to Beauty that he's no man underneath the mask, Beauty assumes that he means that his appearance isn't human. However, when Beauty removes the Beast's mask, she learns that the Beast meant "not male" and is actually a perfectly normal-looking woman who secluded herself not because of her appearance but because of society's attitude towards lesbians.
- In More Information Than You Require, during an anecdote about William Randolph Hearst (on whose life Citizen Kane was, of course, based), it's casually mentioned that "Rosebud" was his nickname for Theodore Roosevelt.
- The twist in Kim Newman's "Further Developments in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" is that Jekyll and Hyde were lovers, and the "confession" about being two sides of the same man was completely made up. Probably.
- Done In-Universe by Death in Hogfather to "The Little Match Girl"... and it is Tear-jerkingly Heartwarming.
"I'm The Hogfather. The Hogfather gives presents. There is no greater present than a future."
Live Action TV
- In the first season finale of Dexter, Dexter tracks the Ice Truck Killer down to a shipping container, which was the location of the final showdown between Dexter and his brother in the first novel. In the series, the shipping container is full of bananas. Also, in the novel Dexter's brother escapes alive and Deborah finds out about Dexter being a killer. LaGuerta dies. The first season ends with Brian's death and Deb remains in the dark about Dexter, while LaGuerta lives to continue to annoy Deb. Deb does end up killing LaGuerta later in order to keep Dexter's nature secret.
- One stage performance of Monty Python's Parrot Sketch ends about 30 seconds into the sketch with Palin agreeing that the parrot is dead and giving Cleese a refund. This was also to reflect the improvement in returns stores would make.
- Palin also wrote about an ill-advised ad-lib in the sketch where he plays a man who goes up to a policeman played by Cleese to say his wallet's been stolen. The policeman apologetically tells him there's not much he can do, and after an uncomfortable pause the man asks, "Do you want to come back to my place?" and the policeman is supposed to say, "Yeah, all right." One night Cleese just said "no!" instead, which left them with nothing to do except slink offstage in a way that was no longer a punchline.
- One clip from The Young Ones appears to be setting up a rendition of the Pythons' "Cheese Shop" sketch. When asked if it's a cheese shop, however, the proprietor says "No", so the customer quips that they can't do the sketch after all.
- Being Human (Remake) plays around with this. Some of the plots taken from the original play out the same way as they did in the British version while others use this trope.
- In the season one finale the final confrontation with Bishop averts the big twist from the British season one as Aiden figures out what Jeff is trying to do and does not let him fight in his place.
- One episode of Midsomer Murders was a direct retelling of Hamlet... Except this time the Claudius-Expy gets wise to the Hamlet-Expy's plan and kills him.
- The Walking Dead is making a concentrated effort to surprise even people who read the comic (something creator Robert Kirkman is in favor of). Examples include: Shane dying and Lori's pregnancy being revealed much later, and the revelation that everyone's already infected, Otis' death and the debut of Michonne happening earlier. But the real winner has to be Sophia dying during their time at Hershel's farm.
- Word of God by the producer of Pretty Little Liars made an ambiguous comment about -A being Mona, saying that "It won't be exactly like the books", which much of the Fan Dumb interpreted as an absolute statement that Mona wasn't -A. It turned out -A was the same individual as in the books, but the motivation was altered along with other details (including that in the books Mona die immediately after being revealed). However, the reveal sequence and following confrontation still plays out almost exactly the same.
- Sherlock frequently changes details and yes, even endings, from the original books, but the most epic instance has got to be when Moriarty suicides at the climax of "The Reichenbach Fall", thereby forbidding Sherlock from pulling a Taking You with Me. It leaves the Holmes-savvy viewer feeling very wrong-footed...in the best way possible, of course.
- Speaking of Sherlock Holmes, Elementary pulls one when Irene Adler turns out to be Moriarty.
- Once Upon a Time is built around pulling this trope with various fairy tales. One particularly notable twist is that Red-Riding Hood is not eaten by the Big Bad Wolf, she is the Big Bad Wolf by way of lycanthropy. And she eats her boyfriend before her grandmother can explain it to her.
- From Dusk Till Dawn doesn’t even try to maintain the notorious Halfway Plot Switch of the original movie. The supernatural elements are evident from the very first scene of the pilot.
- In the original Land of the Lost, Enick is a good, monk-like person, helping the heroes as much as he can. In the movie version, he's a Villain with Good Publicity Big Bad who plans on using the portal to Earth to overrun it with Sleestaks.
- Readers of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series often delight in teasing viewers of Game of Thrones about upcoming events: "Just wait! You're not going to believe what happens next!" However, after much teasing from book-readers about the finale of Season 4, the expected event didn't occur! As of this writing, it remains to be seen if it will happen later in the series.
- Agatha Christie adapted some of her novels into plays and often changed features.
- In her adaptation of Appointment With Death, she changed the identity of the murderer.
- The stage adaptation of And Then There Were None kept the identity of the murderer the same (since he was the only one smart enough to have pulled it off), but replaced the original book's Downer Ending with a more hopeful conclusion.
- A different adaptation, called Ten Little Indians, keeps the audience off guard by having a different killer for each performance. Sadly, this results in an unsolvable mystery for the audience, as all clues must apply equally to all characters. Or not.
- Euripides' Medea - in the original story, Medea's sons were killed by a mob of women in revenge. Having her kill them herself was a shocking twist at the time. Ironically, it's since become the most famous part of the story.
- West Side Story is based on Romeo and Juliet, but...Maria doesn't die, and Tony is murdered.
- Shakespeare did it.
- In the story that King Lear is based on (which the audience would have been familiar with), Cordelia survives. Shakespeare killing her off changes the ending from bittersweet to bleak.
- In the original Danish legend of Amleth, the title character kills his wicked uncle and has a glorious reign as king. Shakespeare ends Hamlet by killing almost every major character.
- Historically, Macbeth's rule was fairly successful, and lasted 10 years.
- Shakespeare also changed the Ending of "A Winter's Tale" from the original Downer Ending to something worthy of a fairy tale.
- The musical adaptation of Wicked has one, compared to the book or The Wizard of Oz by giving the Wicked Witch of the West a Disney Death instead of her famous melting death.
- The German stage version of Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame has Esmerelda die, nixing the Happily Ever After ending from the movie. It's probably not a coincidence that this is what happened in the original Hugo novel.
- The 2013 stage adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory puts its own twist on the novel's ending: when Charlie wins the factory, he is immediately made the new owner — Willy Wonka disappears after a celebration with Charlie and his family. They never end up flying out in the elevator. This is justified because Dahl's will prohibited anyone making Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator into a movie, so there was no point in a Sequel Hook.
- The haunted house adaptation of the 2010 Wolfman film at Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights event in 2009 was the first hint anyone got of the ending of the film: the werewolf gets shot. In the house, however, the fatal shot is performed by a nameless hunter.
- The video game of Peter Jackson's King Kong ends with King Kong falling from the Empire State Building to his death. However, this then unlocks the final level where you can blast the US Army planes to bits and take Kong back to Skull Island.
- The ending of Afro Samurai was changed greatly from the anime. Might have just been Rule of Fun, though. Ninja Ninja even says that just because you watched the TV show doesn't mean you know what's going to happen here, though it does takes cues from the manga that pre-dated the anime. But the only reason you fight Justice is to avoid the manga's anticlimatic ending.
- In The Matrix: Path of Neo, after the final battle between Neo and a lone Smith, instead of Neo willingly sacrificing himself to nullify Smith, all of the Smiths combine into one giant Smith to serve as the final, final boss. At this point, the Wachowskis stop the game to explain that while a sacrificial ending works for a movie, it wouldn't be very satisfying in a game.
- In Jeanne d'Arc, it's a Foregone Conclusion that the Maid d'Orleans will be burned at the stake. How did Level-5 Studios handle a game where the main protagonist and primary player character is meant to die halfway through? By temporarily replacing her via an El Cid Ploy, so that the impersonator is the one killed instead, freeing Jeanne to continue through the rest of the campaign incognito.
- How Silent Hill 1 ends (or perhaps more accurately, the canon Multiple Ending) is made pretty clear by its direct sequel, Silent Hill 3: Harry survives the crash and all the subsequent weirdness to succeed in getting Cheryl back, more or less. The remake, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, plays on the players' assumed knowledge by having the big twist be that Harry died in the car crash after all and the whole game has taken place in the grown-up Cheryl's mind.
- More Agatha Christie examples:
- The video game adaptation of And Then There Were None begins to diverge radically from the book at Emily Brent's death by actual bee sting, as opposed to lethal injection. When Wargrave turns up most unambiguously dead, all hope for the original book's ending is lost. The real killer turns out to have been Emily Brent all along, a.k.a. Gabrielle Steele, an actress who took her method acting too far and was possessed by Madame Borgia while playing the role in a movie; the events on Shipwreck Island are all her plan for revenge against Wargrave, the man who sentenced her lover Edward Seton to the gallows. Thankfully, finishing the game gives you a chance to see the original book's epilogue, which reveals Wargrave as the murderer and explains his methods and motivations in a much more satisfying fashion.
- In the video game adaptation of Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, the Everybody Did It reveal is kept exactly the same but with an added reveal that even the mastermind didn't know about: it turns out that Daisy Armstrong is actually alive, was secretly adopted by the train engineer under a different name, and just happens to be hiding on board the same train as the parents who thought she was dead for years.
- The NES Rambo game based on Rambo: First Blood Part II has an alternate ending where Rambo saves his Vietnamese love interest Co, and then he turns Murdock into a frog.
- Two distinctly different versions of how Kalecgos becomes the Aspect of Magic for the Warcraft universe exist. In World of Warcraft, a player on the Dragonwrath questline, with help from Tarecgosa, uncovers Arygos plotting with Deathwing. Tarecgosa sacrifices herself, but Kalecgos becomes Aspect and makes you the Dragonwrath staff, forcing Arygos to flee. In Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects, Thrall is Kalecgos' ally, and after Kalecgos becomes Aspect, Arygos is killed by Blackmoore.
- In Dead Rising 2, it is revealed that Sullivan was the mole that framed Chuck. In the remake, Dead Rising 2: Off The Record, they change this to Stacy, who was your Mission Control in the original.
- In the computer game adaptation of I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, the canonical ending of Ted being turned into an amorphous blob by AM is the Bad Ending and it can happen to any of the five characters. The good ending involves destroying AM so that the humans frozen in the moon can return to earth and the five characters, while dead, are remembered as heroes.
- In Shin Super Robot Wars, Master Asia is an agent of the Dug Interstellar Republic, sent in response to report intelligent life on the planet. Also, Heinel does not learn that he's the Go brothers' half-brother, and thus he doesn't sacrifice his own life. Zechs does not reveal that he's Relena's long lost brother and stays loyal to Neo Zeon, the replacement for Oz in this game.
- In Super Robot Wars Z3: Jigoku-Hen Char Aznable actually didn't want Axis to fall onto Earth. He formed Neo Zeon because he realized the Axis asteroid was the Singularity Point and wanted all of the galaxy to be united in one will against a single enemy which would solve the singularity issues like how it did in Z1. This is why he has GN particle generators setup throughout space and on the earth - to unite humanity's will and have it be expressed through the GN particles. The problem is, Full Frontal and the Banpresto Original enemies do want Axis to fall and they try to make it so.
- In Dont Look Back, unlike in the original legends of Orpheus and Eurydice, the protagonist and his lover make it out of the cave ...only to dissipate together when they come upon the protagonist still standing at the graveside.
- Being very explicitly based on Heart of Darkness, it's obvious that Spec Ops: The Line would depict the fall of a man as he realises what darkness lies within his heart. The twist is that it's not Kurtz Expy Col. John Konrad who has fallen, but Marlowe Expy and protagonist Cpt. Martin Walker.
- In Ducktales Remastered, the only things similar to the ending of the original game are that Scrooge loses the five treasures after he gathers them all, has to fight Dracula Duck, and then has an uphill race against enemies Flinthart Glomgold and Magica DeSpell at the very end. The difference is that it's Magica, the real Big Bad of this installment, who steals the treasures from Scrooge rather than Dracula Duck since they're instead used in a ritual to summon him, and because of that they are Lost Forever instead of being recovered at the end. The uphill race against the duo is now to recover Scrooge's first dime instead.
- The ending of Q.U.B.E. shows that the structure you were trapped in is in space. The Director's Cut has a narrative that not only tells you this in the beginning, but also explains why you're there in the first place. And then you get to Sector 5 and get contacted by a man who calls himself "919", who then reveals that the structure is actually an underground facility where you are forced to solve puzzles until you die, and that the woman who's been talking to you is lying, and he then goes on to keep trying to convince you of that. The woman you normally get contacted by will show some signs that what 919 said might be true. And here's where things get interesting: At the end, it's all subverted: The cube really is in space, it was gonna end all life as we know it, and 919 did go MIA and slowly went insane.
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds takes place in the same world as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and a large number of plot elements are based on the original. Thus, when Link enters the Thieves' Hideout and has to free and escort a girl that was held captive inside, it's a bit of a surprise when it's revealed that she is not Blind the Thief.
- The GameCube remake of Resident Evil features a number of twists geared to surprise veterans of the original. Remember the key you find by draining the bathtub? This time it's a zombie. The dogs that smash through the windows? They don't show up until your second tour of that hallway. And God help you if you assumed the zombie bodies didn't vanish just to avert Everything Fades. Wesker being the Big Bad is still done as a legitimate twist.
- In The Spectacular Spider-Man, the Green Goblin's secret identity was changed in a way that older fans could believe no change was made, until The Reveal.
- And after The Reveal, it turns out his identity wasn't changed. It was Norman Osborn all along, framing his own son.
- In the comics, a reporter at the Bugle, Frederick Foswell, was also the Diabolical Mastermind the Big Man in his first appearance. In this series, the Big Man is L. Thompson Lincoln, a Composite Character of Kingpin and Tombstone and Foswell is just an Intrepid Reporter.
- Also, Word of God says that they would not have killed off Gwen Stacy if the series had gone on. (Though there were vague plans for a possible direct-to-video movie where they might have.)
- In Spider-Man: TAS, the writers didn't want to include a character explicitly so they could die, and so Gwen Stacy was only present in the show as part of an Alternate Universe.
- It splits the difference when recreating the scene with Mary Jane: she's saved by a portal opening under her, but this just leaves her trapped in limbo. Still, Spider-Man did not know that, and the angst was the same as if Mary Jane had died. She later inexplicably appears again, but it turns out this is just a clone; just like the clone of Gwen Stacy that showed up in comics some time after the bridge. When the clone MJ, whom he'd spent several months with and almost married, dies for real, his anguish is the biggest Tear Jerker in the whole series, even beyond the original MJ's "death" and Peter's belief that it was real. Then the show was cancelled before we could see any closure to the storyline, though the final episode does feature the promise that rescuing Mary Jane is Spider-Man's next stop.
- The trailer for the "Spideyology" marathon of this series really made you hold your breath with this even though the series had been over for years and everyone knew Gwen Stacy wasn't even in it except for one minute of the series finale in a parallel universe. We see images of the Green Goblin as we hear a voice say "The measure of a man is how he handles defeat. Let's see how you handle yours!" and we see a blonde woman falling. Later in the trailer, he catches her. (As for what was really going on: the line comes from the Hobgoblin as he attacks the Kingpin's Mooks. The falling woman is Felicia Hardy, who doesn't have white hair in this series until she is augmented to become the Black Cat.)
- The DCAU uses this to good effect sometimes:
- For instance, in his debut in Batman: The Animated Series, Bane tries to break Batman's back in the same manner as in the comics, but Batman manages to disable him firstnote .
- Think Hawkgirl will be exactly what she says she is, and is known to be in the comics: a police officer from another world? Guess again.
- Likewise, the first time Doomsday (the creature that "killed" Superman in the comics) shows up in The DCAU, he faces an alternate-universe Superman who has few scruples, and wastes no time whatsoever lobotomizing Doomsday with his heat vision. Besides, his first appearence is the same as in the comics (he simply gets out from a meteorite, and begins a senseless rampage of destruction), but it is later revealed that Doomsday origin is far more complex than that, the thing we had saw was just the peak of the iceberg.
- In the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, Venom appears as one of the show's toughest villains. However, here he isn't Eddie Brock. He's Harry Osborn.
- Also, Carnage appears later. Cletus Kasady doesn't. Peter is possessed by the Carnage symbiote through Osborn's machinations.
- Wally West taking over for Barry Allen as The Flash when he died saving the world has been a staple since the '80s. So anyone expecting this to happen in Young Justice will be surprised that Wally dies saving the world, after giving the Kid Flash name to Impulse. Especially considering that Barry's death was foreshadowed earlier in the season and when Barry realizes Wally is in trouble, he tries to slow down so that he and Impulse can take some of the pressure off Wally, despite Lex Luthor telling them how vital it was that they not slow down at all. The implication is that Barry is trying to sacrifice himself in place of Wally, but it's too late.
- In the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "Citizen Max", Montana Max yells "Acme!" and Hamton tries to solve the mystery of why he said it. In keeping with the episode being a parody of Citizen Kane, a discarded bicycle that Monty used to ride with Buster when they were friends has the ACME logo on it, leading viewers to believe that that was what Monty was referring to. Then Monty appears and tells Hamton, Buster, and Babs that he didn't say "Acme!", he said "Acne!" and shows them an outbreak of pimples on his face.