"Not everything in a book will work in a movie... I think it's the director's duty to keep what he can use and throw out or change the rest."
When you're doing a version of a story, sometimes the writers are smart enough to know that for whatever reason — budget, censors, pacing issues, et cetera — there are things that just aren't going to make it through. They make the best of a bad situation and explore other aspects of the story. Hopefully, this will put a new and interesting spin on the series.
Time is often a factor in this. When you're adapting a 600-page book (or, for that matter, a seventy-year old comic series
) into a two-hour movie
, something's gotta go. The reverse can also be true; stretching out a relatively short book into a much longer film and/or TV show often results in changes
tends to be rabid
about this kind of change, although the rise of DVDs and bonus production commentary often include rationalization (or guilt-passing) for this sort of thing.
Various signs of this include:
- Canon Foreigner: Adding a new character, often to play the role of The Watson in the adaptation of a book with a lot of dense exposition.
- Composite Character: Combining character roles (and subsequently enlarging the role of one character) to make a simpler narrative to follow.
- Woolseyism: Dramatically altering key points but holding to the spirit of the original.
- Adaptational Modesty: Toning down the sexual content to meet the new medium's stricter standards.
- Age Lift: Upping the age of a certain character where you can find an actor more capable of playing them without resorting to Dawson Casting.
- Adapted Out: Removing a character unnecessary to the plot.
- Ability over Appearance: Casting the most talented actor for the part, regardless of whether or not they look exactly like the character. Often occurs in adaptations of Superhero comics, where it's hard to find actors and actresses who fit the improbably physiques of the characters they're portraying.
Contrast with Adaptation Distillation
: in a distillation, a complex story is simplified, without much substantive change. In a Pragmatic Adaptation, the story is changed with the shift in medium.
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Anime & Manga
- Area 88: The anime adaptations of the manga leave out the quirky humor that occasionally showed up in the manga. It also wisely chose to leave out the quasi-Science Fiction elements that seemed to belong more in G.I. Joe than a serious contemporary war melodrama. In the manga, the anti-government forces employed devices such as land based aircraft carriers, robot controlled F-18 fighters, a drill missile, laser sentries, and a massive Air Fortress. There was also an inexplicable connection between the Asran Civil War, The Mafia, Yamato Airlines, Communists, and various other groups including a Nebulous Evil Organization. The manga also included the successful use of nuclear weapons on several occasions, something that would have made worldwide headlines in the real world but amazingly went totally unnoticed by the average public in the manga. The anime adaptations remove all of the byzantine subplots, conspiracies, eccentric guest characters, and soap opera twists. In the original manga unlike the OVA, Kanzaki's arrest is hardly the end of him. Like any villain worth his salt, he always has an escape plan and keeps coming back with another grandiose scheme. The anime's focus is on Shin's perceived loss of his humanity. Also, it should be noted that the manga series, which lasted seven years (1979-1986) inexplicably lasted more than twice as long than Shin's forced mercenary contract of three years. It was still running when the original OVA was produced. The OVA's ending had to be different from the manga in order to avoid spoilers. The U.S. manga adaptation lasted briefly (42 issues and then briefly in Animerica magazine) and was nowhere close to the end but by the time of the brief Animerica run, the series had already began to Jump the Shark due to the meandering subplots. What little is known (to non-Japanese speaking readers) about the manga's ending is that fans feel it was a copout In the final battle, Shin gets his revenge on Kanzaki, but gets shot down, gets amnesia and forgets all about his experiences at Area 88. He and Ryoko get married and live happily ever after. The OVA's strong and powerful ending is widely considered preferable.
- Mazinger Z: Several things were toned down in the anime of Mazinger Z. In the original story, Dr. Kabuto was pretty much another Mad Scientist with his face scarred who had never met Dr. Hell. In the anime, he was a well-meaning, nice old man who shared a backstory with Hell and built Mazinger Z for defending the world (apparently this was later retconned into manga continuity, since in the Great Mazinger manga Kouji claimed Dr. Hell had killed his grandfather). However, Kouji was nicer and less sexist -albeit a bigger pervert- in the manga, and Sayaka was a Type B Tsundere instead of a Type A, and their fights were worst in the anime. Many manga characters (such like Inspector Ankokuji, the twin sisters Loru and Lori or the Gamia assassin androids) and storylines never showed up in the anime, or their story was altered (such like Lorelei's story). Likewise, the anime came up with new characters (such like Professor Gordon and his daughter that modified Mazinger Z to be able to swim, or Viscount Pygman and Archduke Gorgon) developed some situations (such like Mazinger getting its Mid-Season Upgrade and other minor upgrades, or the birth of Boss Borot) and characters (such like the other scientists of the Institute, or Kouji and Sayaka's families) in a greater depth than the manga. On the whole it can be told it was an Adaptation Distillation.
- The anime of Death Note has a bit of this. There are several things left out. However, while nothing too important to the story is omitted, several bits of information that would help explain things a bit better are in the manga. This causes a problem in that the manga is left feeling wordy and droning, while the anime feels abridged in which the characters pull information from nowhere. For example, when Near detects that Mikami is X-Kira, the manga lays out his entire thought process. The anime makes it seem like he just had a lucky guess.
- The anime of Berserk certainly toned down much of the series's violence, but is perhaps more well known for emphasizing themes of friendship and ambition — and not in an optimistic way — more than the manga did. This was a compromise with Berserk's long supernatural plotline; most of the series is actually a flashback. The anime also did away with all the slapstick and face faults, which created a more consistently bleak mood. The changes are usually accepted by fans, seeing as creator Kentarō Miura gave his approval.
- Sailor Moon:
- Zoisite is a fairly standard foppish, gay shoujo villain. He was adapted into a woman in The Nineties DiC North American dub, but with a memorable, over-the-top delivery in a season which otherwise had no female lackies.
- Haruka and Michiru's lesbian relationship is glossed over from many dubs, such as The Nineties Cloverway North American dub which changed them to cousins. Amusingly, the dub seemed primarily concerned with modifying only the most blatant comments; the two are still unusually affectionate, if not outright unplatonic.
- The first Galaxy Angel video game was delayed enough that The Anime of the Game would have to be aired at least a year beforehand. Rather than risk Adaptation Decay with the little information they had, the writers turned Galaxy Angel into a Gag Series that parodied Adaptation Decay, using even less source material than they had and stepping up Character Exaggeration to outrageous limits. It worked. Galaxy Angel Rune, on the other hand...
- The Haruhi Suzumiya Light Novels' narration are one of the things that people like most about them. Unreliable Narrator Kyon tells us the story in a unique way, but adding the visual media to it destroys this naturally, since you aren't told what happens anymore. Kyon does not have quotation marks when he talks, so it is ambiguous if he's talking or narrating. You can assume he is narrating for the most part, but sometimes character will reply to his supposed narration, much to the surprise of the reader. The anime actually manages to keep this by changing the camera perspective away from Kyon's mouth, so you don't actually see if he is narrating or talking.
- FLCL: The manga adaptation isn't so much a retelling of the story in the anime as it is taking the same premise and characters and telling a completely different story.
- The Grenadier anime, Grenadier ~The Smiling Senshi~, follows a Broad Strokes account of the manga, but without the After the End connotations of the later volumes of the manga, the last four members of the Juttensen, and the Iron-Masked Baron's final assault on the Capital.
- The 2003 anime adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist was put into production when only a few volumes of the manga had been released, and the writers had to not only come up with a conclusion based on the existing material, but make a story that would span about 50 episodes. So, in addition to expanding on certain scenes from the manga, most of the characters were given wildly different characterizations, and the entire plot was changed. (The original mangaka even encouraged them to do this.) In addition, the tone became much less optimistic, and the focus became much more about themes like sacrifice and the value of life. The result was an anime that is widely praised by critics, but is very different from its source. Whether or not it's as good as (or better than) the manga is subject to much debate. They also added in characterization earlier in the 2003 anime for characters who became important in the manga later; for instance, the manga's Kimblee and the 2003 anime's Kimblee are vastly different.
- When the anime was made, the manga was still ongoing. It turned what content was already written into different show parodies, and wrote its own ending based on what original content they made themselves.
- The Latin-American dub toned down Excel's genkiness a little bit, because in the Japanese original she screams so much, that in the English dub, American dubber Jessica Calvello ended up destroying her vocal cords (don't worry, she got better).
- Shin Megami Tensei: Persona:
- Persona -trinity soul- supposedly takes place in the same universe as Persona 3. (At least, the presence of Akihiko implies that much.) However, the rules for Persona summoning are drastically changed for pragmatic reasons. In the games, a Persona has to be repeatedly summoned for every skill you use. This works wonderfully for a turned based game, but it would lack the same effect in an animated series. So in Trinity Soul, the "rules" for Personae were changed so that the battles would look more visually engaging.
- The manga adaptations of Persona 3 and Persona 4 modified the rules for Persona users quite a bit. For example, Mitsuru at one point was seen using persona powers to freeze the cast outside the Dark Hour, which was eventually revealed to be possible, but the cast wasn't capable of it at this point, only learning to do it years later.
- Persona 4: The Animation condenses a 90+ hour game into 26 half-hour episodes, showing no class time and cutting out the vast majority of the dungeon crawling—basically showing condensed versions of the dungeon plots and then skipping straight to the boss battles. (However they also show the very sidestory-ish Social Link plots.) Similarly, the team no longer uses weapons, since it's a whole lot harder to convince viewers that the investigation team has been sneaking swords and chairs into Junes under their clothes when everything is being fully animated.
- Many, many things were shortened, or taken out, of the Higurashi no Naku Koro ni anime. The manga mostly subverts this by leaving in most of the details, just shortened since most arcs are two volumes long.
- Rebuild of Evangelion cuts lots of things that appeared in the show in order to save time. Most significantly Ritsuko is almost Demoted to Extra, and a number of the Angels were also excluded while others were turned into Composite Characters. No longer applies as of 3.0 however, due to going seriously Off the Rails.
- While the anime version of Hana Yori Dango closely follows the original manga, the live action show compressed the story into a neat two-season package. There are instances of both characters (Kazuya and Makiko's roles are now given to Sakurako, making her much more devious) and events (important events from three separate parties now all occur at one party) being combined, and several storylines where someone tries to seduce Tsukasa or Tsukushi are done away with entirely.
- Dragon Ball: Path To Power goes through how Goku met his friends, and his fight against the Red Ribbon Army rather than Emperor Pilaf, it also removes a few characters (such as Tao Pai Pai), managing to compress the entire thing within an hour.
- Bokurano, since the director of the anime didn't like how the story got way too dark for his taste. Quite a few things got changed as a result.
- A few of the pilots' order got switched around. For example, Kako is third in the anime, meaning that he's the first to pilot after learning that the chosen pilots die even if they win, making his reaction somewhat more fitting. By contrast, in the manga, Chizu notes that the pilots are gradually getting used to what is happening.
- When Komo fights, instead of baiting the enemy pilot with a piano recital, she has a more standard battle with an enemy mech, which she wins easily.
- Near the end, instead of Kana having a turn and dying like everyone else, in the anime, Kokopelli tries to manipulate Kana into contracting, but Jun and Youko manage to turn the tables on him, and kill him, leaving Kana as the Sole Survivor.
- This was apparently what they were going for with the Wandering Son adaptation. Starting In Medias Res, the various changes, etc. To fans of the manga though it comes off as Adaptation Decay.
- Kanamemo uses this to amplify the comedy, but also adds tons of Character Development for Kana, making her whole orphan situation much more realistic than in the manga. Backstory was added on the Fuushin Gazette by adding a new character that was never in the manga. Episode 8 was quite dramatic, filled with bittersweetness all over.
- In DearS, the producers quickly realized that they wouldn't be able to juggle the full cast of characters and the sci-fi plot in a Twelve Episode Anime. Taking lemons and making lemonade, they turned the series into a straight-up harem comedy that focuses on Takeya and Ren, which works pretty well in the allotted space.
- The World God Only Knows anime adaptation is extremely faithful to the manga, but about the biggest change is that the second-to-last episode of the second season was chapter 41 of the manga, then for the finale, chapter 75 was brought down. The reason this worked was because chapter 75 contained none of the new characters that had been introduced in the interim in the manga, so nothing was spoiled. Although the Tenri OVA inevitably features Nora, who was introduced a few chapters before in the manga. As a result, to people who haven't read the manga, it seemed like Nora came out of nowhere. Then the third season jumps ahead to adapt the Goddess arc; effectively skipping over 50 chapters of content (including two rather important conquests (Tsukiyo and Yui) due to the repetitive nature of the conquest arcs.
- Attack on Titan: Following the fall of Wall Maria, the story of the manga skips the training arc, just to cover it some volumes later. The anime series doesn't, following the events' chronological order instead. Also, as the anime reached the end of the first season, there is an increase in Filler scenes (approved by the mangaka and mostly well-received by the fanbase) to pace the show so it can end at a certain dramatic point. These scenes also expand on many side characters.
- Junji Ito did a manga adaptation of Frankenstein that patched a rather significant plot hole in the original work that would have been only more glaring to modern audiences. In the original story, Victor Frankenstein is threatened by the monster into creating a bride for him, but despite having everything on the line, he decides to destroy it before completion on the biologically nonsensical premise that the pair could spawn a whole race of similar monsters. In the manga Victor goes through with it, as to do otherwise is to put himself and those he loves at risk. In the end, though, the bride ends up a mindless, violent monster rather than the thinking being his first creation was. The monster assumes Victor deliberately sabotaged the work and seeks his revenge.
- The Virtua Fighter anime turns Akira from being more or less a Ryu clone into a Big Eater Idiot Hero more akin to Goku, Pai into a Tsundere that's heavy on the Tsun, Jacky into a Deadpan Snarker, and Sarah into a Girly Girl with a flying squirrel, at least until she's brainwashed. The anime also eschews the World Fighting Tournament from the games, focusing on the heroes fighting against huge criminal organizations while retaining other elements, such as Sarah's kidnapping and brainwashing, Pai's estranged relationship with her father Lau, and the creation of Dural. The main plot itself involves Pai trying to avoid being kidnapped and married to the villain, which her father had arranged so there would be a successor to the fighting style of Koenkan. Said villain has turned it into a criminal organization, something that was never in the games. It all ends up working though, since the games themselves are very light on plot and characterization.
- When the original Space Battleship Yamato was created, it was generally assumed that the WWII Battleship Yamato sunk and remained in one piece. In 1985, it was discovered that this was not the case. The 2010 2199 remake couldn't plausibly justify the idea of building a spaceship out of the wreck of the Yamato. Therefore, the sunken wreck was turned into camouflage for a completely new ship that was being built under it.
- Fate/stay night:
- You really can't do Fate/Stay Night justice by just following the Fate route, but the episode/continuity limits don't really let you do two and tell a coherent story. So the anime took Fate and add a little Unlimited Blade Works to it and came up with something, even if it doesn't match the original in quality. They also threw in the odd reference to Heaven's Feel as well - namely the revelation that Rin and Sakura are sisters.
- Unlimited Blade Works film: Especially noticeable, where some of the romantic undertone between Shirou and Rin is lost, as well as merging separate visits to locations in the original into a single very eventful one and things happening for different (but more easily explainable) reasons.
- Tokyo Ghoul condenses approximately 80 chapters worth of material into a 12-episode anime, with break-neck pacing and many scenes removed for the sake of brevity. It also switches the order of the arcs focusing on Hinami and the Ghoul Restaurant, allowing the characters killed in the first arc to live longer in the anime and introducing Tsukiyama earlier.
- The "War of the Symbiotes" arc in Ultimate Spider-Man adapted the events of the now-Canon Discontinuity Ultimate Spider-Man video game. Among other things, the arc shortened the plot and omitted characters like Wolverine and Green Goblin, while also reconciling the fact that the game and comics had two entirely different versions of Carnage (in the game it was Peter, in the comics Carnage was established as Gwen Stacy).
- While many things are changed in Dragon Ball Z Abridged, it still carries the spirit of the series. At the same time, it also condenses hours of long, drawn out fights into about one tenth of the time.
- Due to adapting games dozens of hours long, Paper Mario X had to cut out a lot of item collecting and sidequests to keep the stories a reasonable length. Fortunately, between the crossover elements and main plot, there's still plenty of story to tell in the first place.
- Most comic book inspired movies are like this, though many fans can't get past They Changed It, Now It Sucks (or whatever it is). Examples:
- The original example is Superman: The Movie and its sequels. The first half of the film maintains the backstory of the characters, and Supes looks just like in the comics as do many supporting characters; but makes stylistic changes and alters the backstory (e.g. Clark was never Superboy) yet is still very much the character of the comics up to that point.
- The Dark Knight Saga removes or attempts to justify the more fantastic elements of the Batman mythos, to keep the theme of it being "realistic" and happening in a world only slightly different from ours. Most critically Joker wears make-up instead of being scarred by an acid bath (which also adds mightily to the theme that he has no Origin Story and is just doing everything himself), Bane doesn't use venom, and Ra's Al Ghul is only immortal in the figurative sense. The films also show some detail as to where Bats gets all those wonderful toys, which most adaptations don't bother trying to explain.
- The Spider-Man Trilogy changed I Love Nuclear Power to Genetic Engineering is the New Nuke in regards to Spider-Man's Super Hero Origin, as it was slightly easier to Hand Wave a scientifically altered spider than a random million-to-one chance of an irradiated spider (and irradiating a spider wouldn't make it do that). The comic book's artificial webshooters ones were dropped because the movie didn't have time to believably show Peter inventing them (and because they felt that a single teenager being able to invent a wonder adhesive that 3M couldn't strained Willing Suspension of Disbelief). In fact, most of the first two films were this and so was some of Part 3 in regards to the Symbiote.
- The Amazing Spider-Man has another nice take on it: Peter steals an experimental web formula from Oscorp, which he simply needs to refine a bit and build web-shooters for (based on the already-existing technology) to serve his purposes. Peter Parker does not begin his career with the 'ubergeek' personality. Someone capable of building gadgets - a talent that we see put into practice more than with just the webshooters, which he can't even take full credit for in this film - like him would actually be considered pretty cool, so he has more of a loner personality and the only one at his school who really looks down on him is Flash Thompson. Uncle Ben's role is expanded, but this just makes his death sadder. The 'wrestling' bit is left out, too, but this and the other changes are all needed to keep it from being basically a rerun of the origin story as told in the first of the previous trilogy.
- The X-Men movies, which focus on the human-mutant conflict, greatly simplify the Marvel universe, cutting out the magic powers, scheming alien empires, and the like. Several characters who aren't mutants are made into mutants for simplicity's sake, the Phoenix Force is a destructive aspect of Jean Grey's personality which was psychically repressed by Prof. Xavier, and almost none of the characters are referred to by their "superhero" names except in passing. (That explanation for Jean's Phoenix powers was in fact the original one, before later comics RetConned them by creating the Phoenix Force as a godlike cosmic entity.) Rogue is unable to fly, has no fighting/combat abilities, and does not have super strength or invulnerability. This is because, unlike in the comic books, she has none of the abilities that she aquired from Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers).
- In the comics, Fred Dukes A.K.A Blob, is a mutant whose specific abilities seem to revolve around being morbidly obese. In X-Men Origins: Wolverine however, Dukes is physically fit until he develops an eating disorder, but his super strength is what allows him to carry his own weight.
- Given that in the comics Sebastian Shaw's power is depicted by having him growing and X-Men: First Class's producers though it was too Hulk-like, the VFX artists instead did it in a way that resembles full body Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs.
- The Wolverine is a loose adaptation of the Japan arc in Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's Wolverine series, with its own spins to the characters. Viper and Yukio, Badass Normals in the source material, are mutants here; a Poisonous Person and a precognitive respectively.
- In X-Men: Days of Future Past the ageless Wolverine gets sent back in time instead of Kitty Pryde, as film Kitty wouldn't have been born in 1973.
- Iron Man
- The first movie changed Obadiah Stane be an old friend of Tony and his father to heighten the sense of villainy and betrayal.
- The sequel went a little bit further, conflating Whiplash and Crimson Dynamo into a single character and changing Justin Hammer's age to closely match that of Tony Stark.
- The third film took great liberties with its main villain, The Mandarin, while still having him faithful to the source material in a way. He was split into two characters: Trevor Slattery, who portrayed the Mandarin In-Universe as loosely based on the classic Yellow Peril supervillain seen in the early Iron Man comics, and Aldritch Killian, who is based on modern versions of the character and is the true Mandarin in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This was mostly to avoid the Yellow Peril stereotype and make it appeal to the ever-growing Chinese film industry.
- Jarvis was changed from a butler with a fake English accent in the comics to an English sounding talking computer. Probably because another famous and popular superhero already had a British Servile Snarker!
- Say what you will about the Fantastic Four movies, but at least they had a legitimate reason for Johnny and Sue to go out to space; Sue's a genetics researcher, and Johnny's an astronaut. They're also on a space station, not a space ship.
- The Watchmen film has numerous changes to the source material, most of them extrapolated from the comic. Two significant changes — ( Dan Dreiberg seeing Rorschach's death and subsequently beating up Ozymandias, and changing some of the dialogue for the ending) — were most likely done to prevent the audience leaving with a complete and horrible Downer Ending (though the graphic novel leaves the thread open). For the climax, they decided upon a device that emulated Dr. Manhattan's energy signature, allowing the world to scapegoat him, rather than the alien squid. People are undecided as to which works better overall, but it's definitely the best they could have done with that ending in film. The moment where Rorschach snaps was changed, mostly to avoid comparison with Saw, but the new scene also allows us to see the moment his mind snaps without an overabundance of narration.
- The Mighty Thor film didn't use the pseudo-Elizabethan English that the Asgardian characters spoke for many years in the comics, which they themselves have already dropped this highly campy element. However while movie Thor doesn't use the pseudo-Elizabethan English, he does still speak in the largely antiquated and hammy style of the comics to largely the same effect (just minus the "thou's" and "thy's").
- It was also decided that Thor's iconic helmet would only make one appearance near the beginning of the film before being discarded due to looking a little ridiculous on the big screen.
- The Avengers took a number of liberties with the source material to make it more (in the film's view) palatable for a mainstream audience. Among the major changes were having Hawkeye forego his classic purple costume in favor of his more realistic leather outfit from The Ultimates, as well as both he and Black Widow being made into founding members of the Avengers. The plot also combines elements of both the first issue of The Avengers from back in the 60's as well as first storyline from The Ultimates.
- Captain America: The First Avenger features the costume Cap wore in the comics, but it's for a propaganda show and he looks utterly ridiculous. When he gets his actual fighting suit, it's radically different and much more plausible: changes include a helmet instead of a cowl, mere decals instead of large head wings, body armour, and the red of his costume is in the form of red utility straps rather than gaudy decorative stripes.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier heavily alters the titular villain's origin to fit the context of the movie and its predecessor, while still maintaining much of his background. They also made The Falcon into a V.A. counselor and former soldier to better justify his inclusion in the plot. Some changes were also made to Arnim Zola to avoid him seeming too silly and "comic booky" to mainstream audiences.
- Guardians of the Galaxy has this both subtle and gross, most of which will only be picked up by fans of the original material. Examples include turning Drax's adversary from Thanos to Ronan (to give Drax a more obvious motive), a Race Lift and costume change for Korath the Pursuer, and Yondu as the leader of the Ravagers.
- Filth is an adaptation of one of Irvine Welsh's novels, considered to be "unfilmable." The movie manages to stay relatively close to the source material and is faithful to the novel's spirit; however, it does cut several aspects of the book that wouldn't work in film in order to make a more cohesive work. Bruce's cruelty is (very slightly) toned down to make him less irredeemable (although he is far from sanitized) and The Self/The Tapeworm is played down, with his role being given to Bruce's psychiatrist, Dr. Rossi. It still makes a brief appearance in one of the film's most intense scenes.
- Forrest Gump: While the screenplay stays fairly close to the novel's structure(mostly as it relates to Forrest getting involved in life events), the character of Forrest is, in the novel, fairly smart; he just has extreme difficulty articulating his thoughts. The book is also rather dark and mean-spirited in several instances.
- The first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was praised for combining choice elements of the bright and silly 80's cartoon show (the colored masks, love of pizza, April as a reporter) with the darker and more mature comics (Raphael's anger issues, Casey Jones' violent vigilantism, The Shredder's murder of Splinter's master) into a movie that was engaging enough for adults but not too scary for kids with enough action and one-liners to satisfy both. 2007's TMNT was similarly praised with the main discussion now being which one is better.
- Jurassic Park contained huge chunks of material and detailed exposition about the nature of the dinosaurs, the setup of the park, and the complex interplay of chaotic factors in the environment. It was impossible to include all of this in a movie, so they trimmed it down and presented it in the form of a park orientation cartoon. There are also a large number of exciting incidents that were cut because they added little to the actual plot. In this case, author Michael Crichton had a heavy hand in adapting his own novel for the screen.
- Adaptation is this trope on MetaFictional steroids. In essence, faced with the task of adapting the un-adaptable Susan Orlean novel The Orchid Thief, a nonfiction book which is essentially simply about flowers, screenwriter Charlie Kauffman instead wrote a script about himself trying to adapt ''The Orchid Thief'', and ending up writing a script about himself trying to adapt the book instead. The film features Orlean as a major character, but largely discards the content of the novel.
- The 2005 movie Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story is similar. It's a mockumentary about the filming of the famous (and "unfilmable") book. The premise of the book is that it's a autobiography written by an author so distracted that he doesn't even get to his own birth in the first 3 volumes. The movie is about a production of the book that gets so sidetracked and distracted that it, also, goes nowhere.
- French comedy Le Jumeau (The Twin) is based on Donald E. Westlake's novel Two much! You can bet how... "much" of the novel's comical aspect is highlighted and how much of the original violent ending survived the adaptation.
- American Psycho by necessity had to be streamlined, as most of the excruciatingly detailed murders (and the similarly detailed sex scenes right before) in the book would not have a hope in hell of being let through by the MPAA (for those who have read the book: the use of the rat in particular). In addition, the chapters in which Bateman talks about his music choices are generally combined with the murder scenes. This actually improves some scenes, most obviously the 'Hip To Be Square' scene, and helps play up the Black Comedy elements of the novel through the sharp juxtapositions.
- Dune: In the 1984 David Lynch film, The Bene Gesserit Weirding way was changed to weirding modules that employed sound as a weapon. Lynch justifies this by explaining that he didn't want a Martial Arts Movie in the desert. The Talking Heads nature of the novel was replaced with a more moody and atmospheric environment, thanks to surreal direction and trippy visuals.
- The well-known 1980 film, The Elephant Man, while generally held very highly as a good movie, has little to do with the events in the title character's life. However it has earned good standing with most Joseph Merrick aficionados.
- The Lord of the Rings is full of this, and indeed makes up a majority of the Director's commentary.
- At the start of the movie, several years of time in which Frodo has the Ring in the Shire are left out.
- Arwen has a much more active role in the first movie than in the book, as well as an Ass Pull of her "fate being bound to the Ring" in the third movie. A grand total of three scenes featuring Aragorn and Arwen were added, none of which happened in the books and all of them eating up tons of screen-time. This was probably done in part to help prevent the movies from being a sausagefest, which for the most part the books were. Arwen was also intended to fight in the Battle of Helm's Deep, but the filmmakers thought this was a bridge too far.
- The alterations of Faramir's actions and motivations in The Two Towers are a result of this. The Shelob scene that provided the cliffhanger in the book doesn't chronologically take place until the battle of Minas Tirith, so according to Jackson something else had to form the climax of the second movie for Frodo and Sam. Further, it was noted that every other character in the films had an adverse reaction to being in the presence of the Ring, and for Faramir to let them go without a second glance felt somewhat off to Jackson and company. Narrative concerns helped too; with Shelob moved to Return of the King (since Jackson rightly felt that anything would pale after Helm's Deep), Frodo and Sam needed to be placed in peril somehow, and Faramir was there.
- Just about all adaptations of The Lord of the Rings omit Tom Bombadil; most people see this as a painless way to save screentime, not to mention that his scenes were much more suited for the books than for movies.
- The Scouring of the Shire was entirely cut out, both because it would have added another hour to the films, but also because it would have ruined the pacing of the end sequence; Ring gone, Big Bad gone, now let's get to the Where Are They Now.
- The film spends time bringing Elves to Helm's Deep as reinforcements... then has them all die in the first part of the battle so that they have no actual impact. The new stuff with Faramir is internally consistent with the rest of the film narrative, but adds at least a half hour to the film when he had to cut original content for time. The theatrical release doesn't even finish off the Uruks, leaving the viewer wondering why they don't just regroup and attack again. The point of the extended cuts is to include as much cut content as possible without worrying about time restraints.
- In the books Aragorn is (usually) quietly confident in himself and his status as the rightful heir to the throne of Gondor, willing to become King if that is his fate, and letting out some Badass Boasts about his heritage at certain times - just like heroic kings and princes of ancient and medieval literature. However, the filmmakers thought this could lead to Values Dissonance for a modern audience, so Aragorn becomes full of self-doubt and only fully accepts his royal heritage and destiny in the third film. One way this is enforced is by giving Aragorn the ancient sword of kings, Narsil/Andúril, only in the third film, while in the books he carries it from his first appearance (he uses a generic sword before that).
- The movies' change from Denethor being well-meaning but ultimately quite flawed to a jerk could be for the same reason: if Denethor was a good, competent Steward of Gondor, the audience would see no real reason for Aragorn to take back the throne beyond "he's the king so he has to".
- Éowyn makes no attempt to hide her identity from Merry (and therefore the audience) while riding to Gondor. It was obvious that we could tell it was Miranda Otto no matter how she disguised herself, so Merry would have looked quite dim for not figuring it out.
- Jackson's adaptation(s) of The Hobbit are also highly improvised; in the source material, the Grey Orc is actually already dead, having been killed by Thorin long before the events of the story, and the hazards that the traveling party face are more localized. This makes for a somewhat incohesive film, though, so Jackson kept the Grey Orc alive thus and a primary driving force for Bilbo and the dwarves.
- The Harry Potter films, varying depending on the movie and on the director.
- Despite Order of the Phoenix being the longest book of the series it was adapted into the shortest movie. On the one hand, everything related to the Quidditch B-plot was cut, but partially cutting it instead would have no doubt made things choppy and awkward. A nice touch was also significantly emphasizing Harry's Not So Different fears — which in the book take the form of fears of being possessed. It does, however, leave out a crucial scene from Snape's Worst Memory, where Snape calls Lily a Mudblood, destroying their relationship and sending Snape on his Start of Darkness, instead making it seem like he was only affected by James' bullying into becoming who he is. Deathly Hallows Part 2, during The Prince's Tale scene, shows this moment, though.Also, to replace Rowling's gobs of exposition for off-Hogwarts stuff (usually via Hermione in the book), OotP uses a high-end Spinning Paper visual to quickly fill in the audience of the important stuff away from the castle.
- They wanted to cut out house-elf Kreacher of Order of the Phoenix — JKR herself stepped in and told them to leave him in. It wouldn't have hurt OotP at all, but would've left giant holes in subsequent films (particularly for The Deathly Hallows).
- Goblet of Fire showed how they cut down the book's Gambit Roulette. The Plan revolved around chance encounters, backstories, and things we don't know about until the book pauses for 100 pages to explain it. Voldemort himself, in the graveyard scene with Harry, spends several detailing much of his Evil Plan (even then there are depths yet to be revealed until we get to Dumbledore and Barty Jr). The movie omitted most of that: the explanation of how Barty escaped Azkaban is ignored, nothing is stated about how Barty assumed the form of Moody, nor the status of Voldemort before Wormtail found him. This leaves a few things unexplained, but considering the sheer mass of plot they had to work with, they did a pretty good job.
- In Half Blood Prince, they figured out how to work around the non-visual aspect of everyone reading and talking about the attacks by the Death Eaters: they scrapped all the scenes with people reading about loved ones being attacked and/or killed, and created one with Harry being attacked at the Weasleys. It also gave Ginny Weasley a lot more Character Development and a more proactive role. On top of that the Death Eaters burn down the Burrow.
- Dobby is only ever seen in the second movie, The Chamber of Secrets, and is hardly ever mentioned much again since. The book, however, brings him up and makes him reappear again from time to time, such as his appearance in the Goblet of Fire serving as the reason and apparent source alongside Neville for Harry to use Gilliweed in the second challenge, whereas the movies simply made Neville give a passing reference to the weed and again later down the road in the saga. Peeves doesn't exist anywhere in the movies, whereas he's a reoccurring character in the books and somewhat so in the games, and so his roles and scenes involving him were either minced or cut entirely.
- The Deathly Hallows films handles the Taboo (which is also mentioned by Ron much earlier than in the book) as, instead of a blink-and-you'll-miss-it Idiot Ball moment from Harry which would look very anticlimactic on film, Xenophilius Lovegood calls the Death Eaters to ambush the Power Trio inside by yelling out Voldemort's name. Since the scene where Dumbledore and Harry talk about what the Horcruxes could be was cut from the HBP movie, Harry's scar acts as a "Horcrux sense" of sorts.
- The movie version of Prisoner of Azkaban is probably the most filtered in the series as nearly the entire quidditch season is cut from the movie. This was the last year Oliver Wood was captain of Gryffindor team and the first year Harry actually won the House Cup. The movie only shows Harry being attacked by dementors while chasing the snitch.
- The change from the spell that kills Sirius Black from a nondescript jet of light to Avada Kedavra. In the book, a nondescript jet of light ("the next jet of light hit him squarely on the chest") was used to push him into an artifact that sent him into afterlife (or somesuch) with no hope of return. However, this left many fans hoping he'd get better and come back in later books. Avada Kedavra is instant death (kinda like getting shot in the head but less messy), which means there's no such ambiguity in the film.
- James Bond:
- Goldfinger. For instance, they condensed an extended golf game scene to just the critical point where Bond thwarts Goldfinger's cheating. Furthermore, the film changes the book's ridiculous plot to physically steal the gold of Fort Knox (which the movie Bond points out is impossible) which includes poisoning the soldiers through the water system before they can react to such a slow method and using a nuclear bomb to open a door with everyone suicidally close. The movie changes the scheme into a genuinely ingenious plan to have the poison as a gas sprayed from a quick aerial pass over the fort and then Goldfinger's troops raid the fort just long enough to use a high power laser to open the vault building's door to place a nuclear bomb in the main vault. Then the villains get away for the bomb to detonate and whatever gold survives the blast would be radioactive, and thus worthless, for decades while Auric Goldfinger's own gold's value jumps at least tenfold. Then the Fort personnel, who were warned about it by Bond, played along to make it seem to work so they could ambush the invaders.
- Casino Royale (the straight adaptation starring Daniel Craig, not the David Niven sendup from the 1960s) featured one in the change of the book's card game from baccarat to poker. While admittedly playing into the fact that Texas Hold 'Em is wildly popular these days, it allows the audience to understand what's going on without an explanation (as more people are familiar with poker than baccarat). An additional benefit comes from the nature of the game itself: baccarat does not involve bluffing or other forms of trying to read the other players—which poker certainly does—and becomes critical when Le Chiffre cons Bond by faking his "tell" and causes Bond to eventually realize that at least one of the people working with him is a traitor.
- The Battle Royale movie is generally considered as good as or better a work than the novel it's based on, by removing most of the more ludicrous political justifications for why a school class would have to fight each other on a deserted island, giving the Big Bad a more sympathetic relationship to the class, and generally attempting to focus on fewer characters. The Manga on the other hand is condensed Rule of Cool, to the point where it almost parodies itself. On the other hand, they also cut out the backstories and development for several characters, glazed over their deaths, and completely changed some of the characters. No longer is Kiriyama a classmate without emotions who chooses to play to win — he's just some random guy who volunteered for fun. Same with Kawada; no longer a classmate, but a stranger who got pulled back in.
- Most of the cartoons have Hammer Space to explain the Transformers gaining or losing mass between forms. For the 2007 movie, director Michael Bay insisted upon avoiding this, which lead to changes such as Optimus Prime being a Peterbilt rather than a cab-over-engine tractor-trailer, which would have given him a much smaller robot form, as well as not using the magically-appearing/disappearing trailer (which has also been picked up in Transformers Animated). The third film gave Optimus a trailer, however it doesn't disappear when he transforms, and also transforms into his field armory. The fourth film re-introduces the cab-over-engine tractor-trailer form of Optimus.
- The comet protoforms (taken from Beast Wars) work on a Fridge Logic they had with the Transformer spaceships, which is why would robots who can transform into vehicles need a spaceship? The comet protoforms keep the action focused on Earth, and while the Expanded Universe and Revenge Of The Fallen introduces the Transformer spaceships, they continue to downplay their role to focus on the planet-bound story.
- Having humans playing a major role in the battle between the Autobots and Decepticons because this is a Live-Action Adaptation.
- James Ellroy's books are good examples since the outrageous number of subplots and characters make them pretty much unfilmable (Ellroy has admitted that he does it on purpose). The scenarists who made L.A. Confidential into a movie were aware of the difficulty, and ended up cutting part of the plot while keeping the complexity of the story, focusing the movie on the evolutions of the three main characters and reorganizing scenes from the book (with the climax of the movie being the first scene in the book).
- The novel of Hard Core Logo took a "scrapbook" approach (telling the story through character monologues and documents such as journal entries and phone messages) that would have been difficult to convert to film. The movie is a Mockumentary with an Unreliable Narrator. The movie script also added lots of Ho Yay and substituted a main character's suicide for the rather anticlimactic ending of the book, creating a more emotionally compelling work.
- A particularly good Made-for-TV Movie adaptation of Gulliver's Travels does this a lot. One excellent example is how they handled the Aesop that people covet immortality without seriously considering just what that might really entail. In the book, this is conveyed through the plight of the Struldbrugs, who have eternal life without eternal youth becoming decrepit and senile for eternity — and this along with the usual immortal problem of losing everything they knew, and social penalties designed to keep the country from collapsing under the weight of supporting them, or their abusing their immortality in an attempt to gain disproportionate power; however, this is conveyed in a monologue that doesn't translate well to television, so they dropped it and substituted a new scene with the same moral.
- The stage musical version of Little Shop of Horrors (itself a distilled adaptation of an overlong Roger Corman comedy horror) finished with a rave-up ending. The action breaks off when Seymour Krelborn confronts Audrey II, the Greek Chorus announces that this scene is being repeated in places up and down the country, and the cast file on and perform the final number — "Don't Feed the Plants!". The writers knew that this wouldn't work in a feature film, even if it was a musical, and so ditched it and wrote a new final number, "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space" against which the final confrontation could play out to its conclusion. At first, the writers wrote an even more extravagant ending, also set to "Don't Feed the Plants!" that was already filmed and ready to go. The film's final ending is a result of test audiences rejecting an ending in which the main character and his innocent girlfriend get eaten alive by Audrey II, and the plants go on to go Godzilla on New York.
- The Bourne movies, even displacing the books to most. However, it outright discarded significant portions of plot from all three books (especially the last two).
- In original In the Heat of the Night novel, Virgil Tibbs is a quiet, deferential African American detective who never seems to lose his temper or ever seem annoyed working in a deep south town even as the racial slurs are thrown at him. For the film version, director Norman Jewison realized that this would never fly in the late 1960s, nor would the star, Sidney Poitier, would want to play this kind of character yet again. So, the film was rewritten with Tibbs being someone who does not hesitate to assert his status to bigoted neanderthals with a hearty "They Call Me Mister Tibbs!" or instantly striking back at a bigot slapping him, a bold action for an African American hero to do on film at that time.
- The film adaptation of The Prestige directed by Christopher Nolan has very little in common with its source material, the lesser known novel by Christopher Priest. The changes are so many, it would be pointless to list them all here, changing everything from the plot to characterization, going so far as to actually leave out the main characters from the book. Without detracting from the original work, all the changes make for a film far better than your usual adaptation, and despite the wild differences it's obvious the Nolan brothers love the novel and prioritized respecting its spirit and originality instead of the superficial details.
- The film version of The Mask differs significantly from the original comic book version in that where the former takes a mostly clean-cut, slapstick approach, the latter is much more violent and dark overall. This was because no matter how many initial drafts that kept the original's tone, director Chuck Russell felt it just wouldn't work on-screen and asked the studio to take a more comedic approach. The film turned out to be a commercial and moderately critical success.
- In About a Boy, the ending of the book is centered around Kurt Cobain's (the character Elle's favorite musician, and the guilty pleasure of Will) suicide. In the movie, Will's guilty pleasure is changed to hip-hop music, as the novel was written in the early 90s and the movie made nearly a decade later. The end of the movie also focuses on a talent show instead, completely different than the novel version- yet it still plays out rather well.
- Likewise, the adaptation of High Fidelity, by the same author, changes the setting from England to Chicago, the time of the film from the late 1980s to a modern but non-specific time, and so on. It still works very well, although the British-isms (for example, Laura taking a job for 40k because she couldn't find one for 20k, both laughable amounts for a US lawyer to be paid) are a bit strange if you've seen the movie first.
- There's quite a difference between Field of Dreams and the book it's based on, Shoeless Joe. For instance, the movie omits lengthy subplots about Ray's twin brother Richard and an elderly ex-Chicago Cub named Eddie Scissons; and the movie uses fictional writer Terrence Mann as a replacement for J.D. Salinger from the book (undoubtedly for various legal reasons). Plus, the movie saves the bit about Ray's late father joining the team as a big reveal for the end, when it actually is revealed pretty early on in the book and is significantly less poignant.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit differs significantly from its source material, the novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit?. For one thing, the book deals with comic book and comic strip characters, not cartoon characters, who all speak in physical, tangible word balloons. This is clearly unadaptable to film, wherein all Toon characters would have had to be mute, so they received the power of speech. Additionally, they became animated cartoon characters and the story was set in 1947, smack-dab in the middle of the golden age of American theatrical animation. Not to mention that Toons went from being just as vulnerable as humans but possessing an elaborate method of faking their own deaths for theatrics' sake (it's complicated) to really being as unkillable as they seem.
- David Cronenberg's adaptation of the unfilmable Naked Lunch took story elements from the book and melded them together with parts of William S. Burroughs' biography.
- The Films of The Chronicles of Narnia have done this.
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was faithful to the book in many respects, but added a scene about the bombing of London - given all of half a line in the novel - which helped give some background to the Pevensies' situation and subverted the lack of angst on the kids' part. The Pevensies' characters were also much more fleshed out. Case in point, in the movie, upon hearing the prophecy, they initially try to leave, having just gotten away from a warzone; in the book, their reaction is basically, "Great, where do we sign up?". The Battle of Beruna, which occurs off-page in the novel and is only described to Lucy and Susan after the fact, is made a major focal point of the last third of the movie.
- Prince Caspian was much more deviant than its predecessor. Angst? What Angst? is again invoked in the book, as the Pevensies seem to have had no trouble returning to their lives as children. The majority of the book is Trumpkin retelling what has happened to the kids, and at the end of the book, not a word is mentioned when they hand Caspian the crown of Narnia and leave for London. Compare to the movie.
- The kids (Peter being the worst) have not completely adjusted back to life in London.
- Portions of the book are put in out of order to give the story better flow. For example, in the book, Caspian did not blow Susan's horn until he and the old Narnians are being seiged in Aslan's How, while in the movie, he blew it when he was first found by the Telmarines, causing the Pevensies to arrive much earlier.
- When the Pevensies arrive at Aslan's How, Peter tries to take command and immediately clashes with Caspian. The entire castle invasion scene was added to highlight why they had to work together. Compare to the novel, in which Peter assures Caspian almost immediately upon his arrival that he's there not to take Caspian's throne but to help put Caspian in it.
- Edmund and Susan both Took a Level in Badass. Edmund, to show how much he's matured, and Susan, because, as the directors put it, if she was going to stay in the kitchen (as her book persona tended to do) she should have been given a slab of bread and some butter, not a bow and arrow.
- In the book, Miraz is just a generic tyrant; in the film, Miraz is styled as a Borgia, Medici type tyrant.
- Susan and Caspian were Promoted to Love Interest, though secondary to the main plot.
- In the book, the good Narnians specifically avoid recruiting the Always Chaotic Evil old Narnians who had previously sided with the White Witch, using the argument, "We don't want their kind of help." In the movie, you can see that minotaurs and other such creatures among the Narnians. While the former makes sense in the book's context of religious metaphor (the old Narnians being inherently evil and unable to change), this wouldn't go as well with the tone and main motives of the adaptation.
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader adds a plotline about the green mist, the "Dark Island," and the swords of the lost Narnian lords in order to turn the novel's string of individual adventures into a more unified storyline.
- While Old English purists loathed the Beowulf adaptation's plot changes, from a modern standpoint, the original story would be a tough sell, simply because of its one-dimensional character development and basic plot (though understandable, given its epic poem status). Even with the major alterations, the core story didn't change entirely. The plot liberties were only created to cater towards the new theme (i.e., making the title protagonist a more ambiguous hero), while respecting existing ones (like warriors seeking to create legacies through their heroic actions). The liberties are taken mostly in the parts where the storytellers would have nothing to go on except Beowulf's word. Further consider that the written piece is mostly Christian propaganda meant to convert "barbarians" and you're in a situation where you really can't take anything for honest truth anyway. Ripping the Christian values out would likely be rendering the story more accurate to the original versions. Note that Beowulf being humbled at all for his "slaughter everything in my way and achieve glory!" is a Christian theme, in most ancient myths he'd be treated as a hero so long as he showed proper deference to the gods.
- The Film of the Book for Twilight cuts out most of the filler and streamlines the story.
- Perhaps most notable is that the first book is pretty much nothing but Bella and Edward's developing relationship, until a more typical vampire story is shoved into the last few chapters. The film makes Victoria, James, and Laurent present in the story from the beginning as they occasionally show up to kill a minor character. Though the attempt to do the same thing in the second film with the wolves tribe chasing Victoria off as she tries to kill Bella, never to be seen again until the next film, comes off more as a Big Lipped Alligator Moment.
- Eclipse shows the vampire attacks going on in Seattle, thus giving the audiences more of an idea of the danger that will be showing up. It also adds hints that Jane is secretly going against Aro's orders and letting the vampire army go to kill the Cullens, which makes the Cullens look a bit less stupid for being shocked that Aro was actually willing to abuse power in a corrupt manner. (Jane's allowing of the vampire army to attack the Cullens is confirmed in The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner.)
- The Silent Hill movie drastically simplifies both Alessa Gillespie and the cult, explaining both in a single Info Dump. This is understandable, as explaining the game would have taken most of the movie.
- The adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events changes the order of some of the books' chronology. In the books, Count Olaf is exposed as a villain at the end of The Bad Beginning, after which the children go on to stay with their Uncle Monty and later Aunt Josephine. In the film, the children are taken out of Olaf's care after an apparent display of irresponsible parenting and go on to their respectful guardians before winding up back in Olaf's care where they finally expose him. In the DVD Commentary, Brad Silberling says this change was made for the sake of narrative, it wouldn't make sense for Olaf to be unmasked as early as the first act.
- The Made-for-TV Movie of Avalon High does this with Ellie (Allie in the film) rather than Will is King Arthur. Rather than Marco, Mr. Morton (Mr. Moore in the film) is Mordred, whereas Miles is Merlin as opposed to Mr. Morton. Presumably, this is to make the film more unpredictable. Also the students are the reincarnations of the actual characters as oppose to merely corresponding to them. Many scenes were cut out and scene settings were changed to make the movie more appropriate for younger children because the book has violent and some threatening scenes.
- Irving Berlin's World War II revue This Is The Army gained a storyline when adapted into a movie, because Berlin knew that plotless Sketch Comedy didn't work so well on film.
- In Mortal Kombat, Raiden became a mentor to the others instead of a fellow combatant. This was seen as an acceptable change by the fans, and ended up carrying over to the game series' canon.
- Both The Thing (1982) and The Thing from Another World. The original novella Who Goes There? had 37 men accidentally recovering a shape-shifting alien monstrosity that proceeds to start eating the crew and creating perfect copies. Due to technical limitations, The Thing from Another World replaced the shape-shifting alien with a literal vegetable alien, although it's cast is still a similar size to that of the original story, and some elements of it are present in the narrative. The Thing (1982) is said to be more faithful as it actually uses the shape-shifting alien, but it updates the setting to the year it was released and simplifies the cast to only twelve men (although most of them were in the original book).
- Battlefield Earth's movie adaptation wisely covered only the liberation of Earth that made up the first few hundred pages of the novel, excised a pointless subplot about an escaped criminal, jettisoned the book's Puppy Love romance and constituent characters, cut lengthy sections about gold mining, and generally streamlined the story. Critics and audiences ended up panning the film anyway since some of these changes made the bad guys even dumber and added plot holes like 1000-year-old, functional Harrier jets, but at least the director tried.
- The live action Rurouni Kenshin condenses the plots of three episodic arcs from the first half of the manga into the film's main story. Said arcs being the Fake Battousai (which is Kenshin's introduction), the appearance of Jin-Eh (who becomes the film's main antagonist), and the Kanryu/Megumi arc (which comprises much of the film's plot) . The downside though of this is that some characters featured in those arcs we're excised completely. Such as the Hiruma brothers, Aoshi and the Oniwanbanshuu (who acted as Kanryuu's bodyguards). Another omission were the backstories of some supporting characters, such as Yahiko, Sanosuke and Saito (who appears much later in the manga).
- The Omega Man with Charlton Heston was based on the Matheson book I Am Legend. A Vincent Price film The Last Man on Earth had been based on the same book some years earlier and is still the most accurate adaption, however due to several minor changes Matheson didn't like the film. The Omega Man was such a different story to the book that it only contained the basic elements of the story; the book featured a man who roamed the city hunting vampire/zombies in the day while hiding in his house at night, while The Omega Man was about Charlton Heston trying to enjoy himself in the day while dressed in Safari gear, while defending his penthouse fortress at night from a army of Pale skinned, sunglasses wearing Luddites, who are lead by a plague infected TV news reader. However Matheson enjoyed the film as it was so far from the book all of the changes didn't bother him.
- The Live-Action Adaptation of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney makes several changes to take the four-case game and make it movie-length. The most notable example is that most of Case 1-3 (which contributed virtually nothing to the DL-6 case) is cut out. What remains is put at the beginning of the movie with Edgeworth prosecuting against an unnamed defense attorney, intercut with Phoenix and Mia working at the canon Case 1-1. This allows the movie to establish Edgeworth's character earlier, as well as show his skill versus Phoenix's inexperience. The movie also ties Mia's murder closer to the DL-6 case, by having her be killed by Redd White (here a henchman for von Karma) for discovering vital evidence that will allow her to reopen the case. Finally, the events of the DL-6 incident are changed from three people slowly suffocating in an elevator (which would be hard to dramatically show on film) to the same characters fighting in the Evidence Room.
- G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra:
- Cobra Commander was given a new look because of the fact that Sommers thought that giving him a hood (or even a ski mask) would make viewers think KKK member when they saw him. Nor would they justify a form-fitting, featureless steel face-mask, since they wanted Joseph Gordon-Levitt's face to be at least partly visible.
- Similarly, GI Joe becoming an international task force was done due to Paramount/Sommer wanting a high overseas box office pull for the film and thinking an all-US team of soldiers would not sell tickets outside North America.
- The Last Airbender tried to be this: the intent was to cherry-pick the most plot-important and iconic scenes from the entire first season of the original series while adding a few of the director's own interpretations. However, the end result was cutting fan-favourites like the Kyoshi warriors, weird pronunciations of the character's names, bending became completely impractical note , massive plot holes were introduced note , and all the main heroes were white (but not the villains). Fans were not amused, to say the least.
- The Princess Bride is notable in that the screenwriter adapting it, William Goldman, was also the author of the source novel. Goldman's biggest change is probably pruning down the frame story, which in the original had included a detailed rundown of the Author Avatar's sports obsessed childhood and an explanation that the Princess Bride story itself was distilled from a lengthy history of Florin. The film uses the simpler framing device of a kindly old man reading to his sick grandson.
- Ender’s Game's Age Lift of the main characters from 6-year-olds to 13-year-olds could be considered this. It would be exceedingly hard to find one, let alone an entire cast full of competent 6-year-old actors who could pull off an entire movie by themselves.
- The Warcraft novel Tides of Darkness is an adaptation of a Real-Time Strategy with two opposing campaigns with conflicting storylines, consisting mostly of generic "destroy the enemy base/capture an object" missions and scarce on memorable characters at the Alliance side. So the novel took the most memorable and significant parts of the campaigns, forming them into a cohesive narrative, interleaved them with heavy references to later canon, and "enlisted" the Five-Man Band from Beyond the Dark Portal for the protagonists. While the orcs are still the villains in the novel they aren't all the same Always Chaotic Evil, and we do see that some orcs (namely Gul'dan) are more evil than others. If not for Doomhammer's honor, he would've won the war and destroyed Lordaeron (Gul'dan betrayed him during the siege of Lordaeron, and Orgrim decided to sacrifice victory in order to punish the traitors by sending a large chunk of his army after them). The final fate of Anduin Lothar was also changed in order to have him go out as a hero instead of simply being killed in an ambush. Here, he dies in a Combat by Champion with Doomhammer (this also shows that Doomhammer is more honorable than originally), only for Turalyon to pick up his broken sword and curb stomp Doomhammer.
- The novelization of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith written by Matt Stover. Obviously a book of the film loses the visuals, the music, and any appeal from various actors, so Stover takes advantage of the medium by delving far deeper into the thoughts and mindset of the characters than a film can, expanding on the motivations for Anakin's Face-Heel Turn note , explaining the machinations the Jedi and Sidious have going, and giving more focus to characters that lacked much screen time in the film like Grievous and Padme. The result is a combination of an adaptation and a supplement, glossing over things the film covers and focusing on things the films gloss over, as well as filling in some plot holes and returning cut sub-plots such as the "Birth of the Rebellion".
- The novelizations of the Star Trek: The Animated Series by Alan Dean Foster flesh out the half-hour episodes with considerable additional detail, while reducing a few of the more ridiculous outings to All Just a Dream.
- S.D. Perry wrote a series of novels based on the Resident Evil games. The four that were straight adaptations (of 1, 2, 3 and Code Veronica, two of the novels were original stories) streamlined the events considerably by adding in an original character named Trent, who provided the protagonists with intelligence on the sites in question, thus allowing the signature (if somewhat nonsensical) item puzzles and fetch quests to remain in place while not bogging things down and also making a bit more sense. These were also streamlined a bit as well. For example, the crest door from the first game became an emergency lockdown system, and Wesker forced Barry to collect some of them instead of Chris/Jill finding them all.
- Some of the old Target Doctor Who Novelisations broaden the stories and provide insights into the characters' thoughts and evoke wonderful moods not necessarily shown in the televised stories. The novelisations for "The Crusade", "The Daemons" and "The Silurians" are particularly good examples.
- The nature of the novelisations in general required some level of Pragmatic Adaptation; they were, almost uniformly, about 100 pages long — which, considering the length of the stories they were adapting ranged from two-to-six (or in some cases ten or twelve) episodes long, meant that they would often either have to compress or add things in order to meet the page requirements.
- The novelisation of Development Hell episode "Shada" is something of an extreme example, incorporating information from what footage was completed, the known script, some Word of God, Tom Baker's copy of the script into which he had handwritten a bunch of extra jokes and stage directions for himself, two pages of notepaper with an entirely unknown scene handwritten by Douglas Adams, the Big Finish audio adaptation (which starred the Eighth Doctor) and even some borrowings from Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, in which a lot of ideas for "Shada" were reused - and that's before the copious changes Gareth Roberts made to update the story to feel more like a modern Doctor Who story, expand on the characters, add Call Forwards and fanservice, and fix plotholes. Gareth Roberts wrote in the afterword about how he thought the weaknesses of "Shada" were not down to any weakness of Douglas Adams himself, but a result of the tight deadline the story was written in originally, evidenced by how well-done the groundwork was even where he had to fix things. For instance, the original has a part where Chris figures out The Reveal that Professor Chronotis is secretly the dangerous Time Lord criminal Salvayin, placed just as the Doctor has worked out that the villain needs Salvayin's unique Exposition Beam Psychic Power for the plot to work, and just as the villain thinks Salvayin is lost forever. It seems obvious that Chris is going to announce this to the Doctor and the villain, with the best intentions, at the worst possible time - but Chronotis instead just announces his secret identity to everyone for no reason. Roberts changes this so that Chris blows it (bursting in on an added funny scene where the villain is in the throes of a Villainous Breakdown over his plan's failure and the Doctor is giving his enemy a cuddle and reassurance), saying that this is certainly what Adams wanted to happen anyway, but probably was forced to keep an earlier draft of the scene due to time pressures. Roberts also gives Skagra a proper backstory, which was omitted from the show for time reasons, and deals more with the fallout of Eccentric Mentor Chronotis actually being a legendary Outlaw in disguise.
- Crysis: Legion played around with the plot of Crysis 2 a bit, such as having Alcatraz encounter a Ceph very soon after getting the Nanosuit whereas the first combat encounter ingame is later. There's a short note in front that points out the need to rework some things for the prose experience.
- The first three BIONICLE Chronicles books by C. A. Hapka, based on the story told through the comics and the Mata Nui On-Line Game, are generally this, with some examples of Adaptation Expansion and Compressed Adaptation thrown in here and there. A lot of the lines are recited word-for-word, and some classic scenes survived intact, but several other scenes received a unique spin, and the thoughts of the characters are explored better. Sadly, they are also ripe with Continuity Snarl, especially the first book (which, despite being the longest by far, had to leave out too many details), and a lot of the material is considered Canon Discontinuity.
- The Death of Superman was given a novel treatment while the story was still going, just to be released when the finale was. Doing this compressed a lot of the story and excised a lot of things, including everyone in the DC Universe outside of the then-established Justice League, Wonder Woman and Batman, removed anything involving the monstrous Underworlders and the orphan Keith by replacing them with the Newsboy Legion and condensed a lot of the adventures of the four replacement Supermen before getting into the meat of the story. Oddly, despite Coast City being obliterated still, Green Lantern does not show up.
- Batman: No Man's Land had a few moments removed to streamline the story, including Superman's involvement, anything to do with Azrael and Tim Drake Robin's rescue from NML.
- The Rainbow Six novel deviates from the game in a number of ways by having different missions, plot points, snipers that were not available in the game, and a different ending. This is because the book and game were made separately and the game came out first, after which the book's ending was changed.
- The novel to Civil War condenses some of the backstory, implying that the New Avengers are still just the Avengers and that Spider-Man is their newest member.
- When Richard Hooker wrote his original novel, MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors, the story he wrote was highly conservative in its political leanings, with an array of characters who were fundamentally unlikeable Jerkasses and a truly appalling level of sexism that includes, among other things, one "hero" who has a nickname from an implied attempt at a Date Rape, a character who earns the nickname "Me Lay" by way of his successful usage at that appalling pick-up line to get one night stands, the MASH unit having a good reputation in part because of the unit's dentist being well-endowed, and the heroes, who are doctors, only bothering to note the epileptic employed as a whore at the local brothel because it's "such great fun" to be having sex with her whilst she's in the middle of a seizure. When a live-action movie eventually led to the production of a live-action series, the result was a genuinely funny sit-com that eventually successfully adopted a much more dramatic tone, running for eleven years of non-stop production and becoming a world-wide phenomenon, whilst the original novels have mostly faded into obscurity. Amusingly, Richard Hooker expressed a vehement distaste for the show because of how different it was to his novel, despite the show's far greater success.
- The phenomenon of many people preferring the The Incredible Hulk TV show to the 2003 big budget CG-fest movie. While the former removed and simplified elements from the comics original, the latter added whole layers of story that were never there - the "more is less" principle at work. (Agony Booth recap)
- The BBC show Being Human had to do this with vampire lore. Vampires are not supposed to have reflections, but it would take huge amounts of effort to CG away the actor's reflection in every window he passed by. So, they changed it to being unable to see their reflection in anything silver-backed (both camera film and mirrors.) This led them to being able to have the traditional "no reflection" scenes while saving the effort and sanity of the editing team. (Although it leaves something of a Plot Hole when a vampire can't be seen on a digital camera.)
- Ditto for Moonlight, although they do make it clear that digital cameras work just fine, to the vampires' chagrin (the older cameras only made blurry photos, proving only the photographer's incompetence). No silver-backed mirrors are shown in the show, probably to avoid extra CG costs. The vampires are also able to walk in the light, as long as they stick to the shadows and cover as much skin as they can. Bursting into flame or dusting is also CG-costly, so they instead went with extreme dehydration in sunlight, although vampires still dust when exposed to flame.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer does something similar, having vampires only burst into flame from direct sunlight, moving around in daylight just fine as long as they stick to shadows. It also adds that vampires disintegrate when staked through the heart, removing the issue of how a bunch of teenagers manage to hide all those bodies (which results in a funny scene where they have to bury the corpse of a demon that doesn't disappear). However this created its own problem as the effect was very expensive in the beginning, so most early dustings took place just off screen.
- The Dresden Files TV series replaced the talking skull Bob from the books with a ghost inhabiting said skull (at least after the pilot) so they could have an actor providing a visual component and emotions to the character. Jim Butcher says that the TV series is essentially an alternate universe.
- Merlin, the BBC series, has Merlin as the same age as Arthur, early 20's at the latest and his servant, living with the Court Physician and former sorcerer Gaius, Uther is still alive and banning magic on pain of death, Gwen and Lancelot being commoners, Gwaine (Gawaine) pretending he's a commoner and Percival only being introduced as a minor character in the 3rd season finale. Gwen also has a brother.
- The Dexter novels eventually get a lot darker and weirder than the first book, with Dexter's "Dark Passenger" turning out to be a fragment of an ancient god of murder. The series maintains the balance of dark humor and creepiness evident in the first book, and keeps things realistic by comparison.
- In the transition from The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries book series to HBO's True Blood, Sookie's (often Wangsty) first-person narration is cuts and adds in occasional snatches of thoughts Sookie catches.
- Power Rangers:
- In general, adaptations are considered to be better when it goes its own way rather than try to stick too faithfully to Super Sentai. This goes back to the original Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, where Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger's "revived ancient warriors" plot was replaced with high schoolers given powers by an alien. Sometimes the mishmash is odd, like when Power Rangers Lost Galaxy shoehorned the nature theme of Seijuu Sentai Gingaman onto a space station; but hey, it was better received than some of the Shot for Shot Remake seasons.
- Engine Sentai Go-onger was a light-hearted comedy series that parodied the usual anime and Super Sentai tropes, and its main theme revolved around cars and racetracks. Its Power Rangers counterpart, RPM, while still hanging a healthy amount of lampshades, has a story that started out with the Earth presumably nuked and most of the human population killed off by homicidal robots.
- Many of the seasons count, especially Power Rangers in Space (the Sentai counterpart Denji Sentai Megaranger is about electronics and technology, not space). In an example of this trope not being good, Power Rangers Turbo (whose counterpart Gekisou Sentai Carranger was also a light-hearted comedy series that parodied the usual anime and Super Sentai tropes, and whose main theme revolved around cars).
- Some of the characters from Homicide: Life on the Street are changed from their Real Life counterparts. Tom Pellegrini who inspired Bayliss was an older detective from Pennsylvania who came to police work later in life and was assigned to Homicide two years before the Latonya Wallace/Adena Watson case. Other changes include changing Irish-American Mclarney to Italian Crosetti and removing his legal training. Italian D'Addario became Black/Italian Giardello and Landsman became Munch with his family history in the department removed.
- The TV series of Lark Rise To Candleford was very different to the original books, sharing only one or two complete stories, the names of Laura's family and Dorcas Lane, and some peripheral characters and situations (the Pratts, Cabbage Patterson, the Arlesses) with Flora Thompson's memoirs. Part of it seems to be the book has some perspectives on late Victorian society that modern audiences would find disquieting (Laura's age when she goes to work at the post office, for instance, or the lack of UST between many of the characters). The book provides a lot of plot hooks for many episodes, but the writers went out of their way to create a series that expanded on the books, provided modern audiences with a nostalgic "theme park" experience, and made more dramatic sense than the book allows for.
- Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon:
- The talking cats are replaced with talking stuffed toys, a Merchandise-Driven decision to rationalize carrying a stuff animal is more likely than an actual cat. The Sailor Senshi themselves look like typical Japanese girls when they're not transformed. Many settings and accessories that were typical of an early 90s teenager are updated to what a modern teenager would be associated with. The plot also dealt more strongly and harshly with the implications of their past lives, not that it didn't indulge in some of the campy stuff.
- It was more faithful to the manga in regards to the baddies; since the individual villains feature more heavily, each basically had to be reverted back to their original personality in the comics rather than the memorable but slightly more one-note anime of The Nineties.
- More modern sensibilities means Jupiter is more openly a tomboy; her initial obsession with femininity became an initial aversion to it. Ironically, the DiC English dub had done this years ago...
- Sailor Venus is portrayed as somewhat of a distant loner, an enormous change in her canonical personality. Writers have admitted this was basically to have the conflict a Sixth Ranger provides as well a persistent attempt to make her different than her Expy Sailor Moon. Fans unpleased by the change just labeled her an Expy for the Outer Senshi.'
- Ida Makes A Movie was an illustrated children's book about anthropomorphized cats. When former schoolteacher-turned-documentary-filmmaker Linda Schuyler turned it into her first scripted piece she adapted it to live-action with actual human characters, having no other choice and sparing what became a Teen Drama from Bittersweet Candy Bowl-style awkwardness...
- Game of Thrones contains large amounts of pragmatic adaptation largely due to the transition from a rotating third person limited POV series of novels (complete with inner monologues) to a televised ensemble piece. Some changes worked better than others.
- The show excises flashbacks and prophecies entirely. Flashbacks would require the expense of hiring an entirely different cast, while prophecies are tricky to write and pay off in a satisfactory manner. Because of this, Daenerys' hallucinations focus on her own story, rather than long-dead characters or those that live on a different continent; Ned's memories of his sister's demise are replaced with other foreshadowing devices; while the mysterious masked Quaithe's role is altered from prophecy sounding board to a foil for Jorah Mormont. Arguably, this streamlines and improves the series greatly.
- Tywin Lannister, Robb Stark, and Littlefinger were offpage for the vast majority of A Clash of Kings, but the writers of a television show could not afford to have these popular (and probably well paid) actors disappear for a whole season. So they were either moved into someone else's story (Tywin into Arya's), had the previously secondhand exploits shown first hand (Robb's campaign and courtship of his non-Frey wife), or apparently develop mysterious teleportation powers to cameo in mulitple stories (Littlefinger making deals with at least three factions of the War of the Five Kings).
- Arya's story had an extensive road trip portion with multiple kidnappings, then a stay in Harrenhal where she interacts with a bunch of new characters and ends up facilitating a palace coup with even more new characters. To streamline her story, much of the road trip portion was cut out and instead of working for Weese and later Roose Bolton (who was moved to Robb's camp for character development), the palace coup was cut out, and she only served one master in Harrenhal—known character Tywin Lannister. These changes also changed the focus of her story from the suffering of the smallfolk during war to the cat and mouse game to hide her identity.
- Jon and Dany's stories in Clash were very internally focused with almost no action until the respective last chapters. To make them more action packed, Jon gets separated from the group to spend more time interacting with his love interest and Dany has to deal with the kidnapping of her dragons and betrayal by one of her handmaidens.
- Due to the POV structure of the book, we needed two shadowbaby assassins birthed by Melisandre in order to understand how they came to be and what they did: the one that kills Renly (which we see in action from Catelyn's point of view) and later the one that ultimately kills Cortnay Penrose (which we see birthed from Davos's point of view). In the show, we see the same shadowbaby being born (with Davos smuggling Melisandre somewhere close enough so that the assassin can kill Renly, which is seen from Catelyn and Brienne's point of view.
- Related to the cutting of the second shadowbaby, Storm's End, Penrose, and the entire subplot surrounding Stannis wanting his bastard nephew's blood was cut. Stannis's family was also cut from Season 2. However, with the casting of his wife and daughter in season 3, it remains to be seen how much, if any of Stannis's family drama and Storm's End is repurposed for Season 3. Considering that Stannis does not do much except sulk in Book 3 until serving as the Big Damn Heroes for Jon at the Wall, moving the Storm's End and Stannis's family plot to Season 3 may be the most pragmatic way to adapt that storyline, especially since the third book is going to be spread out over two seasons.
- Much of the dialogue of Davos Seaworth in the TV series does not appear in the books, since much of his character development in these is restricted to his inner thoughts; the fact that further books concerning Jon Snow's actions on The Wall are written like that as well, there will probably be changes in dialogue in further seasons of the TV series.
- In the books, all POV Stark children whose direwolves are still alive (meaning Jon Snow, Arya and Bran) are shown warging into them when sleeping. In the series, only Bran's dreams are kept, because they are essential to his Story Arc, while Jon's and Arya's stories can work without them.
- In the novels, it's Ser Garlan Tyrell who wears Renly Baratheon's armor at the Battle of Blackwater. Ser Loras Tyrell wanted the honor, but he was too short and too slender. On the show, Loras becomes King Renly's ghost because Gethin Anthony and Finn Jones (the actors who play Renly and Loras) are practically the same size.
- In the books, Barristan Selmy joins Daenerys under the alias Arstan Whitebeard, which is enough to disguise his identity as Daenerys is the only viewpoint character for this story, and had never seen him before. On the show, of course, the actor is easily recognizable, so he reveals his true identity to her right away.
- Loras is older than his sister Margaery in the novels, but it was revealed by Bryan Cogman in this interview that Margaery is Lord Mace Tyrell's eldest child on the show. The switch in birth order was no doubt due to the fact that Finn Jones is six years younger than Natalie Dormer, the actress who plays his character's sister. Also, Willas and Garlan Tyrell are Adapted Out (as were most of Davos Seaworth's sons), with their characteristics condensed into Margaery and Loras - notably, Margaery inherits Garlan's kind personality and being the eldest child, while Loras inherits his elder brothers' calmer personalities and being Mace's heir. This is most justified with Willas, who remains The Ghost even as far in as Book 5.
- The timespan of the series is expanded compared to the novels - whereas in the books the story has covered at most three years at the end of ADWD (Book 5), events are spaced out so that each Season covers a year's worth of storyline - an important aspect when the 6th Season will conclude Book Five's narrative, and the child actor's need their growing into adulthood acknowledged in-universe to avoid Dawson Casting. In addition to this, the producers have commented of how various narratives have their chronological order changed around in some cases, both to fit the medium's narrative and because you just can't have some character's drop off-screen completely for stretches of time - Theon Greyjoy thus had a subplot created for Season 3-4 (with what happened to him off-screen shown in more detail); Bran Stark's Book 4/5 narrative is both expanded-on and yet sped-up (Bran has very few chapters from Book's 3-5, so this is inevitable); Jaime & Brienne's story is shifted to give them more to do in Season 4 (and Brienne's Book 4/5 plot begins roughly midway through Season 4); and so on.
- Changes made to the Red Wedding were controversial in the fandom, but mostly guided by pragmatism: the musicians were competent because horrible musicians are a lot more fun to read about than listen to; Catelyn's reaction would have been laughably melodramatic on screen, but worked fine on the page.
- In the miniseries adaptation of North and South (Trilogy), Orry Main goes from losing an arm to having a permanent limp, as the director worried that the audience would be distracted trying to spot how Patrick Swayze was hiding his arm.
- Cover songs run the spectrum from awful to tolerable to better than the original. One example is "Jolene." A good song from the beginning, Dolly's version was a very light-sounding, upbeat song... about a woman begging Jolene to not steal her man. When it was covered by Mindy Smith, she turned the song into a slow, sad, painful ballad, which makes more sense with the song's lyrics. The White Stripes' cover, rather than monkeying around with the lyrics, has Jack White simply sing it as is, and it became a song about a nebbishy gay man worried about losing a bisexual lover to a woman.
- Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" has been covered many times to to varying qualities a few that stand out are the Rufus Wainwright version and the Jeff Buckley version, while the original was more of a scathing, sarcastic love song, but both Buckley's and Wainwright's versions turned it into songs about searching for God in desperate times.
- Megadeth covered Led Zeppelin's Out On The Tiles as a Japanese bonus track for their album United Abominations. Dave Mustaine could not sing anywhere near as high as Robert Plant, so he sang the song in a lower key and adjusted the music accordingly.
- Victory Games's James Bond 007 Tabletop RPG used this constantly, since it was assumed the players saw the movies many of the modules are based on. For example, in their version of Goldfinger, instead of blowing up Fort Knox with one atomic bomb to increase the value of his gold holdings, Auric Goldfinger plans to detonate hundreds of atomic bombs hidden in South Africa and other gold-producing regions to contaminate the groundwater near the ore.
- Wicked the novel was about anarchy, cruel dictatorship, persecution, and watching a woman's descent into insanity. The Broadway musical changed around the story into being about friendship, shoes, and drama over stolen boyfriends. And extremely romantic female friendships. In the book, it's less noticeable on Elphaba's side, but arguably more noticeable on Glinda's side. Another change, albeit a minor one, is that Elphaba's sister Nessa doesn't have arms in the book. Obviously difficult to portray onstage, so they just stick her in a wheelchair instead. The biggest change is that Elphaba and Fiyero live. The compressed timeline is part of this too: the book spans nearly 40 years, but it would stretch suspension of disbelief to have the same actress playing a character at 18 and 38.
- The Most Happy Fella abandoned most of the social commentary of the straight play it was based on, They Knew What They Wanted, so it could focus more on the love plot, which provided better opportunities for singing.
- The Takarazuka musical adaptation of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney only dealt with a single case (written for the play), unlike the multiple case formats of each game. They also ditched the spirit channeling plot device, having Phoenix mock Maya for believing she was a spirit medium, and made Edgeworth a simple ruthless prosecutor rather than Phoenix's childhood friend in need of redemption.
- Dawn of War removes a lot of the mechanics from Warhammer 40,000 (cover is near-nonexistent, though it was reintegrated for Dawn of War II, and there's no Random Number God) but keeps fundamentals like squads, weapon upgrades, and different armour types in order to better work as a video game instead of a tabletop one. By necessity the factions are vastly simplified, only having access to a relatively small amount of their units, as well as lacking the individual customisations of the sub-factions. In turn it creates a new Space Marine chapter the Blood Ravens, as well as a bunch of new characters from existing groups, to tell its own story instead of trying to adapt anything from the expansive WH40K lore. The result is a game that is generally well-received by the fans and gamers in general, but isn't so much an adaptation as it is just a small piece of the Expanded Universe.
- Castlevania: Dracula X for the SNES. Cutting the levels and playable characters back to fit the SNES hardware is acceptable, though legal issues meant Shaft was cut. And Vampire Killer for the MSX
- Street Fighter 4 on the Ipod Touch. While it's highly simplified from the console/PC version. (only 10 characters, reduced movelists, simplified controls, and lots and lots of contents removed), it manages to be a fun experience on its own right, despite the system not being fit for such a type of game.
- Astyanax for the NES has a completely different story than the arcade game it's loosely adapted from.
- Most RPG games made under the infinity engine (Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment) employed a Pragmatic Adaptation of the original tabletop rules to fit better into a more action-oriented isometric computer game.
- Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. The limits of a video game (and the action-heavy elements expected from them) meant that the game needed to drop a number of systems, simplify others, and gear things more towards combat as a baseline. One example is with the Tremere, and the Tremere PC's use of Thaumaturgy. The Path of Blood depicted in Bloodlines is much different than the one in the source material, being more directly martial than the multi-purpose powers in the original. Then again, as a fledgling embraced outside the Pyramid, the Tremere PC receives no formal instruction on Thaumaturgy. So the ones he/she uses is likely developed by the PC independently, according to their immediate needs.
- The Lord of the Rings Online serves almost like a P.O.V. Sequel to the books, where the player is experiencing the events of the books from the perspective of someone outside The Fellowship. Some changes are made to allow this; Angmar rising again gives us a villain for the first part of the game (Angmar at that time is supposed to be deserted), and a company of Dwarves trying to reclaim Moria days after the Fellowship passed through gives us an excuse to adventure there (Moria was not reclaimed until after the Ring was destroyed), for example. The player does interact with members of The Fellowship (and other famous characters) and even assists them in important plot points (The reforging of Narsil, walking with Frodo before his journey and later delivering Arwen's banner to the Grey Company and riding with them.
- The N64 version of Quake II had its story changed from the original, and most of the levels replaced with all-new ones, which were generally shorter than the PC version's. The crouch function, hand grenades, and several enemy types were removed, the chaingun was nerfed, and the submachine gun's recoil was reduced.
- The [iPhone] version of Metal Gear Solid 4 was stated to be this by Word of God. The original game had a stealth element, but when Konami playtested it they found that it was really tedious and distracting for a casual game. So Kojima Productions took over development themselves, concentrating on shooting-range stuff.
- A number of changes were made to the Wii remake of Golden Eye 1997 plot to fit with the change in timeline to 2010. Most notably, 006's motivations are changed from getting revenge for Britain's betrayal of his Lienz Cossack parents (which would make him 71 in 2010) to anger over the War on Terror and the Great Financial Meltdown, and how big banks made a killing while everyone else suffered. Zukovsky is killed a couple dozen seconds after you meet him. After all, he does die in the films eventually, and it's not like they're planning on making a The World Is Not Enough game later.
- Even in the original game, a number of changes were done for the sake of making a more enjoyable game. At least a half of the game's content isn't in the movie, much more was altered.
- Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys for the PC-Engine, released a month after Ys IV: Mask of the Sun for the Super Famicom, was produced by a different developer (Hudson Soft), had a significantly different story and gameplay, and is not part of Falcom's canon, but is generally regarded as the superior game.
- Most Sam & Max media, while most of the media is a bit Lighter and Softer than the original comics (well, until The Devil's Playhouse, of course), they've more or less had some pretty good games for quite a while now, demonstrating the dark comedy and wit that the series is known for.
- The console adaptations of Rainbow Six 3 have a completely different story and considerably different gameplay, although some of the locales from the PC version make an appearance.
- More of a technical limitation, but if anyone asks why Armored Core Formula Front has a very wildly different gameplay (simply designing and tuning a Humongous Mecha's autopilot instead of directly piloting it), it's because ACFF was released in PSP. See, the games before that were released in PS/PS2, whose controllers had far more buttons than the PSP. Not knowing how to efficiently use the PSP's button layout, FROM decided to make it a game which require as little input as possible from the players. To seemingly prove their point, the PS2 version of Formula Front does enable direct piloting of your mechs. It isn't until Armored Core 3 Portable that they finally figured out how to map the controls.
- Invoked in The Matrix: Path of Neo, where the Wachowski brothers literally stop time and interrupt the game to explain that the sacrificial ending to the movie wouldn't have worked in a videogame, so instead the player gets to fight a Final Boss made up of every Smith in the level.
- All of the MechWarrior first-person Humongous Mecha simulator series, based on BattleTech tabletop wargame are this to some extent. MW3 was a nearly direct adaption (in terms of balance), and such was a total balance train wreck full of Game Breakers. MW4 greatly altered many of the mechanics from 3 and ditched the boardgame's stats entirely in the name of balance. Living Legends diverges heavily from the previous games in balance, asset usage (such as having useful aircraft, Power Armor, and tanks), and basic game mechanics - all of which were changed for competitive multiplayer balance. Online started out being a nearly direct 1-to-1 translation from the boardgame, which suffice to say did not work very well, though new patches are diverging from BattleTech for the sake of balance. This is also the main reason why melee, despite a number of mechs having melee design weapons (hands, swords, axes) with never be in any of the games; its too much of a game breaker.
- An early 1980s game example: The ColecoVision version of Lady Bug replaced the arcade original's free game credit from spelling S-P-E-C-I-A-L with a Bonus Stage, since the home version didn't require quarters to play it. This is better than what reward you got for finding the diamond in the home versions of the follow-up game Mr. Do!: just 8000 points and a free trip to the next screen.
- Splinter Cell Double Agent, originally on Xbox360 and PC, eventually received a Generation 6 version on Playstation 2, Xbox, and Nintendo Gamecube which is this due to console limitations. The game play and missions are entirely different, while the story is mostly the same except for two major character changes. Enrica's characterization completely lacks her sympathetic portrayal and the romantic subplot between her and Fisher, creating somewhat of a plot hole when Fisher abruptly starts desperately trying to keep Third Echelon from killing her in the final chapter. Jamie on the other hand is given a far more loyal and sympathetic portrayal rather than the Poisonous Friend/Soft-Spoken Sadist he was in the original, which made a lot of people feel seriously bad when you have no choice but to kill him.
- The Autobiography of Jane Eyre is a web series adaptation of Jane Eyre, a Gothic Novel. In the book, Jane is a narrator and an adult mature woman who is looking back on her life from her unhappy childhood, harsh and later kinder school days, her employment, and above all her mysterious love story. The narrative voice of the web series, which is Jane's vlog presenting events as they happen, is naturally changed. It started with Jane deciding to change her life and seeking new opportunities in life, and accepting to work as a live-in tutor. Her back-story is revealed in some episodes when Jane mentions her uneasy relationship with her abusive step-family or when she reminisces about her school days or her friend Helen.
- Likewise there is The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a modernized adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Because society has changed so much in the centuries in between, especially the roles of women, Diaries had to update many aspects to keep them relevant for the audience yet equivalent to the book. For instance:
- There are only three Bennett sisters now, Jane, Lizzie and Lydia. Mary was later included as their cousin and Kitty becomes Lydia's cat.
- The theme of social stifling and small opportunities for women is now a more general one about the difficult economy and slim job and field opportunities.
- In the book, Wickham was a militia officer who claims Darcy swindled him out of his promised fortune. In the web series, he's a swim coach who claims Darcy refused to pay for his promised college tuition.
- Lydia and Georgiana are both made older, since Wickham seducing teenage girls would have gotten him in jail today.
- Lady Catherine De Bough is the most prominent antagonist in the book, not wanting the Bennetts become connected to the Darcys or Bingleys. In the web series, De Bough role's is greatly reduced and it's instead Caroline Bingley who becomes the instigator of strife between the families.
- 8-bit Theatre Chaos, a voiced adaptation of 8-Bit Theater, have occasionally had to rejig a joke so that it translates better to the video format - or update the comic's imagery to fit better with present-day events. For example, one joke in the comics involves Doctor Who (who was played by Christopher Eccleston at the time). Since the adaptation came a few years after the comic, they updated it to Peter Capaldi (who had just been announced as the Doctor at the time).
- Nearly every adaptation of Wolverine in a Marvel TV series tends to focus more on building his characterization (notably X-Men: Evolution) than on his violent berserker rages, because of Media Watchdogs and their attitude towards violence in children's TV.
- Wolverine and the X-Men takes elements of the vast, contradictory mythology surrounding the Phoenix Force that look like they might work well together, and constructs a new story out of them. Likewise, it combines a number of the various Bad Futures of the comics into one.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles started as a violent and gory (if satirical) black and white independent Comic Book with an ongoing storyline. (Shredder dies messily in the very first issue; later his surviving minions feed what is left of him to a colony of worms that take his form and his intelligence. Worm-Shredder destroys the Turtles' and April's home, and nearly kills Leonardo. After a year of healing, Leo heads back to New York, chops off Worm-Shredder's head, and burns him.) In the early process of licensing and adaptation, the Turtles developed a litany of catch phrases, color coded costumes, a Garfield-like food fetish, and an army of ineffective recurring villains; Raphael changed from a sociopathic Jerkass to "cool but rude", Baxter Stockman was changed from a homicidal black man to a feeble white guy, Splinter's whole backstory was rewritten to avoid the question of death; they abandoned character and plot development for syndication-friendly standalone episodes... and yet it all kind of worked. The 2003 series is a much closer adaptation of the comics (even bearing some traits of Adaptation Distillation); any carry-over from earlier adaptations (such as Michaelangelo's use of lingo from the earlier show) is generally Lampshade-hung. There's still much conflict over which cartoon was actually better — ratings and profit wise, they did the same.
- In the comics, Splinter is the mutated pet rat of a ninja murdered by Shredder. In the (first) cartoon, Splinter is a human ninja (and rival to Shredder) mutated into a rat. This change feels less like a bowdlerization (even though it is) and more like an Adaptation Distillation. It simplifies Splinter's back story, gives the turtles a more direct tie to ninjas (trained by an actual ninja as opposed to the pet rat of a ninja), and gives scenes between Splinter and Shredder a personal edge. The show even did a good, touching episode where Splinter briefly regained his human form.
- The second animated adaptation of Herge's Tintin comic book series often streamlines the original narrative to make the story of each comic book fit into two half-hour episodes by cutting out subplots that don't affect the main plot overall, but otherwise faithfully follows Herge's original plotlines.
- Despite being a main character in The Ultimates, Hawkeye is excluded from both of the Ultimate Avengers animated films in order to keep the movies from featuring too many characters. It also streamlined the plot of the first Ultimates mini-series, made an entirely new plot for the sequel involving the Black Panther and Wakanda, and made the characters more likeable by toning down some of their more Jerk Ass traits and blending them with aspects of their mainstream counterparts.
- Winx Club:
- Frank Maggiore commented on a change made to an episode; in the dub, Sky went from being killed (it's never explicitly said as such, but Flora mentions his lack of pulse at one point) to being put into a deep sleep (by having the Trix, who "killed" Sky, explicitly mention this a few times). It seemed to him that it made a lot more sense when Bloom revived Sky; this changed a never-before-seen magical Back from the Dead ability to a Sleeping Beauty-style awakening that seemed more 'probable', especially since that these new powers were played as "healing powers" in either version. The kicker? The change was made by 4Kids Entertainment. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
- The girls (except Flora) cut school and go to Earth, where Aisha, Stella and Musa are stopped by a police officer and asked why they're not in school. In the original, Layla gives the excuse that they have permission from their parents to be out of school and offers to give the cop the phone numbers, but the cop declines and lets them go. In 4kids, Aisha speaks a different language, making the cop think they're not from Gardenia and so he lets them go. The 4kids version is more believable because, by law, the cop should've taken in all three girls and called their parents (not that he could call them, but you get it) since skipping school (aka truancy) is illegal.
- The first half of Superman: Doomsday runs The Death of Superman fairly straight save for the absence of the Justice League, but the second half, based on The Reign of the Supermen, gives us a single replacement Superman, who's a clone like Superboy, but with elements of both the Eradicator (crimefighter with extreme zero-tolerance policy) and the Cyborg (a villain secretly working with another a villain), and drops the complex Mongul plot entirely in favor of a straightforward battle of the Superman. It also manages to squeeze in a little of Funeral For a Friend which took place in between with a funeral scene and a few mourning scenes. One effective choice was leaving out Pa Kent which cut his heart attack subplot and intensified Martha's mourning by leaving her without both of them (it also ties in better with the Superman movie franchise which audiences would be familiar with).
- Green Lantern: First Flight literally breezes over Hal Jordan's classic origin story in about 5 minutes to focus on the intergalactic dealings of the Green Lantern Corps. This was partially because of plans for the Live-Action Adaptation of Green Lantern that would likely go into that origin, but also because of examining much of the same story in Justice League: The New Frontier and they didn't want to rehash his origin with every new DTV. Ironically, it turned out to be much, much better received than the live-action film.
- Watership Down's Animated Adaptation left out a number of rabbits from the book, including Bluebell, the comedian, and Strawberry, from the snare farm. Speedwell, Buckthorn, Hawkbit and Acorn aren't much missed, though.
- The Adventures Of Sam And Max Freelance Police was given a very Lighter and Softer treatment, but it kept a lot of the strange hijinks and ideas that the duo are known for.
- The series of the DCAU have a lot of this. Most of the time when a characters and their origin were changed it helped to enhance the essence of the original comics. In several cases, changes in the DCAU were so well-received that they were actually integrated into the main DC universe. (Harley Quinn and Mr. Freeze's backstories are probably the two most well-known cases.) One episode of Justice League they did was an adaptation of the Alan Moore story, For the Man Who Has Everything. They took out some of the darker aspects which gave it its own unique effect while sticking to the overall idea. Notably, this is the only adaptation of his work that Moore actually likes.
- Young Justice does this with many characters, usually with positive effects. Artemis Crock for instance went from being a Caucasian supervillain to a biracial superhero, with the big twist being that her older sister (she never had one in the comics) is the Vietnamese assassin Cheshire. The decision to reimagine Zatanna as a teenager also went over well with fans.
- As a neat way of explaining her size-changing abilities, Bumblebee was made into a student of The Atom, despite the two having literally no connection in the comic books. Icon was also made into a member of the JLA in order to justify his sidekick Rocket's (temporary) inclusion in The Team.
- The Spectacular Spider-Man made a number of visual changes to Spider-Man's supporting cast, notably making several white characters into minorities for the sake of diversity and giving modernized designs to a number of Spidey's villains.
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes often condenses or alters origins for various characters in order to cut down on the time required to introduce them. For example, Hawkeye and Black Widow are SHIELD agents rather than reformed Iron Man villains, and The Falcon is a member of Code Red rather than Cap's sidekick.
- The Batman gave some of the villains drastically changed backstories and/or personalities to give them more importance in the story, such as Hugo Strange and Clayface.
- The Mega Man cartoon had the decision to change Proto Man from Mega Man's Aloof Big Brother Mysterious Ally to his Worthy Opponent on Wily's side. Given that Dark Man, Proto's impersonator from the fifth game, shows up in the series, it's more likely this was a conscious decision in order to give Mega Man an appropriate rival (Bass from the seventh game didn't exist yet).
- The W.I.T.C.H. cartoon made some major changes to the characters with the first season, turning Yan Lin into The Mentor (and alive) and making Caleb an Adaptational Badass. When Greg Weisman stepped in for season 2, he took the changes even further, giving more screentime to old one-note villains, expanding roles of other characters and even going so far as to make many of the more Jerk Ass characters of the comic a lot more relating to the viewer.