Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification
When creating a movie from a story already well-known in another medium, those making it are often faced with a crippling dilemma. How true can we stay to the source material without risking a failure at the box office? It can be a very hard call for a director. On the one hand, Fan Dumb
will cry "Ruined FOREVER
" should he change one iota of the source material, and he may find himself a victim of the fandom's ire from then on
. On the other hand, not
changing a thing can result in either a very poorly-made movie or one that relies so heavily on the source material that people unfamiliar with the work will be completely lost.
The scale runs something like this:
- 5. Identical Adaptation: A movie in which next to nothing is changed. These rarely fare well outside the established Fandom.
- 4. Near-Identical Adaptation: A movie that changes the material just enough to gain a specific rating or be of reasonable length. Usually rereleased with a Director's Cut.
- 3. Pragmatic Adaptation: Probably the ideal rating. A movie that manages to capture the spirit of the original work, while at the same time, embracing the new medium. These are generally big hits.
- 2. Recognizable Adaptation: Still bears enough resemblance to its source material that it can be realized as an adaptation. May involve a Setting Update.
- 1. In-Name-Only: Shares only the name and possibly the main characters. It likely could have stood on its own as an original work otherwise.
The scale, however, is not set in stone, and often times, there is overlap. Also, Tropes Are Not Bad
as any movie in any of these categories can become a great success. However, the further a movie falls from the center, the less likely that is.
This trope is usually applied to movie adaptations — The Film of the Book
especially — although it can be applied to adaptations from
movies as well, since other formats (books, comics, television series) have room for more material. See also The Problem with Licensed Games
for the video game equivalent.
- The Princess Bride
- The Lord of the Rings (Ralph Bakshi's adaptation)
- Some of the Harry Potter films
- Brokeback Mountain
- Fiddler on the Roof cuts a few musical numbers, but is otherwise identical
- Fight Club
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- The Godfather
- The animated version of The Hobbit
- Scott Pilgrim
- The Little Prince (1974 film musical)
- The Blue Bird (1976 film)
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- National Lampoon's Vacation — Many of the characters' names were changed (only the father's name — Clark W. Griswold, Jr. — was retained), the number of kids was dropped from four (Missy, Patty, Mark, and an unnamed narrator) to two (Rusty and Audrey), and the film ends on a happier note (in the original short story, Clark travels to Hollywood, shoots Walt Disney in the leg, and was forced to go to jail while the rest of the family went home, while in the movie, he causes a ruckus at Walley World and gives a speech to Roy Walley, who lets him and his family have their day at the park).
- Life of Pi
- The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (Both parts)
- Ender's Game
- The Silence of the Lambs
- Vampire Academy is mostly loyal to the first novel of the Vampire Academy series. The differences are generally minor. Three characters receive name changes, one character is younger and more attractive than her book counterpart, three characters are of different age than their book counterparts, two characters who survive the original novel are killed in the film, Natalie Dashkov kills a different person than the one she killed in the novel (Ray instead of Mr. Nagy), Lissa does not practice Self-Harm, and some minor book characters do not appear at all in the films. The most obvious change comes from the style of clothes the characters wear. In the books, the students of the Academy wear regular street clothes. It is a sore spot for Rose that she can't afford decent clothing, at one point wearing clothes she received from the Salvation Army. In the films, both Moroi and dhampir students wear school uniforms. Rose wears a relatively stylish uniform.
- The Maze Runner
- ''The Martian
- Studio Ghibli's Arrietty, to the original novel by Mary Norton, making it the most faithful film or TV adaptation of the original books to date.
- Marvel's many movie franchises.
- Batman, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin (They don't ignore the Fantastical touches and the latter two make stabs at Batman training kid sidekicks that fail more due to greater than Power Rangers level Dawson Casting and lamer than the source material dialogue.)
- Death Note
- The Godfather Part II
- Some of the Harry Potter films
- The Lord of the Rings (Peter Jackson's adaptations)
- Subverted with 2001, as both the book and its film version were written in tandem by their respective authors.
- The Last Unicorn
- The Novelization of Revenge of the Sith
- The Walking Dead
- The World God Only Knows anime
- The first Neverending Story film
- The first Jurassic Park movie
- Macross: Do You Remember Love? was this for the original Super Dimension Fortress Macross.
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
- Being There
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has had three major adaptations that qualify: a 1971 film, a 2005 film, and a 2013 stage musical. All of them put their own spin on the material, most obvious in how each finds a different way for the Pinball Protagonist to "earn" their Happily Ever After beyond simply being the last kid standing in the tour group, as it is in the book. The 2005 and '13 versions also update the characters of Violet Beauregarde and Mike Teavee to keep in step with modern kiddie culture and technology. The 2005 film verges on Type 4 — owing to having a bigger budget than the '71 film and not being limited by its medium the way the stage musical is — but due to Adaptation Expansion involving a Backstory for Deuteragonist Willy Wonka that also leaves him with a significant Adaptation Personality Change, the ending is signifcantly more complicated than the novel's.
- Annie (both the 1982 and 1999 versions)
- Space Battleship Yamato (chiefly adapts the general story of the first season while adding characters and paying homage to later sequels. Many of the designs have been updated to be more believable for a civilization on the brink of extinction, and a few characters are gender swaps or composited from two separate characters in the source.)
- Sonic X (Though the Sonic Adventure Series based arcs could go up to a 4)
- The Colour of Magic
- Going Postal is debatable somewhere between 3 and 2.
- The Chronicles of Narnia is somewhere between 3 and 4. The first film is probably a 4 while the other 2 films are closer to 3.
- Coraline and wanted by the author of the book. If people wanted his story, they can read his book. The movie should have its own flavor.
- the Hangman's Curse movie. Its basic storyline is almost exactly the same, but the back story and characterization can differ wildly from the source material.
- Ouran High School Host Club
- Black Butler season 1 (arguably a 2.5 for the anime-original ending, but it's still very close in tone and theme to the manga, and the previous 3/4 of the anime are very faithful to the manga)
- The first The Hunger Games movie
- Season 1-4 of Game of Thrones
- The first two episodes of the live-action drama of Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches which are relatively similar to the first 25 manga chapters, but leave out some scenes and change the sequence of events somewhat. The other six episodes belong to Recognizable Adaptation.
- Goldfinger, one of the very few adaptations considered better than the original book, such as the Big Bad's Evil Plan being turned from something cliched and impractical to something original and ingenious!
- Seventh Son, the movie adaptation of The Wardstone Chronicles. It takes plot points from multiple books in the series and melds them together into an essentially original story, making many changes to existing characters along the way.
- 80 Days is about a 1.5: same characters, includes much of the plot and various supporting characters in certain routes, but in a substantially changed world, and most of the other routes are completely original.
- Clueless and The Lizzie Bennet Diaries both preserve a lot of the plots and broader character outlines from their original Jane Austen novels (Emma and Pride and Prejudice, respectively), enough that they're instantly recognizable to fans of those books. However, they move them to the modern day, requiring drastic changes in specific situations and, especially, gender roles and other social norms. Christian, the Mr. Churchill equivalent in Clueless is gay rather than "engaged to another woman." Lydia's big scandal in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries involves a sex tape rather than an elopement, and Charlotte chooses the wrong job for convenience rather than the wrong husband.
- How to Train Your Dragon
- Dragonball Evolution
- Dresden Files TV Series
- Elementary TV Series
- Howl's Moving Castle
- Battlestar Galactica remake
- Cirque Du Freak based on the Saga Of Darren Shan books
- Legend of the Seeker, based of the Sword of Truth series.
- Stanley Kubrick's film of The Shining is interesting in that it starts out as a Type 4, but it gradually deviates further and further from the book until it becomes a Type 2.
- Pinocchio deleted many of the characters and challenges of the original book.
- Fullmetal Alchemist (2003 adaptation)
- Abridged version of Pinocchio by Phoenix Games
- The Last Airbender
- Batman Returns
- The Dark Knight Saga (It was previously listed under "Pragmatic Adaptation", but between the total dissolution of any genuinely fantastical elements (Joker has smudging make-up and Bane's mask is an anaesthetic dispenser) AND the absolute refusal to ever broach the concept of this being a person who raises and trains kid sidekicks, the changes veer slightly past the pragmatic into being just as much of an artistic rebuild as Batman Returns.)
- Legend Of The Guardians The Owls Of Ga Hoole directed by Zack Snyder
- The Neverending Story 2: The Next Chapter
- Thunderbirds (2004 movie directed by Johnathan Frakes. It visually looks like a live-action adaption of the television series, shares the same character names and usually their personalities. The movie however, changes the main disaster/rescue premise of the show to a Lighter and Fluffier, Spy Kids-esque romp. In order to support this genre change, a number of main characters from the series are also given significantly less screentime.)
- Trigun (anime), though it occasionally goes up to three.
- First reports from translators claim that the 2011 Live-Action Adaptation of Ranma ˝ starts here and may dip lower.
- The Man Who Fell to Earth
- Tenchi Universe, as an adaptation of the first OVA arc, although it still has the spirit of the show. Tenchi in Tokyo isn't an adaptation, but if it was, it would be somewhere between Type 1 and Type 2.
- The Power of One movie
- BIONICLE the game and Bionicle Heroes.
- Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie (Although it is usually considered to be a fairly good adaptation of the spirit of the games)
- The King and I (1999 animated adaptation — Disneyfication completely warps the storyline, but the familiar songs are still there)
- The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- The Secret Of NIMH
- The animated version of The Return of the King
- The Calvinverse
- The Lightning Thief
- All episodes of the live-action drama of Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches except for the first two. While they star the same characters (except for some, like Tsubaki, who are Adapted Out) and abilities as the manga, many weird changes are made, such as Otsuka being from a wealthy family of doctors, and Noa being a former child actress. Especially the ending is vastly different from the manga since the drama Overtook the Manga.
- The Cat in the Hat
- The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World
- Captain Horatio Hornblower, R. N.
- Horatio Hornblower
- Masters of Sex, based on a biography about the real life Masters and Johnson research team.
- Les Misérables the musical
- Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
- Sands of Destruction was made into a game, anime, and manga. The plot of each is quite different, and characterization varies quite a bit, too, particularly among the female leads. This has lead to a bit of a mess on the character sheet, as contradictory tropes are placed next to each other noting which adaptation the trope applies to, and often specifying that it does not apply to any other adaptation.
- Guardians of the Galaxy keeps the characters and their personalities from the comics, but drastically changes their backstories and the series of events in the plotline.
- The 100 TV series keeps the opening plot events and most of the main characters from the book, but it quickly goes in its own direction.
- Season 5 forward of Game of Thrones.
- The Divergent Series: Allegiant.
- The Name of the Rose
- Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D., the Alternate Continuity remakes of the first two Dalek serials from Doctor Who.
- Much of the Disney Animated Canon (Aladdin, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Jungle Book especially)
- Altered States
- Cheaper by the Dozen
- Studio Ghibli's Tales from Earthsea
- The Running Man
- Ella Enchanted
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
- Peter Benchley's Creature
- Stuart Little
- The Neverending Story 3: Escape From Fantasia
- The Lost World: Jurassic Park (Ironically the third movie uses more scenes from the books, despite not being based on one)
- The Nutcracker in 3D (To both the book and ballet)
- The Super Mario Bros. movie and The Super Mario Bros. Super Show
- Starship Troopers
- Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040
- Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Satam, and Sonic Underground
- The Universal and Hammer Horror takes on Dracula and Frankenstein (shading a bit into Type 2 for the Universal version of Dracula).
- Most of the Resident Evil films. Interestingly enough, George A. Romero wrote a script that probably would have been a Type 3 of the first game, but his script was passed on by Paul W.S. Anderson. And the rest is history.
- The Lawnmower Man, so much that Stephen King even took legal action to remove all of his associations with this film.
- Carnosaur. The plot has almost nothing to do with the book, and none of the same characters.
- World War Z
- Black Butler season 2
- Frozen, supposedly based on The Snow Queen, but mostly just based on the title — which it then changed.
- Wicked, probably to make it more family-friendly than the Darker and Edgier novel; it does share some of the plot, just not enough to make it a type 2.
- Godzilla (1998), the ill-fated first attempt to bring the franchise over to the US. The director stated outright that his goal was to create something totally different from the Japanese original.
- Edge of Tomorrow, adapted from the light novel/manga All You Need Is Kill. Kept the basic concept (main character hijacks the time resetting power of the invading alien "mimics" and meets the woman who previously used the same circumstances to become a Badass Action Girl war hero), the female lead (Rita Vritaski) and main character William Cage's name sounds vaguely similar to that of original hero Kiriyama Keiji when you say them out loud. Aside from that, the scale was upped from a single battle to the fate of the world, there was a large amount of focus on Cage's character development from Dirty Coward to Badass and his growing relationship with Rita that were totally absent from the original, and most importantly, the extremely bittersweet inconclusive ending from the original got upgraded to a somewhat open-ended but unquestionably happy ending.
- Simon Birch, the film adaptation of A Prayer for Owen Meany, goes from Type 1 to Type 5 as the story progresses, passing through almost every type along the way.
- Power Rangers has varied in faithfulness to Super Sentai from season to season. They range from being as similar as a 4 (Wild Force, Samurai) to as different as a 1 (In Space, RPM).
- Film adaptations of Les Misérables run the gamut from Type 4 (1934, 1958, 1978) to Type 3 (1982) to Type 2 (1998, 2012) to borderline Type 1 (1935, 1948, 1952).
- The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad: The Wind in the Willows segment scores a 2, and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow segment scores about a 3 (almost a 4).
- Adaptations of the Pokémon games fall all over the scale, though so far none have quite reached the extremes of 1 or 5. Of the more widely-known adaptations:
- The original anime is a type 3 with heavy type 2 leanings, with exactly how heavy depending on the circumstances; most of the basics of the world of the games are there and the show adapts parts of the plots of the games to at least some extent suiting its format (collecting badges to face the League, fighting the evil teams of each generation), but there's a lot of Adaptation Expansion and the fine details of it all can get a fair bit different from the games.
- Pokémon Special is very much a type 3, but has shades of Type 4 and Type 2 in its interpretation of certain aspects of the 'verse, certain characters, and certain plotlines (Type 2 for the latter two being more common early on.
- Pokémon Origins is a blatant Type 4 (and deliberately designed as one) of the original pair of games. There are still several things preventing it from being a Type 5, however, the most notable being the franchise debut of Mega Charizard X.
- Most notably MarvelCinematicUniverse, while most people would agree it's a 3 usually, there are some movies that hit 4 (using a lot of elements from the comics as they were, i.e. The Super Soldier serum) , while others that hit 2 area (removing or heavily altering comic book elements, i.e. how Pym Particles work) at times.
- The older and more established the original work is, and the more existing film adaptations that have been done with it, the less "need" new adaptations will feel to stick closely to the original, and the more likely chance that they will take their own approaches. This is especially true if the work is in the Public Domain, and that's why works by people like William Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens get so many Setting Updates and reinterpretations.
- Musicals and more recent plays that get film adaptations tend to be relatively faithfully-adapted, other than for length. It helps that they're already adapted to a more similar medium (they have a script, they take into account the visual element in a way novels don't, etc.)
- Anime fall into some predictable patterns:
- Manga and novel adaptations that are of finished works tend to be in the 3-5 range, unless they are very old and established works with previous adaptations, in which case they might fall lower on the scale.
- Manga and novel adaptations of ongoing works vary based on what the original creator and the studio want them to do with it. If they just stop the story at a certain point (planning to animate more when there's more if the show does well enough), they're usually type 4-5. If they stall for time using "filler arcs" (see: Naruto and One Piece), the presence of those fits them into type 3. Series that get anime-original endings vary based on how early the ending is established, varying from type 2-3 depending on that.
- Video game and Visual Novel adaptations necessarily have to make some changes to turn a branching story into a linear one, so they usually fall in the 2-3 range. In the case of some mobile or card game adaptations, they might have to make up a story from scratch where the original didn't have one, falling into type 1.