Both an adaptation trope and a death trope, Spared by the Adaptation refers to cases where a character who died in the source material does not die in the adaptation.
The reasons behind these occurrences vary. Perhaps Media Watchdogs, Executive Meddling, and/or the creator wanted to make it Lighter and Softer than the original. Maybe the character was a fan favorite and the crew wanted to appease the fan base. Maybe the death stood out as especially pointless, and people in charge took it as a given that life is cruel and unfair so they didn't need to kill a beloved character just to make that point to the audience yet again. Maybe the events where it happens are cut for other reasons. The sky's the limit as for why this happens, which probably explains why it happens so often.
Likely to occur during a Gecko Ending where the adaptation is made before the original is even finished.
Compare with Schrödinger's Cast where a character's fate is different from the source material, but the source material is still ongoing (which may create the need for the adaptors to do a drastic rewrite if the character in question, or their averted death, becomes important later on in the source material).
Contrast with Death by Adaptation, where a character dies in the adaptation, but not in the source material.
Warning: This is a death (or lack thereof) trope and will contain unmarked spoilers. Read the examples at your own risk.
In the novelization of L Change The World, it is vaguely suggested that Mello might exist in the movie continuity. If he does, then he falls under the trope too.
L subverts this in the live action movies. He avoids being killed by Rem, but only because he wrote his own name and time of death in the death note. He outlives Light, but dies 20 days later (23 days from when he wrote his name in).
Though neither avoids death per se, Light and Sayu have their fates softened and avoided, respectively- Sayu isn't kidnapped, and thus doesn't go temporarily insane, and Light dies in Soichiro's arms rather than alone, though he's still batshit insane to the end, much to Soichiro's dismay.
Oh, and just to rub salt in the wound, Light dies begging Soichiro to believe that he acted as Kira to put justice, which Soichiro had taught him about since childhood, into effect.
Soichiro is also not shown to die in the second rewrite special...leading to plotholes regarding his absence as well as how Light was able to acquire Mello's true name.
Duclis, a tiger-like creature from Slayers has two completely different backstories and fates in the novel and anime; in the anime, he's the friend and assistant to the prince Pokota who goes on a massive Roaring Rampage of Revenge in the name of their kingdom with the help of Zanaffar, a great beast. Despite all the chaos that occurs, he manages to survive, and flees. In the Light Novel series, he's a member of a cult that worships the world's almighty Big Bad, Shabranigdo, and he, along with almost all of the other members of the cult, winds up getting killed by Lina and her party.
And in a twisted meta-version of this trope, the eighth novel has Fibrizo the demonic lord only imprison Lina's companions and threaten their lives, which triggers Lina's second use of the Giga Slave. This is a far cry from the anime season it was based on, in which Fibrizo crushes the physical embodiments of the life forces of Lina's party members before imprisoning them.
Maximillion Pegasus in the Yu-Gi-Oh!. After his defeat, Evil Bakura plucks out hisMillennium Eye. In the anime, this merely knocks him out and he is almost immediately Put on a Bus as his henchmen get him to a hospital to recover. Not only does he survive in time for the filler arcs and movies, but he is also a major character in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX.
Bandit Keith is another example. In the manga, he threatens Pegasus with a knife demanding the prize money. Pegasus uses his Millenium Eye to create a Penalty Game by turning Keith's hand into a gun and "killing" himself with it. In the anime, Keith's uses a gun instead for the same reason only to fall into the trapdoor and into the ocean. He returns later under the control of Marik.
Although in Yu-Gi-Oh R, Keith is also revived by Tenma.
The Village Elder and Sanai in Samurai 7. Subverted with Heihachi. Surprising fans of the original movie, he was spared from being the first samurai to die, but he finally meets his end in episode 25.
Subverted in the case of Alcyone in Magic Knight Rayearth. She dies due to wounds inflicted by Umi in the manga, but in the anime she survives them and hangs around until almost the end, where she vanishes after being rejected by Zagato yet again. But then came MKR 2... where she ends up Brainwashed and Crazy thanks to Debonair. And when her brainwashing is undone, she spends some time as an Empty Shell... and then she's killed by Debonair.
Emmeraude dies in the original saga, but lives in Rayearth OVA.
There are a few subversions, such as Basque Grand's death being given a passing mention in the manga (he wouldn't be shown in person until a later flashback), but in the 2003 anime, he gets some characterization and dies onscreen. Then in Brotherhood, he doesn't get the same characterization, but dies onscreen and goes down fighting. Likewise, Marta survives the attack on Greed's base that killed her in the manga, but is killed by Bradley a few episodes later—in fact, she was killed in the exact same manor as the manga (stabbed while hiding inside Alphonse), whereas the other chimeras had their deaths changed from Bradley to Amestrian soldiers.
Chun-Li's father is still alive (albeit hospitalized and in a coma) the last time we see him in Street Fighter II V.
There is quite a lot of Wild Mass Guessing as to why this is the case - one persistent rumour is that the manga was deliberately set up for either a video-game or manga sequel to Breath of Fire IV (especially considering that Capcom is talking of reviving the franchise and directed the Comic Book Adaptation in the first place). This would fit with the other, rather extensive changes made to the manga's end - which, up till that point, largely followed the plot of the game save for some All There in the Manual stuff from the artbook that was included in the manga.
Professor Tomoe in Sailor Moon was killed in the manga, but saved in the anime (where he's just possessed). Since the next storyline required having Sailors Uranus and Neptune raising his daughter, he was quickly Put on a Bus at the start of the next season.
Likewise in the original anime, this also happens to the Ayakashi Sisters, the Amazon Trio (sort of...they become souls/dreams/some sort of spiritual light and go to Elysian rather than die outright), Queen Nehelenia and Sailor Galaxia. All of them are either purified or brought to Heel Face Turns by Sailor Moon.
Prince Diamond dies in the manga and the anime, but lives in the Musicals.
Les Miserables Shojo Cosette, the otherwise good, detailed anime adaptation just lets two important characters live. Gavroche would be quite OK, but with Javert it's unforgivable, especially the way they do it. He's about to jump when the sun suddenly rises, and he... decides not to. Even worse than it sounds.
Even more egregious, they actually lampshade it in the next episode preview, saying one should not commit suicide over being depressed like that. They just wanted to soften it for kids, obviously.
The second Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann movie doesn't kill off the Mauve Shirt members of the Gurren gang (specifically, Jorgun, Balinbow, Kidd, Iraak, Zorthy, and Makken), re-drawing them into the scenes that occur afterwards.
Everyone who died in the show survives in the High School AU manga, and yes, that includes Kamina. His interaction with Nia has to be seen to be believed.
Genkai in YuYu Hakusho passes away in the last chapter of the manga, but lives until the end of the series in the anime (ignoring her death and resurrection in the Dark Tournament saga).
By the time the anime had ended, several characters had already died in the manga after the point where the anime diverged. In the anime, Arachne still died, but in a very different way, and all the others lived to the very end of the anime:
In both the manga and anime the Flying Dutchman is shown swearing to get revenge for his defeat after the battle on the Nidhogg. The manga had a mini-arc where he comes back and is killed by Blair; it was the first storyline of the manga that the anime did not adapt at all.
Joe Buttataki was killed in the manga by Justin, because Joe found out he was a mole. No such thing happened in the anime, and his role in general was completely different.
In the manga, Mifune died moments after losing his last fight with Black Star. In the anime, he still lost, but his injuries were Only a Flesh Wound and he instead surrenders.
A significantly larger number of characters fit into this trope retroactively, as they were alive in the manga when the anime was produced, survived to the end of the anime, then later died in the manga:
Medusa in the anime is a possible example. While she appeared to have died near the end of the anime, the end credits for the last episode show her snake form, implying she survived. When she later died in the manga, nothing from then on would even hint otherwise.
A minor example is Granny the reception attendant. In the manga, she helped fighting alongside with Kid during the battle on the Moon showing how tough she is. Unfortunately, she gets killed by Justin Law. In the anime, she had a much smaller role and we only saw her face in a Continuity Cameo. It's unsure if she's still around at the end of the anime.
In the anime Justin turns out to be exactly what he appears, and lives. In the manga, we find out he's really evil (as the first part of the entry implies) and he later dies fighting the DWMA.
In the manga it's revealed Kid unlocking his full power and becoming the next Grim Reaper will cause the previous reaper to die, which happens shortly thereafter. Said event does not happen in the course of the anime, and given the anime was made before said revelation it's unknown if it would have the same result.
Crona and Ragnarok end the anime alive and well, having ended their Heel-Face Revolving Door on the side of the DWMA. In the manga, if they technically died is highly debatablespoiler Crona's body was converted into Mad Blood with hir soul still inside, a state other characters could not classify as alive or dead when it happened to other people, but Crona's soul was able to retain consciousness and control of the blood. What happened to Ragnarok is even less clear; he went through the same process as Crona but we don't see the effect and either way he may have been effectively rendered non-sentient a while before., but at the very least the anime versions were spared becoming the immortal Barrier Maiden for Asura's new seal for the remainder of human history.
Ikkitousen heads towards Knight of Cerebus territory later on with several characters in the series killed off, but the anime held dear to the cast, keeping them all alive.
While the character didn't die in the original anime Touji Suzuhara is saved from piloting Unit-03/Bardiel, which horribly crippled him. Instead Asuka was the test pilot, and "only" lost an eye. He did die in the manga despite not doing so in the anime, so Rebuild spares him that in general. The 3rd movie in the series apparently subverts this with everything indicating that he died anyway when the Third Impact wiped out most of humanity before being stopped.
In the manga Asuka survives her battle with SEELE's Evas, and the entirety of humanity is shown restored once the Human Instrumentality Project is averted. On the whole, the manga finishes on a much more optimistic note than End of Evangelion.
The Alternate Universe series Campus Apocalypse has a far more optimistic ending. Gendo and Yui are the only real casualties among the human characters, and the ending sees Shinji, Rei and Asuka happily returning to a normal life.
Makoto and Cecilia, the two halves of the Angel Israfel, also survive and are implied to also be living out a peaceful existence in Italy.
There is at least one EvangelionLicensed Game where you can save Kaworu Nagisa. He pilots Unit-04, which arguably also falls under this trope.
In the original Cutey Honey manga, Panther Claw's attack on Honey's school was a bloodbath, killing everyone except Honey (including Alphonne and Miharu, whose deaths were Played for Laughs). In the anime version, the only casualty was Natsuko.
In most versions of the series, the plot is kicked off by the murder of Dr. Kisaragi, and Honey fights Panther Claw to avenge him. In Cutey Honey Flash, the Shoujo version, the plot is kicked off by the kidnapping of Dr. Kisaragi, and Honey fights Panther Claw to rescue him.
In Grenadier, Koto (a secondary character) is killed by the Big Bad (and fuels Rushuna's revenge against him). She survives in the anime.
Bardock is a very odd subversion in the 3-chapter Dragon Ball spin-off manga, History of Bardock. He survives Frieza's attack, but winds up going back in time. The manga gives no indication that he ever returns to his own time, meaning that he'll die long-before any of the events in the official series.
Tales of Symphonia: The Animation is extremelycompressed due to having to fit forty hours of gameplay into ten episodes' worth of anime screentime, leading them to combine the Dragons' Nest and Rodyle's Human Ranch into the same encounter. Since it takes place in the Dragons' Nest and not underwater, this has the effect of nullifying any need for Botta to make a Heroic Sacrifice.
The Bleach anime was cancelled before it reaches the final manga arc, (mercifully) sparing Chojiro Sasakibe and Shigekuni Yamamoto.
Retsu Unohana and Toshiro Hitsugaya were spared by the same cancellation.
In the Trigun Maximum manga, the character Descartes (a boomerang-wielding thug who originally appeared in the anime) winds up being impaled on his own weapon by Grey the Nine-Lives. As he never appears in the anime again after his debut, it can assumed that in that version he survived.
In the original Arashi No Yoru Ni books Gabu dies of starvation and Mei dies of exhaustion. In the movie based off said novels both survive.
A minor case, but in Dragon Ball Z during the epilogue to the Cell Saga that showcases Future Trunks finally saving his time, there's a moment where Androids 17 and 18 are shot at by a vengeful old man whose family was previously killed by the duo and is currently trapped under some debris. 17 decides to kill him, but Trunks then arrives and manages to destroy him and his sister in a Curb-Stomp Battle and is then shown helping the man out. In the original manga, 17 kills the man moments before Trunks arrives on the scene.
One Piece also has a minor case early on during Buggy's introduction. When one of Buggy mistakenly believes that one of his crew is insulting his nose, he snaps and proceeds to blow the guy to smithereens with a cannonball. In the anime, Buggy is initially going to do the same thing, but manages to be persuaded in letting him live.
Thanks to the film only loosely adapting roughly the first quarter of the then unfinished manga, both Yupa and Teto are still alive at the end of the anime of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.
An odd variant is done in the anime adaptation of Detective Conan. In the manga, the criminal is shot and killed and later turns out to be the sister of a character who joins the cast. In the anime she survives when Conan steps in, however she's just a random criminal. And then this is subverted... a whole episode is created to fix the potential plot-holes, and the woman actually dies in Conan's arms. And soon her sister shows up and joins the cast...
Many Historical Domain Characters were spared in Oda Nobuna no Yabou, including Imagawa Yoshimoto (died 1560) and Saitou Dousan (died 1556), which are still there in the 1570s. Subverted by several Composite Characters; their namesakes may have died for a long time, but other characters that the characters were based on were still alive; such as Saitou Yoshitatsu—he died in 1561, but he's a composite together with his son Tatsuoki, which was still alive at the time.
Played straighter with the series's renditions of Lady Montague (Portia), Tybalt, Mercutio and Count Paris (Hermione).
The Area 88 OVA ends with Satoru Kanzaki arrested for tax evasion. In the manga, he gets away and antagonizes the heroes until he's finally shot down by Shin Kazama.
A one-episode character of xxxHOLiC who's a pathological liar dies as a result of being unable to break her bad habit after Yuko gives her a ring (which gets dirtier the more she lies), but in the anime version she lives and learns a lesson from it.
In the movie compilation of Space Battleship Yamato, the mutiny of Yasu (Sparks) and several other crew members who wish to stay on Iscandar is omitted, meaning that they naturally don't die in the film version.
In Black Lagoon's manga, the final fight between Grey Fox and Roberta becomes a Mook Horror Show with almost all of the former being completely wiped out and Roberta escaping without a scratch (physically, at least). In the anime, the battle is much less one-sided: Grey Fox suffers several casualties but much less (and some are shown to be still-alive stretcher cases), and Roberta is almost killed in return to the degree that the plan to save Grey Fox in the manga becomes more about saving Roberta in the anime.
IDW's New-Trek-Movie-verse version of the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Operation: Annihilate!" spares Captain Kirk's brother George and George's wife Aurelan from being killed by the neural parasites. In the original, George Kirk was dead before the Enterprise ever arrived, and Aurelan didn't last much longer.
Dr Elizabeth Dehner also survives the IDW version of "Where No Man Has Gone Before", simply by not being there. (She gets namechecked as having turned down the Enterprise posting because of a past relationship with Dr McCoy - who, of course, wasn't yet the CMO in the original timeline.)
All the redshirts in IDW's take on "The Apple", titled "The Redshirt's Tale". The original bumped off four of them; the comic is a Lower Deck Episode from the perspective of Hendorff (the first one killed in the original, who in IDW continuity is also the security officer who fights Kirk in the movie). At the end, the four are toasting their survival and speculating that in another universe, they might not have made it.
In Perry, after the death of Thora, Perry Rhodan entered a permanent relationship with Auris of La-Thor, which lasted until the end of the original comic book series and beyond. In the original pulps, her model Auris of Las-Toór and Perry Rhodan felt attracted to each other, but she was killed (in the fifth issue in which she appeared) before they could get anywhere romantically.
The '"Director's Cut" miniseries of "The Clone Saga" sees both Ben Reilly and Baby May survive the events of the story. Despite the former being Retconned as being replaced and never actually having died and the latter resurrected, Aunt May and Doctor Octopus could count, too, since they also died during the Clone Saga.
In The Official Comics Adaption of Return of the Jedi Yoda still says he's dying, but Luke merely leaves him to rest according to the narration. There is still the ghost scene at the end, except that it is just one of several bonus pictures following the narrative, so readers might not actually realize that Yoda has also become a ghost.
Marvel Comics had a lot of fun with this with Baldur, the Norse god who was made invulnerable to everything but mistletoe, only to be killed with it by Loki. In the Marvel version (where he is a warrior-god called Baldur the Brave) Baldur's death would trigger Ragnarok, so preventing his death is high on Odin's priority. When Loki slays him with the mistletoe arrow, he's Only Mostly Dead, and Odin prevents true death by creating a shield around Baldur's pyre, preventing his soul from departing; then, after most of the Asgardians die at the hands of the Celestials, Thor brings all of them, Baldur included, back to life with potions of life energy they donated. (This would not be the last close call for Baldur, but curiously, he's one of the few surviving deities left at the present time, after the villainous Mikaboshi broke into the Celestial Axis and waged an assault on every Earth pantheon.
In the comic adaptation of X2: X-Men United, Jason Stryker actually lives whereas in the movie he's left for dead when the dam begins to collapse.
Deconstructed in For Want of a Nail fic Better Angels when Shane Walsh outlives Rick Grimes following the Walker Invasion at Hershel's farm. Shane kills Rick and the only people alive suspicious of him are Glenn, Daryl, and Lori. Accusations against him combined with grief over murdering his best friend put Shane at odds with Daryl and Lori, but he is still forced to take over Rick's role as leader when the group begins a journey into Season 3's setting, the prison. Rick's death prevents the group from learning the truth about reanimation and Shane's ruthlessness inevitably puts the group on a darker path than when Rick was alive and Shane wasn't.
Many Bleach works invert this, mostly due to the seeming immortality of the main characters. Downfall and Hammered Down are interesting examples because the former has a large percentage of the backstory characters alive and well, others die, though - Hammered down starts plays this somewhat straighter.
Particularly popular in NarutoFan Fics is Haku - Zabuza is spared half the time too, but not as often and almost never without Haku.
Haku and the Third Hokage (at least so far) in Team 8. However, in the latter case, he lost an arm and was forced to step down as Hokage. *** While Sarutobi has survived in a number of stories that cover the canon timeframe, these are rarely serious stories (Lucillia usually spares him in her more comedic narratives, but he usually dies in the dramatic ones) - outside of the need for drama, his death in canon leads to Tsunade's succeeding him, and fanfic writers have commented that giving both characters a role in the story after this point is difficult (which is probably why ''Team 8forces him to retire so that Tsunade can succeed him anyway).
Haku and Zabuza both survive in Fly Free. So far, the story seems fairly lighthearted, though the advent of the Chunin Exams arc seems like it may change that.
Following Neji's death in the 4th Shinobi World War Arc, fans have started to spare him in fanworks; Shikaku, Inoichi, Ao and Mabui are harder because of circumstances (and require a vaster plot changed), but Neji can be saved if someone else is Taking the Bullet in the scene where he dies.
Some also spare Asuma from his death at Hidan's hands - Dead Garden hasn't actually reached his point of death yet, the Time Skip being yet to happen, but Hidan's death in the first story arc has ensured that if Asuma does still die, it would be very different to canon anyway.
Nihlus in Renegade. Since the MacGuffin on Eden Prime is a Tacitus, rather than a Prothean beacon, Saren is carrying it around with him; Nihlus notices and is about to turn and ask Saren about it when the latter tries to shoot him in the head. Thanks to the movement, though, it's not as deadly as it "should" have been.
Dragon Ball Z Abridged reveals that the Kanassans, a psychic race that were killed off in the original show (and the main reason Bardock could see the future), managed to miraculously repopulate.
On a lesser scale, Koizumi has survived through Chapter 2, when she was murdered in canon, and when the murder victims of Chapter 3 are discovered, neither are the canonical victims; Mioda and Saionji.
The Talking Cricket (renamed Jiminy Cricket) in Pinocchio. (Although after an appearance as a ghost in Chapter 13, the Talking Cricket makes two subsequent appearances in the book that seem to suggest he's alive again.)
Chief originallywas going to die in the animated adaptation after being hit by the train, but someone in the Disney higher-ups wasn't willing to pull the trigger on a character who wasn't explicitly evil (this is before Mufasa's death convinced them it can be done effectively) - so he opens his eyes in what was meant to be his death scene, and ends up with only a broken leg for the rest of the film. This is definitely a case of it not being the best choice: killing him off would have explained Copper's ferocious grudge against Todd in the second half of the movie, while the final product makes him look a lot more spiteful (and it would have made their final reconciliation morepotent).
Captain Hook from Peter Pan. In the book, he is simply swallowed up by the crocodile, but in the movie, he immediately jumps out of the crocodile's mouth unharmed shortly after being swallowed up and later swimming away screaming for Smee with the crocodile still behind him.
There's an interesting story behind this. Originally, Disney was going to make Hook an evil, intimidating character who would die like his literary counterpart. However, they discovered that the slapstick scenes with the crocodile effectively ruined any sense that he was a serious threat. Therefore, they went all out and played him as an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain. They kept him alive because they figured the audience wouldn't want to see such a humorous, non-threatening villain die.
Shere Khan from The Jungle Book. He retreats with a burning branch tied to his tail. Seconds after he's out of sight, it rains. In fact, he's still alive by the end of the sequel! Also the monkeys, who were eaten by Kaa originally.
Mad Madam Mim from The Sword in the Stone. In the book, she was killed after Merlin became an infectious disease, but in the movie, she is merely bedridden, and that Merlin actually had to use sunlight in order to cure her.
Both The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Ballerina from Fantasia 2000. The main reason why they both lived in the Disney adaptation is because the writers of the film actually did not want to cause any Soundtrack Dissonance considering the fact that the musical piece accompanying this scene is an optimistic-sounding one.
John Luther "Casey" Jones from The Brave Engineer. In real life, he actually died in the train crash.
Pocahontas in Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World. In real life, she died during her stay in England.
Maleficent in the Disney Theme Parks version of Sleeping Beauty, whose cackling can be heard at the very last part of the ride, implying that she had survived being stabbed by the Sword of Truth and falling off a cliff. However, this was eventually removed and replaced with a scene where the fairies are still bickering over what color Aurora's dress should be. There was also a sequel storybook which also had Maleficent survive the above and still cause trouble.
Also Black Widow and Edwin Jarvis both survive the events of the films despite being killed in The Ultimates 2.
Anastasia in Anastasia (if you consider reality to be the source material, since it's so historically inaccurate it may as well be an Alternate Universe).
Ostap Bender from Mel Brooks adaptation of The Twelve Chairs survives the book instead of having his throat cut for all his trouble. An interesting case, as while the book itself explicitly stated him as dead, the character was later brought back for a sequel.
Even compared to the below mentioned live-action version, Professor Bruttenholm gets this is the second Hellboy Animated movie, Blood and Iron, surviving the events of the movie.
Soren's parents in Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole are shown to have made it to the great tree by the end of the movie. In the books, we never see them (alive) again after Soren is kidnapped, and it's very strongly implied that they were killed shortly after that.
In Superman vs. the Elite, the Elite are depowered and presumably jailed at the end, and that's the last we see of them. In the original comics, Black ended up lobotomizing Menagerie and, after a failed attempt to get revenge on Superman, committed suicide.
The Boyscouts in The Dark Knight Returns, in the original comic they were poisoned to death by the cotton candy The Joker gave them, in the film Batman is able to stop them from eating it, this was because the crew thought it would've been in bad taste because of the recent Sandy Hook school shooting.
It's actually an inversion (not counting the Malcom issue): In the book, Gennaro and Muldoon survive with Grant, Sattler, and the kids while Hammond and Malcolm are killed; in the film, Muldoon and Gennaro are eaten by rampaging dinosaurs and the survivors are Hammond and Malcolm.
Dodgson is eaten in the second book, but in the second movie, a different character plays his role (although it could be argued that after Nedry doesn't return, Dodgson tries to get the embryos himself...)
In the musical film version of Little Shop of Horrors, Seymour and Audrey both escape their fate of being eaten by the plant, which is killed. Partly subverted in that, in the stage musical, Audrey was a victim of Death by Adaptation, having survived in the original film, while the plant, who died in the original film, ends up surviving.
In the Director's Cut, Audrey and Seymour die, and the plant lives.
From The Shining, the Overlook Hotel itself is left intact, as opposed to the book which had it being blown off. Kubrick allegedly felt the destruction of the hotel brought too much of a happy ending to the story, so it became one of the many things he left out of his adaptation. This may also be due to Kubrick turning what originally was a story about ghosts into a film about madness, meaning that the hotel itself became less of an enemy to be eliminated, most of the horror now coming from the characters themselves and what they experience.
Saruman and Wormtongue in the theatrical versions of The Lord of the Rings movies. Not so much in the Extended Editions. (Which explains why the palantír is in the water when Pippin picks it up)
Additionally, in the books the Isengarders set one of the Ents ablaze and it's implied he burned to death. In the film, the Ent survives long enough to douse himself in the monstrous flood, turning an off-screen moment of villainy into a Funny Background Event.
The title character in the 2003 version of Willard.
The title character dies in the 1971 version and is heavily implied to have died in the original novel.
Roger in Who Framed Roger Rabbit; whereas in the source material he was the murder victim (specifically, his cause of death was censorship), here he's the murder suspect (the murder victim being Marvin Acme).
Clarice doesn't truly die - at least not physically - in the original version of Hannibal, but many would say that being corrupted and turned to the dark side by the title character is much worse. She avoids this grim fate in the film version.
The Renfield-type character in Nosferatu, both the original and in Werner Herzog's remake.
Nobody ever has the heart to kill off Fagin in Oliver Twist remakes anymore. Or sentence the Artful Dodger to transportation to Australia.
Mister Arrow in Muppet Treasure Island. Instead of giving him alcohol that causes Arrow to get drunk and fall overboard, Long John Silver tricks him into inspecting one of the lifeboats and drops it off the ship. We're left to assume Arrow was lost as sea anyway, but then he washes up on Treasure Island later. This was averted with Billy Bones, which is significant because he was the only character ever to die in a Muppet movie. Billy Connolly (who portrayed Bones) is quite proud of that fact.
Matt Hooper from Jaws; granted in the film he is a much more likeable character.
This was actually an accidental case; Hooper was going to die, but before that scene could be filmed a real shark got tangled in the ropes and destroyed the prop cage while it was empty. The crew thought that the footage was too good to waste that they rewrote Hooper's fate to get it into the movie.
Two characters in The Golden Compass: Tony Makarios, whose daemon is severed from him, and Roger. In the book, both are killed. There may have been plans for Roger to die in the following movie (though his death was in the end of the first volume of the book series, not the second,) but since that movie will apparently not be made, as it actually stands Roger survived in the film. The script did, in fact, include Roger's death and that scene was filmed before being removed.
Tony is an odd case, as in the movie his character is merged with Billy Costa - Billy loses his daemon the way Tony did in the book (and she has the same name as Tony's did), but the reference to the severing of daemons unavoidably killing their human counterparts, if they're just a child (all children who lose them in the novels are stated to die later on) is removed, and Lyra in the film's last scene comments on the need to help the kids who lost their daemons. Executive Meddling actually forced the writers to Never Say "Die" in the movie adaptation - a minor character mentions that several children separated from their daemons escaped, but were found dead later on (with the character simply falling silent after being outright asked if they were alive) - which is also the reason that 30-minutes were chopped off the end of the movie (and one sequence was moved into an earlier point of the story). If the film had gotten sequels, their adaptation of The Subtle Knife would have reputedly opened with these deleted scenes.
Roger's death is also critical to the plot, as it highlights the lengths to which Lord Asriel is willing to go in order to free the multiverse from the Authority (and create the contrast with Lyra), so the delaying measure of removing these scenes only served to weaken the movie (and might have saved it from becoming a Stillborn Franchise - giving the movie better earlier reviews and potentially drawing more viewers into theatres).
Subverted with Hedwig. In the book, Harry takes her with him when he leaves the Dursleys and she's killed in the following chase scene. In the film, he lets her go before the chase scene, only for her to return and die taking a spell for him.
The originally filmed ending to First Blood was much closer to the novel by David Morrell, which had John Rambo forcing Trautman to kill him. However, due to Rambo's more sympathetic portrayal in the film, a new ending was filmed which had Rambo being arrested instead, making the sequels possible. Due to the relative obscurity of the novel, not many are aware that Rambo was supposed to die in the first film. Ironically, Morrell adapted the film's sequels into novels; as such, he took note of the Canon Discontinuity in the first sequel, throwing said discontinuity out the window just as quickly.
At the time Superman was made, both Ma and Pa Kent were dead in the comics by the time Clark becomes Superman. In the film, however, only Pa Kent dies. In the Post-Crisis comics both Kents are still alive making Jonathan Kent dying on SmallvilleDeath by Adaptation. He's dead again in the New 52.
Ditto the sadistic Nazi officer Skoda. He's shot in the book for torturing Stevens. In the movie, he's renamed Sessler and is simply tied up. In the film, Sessler is not a sadistic Nazi but a professional Wermacht officer. He assures Mallory that Franklin will receive proper medical care. At the end, Franklin is seen in a hospital bed and smiles as he hears the explosion marking the mission's success. His fate isn't stated, but would likely be held as POW for the rest of the war.
Most movie adaptations of Romeo and Juliet leave out the deaths of Paris and Lady Montague, probably because both contribute little to the story and slow down the ending. Though this very often creates a plot hole when the prince says that he has lost "a brace of kinsmen" at the end. The movie makers obviously don't realize what "a brace" means; it means two: two kinsmen, namely Mercutio and Paris. Without Paris' death, the prince has only lost one kinsman! The Prince's comment is made even more confusing in the Leonardo DiCaprioversion where Captain Prince and Mercutio are black and Paris is white. And there is no evidence of any of them being of mixed race.
In the 2002 remake of Carrie, the title character survives and goes into hiding in Florida. This, incidentally, was because they were planning on the film (which was made-for-TV) being a Pilot Movie, leading into a TV series about Carrie going on the run and helping other troubled teens with powers like hers. It never happened.
Atreyu's horse, Artax, in the movie adaption of The Neverending Story. While it does die by sinking in a swamp through despair just like in the book, it comes back to life at the end of the movie thanks to Bastian presumably wishing it back to life. And it appears in the second movie, still alive.
It's implied that in the film, the effects of the Nothing were completely reversed by Bastian saving Fantasia, so everyone who died as a consequence is alive (including the characters who survived the novel without ever dying); in the novel, they stay dead but Fantasia was recreated when Bastian saved it (with new areas and such being formed). Given that the realm is the manifestation of human wishes and dreams, taking on a physical form, this makes sense in context.
The Godfather. Calo, Michael's bodyguard while hiding in Sicily, is killed by the same explosion that killed Apollonia in the novel. He survives the movie adaptation, but is later killed in Part III of the film series.
Charlie's brother in Lemonade Mouth. In the movie he's older, away at college until he returns near the climax. In the book, he's Charlie's twin and was stillborn.
The 2011 film version of The Three Musketeers spares Milady de Winter, the Duke of Buckingham, and Constance Bonacieux. Cardinal Richelieu's survival is not an example; his deaths in previous adaptations are actually examples of Death by Adaptation (he survives the original book).
Played straight with lover Frank at first in the 1975 film adaptation of The Who's Tommy, but then subverted at the end of the film when the angry mob kills him and Nora Walker.
Blick in the 1948 film adaptation of The Time of Your Life.
In the film version of My Sister's Keeper, Kate dies and Anna lives. In the book, Anna sues her parents for medical emancipation so she won't have to give her kidney to Kate, who has leukemia. Then, she is hit by a car and her kidney is given anyway. In the movie, Kate agrees with the lawsuit, knowing that she will die.
In Stand by Me, the narrator reveals at the end that Chris was killed in a knife fight as an adult. As shocking as this was, it beat the original story by Stephen King, where three out of the four kids (excepting Gordie) met early ends in the epilogue.
As pointed out in this article, even Gordie may not be lasting much longer in the original story...
The film adaptation of Our Town has the female protagonist surviving. The third act of the play has her dying while giving birth to her child and takes place in the afterlife; in the film the afterlife portion is a dream she has.
An odd case is used for the Die Hard films, which were initially based off a novel entitled Nothing Lasts Forever. In it, the character Joseph Leland, whom John McClane was based on, has to save his daughter on Christmas Eve... and ultimately he fails, as after sending on the antagonist out a window he manages to grab his daughter and take her with him. In the films, McClane's character was made younger and the hostage was changed to his wife instead of his daughter. Antagonist Hans Gruber attempts to do the same thing, but this time John successfully saves her. In the fourth film in the series, McClane's now grown-up daughter actually does get taken hostage by the film's Big Bad, but she is also saved by the end of the film.
Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson is a much more standard use of the trope. In the novel, when Karl returns at the very end he manages to shoot and kill Robinson before he is gunned down by Sgt. Powell. In the film, Powell is able to kill Karl before he harms anyone.
In the original Night of the Living Dead Barbra is dragged off and implied to be devoured by a horde of zombies (among which, her brother is included) during the film's final siege. In the 1990 remake, she becomes an Action Survivor.
In Silent Hill 3 Harry's death is the sole reason Heather travels to Silent Hill to seek out revenge. In the film Silent Hill: Revelation 3D he survives; the one film Sean Bean is supposed to die in and he lives. Vincent also survives, but his character has also change completely.
A Little Princess has had two movie adaptations, one in 1939 with Shirley Temple, and one in 1995. In both of these, Sara's father does not die as he does in the novel of Brain Fever, he is merely injured in war and either too traumatized (1939) or amnesiac (1995). Either way, she gets a happy ending, as the novel ends with her being adopted by a family friend.
Possibly the case with Weena in The Time Machine. In the original novel she is separated from the protagonist in the midst of a forest fire and he it unable to find her. Ultimately her fate is left ambiguous, but the protagonist (who narrates the story) isn't optimistic about her odds of survival. In the movie she very clearly survives and almost joins the protagonist in his own time (which is only prevented when the Morlocks trap him in the statue and he is forced to use time travel to escape, as in the book).
Cee Cee Bloom's mother survives much longer in Beaches. In the original novel, Leona dies of a heart attack while her daughter is in her late teens. The film changes this to Leona moving away to Florida, and brings her back for a later scene where she calls her daughter out on her selfish personality.
Instead of following the ending to the novel, the English language film versions of And Then There Were None followed either the ending to Agatha Christie's theatrical adaptation (sparing Lombard and Vera), or a slightly altered version in which Lombard is really Charles Morley, the real Lombard having died already (thus sparing only Vera.)
Nicole Horne becomes a Karma Houdini in Max Payne. The stinger sequence suggests that Max doesn't intend to let them stay that way.
In the original Red Dawn out of the Wolverines only Danny and Erica survive, in the remake only Jed and Darryl are killed.
In the original comic Future Magento was the first to die, sacrificing himself early on by providing an off-panel diversion so the remaining resistance could escape their imprisonment. During the Last Stand in the film, though he's badly wounded he never succumbs to his wounds before the timeline is reset.
Happy Hogan in Iron Man 3, who was mercy killed in the comics after going into a braindead coma but survives in this movie until the very end after experiencing the impact of an Extremis soldier exploding and awakening from his coma.
Tigercub in the film version of Day Watch. However, this is only because the Mirror storyline was utterly absent in the adaptation. Instead, Kostya is killed prior to Twilight Watch... at least until the end of the film that rewinds the two films to the beginning.
In Dick Tracy, 88 Keyes the piano player is arrested during the raid on the Club Ritz. His comic strip counterpart was eventually gunned down by Tracy.
Although not quite the same character, Serizawa’s previous incarnation in the Godzilla series died preventing Godzilla from wreaking more havoc. While in Godzilla (2014) Serizawa is trying to convince the military the importance of Godzilla and comes out of the film with very little scrapes and bruises.
Honor Harrington is Horatio Nelson In Space! Except Honor lives through the IN SPACE! version of Nelson's final battle, as found in At All Costs. due to some last minute changes and going Off the Rails. She was suppose to die in At All Costs until David Weber was convinced to move the next generation plot up about 20 years.
Possibly the cook in the novelization of Titan A.E. At the very least, their death occurs off-screen.
A Bambi read-along book never mentions the death of his mother. Now, she COULD have died, but it just jumps from Winter to Spring and Bambi being grown up with no deaths. She just disappears.
Some storybooks based on Cars 2 actually leave out the deaths of Rod "Torque" Redline, Leland Turbo, and Tony Trihull. Also, one LEGO playset based on that movie had Leland Turbo's cube drawn in a way so it now shows his pitiful eyes, suggesting that he is still alive even as a cube.
In fact, a lot of tie-in Disney storybooks tend to leave out the deaths of important characters, which occasionally result in plot holes, especially if the death is related to the plot. An inversion would be in some tie-in storybooks based on Atlantis: The Lost Empire, King Kashekhim Nedakh's death is not mentioned at all, yet we still see his daughter ____ as a Queen at the end.
Youth adaptations of 11th-century Welsh legend How Culhwch Won Olwen cut out the death of Ysbaddaden the giant, skipping straight to the wedding. This is strange because Ysbaddaden's curse - that he will die once his daughter marries - is why he sends Culhwch on the impossible Engagement Challenge to begin with.
The novelization of Transformers: Dark of the Moon has Wheelie, Brains, and Megatron surviving. In the film Wheelie and Brains go down with a Decepticon ship they sabotaged, and Megatron is killed in a final confrontation with Optimus Prime.
In the MAD parody/adaptation of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Wreck of the Hesperus, both the skipper and his daughter survive the wreck, with the latter still tied to a broken-off 20-foot-tall mainmast (!) and bringing back the former from his frozen state.
The novelization of X2: X-Men United spares Jean Grey because of Fridge Logic: why did she have to leave the plane to levitate it to safety? Instead she levitates it from the inside and gets saved with everyone else.
Takanuva in the novelization of BIONICLE: Mask of Light is spared his brief Disney Death, the cause and reversal of which weren't even explained in the animated movie. Also, in Web of Shadows, Roodaka orders a bunch of Visorak spiders to jump down from the top of the Coliseum to make a point. In the movie, they fall to their deaths, but in the novelization, they land on a nearby balcony.
The 14th century English poem Sir Orfeo is a Setting Update of Orpheus and Euridyce from Greek Mythology which does this to "Heurodis" twice. At the start, she is abducted by The Fair Folk instead of dying from a snakebite and going to The Underworld, and at the end, Orfeo succeeds in rescuing her.
Live Action TV
Battlestar Galactica: In the original series, Baltar is an example of this. In the film and pilot, he was executed by order of the Cylon leader. When it became a regular series, the producers allowed Baltar to live even re-editing the original pilot so that now the leader spares Baltar's life.
Smallville has an in-universe example. When the "Warrior Angel" comic gets a live-action adaptation the love interest that dies in the comic gets to live. Naturally this enrages the Fan Dumb and one of the more obsessed fans tries to force the movie to follow the comic by attempting to kill the actress.
Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers had Tommy lose his powers (twice) instead of being killed like his Sentai counterpart Burai. Additionally, Rito Revolto's Ninja Sentai Kakuranger counterpart Gasha Dokuro did not survive the finishing move of Super Kakure Daishogun (AKA the Ninja Megafalconzord). In fact, that battle, Gasha Dokuro's last, was Rito's first!
Second actually. In his first fight, he destroyed the Thunder Megazord and Tigerzord, which used a combination of Dairanger, American, and Kakuranger footage (with Kakure DaiShogun edited out). Three episodes later, the Kakuranger footage was reused, intact this time.
Marah also qualify as she redeemed herself while Furabijo her original counterpart was killed in Boukenger VS Super Sentai. Kapri can also be counted as Wendinu is in similar case to Lila.
We also got Matoombo who is revived after the Master was defeated while his counterpart, Titan, stayed dead.
Also, Toxica and Jindrax from Wild Force get a Redemption Earns Life ending, turning against their leaders who'd used them as pawns, and rode off into the sunset together just before the Grand Finale. Their sentai counterparts Tsuetsue and Yabaiba never reformed (though Yabaiba could have if it weren't for his growing love for Tsuetsue), and were buried in their Collapsing Lair at the end. They are revealed to have survived in the teamup with Hurricanger, at the end of which they definitely die. Though Tsuetsue is revived in Boukenger vs. Super Sentai, but is killed off again.
In the comic series, Judith and her mother Lori were both killed during the Governor's assault on the prison. In the TV series Lori dies much earlier, but Judith survives past both her death and the point where they were originally killed in the comic.
In the comics, Caesar Martinez died before The Governor attacks the prison. In the TV series, he died in the events after the second attack and before the third.
Hershel didn't survived the assault on the prison in the comics. In the TV series, he died at the beginning of the third attempt.
In the comic series, The Governor died after the prison assault. In the TV series, it took three attempts for him to share his comicbook counterpart's fate.
As of season 4, Carol has long surpassed the timeline in the series where her comic counterpart should have died.
Justified by Tyreese since he debuted much later in the timeline compared to his comicbook counterpart. Specifically, he didn't survive the prison assault in the comicbook, and Hershel ended up receiving his death in the TV series instead.
While not necessarily a character, Rick's right hand remains intact.
Denna the Mord-Sith has a fairly important death in the Sword of Truth books (Richard turns the blade of the Sword white and kills her because he loves her.) Less so in the series adaptation Legend of the Seeker, where she survives for a time after Richard escapes.
Denna is shot with an arrow by Cara (another Mord-Sith) and fall off a cliff in Season 2, moments after the former has seemingly decided to perform a Heel-Face Turn (to be fair, Cara didn't know that and was only trying to protect Zedd).
In the first Dexter book, Maria LaGuerta is killed in a confrontation with the Ice Truck Killer. She lasted for seven seasons of the series, but has now also been killed.
Doreah, one of Dany's handmaidens, does not die in the Red Waste, and another (Irri) later dies in Qarth instead.
And then (most likely) subverted - as a result of her survival here, Doreah ends up betraying Daenerys, which in turn led to Irri's death. When Dany finds out, she has Doreah (and Xaro, whom she betrayed Dany for) condemned to death by starvation in Xaro's impenetrable vault. Inverted with Xaro, who in the book never betrays her and shows up again later.
Preston Greenfield, a background member of the Kingsguard, is alive in the TV series, surprisingly enough. In the books, he is said to have been brutally murdered during the riot in King's Landing to the point where his body was nearly unidentifiable. The writers probably didn't want to deal with the detail of a Kingsguard being killed off-screen (especially since they had no time to develop him); plus, by keeping him alive they didn't have to worry about filling his place on the Kingsguard (which is meant to have 7 members consistently), making it easier to have the Kettleblack brothers (one of whom later joins the Kingsguard) Adapted Out and preserve character numbers.
In Pretty Little Liars, Toby Cavanaugh, Jenna Cavanaugh, and Mona Vanderwaal all are still alive.
The ITV adaptation of Agatha Christie's novel Cards On The Table spared Anne Meredith and Mrs Lorrimer (who is her mother in this version), derailing and killing off Rhoda Dawes instead.
An odd example occurs with UFO, where a character is spared by dub-induced censorship. In Germany, UFO fell victim to What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids? quite badly, and was censored extensively to keep it family-friendly. The greatest change to the plot was made in "A Question of Priorities". In the episode, Straker's son Johnny is hit by a car and needs special medication to survive, which is only available in America. Straker orders a SHADO transport to get the medicine over in time, but the transport is diverted after a UFO with a possible alien defector shows up. In the original episode, John dies, and the alien defector is killed by a second UFO. In the censored German episode, Straker gets a phone call stating that John survived.
Justified is based on the Elmore Leonard books Pronto and Riding the Rap and the short story "Fire in the Hole". In the TV show Raylan's father Arlo Givens is a major antagonist but in the books he is stated to have died when Raylan was just a teenager. In contrast, Raylan's mother is mentioned to still be alive in the books but in the TV series she died when Raylan was a kid and her sister Helen became a surrogate mother to Raylan and later Arlo's second wife.
"Fire in the Hole" is the basis for the pilot episode of the TV series and in the end of the short story Boyd Crowder died. He was also supposed to die in the pilot but everyone liked Walton Goggins' performance so much that the character was only seriously wounded and was later promoted to be the secondary protagonist of the series. When Elmore Leonard released his third Raylan Givens book Raylan (written after the show started airing) he retconned the end of "Fire in the Hole" and brought Boyd back.
In an unusual case of it happening before the show even started the show Escape of the Artful Dodger is a sequel to Oliver Twist and Fagin is still alive and kicking, albeit having been transported to Australia with the Artful Dodger.
Spidey gets killed by the camera in the book of Say Cheese And Die!. While in the TV episode, he becomes trapped in the camera and eventually released, but strangely doesn't appear in the TV episode of "Say Cheese and Die - Again!" (except in flashback).
In Be Careful What You Wish For, heroine Samatha Byrd is turned into a bird at the end after the Alpha Bitch wishes her to "fly away!". In the TV ending, their fates are reversed, and the Alpha Bitch is turned into a statue after wishing she would be admired wherever she goes.
Subverted in the TV series of From Dusk Till Dawn. The first episode starts almost exactly like in the film, but Earl Mc Graw survives his initial shooting. However, he then winds up dying anyway in the shootout between him, Ranger Freddie Gonzalez, and the Gecko Brothers.
Later played straight, as by the end of the end of the first season Santanico, Richie and Scott are all alive, while their counterparts never made it out of the Titty Twister in the movie.
When Agatha Christie wrote the play adaptation of Ten Little Indians a.k.a. And Then There Were None, she changed the ending so that Vera Claythorne and Phillip Lombard both survive. It's helped by the fact that there are different versions of the poem the murderer bases the killings on, with different endings (one of which sounds much cheerier than the "hanged themself" ending actually used in the original book).
Emilia in the Verdi-Boïto opera Otello, mostly because the Compressed Adaptation of Shakespeare's text leaves no time for minor characters to have death scenes.
When composer Ambroise Thomas adapted Hamlet, he actually wanted to keep the title character alive; he was originally supposed to kill Claudius, then sing that he was still depressed, but had a kingdom to rule. It was eventually impressed on him that the audience would not be pleased by this, but he still left Polonius and Gertrude standing in the final version.
Clarisse in the adaptation of Fahrenheit 451, though her "death" in the original book was rather vague.
The stage play adaptation of His Dark Materials, Lee Scoresby is absent from the later part of the story, and as such he doesn't die, and Lyra and Will do not meet him in the world of the dead.
There's a stage version of The Hobbit in which Thorin survives the final battle.
Captain Vere in the opera version of Billy Budd. In the book he's shot in a battle, in the opera he lives to old age and the whole story is his flashback.
...although at least one production (in Hamburg) had him slitting his wrists in the Epilogue.
Some productions of Romeo and Juliet do this to Paris by cutting the scene where he gets killed.
In Thomas Lodge's novel Rosalynd, usurping Duke Torismund dies in a forest battle at the end. When William Shakespeare adapted Rosalynd into the play known as As You Like It, he spared the Duke, now named Frederick, by having him find religion and make an offscreenHeel-Face Turn. This is probably because the Duke is the father of one of the heroines, who loves him very much and is deeply sad that he's so evil; killing him off would ruin the gleeful party atmosphere of the quadruple wedding at the end.
The musical Show Boat let Andy and Parthy survive into the final scenes. In Edna Ferber's novel (and the 1929 film, which mostly followed the novel) Andy is drowned in a storm and Parthy later dies during the Time Skip. Also in the novel, Ravenal is never seen again after leaving his family; he and Magnolia are ultimately reunited in all adaptations.
In Rent, Mimi survives her brush with death, unlike the Mimi of La Bohème.
Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors. Inverted with Mushnik, Audrey and the entire human race, who don't die in the original. (And then played straight again in the film based on the musical, where Audrey and the human race are spared.)
According to contemporary sources, Euripides had the title character and Haemon survive in his (now lost) Antigone.
West Side Story, which is based on Romeo and Juliet, spares Maria, who is its version of Juliet. (The characters who are versions of Romeo, Mercutio, and Tybalt all still die.)
In the musical Wicked, Fiyero and Elphaba, both major characters in the book and musical, were spared their grisly deaths and lived "happilly ever after" at the end of the musical. Also, Doctor Dillamond, a teacher in the play, escapes his death, instead turning into a goat. In fact, almost everyone in the book who dies either lives or never existed in the musical.
In the Mozart opera Idomeneo, unlike the classical myth it is based on, Neptune intervenes and has Idomeneo spare his son's life.
A number of Video Game Remakes and Updated Rereleases include a sidequest or 100% Completion feature that allow you to save a popular character who was Doomed by Canon in the original game (usually in cases where the death was meaningless to the plot, and sometimes they even allow you to change the plot entirely by saving the character, giving you a different endgame).
Among the characters who died in the original version of Persona 3 were Chidori and Shinjiro, both of whom developed strong fan followings. When the game was remade as Persona 3: FES, a sidequest was added to allow you to save the former, then when the game was remade again for the PSP, another sidequest was added to save the latter. The frustrating thing is that both of these are pure Guide Dang It and the latter is only possible if you chose the female main character, so it's missable from the very first choice in the game.
The latter still manages to be horribly tragic since it requires the player to romance Shinjiro. Meaning at the end of the game he survives and gets out of the hospital just in time to watch the protagonist die.
The Wii release of Dead Rising, Chop Till You Drop, let you save the gun shop owner Cletus, whereas in the original game you had to kill him as part of a boss battle. Likewise, Dead Rising 2: Off the Record has a divergent plot from the original Dead Rising 2, where Rebecca Chang becomes Frank's love interest and survives the game, whereas Stacey turns out to be the Big Bad and is killed in the finale.
The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth: First, Gandalf faces off the Balrog and wins, continuing down the road alongside the rest of Fellowship. Then, possibly because of that, Boromir survives the skirmish on Amon Hen and accompanies Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas throughout Rohan, Helm's Deep and eventually returns home to Minas Tirith. Then Théoden can survive the battle of Minas Tirith and will continue leading Rohan's army.
According to Word of God when the game was in development, whether or not those two survived was meant to be up to the player's abilities. They can still die, but if you're careful they'll survive instead.
Saving Boromir is optional, but he appears in later levels either way.
Several throughout the Star Wars video game adaptations:
Greedo and Jabba in Yoda Stories (at least in the Game Boy version).
In Rebel Assault, the final mission is a retelling of the Death Star battle from Episode IV. At the end of this mission, many more starfighters are seen to have survived the battle (at least eight in the game, as opposed to two X-Wings and a Y-Wing in the film).
Star Wars Episode I: Jedi Power Battles loosely tells Episode I's story as an action game, but with two notable differences. The first is Mace Windu and some other Jedi are fighting alongside Obi-Wan and Qui Gon the entire time. The second? Qui Gon lives.
Mace Windu vanishes from LEGO Star Wars after Grievous' flagship crashlands on Coruscant.
The NES Rambo game based on First Blood Part II allows the player to save Rambo's Vietnamese love interest Co from the grasp of death by ignoring her completely after Rambo escapes from the Vietnamese prison camp. Since talking to NPCs serve as save points, it makes sense from a playing standpoint.
In the Arcade version of the first game, if played by two players, once they finished the Big Bad, the players will fight each other, with one dead and the winner winning Marian's love. In the Double Dragon Advance, adapting to this first game, the fight between Billy and Jimmy still happens if played on co-op, but once one runs out of HP, Marian pleads for both to stop fighting and both Billy and Jimmy comply, leading to no dead Lee bro.
The fate of Randam Hajile is left ambiguous in the original floppy disk versions of Snatcher. The later CD-ROM versions of the game killed him off for good, but SD Snatcher actually kept him alive until the very end.
The first Reinforce is alive and a playable character in the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable games. However, Hayate's ending in the first game suggests that she will fade from existence in the near future.
Several of the video game adaptations of Alien³ allow Ellen Ripley (the main heroine of the series) to remain alive at the end of the game, and disregard the plotline about being infected by a facehugger. The NES adaptation ends with her simply leaving the facility after she completes the final mission (and presumably escaping via unknown means), while the Game Boy adaptation ends with her using Bishop's body to fix the controls of the EEV and travel back to Gateway Station.
While it's not a straight-up adaptation, all of Grimmjow's Fraccion in Bleach: The 3rd Phantom survive the raid on Karakura town. Subverted in that they do die later on (D-Roy and Nakeem in a raid on Soul Society, and the rest protecting Las Noches).
The good ending for the video game adaptation of Harlan Ellison's I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream allows the player to completely avert the grisly fate that befalls the cast in the original story. The ending sees AM truly destroyed by the protagonists, with humanity seemingly restored thanks to a conveniently-revealed cryogenics facility filled with humans who could potentially repopulate the devastated Earth.
The Game Boy game Gremlins Unleashed plays around oddly with the trope. In the final boss against Spike in Gizmo's story, his defeat leads to his usual death animation. The ending cutscene after however shows him alive, humiliatingly captured by Gizmo. Similarly Spike kills Gizmo in his final boss battle, but the ending cutscene instead has him stuffing the still alive Gizmo's face with food as a nearby clock counts to midnight, implying an ill fate for the mogwi.
There is one guy who just can't make up his mind on if he wants to live or die in these games: Gai Daigouji, who, in six games the Nadesico series's shown up in (Advance, Reverse, Judgement, Impact, MX and W), two he lives all the way through, three he's an optional character and one he STAYS dead!
The Evangelion cast has a much much happier and better existence in SRW, and most of the sympathetic characters live. Ritsuko always dies in any game that finishes the End of Evangelion plot. Only in L was she spared because nobody died in L on account of the Eva plot ending shortly after Asuka showed up. Kaji also usually doesn't make it, although he also survived L for the same reason, and unlike Ritsuko he made it through MX. Gendo always dies, but he arguably deserves it. Mitsato, and at least one of the Rei's always make it, and the Bridge Bunnies always survive although they're never seen again after getting Tanged in Alpha 3. 3rd Impact is always averted, and in a way that doesn't end with Shinji and Asuka alone in a world of Tang.
Super Robot Wars Original Generation Gaiden features a lot of these and an eventually subverted inversion. When they chose to adapt the OVA into game form in the bonus section of Original Generations, the segment ended in Lamia, who survived the OVA, getting shot down dead by Wilhelm von Juergen and thrown off to space, left for the dead, making her seemingly an inversion of the trope. The actual game later revealed that she actually survived, picked up by Duminuss then Brainwashed and Crazy to play the Master Asia part of Reversal. She gets better... and later on, the game pulls a massive straight playing on some of Compact 3 cast, including Fernando Albark, Alion Lucada and Maysis Mark, when you compare to the original where every originals except Folka died. And the game also pulls a surprise one in form of Reversal's Despinis, one of the Quirky Miniboss Squad that you fight in Reversal, resulting her pulling a Heel-Face Turn for good.
And then 2nd Original Generations inverts this: In Super Robot Wars Destiny, Perfectio is impossible to kill and only defeated when Treize Khushrenada pulled a Heroic Sacrifice to seal him off forever. They went along with this plot point, and picked Ventus, who was promoted from Secret Character into an automatic-join (and no longer exclusive with fellow secret character Glacies), to take Treize's place in the Heroic Sacrifice of sealing and defeating Perfectio.Also previously in Destiny, Rim gets to keep her two personalities throughout the game. In OG, one of them, the Nice Girl one, Chris... VANISHED, lost forever, and leaving Rim with just one personality, and she is not happy about it.
Shin Super Robot Wars: Heinel, Master Asia, Amuro, Char, and Julia Asuka get to live due to various reasons.
After Domon's last fight with him, Master Asia needs to return to Dug and enlist aide. Domon, moved nearly to tears, praises Master Asia's dedication to peace and freedom, and the two exchange manly martial words before Master Asia's departure.
When beaten in the final battle against Neo Zeon, Char will furiously say that Amuro wouldn't have even had a chance if he hadn't leaked info to the Federation about the Psychoframe, noting further that Amuro wouldn't have even been worth killing in the RE-GZ (the Gundam Amuro piloted before the Nu Gundam). Amuro figures that Char is doomed to look down on others for all eternity. Nanai will then go over and fish Char out, saying that he's indispensable to Neo Zeon AND to her, and ignoring his pleas to stay out of it.
Once Zuhl and the Skullrook is eliminated in an Earth Route scenario, Heinel decides to go on a little journey, on which Katherine insists on accompanying him. Kazuya figures that the two of them will be happy together.
The Matrix: Path of Neo video game, which followed the plot of the movie trilogy, did this with the ending, where instead of Neo sacrificing himself to stop Smith, Smith merges all his pieces into a 500-foot-tall Mega-Smith, which Neo fights as the final boss. This was lampshaded with a tongue-in-cheek cameo by the Wachowski Brothers explaining that artsy everybody dies plots are fine for films, but video games are about punching out Galactus using the Hulk.
In Peter Jacksons King Kong: The Game of the Movie, Hayes has a much larger role as The Lancer and survives the events of the game. In contrast, Preston has no significant role in the game other than being eaten by the first V-Rex fairly early on. There's also the unlockable bonus ending in which you can actually save King Kong from his fate atop the Empire State building.
The Hook point-and-click adventure game leaves out Rufio's death and you can see him alive and well on the ending screen. Surprisingly, the NES game averts this.
The Sega CD adaptation of the first film has Reese killing the Terminator and surviving.
LJN's release of Terminator 2 completely changes up the ending that both subverts this trope and plays it straight: after the T-800 knocks the T-1000 into the molten steel, but rather than dying the T-1000 actually merges with it and is fought as a final boss. The T-800 then truly kills it, and then with its mission of saving John Conner complete proceeds to teleport back to the future (somehow).
In the adventure game Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade if you're very quick with your Pixel Hunting, it's possible to pick up the Holy Grail before Elsa Schneider can grab it and then return it to the immortal knight, allowing Elsa to live.
According to the Arkham City Stories in Batman: Arkham City, Carmine "The Roman" Falcone is alive and well in the Arkhamverse. Granted, according to the Arkham City Stories, Hugo Strange and Quincy Sharp drove him and his family out of Gotham and into hiding in Bludhaven prior to Arkham City, but considering Two-Face killed his comics counterpart at the end of The Long Halloween and his The Dark Knight Saga counterpart was driven insane by the Scarecrow's fear toxin in Batman Begins, Falcone in the Arkhamverse is doing quite well by comparison.
This isn't so much an adaptation as a localization, but Video Game/Mother1's English translation and its re-release in Mother 1+2 contained a scene in the credits showing Teddy making a full recovery, while in the original, he was implied to have died.
In the video game adaptation of Tomorrow Never Dies for the Playstation, James Bond is successfully able to save Paris Carver, who died in the original film.
Though he still ultimately dies, in video game of From Russia With Love Red Grant lasts a bit longer than his film or novel counterpart. He secretly survives his fight with Bond on the train and shows up at the very end for one final showdown before being put down for good.
Mortal Kombat 9 has a few in-universe example. The first thing you see in the game's opening sequence is the conclusion of the Armageddon, with several of the combatants dead. Sonya has been torn in half (by who is now know) Johnny Cage has been beheaded (again, it is not known by whom) Sheeva, Baraka, and Scorpion are dead, presumably by Nightwolf, Kung-Lao, and Sub-Zero, respectively (due to the weapons lodged in their bodies) and Quan Chi's body is present, though it's impossible to tell how from his injuries. Although Raiden's attempt to change the timeline is very much a Pyrrhic Victory (while the Armageddon is averted and Shao Khan is - probably - dead, most of the Earthrealm warriors are slain and Shinnok is about to attack with their enslaved souls) Sonya and Cage survive at the end and can fight the oncoming threat, while Sheeva, Baraka, Scorpion and Quan Chi also survive.
HOME, a spinoff of OFF, has The Judge's brother Valerie survive being possessed by Japhet, to join your party. Justified, as HOME takes place after the events in OFF were reset.
Dumbing of Age is basically a College AU of the creator's Walkyverse comics. Since the latter involved battles with aliens and several deaths, this will presumably happen a lot. Word of God has specifically said that Dina is safe, and Pamela, who was dead before the events of Shortpacked even started, is alive and well.
The Bloody Nipple Saga (a Campaign Comic adaptation of the first Conan the Barbarian movie) ends with Conan burning Thulsa Doom's temple, while Doom beheading is cut from the story (the author explained that he wanted to release a PG rated - at worst, PG-13 - webcomic). The scene is followed by a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, in which Doom is stated to have survived, and spent the rest of his live as a respected cleric.
A roundabout example occurs in Dragon Ball Abridged. Yes, Nappa dies like he did in the original series, but unlike the source material, he comes back to life. When they wished all the people Freeza and his men killed back to life, that technically included Nappa since Vegeta was still working for him at the time.
To some extent, this also applies to Nail and Kami - while in the original series they effectively ceased existing when absorbed, here they still exist as voices in Piccolo's head.
Shredder in the Mirage comic was killed right in the first issue, resurrected once, then killed again. All animated adaptations give him Joker Immunity.
In the comics, Triceraton Leader Zanramon was (apparently) accidentally killed by his own men as they tried to rescue him from the turtles, who were holding Zanramon hostage. When the second cartoon adapted this story, however, they manage to recover him alive, and Zanramon was left free to plague the turtles a second time. Curiously, however, after the cartoon aired its adaptation, the still-ongoing comic retconned Zanramon's death again, revealing that he had apparently not died at all!
In the original comics, Splinter was the pet rat of dead ninja master Hamato Yoshi; in the first and third cartoons, Splinter is Hamato Yoshi. (The IDW comics came up with a creative way to split the difference: Hamato Yoshi died and was reincarnated as Splinter.)
The Rat King died after his first fight with the Turtles, and Splinter comes across his dead body in the comic books. Most adaptations prefer to keep the character around alive and well.
W.I.T.C.H. has Yan Lin, Will's dormouse, Halinor, Cassidy and Nerissa either still alive or (in Cassidy's case) resurrected by the end of the series.
In the Sonic Sat AM episode "Game Guys", Ari gets sucked into The Void. In Sonic: Friend or Foe?, a book based on that episode, he escapes with Sonic.
Ultimately subverted when Ari escapes from The Void in a later episode.
Terra was turned to stone, not crushed to death as in the "Judas Contract" comic story. Cyborg mentions that it may even be possible to reverse her condition. The last episode implies this may have happened through unknown means.
Beast Boy originally joined the Titans after his original team, the Doom Patrol, died fighting the Brotherhood of Evil. In the cartoon, the Doom Patrol is alive and well.
The show did an adaptation of The Dark Phoenix Saga. One of the most enduring, powerful moments in the original comic-book Dark Phoenix saga was when the Phoenix has a Heroic Sacrifice. In the animated adaptation, she died, but the rest of the X-Men were allowed to bring her back to life by each sacrificing a small part of their life force. It was like instead of Jean dying, everybody else had a head cold for a week or two.
Proteus was killed by Colossus in the original comics, but in the show, he gets a happy ending where he returns to his human form and reconciles with his parents. Ditto for his victims, thanks to the censors. In the comics, possession by Proteus was fatal, but in the show, it only resulted in extreme fatigue.
Queen Iolande's brother Ragnar was a minor villain in the Green Lantern comics, and was executed at the end of his first appearance for murdering a Green Lantern in an insane attempt to get his ring. In Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Iolande spares him and merely has him imprisoned, allowing him to return in a later episode as a Red Lantern.
Thunderbird was killed off in the X-Men comics after only three issues, but was still shown alive and well in the cartoon. This is due to the episode being a Backdoor Pilot for an aborted X-Men cartoon where he would've been one of the main characters. Presumably, this was for the sake of diversity, since the only other non-white X-Man at the time was Storm.
Sunfire's uncle as well. Sunfire killed him at the end of his first appearance in the comics, but the show ended with him hospitalized instead.
The Batman: The Animated Series episode ''The Laughing Fish" loosely adapts a 2-part comic story of the same name. In it, The Joker infects two random victims with a lethal dose of his joker venom. In the TAS version, since broadcasting standards wouldn't allow the writers to kill someone in a children's cartoon; instead, Batman is successfully able to administer an antidote to the venom after both get infected. Doesn't stop the scene from being any less freaky though.
The entire nation of Genosha in Wolverine and the X-Men. In Grant Morrison's New X-Men run, the whole island was destroyed by a Sentinel invasion, leaving only a handful of survivors. The attack is far less severe in the cartoon, with no onscreen fatalities.