Third Option Adaptation

That's more like a fourth option one.
An interactive work is being adapted into another, non-interactive form — a video game into a TV series, for example. The original required the audience to choose one option above the others, such as picking a member of your Harem in a Dating Sim. As such, in the adaptation, there will be an active move by the writers not to have any choice evident, so that no portion of the audience is validated or invalidated in their choice. Sometimes comes out of an adaptation of a work with Multiple Endings.

This can also be done if it's an adaptation of a non-interactive work, by refusing to pick any one of the Loads and Loads of Characters to have more spotlight or importance than the others if the audience is divided on which is best and there's no main character.

Contrast Cutting Off The Branches, which does choose one and leave the others in the dust, and Merging The Branches, which combines options in a way not possible in the original rather than creating a completely new option. Original Generation might be used in conjuction.


  • The former Trope Namer, Pokemon Red And Blue, required the player to choose among Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle. The Pokémon TV series adaptation started with Ash having overslept and, as a result, all the starter Pokémon have been picked by other trainers already when he shows up. He ends up with a spare Pokémon the prof happened to have on hand, a Pikachu (an outside fan favorite by that point), instead. Ash would get all three starters later; however, only one of them (Charmander) ever evolved. Later, they confirmed once and for all that Gary's starter was a Squirtle, while his in-game counterpart always chose the Pokémon that had a type advantage over the player's choice.
    • They then rolled this back into the games in Pokémon Yellow, where the player started with a Pikachu but the rival (Gary's counterpart) also got a third option starter, an Eevee.
      • And then even that Eevee is subject to this. In Yellow, the rival's Eevee could evolve into Flareon, Jolteon or Vaporeon based on how often you beat him in your early battles. In the anime, Gary gets an Eevee like his Yellow counterpart, but since he never battles Ash until much later seasons when more potential evolutions for Eevee were known, his Eevee becomes an Umbreon.
    • Ash also got all three starters (Chikorita/Totodile/Cyndaquil) from Pokemon Gold And Silver/Crystal, but once again only one of the three (Chikorita) evolved at all while actually part of Ash's team. Cyndaquil eventually evolved into Quilava, but it wasn't until late into the "Diamond and Pearl" arc, over 10 seasons since it first appeared. Totodile has yet to evolve at all, but similar to the Hoenn scenario he's only one stage behind both.
    • In Hoenn, adapting Pokemon Ruby And Sapphire, Ash only got one starter (Treecko), while May got the Torchic and Brock took the Mudkip. Ash and May's starters each evolved twice into their final stages, while Brock's only evolved once, into its second stage.
    • Ash also has two of the three starters from Pokemon Diamond And Pearl/Platinum: Turtwig (now Torterra), and Chimchar (now Infernape), with the third (Piplup) belonging to Dawn and never evolving at all.
    • For an in-game version, Pokemon Gold And Silver and its remake features battles against Red and Blue, the characters Ash and Gary are based off of, respectively. Red's team features all four possible starters (which includes a Pikachu to represent Yellow Version), with the remaining Pokémon being forced encounters or gifts in the original games (one of the route-blocking Snorlaxes in both, alongside either the free Eevee from Celadon in the originals or the free Lapras from Silph Co. in the remakes). Blue's team is based off of his Red & Blue team, omitting the starter; whereas in the original he had three potential Pokémon, one of which is replaced by the starter with the same type, Gold and Silver uses all three non-starter Pokémon.
    • In Pokémon Black and White , the first and last gyms each have multiple leaders, of which the player only fights one. In the Best Wishes anime, Ash fights all three leaders in the first gym and neither of the last gym leaders - instead the two leaders from the last gym, Iris and Drayden, face each other (Iris being a regular supporting character and proving herself against her mentor Drayden) and Ash gets his eighth badge from one of the new leaders from the sequel. Best Wishes also gave Ash all three starters again, although only one evolved and only once - Tepig into Pignite.
      • Averted with one of the Best Wishes movies, which much like the games comes in two similar-but-different versions.
      • Similarly, Pokémon Special did something a little different concerning Drayden and Iris. While Drayden was indeed the Gym Leader (like in Black) and protagonist of the BW Chapter, Black, fights him for his badge... he also later battles Iris during the Top 4 placement matches of the Unova League Finals. This has the added bonus of foreshadowing the fact that Iris will not only succeed her mentor (as in the games), but surpass him and become Champion.
    • Also, since Gen III, the plots of two versions have differed notably. The problem with canon has been fixed by a literal third option. Did Brendan/May save Hoenn from Team Magma, that was going to make volcanoes erupt by resurrecting the ancient Kaiju, Groudon? Or did s/he save Hoenn from Team Aqua's plan to literally drown everything by resurrecting Kyogre? No, s/he defeated both evil teams and stopped Groudon and Kyogre's battle with the help of Rayquaza. Did Cyrus try to use the ruler of Time, Dialga, to destroy and recreate the world? Or did he try to use the ruler of Space, Palkia, for that? Well, he used both and was then defeated by Giratina.
      • These were also loosely imitated by the anime. firstly, both Aqua and Magma were enemies of the protagonists, and the arc ended with a Kyogre/Groudon clash; also, Cyrus summoned both Dialga and Palkia, but was defeated without Giratina's involvement.
      • Also averted when it comes to the player characters. The anime decisively chose the female ones for the 3rd, 4th and 6th generations to accompany Ash. The exception is Pokémon Chronicles, where both player characters from the 2nd generation appeared, albeit working independently.
  • The first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film had Splinter and Casey Jones, rather than one of the turtles, defeating Big Bad Shredder.
  • The Fallout games allow players to be male or female, any race they choose, and a bunch of other customization features as rudimentary as nose size. How could boxart get all of this represented at once? It doesn't; instead opting for pictures of an undefined character in power armor.
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Heart of Gaia, an abortive video-game translation of the pen and paper RPG, had the main character as a redeemed Black Spiral Dancer, thus avoiding using any of the main tribes in the game.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, the player character's gender and appearance are customizable, and you have a choice between helping the Republic defeat Malak on the one hand, and overthrowing him as the Dark Lord of the Sith and then turning against the Republic. Although the character is canonically male and the Star Forge is canonically destroyed (a Road Cone example), the second game allows you to retroactively specify that character's gender and alignment via dialogue options, and the rest of the game then reflects the choice. The spin-off comic series also avoids establishing the character's appearance: in all appearances, the Revanchist is wearing a bulky robe and face-obscuring hood, and is never referred to by name or gender-specific pronouns.
    • Oddly, avoiding referring to the Revanchist with a name was only made necessary because of the spin-off comic itself. As the games refer to him, Revan's name before the amnesia appeared to have been Revan. The comics established that no, it wasn't, thus necessitating various tricks to avoid saying what the actual name was.
  • The Star Ocean series always has mutually exclusive characters, particularly in the second game. The anime adaptation of The Second Story, which covers the events of the first disc, cuts a few corners and has all the disc 1 characters join Claude and Rena. This caused a small-scale Urban Legend of Zelda, where people started to believe that it's possible to recruit both Ashton and Opera in the same game as well as recruit Dias on Claude's route. Neither situation is possible in the game. The sequel, Blue Sphere, and a blink-and-you'll-miss-it line in Star Ocean Till The End Of Time's manual confirm that all ten optional party members were canonically recruited.
  • Tales of Symphonia: None of its endings are possible for Dawn of the New World (as it isn't possible on a single playthrough to obtain the title "Item Collector"- because you normally can only obtain one of the three ending items), rather, its manga adaptation's ending (where all three ending items are given to Lloyd) is canon.
    • However, Road Cones are still there for the pairing: Colette is canonically Lloyd's soulmate.
    • There are other differences in the manga's ending, too, like the party taken to the final battle. In the game, because of the limit on the number of party members, you had to take either Zelos or Kratos. In the manga, not only do both of them go along for the final trip to Derris-Kharlan, but so does Yuan.
  • It's amazing the Epileptic Trees that have come from trying to figure out which, if any, endings of the various Geneforge games are canonical. A popular one for the third game argues that the main character died at the very beginning and was replaced by someone else who acted out most of the game's events before getting killed off in turn.
    • The fifth game manages to revive all those trees in theories on the protagonist's identity. All this is probably due to the fact that the canon endings are combinations of multiple endings with some obfuscation thrown in as well.
  • The Resident Evil film series also employed this trope. Rather than focusing on any of the canon characters from the game series, the films are centered around a new character named Alice. Though interacts with characters and situations from the games, in is clear that the movies are Alice's show, and the rest are just along for the ride. This allows the movies to take many liberties and diverge significantly from the game canon.
    • In the first game, depending on your chosen character, you can escape with the helicopter pilot, Brad, and optionally the other player character and a partner dictated by the plot — Barry for Jill, and Rebecca for Chris. Later games make it clear that all five characters survive the Mansion Incident, although Rebecca has never resurfaced outside of prequels and guest appearances in non-canon minigames.
  • Clock Tower has an ending where one friend (either Anne/Ann or Rolla/Laura) survives along with Jennifer (Ending S). Rather than pick between Anne and Rolla and have one appear in both the sequel and the various spinoff media, the developers decided to use the other endings where Jen survives but no one else does (Endings A, B and C).
    • Actually, Ending C is established as canon in the ending of the later game, when Dan's name (which Jennifer only learns in that ending) is mentioned and Jennifer shrinks back. Which is kind of strange, because you'd have to be using some wacky moon logic to get Ending C normally...
  • At the end of Metal Gear Solid, Snake can try to save Meryl depending on a choice made during an Electric Torture at the middle of the game - if the player chooses to resist, Otacon stays behind in an attempted Heroic Sacrifice to hold open a gate (although he lives), and Snake tells his real name to Meryl; and if the player submits, Otacon comes up onto Rex to talk Snake down (the gate has already been opened by Otacon), and Snake tells his real name to Otacon. Both the novel and comic book adaptations went with an ending where Snake escaped with both Meryl and Otacon at once, and told both of them his real name together.
    • Metal Gear Solid 2 seems to go with this as well: when infiltrating the tanker in the opening cutscene of the game, he has the stealth camo Otacon gave him in his ending. Coupled with Meryl not appearing at all in the game, this would suggest she died in the first game, up until Snake reveals late in the game that he also has the infinite-ammo bandanna he received in her ending.
    • And then Metal Gear Solid 4 reveals that the ending where Meryl lives is canon.
  • Kind of sort of done in a way with Persona 3 FES. Practically every female social link in the game involves the female in question falling in love with The Protagonist (Even the Hermit, who turns out to be the Protagonist's homeroom teacher). However, no matter what you do, it's Aigis who feels the strongest bond with you. As a result, it's Aigis who obtains the Wild Card ability in The Answer. (Though, one could make an argument for Elizabeth having the strongest bond, considering how she leaves the Velvet Room to try and revive him, but not counting bonus content in Persona 4, Aigis is always "the one".
    • In the PSP remake, this is altered so that any of the female SEES members (Aigis, Fuka, Yukari and Mitsuru) can have the strongest bond with him and share the final scene with him, not just Aigis. The female can have Aigis or any of the male members of SEES (Akihiko, Ken, or Shinjiro if you saved him, except Junpei, who feels no romance for the main, have the strongest bond. Of course, The Answer isn't in the PSP remake and the Answer wouldn't work the way it was if the female was chosen anyway so how this affects Persona canon is currently unknown.
    • In the first Persona, Its implied that both the main and Snow Queen plotlines are canon...somehow.
      • The ending of the Snow Queen Quest puts it right before the first boss of the SEBEC quest, ending with the gang going to SEBEC to save Maki (who was left there when Mark panicked after being overwhelmed by the demons) Presumably, after reuniting with Maki, things went as they did in the main game, only with Yukino there.
  • In Sakura Taisen expanded media such as the OVAs, musicals, drama CDs and movie, it never clearly states which girl(s) Oogami has a romantic relationship with or Taiga in the New York stuff. There is usually slight hints toward Sakura (as the poster girl) but since games have a serial progressing plot and the OVAs and Drama CDS fill in the gaps it wouldn't jive to take the controller away from the player, and thus in the OVAs Status Quo Is God.
  • Advance Guardian Heroes combines this with Cutting Off The Branches: it is based on one ending of the original game... but then takes it off into a direction that doesn't actually exist in the original game.
  • The sequel to Heileen makes all of the endings All Just a Dream. Canonically, only Robert and Ebele made it to the island with Heileen even though in the previous game, you always end up with the male love interest if you didn't trigger either of the Gay Options, even if you did nothing but treat him like garbage the entire game.
  • The ending of the Makai Senki Disgaea anime featured an amalgamation of the game's good and bad ending, with Laharl sparing Lamington's life, but still sacrificing his own in order to resurrect Flonne.
  • Some of the spinoffs from the Tenchi Muyo! universe pair him up with an entirely new girl, rather than stick him with a member of his Unwanted Harem.
  • At the time that the MapleStory anime was created, there were already four available classes in the game, so there would naturally be some difficulty in deciding which one the protagonist belonged to. So what do the writers do? Make him a perma-beginner! (explained in the anime as him being a human while the other classes are represented by monsters from the different in-game towns)
  • Breath of Fire IV had a "good ending" and a "bad ending" based on whether Ryu ultimately agrees or disagrees with Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds Fou-lu that Humans Are Bastards - which is complicated by the fact that Ryu and Fou-lu are two halves of a Physical God who was Split at Birth due to a botched summoning, and the choice made dictated how the resulting Split Personality Merge would go. In the recently completed Comic Book Adaptation of the game by Mag Garden, they manage to include both endings - first going to what appears to be the "bad ending", then having Ryu conduct a Battle in the Center of the Mind with Fou-lu, culminating in his use of Mami's bells in what amounts to a Humans Are Special psychic bitchslapping, thus forcing the initial Split Personality Merge apart, then going through the "good ending" sequence.
    • As if this weren't enough, the manga then takes this trope very literally with an ultimate THIRD ending where Ryu and Fou-lu split again, Fou-lu is basically Brought Down to Normal, and the two live/hide out as monks at the Chek monastery where Fou-lu is basically trying to learn why Ryu thinks Humans Are Special. The latter resulted in Much Rejoicing in Japan, among others.
  • Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri is the unofficial sequel to Civilization, picking up from where that game left off - when the spaceship reaches Alpha Centauri. However, while in Civilization the starship would be built by one nation (it's one of the win conditions), the starship in Alpha Centauri was a United Nations project sponsored by several nations.
    • Which becomes a Fridge Brilliance/Hilarious in Hindsight, once one realizes that the expansion packs to the Civilization IV game allows alliances to build the spaceship as a team effort.
    • In fact, one of the major sponsors was not a nation but a Namibian company, which allowed its CEO Nwabudike Morgan to install a secret sleeper pod onboard the ship (he justifies it by claiming that he, technically, owns part of the ship).
  • The story of the original Bible Black game has two main routes: viewpoint protagonist Minase either keeps the eponymous grimoire and becomes Kitami's apprentice in the dark arts, or (more conventionally) lets it fall into Saeki's hands and winds up trying to save his Unlucky Childhood Friend Imari from Kitami's plot. The anime sacrifices the story's integrity (which, yes, it did actually have) in order to maximize the sex scenes, following the former route up to Minase delivering Imari to Kitami, at which point Kitami abandons Minase for Saeki, prompting an instant Heel-Face Turn in Minase, and the latter route takes over. Now, this combination might actually have made some sense if they'd just included a line or two about Kitami stringing Minase along to get at Imari (although it still wouldn't have excused Minase's just-too-late "change of heart"), but they didn't.
  • The original Two Worlds has two possible endings: either you choose to join Gandohar and rule the world, or you kill Gandohar and save your sister Kyra. Two Worlds 2 doesn't follow from either ending; instead it posits that you actually lose the final battle against Gandohar, and spend the next 5 years as a prisoner in his dungeon while he takes over the world, which is where the game picks up.
  • Fate/hollow ataraxia is the sequel to a route that couldn't happen in Fate/stay night – most of the Servants and Masters are still alive, even those that died in every route. Turns out the explanation is that Rin did it. She made a mistake that turned the city into a location where all realities are possible and sorta merged all the routes plus various universes we didn't see into one. She's off at Clock Tower at the start of the game to make up for this mistake.
  • In Clue, the board game, the culprit always ends up being one of the players (Mr. Green, Miss Scarlet, etc). In one of the endings to the film version, the murderer turns out to be ALL of the dinner guests (except Mr. Green), as well as an added character, Wadsworth the butler.
  • Amagami SS retells the story six times, each one following a different route from the game.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha As Portable: The Gears of Destiny assumes that all the routes in the first game occurred, plus some extra stuff that never happened on-screen such as Fate and her Evil Twin Levi facing one another. This means that canonically, the Materials were destroyed multiple times over the course of that one night.
  • Zelda is famous for having an Alternate Timeline from the two endings of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. All well and good, except for the classic games not fitting in either one. Instead of making some game connecting them to the modern entries, Nintendo made a third timeline taking place if Link dies in Ocarina's final battle.
  • Super Robot Wars Original Generation, which combines characters and events from the various games in the series, often does this when dealing with a choice in protagonists from the original games: The Alpha protagonist choices get fleshed out into full characters through Divergent Character Evolution, while all the Alpha 2 protagonists appear. The game chooses one route from Advance, but then lets the other survive and undergo his development from his own route in Endless Frontier EXCEED. The "Born male or female" protagonist options from Reversal become Half-Identical Twins, end so on.
  • Grisaia No Meikyuu leaves the ending to Grisaia No Kajitsu fairly ambiguous, but Grisaia No Rakuen firmly establishes that Yuuji did not pick any girl, date or sleep with any girl, but he did complete all their routes. This is actually a bad thing because he promised Asako in Meikyuu that he wouldn't die until he had saved at least five people. Since he saved all five girls, he now embraces death.
  • In Fire Emblem Awakening, The Hero Chrom could marry one of a five characters: a female Avatar, Sully, Sumia, Maribelle or Olivia. Possibly to avoid the insane Ship-to-Ship Combat over the issue, the Drama CD seems to go with the nameless village maiden as Chrom's wife, the one who, in-game, he only marries if all of the above options are already taken. For each of the above 5, Chrom's Kid from the Future Lucina will have a sibling, which the audio drama also adapts out though the village maiden, making Lucina an only child. There is also one Drama CD with a male Avatar and one with a female one, as well as a Drama CD where both male and female Morgans (the Avatar's child) meet up in the Outrealms. These are situations not possible in the game since both versions of these characters can't exist at the same time.

Alternative Title(s):

Pikachu Effect, The Pikachu Effect