Follow TV Tropes


Death By Adaptation / Live-Action TV

Go To

TV series with their own pages

    open/close all folders 

    Examples where the character did not die in the source: 
  • The Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "Human Interest Story" is based on a short story by Fredric Brown. In the original, the reporter manages to maintain the cover through non-violent means, but the episode has him silencing the threat by killing.
  • Arrow has a few examples, as the show ditches the Thou Shalt Not Kill rule from the Green Arrow comics:
    • Count Vertigo takes several arrows to the chest and then falls to his death. The writers later pulled a Decomposite Character move and introduced a second Count Vertigo.
    • Firefly commits suicide after being defeated by Ollie.
    • Shado is shot and killed by Professor Ivo.
    • The Dollmaker is killed by Black Canary after he kidnaps her sister.
    • Laurel Lance The Black Canary dies in season 4 barely a year after taking the mantle.
  • Daredevil (2015) really takes the whole Darker and Edgier / Bloodier and Gorier thing and runs with it. Besides killing off a metric ton of Canon Foreigners, the series kills off both Leland Owlsley and most significantly, Ben Urich, by the end of the first season.
  • Death Note:
    • Light and Sayu's mother Sachiko is made into a Posthumous Character.
    • Light uses his Death Note to force Halle Lidner to kill herself.
  • Dexter:
    • Sgt. James Doakes dies at the end of the second season. He lives in the rest of the books, but gives up a couple of extremities and his tongue.
    • In the novels, Deb is still alive and well, but on the show, she dies in the finale.
  • In The Flash (1990), Jay Garrick (the Golden Age Flash) is established as a motorcycle cop (and Barry Allen's older brother) who was killed in the line of duty.
  • The series finale of Gossip Girl kills off (for real this time) Bart Bass, Chuck's father, who survives in the original book series. The show went in a completely different direction that the novels, though, so it was of little surprise to fans by that point.
  • In the 1993 TV miniseries adaptation of Heidi, this happens to Peter's blind grandmother, mainly due to Rule of Dramanote 
  • The Incredible Hulk was finished in a TV movie called Death of the Incredible Hulk, which as promised, ended with the Hulk's demise.
  • The 100. Wells Jaha, the son of Chancellor Jaha, is a major character in the novels. In the TV adaptation, however, he is among the first characters to die. Twelve-year-old Charlotte, one of the kids sent to Earth on the drop-ship, is troubled by nightmares about her parents' execution (which was carried out on the orders of the Chancellor) and is told she must "slay her demons". Taking this literally, she murders Wells since this is the closest she can get to killing his father. Things also end badly for her.
  • In the Life drama Ayumu's middle school friend Shii-chan killed herself after Ayumu got into the high school of her choice and not her. In the manga, she simply ostracized Ayumu and broke their friendship up.
  • Professor Baehr in the Little Men TV series.
  • The first episode of The Magicians features Professor Van Der Weghe getting his windpipe magically crushed by the Beast; in the original books, Professor March) actually survived the attack on his class, though he eventually resigned from the Brakebills faculty out of sheer paranoia.
  • M*A*S*H famously killed off Col. Henry Blake in the Season 3 finale, "Abyssinia, Henry." Col. Blake not only survived the movie and original novel, but the sequel novels as well.
  • In The Mighty Boosh Radio series, Australian Zoo keeper Joey Moose went missing but turned up alive later and helped Howard and Vince in their quest. When the episode was adapted for tv, he was outright killed by Dixon Bainbridge and never turned up again.
  • In the opening of Season 5 of Once Upon a Time, Arthurian myth's Sir Kay gets vapourised when he tries to take the sword from the stone. Merida's father King Fergus also dies, at the hands of King Arthur himself no less.
  • Penny Dreadful seems to have had an issue with the Dracula characters. Mina Murray is killed at the climax of the first season after being vampirised, and Dr. Van Helsing is casually murdered by Caliban soon after he appears, purely to send a message to Victor.
  • Bishop Waleran and Walter in the miniseries of The Pillars of the Earth.
  • Agatha Christie's Poirot does a lot of things to the adaptations of Hercule Poirot novels:
  • Power Rangers isn't fond of "death", but it happens. Even characters spared in the original Super Sentai aren't lucky:
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel
    • Lord Tony Dewhurst lives in the original novels (all of them) and in the film adaptation. In the 1999 mini-series, he dies a tragic death in the very first episode after he tries to save the Pimpernel, who would have very probably made it without his help as well. A sad case of Kill the Cutie.
    • Marguerite Blakeney dies at the beginning of series two, giving birth to her daughter.
  • A curious example in the Sharpe television series adaptation of Sharpe's Battle: The novel promotes Ben Perkins, one of the riflemen introduced for the series, to Canon Immigrant, only for the television adaptation to kill him off. (He's killed by O'Rourke, who also qualifies after falling victim to Adaptational Villainy.)
    • Major Dunnett in Sharpe's Rifles: The adaptation has him killed in a French ambush whereas in the book he is merely captured and reappears in Sharpe's Waterloo. Father Hacha in Sharpe's Honour receives a You Have Failed Me death from Ducos; in the book, he survives.
  • While Lex Luthor averts this in the movies, he dies in both Lois & Clark and Smallville. However, the writers later resurrected him in the series finale of Smallville.
    • Carter Hall/Hawkman in Smallville. Of the several Justice Society of America characters who died, he's the only one who wasn't dead in the comics.
    • Jonathan Kent ends up dead once again. What is it with Superman adaptations killing him off?
    • Jimmy Olsen also bites it in Smallville. The writers performed a last-second Author's Saving Throw to reveal that Jimmy is a Decomposite Character in this universe; the Jimmy who died was the older brother of the boy who eventually grows up to become the Jimmy from the comics.
  • Spartacus Series: Historically, Publius Varnius, Arrius, Tiberius' real-life counterpart Marcus and Rufus all survived the Third Servile War.
  • In the 1996 mini-series Titanic, 4th officer Joseph Boxhall is shown to be still on the ship after all the lifeboats have left and presumably dies in the sinking. In reality, he survived, having been ordered to take command of Lifeboat 2.
  • The Sky1 adaptation of Treasure Island, having subjected Squire Trelawney to Adaptational Villainy, also gives him a Karmic Death, as his greed leads him to chase the treasure even when Jim throws it overboard.
  • The Maenad and Calvin Norris in True Blood.
    • Then there's Tara, who falls victim to this twice: in the books, she was never turned into a vampire like her TV counterpart, and survived to the end of the series.
    • Bill Compton dies in the final season. He survives in the books to the end.
  • 12 Monkeys: Dr. Goines, who survives the original movie. Here he's killed in the very first episode.
  • The Walking Dead:
    • The midseason cliffhanger of season 2 reveals that Sophia, who survives the comics, had been turned into a Walker sometime during the season.
    • The midseason cliffhanger of season 3 have Michonne killing off The Governor's Undead Child, who remains undead in the comics.
    • The second half of the fourth season revealed that Lilly Chambler was devoured by walkers right after killing the Governor in the mid-season finale. In the source material, her two counterparts are either left alive and well (April Chalmers) or had her fate left ambiguous as she takes shelter in the prison after killing the Governor to avoid the incoming herd of Walkers (Lily Caul).
    • Harlan Carson died on season 8 when trying to help Gabriel escape; he still lives in the comics.
    • Carl Grimes was killed on season 8, but survives to the end of the comics.
    • Arat was killed on season 9, but her comics' counterpart, Tara (not to be confused with the TV show's Tara Chambler), is still alive.
    • Jesus is one of the first casualties in the war with the Whisperers in the show, while he survives to the end of the comics.
  • Gotham has a few entries in the folder below, but one character viewers probably didn't expect to die was Nora Fries, who instead of allowing Victor to freeze her as the usual origin story goes, instead swaps out the working version of cryo formula while Victor is out of the room with one of the faulty versions that kills the subject, choosing to die rather than wake up to a world where Victor is either dead or in prison. Typically Victor doesn't start committing crimes until after Nora is already frozen, so that may have had something to do with it. Victor also tries to kill himself with the faulty formula out of grief at accidentally killing Nora, but the show decided that one Death By Adaptation was enough for this episode. With nothing to live for as Victor, and with his comic counterpart's condition now (he was freed from the ice, but with the faulty formulas, you messily come apart upon thawing. As such, he must now stay in subzero temperatures or die, now requiring his famous suit.) he well and truly becomes Mr. Freeze.
  • Martin Riggs survived all four Lethal Weapon movie—but was McLeaned in the TV series due to Clayne Crawford's behavior, the shooting of Riggs being the season 2 cliffhanger and season 3 opening with the reveal that Riggs died of the gunshot.
  • In The Gifted, Benazir Kaur is murdered by anti-mutant bigots as part of Reeva Payge's backstory. She has never died in the X-Men comics.
  • In the book and movie Psycho, Marion Crane is stabbed to death in the shower. In Bates Motel, Marion lives, while her boyfriend Sam Loomis is the one Norman kills.

    Examples where the character died a lot sooner in the adaptation than in the source: 
  • Band of Brothers has an artistic license case with Albert Blithe, who is shot in the neck and said to have never recovered, and died in 1948. This, however, was a result of the real-life veterans of the Easy Company losing contact with Blithe in 1948 and then assuming that he had died. After the episode aired, his relatives revealed that he was actually hit in the shoulder and did recover, going on to serve in Korea and attain the rank of Master Sergeant before dying of peritonitis in 1967.
  • Frank Herbert's Dune: Thufir Hawat, while not explicitly said to have died, is notably absent after the attack on Arrakeen. This is much earlier than in the novel, where dies close to the end.
  • Marilla Cuthbert dies in Road to Avonlea due to actress Colleen Dewhurst's death. In the books, Marilla is alive well into Anne Shirley's adulthood - she doesn't die until 1910, at the age of eighty-six.
  • Dexter:
    • Rita Bennett was killed at the end of the fourth season, but she didn't die in the novels until four years later, in a book released less than a week before the show ended.
    • Brian Mosey dies at the end of Season One, while in the novels, he lives until the final book in the series.
  • Kamen Rider Dragon Knight is a rare case of playing both this trope and Spared by the Adaptation at the very same time. Being "vented" is not death but going into a Phantom Zone, though it doesn't stop Zolda's counterpart, Torque, from getting vented way earlier (as in a third of the way through the show) than his counterpart, whose Incurable Cough of Death became too severe for him to continue battling in the last couple of episodes. So his butler takes up the armor... and dies in his first battle. This also means that he's a reverse case; Chance, the second Torque - actually the original Torque before Drew, the one we know, got the Advent Deck - does just fine when he regains his role, meaning our second Torque is Spared by the Adaptation compared to Ryuki's second Zolda.
  • Logan's Run: In "The Judas Goat", Logan, Jessica and Rem encounter Matthew 12, who takes the place of Ballard in the novel as the first successful Runner. He doesn't survive the episode. Ballard survived the first book but was killed in the sequel Logan's World.
  • Power Rangers:
  • The Walking Dead:
    • Dale dies much earlier in the TV series than in the comics, though that was for Real Life Writes the Plot reasons. His role as Rick's moral adviser is taken over by Hershel after his death.
    • Lori dies giving birth midway through season 3, while in the comic she survived giving birth to her daughter for a little while longer.
    • Allen and his family are an odd example. Allen and his wife Donna didn't stay that long, but they died much later in the timeline. Their son Ben played this straight though, as he was killed off during a Canon Foreigner's Dying Moment of Awesome while his comic counterpart was killed by Carl long after the prison arc.
    • Olivia was shot by Negan's high ranking soldier, Arat. In the comics, she was decapitated by Alpha.
    • Emmett Carson (only called Carson in the comics), another of Alpha's victims in the comics, also died sooner at the hands of Negan when he threw him into a furnace.
    • The third season finale, aired in 2013, kills off Andrea, four years before her death in the comics in 2017. In the TV show she dies during the Woodbury storyline, while in the comics she dies after the Whisperer War. In both mediums, she is bitten by a walker on the neck and given the opportunity to say her goodbyes.
  • Spartacus series:
    • The real-life Spartacus' prophetess wife/lover played an important role in the rebellion, while his wife Sura (they are openly married in the show) was killed in his days as a gladiator during the middle of the first season for the sake of Plot-Triggering Death.
    • In War of the Damned, Castus was the second named character to be killed in the Final Battle. Historically, he died alongside Gannicus, or at least minutes between the other, in the last stages of it. However, this Castus is an In Name Only character because the historical one was divided into two characters in the series, with Agron filling most of the historical Rebel Leader's role in the show. The latter was Spared by the Adaptation.
  • Gotham:
    • The Penguin kills Frankie Carbone in "Penguin's Umbrella", while the comic Frankie Carbone died during the events of The Long Halloween.
    • Frankie's boss, Salvatore Maroni, is killed by Fish Mooney. Like Frankie, Maroni died in The Long Halloween and hence lived long enough to see Bruce Wayne start his career as Batman and in some incarnations, is the cause of Harvey Dent becoming Two-Face.
    • Sarah Essen is also killed before Bruce becomes Batman. Her comic counterpart died during Batman: No Man's Land, which is set during the tenth year of his career.
  • Agatha Christie's Poirot:
    • Five Little Pigs: Caroline is hanged at the beginning of the episode; in the original novel she was put in prison and died a year later.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: