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Death By Adaptation / Live-Action TV

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    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.
  • Alex Rider: Dulpicate!Alex is shot by Yassen. Presumably no one's planning to adapt as far as Scorpia Rising, as he's an instrumental part of that book's plot.
  • 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 after he kidnaps Felicity to threaten Arrow. 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 in a Sadistic Choice.
    • The Dollmaker is killed by Sara Lance, the Canary, after he kidnaps her sister.
    • Laurel Lance, the Black Canary dies in season 4 barely a year after taking the mantle, when Damien Darkh uses his magic to fly an arrow into her chest.
  • In Batwoman, Lucius Fox is dead before the series starts.
  • 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.
  • In The Flash (2014), Harrison Wells' litany of those who died in the dark matter explosion in "Power Outage" include the real names of many DC characters (although one of them was Ralph Dibney, so this could be retconned at any time). Characters who never died in the comics were Beatriz DaCosta (Fire) and Al Rothstein (Atom Smasher). Confusing things, Al then also turned out to be alive in a later episode ("The Man Who Saved Central City"), but was killed in that episode. By his alternate universe self, who used the name Atom Smasher.
  • 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.
    • Two of the Stepford Cuckoos, Celeste and Mindee, were made into Posthumous Characters who died as children back when the other three Frost sisters turned against their handlers and tried to escape from the lab where they were born. What makes this choice so bizarre is that Esme and Sophie, the two Cuckoos who did die in the comics, survived to adulthood here.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In the 1993 TV miniseries adaptation of Heidi, this happens to Peter's blind grandmother, mainly due to Rule of Dramanote 
  • The Incredible Hulk (1977) was finished in a TV movie called Death of the Incredible Hulk, which as promised, ended with the Hulk's demise.
  • 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 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.
  • 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, killed by General Slade Wilson. 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, courtesy of Doomsday. 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.
  • Lovecraft Country: Uncle George is a main character throughout the original novel and survives to the end of the story. In the TV adaptation, the character is killed off in the second episode.
  • The first episode of The Magicians (2016) 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. Also, Quentin Coldwater. In the books he survives, saving Fillory, and leaves with Alice to guide the world he created. In the show, he dies saving Earth from evil minor gods, by fixing a mirror needed for their banishment.
  • 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.
  • 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 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:
  • Professor Baehr in the Little Men TV series.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Stargirl (2020):
    • The opening of the series is a Flashback showing the fall of the Justice Society of America. Among the members of the team who were killed off was Wildcat, who was notably one of the few members of the original team to still be alive in the modern comics.
    • While not shown, the presence of Jay Garrick's discarded helmet at the scene of the massacre would seem to imply that he too was one of the victims. Like Wildcat, he's one of the Golden Age heroes who is still around in the present day comics. He was even one of the original JSA members who survived the fight with Extant in Zero Hour!, which claimed the lives of several of his teammates.
    • Though his corpse is not shown, it seems that Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern, was also among the fallen JSA members, as his damaged power battery is seen as one of the artifacts in the memorial Pat leaves behind at the group's headquarters. Like Jay and Wildcat, he's one of the surviving JSA founders who is still around to this day in the comics, usually acting as a mentor to the newest generation of Justice Society members.
  • Swamp Thing: In the comics, Constance Sunderland was an adult businesswoman who took over her father Avery's company after he was killed by Swamp Thing. In the TV series, Shawna Sunderland drowned in an accident as a teenager, an incident that traumatized Abby Arcane.
  • 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.
  • 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 Twilight Zone (1959):
    • At the end of the radio adaptation of "Four O'Clock", the shrunken Oliver Crangle is killed and eaten by his parrot Pete as he has mistaken him for a nut.
    • In "Passage on the Lady Anne", Ian Burgess' wife Cynthia died several weeks before the Lady Anne's last voyage. In the short story "Song for a Lady" by Charles Beaumont, she is still alive and accompanies him on the cruise. This change is as a result of Burgess' character being merged with Colonel Van Vylman.
  • 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.
  • Brave New World: The Director is killed early on, whereas he lives in the book.

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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 he dies close to the end.
  • The Flash (2014): In "Power Outage", the litany of those who died in the dark matter explosion include Will Everett (Amazing Man) and Grant Emerson (Damage) both of whom had died in the comics, but only after substantial careers as superheroes.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Power Rangers:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Stargirl (2020)
    • Sandman is killed during the massacre of the JSA seen in the prologue of the first episode. In the comics, Sandman survived the dissolution of the JSA and lived to a ripe old age before eventually committing suicide.
  • Titans (2018):
    • The original Aqualad is made into a Posthumous Character, having been killed by Deathstroke back during the early days of the Titans. In the comics, he remained active as a hero for many years, and eventually took on the name Tempest as an adult. He wouldn't die until the Blackest Night crossover in 2009.
    • In the comics, Don Hall, the original Dove, was a member of the Teen Titans for a time, and had an established career as a superhero before ultimately being Killed Off for Real during Crisis on Infinite Earths. Here, Don was killed in a freak car accident very shortly after he first became Dove, and thus had already been dead by the time the original Titans banded together.
    • Jericho was accidentally killed by his father very shortly after he started hanging around with the Titans, though it turned out he passed his consciousness inside his father, and is technically not dead yet. This also allows him to replace his brother Grant as the motivation behind Deathstroke becoming the Titans' Arch-Enemy. In the comics, Jericho was a Titan for a number of years before being killed by his father during the Titans Hunt storyline.
  • 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.
  • Watchmen (2019) sees Dr. Manhattan end towards the end of "See How They Fly". In a rather quick version of type 1 becoming type 2, the final issue of Doomsday Clock was published only days later and likewise features Dr. Manhattan dying.


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