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  • Only the earliest Aesop's Fables cartoons were loose adaptations of the actual Fables; later entries usually revolved around cats, mice, and the disgruntled Farmer Al Falfa.
  • The Beetlejuice cartoon has little in common with the film it's based on, though adaptations like these were not unusual for their time. In the cartoon, Beetlejuice is an Anti-Hero who is friends with a girl named Lydia. In the movie, his motives are more twisted and he wants to marry Lydia just so he can be freed from the ghost world. Lydia in the cartoon, while she wears white face paint and black eyeliner like a stereotypical Goth and has a love for the creepy and spooky, is more-or-less your average preteen. The movie version is stereotypical, to an extent, of course and the ones she makes friends with are the couple that died at the beginning of the movie that are trapped in the house after their death. Not to mention the cartoon is lighter in tone and the duo makes frequent trips to the Neither World, deals with strange roommates, brings a car to life, travels to strange locations, fights with living plumbing tools, creates and disbands a ghoul band, enters their own version of Wacky Races and so forth.
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  • In the original comics, Achille Talon (known in English-speaking countries as Walter Melon) is a pseudo-intellectual bourgeois who works for a magazine and occasionally has wacky adventures. In the Animated Adaptation, he's a bumbling "hero for hire" who substitutes for various action hero expies.
  • An In-Universe example occurs in the Arthur episode "Unfinished". While reading an old novel titled 93,000,000 Miles in a Balloon that was given to him at a retirement party for their neighbor, Arthur finds the last few pages missing, leaving him on a cliffhanger wherein the main characters are about to fly their hot air balloon into the sun to see where its wormhole it will take them. One of his numerous failed attempts to find out the ending includes hunting down an old 16mm film adaptation... only to find it's a musical about a woman flying to Broadway in a hotair balloon. This is quickly lampshaded when Arthur reads a history book to learn how this happened, revealing that the producer deliberately dropped the book's plot in favor of writing an original musical with the same title to showcase his songwriting talent.
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  • A few episodes of the The Berenstain Bears cartoons that were based on the books bore little resemblance to the books the episodes were based on. A good example is "The Bad Dream". The book is about Sister having nightmares about the Space Grizzlies movie (based on a line of action figures that Brother liked but Sister didn't) because she found it too scary. (Brother later has a nightmare about the Space Grizzlies too.) The episode of the 2003 cartoon with the same title portrays Space Grizzlies as a TV show, which the entire family (including Sister) likes. Sister is afraid of a specific villain on the show and not the franchise in general.
  • The 2015/16 reboot of Blinky Bill got flack from fans and the general public alike due to its major changes from the iconic "classic" series from the 1990s/early 2000s, such as changing most of the supporting cast and having an overall different feel.
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  • The only thing Brum & Friends, the 2017 2D-animated reboot of Brum, has in common with the original series is Brum himself. As opposed to living in the Big Town under ownership of a car museum owner, Brum now lives with a family of chickens on a farm and in a world inhabited by anthropomorphic animals such as monkeys and cycloptic, rabbit-like aliens, and he and his animal friends get into wacky, cartoonish situations such as encountering pirates, building a robot for the lonely captain of an alien ship to date, and getting shrunk down by a laser shrink ray, a stark contrast compared to the original show.
  • Here's a suicidal drinking game for you; every time you see video game characters on Captain N: The Game Master that look and/or act nothing like they did in their games, take a shot. The Castlevania characters arguably got it the worst; Simon Belmont went from a badass Conan-looking warrior who singlehandedly killed Dracula, resurrected him, and then killed him again to a wimpy Butt-Monkey blowhard in a standard Adventurer Outfit, while Alucard went from a good-aligned Classical Movie Vampire to an evil Totally Radical rebellious skater kid.
  • Another TenNapel adaptation, Catscratch, also did this, but turned it Up to Eleven. Not only did they change the entire premise, but - in a similar vein to most Philip K. Dick adaptations - they didn't even keep the name:
    • Gear, the source material, was a borderline Grimdark comic about anthropomorphic animals fighting a gruesome war by piloting various Humongous Mecha. While it contained the Aesop that war is sometimes justified and even necessary, it didn't shy away from the idea that it was still absolute Hell regardless.
    • Catscratch was a light-hearted comedy about 3 anthropomorphic cats and the zany adventures they have after inheriting a fortune from their now-deceased human owner. The only thing it retained from the comic was that it kept the same main characters (minus Simon, who, for better or worse, was not carried over to the show).
  • DuckTales (1987) as a whole isn't this, but some of the episodes "adapted" from individual comic book stories take no more than the basic premise and invent an entirely new plot around it. Stories taken from the comics also inevitably starred someone other than Donald Duck; Fenton Crackshell or Gyro Gearloose usually took on his role, and Donald scarcely appeared in the show at allnote .
  • Ducktales 2017:
    Launchpad McQuack: That is not Darkwing Duck! DW'd never hurt innocent people or set the city on fire. Not on purpose.
    • In "Timephoon!", the main cast get attacked by an aggressive young Triceratops with orange skin. Huey tries to talk her down and name her "Tootsie", which was the name of Bubba's pet from the original series.
  • The King and I forms the basis of a Family Guy parody of this trope. By the time Peter gets finished rewriting the script, it's changed from a British tutor dealing with the king of Siam to a ninja robot in the future ("A.N.N.A.") battling a post-apocalyptic dictator. Initially furious at the changes, and at the audience's approval of them, Lois later admits that "anyone who could take The King and I and turn it into, well, that, has gotta be creative."
  • The Fish Police cartoon had very little in common with its source material. To name some of the changes: Inspector Gill went from looking like this to basically a fish Expy of Dick Tracy. Also, he somehow lost an L from his surname. Angel went from being a slender, shapely, smart piece of eye candy and taking a Face–Heel Turn to a buxom nitwit who's involved with the antagonists from the start. The tone is much Lighter and Softer, with lots of Flintstone Theming and fish puns. In short, it was about as far removed from the comics as it could be while still keeping the "quasi-film noir detectives UNDER THE SEA!" motif.
  • Flipper and Lopaka features talking animals and mythological elements, none of which were in the original live-action Flipper series and movies.
  • The Harry and the Dinosaurs books are about a boy called Harry who has a bucket of toy dinosaurs. The dinos don't have names, being referred to by their species names, and while they talk (only to Harry), the books are about Harry doing ordinary things, like going to the dentist or his first day of school. In the Animated Adaptation, Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs the dinosaurs have names and the stories are mostly set in Dino-World, a Magical Land accessible through the bucket.
  • Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi is a series supposedly based on the real-life pop rock duo Puffy AmiYumi. The only similarities are that the main characters are still a Japanese pop rock duo. They even appear to be swapped personality-wise, as the cartoon has Yumi be the rock-oriented one and Ami into bubblegum pop, while the actual Ami generally does the rock solos and Yumi the pop solos. After seeing a few episodes, the real-life duo asked the show's staff if the cartoon was portraying them as a lesbian couple, which led to them storyboarding a kissing scene for fun.
  • The rather obscure 1960s cartoon series Honey Halfwitch managed to be this to itself. The series consists of two sets of shorts, one of eight and one of four, so radically different in art style, tone, setting, design and characterization that each set is this to the other.
  • Proof that Tropes Are Not Bad, Iron Man: Armored Adventures is a very good show... just so long as you ignore the fact that this high-schooler and his friends, as well as their Rogues Gallery, appear to be named for the cast of Iron Man by some odd coincidence, despite having several characters having radically different personalities and origin stories. The only thing that you can say hasn't been greatly changed is the Iron Man suit itself. So, how did this happen? The concept of the cartoon hails from a very brief period of time in which Marvel Comics had a teenaged Tony Stark as Iron Man. Explaining how this happened would just make your head hurt. They rebooted not just the Iron Man comic, but most of the Marvel universe after this.
  • Joe Oriolo Felix the Cat distances itself from the original Pat Sullivan Felix the Cat shorts of the 1920s by changing Felix from a mischievous Anti-Hero to a card-carrying hero. To affect his hero status, he is given a roster of adversaries—some effective (the Master Cylinder) and some not so effective (the Professor, Rock Bottom).
  • Legion of Super-Heroes went this route in adapting Imperiex, the main villain of Our Worlds at War. In the comics, he was a present-day character who was an Energy Being that was in armor and was big enough that the heroes were more often Fighting a Shadow. The cartoon character was a human-sized cyborg conqueror from the 41st Century.
  • The Little Prince: The show's premise only vaguely resembles that of the original book. It's ostensibly more of a sequel, but the characters and setting are so wildly different that it still qualifies.
  • The Looney Tunes Show: In-Universe example in the Christmas Episode when Lola directs her own version of A Christmas Carol, which stars a woman named Carol whose father is Santa Claus.
  • MAD's sketch "The Adventures of Iron Man" is not about the Iron Man you are thinking about. The Iron Man in this sketch is an Annoying Orange Expy called "Iron Man", who is a living iron with Synchro-Vox eyes and mouth, who claims to be a superhero. He also has an assistant named Pepper, but she's a living pepper shaker with Synchro-Vox eyes and mouth as well.
  • The relative few who still remembered Magi-Nation the TCG/video game did not like the Animated Adaptation.
  • Martin Mystery was drastically different from the Italian comics. For example, changing Martin's lover into his stepsister and making him like 20 years younger.
  • Mega Man: Fully Charged: Although the general concept of the games is still in the show (a robot fighting other robots and taking their powers), virtually everything has been changed- the characters have received radical redesigns, Dr. Wily is not the main antagonist, who is instead a racist Sergeant with a southern accent, Mega Man is now a Henshin Hero who has a smaller robot living in his head and now has an Ambiguously Brown human sister named Sena, and the Proto-Man character is now named Namagem and wears black armor.
  • The Disney film series The Mighty Ducks is about an attorney working in community service who leads a hockey team of misfit kids called "The Ducks" to victory. The Disney Afternoon cartoon series Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series, on the other hand, is about super-powered anthropomorphic actual ducks whose entire culture revolves around hockey fighting aliens.
  • The Mummy: The Animated Series is very loosely based on the first two movies. Imhotep is purple and stays monstrous in form, Rick and Evey O'Connell are turned into action everymen, and Alex is the star. The series is definetly Lighter and Softer than the films with a lot less violence, no death and no gore.
  • My Little Pony:
    • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, the main cast all take the names and basic appearances of characters from previous generations of the franchise, but the resemblance ends there. Lauren Faust primarily based the mane cast's personalities on how she used to play with her own My Little Pony toys as a kid — toys that weren't even of the same characters except for Applejack. (Even AJ has a completely different personality from her G1 show counterpart.) She also used the ponies from the G1 cartoon as inspiration. Also goes for many background ponies, both those that have been given a name in the show and those that only have Fan Nicknames.
    • The show itself is a radical shift in tone from its immediate predecessor (where most of the names came from), but that's happened every time the franchise got a reboot. Frankly, though, given the huge fandom that showed up for this show, and the tension that happens frequently between the current "brony" fandom and fans of the previous generations, it's best to not bring this up.
    • Frankly speaking, fans who collect the toys to satisfy their love of little colorful horses agree that the My Little Pony franchise itself has qualified since G3.5. They agree that G3.5 and G4 ponies are not ponies due to the more cartoony designs. A subset of them also feel the same way about G2 ponies though (which they feel look more like steeds or giraffes than ponies).
  • Scaredy Squirrel has literally nothing in common with the children's books it's based on, save for the title character being a squirrel named Scaredy. To be fair, there really wasn't too much they could do if they'd stayed true to the books, as the original books are very short and targeted to toddlers.
  • Scooby-Doo! and the Reluctant Werewolf wasn't the first Scooby-Doo movie to feature Shaggy and Scooby (and Scrappy) on their own, nor was it the first to include real supernatural creatures, but by that metric, it's still a departure from the source material. Shaggy is now a racecar driver with a girlfriend named Googie, and Scooby and Scrappy are his pit crew. Meanwhile, the Universal Monsters are trying to replace their old werewolf for their Wacky Racing circuit, so they turn Shaggy into a werewolf and kidnap him to race for his freedom. At no point are any mysteries solved. It seems as if Hanna-Barbera wanted to create a Wacky Races movie for their Superstars 10 series, but decided that a Scooby-Doo title would be more successful.
  • Parodied in The Simpsons, where Alan Moore is said to have had a run as the writer of Radioactive Man. During his tenure, he changed the title character, a cape with super-strength acquired from exposure to a nuclear explosion, into "a heroin-addicted jazz critic who's not radioactive". Bart didn't notice.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog never got a straight adaptation in The '90s, with all three of his major animated outings having almost nothing to do with the source material. It would take until Sonic X before he got a true adaptation that correlated with the game series it was based on (which was based on the setting established starting with Sonic Adventure).
    • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog is probably the closest to the origin, with Sonic and Tails acting as an adventuring duo combatting the wily plans of Dr. Robotnik. Robotnik is a Laughably Evil goofball who employs two bumbling robot underlings, Scratch and Grounder. The show has a very stylized and cornball style but ultimately does kind of feel like the games in places.
    • Besides the overall theme of nature vs. machinery, the only things Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) has in common with the games are Sonic, Tails (who was Demoted to Extra), the rings (which here act as a Deus ex Machina device), Buzzbombers (which only appeared in the pilot), and Robotnik (who looked quite different from his appearance in the games and was substantially more fearsome than any other interpretation of the character). This does not stop it from being one of the more highly regarded Sonic adaptations. This adaptation is the source material for Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), which managed to blend more of the games' canon with the setting of the show.
    • Sonic Underground: The only things present from the the franchise games are Sonic, Robotnik, the Chaos Emeralds and a few appearances by Knuckles. Even by the standards of the animated adaptations, this was very different from the source material (with Sonic having two siblings whom he forms a band with and characters who don't even look like they're anthropomorphic animals). Some of the setting is inspired by Sonic SatAM, however (such as the design of Robotropolis and Robotnik himself).
  • Although it retained the creator's trademark sense of humor, The Random! Cartoons adaptation of Doug TenNapel's Solomon Fix was, in all other ways, nothing like the original comic. The comic was about a cheerful, Unfazed Everyman cat who prepares to throw a party for his estranged cousin and was an Affectionate Parody of Stereotypical British Ettiquettenote . The cartoon was about a Large Ham, magical teddy bear who "fixes" other people's problems. Oddly, none other than TenNapel himself helmed the adaptation.
  • Italo/French series Foot 2 Rue is supposedly based on the Italian book La Compagnia dei Celestini and had that title during its first season in Italy. The book was full of political and social satire and definitely not for children; the series keeps just the names of the main characters (most of them have completely different roles and personalities) and the fact they play street football, nothing more. To the point that its international title, Street Football, has become the official one in Italy too, ditching any pretense to be an adaptation of the book; even less with dubs in other languages, since they change all the names.
  • The Super Hero Squad Show features various Marvel heroes with most of their personalities and characterization set aside in favor of whatever best serves the Rule of Funny.
  • The 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon took EVERYTHING from the original comics and flipped it on its head. Whilst the comics were aimed at those in their mid-late teens, the show was goofy entertainment for kids. The personalities of the characters were changed quite a bit (Raphael was a jokester instead of an anger-laden badass) and the premise was made FAR more into Sci-Fi than anything seen in the comics (considering some of them included aliens and the main characters are mutant reptilians, that says something). Another thing to note is that in the comics, the 'Ninja' part of the title was actually relevant to what the Turtles' activities were (moved around at night, stayed out of sight of as many bystanders as possible and actually fighting other ninjas), whereas in the '80s cartoon they were known to the general public, had no problem walking around in daylight (albeit usually in disguise), and spent the majority of their time fighting robots. It did, however, give the franchise more mainstream and wider appeal, eventually paving the way for darker adaptations closer to the comics. Played with, like everything else, in Turtles Forever: the more comic-based 2003 Turtles had to keep the 1987 Turtles from running out in public in their world. And then, we meet the comic turtles. They're as Darker and Edgier than the 2003 Turtles than the 2003 Turtles are compared to the 1987 Turtles. (Raph loves the comic Turtles just as much as Mikey loves the 80s Turtles.) The comic turtles even call the other incarnations "Sell-outs".
    • Other incarnations aren't immune to this, either; in fact, it seems every version will include something radically different from its counterpart in others to stand out. For instance, Alopex in the 2012 series is a fox ninja, like her original comics counterpart, but the similarities end there, with a radically different backstory and personality (and she's not even the same fox species). Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles changes up just about everything, including characteristics, the roles of the turtles in relation to each other, and Splinter's personality—most notably Shredder, who now isn't even human.
  • The Cartoon Network series Teen Titans Go! is only related to the comic book series Teen Titans Go! by them both nominally starring the same characters: the latter is a Recursive Adaptation of the original Teen Titans series, while the former is a Denser and Wackier comedic Spin-Off of that series.
  • This happens frequently to individual characters in Transformers, due to the routine Continuity Reboots and attempts to retain trademarks. For instance, the Wheeljack to appear in Transformers Armada (a traitorous swordsman) has basically nothing in common with the Wheeljack of The Transformers (a Bungling Inventor). The Silverbolt in Beast Wars (a comical Knight in Shining Armor who turns into a winged wolf) has almost no similarity to the G1 Silverbolt (a squad leader with a fear of heights who turns into a Concorde). Scourge, originally an evil huntsman with a spaceship mode, has seen his name applied to an Evil Knockoff of Optimus, an Anti-Villain dragon warlord, and a locust. This is becoming less common as of late, where prominent characters tend to end up locking in a given role for future continuities.
    • Inferno in Beast Wars is a particularly funny example, being almost completely the opposite of the original. G1 Inferno is a stalwart hero with a slight reckless streak who gets his name from being a fire truck and putting out fires. Beast Wars Inferno is a Laughably Evil Psycho for Hire who gets his name from being a fire ant and wielding a flamethrower in combat. The sole thing they have in common is that they're red.
    • Transformers Animated was one of the first series to generally really avoid this (even the people who ended up with heavily-modified personalities usually had a lot of Continuity Nods or design homages), but one character who stuck out was Jetfire: the sole things he had in common with any prior version of Jetfire was that he was an Autobot who could fly, with his design, abilities, personality, background, and rank all being original to him. He's more an homage to Enryuu than Jetfire. This owed to the fact that he was one of the first characters designed for the series, and wasn't originally intended to be any prior character.
  • Despite having the same characters, taking place in a similar setting and having a few of its design choices, Ultimate Spider-Man has nothing to do with the comic of the same name nor does it mostly have any similarities towards the Mainstream!Spider-Man as well, instead coming off as a strange hybrid of Teen Titans and Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.
  • The VeggieTales take on The Grapes of Wrath. It's about a bunch of grapes who act like jerks. And it was told by Larry the Cucumber, as well as lampshaded.
    Bob: "Are you sure that's how the story goes?"
    Larry: "Oh, yeah!"
  • For a while, Toonami was on Kids' WB! Despite being billed as an anime block, the block consisted of pretty much the same shows Kids' WB! always aired at the time, and Tom himself hardly, if ever, talked during its run there.
  • The Wacky World of Tex Avery has absolutely nothing to do with the real Tex Avery and his characters. The Tex Avery in this show is a cowboy who looks nothing like the actual Tex Avery nor acts nothing like the actual Tex Avery was reported to do, instead, he kinda acts like the wolf from Red Hot Riding Hood.
  • Wayside has absolutely nothing in common with the Wayside School series it's based on, other than the very basic premise (a 30-story-high school where weird things happen), some character names, and one episode where the book's first chapter is loosely retold as a campfire story. This is widely believed to be the main reason the show bombed.
  • Young Justice has virtually nothing in common with the original comic book of the same name. Not only are they very tonally different (one is mostly a wacky upbeat comedy, the other is deathly serious), but even their casts have little in common. For some idea, only one person on the team's original lineup was ever a member of Young Justice, that being the Connor Kent Superboy—hell, two members of the season 1 team, Miss Martian and the Kaldur'am/Jackson Hyde Aqualad, did not exist when Young Justice had its original run. Both tonally and character-wise, it has much more in common with the various mid-late-2000s runs of Teen Titans. Showrunner Greg Weisman has said that it was never intended to be an adaptation of the series to begin with and that the title was essentially given to them by some Warner Bros. execs. However, the title does fit the central theme of the show, and there are some shout-outs and callbacks to the series' comic book namesake, with increasingly more characters who actually were members trickling in as the series went on. Incidentally, there was going to be a series closely based on the comic book years prior. That series materialized as Teen Titans, and ended up feeling very much in line with the original Young Justice despite the roster being taken from one of the more acclaimed Titans runs.


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