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Actionized Adaptation

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“You’ve read the dark, satirical comic. Now, get ready for the movie adaptation that transforms the complex characterizations and realistic action into a gory version of The Matrix.”

There are works that, by design, have little or no action due to having a focus on drama, suspense, comedy, etc. When the work is sourced for an adaptation, they end up expanding on it by adding action scenes. This can result in turning a bookish character into a Badass Bookworm, a Stealth-Based Mission becomes a big shootout or a low stakes Road Trip Plot turning into a Race Against the Clock.

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While sometimes this has the effect of Viewers Are Morons or Viewers Are Goldfish, especially when doing so with a very benign property, this can also be part of a Pragmatic Adaptation by showing the quest isn't easy, expand on what may otherwise be a short story or appealing to the audience with more impressive visual effects sequences. This trope is more common among works for children, though not always.

Compare Actionized Sequel, where as a franchise continues it becomes further action-oriented.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Cardcaptor Sakura's anime adaptation added many more cards for Sakura to collect, resulting in more fight scenes and cards being used in battle. The movies were also more action-oriented than the manga.
  • The anime of Magic Knight Rayearth added many battles not in the manga, as well as extending existing action sequences.
  • The Monster Rancher anime didn't confine fights to tournaments and had humans battle alongside the monsters, while in the games most fighting was tournament-only and only monsters battled.
  • The Snow Queen (2005) is more action-based compared to the fairy tale it was based on, particularly in the finale where the Snow Queen becomes a Lady of War who fights the Devil.
  • Zigzagged with Yu-Gi-Oh!. The manga had many action sequences that were removed from its anime adaptations, but the Toei anime expanded several manga-based chapters by adding more fights as well as in original content, such as a fighting game between Jonouchi and Aileen Rao at Death-T. The Duel Monsters anime likewise had more action during original arcs as well as in several sequences adapted from manga chapters to fill out an episode's runtime, such as a scene where Honda and Otogi nearly fall off a blimp and have to be rescued.

    Comic Books 
  • The comic book adaptation of Supergirl, working off an earlier version of the script, toned down many of the Midvale scenes in favor of more action, including a fight with a shadowy version of Selena in lieu of the film's gigantic demon.

    Fan Works 
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    Films — Animated 
  • A Christmas Carol (2009) added an action scene of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come chasing Scrooge with Jacob Marley's funeral wagon and shrinking him to the size of a rat, none of which was in the book. Scrooge is also physically flung around a lot by the ghosts and the effects of their visits, while in the book he's just spirited to places.
  • Barbie in the Nutcracker expands the Mouse King's battles to extend across the movie, including a chase sequence involving a stone golem and an action-packed climax.
  • Barbie of Swan Lake adds a sequence where the heroes help a captured troll escape from Rothbart's manor, defeating his guards along the way.
  • Batman: Gotham by Gaslight added several action sequences that weren't in the original comic.
  • Batman: The Killing Joke added an Action Prologue and several action sequences not in the original comic to pad out the runtime, as the original story was only 45 pages long.
  • Downplayed with Coraline, as the action from the movie is a tad more increased than existing scenes from the original novel. The Other Spink and Forcible are petrified instead of left behind on their flat, Coraline has to face the mantis robot of the Other Father, and she actually has to climb a spider web, the remains of the Other World, to reach the passage between worlds.
  • The Little Mermaid (1989) made the Sea Witch the main villain, had her grow gigantic, and battle Eric and Ariel after gaining control of the entire ocean. This scene was even more action-packed than what was originally intended, with Jeffrey Katzenberg telling the writers to take inspiration from the just-released Die Hard.
  • The animated movie version of The Lorax adds a few gratuitous action scenes that weren't present in either the book or the TV special, like the Lorax and the woodland creatures having to rescue Onceler from his bed falling off a waterfall, or Ted having to fight against O'Hare chasing him during the climax.
  • The Polar Express added action scenes of the protagonist sledding down the top of the train and working to get the train back on the rails before ice on a frozen lake broke beneath it.
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, while hardly an action movie, added an action sequence of the dwarfs chasing down the Evil Queen after she poisoned Snow White.
  • Sleeping Beauty added an action-packed climax where Maleficent turns into a dragon and battles the prince, in contrast to the story where he awakens Aurora without trouble.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Annie (1982) adds a chase sequence and Climbing Climax at the end when Annie is abducted; in the original stage version, the entire abduction attempt takes place on a single set, with the villains being exposed and captured almost immediately.
  • Disney is a repeated offender of this, with their adaptation of Bridge to Terabithia featuring an extended, imaginary action scene where Jess and Leslie have to do battle with giant squirrels and vultures before getting rescued by a giant troll. That scene was completely imagined, by the way, and was heavily featured in the trailers, misleading most audiences into thinking the film to be a Narnia-esque fantasy epic rather than the poignant, down-to-earth drama dealing with lost innocence that the film actually was.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia
    • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, while relatively faithful, added a scene in which the Witch's wolves pursue the Pevensie children as they try to escape across a melting frozen river. The ending battle sequence, which was told secondhand in the novel after its conclusion, is also seen in full as it occurs.
    • Also a small scene at the beginning of the film depicting the German army bombing London and the Pevensie family being forced to take refuge in a bomb shelter.
    • While there was a battle in the original Prince Caspian, the 2008 film made the battle a much larger part of the story, and far more graphic and brutal.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo's original book has very few action scenes, with two duels interrupted before they can begin via apology or a Breaking Speech. Most film adaptations add some sword fights anyway.
  • Dora and the Lost City of Gold is a live-action Dora the Explorer movie that includes Dora's parents being kidnapped and held hostage, mooks actively seeking to harm her, and Dora herself wielding a machete.
  • Ebenezer (1998) is a retelling of A Christmas Carol on the Canadian frontier, and Scrooge is an expert marksman. A subplot was added where a young rancher he cheated out of his land challenges him to a showdown, and in the Bad Future Scrooge ruthlessly guns him down.
  • The Flight of the Phoenix (2004), The Remake of the 1965 film (and original adaptation of the book of the same name) adds multiple action sequences, with various disasters that almost destroy the camp that weren't on the original story (such as a thunderstorm) and expanding the hostile Bedouin nomad sub-plot with a gun battle and the nomads chasing after the Phoenix as she tries to take off at the finale with full intent to kill the survivors.
  • In the original book The Giver, Jonas's escape from the Community, while hastily-planned, went off without much incident. The film adaptation had him be discovered and added action sequences of him having to quickly escape with Gabriel, Fiona covering for him, and Asher searching for him in a drone plane.
  • The 1990 film adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale culminates in a high-speed car chase, complete with explosions and a helicopter. The scene comes so out-of-nowhere (and is so far removed from anything that happens in the book) that it feels like we've suddenly swapped film genres.
  • All over the place in the Harry Potter films, which took every opportunity to add action scenes where there were none before;
    • Trials that Harry overcame relatively easily in the books — getting the flying key in Philosopher's Stone, getting the dragon egg in Goblet of Fire — are changed to harrowing encounters where Harry barely escapes. Likewise, what was a mostly uneventful trip by flying car in the second book becomes the kids nearly crashing into the train at one point, and Harry almost falling out.
    • What fights are in the books are usually expanded upon — most notably, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final confrontation between Harry and Voldemort consists of a terse conversation followed by each of them casting one spell. In the film, it's a multi-scene, full-contact Wizard Duel, some of which takes place in midair after Harry throws them both off the castle walls.
  • The Hobbit series, in expanding a slim book across three movies, adds a lot more action scenes, including:
    • A longer fight with the three trolls
    • A chase scene with a pack of warg riders
    • A clash between stone giants
    • An extended battle with the goblins in the Misty Mountains
    • An escape from Beorn in bear form
    • Turning the barrel escape into an action scene (the original was a perfectly-executed stealth escape)
    • An orc ambush during the barrel-riding scene
    • A fight scene with Smaug in Erebor
    • A significantly expanded version of Smaug's final attack on Lake Town
    • The titular battle in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, which took up only a small portion of the novel (owing largely to Bilbo, whose eyes the battle was seen through, being knocked unconscious early on), stretched out for over an hour in the film.
  • The Jungle Cruise movie, rather than the leisurely ride at Disney Theme Parks, is a pulp-styled action adventure which involves a search for the Fountain of Youth.
  • Stephen Sommers version of The Jungle Book (1994) made the story into an intense action-adventure flick to the point where critics cited the film as a massive In Name Only to Rudyard Kipling's original book.
  • Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, based on the American Girls Collection novels, added some relatively mild chase and action scenes in the film's climax, where Kit and her friends chase after and confront Mr. Berk, along with his assistant Frederich and Miss Bond, who turned out to be the ones responsible for the robberies involving hobos.
  • An actionized subplot occurred in Madeline, with the villain posing as a tutor for Pepito and subsequently kidnapping him and Madeline for ransom.
  • The Mummy (1999) is more of a rollicking Adventurer Archaeologist film with the characters doing battle with the titular Mummy and other Egyptian threats. Big special effects sequences including plagues of locusts and sandstorms are featured, and they are forced to deal with slower moving but more numerous mummy mooks. The original films were much more horror oriented, with a lot of emphasis on the realization that the mummy was moving.
  • Murder on the Orient Express (2017) has an action scene at the beginning to set up Poirot's character (he manages to expose and take out a corrupt policeman without getting his hands dirty) and another where one of the suspects shoots him non-fatally (which becomes a plot point).
  • The live-action trilogy version of The Lord of the Rings focused a lot more on the battles than the books, adding and extending action scenes. The prologue of the first film was only described second hand in the book, and the centerpiece fight in Balin's tomb was about a paragraph long. Similarly, the climax of the first book was focused more on Frodo and Sam splitting from the rest, with most of the Uruk-Hai attack (with Boromir's death and Merry and Pippin being taken away) again being described after the fact. The following two books were much more action oriented than the first, which resulted in fewer expansions.
  • Pokémon Detective Pikachu, a Live-Action Adaptation of the video game Detective Pikachu: the game has some Quicktime Event sequences, but mostly focuses on humor and puzzle-solving over Pokémon battles. The movie keeps this element and the plot point about the R serum bringing out the more aggressive traits of a Pokémon and enhancing their powers, but amplifies it further by turning them into feral creatures capable of causing great destruction; and the film also has a prominent battle scene set in an underground arena. The car accident that kicks off the plot in the game is also made into an assassination attempt in the movie, and the final battle at the Pokémon Carnival becomes less about stopping the spread of R and more about stopping a rampaging Mewtwo controlled by the Big Bad.
  • Sherlock Holmes (2009) and its sequel focus on large action set pieces where Holmes and Watson must battle various villains for their lives. Though Watson has always been a former soldier and Holmes is a martial artist, the detectives do very little fighting over the course of their sleuthing in the original stories.
  • The Star Trek Kelvin Timeline movies that began with the 2009 reboot have significantly upped the ante on the action even though the franchise was more known for philosophical and scientific ideas. That's not to say the franchise hasn't delved in "actionization" prior to 2009.
  • Disney's Swiss Family Robinson added a hostile band of pirates, who attack the family in the climax of the movie.
  • The film adaptions of Twilight tend to have a lot more action; in Eclipse, we actually see the fight between the protagonists and the newborn vampire army (which was only mentioned in the book itself) and particularly in Breaking Dawn Part 2, where the film's climax includes a long battle scene (in the book, despite a fight being built-up to for much of the third act, the characters actually just stood around and talked). Ultimately, the fight did turn out to be All Just a Dream, but it still counts.
  • A Wrinkle in Time had many scary psychological sequences but little in the way of action. Disney's A Wrinkle in Time (2018) added action sequences as the characters travel across the hostile Camazotz wilderness to confront IT.

    Literature 
  • The novelization of Fantastic Four (2005) had several action scenes that were in the trailers but removed from the movie itself.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Foundation (2021): The original Foundation Series is notorious for basically being a bunch of talking heads with very little onscreen action. However, the first trailer of this Live-Action Adaptation shows more action than what was even in the first book, with Book Burning, soldiers forcibly capturing Gaal Dornick, a Dire Beast leaping out to attack, and an explosion. All of this has been added to increase the Spectacle of the story.
  • The books and plays LazyTown is based on had a lot of exercise but relatively little in the way of action. LazyTown itself has, along with exercise, quite a few action-packed episodes and situations where characters are in peril.

    Theatre 
  • Hadestown is a mild example compared to the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, where Orpheus entered and left the Underworld without much issue aside from the whole turning-back thing. In Hadestown it's a long, dangerous trek, and he's already battered before Hades has his workers beat him up and attempt to force him out. Hades additionally threatens to kill him once he's done singing.
  • Jekyll & Hyde adds more action than the book it's based on, with Hyde getting an entire song about murdering people. The musical culminates in a standoff at Jekyll's wedding, and versions that have Jekyll and Hyde played by different actors tend to stage "Confrontation" as a fight scene.

    Video Games 
  • Arm Joe is a Fighting Game based on Les Misérables, which had its fair share of fights but generally didn't involve the characters beating each other up. It includes things like Enjolras attacking people by building a barricade on top of them, Cosette throwing Valjean as a weapon, an evil robot clone of Valjean, and Javert shooting firebolts from his fingers.
  • Dante's Inferno takes the original's God-ordained pilgrimage past every rotten soul in Hell by a lost poet into a selfish massacre taken up by an adulterous crusader. The laments of damned lovers and the ballads of Prideful adventurers are replaced with blood-soaked boss fights with the same shades sans their clothing.
  • Orpheus' mythological journey to the land of the dead was fairly peaceful, while in Don't Look Back he comes blasting in with a gun and shoots Hades dead.
  • Inverted with the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Adventure Game, which removes a number of action sequences that (admittedly) would've been hard to pull off in a Point-and-Click game.
  • The PC FPS Iron Storm was ported to the Playstation 2 under the title World War Zero; though it follows the same plot and lifts many of the locations of the original game, it features shorter streamlined levels with a greater density of enemies and tones down many of the challenging mechanics of the original version to allow for a more run & gun playstyle. It also removes all mandatory stealth segments, removes a puzzle from the final level and replaces the original Zero-Effort Boss with an actual final boss battle.
  • Metro 2033 had little action pieces, but not as frequent as in the games. In the video game adaptation, the player is forced to engage in a large number of battles, either stealthily or action-y. Also, Artyom is made into a strong soldier while he was mostly an ordinary guy in books. The later two video game sequels have their own plot separate from the games, becoming more and more into action so much that the last game Metro Exodus introduced a semi open-world locations with large groups of enemies.
  • The Super Star Wars series is even more action-packed than the films. Setpieces visited only briefly in the films where only dialogue scenes took place become levels full of enemies to shoot and slice up.
  • In the NES version of Wayne's World, Garth attacks with a laser pistol.
  • The original The Witcher books firstly had some small action pieces in short story collections, but in the later novels of the saga, the battles with monsters happened very rarely. Geralt mostly fought with humans, there were little to no witcher contracts. Most of the time was spent with the characters' relationships, and much more dialogues were present in the novels. The games change this aspect, making the monsters commonplace in the Continent while having many witcher contracts as sidequests. Geralt is more frequently engaging in battles, therefore he carries two swords: Silver (for monsters) and Iron (for humans) for gameplay conveniences.
  • The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road is this compared to the source book and MGM movie, with characters slinging spells around and much more physical fights.

    Web Animation 

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • Green Eggs and Ham (2019) has many scenes where Sam-I-Am and Guy-Am-I (the then-unnamed second character from the book) face numerous amounts of peril, and one of the characters from the book, the Goat, turns into a vicious bounty hunter that antagonize the two main characters. There's also a dangerous climactic battle between the protagonists and the antagonists at the end of the first season.
  • Garfield comics were gag-a-day strips, while the Garfield and Friends show added many cartoony action sequences and genuine moments of peril, especially in the Garfield TV specials.
  • The Rainbow Brite 2014 miniseries is this to the 80s cartoon, with more action scenes and explicit comedy than the original series.
  • The Simpsons featured an episode revolving around an in-universe example. In "Beyond Blunderdome", Homer was invited to a test screening for Mel Gibson's remake of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and he criticizes it for having Gibson's character talk for hours and not shooting anybody (something Gibson himself regrets). Homer is invited to help edit the movie, and they mutually decide to reshoot the ending of the movie so that Mr. Smith goes on a violent rampage against the senate, culminating with him decapitating the President of the United States. Nobody liked the result, not even Jimmy Stewart's granddaughter, and in the end the movie becomes a Star-Derailing Role for Gibson.
  • The two-part Spider-Man: The Animated Series story "Make a Wish"/"Attack of the Octobot" was based on the classic comics story "The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man" from Amazing Spider-Man #248. But rather than a quiet tale of Spider-Man discussing his life with a fan, he agrees to take her webslinging and gets attacked and mindwiped by Doc Ock. Taina then has to stop him from becoming a Criminal Amnesiac.
  • The Star Darlings Power of Twelve special adds several action sequences to the Star Darlings' battle with Rancora, getting Lady Stella involved in the action as well for a 10-minute fight. In the book, it was over in roughly two hits while Lady Stella and Indirra just stood there.
  • The original Winnie-the-Pooh novels were pretty laid-back, having odd moments of slapstick peril (eg. Pooh blundering to save Piglet in a flood) but otherwise being very genial. The Disney franchise mostly sticks close to the spirit of the books, but the feature-length films often have more dire climaxes where the cast are put in near death situations. The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh even utilized villains on a regular basis and made the imaginary Heffalumps and Woozles real entities, even if they were often fittingly bumbling antagonists for the large part.

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