Follow TV Tropes

Please don't list this on a work's page as a trope.
Examples can go on the work's YMMV tab.

Following

Adaptation Displacement

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/shrek_book_cover_inspiration_note_6.png
Yes, it was a book.
"One of the greatest novels in Western literature, and all everybody's asking is, 'Do you sing in it?'"

Adaptation displacement is the phenomenon by which a derivative work becomes successful enough to overshadow the original work completely.

It can happen with any type of media, but it tends to happen most often when a little-known book is adapted into a successful movie or television show. Even popular works can disappear if the adaptation is successful enough.

This also happens frequently in foreign countries when The Film of the Book from American literature is made. While mainstream films made in the USA are very popular overseas, best sellers tend to be local, for example in Latin America, North American movies have bigger audiences than local films but the book market is dominated by Lat Am and European works.

This effect is not necessarily a bad thing for the original work; it will forever live in the shadow of its adaptation, but it is still a shadow people will look at. If a failed book gets turned into a successful blockbuster movie, the book will never be forgotten, as there will always be people reading it after seeing the movie for curiosity; even a bad movie adaptation that may seem like something that will ruin the reputation of the book may instead improve it by making the public appreciate the, much better, original story.

If writers of ongoing media surrender to adaptation displacement, it can result in Ret-Canon and Lost in Imitation.

Compare with Older Than They Think, Pop-Cultural Osmosis, More Popular Spin-Off, Covered Up, Breakout Pop Hit (the musical equivalents), Parody Displacement (when a work is displaced by a parody), Sequel Displacement (when a sequel is much better-known than the original and is mistakenly thought to be the first installment) and Audience-Coloring Adaptation. Contrast with First Installment Wins. May occur in tandem with Mainstream Obscurity for the source work. A subset of this happens when a series only has part of itself adapted but not the rest, so a lot of people are confused that the story didn't end where the film did. Adaptation Title Change frequently overlaps with this trope especially if the original story is relatively unknown.

A No Recent Examples rule applies to this trope. Examples shouldn't be added until six months after the adaptation is released, to avoid any knee-jerk reactions.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Displaced by Advertising 
  • The 1980's PSA "We're Not Candy" is actually a shortened version of a segment from a local kids' show from Bismarck, North Dakota called Kids' Corner, specifically the episode "Jasper's Hospital Experience". The PSA version of the segment is more well-known than the actual episode itself.

    Displaced by Comic Books 
  • In a rare medium inversion, Little Audrey started out in animated shorts prior to becoming better known for her long run in comic books. Little Audrey was actually created after Famous Studios lost the cartoon rights to Little Lulu.
  • The Flash: Barry Allen and Wally West are far more familiar to the general public than the Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick due to Super Friends and other animated adaptations cementing them in popular culture.
  • Green Lantern: Hal Jordan is far more familiar to Joe Average than his Golden Age predecessor Alan Scott due to cartoons like Super Friends. Similarly, the popularity of the Justice League animated series pushed the John Stewart version of Green Lantern into the minds of the mainstream audience.
  • Most of people, including comic fans, who know Supergirl are completely unaware of the existence of several one-story predecessors like Lucy of Borgonia or Super-Girl who were completely eclipsed by Kara Zor-El since the beginning. Starring in her own movie, live-action show, as well as making appearances in cartoons, animated movies, video games and series just cemented Kara's place in popular culture.
  • The first Batgirl was Bette Kane, but she was completely overshadowed, and eventually retconned by Barbara Gordon, who became a recurring guest star in Batman comics, had her own ongoing feature, and appeared in the popular 1966 show.
  • The Human Torch. Johnny Storm is the name most comic fans associate with the Human Torch and thanks to cartoons, video games, toys, and movies, even non-comic fans know about Johnny. There was, however, an unrelated Human Torch (a Ridiculously Human Robot by the name of Jim Hammond) in The Golden Age of Comic Books published by Marvel's forerunner, Timely Comics. This character spent decades in limbo but had a stint on The Avengers, was in the World War II-era team The Invaders, and shows up on occasion. It's been mentioned Johnny chose his hero codename as a homage to the Golden Age Human Torch.
  • Many of the properties DC Comics bought are now more closely connected to them rather than to the companies that created and popularized them — The Question and Captain Atom from Charlton Comics, Plastic Man from Quality Comics, and Captain Marvel from Fawcett Comics, who were ironically driven out of business by DC.
  • In large parts of the world (particularly continental Europe), Donald Duck's origin in the Classic Disney Shorts, if not entirely forgotten, is completely eclipsed by his being the central character of Carl Barks's Disney Ducks Comic Universe.
  • Many comics fans are aware that Caine and Abel of The Sandman (1989) were originally the narrators of two of DC's horror comics (House of Mystery and House of Secrets). But do they know that the same goes for the three sisters (The Witching Hour), Lucien (Tales From Ghost Castle), Destiny of the Endless (Weird Mystery Tales), Eve (Secrets of Sinister House, in which she has a raven said to be the soul of a dead human) and ultra-obscure Dreaming denizen the Fashion Thing/Mad Yuppie Witch (The Unexpected as the Mad Mod Witch)?
    • And are they aware that in Starman, Mason O'Dare's girlfriend Charity used to be the host of Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion?
    • And how many people know that Jed Walker was originally from the 1970s Sandman stories his introduction deconstructs?
    • As a matter of fact, Dream himself supplanted the original characters who were actually called Sandman (Morpheus himself never having been referred to as such in the comics) for the common comic book reader. Whenever someone mentions "The Sandman from DC", people usually think of him and the tales Neil Gaiman told on Vertigo, not Wes Dodds, the Golden Age Sandman.
    • In a similar vein the Marvel character Hellcat actually was actually a Golden Age character from the comic 'Patsy and Hedy' before she immigrated into the Marvelverse and the superhero genre.
  • Ultimate Marvel: In its early days, the Ultimate titles were a big success and overshadowed the original titles. This was specially the case with The Ultimates, with a far greater success than the relatively obscure The Avengers (this was before the Marvel Cinematic Universe existed). This is likely the reason that so many video games and movies used character designs and aspects of Ultimate Marvel in the 2000s. The process was eventually reverted in later years. The major exception to that reversion being Ultimate Marvel's Samuel L. Jackson-inspired version of Nick Fury, largely because the man himself went on to play Fury in the MCU. In order to bring this over to the "main" Marvel Universe, the (white) "main" Nick Fury was given a biracial son who looks a lot like a younger Jackson.

    Displaced by Comic Strips 
  • Today, Little Lulu is mostly known as a comic book despite debuting as a series of one-panel cartoons for the Saturday Evening Post.
  • Robotman was actually a children's toy in the beginning, which later became a Merchandise-Driven comic strip. The toys fizzled out, but the strip was doing well, so it continued as an increasingly bizarre and subversive strip. Eventually the character was written out and the strip was retitled Monty.

    Displaced by Fan Works 
  • Attack of the Teacher Creature, garfieldodie's second contribution to The Calvinverse, is notable for being the story that introduced Andy and Sherman to the series. However, the plot (including Andy and Sherman) was actually taken from an old Garfield chapter book, Garfield and the Teacher Creature. Most readers don't realize this due to the obscurity of said book, however.
  • This is a common occurrence in Game Mods for Friday Night Funkin':
    • Generally, a lot of Original Characters have made their big breaks in this community despite initially being made for other works or mediums. For example, Kou (or the Kepler Observation Unit) originally had a standalone backstory told through animatics that was much more somber than the version he is more commonly known by.
    • During the release period of his mod, Tricky the Clown was often mistaken as coming from FNF due to the overwhelming popularity of the former.
    • While largely justified due to her design being abandoned in the source media after a complicated controversy, Mano Aloe is best known outside of Virtual YouTuber circles for her appearances in the fandom.
  • "Makenai Ai ga Kitto Aru," the intro theme for Mega Man X4, has had its lyrical version subject to this trope by its inclusion in the Final Fantasy Sonic X series, with many users discovering its origins years after playing FFSX.

    Displaced by Films (Animated, Non-Disney Examples) 
  • Several films from DreamWorks Animation fall into this category:
    • The Shrek series of films is based on an obscure picture book by William Steig which has overall little to do with the films (Steig's son Jeremy Steig, a jazz musician, shows up in Shrek Forever After as the Pied Piper playing one of his tunes — known to younger listeners through the Beastie Boys song "Sure Shot," which samples it), making the film series also one big Adaptation Expansion.
      • Also applies to its spinoff Puss in Boots (2011) so much so that people don't know that Kitty Softpaws was made up by the film. When most have an idea for adaptating Puss In Boots they end up having it based on this film than the original fairytales.
      • Also in the sequel, alot of people thought Big Jack Horner was an original character not knowing about the nursery rhyme.
    • How many viewers of Over the Hedge know about the newspaper comic on which it was based? We do see characters checking out the comic during the credits, but it's hard to make out on the screen; besides, many viewers don't stick around for credits.
    • Many are familiar with the monumentally popular film series Kung Fu Panda. Much fewer are familiar with the obscure DreamWorks Interactive video game T'ai Fu: Wrath of the Tiger that heavily inspired it. For that matter, most people are unaware that DreamWorks ever had a video game branch.
    • How to Train Your Dragon. Children's book series that is fairly obscure outside of its homeland of the UK, but an explosively popular series of movies and TV shows.
    • Though most people are aware that the 2014 CG film Mr. Peabody & Sherman was based on the characters by Jay Ward, the film has led many to think they're from their own series — they were actually aired as Peabody's Improbable History, a recurring segment on the various Rocky and Bullwinkle series.
    • Home (2015) is loosely based on the lesser-known book The True Meaning of Smekday.
    • Many people were still surprised to find that The Bad Guys (2022) was adapted from a book series, despite its position on the New York Times' best seller list and its Periphery Demographic.
  • The Iron Giant is based on a book (The Iron Man by acclaimed writer and Poet Laureate Ted Hughes) bearing almost no resemblance to the movie.
  • FernGully: The Last Rainforest is a frequent target of mockery of the early 1990s enviromania craze; few realize that it was based on an Australian children's novel.
  • Many people are unaware that The Secret of NIMH was based on a book called Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien. The book had many differences: most notably that the fantasy and magical elements were completely absent, as was the emphasis on love and courage. There was instead a larger focus on the rats. There were also no villains; Jenner was only mentioned in the rats' backstory, having left them after an argument.
  • How many of you have heard of or read The Brave Little Toaster by Thomas M. Disch? Now how many have seen one or all of the three animated films?
  • Rock-A-Doodle is based on a fairly obscure play (even these days if you're French) by Edmond Rostand, who's more famous for Cyrano de Bergerac, called Chanticler (Chanteclerc in French). To name a few differences, the Edmond character isn't there, there isn't any magic, the Grand Duke is only a minor villain, and the Aesop of the play is centered around how, even though the rooster hero's crowing doesn't make the sun rise, he is still important to the farmyard by waking everyone up and keeping away predators.
  • One would be hard pressed to remember the origins of the 1996 blockbuster Space Jam as a Nike commercial from only a few years prior, even though said commercial was quite prominent.
  • One Stormy Night was originally a children's book series. However, most of the books haven't been translated into English, so English speakers would be more familiar with the anime, which does have a quasi-official dub.
  • Most Americans and even some Canadians were unaware that The Adventures of Tintin (2011) is based on a Belgian comic book series, due to it never having caught on in the USA or having limited runs in Canada. Also note that they are one of the few countries in that regard, as the comic books are still extremely popular on other continents, even places you wouldn't expect, like Africa, China and Latin America. Even the Nelvana cartoon series aired which was on Nick Jr. of all things.
  • If you were to select the search button for a Google search box with Astro Boy inside, you would get more results on the 2009 film than the 2003 anime, much less the 1960's version or the 1980's version. And that's without going into any of the short anime films. Most fanfics and Fan Vids are also of the 2009 film. Though, this is subverted in that Astro Boy is an incredibly iconic anime... It's just most people only know of it, and haven't actually watched any of the anime (or read the manga).
  • Leafie, a Hen into the Wild is based off a Korean book. In English-speaking countries, this is virtually unknown thanks to No Export for You.
  • The Girl Who Runs Through Time was a very popular 1966 novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui, adapted into two live-action films (1983 and 1997), a 5 episode TV series (1994), a 2002 TV film, and a 2004 manga title (A Girl Who Cut Through Time). None of them received wide distribution in the west. They've been displaced by an anime adaptation (which is actually more of a loose sequel) named The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.
  • Given the general Sequel Displacement of the High☆Speed! (2013) novels by Free!, more people are familiar with High★Speed! - Free! Starting Days than the second novel of that series of which it was based on. Newcomers are more likely to see it as a novelization of the movie using the High Speed! banner.
  • Fantastic Planet is based on the novel Oms en Serie by Stefan Wul. That it's never been translated into English, well, didn't help.
  • The Hungarian film Vuk the Little Fox is a little-remembered kids' movie in the US but a massive cultural treasure in its home, yet the novel it's been based on is rarely talked about, and all of the associated imagery, merchandise and even an official playground depict the animated version's characters. The movie wasn't originally a theatrical feature either — it was a low-budget, four episode television cartoon that was later edited together and screened as a movie, and it's been re-released as such ever since.
  • The 1978 Japanese animated film Ringing Bell is more well-known to Western audiences than the original picture book by Takashi Yanase titled Chirin no Suzu (meaning Chirin's Bell). Western audiences who are aware of the story's existence don't realize that it was a children's book first and think it was just some strange product of Sanrio for its time, in stark contrast to its native country where the original tale was told in many forms with the story becoming a childhood staple while the lamb character became a Japanese pop culture icon.
  • Patlabor: The Movie (1989) is The Film of the Series to the OVA Mobile Police Patlabor: The Early Days ('88-9). The film is much better-known outside Japan, since the OVA didn't get a foreign release until 2003.

    Displaced by Literature 
  • Everyone knows the first two lines of Felicia Hemans' Casabianca ("The boy stood on the burning deck/Whence all but he had fled"), but hardly anyone knows the rest; parodies have displaced it. Probably the best-known is Spike Milligan's Casabazonka, the one which ends simply "—Twit."
  • How many people have read Neil Gaiman's novel Neverwhere? How many knew the book is in fact a novelization of a British mini-series written by Gaiman?
  • The original Merlin was a Welsh bard who had nothing to do with Arthurian Legend. Additionally, all prior characterizations of Merlin were displaced by newer myths, culminating with the Lancelot-Grail cycle.
  • Many fans are of the mistaken belief that The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy novels are the original, and either have never heard of the radio series or assume it's an adaptation. There are also people who only know the series through the 2005 movie.
  • In 1982, Sue Townsend wrote a radio play called The Diary of Nigel Mole, Aged 13 1/4. Later that year it became a book called The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4.
  • A lot of people know some longish literary classics only from the versions abridged and somewhat re-edited for children that they had read when they were young. Don Quixote and Robinson Crusoe are common examples of this, as is Gulliver's Travels ("you mean Gulliver traveled to places other than Lilliput and Brobdingnag?").
  • A lot of people are familiar with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books (and film) but how many are familiar with the webcomic in which it originated?
  • Expeditionary Force: Confirmed by Word of God, Craig Alanson said that the books never would have been anything other than a minor ebook series if not for the performance of RC Bray in the audiobook adaptations. These are now the primary means that the majority of readers experience the book.
  • To many people born in communist countries, Oz wasn't known, but instead the adaptions by Alexander Volkov (making a non-canonical character, Urfin Jus, the most popular one). Russians in general are fairly loose with copyrights: Pinocchio was reimagined as Buratino (fairly loyal until the scene where the wooden boy is hanged on the tree, then starts diverging, unrecognizable after the A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted scene), and Doctor Dolittle as Doctor Aybolit (the poems unrelated to Lofting's books are the most famous, but Short Story-sized retelling of a few of the latter's books aren't unknown either).
  • Back in the bad old days before home video and common repeats, the only way to re-experience a Doctor Who serial was to read the Target novelisation. In many cases, the reputations of stories (especially those of the 60s) are based more on the quality of the novelisation than on the original serial. Many stories thought at the time to be classics based on the fact that they got excellent novelisations early on were heavily reevaluated when people could own the VHS of the original, complete with all the plot holes and structure problems the novelisation fixed (and the Special Effect Failure and bad acting that its format liberated it from). A clear example is "The Web of Fear" - which was for a long time a Missing Episode. It got a very strong novelisation by Terrance Dicks early on due to it being the story that introduced the Brigadier, with a plot rejigged to make the Brigadier's role more heroic, speed up the pacing and remove some of the Great Intelligence's Stupid Evil problems. Many fans were very disappointed to see the reconstructions, in which the Brigadier is a Jerkass, there's random racism, and the villain's plot makes no sense.
  • The Tale of Kiều (Truyện Kiều) by Nguyen Du is widely regarded as the most significant work of Vietnamese literature and has been translated into many languages. It is a remake of a trashy romance novel Jin Yun Qiao. Said novel is never brought up in discussion unless specifically as the basis for Kieu, if people even know Kieu was an adaptation in the first place.
  • The 1991 Diamond Brothers TV series is extremely complicated in this regard. The first book in the series was adapted as a film in 1988, and the 1991 series was an original story serving as a follow-up to the film. The series was also novelised, but due to the novelisation coming out at the same time as the series' one and only broadcast, the series quickly fell into obscurity, and the novelisation received a rewrite a few years later to bring it in line with the other books in the series, for many years it was believed that the series was actually an adaptation of the book.
  • A variant with Gerald Durrell's Two in the Bush. It's a story about how he, his wife, and two cameramen were filming material for TV movies about wildlife. The movies might as well be nonexistent nowadays.
  • In 2012, the computer scientist Stephen Emmott delivered a notable lecture titled 10 Billion, which explored the intricate challenges associated with the human predicament. Subsequently, in the following year, he expanded upon the content of this lecture by transforming it into a comprehensive book, similarly titled 10 Billion. This publication delves into critical themes and concerns related to global population growth and its profound impact on the planet, offering an in-depth examination of the complex issues surrounding this topic.

    Displaced by Memes 
  • Robbie Rotten's theme in LazyTown is most likely "Master of Disguise". However, in late 2016 this has been taken over by "We Are Number One" from the penultimate episode thanks to SiIvaGunner and it subsequent memes.
  • A similar case happens with Shrek. Shrek's main theme is "I'm a Believer", while "All Star" is a secondary one, but thanks to memes, now it's the other way around.
  • "Flossin'" (a song about the Floss from Fortnite, which he claimed to have created, although the YouTuber Ryan Mayall had posted a video of it in 2010) by The Backpack Kid was widely unknown for a while until he made a Geinus "Behind The Lyrics" video.
  • The Super Crown power-up introduced in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe which transforms Toadette into Peachette, a form that gives her Peach's appearance and abilities, ended up being massively displaced by a DeviantArt OC called Bowsette (which is the same thing but with Bowser), who became immensely popular meme in late September of 2018, in both east and west. Even if Nintendo indirectly jossed Bowsette out of Mario's canon in early 2019, that didn't stop many people from continuing to associate the Super Crown with Bowsette instead of Peachette.

    Displaced by Merchandising 
  • Most Brits, and many from further afield, will be familiar (perhaps overly so) with Quality Street sweet assortments. Far fewer will be aware that the brand name, along with the scene depicted on the packaging, were taken from a play by J.M. Barrie, written three years before he wrote Peter Pan.
  • The Seven Year Itch (itself a displacement of a Broadway play) is a rare example of a major Hollywood movie getting totally buried by its marketing campaign - specifically, the publicity photographs taken in front of the Trans-Lux Theater at Lexington Avenue and 52nd Street in midtown Manhattan, which quickly spread throughout the entire world before the film was even released. Most people alive today have never seen the film in its entirety, and think it's just a dull and tame romantic comedy. It's not.
  • It's often believed that the Coca-Cola Company created the modern image of Santa Claus in his red-and-white garb, displacing earlier portrayalsin which he wore other colours (green was a favourite) and styles of outfit, but this is only an urban legend; depictions of Santa in his red suit existed long before Coke thought up their ad campaign.
    • Santa Claus himself is an adaption of the Dutch and Flemish holiday figure Sinterklaas, which is based on the Catholic St. Nicolas.
    • The red outfit comes from the red vestment of a Latin Catholic bishop, which most Western European portrayals of St. Nicholas show him in. But this ignores that St. Nicholas was a Greek bishop and Greek bishops do not wear red. (And who knows what 3rd century bishops wore anyways.)
      • A solemn statue of St. Nicholas donated by the Russian Orthodox Church, where the saint is still widely revered as a religious figure, was literally replaced in the main square of Demre, formerly Myra, Turkey, the saint's home town, by a statue of the commercialized and Americanized Santa Claus.
  • Remember when Pepsi-Cola switched from its "classic" 1970s/'80s logo to a more "modern" oblong logo in 1991? No? Remember when they advertised the new logo with commercials showing Cindy Crawford drinking Pepsi? Bingo!
  • Betty Boop merchandise is quite popular, but most people that like her have only seen her in animation in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
  • Most anyone who is at all familiar with the name Buster Brown nowadays associates the character with the Brown Shoe Company and its advertising. In fact, he was originally the star of a comic strip created in 1902 by Richard F. Outcault. A young city-dwelling boy with wealthy parents, he would cause all sorts of mayhem much like the similarly mischievous cartoon child Dennis the Menace would decades later. Now the comics have been all but forgotten and his image survives merely as the mascot for the shoes which are still being made to this day.
  • Intentionally invoked in a Denny's commercial. A girl tells her grandmother that Denny's has a Hobbit Menu. The grandmother responds, "I know. Apparently, they based an entire movie off of it," causing many of the restaurant's other customers, dressed in costumes, to turn around and look at her.
  • The goddess Nike from Greek Mythology is far less well-known than the sportswear brand named after her. One humorous fantasy story mentioned her founding the brand in order to remain relevant in the modern world.
  • Another sportswear brand followed suit, using another name from the same mythology, Pallas. Like the aforementioned Nike, Pallas is more known for being a shoe brand rather than the name of a deity.
  • The "Frente para la victoria" political party of Argentina created the "Nestornauta", an image of the president Néstor Kirchner wearing the hazard suit of El Eternauta. The image became very popular, and many ignored that it was based on a comic book.
  • The merchandise for the Peanuts comic strip has wider worldwide distribution than the comic strip itself. As a result, in some countries, like Japan, Peanuts is seen as a merchandise line rather than a work of fiction.
  • Calvin and Hobbes is more notable to many people as an obscene window decal of a boy peeing (which is bootleg and which creator Bill Watterson never drew) than for any of its actual comic strips.
  • Sanrio may be best known for brands like Hello Kitty and My Melody, to the extent that in the west, Japan itself is associated with Hello Kitty, but it is also a producer of animated content and had been doing so a decade before making merchandise. One of its recent franchises, Show by Rock!!, is a mobile game first, an anime second, and merchandise third.
  • A rare two-for-one displacement: Most people cannot remember who Kelly LeBrock was, and not many will name Pantene when asked to name a brand of shampoo. But just about everyone in the United States who grew in the mid-to-late 1980s has said "Don't hate me because I'm beautiful" in a sultry British accent at least once in their lives.
  • Most Detroiters who grew up in the mid-to-late 1980s and early 1990s remember "Stand Up and Tell'em You're from Detroit," a successful campaign for Detroit's TV station WXYZ, mostly associated with Detroit, that largely displaced the campaign where it was based on. Frank Gari originally wrote the campaign's accompanying jingle for Cleveland's TV station WKYC, as "You've Got a Friend, Turn to 3."

    Displaced by Music 
  • See Covered Up.
  • Go into the YouTube comments section for the wildly popular Japanese song "Yoru ni Kakeru". You will see many comments reminding people that the song is based on an obscure story called The Seduction of Thanatos, an extremely short work posted on a Japanese short story site. In fact, the entire point of YOASOBI is to create songs based on stories submitted to the site, almost all of which become vastly more popular than the originals.
  • Minstrel shows in America produced popular folk tunes such as Camptown Races, Dixie, and Oh! Susanna which would eventually outlast the legacy of minstrel shows themselves. Many Americans today are unaware of these songs' historical connections to minstrel shows.
  • You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who knows that the Vocaloid cycle Nazotoki/Nazokake were originally adaptations of a novel, Umi Ha Sono Nazotoki Wo Nozomu No Ka?

    Displaced by Pinball 
  • Rollergames: The pinball machine is more well-known than the game show it was based off.

    Displaced by Pro Wrestling 
  • In 1989 a midcarder for New Japan Pro-Wrestling named Keiichi Yamada was reinvented, giving him a gimmick based on a Go Nagai anime that was getting ready to air. Today, Jushin Thunder Liger is one of the most celebrated, accomplished and innovative wrestlers in history while the anime series his gimmick is based on, Jushin Liger, is practically a footnote known more for spawning his gimmick than anything else.

    Displaced by Tabletop Games 
  • While Racial Holy War is infamous among the gaming community for how utterly broken and horrifically racist it is, many don't realize that it was meant to promote an obscure white supremacist cult called the Church of the Creator/Creativity Movement.
  • Dungeons & Dragons drew its influences from, well, pretty much anything that drew the creators' fancy back in the day, regardless if it fit the overall raiding-dungeons-for-money theme that the game initially had. As the game grew in popularity, it displaced many, nowadays relatively obscure, pieces of pulp fantasy that these sources were. For example, The Paladin, a character class infamous as a source of Lawful Stupidity and trolling under the guise of role-playing a character, is actually directly inspired by Three Hearts and Three Lions.

    Displaced by Toys 
  • Three of the most important Hasbro franchises did this (all three cases are toys displaced by other toys):
    • The well-known 3 3/4'' G.I. Joe figures took their name from an old 12'' figure (in fact, the first action figure). Even odder, the "original" GI Joe (the one from the 12'' line) actually appeared as a character in the 3 3/4'' line named Joseph Colton. The toys themselves were named after the 1945 film The Story Of GI Joe, which they have by now thoroughly displaced.
    • Transformers began as a reuse of the molds for the Takara collections Diaclone and Microman. The original Diaclone collection was about piloted mecha, while the Transformers took the Mechanical Lifeforms approach we all know.
    • Before My Little Pony there was My Pretty Pony. They were much larger toys that were released one year before the more well-known series. It came in only three different designs, two of which were reused for G1 ponies and one design that was the basis for Megan's horse in the special "Rescue At Midnight Castle".

    Displaced by Web Animation 
  • The Arfenhouse series of Flash cartoons is based on a series of four video games that parody badly-made Game Maker games.
  • A rare self-inflicted example. Homestar Runner is one of the most successful web animations ever, and it started out as a parody children's picture book, The Homestar Runner Enters the Strongest Man in the World Contest. References to that book appear in some animations, a "revised" (or scribbled in) version of it was an Easter Egg in "kids' book", and the creators celebrated the book's 10th anniversary with a Flash remake, "Strongest Man in the World". At the very least, the children's book version was revived as its own Alternate Universe, but even then the straightforwardness of the original book was displaced by Strong Bad's Lemony Narrator embellishments.
  • Ask anyone if they've seen The Modifyers and they'll probably answer: 'never heard of it'. But ask if they've seen the "The Modifuckrs" and they'll be like: 'Oh yeah, that porn flick with the hot goth chick!' The Modifyers was a rejected 2010 pilot for a Nickelodeon animated series, and while it is viewed favourably it its own right, it is the a seven-minute parody cartoon created by a popular internet porn animator that came to eclipse it in popularity.
  • The Potty Monkey web cartoons are more well-known than the toy it is based off, with one episode gaining two million views in a year.

    Displaced by Webcomics 
  • A minor case, but though the characters of Final Fantasy had no defined personality apart from their character class, the work of webcomic 8-Bit Theater has largely determined their roles in any future parody.
  • Likewise, Bob and George has done the same thing for Mega Man (Classic), to the point where certain fan-characters are often mistaken for canon, and a good chunk of the fandom takes the "Zero kills everyone" version of the end of the Classic timeline as fact, despite its fanon status and Word of God later debunking it.
  • Many people don't realize that Pastel Defender Heliotrope, a Mind Screw of a webcomic, was based on a light-hearted, straightforward Pinocchio story for the Kamishibai program that Reitz and her husband produced. It's quite jarring for those few souls who read the Kamishibai story first and then tried to read the webcomic.
  • Though this stretches the definition of "adaptation" a little, Girl Genius is probably much better known for being a webcomic than it ever was as the print comic it began its life as. Taking it to an online format from a relatively indie comic book publishing operation has greatly expanded its audience, such that only a small amount of its followers started following it when it was print-exclusive.

    Displaced by Website 
  • Cracked was a humor magazine trying to copy the success of MAD, and while it proved to be the longest-lasting of the many MAD imitators, never did match MAD's success, and eventually faded in relative obscurity in 2007... but not before launching Cracked.com, which became the most visited humor website in the world and is generally what people mean when they mention Cracked nowadays.
  • Pusheen the Cat is a spin-off/reboot of a webcomic called Everyday Cute, which has stopped updating and faded into obscurity while Pusheen thrives.

    Displaced by Web Video 
  • While Pride and Prejudice is much more well-known than its modernised adaptation The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, the Adaptation Name Change of Mr Darcy's first name into William has caused some fans to believe this was his name in the original, thanks to the novel almost never mentioning that his first name is actually Fitzwilliam. Although lots of fan fics did use William prior to this adaptation.
  • FimFlamFilosophy, the man behind My Little Pony: The Mentally Advanced Series, mentioned in this blog entry that so many people have seen Rainbow Dash Presents: Captain Hook the Biker Gorilla (a comedic adaptation of the grimdark fanfic Rainbow Factory) that some people believe that he created the concept, to the point of accusing Aurora Dawn (the writer of Rainbow Factory) of stealing the idea from him. FimFlaFilosophy is trying to rectify that by linking to the original fanfic and crediting Aurora Dawn when characters that originated from that fic are used in future works (such as the character Aurora in the short "Investment Losses").
  • There are several YouTube 'lyric' videos of the theme song to The Greatest American Hero titled as "The Cinema Snob theme."
  • Carmilla is arguably the most popular example of the Lesbian Vampire trope in fiction and is considered a classic vampire story (it even predates Dracula). Despite this the modern day college AU Carmilla the Series has managed to eclipse the original, at least amongst younger and less literature-savvy fans.
  • Look up any line featured in Symphony of Science. Chances are the top results will be links to the video series, with the original material buried far down.
  • The Enemy: This book is probably most known for being the subject of a fan's animation where all the characters are now dogs, paired with part of the song "Honey I'm home" by Ghost.

    Displaced by All of the Above 
  • Gulliver's Travels: Most people are more familiar with the watered down adaptations of the story that reinterpret it as a children's fairy tale (such as the 1939 Max Fleischer animated adaptation and the Jack Black live-action comedy) than the original Jonathan Swift book. Many people aren't even aware that the famous Lilliput voyage that most adaptations focus on only makes up the first 50 pages of the story, that there are three more voyages, and that the original story was a hard edged Satire and most definitely not a children's book.
  • The song "Steamboat Bill" by the Leighton Brothers was displaced by Steamboat Bill, Jr., which in turn was displaced by Steamboat Willie.
  • Not many people read H. P. Lovecraft, but you'll find references to his work everywhere.
    • Cthulhu is a geek cultural symbol. In fact, a lot of people are under the impression that Cthulhu is not a creation of Lovecraft, but an actual mythical being from an ancient religion. Within Lovecraft's actual works, he's pretty insignificant, appearing in only one story and not holding a particularly high position in the pantheon. Some don't even realize he's copyrighted, which leads to some issues.
    • Many authors have used Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, which he encouraged, to the point that many readers might be more familiar with stories and content that was created by other people.
    • The Necronomicon was a fictional book merely cataloguing the monstrosities in Lovecraft's mythos. It's been so widely used as a literary reference, however, that people have made real life versions (including a visual one that inspired the Alien movie franchise), and some amateur "occult experts" treat these as a serious work on demonology.
  • Most Indians are aware that the ancient Indian religious epic the Ramayana was originally a poem written in Sanskrit by Valmiki, but almost none have actually read the original. Instead, the live-action TV series by Ramanand Sagar, or one of the many subsequent TV adaptations, tends to be the main way people today learn the story of Rama. People who do read the story tend to read the Ramacharitmanas, a more recent retelling of the story in Hindi instead of Sanskrit, or another vernacular version. As a result, these popular retellings have far overshadowed Valmiki's original, and now dominate the popular imagination. The same applies to the Mahabharata, India's other great epic, as well as all of the Hindu Puranas.
  • The popularity of superhero movies versus the relative obscurity of the comics they were inspired by was lampshaded (in an exaggerated manner) in an episode of The Simpsons:
    Bart: Excuse me, I just heard that before Spider-Man was a movie, it was a comic book. Is that possible?
  • Touhou Project is a notable case: many people learn of the series through fan remixes or translations of Fan Vids on YouTube, but trying to look up the original games on YouTube will mostly throw up videos of intimidating Bullet Hell gameplay with poor art, which discourages viewers from investigating further. While Bullet Hell shooters form the core of the Touhou franchise, the majority of its installments are not Bullet Hell (or even video games) yet are frequently overlooked in favor of fanworks in the same medium.
  • As noted on the Fan Fic page, early fans of Ranma ˝ who lacked access to the original manga ended up creating widespread Fanon to make up for the anime's Adaptation Explanation Extrication, which was exacerbated when fic writers who had never even seen the anime joined in and were unable to tell where Canon ended and Fanon began.
  • This happened twice with Waterworld. First, it was actually a book, that was adapted into a film that became the posterchild for Hype Backlash and Troubled Production. But, there was an adaptation of the show in Universal Studios Hollywood that has been running since 1995 and still to this day draws multiple crowds. Since then, it became so popular it made its way into Japan and Singapore. More people don't even know that it was a Compressed Adaptation from the 1995 movie.
  • Outside of Poland, a lot of people are familiar with the game The Witcher, but not with the series of fantasy novels it is based on, which weren't well known outside of Poland and the Czech Republic (And especially not until awhile after the game became successful). Another wave came with the Netflix series for those who never heard of either of the games or the books.
    • The same thing happened again in Latin America... with both the books and the games. When the Netflix series was released in 2019, a fair number of people in LatAm expressed surprise that there was already a video game based on the Netflix series, or that the books weren't a Novelization of a Netflix series. Allegedly, when the books were finally sold in LatAm, the marketing tried to ride off of the Netflix series - whereas in North America, they advertised the ties games moreso than the Netflix. (Whereas most books that had game tie-ins or adaptations wouldn't advertise them as much.)

    Displaced in Real Life 
  • Most people know the country of New Zealand, but very very few people can point to where "Old Zealand" is on the mapnote  or even heard of it aside from be part of the name of Australia's friendly neighbor.
  • Hydrox cookies are the original mass-produced chocolate-and-cream sandwich cookie, predating Oreos by a couple years. Most people think Hydrox cookies are the knockoff.
  • The Czech Budweiser beer are sold as Czechvar in the U.S., even though it predates American Budweiser, which is made by another company entirely. It's Budvar in the UK. It seems to be Budweiser everywhere in mainland Europe.
    • Mainly as the UK secured an opt out from the EU regulation granting sole recognition of the term Budweiser to the Czech company in a similar manner to Champagne. Notably it's been shifting that way in the UK as well- the American version is increasingly referred to even in official advertising as "Bud."
    • In some countries, like Sweden, it's possible to find both versions in the same shop. The American version is the most famous, however.
    • What's especially ironic is that Budweiser has an all-American image, even though the part of the Czech Republic where it was first made is called Bohemia (also, incidentally, the name of a Mexican lager) - and "bohemian" is often used in American English to describe things that are weirdly un-American.
  • Neufchatel cheese is often marketed in America as reduced-fat Philadelphia cream cheese, even though Philadelphia cream cheese was created as an imitation Neufchatel.
  • More people have probably heard the wordless chorus from the song "Centerfold" by The J. Geils Band chanted by football supporters than have heard the actual song. At least in Europe. In the U.S., "Centerfold" is a classic rock staple.
  • Almost nobody seems to be aware of the fact that Beanie Babies are not the only plush line created by Ty, Inc. They had stuffed toys in 1986, seven years before Beanie Babies existed. Many of the Spin-Off lines (Pillow Pals, Attic Treasures, Beanie Buddies, etc.) are also relatively unknown.
  • Since language is a living entity, old language is displaced by new all the time. It's a byword (and frequent complaint in some quarters) that the 1900 New York criminal-classes meaning of "gay" has become the common one, displacing the previous meaning of "happy" (which might cause some Agatha Christie readers to wonder why she "so often wrote about homosexuals"). Likewise, in the 1990s "sad" came to mean "stupid" (though fortunately this meaning didn't catch on).
    • An amusing example of this form of semantic drift is that the original word referring to a woman's makeup table has shifted so dramatically that it now refers to a different piece of furniture, with a different function, in another room of the house. This gets rather jarring when reading stories that take the original meaning, and have women stepping out for the night in style by splashing themselves with toilet water (now known as perfume).
      • ...which is less jarring for people who know the perfume jargon, since "toilet water" (or rather its French name, eau de toilette, as well as counterparts in many other languages) is part of a "perfume scale", with perfume itself being the most concentrated form of fragrance (save for "pure fragrance", such as rose petal oil), followed by esprit de parfum, perfumed water, toilet water and cologne.
  • Everyone who started using the Internet after the mid-1990s seems to think that the Web and the Internet are synonymous.
    • Although, people who used MSN may know that the program would often still work even when you couldn't connect to the Internet in your browser.
  • Have you heard of Japanese singer/voice actress Saki Fujita? If you're in the anime-watching crowd you might know her roles, but if you aren't, you will probably only know her as the person whose voice is the base for the virtual diva Hatsune Miku, if you know her at all.
    • Speaking of Miku, she's in a unique position where she displaced herself: more people associate her with her Virtual Celebrity appearance — concerts, user-created songs, video games, collaborations and all — than they do the Vocaloid software that provides her voice.
  • The Tandy 1000 was designed as a clone of the IBM PCjr, but by the time it reached the market the PCjr had become an Edsel-class fiasco. The Tandy 1000 succeeded where the PCjr failed, and later PC clones that featured similar graphics and sound capabilities were commonly called "Tandy-compatible."
  • The word 'Caesar' has been displaced several times. Originally it (as with all Roman third names) was a nickname to distinguish between two or more people with the same first two names. Gradually these nicknames became part of a person's family name. For the first five Roman Emperors, Caesar was their family name. However, subsequent Emperors simply called themselves Caesar anyway, until it gradually simply became a way of addressing the Emperor (like 'Your Majesty'). Later monarchs simply adapted into their language and made it synonymous with the term Emperor (e.g. Kaisar, Kaiser, Tsar, Czar).
    • Similarly, the term 'Emperor' comes from the Latin 'Imperator' which simply refers to the commander of any Roman army, not the entire armed forces (and, before that, simply anyone who gave orders, its literal meaning being "orderer"). The term 'Prince' comes from the Latin 'Princeps' which is usually translated as 'Chief' but in the context of the early Emperors meant 'First Citizen' - a role analogous to President or Prime Minister.
    • As anyone knows who saw Ratatouille or the last interview Keith Floyd did before he died, "Chef" (or Chef de Cuisine in the original French) means the person who runs a kitchen (it has the same root as the English "chief"); someone who just works in a kitchen is a cook.
    • The term 'Paladin' comes from Latin 'Palatinus', which means a man from Palatine (one of the seven hills of Rome) and meant what we would now call a government official in about the same way as "Washington" or "White House" can mean the government of the USA. This meaning carried over to the Middle Ages, but then chivalric romances turned real people bearing that title into mystical knight characters, and later fantasy writers drew from the latter. Nowadays, while there's the rare "mainstream" meaning of "the ruler's inner circle" which still draws upon the real Medieval associations, about every other use of the term will refer to the meaning filtered through fantasy literature and role-playing games.
  • The Inquisition was neither a Spanish invention nor was it exclusive to Spain. The Spanish Inquisition is actually 300 years younger than the first Medieval Inquisition created by the Papacy in 1184 to root out the Cathars from southern France. Also, inquisition was not the name of the institution (that was Sanctum Officium or The Holy Office) but rather the description of their work, i.e. investigation (cf. the adjective 'inquisitive'). The officials themselves were officially tasked with 'inquisitio haereticae pravitatis' (investigation of the heretical subversions) and thus the common name stuck.
  • The swastika symbol is almost universally associated with the Nazis in much of the modern world. Many uneducated tourists who visit parts of Asia are shocked to see the swastika adorning ancient temples or even homes, not realizing that it is an ancient spiritual symbol that was stolen and perverted by others in relatively recent times. In America, variations of the swastika were often used by Native American tribes.
    • Something similar happened in Italy with the fasces, ruined for most Italians due being coopted by the Fascist regime. This is in spite of most Italians knowing where it comes from and its original meaning (was a Roman symbol of "strength in unity")-it's just that Mussolini became too much associated to it.
    • Also, the "Roman salute" is now almost exclusively thought of as "the Nazi salute". Most people don't know that prior to WWII, that salute was the proper way to salute the American flag as you recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
  • This can even happen to food! More people around the world are familiar with tempura than they are with peixinhos da horta, the original Portuguese dish it was derived from.
  • France's famous tricolour flag was initially designed as a compromise for a constitutional monarchy regime - the Parisian revolutionaries had used the red and blue flag of the city as their emblem, and moderates had introduced the central white band to represent the Bourbon Monarchy. Nevertheless, the tricolour is almost universally seen as the principal symbol of French republicanism.
  • Dark chocolate predates milk chocolate, and drinking chocolate long predates all solid chocolate, but to most people, 'chocolate' will mean solid milk chocolate.
  • There is an island in Greece called Lesbos, on which there used to be a number of city states of some import in ancient times and the term "Lesbian" originally referred to its residents (and still does). The modern use of the term is associated with ancient Lesbian (possibly in both sensesnote ) poet Sappho from the Lesbian polis Mytilene. Originally, when Sappho was called a Lesbian poet, the reference was to the place of her origin, not her sexuality (which is also sometimes called "Sapphic"). Without knowing much about the island, the term "Lesbian" came to be associated with her sexuality. Nowadays, most people are surprised that there is an island and not all Lesbians are homosexuals.
  • Linux for a lot of younger users is synonomous with "Unix", which annoys a lot of BSD and Solaris admins. Linux doesn't even have any actual Unix code in it (they had to make extra-sure of that during a decade-plus-long copyright dispute).
  • When people these days say "tennis", they usually mean lawn tennis, not the older form now referred to as "Real Tennis".
  • In the United States and Canada "hockey" means ice hockey, not field hockey, even though field hockey is the older sport and goes back to the middle ages. Sometimes North Americans are surprised when Europeans and Asians refer to field hockey as just "hockey".
  • When a show from another country gets a Transatlantic Equivalent or is dubbed over note , most viewers may not know that it originally came from somewhere else. One of the biggest examples of this is Dancing with the Stars being more well known in the United States than Strictly Come Dancing, the British show that inspired it. As for the cartoon side of things, many Americans who grew up watching Bob the Builder on Nick Jr. will be shocked when you tell them that the show was originally British. With the rise of the Internet and the popularity of foreign shows on streaming services like Netflix, this trend seems to have died down with newer shows.
  • Something that not many people know is that Athens was not always the capital of Greece. Nafplio was from 1821 to 1834, until King Otto removed its title.
  • A few people are better known for the things named after them. Roland Garros is a tennis tournament first, a deceased aviator second.

Alternative Title(s): Adaption Displacement, Adaptational Displacement

Top