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Adaptation Inspiration

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A work may be an adaptation of previous media, but that does not mean it has the same tone or style. It will usually hit the same main plot points, but change dramatically the way the plot is presented, sometimes to the point of changing the genre or changing position on a sliding scale such as the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism. This may be the result of the production team experimenting with a different approach, having one or more people part of it that bring a signature style to the adaptation, or modern issues and values causing a shift.


Adaptations of this type fall into Type 2 of the Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification by default: anything higher would require the adaptation to remain faithful to the tone of the source material, but anything lower disregards even basic similarities. These adaptations may stray away from or even outright subvert the intent of the original work, but typically keep the basic premise intact.

Super-Trope to Darker and Edgier and Lighter and Softer. Sister Trope to Tone Shift. Not to be confused with characters who are made more inspirational in a work’s adaption.



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    Comic Books 
  • Happens a ton with Superheroes, especially Batman. Thankfully, many superheroes have had many different genres positions on the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism even in their own medium, which makes these easier to swallow.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • It is well-known that Hayao Miyazaki does not do adaptations, he simply uses the source material as a convenient jumping off point to tell his own story.
  • Frozen is based off The Snow Queen and has the same core themes and basic plot outline of a kind-hearted girl making a hazardous journey to save her estranged childhood friend from The Snow Queen / depression, with only her brave heart and determination to aid her... except the eponymous queen and the Dude In Distress have been combined into a Composite Character, and "Kai and Gerda" are the names of two adult servants instead of the main characters, and despite the story getting quite dark, has more comedy.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • All Tim Burton films have a distinct style of dark quirkiness, making movies like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Alice in Wonderland (2010) far less colorful than other adaptations, while things like Batman (Returns), Sleepy Hollow (1999), and Planet of the Apes become weirder.
  • The Harry Potter movies had different inspirations in visual tone and what the directors emphasized. Goblet of Fire had several boarding school comedy pieces, some of which weren't in the book at all. Alfonso Cuarón gave a candy shop Day of the Dead touches and food, such as candy skulls. The first two movies (directed by Chris Columbus) feel very much like Steven Spielberg films, while the third one (directed by Alfonso Cuarón) feels more like a Tim Burton film.
  • The Shining novel is unabashedly supernatural; the Stanley Kubrick film favors Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane.
  • Blade Runner is based upon the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, but takes the exact opposite stance on its theme.
  • Desert Heat is loosely adapted from Yojimbo and even gives it a cute Shout-Out near the end.
  • Godzilla:
    • Godzilla (1998) was, in theory, an American adaptation of the famous Japanese film series, but in reality it bears only a very slight resemblance to its namesake. Both versions feature a reptile that grows to enormous size because of atomic testing, but the similarities end there. Where the Japanese Godzilla is an ancient dinosaur that mutates into a slow, Nigh Invulnerable behemoth that is hostile towards humanity (at first), capable of releasing a deadly atomic beam from his mouth, and decidedly male, the American Godzilla is an iguana mutated into a hermaprhoditic Fragile Speedster that wants no conflict with humanity, only came ashore to lay eggs, and has standard fire breath (Dinosaurs Are Dragons, or at least big lizards that look like dinosaurs are dragons.) Additionally, the original Godzilla was a metaphor for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as he was specifically mutated by American nuclear testing, while the American version pushes the blame to the French and lacks any kind of symbolic depth. The animated series which followed was much closer to the original Japanese monster.
    • The modern American remake tells a markedly different story; by having the titular beast be an ancient creature, older than the earliest dinosaurs, the theme shifts from a direct allegory of nuclear destruction to primal, unstoppable forces of nature keeping the world in check, with the MUTO being the threat to humanity and Godzilla himself the inevitable response. The bombing of Hiroshima is mentioned, and gives context to Dr. Serizawa's concern over a nuclear strike (his father was killed in the blast), but the continuous American atomic testing in the Pacific, then current in 1954, is also quantified in-story — it was a cover for the Navy's repeated efforts to kill it. The plot and ending, in turn, reflect the modern conception of Godzilla and his Character Development into a heroic figure; rather than being killed and crumbling into dust before he can destroy again, he defeats his ancient enemies and walks triumphantly back into the ocean, with press outlets heralding him as the savior of the city.
  • Clueless is a loose adaptation of Emma, except that the novel is about class status in 19th century England while the film is about popularity at a Los Angeles high school.
  • Charles Edward Pogue's original script for The Fly (1986) took the central premise of the short story and its rather faithful 1958 film adaptation — a scientist's Teleporter Accident renders him a mix of man and insect — and added the twist that the transformation wasn't a instantaneous swapping of body parts leaving a man with a fly's head and vice-versa, but rather a Slow Transformation on a molecular-genetic level into one Half-Human Hybrid. David Cronenberg's total revision of that script started by changing the protagonists from a long-married couple to a lonely recluse and the reporter who becomes his lover as she chronicles, and even inspires, the refinement of his invention. The pivotal accident is not merely a quirk of fate, but a Tragic Mistake resulting from his jealousy regarding her ex. The Slow Transformation becomes a metaphor for the inevitability of disease and death, and the toll they take on both the bodies and psyches of the afflicted and those who love them — depicted via some of the grisliest Body Horror ever put to film.

  • Most The War of the Worlds adaptations have been updated to a later time period and location than the original. The only thing most have in common are alien invaders with tripods and their defeat by our microorganisms:
    • The original took place in 1900s England at the height of its power.
    • The infamous 1938 radio version is set in what was then The Present Day.
    • The 1950s version focused on scientists in Los Angeles.
    • The 2005 film had an almost war documentary feel to it, focusing on an East Coast family trying to survive.
  • The Lowlands of Scotland Series is based on the biblical story of Jacob, but it is very much a modern novel series, with all the setting details and character development and intricacies of plot that that implies.

    Live-Action TV 


    Video Games 
  • In The Feeble Files, while the game is obviously, though loosely, based on Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, Feeble Files does seem to divert from the anticommunist (albeit not antitotalitarian) message of the novel quite a bit. The Freedom Fighters address one another as "comrade", the Evil Empire is referred to as "the Company" (the founding of which is elaborated on in a Bible-like book), the Metro Prime spaceport is a flashing center of commerce and paid entertainment, citizens are required to confess their crimes against the OmniBrain via confessional-like boxes, etc. One of the key differences between the novel and the game is that the Freedom Fighters' only problem with the OmniBrain is the political tyranny and brainwashing of citizens whereas no mention is ever made of any sort of poverty within society that actually does not seem to be the least bit prevalent anyway.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Solid advice for any new GM for almost any system: obey this trope!


    Western Animation 
  • Dinotrux takes the general idea of Dinosaurs and Construction Vehicles merged together from the Chris Gall book series, but goes in an entirely different direction with it, featuring more mechanical robotic character designs versus the organic ones seen in the illustrations of the books.

Alternative Title(s): Adaptational Inspiration


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