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Adaptation Overdosed

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L-R Top-Bottom: Batman, Batman, Batman, Batman, Batman, Batman, Batman, Batman, and Batman. And not all of them are in here, of course.

"Maybe it's time to let the remakes die
Maybe it's time to let the remakes die
Four remakes is a lot to take
Hell, this made my grandma cry
Maybe it's time to let the remakes die"
Honest Trailers for A Star Is Born (2018) (sang to the tune of "Maybe It's Time" and referencing previous versions made in 1937, 1954, and 1976)

Let's say you write a book. The readers love it, the critics love it, and everyone wants to see a movie of it. But when the movie finally comes out, it's a major letdown. Or perhaps it works out fine, but a few years later, people still love the book yet don't seem to remember that the movie ever happened.

Not wanting to waste a good story, the studio makes up its mind to try again.

And again, and again, and again.

Anyway, this is all about stuff that doesn't merely get multiple or long-running adaptations, but actually has a whole bunch of Alternate Continuities (preferably at least three within the same medium) as a result. Perhaps in some cases, the audience will "win" and one adaptation will cement itself in the public memory for all time.... Perhaps the studios will keep playing anyway. In most cases, it seems they just can't seem to get it right, but that's always a matter of opinion.

This is not about works that simply have lots of sequels or vast expanded universes within the same continuity; in other words, Star Wars and Star Trek are not examples. note 

Compare Whole-Plot Reference (and the Sub-Tropes listed on that page).

Example subpages:

Other examples (listed by the original work):

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi probably gets the award for the most thorough invocation of this trope in the shortest amount of time. At present, there has been the original manga, two broadcast Animated Adaptations, a Live-Action Adaptation, a few OVAs, a second manga released parallel to the first, a Spinoff Babies series, and a movie covering an alternate end to the manga. Only the OVAs and the first manga seem to occupy the same continuity.
  • Appleseed (manga, 1980s anime OVA, recent CGI movies, and now a new CGI series)
  • Ghost in the Shell (manga, movies (animated and live-action), Stand-Alone Complex anime TV series, Arise OVA series).
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion is famous for this. The original anime and manga series are set in similar, but distinct continuities. Then after that you get into the Raising Project games, the Raising Project, Girlfriend of Steel/Iron Maiden, Rebuild of Evangelion, Angelic Days, Campus Apocalypse, Eva Pucchi, the reportedly-still-under-development live-action movie... oh, and End of Evangelion as possibly alternative ending.
  • Boys over Flowers: The original manga has no less than four official live action series adaptations (one in China, one in Tokyo, one in Korea, and one in Thailand), plus a second, unofficial Chinese adaption, remakes in Indonesia (which got its own remake in 2017) and India, a drama in Turkey inspired by the premise, and an anime. Its sequel manga also recieved a live action adaptation in 2018.
  • Robotech spun off of Super Dimension Fortress Macross, merging it with Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA. Then there were novelizations and RPG and comic adaptations, none of which quite perfectly matched with the others. There were spin-off novels and comics, as well. Then there was an abortive 3-episode sequel series, which was again adapted and continued three different ways in comics, novels, and games. Then there was the sequel Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • The Saiyan, Namek, Androids/Cell, and Buu arcs in Dragon Ball Z might count, as almost every game released ever since they started back in 1988 covers one or several of them and quite a few cover those and just those (despite this necessitating that they start about a third of the way through a serialized story, entirely skipping Dragon Ball). The only exceptions are either sequels to them or the ones that cover Kid Goku stories (either Dragon Ball or Dragon Ball GT), which are very few. They're the only arcs to be adapted on Dragon Ball Z Kai. It has gotten to the point where "Radit to Buu" has become a fandom shorthand for works focused only on this period. The original seventeen Non Serial Movies were also loose adaptations of series events, and were repeatedly implied to be set in the same continuity as one another.
    • There are three versions of Dragon Ball Super, all based on Akira Toriyama's original plot outlines and sketches: the film series, the manga, and the anime TV show. None of them are in-continuity with one another, all have mutually exclusive depictions of the same events, and all of them ran (often at the same time), throughout the mid to late 2010s. As a bonus, Super has also been adapted in a ton of video games already.
  • Cutey Honey has five animated incarnations, three live-action incarnations, and five manga incarnations. Try asking a fan of the show where Honey's powers come from. Try asking them whether or not she's human; the answer changes in every version. You'd think they'd run out of answers to a yes/no question eventually, but no...
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica. The original TV anime, a manga (plus two Spin-Off manga), a novelization, a PSP game, and now a pair of Compilation Movies. And all of this was announced in less than a year after it started, so there's still the possibility of more still being created.
  • Code Geass has only one full-length anime, but there are four separate and completely different manga adaptations as well as three games based on it. As of early 2012, two spinoff OVAs, a film version of the original series, and yet another alternate-viewpoint manga are planned (the original anime came out in 2006).
  • Himitsu no Akko-chan has three anime, a Live-Action Adaptation, and a reboot manga.
  • Sailor Moon has, in roughly chronological order: the Sailor V manga, the actual Sailor Moon manga, the original anime adaptation in the '90s, the original set of musicals from the '90s (which lasted until 2005), a live-action adaptation in 2004, a bucketload of video game adaptations/spin-offs/what-have-you (from typical '90s beat-em-ups and arcade games to an official smartphone game), a new batch of musicals unrelated to the first in every way, and the 2014 anime. This is discounting the attempted American cartoon-live-action hybrid thing in the '90s, and — if one wants to consider them different adaptations because of how different they are — various dubs from around the world. Also, a weird set of American novelizations from the '90s, and who knows what other obscure (but official/licensed) adaptations from other corners of the world. Every adaptation is very different from the rest.
  • Pokémon: The Series has two different multi-volume manga (The Electric Tale of Pikachu being the first and Satoshi to Pikachu being the second), a theatrical musical adaptation, multiple theatrical films, numerous manga adaptations of said films, various Tie In Novels, several novelizations (the most famous being Pocket Monsters: The Animation), and several radio dramas (including Pokémon: The Birth of Mewtwo which was later animated as the prologue to the first film).
  • GeGeGe no Kitarō has had six different anime series across various decades, one Darker and Edgier anime, and a few live-action versions.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka has a 43-episode anime adaptation, a live-action film, and no fewer than 4 live-action TV series. And then there's the spinoff GTO: 14 Days in Shonan and the sequel GTO: Paradise Lost. Its predecessor GTO: The Early Years also has several live-action adaptations and an OVA series.
  • Death Note became so popular that it got adapted into an anime, two light novels, various tabletop games, a mini web series, a musical, and four Japanese live-action films plus an American one, with reports that the American version will have a sequel.

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 

  • Since being released in 1990, the French Luc Besson film Nikita has directly inspired one American film remake, Point of No Return (1993); one Hong Kong remake, Black Cat (1991); two TV series, La Femme Nikita (1997-2001) and Nikita (2010-2013); and indirect remakes like Korean film The Villainess, which is itself getting an American TV adaptation.
  • A new version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers seems to be released once every twenty years. There's Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), Body Snatchers (1993), The Invasion (2005), and a fifth version is in Development Hell as of this writing.
  • Halloween has been retconned and rebooted at least four times, not counting the comic books adaptions:
  • The Italian film Perfect Strangers, about seven people at a dinner party whose secrets are exposed after they agree to share every e-mail or text message they receive that evening. Since its release in February 2016, it has been remade at least 14 times (some more offical than others) in different countries, with more on the way, the first of those released in Greece in December 2016.
  • The 2011 Korean film Always has had four remakes so far with different names: a 2014 Turkish version called Sadece Sen, a 2015 Indian-Kannada remake titled Boxer, the 2016 Hindi version Do Lafzon Ki Kahani (trans. A Tale of Two Words), and lastly, a 2020 Japanese remake with the name Your Eyes Tell.
  • Similarly, the tearjerker Korean movie Miracle in Cell No. 7 has several adaptations, including an Indian Kannada film, a Turkish film with the same name, a Philippine film, an Indonesia film, and will have an upcoming Spanish remake in 2021.
  • My Sassy Girl, another successful Korean movie, has 8 remakes. It had been remade as a Korean series (though remade as a historical piece), a Japanese series, an American film, a Nepalese film, an Indian film, a Chinese film, a Lithuanian film, and a Philippine film was announced to be released in 2021. The original is so iconic that there are remakes still being made for it today, even though it's an old 2001 movie.


    Mythology & Religion 
  • The Bible has been adapted hundreds of times, covering every medium there is, which can be expected, since it's a sacred text for three of the world's largest religions.note  Among the most commonly adapted Bible stories:
    • The Noah's ark story from the Book of Genesis.
    • The first 20 chapters of the Book of Exodus, (most people skip the incredibly painstakingly detailed instructions for building the tabernacle in the second half of the book) especially the liberation of the Jews by God through Moses the Prophet.
    • The story of Samson and Delilah from the Book of Judges.
    • The accounts of Jesus's life, death, and Resurrection from The Four Gospels.
  • Arthurian Legend. Every few generations needs a new adaptation of the old stories, starting with Le Morte D Arthur by Malory and moving on to Tennyson, T. H. White, Peter David...
  • Robin Hood also has a ridiculous amount of adaptations, including TV shows, movies, books, video games, and that's not even getting into "Modern Robin Hood" territory.
  • Many stories from Classical Mythology are a popular choice for all kinds of adaptions, be it the The Iliad and The Odyssey, the adventures of Herakles, the journey of Jason and the Argonauts, the quest of Perseus...
  • The legend of Mulan might be best known to contemporary audiences through Disney's two film adaptations, but it has also been adapted to the stage (including a 2013 dance version called The Legend of Marissa Inouye), in novels, several Chinese-produced films, and on television.

  • Carmen is known for its frequent adaptations. Although most of them are derived from one particular adaptation, Bizet's opera, with the original novella falling victim to Adaptation Displacement.
  • Stage versions of William Shakespeare's plays don't count as adaptations, but the many straight up stage-to-screen adaptions, and the inspiration for new scripts, easily number into the hundreds. The BBC appears to feel a need to produce a definitive TV version of the complete Shakespeare folio, approximately once every fifteen years or so.
  • Chess started out as a Concept Album in 1984. It was adapted into a stage musical for the first time in 1986, but a mixture of Executive Meddling and attempts to cope with the end of the Cold War meant that for some time, every time the show popped up in a new location it was practically a new musical, sometimes venturing pretty far from the album's storyline. Even a couple decades later there's no consensus on which staged version did it right if any did at all, so new variations of the story continue to pop up.
  • The Odd Couple originated as a stage play that debuted in 1965 and has been adapted into a film that got released in 1968, a well-known 1970-75 TV series, a 1975-76/77 animated series adaptation, a 1982-83 reboot TV series with black leads, along the way a rewrite of the original play for female leads that debuted in 1984, a 1993 TV movie followup to the '70s series, a 1998 theatrical sequel to the 1968 film, a 2002 rewrite of the original male version, and a 2015-17 reboot series. There's also been a lot of merchandise for mostly the 1970s series, including a mid-1970s comic book adaptation that Neil Simon told Paramount to halt after its first issue, as he'd only signed away the rights to adapt the original male play into movies and TV series. This is only a list of all the official, recorded adaptations originally in English. This entry doesn't even start getting into all the foreign adaptations, parodies, spiritual adaptations/sucessors, and usage of the basic character archetypes and plotline within other works. Neil Simon spawned a fucking genre. Now that he has died and is no longer around to tell Paramount not to step outside the formal bounds of his 1963/64 sale of the IP's adaptation rights to them, who knows how many more adaptations it can spawn and how much merchandise is yet to come?


    Video Games 

    Western Animation 
  • Scooby-Doo spawned numerous animated series, including a Spinoff Babies series, as well as many animated movies (Reluctant Werewolf and The Ghoul School), several live action movies, more animated movies (Zombie Island, The Alien Invaders, etc.), another animated series with a modern update, and many more animated movies based off of that series. The latest, SCOOB!, is even intended to launch a Shared Universe with Hanna-Barbera properties.
  • The Classic Disney Shorts and Looney Tunes started with animation shorts, and would later inspire comic books, TV cartoons, the occasional feature film (including live action hybrids in case of the Tunes), theme park rides, video games and all sorts of merchandise.


Video Example(s):


Superman of Adaptations

This clip celebrates the many iterations of Superman's origin story and adventures to the sound of Smallville's theme song, "Somebody Save Me."

How well does it match the trope?

5 (19 votes)

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Main / AdaptationOverdosed

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