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Adaptation Personality Change

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Dumbledore asked calmly.
Original image by soupandleaves. Used with permission.

"[We're] the type of heroes who would have their own TV show! Did you watch it, Lance? It's so cool. They got you spot-on, but Coran is like, he's all super-serious and stuff. And Allura's a little... I don't know, she's different. Keith is friendly! He's happy all the time! I mean, they got it so wrong."

Often when adapting from a book or other medium, a character will be included in the adaptation but their personality will be different from the original medium. Maybe they are a Composite Character and take on the role and personality of the one they get combined with. Maybe they only have a minor role initially but it gets expanded upon in the adaptation. Or maybe in the original their role was much bigger and got cut down in the adaptation, leaving them a little one dimensional.

The changes made to a character's personality is usually done as an emphasis or toning down of certain qualities, having spawned a laundry list of different Sub-Tropes:

See also Adaptation Explanation Extrication. Also compare Alternative Character Interpretation. Character Exaggeration is this trope when it takes an existing personality trait and ramps it up even further. Dub Personality Change applies to when translations do this. Compare Same Character, But Different, when the character's personality radically changes in the same continuity without any justification (such as Character Development). Adaptational Skill can sometimes overlap, though not every character with an Adaptational Skill is an example of this trope.

In fanworks, this takes often the form of Memetic Personality Change.

Note that this is not a trope to complain about minor changes in an adaptation.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane: In the original comics, Mary Jane was a stereotypical party girl which was eventually revealed through several Hidden Depths to be a mask she puts on to avoid making attachments due to her bad home life. While it's established early on that Mary Jane hides how depressed she can sometimes be, she's far more open about her feelings especially when it comes to her best friend Liz. However she does eventually adopt a party girl facade to deal with how complicated her life has been since Homecoming and her feelings for Peter.
  • Max Ride: First Flight:
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics):
      • In the comics most of the games cast resembled their counterparts in the DiC cartoons at the time (the earliest comics mirrored Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, while the later more serious stories issues adapted their Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) counterparts). The later issues tend to keep the cast far more loyal to their games incarnations, especially following the Continuity Reboot. For example, Sonic is much sassier (fitting his "dude with a 'tude" portrayal in early American media) and he isn't a Celibate Hero.
      • Outside the games characters, Sally and Antoine lost most of the comedic pomposity of their cartoon counterparts after the early issues and became more lucid, serious minded heroes (Antoine also Took a Level in Badass and became a competent swordsman and far more intelligent).
      • In the games, while Silver is stated to be insecure and naive, it rarely ever popped up. The comics make these traits much more explicit, along with depicting Silver as socially awkward and excitable.
    • Sonic the Comic:
      • Sonic is a heroic, laidback character in the games, and at the time of the comic was written in western canon as being a Totally Radical Mascot with Attitude. Sonic in the Fleetway comics exhibits none of said traits, instead being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. He is heroic and does really love his friends but he has a hard time showing his emotions and uses Trash Talk a lot.
      • Tails is usually a genius Child Prodigy but here he's a naive Cheerful Child with a cowardly streak (though he's still a good engineer).
      • Amy is a level-headed Action Girl who doesn't really resemble either the classic or post-Adventure versions of her character. It's never truly specified if she has a crush on Sonic or if she's teasing him, but either way it doesn't come up much. Early on she was closer to her game personality but Executive Meddling caused her personality change.
      • Super Sonic is altered from merely being a Super Mode for Sonic to being the Mr Hyde to Sonic's Dr Jekyll, as this continuity's version of the Chaos Emeralds were "filled with evil."
    • Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW): Silver's personality is a lot more excitable, optimistic, and socially awkward than his more serious portrayal in the games.
  • In Spider-Man future retellings, across several mediums, of Peter’s days just short of becoming Spider-Man have made him a more pure hearted person from the get-go, however, in the original Stan Lee and Steve Ditko run it was quite evident Peter was more of an irritable teenager, a good guy yes but not an ideal pure hero, which gave weight to Peter’s immediate decision of trying to make money as soon as he got super powers instead of trying to be a hero right away; it was only after much hard earned experiences that Peter grew to be up a fantastic heroic person.
  • Most of the major characters in All Star Batman And Robin seriously differ from their mainstream counterparts. Superman has severe anger issues, Wonder Woman is an unsympathetic man-hater, the Joker isn't funny, and Batman himself is a violent and cruel Manchild. It was believed that the characters would eventually grow into their more recognizable selves, but that didn't ever ever happen. After of three years of erratic scheduling... they did not.
  • Ultimate Marvel:
    • The Ultimates:
      • Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver go from loving siblings who were maybe a little too close to full-blown incestuous lovers. The Scarlet Witch is icy and aloof a lot of the time.
      • Captain America is no longer the Nice Guy. He's a good guy, but Good is Not Nice.
      • Instead of a Recovered Addict, Tony Stark fully embraces alcoholism and he's the Hard Drinking Party Guy, instead of being a mean drunk. Additionally, he's also immature and ditzy.
    • Everyone on the Ultimate Fantastic Four gets a dose. Sue is more sexually aggressive, Johnny is a Brainless Beauty, and Ben and Reed are both angstier. All of this can probably be attributed to their younger ages.
    • Ultimate Spider-Man:
      • Mary Jane Watson goes from outgoing and flirty (with some repressed past baggage) to being somewhat nerdy and rather shy. On the flipside, Gwen Stacy becomes a rebellious punk who's quite troubled, even threatening bullies with a knife when their treatment of Peter gets out of hand.
      • Aunt May is more assertive than her mainstream counterpart. Until she learns during "The Clone Saga", she's also less tolerant of stuff related to Peter hiding he's Spider-Man from her than her 616 counterpart.
    • Miles Morales was instead created in the Ultimate Marvel universe, and then transplanted to the other one. In the original run Jeffeson was the Helicopter Parent, and Rio was the oblivious parent. Here, their roles are exchanged.
    • Ultimate X-Men:
      • Professor X while he's done numerous morally questionable things for sake of mutantkind is still very benevolent in the 616 universe. In Ultimate Marvel he abuses his telepathy powers, compares his love for his son David as akin to owning a pet and made a drug from Wolverine's DNA.
      • Wolverine is far more unpleasant than his mainstream counterpart as while 616 Logan is occasionally amoral he does have standards and lines he does not cross, Ultimatum Wolverine however sleeps with a 19 year old Jean Grey and worse still in Peter Parker's body pervs on cheerleaders and even tries to have sex with a 16 year old Mary Jane Watson which makes Logan an ephebophile. This Wolverine also tries to kill Cyclops over Jean, mainstream Wolverine despite his flaws would never murder a teammate.
      • While the mainstream Longshot is open and honest to fault, this Longshot is secretive, manipulative, and ultimately a violent murderer.
      • Dazzler is a bright, outgoing and positive character in the mainstream universe. In the Ultimate universe she's a foul-mouthed punk.
      • Nightcrawler is an unabashed Nice Guy in the 616 universe who doesn't judge people on their religious beliefs or sexual orientation, in the Ultimate universe Nightcrawler is homophobic to Colossus and stalks the aforementioned Dazzler.
      • Emma Frost in the Ultimate Universe is a pacifist whose willingly to teach human students, in the 616 universe Emma is often a Well-Intentioned Extremist who’s got many Anti-Human sentiments.
      • The mainstream Forge is a self-assured and assertive inventor who refuses to let his inventions be used for evil, while this Forge is insecure, passive and is all about letting his inventions be used for evil.
  • Jem and the Holograms (IDW):
    • In the cartoon Rio is very overprotective of Jerrica, gets jealous easily, and is in a Two-Person Love Triangle with Jem/Jerrica. In the comics he's taken a serious chill pill, doesn't even like Jem at first, and is only romantically interested in Jerrica.
    • Jerrica from the cartoon is a confident young woman but in the comics she's a Shrinking Violet with Stage Fright. The comic also puts more emphasis on how overworked she can get, something that is mostly glossed over in the cartoon.
    • Pizzazz's good qualities are more apparent in the comics. She's also more serious about music, instead of being in it simply for the fame.
    • Stormer has more bite than in the cartoon, while in turn Jetta is more tame.
  • Nightfall (1988):
    • Aton, astronomer and scientist, is now the local city leader. He spends the first part of the movie obsessed with a mysterious woman, and stubbornly insisting that they live in a city of light.
    • Sor, religious leader and off-screen antagonist, is now given screen-time equal to Aton. He seems to encourage archeology and preparations for the coming Darkness, but he is still obsessed with his cult, and ritualistically blinds his followers by having hawks eat their eyes.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Boom! Studios): Willow goes from Shrinking Violet in dowdy sweaters and skirts, to Extraverted Nerd wearing fishnets and ripped jeans. She's also out of the closet much earlier.
  • Rick and Morty (Oni): The "Rick and Morty Presents" spinoff line of comics does this with many of the side characters it focuses on:
    • The All New All Different Vindicators get Adaptational Heroism and Adaptational Nice Guy, as they are a lot more heroic and considerate than the Bitch in Sheep's Clothing originals (with the exception of Noob-Noob, who becomes the Big Bad, Boon, in a case of Adaptational Villainy).
    • In "Auto Erotic Assimilation", the Hive Mind Unity is referred to with gender-neutral pronouns, but in its issue here, where it almost-exclusively uses its main female body from that episode, it's referred to with female pronouns and called Rick's "girlfriend". In the series, Unity is implied to have Single-Target Sexuality for Rick (calling itself "yours, and nobody else's"), but in the comic, it has at least four other ex-boyfriends. While the Unity of the TV series is actually surprisingly benevolent and well-meaning, it gets a major case of Adaptational Jerkass and Adaptational Villainy here, being very selfish and prioritizing its ambition above all else, and manipulating and coercing its ex-boyfriends to help with its plans.
  • In the main DCU, Jason Blood is portrayed as a former knight bonded to the demon Etrigan, a ruthless beast that would (depending on the iteration) would speak in verse. In Batman: Damned, in a case of Composite Character, he is portrayed as rap-artist J Blood. It is ambiguous whether or not he is a human or a demon, his red eyes being sunglasses and his horns an elaborate set of piercings, but it is implied he has some level of mind-control over his audience and he only saves Batman from the fire out of Cruel Mercy.
  • The Transformers (IDW):
  • Disney Kingdoms: Downplayed in both of the Figment series: Figment has the childlike wonder that he possesses in the original Journey into Imagination ride but also has a few traits from the version of him in the aforementioned ride's 3rd incarnation, mainly a sharp wit.
  • Oliver Queen's mainstream counterpart — Green Arrow — is a wisecracking Jerk with a Heart of Gold based off of Robin Hood. In Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham he's a religious hero dressed like a 12th-century crusader who believes it is his destiny to kill Ra's al Ghul and end his devilry. He's also known for being a total joke compared to other heroes in the DC Universe, and this remains the case considering he's assassinated by Poison Ivy before he could even try to stop Ghul's Evil Plan.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Aphrodite's original Wonder Woman (1942) Earth-Two characterization was as the founder of the Amazons, a kind loving mother goddess figure to them who regularly walked among them and gave them help and advice, she was the Big Good of the Wonder Woman mythos. She and Mars were the most powerful of the Olympians. The following mainstream iterations of her are mostly apathetic towards the Amazons, less powerful and more interested in romancing random gods than aiding the Amazons.
    • Mars started out as a strong arrogant warrior with little to no cunning, but when renamed Ares for the Post-Crisis Wonder Woman (1987) he was re-imagined as a cunning treacherous fighter with a personality closer to a trickster.
    • Artemis was the goddess of the hunt, and far weaker than Aphrodite or Mars in the Earth-Two continuity, as the queen of some nymphs on the moon she didn't seem any more powerful than her subjects. Subsequent iterations maintain her connection to the hunt and portray her as an asexual clever plotter who cares deeply for the Amazons. In Wonder Woman (2011) she's a boneheaded cruel, violent fighting obsessed individual who is in an incestuous relationship with her brother.

  • In the Modesty Blaise novel The Night of Morningstar, The Dragon is Major the Earl St. Maur, who is a continuity transplant of a character who originally appeared in a story arc of the comic strip. In both versions, he's a former commando and a cunning strategist. In the comic strip arc, where he's the Big Bad, he's also got a flamboyant personality and a Complexity Addiction that leads to his downfall; in the The Night of Morningstar, he's The Dragon, and has a more pragmatic personality, becoming the underling who advocates a quick and simple death for the heroes and is ignored by the complexity-addicted Big Bad.
  • Harry Faulk is almost as mercenary when it comes to money in the short story adaptation of The Twilight Zone (1985) episode "Healer" as he is in the original but he still has a conscience. In the episode, Harry refuses to use the stone to heal Jackie Thompson's gunshot wound since he wants all of the money that they have made for himself. In the short story, Harry makes a genuine effort to heal Jackie but he becomes scared and runs away, promising to call an ambulance as he does so.
  • Star Darlings: Libby is an energetic Genki Girl in the web toon, whereas she's more intelligent and down-to-earth in the book series. The music videos seem to have Libby act close enough to her book counterpart.
  • In Will in Scarlet, an adaptation of the Robin Hood mythos:
    • The Sheriff is less villainous than most adaptations, a commoner who knows that his only chance for survival is to back the current power. he countenances the Merry Man and other bandits as long as they avoid killing people in the forest, and avoid people who have paid protection fees. When Sir Guy begins sacking the surrounding farms, he lays siege to the castle to avoid further depredation.
    • Much is a much more cynical, and less cheerful, character than in the adaptations, courtesy of having to disguise herself as a boy to survive.
    • Rob, eventually Robin Hood, is a drunkard who only becomes heroic after Will's example. His backstory is that of a common portrayal of Alan O'Dale as the common man forbidden to marry his higher-born love, except that in this case he failed, which drove him to drink.

  • In The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy novel And Another Thing..., Left Brain (Zaphod Beeblebrox's detached second head) is The Spock and resents all the time he's been subsumed by Zaphod's wild and often stupid primary personality. In the Hexagonal Phase of the radio series, while still more intelligent than the remaining head, he's a lot more Zaphod-like. Presumably because if you cast Mitch Benn because of how he played Zaphod in the stage show, you want him to actually play the character that way.

  • In real life, Thomas Jefferson was extremely socially awkward and introverted (with many historians believing he’d have an autism spectrum disorder if he were alive today) but in Hamilton, he’s charming and gregarious.
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera does this to the three main characters from Gaston Leroux’s original novel, which thanks to the Broadway musical’s immense popularity has led to some Pop Culture Osmosis.
    • The Phantom (named Erik in the book) is the most blatant, in the novel he’s a Tragic Monster with the empathise on the “monster” part and his behaviour makes him out to be a Psychotic Manchild even regarding his obsession with Christine. In the musical The Phantom is ridiculously sensual and is far less malicious than his book counterpart whom was willingly to blow up half of Paris if Christine refuses his Scarpia Ultimatum. The musical version limits himself to just strangling Christine’s Love Interest Raoul instead. Webber even makes The Phantom the hero in the sequel which ironically was treated with Canon Discontinuity by even diehard fans of the musical.
    • Christine is a textbook case of The Ingenue in the musical and her passive Stockholm Syndrome concerning her abduction at The Phantom’s hands is exaggerated to the point where she hardly resists to his machinations and emotional manipulation. This is in contrast to the book where Christine is a Plucky Girl who’s described as “strong” in the text and whom does her best to not only escape from The Phantom but protect Raoul from him as well. Her relationship with The Phantom is also more consensual in the musical with Christine being utterly captivated by his countenance as well as his music. In the book she trusts him at first when he thinks he’s the Angel of Music sent by her dead father but is completely horrified at learning the truth and while Christine does pity him she still tries to kill herself when faced the prospect of marrying him.
    • Raoul in the book is quite a complicated character. He struggles in the first half of the book to be a polite gentleman when Christine repeatedly keeps him at arms distance and is reluctant to tell him anything about her mysterious tutor or rekindle their childhood romance. This results in Raoul following Christine around, jump to jealous conclusions and generally be a whiny and possessive brat about her. He only simmers down when Christine tells him everything. The musical version? He’s a Nice Guy who cares about Christine... that’s it.
  • In Waitress, Jenna is a lot quicker to accept her pregnancy, whereas she spent most of the film acting as if her unborn child was another hardship in her awful life, rather than someone stuck along side her.
    Film Jenna: Dear damn baby - If you ever want to know the story of how we bought your damn crib, I will tell you. You crib was bought with the money that was supposed to buy me a new life. Every time I lay you down in that damn crib, I'm gonna think "Damn baby, damn crib. Me stuck like a pin in this damn life"

    Theatre Jenna: Dear baby. If you ever wanna know the story of how we bought your crib, I’ll tell you. Your crib was bought with the money I was gonna use to buy us a new life. The Springfield Pie Contest is starting next week! And you and I will not be in attendance.
  • Wicked:
    • Nessarose is portrayed differently between the book and the musical. Nessarose's father Frexspar is a religious man and he passed on his beliefs to his youngest daughter. Nessarose is a rather preachy woman who's always talking about the Unnamed God. Her religious views are a large element of her character. The musical Adapted Out everything about Lurline and the Unnamed God (to the point where the characters swear to Oz). This means the religious foundation of Nessa's personality was scrapped, putting more emphasis on her jealousy streak.
    • Glinda's Dumb Blonde elements are more emphasised early on in the musical.
    • Fiyero is a Composite Character of Fiyero and Avaric. As a result, he's much more flamboyant and free-spirited than his book incarnation.

    Web Animation 
  • Dark Secrets Of Garry's Mod: G-Man has an innocent and childish personality. Unlike in his source material with his stoic personality.
  • Sonic In X Minutes: Infinite in the Forces series. His personality is almost a complete reversal of his portrayal in Sonic Forces. In the game, he was basically just a bully who relied almost entirely on the Phantom Ruby's brute strength to hurt people, making him Unskilled, but Strong. He was also The Dreaded because of his sheer power. Here, he starts out as a stoic, perpetually bored minion who does very little, but later episodes give him more depth. In the series, Infinite uses his powers in much more creative, clever ways, like helping him and Eggman infiltrate the rebel base, manipulating Eggman into not firing him, and more. On the flipside, everyone sees him as a joke despite his skill. It's established that in this series, everyone knows that Infinite's illusions really are illusions, so nobody takes the illusions seriously. Infinite has to really concentrate to produce something (the sun) that will actually harm people. Basically, here he's Weak, but Skilled. Also, instead of turning evil because of one bad incident with Shadow like in the original game, here it's shown that Infinite has been bullied for presumably most of his life, and that's what drove him to villainy. When Cream shows him sympathy, Infinite makes a Heel–Face Turn, unlike in the original game, where he stays evil to the end and has an Uncertain Doom.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Atop the Fourth Wall: Linkara likes to do this with characters' Never Live It Down moments, in particular Superman, who simply will not budge to help 'Over There', as 'Over There' needs to take care of itself.
  • Lindsay Ellis' series Loose Canon is largely about this trope: an episode will be focused on a certain character and explore how they were portrayed in various adaptations, and what those changes say about their creators, the time period that they were made, etc.
  • Super Mario Bros. Z turned Shadow from a low-key, brooding, level-headed character into a hot-tempered, angry character to better mirror Vegeta.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
    • Popo goes from a genial nice guy to the most terrifying thing in the universe.
    • Guru goes from a wise and benevolent leader to a genocidal Cloudcuckoo Lander.
    • Most famously, Nappa goes from a fairly bland Brute to a Chaotic Stupid Psychopathic Manchild Ditz who drives Vegeta crazy with his nonsense. Hilariously, this made him much more popular than he was in the real series.
  • Notably King Sombra, who in the source material is a villain of very few words, is much more talkative in Fall of the Crystal Empire. Arguably justified, since Fall is a prequel and spending over a thousand years trapped in a glacier probably didn't do his mind any favors.
  • Poison Ivy in DC Super Hero Girls is the polar-opposite of her comic persona. She's a somewhat socially awkward Shrinking Violet and is a superhero. It could be justified in that Ivy's significantly younger in this series and thus hasn't become as confident or villainous.
  • In her source material, Chiaki Nanami is openly sweet, dorky, optimistic to a fault and The Heart. In Danganronpa 3 Abridged, she's a foul-mouthed, aloof Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and thus far lacks any optimism whatsoever.
  • Danganronpa Abridged Thing changes a few characters' personalities when they're not exaggerated for comic effect.
    • Naegi's significantly more snarky and cynical than in canon, and is noticeably less affected by what's going on (apart from screaming and passing out after finding Maizono's body).
    • Kirigiri's significantly more snide and impatient with others for their less than intelligent behavior, such as failing to pay attention during the investigation, compared to her somewhat more polite, if cold and brutally honest canon self.
    • Fukawa has an obsession with social justice and hatred for "cis white males," in contrast to her apolitical canon self.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Adaptational Personality Change


Book Hades vs Film Hades

Dom describes how the book Hades was a much more terrifying and god-like figure, dangerous and cold. Cut to the film version who's treated more as a joke than a threat.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / AdaptationPersonalityChange

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