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Adaptation Species Change

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A bird on the shoulder is worth a guy wearing a hat.

You read a book about a hero and his faithful pet, but when the book is adapted to film, the hero's pet has been changed into a different species. This is what's known as an Adaptation Species Change.

In the case of domestic animals, especially dogs, there can be an adaptation breed change.

May be part of Pragmatic Adaptation in live action movies and TV shows if the original species was either rare, dangerous, just not easy to work with, there was something else similar handy instead, or the original species was fictional to begin with.

This trope may also apply with the live-action adaptation of a work which has a Talking Animal character, with said animal turned into a human, specially in adaptations for theatre or low budget movies that can't count on CGI or animatronics.

See also Dub Species Change, when this happens in a dub of a work rather than a new adaptation. Compare: Adaptation Name Change, Adaptation Dye-Job, Anthropomorphic Animal Adaptation, and Race Lift, where the character remains the same species (human), but a different type of human. Can be the result of Demythification and Doing In the Wizard if the adaptation is trying to be more "realistic" than the work it was based off.

Not to be confused with Alternate Species Counterpart, where a new character is created in the same canon by changing the species of an existing character.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • Louie the Fly: The ads for the products meant for India and Malaysia change Louie into a mosquito instead of a fly, due to the stronger dangers of mosquito-borne illnesses there. No part of his design is changed to be different, contrasting him from other mosquitos animated for the ads, who resemble the insect closer—though they usually wear tank tops for some reason.
  • In the Toyota ReBorn commercials which feature the cast of Doraemon, Doraemon is Jean Reno instead of an anthropomorphic robot cat.
  • The 80s iteration of Freakies cereal turned the Freakies, originally monsters in their original 70s designs, into aliens. Retro-skewing merchandise and extended bios would return them to being monsters, ignoring the alien phase altogether.

    Anime & Manga 

    Asian Animation 

    Comic Strips 
  • In one of Dick Tracy's many, many cameos by other comic characters since Staton and Curtis took over, Dick gets a phone call from Usagi Yojimbo's Inspector Ishida. Since Dick Tracy is not a World of Funny Animals, this version of Ishida is human.

    Films — Animation 
  • Balto: The movie is Very Loosely Based on a True Story about the titular Heroic Dog. In real life, Balto was a purebred Siberian Husky, while in the movie, he's half wolf, which his Character Arc hinges on.
  • Bambi: The novel's Bambi was a roe deer in (presumably) Austria, but Disney made Bambi a white-tailed deer in Maine because the latter species was more familiar to American audiences note  .
  • Barbie of Swan Lake: In the ballet, Rothbart is an Ominous Owl-like creature and Odile is called the "Black Swan" (implying she turns into one). In this movie, they both turn into vultures.
  • The Dinoco logo's appearance and design actually vary depending on which film it appears in. In the Toy Story series films, it's colored red and features an Apatosaurus (just like the logo of the now-defunct Sinclair Oil company, which looks similar), but in the Cars series films, it's instead colored blue and features a Tyrannosaurus rex (the name Dinoco comes from the Sunoco Oil company, the official fuel of NASCAR, which is also colored blue).
  • In the original Basil of Baker Street books, Professor Ratigan was implied to have been a mouse or a "big mouse." In the Disney movie The Great Mouse Detective, his species is changed to a rat to be more in line with his last name. Doesn't keep him from being in denial of his species though.
    • In the original Sherlock Holmes books, and in most other adaptations, Toby is a bloodhound, but in the Disney movie, he is a Basset hound.
  • Batman: Assault on Arkham: King Shark is made into an augmented cyborg with tough skin and metallic jaws instead of a half-human/half-shark demigod.
  • In The Call of the Wild, Buck was a Saint Bernard/Scotch Collie mix, but an animated adaptation distributed by GoodTimes made him a German Shepherd.
  • DC League of Super-Pets has Ace the Bat-Hound as a Boxer rather than a German Shepherd or Great Dane, Wonder Woman's pet being the pig PB rather than the kangaroo-like Jumpa, and Chip is an ordinary Earth squirrel that gains electricity powers, in contrast to Ch'p in the comics being a Green Lantern Corpsman who is a member of a race of squirrel-like aliens called H'lvenites.
  • The Felidae film changes the breeds of several of the cats from the book. For example, Felicity in the book is a Russian Blue, but she doesn't fit the Breed Standard in the film (being long-haired instead of short-furred).
  • In Flatland: The Movie, the women of Flatland are the same shapes as the men, rather than simply lines.
  • Gnomeo & Juliet: In addition to everyone becoming a sentient garden gnome, the Nurse is a frog fountain, Friar Laurence is a plastic flamingo, and Balthasar is a small mushroom that doesn't speak.
  • Gundam 00: A Wakening of the Trailblazer: An In-Universe example shown in a movie based on the actual second season. Tieria Erde, an Innovade, is presented as a Scary Black Man, also making this a case of Race Lift.
  • Hercules: The character from the original Classical Mythology is the son of Zeus to a mortal woman and is thus a demi-god. The title character is instead Zeus' son with Hera meaning he's a full god, but was depowered by his Evil Uncle for much of the film.
  • In the original How to Train Your Dragon books, Toothless was a tiny Common Dragon. In the film, he is now a Night Fury, a rare and powerful dragon type. The books later retconned him into being a young Seadragonus Giganticus Maximus, a powerful, rare type of dragon like the Night Fury.
  • In Justice League Dark, Black Orchid is the physical manifestation of the House of Mystery, in contrast the comics, where she was a human woman who developed superpowers as the result of a military experiment involving the Green.
  • Justice League: Gods and Monsters and its tie-in media made Giganta into a Humongous Mecha and Brainiac into a genetically engineered little boy.
  • Justice League × RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen sees the members of the JLA transported to Remnant. As such, Batman and Vixen are changed into Faunus patterned after a bat and a fox, respectively.
  • Legend Of The Guardians The Owls Of Ga Hoole:
    • Otulissa and Strix Struma were spotted owls in the Guardians of Ga'Hoole books, but they've become short-eared owls in the movie. This is most likely because of wanting to make the owls have expressive eyes and faces.
    • The High Tyto before Kludd (Metal Beak in this movie, while Metal Beak is saved for Kludd). He was a barn owl in the books, but is a sooty owl in the movie. The irony is that the owl whose species is low in the Pure Ones ranks is the leader of said Pure Ones.
  • Moana: Tamatoa is a giant crab, while in actual Polynesian legend he's a headless warrior.
  • My Little Pony: The Movie (2017): In the somewhat obscure G1 comic where he first appeared, the Storm King was a burly, troll-like humanoid. In the movie, since there aren't supposed to be any humans or human-like creatures in the G4 world, he was portrayed as a yeti-like creature with satyr-like hooves.
  • For whatever reason, The New Adventures Of Peter Rabbit changes Tommy Brock from a Bad Ol' Badger to a grouchy hedgehog, which makes it rather confusing that he’s treated like some sort of threat to the rabbit protagonists.
  • In the original Peter Pan, Nana is a Newfoundland, but in the Disney adaptation, she is a Saint Bernard.
  • In Pinocchio Monstro is a huge, aggressive whale that swallows people whole. In the original book the sea monster is a "terrible dogfish" (that is, a shark).
  • Princess Arete: Grovel is a frog turned Boax's Familiar instead of a human servant whom Boax turns into a frog when Arete completes all three of her Impossible Tasks.
  • In Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School, the ghost Phantasma's father is clearly based on the eponymous character of The Phantom of the Opera (1925), but is reimagined as an actual ghost rather than a disfigured living man.
  • In Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero, the titular dog, Sergeant Stubby, appears to be a Boxer as opposed to a mixed "bully" breed in real-life.
  • The book that Shrek is based on simply describes Shrek as a monster, doesn't say which kind. The movie on the other hand explicitly describes him as an ogre.
  • In The Snow Queen, the titular queen is heavily implied to be of The Fair Folk. In Frozen, Elsa is a human who was born with the ability to create and manipulate ice and snow.
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs' original Tarzan stories:
    • Sabor was a lioness, but in Disney's Tarzan, she was changed to a leopardess. note 
    • The apes Tarzan lived with weren't gorillas, but a fictional species of ape (or hominid?) called mangani. The mangani were mortal enemies of the bolgani (the mangani's blanket term for gorillas).
    • In the original books, Tarzan has a monkey sidekick named Nkima, but in the classic films and live action TV show he has a chimp sidekick named Cheeta. The gorilla Terk from the Disney adaptation is loosely based on them.
  • In a Disney Adventures comic adaptation of Toy Story, released several months after the movie came out, Andy's dog Buster (who is unnamed in this story) is a brown mutt with spots. By the time Toy Story 2 rolled around, Buster is a Dachshund.
  • Treasure Planet is Treasure Island IN SPACE; as such, the only human characters are Jim and his parents, while everyone else is some kind of alien (or robot, occasionally). It even extends to the animals, with the Trope Codifier for Pirate Parrot changed to a blobby creature named Morph, who can imitate your shape as well as your words.
  • While in Norse Mythology Thor was the love-child between the god Odin and Jord, Giantess that embodied Midgard, in Legends of Valhalla: Thor he is half-human.

  • In Anklet for a Princess, a retelling of Cinderella in India, the human Fairy Godmother character from the traditional Cinderella story is changed to a magical talking cobra named Godfather Snake.
  • In Anno Dracula, nearly all supernatural beings are actually vampire variants, whether the original source has them as werewolves, demons, aliens or youkai. Multiple characters who were human but either nearly-superhumanly skilled or actually superpowered in the source material are also vampires, ranging from Biggles to Captain Scarlet.
  • In "The Merchant's Tale" from The Canterbury Tales, Pluto and Proserpina, gods of Classical Mythology, are now The Fair Folk.
  • In the novelization to Labyrinth, the goblin announcing that Sarah and the gang have reached the castle refers to Hoggle as a gnome rather than a dwarf.
  • The novelization to Men in Black is an Early Draft Tie-In where a second race called the Baltians have joined the Araquillians in threatening to destroy Earth. The tiny aliens piloting Mobile Suit Humans are now called Baltians instead of Arquillians.
  • Something similar to the Canterbury Tales example happens in the 14th century poem Sir Orfeo, a Setting Update of the myth of Orpheus and Euridyce, which replaced Hades with an unnamed "king of the Otherworld".
  • In The Hidden History of Oz series by Tarl Telford, Glinda isn't an immortal fairy like in Baum canon. She starts out as a human teenager and the daughter of a sorceress.
  • Jack and the Beanstalk: Many versions feature a hen instead of a goose. A few replace the giant with an ogre.
  • The Wicked Years changes a few characters species from the Land of Oz series. For example, Glinda the Good Witch is a fairy however in Wicked she is a normal mortal human who studied magic.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey was orginally a Twilight fanfiction titled Master of the Universe that employed Adaptational Mundanity. As such, Edward Cullen and the rest of the Cullen family (who became Christian Grey and the Trevelyan-Grey family) are humans rather than vampires; the same goes for several supporting characters. Jacob, who became Jose, isn't a werewolf. And Bella/Ana and Edward/Christian's child isn't a dhampir, nor does Bella/Ana end up becoming a vampire.
  • When Dark Horse Comics first released the comics that'd be the basis for Aliens (Steve Perry Trilogy), they were able to use Ripley, Hicks, and Newt. Then Alien³ happened, complete with the fates of Ripley, Hicks, and Newt — and later rereleases of the comics, as well as the books, replaced Hicks and Newt with Suspiciously Similar Substitutes and, relevant to this trope, replaced Ripley with a gynoid who just thought she was Ellen Ripley.
  • In The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman, it's a plot point that Snow White's evil stepmother was a member of the same Mage Species as the evil fairy who cursed Sleeping Beauty. In the original version of "Snow White", and most adaptations, there's no indication that the evil queen isn't human.
  • The Divine Comedy:
    • In the original Greek myths, Geryon is described as a giant with three bodies and/or three heads. However, Dante depicts him as a manticore-like creature instead.
    • Cacus was a fire-breathing giant in Greek mythology, but Dante depicts him as a centaur with a fire-breathing dragon on his shoulders and snakes covering his equine back.
    • At one point, Dante and Virgil find Nimrod deep in Hell for the crime of creating the Tower Of Babel. He's described as a 30 foot tall giant. In the original story of The Bible there's nothing to indicate he's anything other than a normal-size human.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days: Frank's childhood pet Nutty is a cat in the webcomic, but a dog in this book.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In some tellings, Durga rides on an Asiatic lion. In others, she rides on a tiger. Either way, a Cool Mount.
  • Some hypotheses root Sun Wukong in early Chinese gibbon chasing stories. If this is the case then he most assuredly is not depicted as a gibbon anymore, being more well known as the Monkey King. He is also accepted to have some inspiration from Hanuman, which also counts since Hanuman is sometimes accepted to be a specific type of mythological monkey.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas , one of Emmet's bandmates is a raccoon called Wendell Coon. In the Jim Henson adaptation, he becomes Wendell Porcupine. This may have been due to the unfortunate implications of the word "coon".
  • In The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, Toto is a king prawn instead of a dog. Justified, since after Dorothy ends up in Oz, Toto is played by Pepe. Pre-tornado, he's seen as an actual prawn in a goldfish bowl. This trope is averted with the Cowardly Lion, though: he's still a lion, even though his "actor," Fozzie, is a bear.

  • In the stage adaptation of the Disney animated feature Aladdin:
    • Jafar's sidekick Iago is a human instead of a parrot.
    • Aladdin's pet monkey Abu is also replaced with three human companions called Babkak, Kassim and Omar who were present in early drafts of the movie before Abu was thought of.
  • In A dzsungel könyve, a Hungarian stage adaptation of The Jungle Book, Chil is a vulture instead of a kite.
  • In the play adaptations of LazyTown, Sportacus is depicted as an elf instead of a human.
  • The Little Mermaid changes Flotsam and Jetsam from moray eels (as in The Little Mermaid (1989)) to electric eels (psycho ones, at that).
  • Pinocchio: The Musical replaces the fishes who turned Pinocchio back from a donkey to a puppet with mermaids.
  • The 1902 stage adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz replaced Toto the dog with Imogen the Cow.
  • Sonic: Live in Sydney changed Princess Sally from a chipmunk to a marsupial, as there are no native chipmunks in Australia.
  • Orpheus's lover Eurydice is traditionally a dryad, or tree nymph, in the myths, while in Orpheus: A Poetic Drama she's a nereid, or water nymph.
  • The Walking with Dinosaurs Arena Spectacular changes the Coelophysis from the first episode into Liliensternus. The reasons are probably pragmatic, first because, unlike Coelophysis, Liliensternus actually did coexist with Plateosaurus, and secondly because Liliensternus is much bigger, making it easier to portray with a live-acted costume.

    Theme Parks 
  • "Pinocchio Unstrung," Knott's Scary Farm's horror maze adaptation that turns Pinocchio into an insane murderous fiend, turns Monstro the whale into an anglerfish. He works with Pinocchio to eat the guests.

  • For reasons known only to the North American branch of Epoch, the Walnuts Squirrel family in the Sylvanian Families toys and anime range are marketed as Chipmunks. They were previously marketed as squirrels under the Furbanks family however, but then a renaming exercise took place on the non-Japanese branches and this happened (the International English branches chose to sync the family name with the Japanese family name but gave them first names, in the original Japanese market they do not have first names). Their family name was also changed to Hazelnut, but that's a different trope.

    Video Games 
  • Binary Land: The protagonists are a pair of humans in the original computer versions. In the Famicom port, they're turned into penguins.
  • BIONICLE: The Gukko are a made-up species of orange and silver colored, four-winged, legless cyborg birds with a long, straight beak. In BIONICLE: The Game, the Gukko is a green and yellow cyborg parrot.
  • Eve in the Blaster Master series was originally a Human Alien from a distant planet. In the Zero series, it's revealed she's actually an android. But in the third game, she ends up transforming into a Human Alien. Also, Fred went from being definitely a frog to a frog-like "unidentified lifeform".
  • Devil May Cry: In the original games, Dante and Vergil were half-human, half-demon hybrids. In the Ninja Theory game, Dante and Vergil are Nephilim, half-demon and half-angel. As their mother Eva is an angel in this continuity instead of a human like the original, this trope applies to her as well.
  • While all games provide different interpretation of recurring summons' appearances, Final Fantasy XII goes to the extreme by turning them into airships. Examples include Dreadnought Leviathan, Light Cruiser Shiva, Heavy Carrier Alexander, and Sky Fortress Bahamut. The game's summons are instead based on the villainous Lucavi from Final Fantasy Tactics.
  • Kingdom Hearts II inexplicably changed Yuna, Rikku and Paine into fairies.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom:
    • Unlike earlier games in the franchise, which represented them as mummy-like undead, this version of the reoccurring Gibdo enemies reinvents them as insect-like monsters that simply have a skeletal appearance, as they emerge from colonial hives, possess mandibles, have a flying variant with butterfly-like wings, and have a queen which resembles a giant moth.
    • The Rauru in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is portrayed as a Hylian. There's another character named Rauru in Tears of the Kingdom, but unlike every other Legacy Character across the franchise, his species is changed to a Zonai, a race of Beast Men.
  • Lies of P:
    • P, the Pinocchio of this adaptation is an automaton robot as opposed to the wooden puppet he was in the original book.
    • Gemini, P's cricket companion is here a cricket automaton instead of being a magical talking insect like in the source material.
    • All the anthropomorphic animal characters are here reimagined as humans wearing animal face masks that correspond to their animal counterpart and part of a criminal organization known as the Stalkers.
    • The human circus ringmaster and Mangiafucco become automaton puppets known as the Parade Master and King's Flame, Fucco in the game.
  • Mega Man: In the various iterations of the franchise, Roll is almost always either another robot or artificial intelligence of some kind like Mega Man himself. In Mega Man Legends, however, Roll Caskett is a human girl.
  • Mobile Fighter G Gundam: In the original game, Master Asia is a regular human. Shin Super Robot Wars changed things up. In this game, Master Asia is an agent of the Dug Interstellar Republic, sent in response to report intelligent life on Earth.
  • Mortal Kombat 1:
    • Raiden is no longer the God of Thunder, but is instead a mortal farmer from a small village in China. Accordingly, his trademark lightning powers now come from a special amulet given to him by Liu Kang, rather than being a divine ability he was born with.
    • The Tarkatans are no longer a distinct species of creatures, but are instead Edenians who have become afflicted with a disfiguring illness known as Tarkat. Because of this massive lore change, Baraka is now stated to be a former Edenian merchant who became a blade-armed monster after contracting Tarkat.
    • Likewise, rather than being the half-Tarkatan clone of the Edenian princess Kitana, Mileena is now Kitana's biological sister whose monstrous appearance comes from the Tarkat disease.
    • Smoke is a human ninja rather than an Enenra (a Japanese smoke Youkai), with his abilities now coming from magical spells he learned during his time with the Lin Kuei.
    • Quan Chi is now an Outworlder who learned sorcery rather than an Oni or demon from the Netherrealm.
  • Prince of Persia: Warrior Within: In Persian Mythology, the name Dahaka refers to a three-headed dragon. In the games, the name refers to a Humanoid Abomination tasked with killing those who interfere with the flow of time.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers: While exploring Amp Plains, the main characters come across a tribe of electric-type Pokémon. In Explorers of Time and Darkness, the tribe is made of Luxios and a Luxray. In Explorers of Sky, the tribe encountered is instead made of Electrikes and a Manetric, because Shinx, the pre-evolution of Luxio, was added as a possible starter.
  • Downplayed in the fangame Super Mario: All-Star Attack with Wanda. She's a fairy in her game of origin, but a member of the Sprixie species here.
  • In Super Robot Wars V, Hokushin is the last Meganoid, whereas he was a human in Martian Successor Nadesico: Prince of Darkness. Justified because according to Banjo Haran, his father gave the Jovian Union the technology to turn into Meganoids.
  • A Total War Saga: TROY: In Classical Mythology, the Corybantes were human worshippers of Cybele. In the game, they're giant lion people.
  • ULTRAKILL: Plenty of characters are depicted as different species from their Inferno counterparts, one of which isn't even from the poem.
    • In the poem, King Minos is a giant snake man with a long tail that he uses to judge the sinners with before casting them into their designated layers for eternal punishment. Here in the game, he's depicted as a fully humanoid, if still towering, Husk with a snake motif as the only reference to his poem counterpart's serpentine qualities. Even as a Prime Soul, King Minos still retains a fully humanoid body plan, and the only serpentine qualities in that form are a pair of ethereal snakes that are coiled on each of his arms.
    • In The Bible, The Leviathan is a fully reptilian, if horrific, primordial beast. Here in the game, The Leviathan is a serpentine Demon made of stone and flesh whose body is formed from The Sullen, sinners who sunk to The Styx' Abyss out of despair. It is also worth mentioning that The Leviathan is never mentioned in the poem despite being The Bible's most infamous monster.
    • In the poem, The Minotaur is a half-human and half-bull creature. Here in the game, The Minotaur is a Demon resembling a bull-shaped mish-mash of meat and stone.
    • In the poem, The Centaurs are half-human and half-horse creatures. Here in the game, their analogs are colossal Mechanical Horses known as "Earthmovers".

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • The players in Darths & Droids discuss a campaign which Sally ran which turns out to be an in-universe version of Jurassic Park told from the point of view of the dinosaurs - except that the cloned dinosaurs were robots in Sally's version.
  • One of the main characters of Kiwi Blitz is a Robot Girl named 42. When she and several other characters make a cameo appearance as a Magical Girl team in Sleepless Domain, she is instead a human girl with technology-themed powers.
  • MoringMark - TOH Comics:
    • One of the first big twists in the comics following the cast's children is the reveal that Grom is actually a witch suffering from an Archivist curse rather than just a mindless demon.
    • Amity, Edric and Emira are all 1/16th human rather than pure-blooded witches as one of their great-grandmothers was a human (more specifically, Ameila Earhart) who somehow ended up on the Boiling Isles. It doesn't specify whether she was from Alador or Odalia's side of the family, though whichever one it was would make them qualify as well.
  • The Walkyverse gives us Ultra Car, a Sentient Vehicle turned Robot Girl. Dumbing of Age gives us her human equivalent Carla, a trans girl.
  • Yellow Brick Ramble: This comic-slash-graphic-novel adaptation of the second Oz novel, The Marvelous Land of Oz, brings in Dashemoff Daily, the Poet Lauriette of Oz, who was originally a character in The Wizard of Oz (1902) stageplay. Dashemoff was a human in his canon appearance, but in this webcomic adaptation he has been changed into a donkey. The comic artist has said that this change is to make it simpler for Dashemoff to fall in love with a particular equine main character.

    Web Videos 
  • In the original Pride and Prejudice, Kitty Bennet is a human being and is the second youngest of the Bennet sisters. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries turned her into Lydia Bennet's pet cat.
  • SMPLive: Despite Travis's skin being a monkey, all of his VOD thumbnails depict him as an anthropomorphic shiba inu. Additionally, one of his oldest skins depicts him as a human.

    Real Life 
  • The American holiday of Groundhog Day, when groundhogs are alleged to emerge from hibernation and either retreat back underground or stay depending on the weather to come, has its basis in similar European traditions, including an Irish "Hedgehog Day" custom. But there are no hedgehogs native to North America, so an alternative small burrowing mammal was substituted.
  • Rome's eagle, originally a symbol of Zeus, is a golden eagle, also called "royal eagle" in some languages. Its use as a symbol was continued by several European states that claimed to be successors of Rome. When the United States gained independence, they deliberately chose an eagle symbol as a throwback to Rome, but made it a bald eagle, a species only found in North America. The United States does have golden eagles, but they aren't found on the east coast, where the original American colonies were located.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Adaptational Species Change


Bat Faunus Man

When Batman is transported to Remnant, not only does he become a Faunus, but he's a Bat Faunus with bat wings.

How well does it match the trope?

4.78 (9 votes)

Example of:

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