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Adaptational Abomination

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When a character is adapted from their source material to another form of media, oftentimes alterations are made to their abilities, origins, and more in order to make them better suited to the new take, or simply because it's cool. Normally, these changes aren't too drastic, or even are more subdued in an attempt to make the work more 'realistic' by having their unusual characters be more grounded.

This trope is not for such adaptations.

While in the source material a character may have been a simple, easy-to-understand monster, or wizard, or what have you, in the adaptation they are far from ordinary. For example, characters who were simply a man with superpowers may become a Humanoid Abomination, either to make the audience afraid of his powers, or even as a way to ''explain'' his powers. Sometimes it's a case of Ascended Fridge Horror, and sometimes it's just the adaptation being Darker and Edgier... that is, if the eldritch nature of the adaptation has a basis in the original work at all, and isn't just the new author completely changing things up.

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Sub-Trope of Eldritch Abomination and Adaptation Deviation. Super-Trope to Santabomination. Contrast Adaptational Mundanity. See also Adaptational Badass and Adaptational Villainy. May qualify as an Adaptation Species Change, if either version can be called a species in the first place.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Sometimes used in DC Comics Elseworlds:
    • In Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham, a Cthulhu Mythos mashup, many characters get this, most notably Two-Face, whose evil half becomes a portal to Cthulhu's realm.
    • "The Reaching Hand" in Elseworlds 80-Page Giant reimagines Metamorpho as a cthuloid entity worshipped by a cult that kills people and reanimates them as grotesquely distended creatures (yes, all DC's Rubber Man characters).
    • Batman/Dark Joker: The Wild reimagines the Joker as a nigh-omnipotent Evil Sorcerer who commands legions of demonic creatures to assault innocent villages. Bruce is a Tyke Bomb who was being used by his parents in a ritual to create a Chosen One powerful enough to defeat the Dark Joker, but gained the appearance of a monstrous bat creature when the Joker himself interrupted the ritual and killed Bruce's parents.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen:
  • In the Sub-Mariner story ''Sub-Mariner: The Depths", Namor is portrayed as a silent Humanoid Abomination who defends the Eldritch Ocean Abyss that is Atlantis. Deviations from his mainstream counterpart include pale white skin and Black Eyes of Evil and being Really 700 Years Old, being far older than his mainstream counterpart should during the 1950's (his thirties) with him being blamed for the disappearance of a Spanish ship that was sent to the New World in 1610, the beaching of the Meduse in 1810 and the sinking of Titanic in 1912.
  • Ultimate Fantastic Four takes the inherent weirdness of Reed Richards' powers and really explores the possibilities. Nothing remains of his internal organs; he's basically a cluster of bacteria that looks human because that's what he's used to. This gets even more prominent in his fight with Sue after his Face–Heel Turn.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (2011): Some of the gods are given more unusual or monstrous appearances compared to their depictions in the myths and previous Wonder Woman continuities. Most notable are Hades who appears as a small child with a head made of lit candles and Poseidon who appears as an enormous teal creature that looks vaguely like a combination of a few octopi, a whale, and some type of pinniped with growths atop his head that look like coral and a giant starfish. There's also a smaller version of himself inside him. Outside of these two, the gods range from humans with unusual traits (Dionysus has fox teeth, Zeus constantly glowing eyes) to more Humanoid Abomination (Artemis looks like a living marble statue and can turn into a horned woman made of moonlight, while Ares is a creepy old man with black holes for eyes and legs constantly soaked in blood).
    • Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons: Similar to the comic above, this comic also gives the gods more eldritch appearances. Some are part of the Elemental Embodiment territory (Hestia appears as a woman made of fire and Zeus has lightning bolt-like veins across his sky-blue skin), some are more abstract (Athena doesn't have any body, and is just a set of animated armor pieces, mask and dress) and then you have representations that are simply quite unusual (such as Poseidon as a winged centaur, or Aphrodite as a Big Beautiful Woman seemingly made of galaxies).
  • Being a Lovecraft-homage in Batman form, a lot of Batman's more outlandish rogue's gallery in Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham are reinterpreted as Eldritch Abominations or made into one through dark forces.
    • Mister Freeze is portrayed as a man who was driven mad and transformed into an undead-being that freezes everything around him, obsessed with unleashing his dark master.
    • While Pamela Isley was an eco-terrorist that gave herself Green Thumb powers in the mainstream DC-universe, here Poison Ivy was a potted plant turned into a Botanical Abomination by Ra's al Ghul.
    • Ludvig Prinn was originally a necromancer who supposedly lived to be 500 years old, having authored his own evil spellbook. Here, he was a cultist who, after being imprisoned in the catacombs beneath Gotham, became a reptilian monster.
    • His father having been cursed with immortality from the Testament of Ghul, Batman is revealed to be one. He's The Chosen One destined to thwart Ra's al Ghul's plan of summoning Iou-Sotha and permanently transforms into Man-Bat to accomplish this.
  • When first reintroduced in The New 52, Ultra Humanite is no longer an evil scientist whose brain is implanted in the body of a mutated, albino gorilla. Now it is an alien horror, apparently native to the Phantom Zone, that mind controls the citizens of Smallville into experiencing their worst fears while also brainwashing them into enjoying being afraid, feeding on their minds in the process.
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    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Whereas Ghidorah was already portrayed in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) canon as a relatively mild Eldritch Abomination and an Adaptational Abomination to earlier incarnations of the character; in Abraxas, Ghidorah's Psychic Powers are even more Lovecraftian than anything it managed to display in MonsterVerse canon.
  • Child of the Storm:
    • In Marvel canon, the Phoenix Force is a cosmic firebird that takes hosts and occasionally eats stars, operating to an uncertain purpose. Eldritch enough. Here, it's taken further, being the primary aspect of Destruction of the Endless, and even the most stable hosts being mild Humanoid Abominations. A fully fledged Dark Phoenix is a galaxy eating Eldritch Abomination.
    • Surtur goes from a Big Red Devil style enemy of Asgard, to a cosmic force of destruction (ironically Truer to the Text as compared to the mythology) and recreation, rebuilding everything and everyone in his own image, being firmly convinced that the universe is flawed and only he knows how to fix it. And he has absolutely no problem wiping out entire galaxies and/or imprisoning the souls of his enemies and turning them into his monstrous minions in the process. It's revealed that the Alliance of Realms (the Nine Realms minus Niflheim/Helheim and Muspelheim) were once phenomenally advanced galactic scale Magitek empires who had literally all their dominions destroyed fighting him, and tried everything to stop him - including stuffing him in a black hole. The only thing that finally took was building Yggdrasil as a ludicrously complicated trap and/or prison that functioned as a cosmic alignment to empower all of them, as well as both draining Surtur's power and giving the chosen wielder of the future Odinforce the power to go toe to toe with him... long enough to distract him. And even that has been a Leaking Can of Evil, with avatars of his will going forth and being capable of destroying armies of gods through sheer will. Unsurprisingly, he's the original Dark Phoenix.
      • He also created a number, with his Great Captains all minimally being capable of destroying planets, and shrugging off being thrown into neutron stars, while the Elder Wyrms, the children of Jormungand, are Draconic Abominations designed as planet-busters.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Fantastic Four Duology reimagines Galactus, already an abomination in his own right, as a being with no human-like qualities, only appearing as a black cloud. Hints of his signature helmet appear as a shadow and as a fiery storm respectively.
  • It (2017): In terms of presentation, it is only downplayed with the titular Pennywise/It. While It was as much of an Eldritch Abomination in the book, its traits are exaggerated and more overtly demonstrated in the 2017 adaptation. The original Pennywise was mostly capable of putting on the act of a flashy, friendly clown, however, Bill Skarsgård's interpretation is more feral and obviously monstrous, rarely bothering to even act human. Pennywise is clearly inhuman from the get go, while in the book it only becomes apparent later on and the humanoid form is a very poor disguise that quickly falls off. The second half plays with this. Pennywise never fully assumes the spider form of the book only a clown-headed spider form, but more emphasis is given to the fact that Its true form is the Deadlights, a trio of lights akin to three suns.
  • In James and the Giant Peach, the rhinoceros which ate James's parents isn't really described as anything else other than just an animal (which makes it even more surreal in a way). In the live-action/animated film, it is a malevolent supernatural entity from beyond which manifests itself as a storm cloud shaped like a rhinoceros more closely related to the book's Cloud People.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Doctor Strange: Dormammu was always a Humanoid Abomination, but his comic version was still a recognizably humanoid Evil Sorcerer. His live-action film counterpart isn't even remotely humanoid beyond a face and exists outside of time while he tries to assimilate universes into his Dark Dimension.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: While Ego the Living Planet was quite powerful, the Ego of the film is more of a cosmic being despite having the ability to take a human form. His true form is a giant glowing brain with the planet being something he formed for himself rather than just being a planet that was given consciousness. He becomes more Lovecraftian when his true colors are revealed, as his expansion plot involves spreading pieces of himself to grow like tumors on other planets.
    • Spider-Man: Far From Home: Invoked and subverted with the Elementals, who are portrayed by Mysterio as immortal beings who have inspired myths throughout history and are capable of destroying the entire planet. Except they don't actually exist at all, at least in the incarnations Mysterio presents, as they are his illusions he uses to pretend to be a hero. Morris Bench, the "real" Hydro-Man, is mentioned to supposedly exist as a "mere" superpowered human.
  • The Titans in the MonsterVerse take the Kaiju from the Godzilla and King Kong franchises into this direction. While the various monsters from each series were weird and terrifying in their own unique ways, the MonsterVerse makes a point that the Titans not only predate mankind by many millions of years, but that should they ever awaken from their slumber, humanity is hilariously ill-equipped to do anything about it. Research from MONARCH reveal that they were all worshipped by various human civilizations of the past (being the source of various gods and monsters from religions new and antiquated), their mere presence acts as the catalyst that allows life to thrive on Earth, most of them are or have become Single Specimen Species, they have anatomies and abilities that should be impossible, they can (and have) hibernated for thousands of years, their bodies can absorb and store radiation and the only thing keeping them from destroying all of humanity is that their alpha (Godzilla) commands them not to, and even then it is left vague as to why.
    • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) leans into this in its depiction of King Ghidorah. In the original Godzilla continuity of the showa films, Ghidorah was established as a civilization-destroying world eater from the depths of space, but when he became Godzilla's most frequently-recurring enemy, Villain Decay set in pretty hard, and even his first film has a pretty light and campy tone. Most of the Japanese films since played him as just another kaiju, albeit one of the franchise's more iconic villains. King of the Monsters, on the other hand, emphasizes Ghidorah's alien biology (the revelation that he is an alien comes just after watching him disturbingly regrow a lost head after shrugging off a weapon that should have melted him), returns his threat level to a truly global scale with Hostile Terraforming, and giving him a folkloric backstory as The Dreaded tormentor of ancient civilizations. Even the cinematography around him is full of apocalyptic and satanic imagery, and his leitmotif is a Drone of Dread set to a Buddhist chant about void and nothingness.
  • In the A Nightmare on Elm Street film series, Freddy Krueger was the ghost of a child murderer given dream powers, but ultimately still a human ghost. The Freddy Krueger of Wes Craven's New Nightmare, on the other hand, was never even human to begin with. Justified as this is not actually the Freddy that we know and love, but an Eldritch Abomination masquerading as him who has taken other forms throughout the ages.
  • Nearly every adaptation of The Ring emphasizes the scare factor to make it more palatable to horror audiences. Sadako Yamamura (and her foreign counterparts), for example, becomes a vengeful ghost who terrorizes her victims personally. The original novels are actually more science fiction than horror, the "curse" is cancer caused by a mutation of the smallpox virus rather than anything ghostly, and Sadako's origin story is rather mundane. The famous scene where she comes out of television to claim her victims? That isn't in the novel.
  • In The Ritual, one of the cultists claims that the supernatural monster stalking the heroes is a Jotunn, more specifically a spawn of Loki. In Norse Mythology, Jotunns are alternatively known as "Frost Giants". Interpretations of what Jotunns look like depend between adaptations, usually being pictured as being similar to humans and gods, but significantly larger, with other adaptations giving them ice-based decor to them. Here though, the Jotunn is portrayed as an Animalistic Abomination with the body of a large elk overgrown with plant matter, with the addition of protruding spines from the vertebrae and an additional set of human-like hands by her hips. Her head is far more monstrous, resembling a headless human torso with antlers for arms and arms for legs, with a vaguely human head with glowing eyes where its crotch would be. It's worth noting that the most well-known Jotunn are Loki and his children: Fenrir (a giant wolf), Jormungandr (a giant snake), and Hel (a half undead goddess), so an animalistic being is completely in line with Norse myths.
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third installment of the Narnia movies, makes the sea serpent much more eldritch than it was in the original novel. It's more grotesque (for example, when it unfolds its scales to reveal hundreds of insectoid legs), and it emerges from the fog of nightmares surrounding the Dark Island (which, in the book, has nothing to do with the serpent). Word of God confirms that, in the film continuity, the villain from The Silver Chair (a Diabolus ex Nihilo with a snake connection) was behind the fog and the sea serpent inside it.
  • In the Warcraft Expanded Universe, Alodi is a long-dead (male) mage of Dalaran who became the first Guardian of Tirisfal, a very powerful wizard tasked with defending the world against demons. Other than that, the only thing special about him was his half-human half-elf heritage. In the 2016 movie however, Alodi is an unknown entity older than Dalaran whose true appearance is that of a floating black cube that can open to a seemingly infinite dimension of pitch black nothingness and who uses an ethereal grey-haired woman in black robes as its avatar to interact with people. It is still benevolent though.

    Literature 

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Arrowverse sees the Music Meister reimaginied as a Humanoid Abomination with seemingly limitless Reality Warper powers.
  • Kaamelott: Meleagant was originally just Guinevere's kidnapper in the tales of King Arthur. Here, he's some kind of Humanoid Abomination who visibly terrifies the Lady of the Lake just by existing, mind-controls people and corrupts Lancelot, implies he can't be killed and seeks to drive Arthur to suicide. When asked what the hell he is, he identifies as the gods' answer to Arthur's sins (sleeping with a vassal knight's wife).
  • In Penny Dreadful Dracula is Satan's brother. A fallen angel who has been alive since the dawn of time, whose true form is never seen, only appearing in his human disguise.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A Pyramid article giving advice on creating a Supers/Cthulhu mashup game included vignettes featuring thinly-disguised versions of established characters, including Superman as a humanoid Mi-Go, both Surfer in Silver and Blackened Racer being among the many names of Nyarlothotep, the implication that the Sub-Mariner and possibly Aquaman are Deep One hybrids, Bruce Wayne having been possessed by a Yithian who thus, became Batman, Dracula being the pulp hero the Shadow and more.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The legend of Saint George and the Dragon upgrades the dragon to a C'tan, a star vampire currently locked on Mars and implied to be the real Omnissiah worshiped by the Adeptus Mechanicus. Saint George was not a normal knight either, but the immortal God-Emperor of Mankind himself.

    Video Games 
  • In the Castlevania series, Dracula is more than just a powerful vampire like in the original novel. He is the commander of a seemingly endless army of demons, including Death himself, has various forms of powerful black magic at his disposal, including Resurrective Immortality, owns a castle that in itself is another demon and is known for changing forms, and he has the ability to turn into all sorts of demonic forms. In the Chronicles of Sorrow duology, it's revealed that Dracula is also known as The Dark Lord, which is basically this universe's equivalent to Satan.
  • Dante's Inferno loves this trope. Minos was originally a giant man with a snake's tail - in the game he is still a giant with serpentine traits, but on top of that mummified-looking, eyeless and with his crown fused to his head. Cleopatra, merely a humanoid shade in the original poem, is now a purple-skinned giant with a Glasgow Grin, mouths for niples and her lover living inside of her. As for Cerberus, they mixed the three-headed dog description and his appellation in the poem "great worm" to invent a gigantic three-headed tapeworm living inside a blind humanoid head with arms for legs, something straight out of a Hieronymus Bosch painting.
  • Epic Mickey: The Phantom Blot as he appears in the original Mickey Mouse comics is just a thief in a stark black suit. Here, he's the Shadow Blot, a monstrous creature made out of paint and thinner out to destroy the Cartoon Wasteland.
  • Fate/Grand Order:
    • Tiamat of Mesopotamian Mythology here isn't just the goddess of Primordial Chaos — she's one of the Evils of Humanity aka Beasts and her nature as the ultimate My Beloved Smother is brought front and center.
    • The demons of the Ars Goetia vary in appearance and malevolence in the original grimoire. Here, unless inhabiting a host, they unilaterally manifest as shrieking flesh pillars dotted with eyes, and all of them are seemingly bent on destroying humanity. Their collective, Goetia, is arguably this trope applied to the Ars Goetia itself, being Solomon's original summoning spell taking the form of a Humanoid Abomination (when it's not possessing Solomon's corpse) and another of the seven Evils of Humanity.
    • The Foreigner-class Servants are historical people who made contact with the "Outer Gods" and managed to cling to their sanity, leaving them with some powers from the Outer Gods at their disposal. Currently none of them have connections to the eldritch in life (as far as anybody knows, anyway...) but the game's story explains how each of them came to be. Abigail Williams (famous for the Salem Witch Trial) was "forced" to become the host for Yog-Sothoth, while Katsushika Hokusai apparently gets contacted by what's implied to be Cthulhu, and his Trial Quest says that Abigail has inadvertently opened the way for more Outer Gods to "visit" the Earth.
    • In Celtic Mythology, Diarmuid ua Duibhne was killed by a demonic boar. This game shows that the boar was closer to an Animalistic Abomination, who eats magic runes and strikes fear even to dragonkind. Likewise, Cernunnos is reimagined as a titanic progenitor of nations and monsters.
    • The Red Dragon who Altria's powers are derived from and the White Dragon whose blood Vortigern drank to become a Humanoid/Draconic Abomination are revealed to have been the same entity, an ancient (as in, as old as — if not older than — the Earth itself) continent-sized eldritch dragon called Albion, whose not-quite-dead corpse forms the foundation of the British Isles.
  • God of War does that with a few of the Greek gods — such as Hades, who is now a heavyset giant with a body covered in metallic spikes and a furnace for a head; or the Moirai whose appearances range from a silvery angel to a giant, bloated, multi-limbed hag.

    Web Original 
  • The subreddit "imsorryjon" is dedicated to art reinterpreting Garfield, of all characters, as one of these. It can range from darkly hilarious to extremely creepy in execution. Worse (or better?), it's attracted and inspired people to give the same treatment to other properties (it's where The Bikini Bottom Horror originated, for one).

    Web Videos 
  • Atop the Fourth Wall: MissingNo. is a video game glitch that while somewhat creepy, wasn't anything beyond that. The Entity, by contrast, is a universe-assimilating monster that's the most dangerous member of a Pantheon of Eldritch Abominations, and a threat to the entire multiverse. Lewis wrote it as such because MissingNo. creeped him out as a kid, and represented this by making it a Lovecraftian monster.
  • In Joueur du Grenier, the review of Barney Hide and Seek turns Barney the Dinosaur into a child-hunting monstrosity. As the game is intended for small children, the kids are very easy to find, there's no way to die and if you leave the game idle, Barney starts walking to the exit by himself. The narration takes this to mean that Barney cannot be hidden from, cannot be killed, and cannot be stopped.
  • MeatCanyon's parody style tends to have redesigns that lean towards the grotesque to amplify the Nightmare Fuel of it. Some cases of it go so far that it ends up being this trope due to exaggerated cartoonish movements. However, these are some noteworthy examples where the characters are portrayed with outright eldritch qualities:

    Western Animation 
  • Ben 10: Ultimate Alien: Dagon is revealed to be the identity of the dragon that Saint George fought. Unlike in the original legend, the dragon is merely one form of a Cthulhu-like Multiversal Conqueror whose mere visage is unpleasant to look at.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Inverted by Horde Prime, who is the being Hordak was a failed clone of in this version, and is a humanoid man, though it certainly doesn’t reduce his overall villainy. The inversion is also possibly averted, depending on whether you consider his form when exorcised by Adora to be his true form or not.
  • In the comics, Ian Karkull is a guy with shadow powers. In Superman: The Animated Series, Karkull (no first name) is a Cthulhu-esque magical horror who turns the Daily Planet into a Bigger on the Inside cavernous Hellgate. Anyone possessed by his minions, such as Lois and Jimmy, instantly turns into a monster. Oh, it gets even more cheerful. The center is a Bottomless Pit, or so we think. Well, when the tablet Karkull was sealed in falls down the pit and Superman has to chase it, we find it does have a bottom. The bottom has a mouth. The bottom is also rising, fast enough that Superman has to push himself to outfly it. It's hard to imagine a C-list villain like Ian as the master of all this, but his animated counterpart gave us some of the DCAU's best Nightmare Fuel.
  • Tales of Arcadia:
    • In Arthurian Legend, Morgana le Fay was the half-sister of King Arthur and popular recurring villain in both the original stories and adaptations thereof, portrayed as either part-fairy or as an accomplished sorceress, sometimes on the same level of the Lady of the Lake. In Trollhunters however, she is much more of a threat than that. It is never made clear whether or not she was ever human, and while she is mentioned to have been Merlin's apprentice, it is implied that she had been around long before him. She is indestructible, unstoppable at full-power, was responsible for the existence of every other villain in the series (if not directly, then by proxy) and she could not be killed, instead had to be contained either in amber (at the cost of most of Merlin's magical reserves) or, later, within the Shadow Realm.
    • In Wizards (2020), Nimue — better known as the Lady of the Lake — is portrayed as a giant, one-eyed tentacle beast with a vaguely feminine angler that Merlin had imprisoned in a magical cave. According to Merlin, she was the one who first created Excalibur, and when the sword is broken he returns so that she could repair it, only to get eaten for his troubles.
  • Tokka from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze is a mutant who served the Shredder. However, in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) he (or rather she) is portrayed as a giant volcanic alien tortoise known as one of the Six Cosmic Monsters of the Universe who guards a piece of the black hole generator and has no affiliation to Shredder and/or Rahzar in this incarnation.


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