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Adaptational Angst Upgrade

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Character: Hey there! I'm the lovable character from your favorite story!
Fan: Oh boy!
Character: Yup!
Fan: It'd be a shame if someone were to...write dark fanfiction about you.

Sometimes when Hollywood decides to do a movie adaptation they'll try to make a character more interesting by giving them some angst not present (or not discussed) in the book. Reasons vary: it makes the character easier to empathize with, it is an attempt to avert an Invincible Hero, it adds more conflict to the story, etc. Often used to add more Character Development.


It may be caused by historical Values Dissonance. Many of the examples below are adapted from older works, or even The Oldest Ones in the Book. In the past, The Hero of the Monomyth was expected to accept his destiny as a great hero and leader, but modern ideals would rather support the character of a Cincinnatus-style humble Everyman.

Adaptational Jerkass is one of the possible outcomes. Compare and contrast with True Art Is Angsty. Usually contrasts with Adaptational Angst Downgrade and Adaptational Comic Relief and can overlap with Disabled in the Adaptation.

Subtrope of Rule of Drama.


Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the Ace Attorney anime:
    • Similar to the live-action movie before it, the anime expands on how DL-6 ruined Yogi's life, though not to the same extent as the film.
    • Inverted with Edgeworth, who does not suffer from his in-game counterpart's fear of earthquakes since this version of DL-6 did not involve one.
    • Also Inverted with Adrian Andrews. In the game, she's one of the biggest Woobies of the series, and being accused of the crime made her break down in court and begging for help in light of her dependency issues. In the anime, her issues were not present or not being forced to get exposed and she managed to be calm most of the time.
  • The anime adaption of Devil Survivor 2 does this to the protagonist (here called Hibiki Kuze) removing much of his literal Bunny-Ears Lawyer attitude in the game and replacing it with this trope.
  • The first Fullmetal Alchemist anime had this happen on a few occasions:
    • Ed has a 10-Minute Retirement from being a State Alchemist after hearing about Nina's death and Tucker's execution which actually turned out to be a cover-up.
    • There's also the scene from the manga, when Al thinks that Ed may have fabricated his entire personality when binding his soul to the armor. Originally, it only takes Winry telling him that the question Ed was scared to ask was whether Al hated him to bring him to his senses (that and hitting him on the head with a wrench). In the first anime, he parts ways with Ed but realizes the truth when helping a pair of Ishvalan refugee brothers.
    • In the first anime, Ed and Al both tend to angst about their struggles a lot more overall. Edward has PTSD symptoms he mostly lacks in the manga.
    • Roy has significantly more guilt and trauma in the first anime than in the manga, and it's portrayed much more explicitly. This could be partly due to him being the one who killed the Rockbell's in this version, but he has PTSD flashbacks to other parts of his actions in Ishval throughout the series (see: "Fullmetal vs. Flame").
    • There's also Rose, who was little more than an extra in the manga, who wound up raped, kidnapped, and traumatized to the point of becoming mute.
  • The Seventh Diary Holder(s) in Future Diary, Marco Ikusaba and Ai Mikami had this in the anime. Originally their backstory was that they were both orphans who fell in love with each other as teenagers, but the anime expanded on it by adding a subplot with Ai getting gangraped and Marco almost being Driven to Suicide over his failure to prevent it.
  • The .hack//Legend of the Twilight anime is a Darker and Edgier adaptation of the manga and changed pretty much the entire storyline to make everything become more dramatic. For example, in the manga, the twin protagonists Shugo and Rena are just a pair of siblings playing games together. In the anime, their parents are divorced, and they're playing The World because it's the only way they can meet each other. In the manga, the characters embark on a light-hearted journey to reunite a friendly, though mischievous, A.I. to her mother. The anime somehow involves a hostile A.I. that threatens to destroy The World, and several people fell into a coma along the way.
  • The Kotoura-san anime does this by shifting the focus from Manabe to Haruka and adding in the very angsty Downer Beginning.
  • The title character of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha in The Movie manga continuity. Fans gave this version of Nanoha. This is especially noticeable in the part after the movie's events where, in contrast to the anime where she's pleased with the outcome but somewhat worried about Fate, she believes in the movie manga that she failed to help anyone. At the beginning of their mock battle in the manga, Fate believes that since she caused Nanoha trouble, she doesn't deserve to be friends with her.
  • Moriarty the Patriot: There is no indication in the original Sherlock Holmes stories that Professor Moriarty has These Hands Have Killed and Be All My Sins Remembered-style self-loathing, but Professor William James Moriarty is actively suicidal for a significant portion of the series as a Villain Protagonist.
  • In the manga adaptation of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, it's implied that Sayaka killed the two guys on the train. However this wasn't the case in the original anime.
  • Shauna in Pokémon X and Y is a Cheerful Child who's always smiling and happy. In Pokémon Adventures she's very sarcastic and bitter, likely because in this canon she watched a dear friend fall into depression and was unable to do anything for him.
  • In the RWBY manga anthology Red Like Roses, Ruby is a lot more emotional than in the cartoon. After she berates Cardin for teasing Weiss about her scar, she starts tearing up. When she's visiting her mother's grave she also starts sobbing (while in the show she's always kept herself together while visiting the gravestone).
  • In the original game Sands of Destruction, Morte was a gleeful Mad Bomber Genki Girl who was incredibly upbeat about the prospect of ending the world - in addition to solving the problem of Fantastic Racism, it would be just plain awesome to watch (never mind the fact that even she wouldn't survive). The Anime of the Game removed almost all of her excitability and replaced it with a grim determination, which, while perhaps more fitting with her goal, makes quite a jarring start to her character; it also added the death of her parents and younger brother as an explanation for her desire to see the world ended. The manga, which was released about a year later, attempts to blend the two, with Morte being gung-ho at the start of the story but revealed to be steadily sadder as it progresses, but changes the source of her angst: she's now The Planner, the incarnation of the celestial being responsible for deciding the parameters of the world each time it was reincarnated. Because she was mentally exhausted at the last incarnation, she wished for a world filled with talking animals but forgot to wish they would be friends with humanity, resulting in the deep-seated racism of the series. Yes, in the manga, Morte was the entire reason for the sorry state of the world. She was roughly aware of it when she was a child, claiming someone like herself wasn't supposed to be happy, but repressed it during her teen years, resulting in the bouncy character we met at the start; when she recovered all her memories, she was suitably shocked.
  • Inverted in the Slayers franchise in regards to Zelgadis's chimeric state; despite being used as a Butt-Monkey ploy several times in the anime, he's actually less prudish in regards to his appearance, and embraces the awe and nicknames that he receives from strangers (i.e "The Heartless, Mystical Swordsman); if for nothing else, he gets upset when he's being used for a silly ploy (such as being used as an anchor.). In the original novels, he is far more sensitive about his appearance and not frivolous at all; a side-story featuring him emphasizes this angst in which he broods over the fact that he made friends who see beyond his appearance in the first place.
  • In Trigun, after Vash is forced to kill Legato he immediately falls into a state of shock after being horrified at his actions. In the manga, he is able to get over this fairly quickly after remembering that he still needs to stop Knives who is threatening everyone on the planet Gunsmoke. On the other hand, in the anime Vash remains in this depressed state for over a month, even growing suicidal before Meryl and Milly are finally able to snap him back to normal. It's also notable that the anime actually did this scene first long before the manga one was published, but it is based on what the creator was planning to do for the manga.
  • The Vision of Escaflowne's Darker and Edgier movie adaptation begins with Hitomi attempting suicide, and a huge part of her Character Development involves overcoming her depression. In the series, she was fairly more balanced, with most of her issues stemming from her romantic conflicts and lack of confidence.
  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, Yugi's grandpa wasn't really kidnapped by Pegasus; his soul was instead sealed inside a videotape, and Yugi could talk with him through a camcorder whenever he liked. The anime makes it a straight case of Your Soul is Mine!, and anime Yugi is appropriately angstier about the whole affair. Yugi's guilt and fear over almost killing Kaiba is also played up more, especially in the dub where it continues into his duel with Mai.

    Comic Books 
  • Afterlife with Archie plays a lot of its tropes more seriously than the source and thus there's a lot more of this, along with any obligatory trauma from being set in a Zombie Apocalypse. For example, Betty and Veronica aren't their normal Vitriolic Best Buds and instead have a rocky relationship.
  • DC Comics:
    • Batman: The Imposter: Bruce Wayne gets hit by this hard, due to his somewhat different circumstances from most other interpretations. He has no close friends or support system, since Alfred quit when he was a child, and Gordon was fired from the GCPD for working with him. He was a highly disturbed child diagnosed with OCD and acute anxiety, who was prone to violent outbursts. As an adult, he remains an emotionally damaged individual, who falls in love with Blair Wong, but has no qualms about manipulating her to gather intel from the GCPD's investigation of Batman. His therapy sessions with Leslie do help him to an extent, but by the end he hasn't changed that much, and his circumstances as Batman have gotten even worse, since the authorities and the public still view him as a dangerous vigilante at best and a serial killer at worst.
    • One of the most notable examples of this is the case of Barry Allen, The Flash. Originally a humble do-gooder who was motivated to become a superhero mostly because he liked comics and had just gained superpowers, meaning superheroics was the next logical step (he was already a police forensic scientist, so he already had a sense of right-and-wrong and desire to help justice), later retcons when he was brought into the present era included giving him a new backstory of a murdered mother with his father being falsely accused and convicted of her murder. Notable is the fact that this was both unneeded (Barry, while a Nice Guy, wasn't exactly without his angst as it was, what with the death of his first love Iris, and killing his arch-enemy Professor Zoom, Iris' killer, in order to save his second love), and justified at the same time (the retcon was explained away as Zoom going back in time to mess with Barry's life, killing his mother to give him more misery).
    • In Wonder Woman: Odyssey the Amazons are left as remnants hiding as refugees from those who destroyed their Paradise Island and killed their queen and most of their people. Diana is in turn a more violent, but still opposed to killing, Wonder Woman in this series as she searches for what's left of her people and struggles to protect them.
  • Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy (a modern-day retelling of Little Women):
    • Amy is bullied for being mixed-race (she's half-black here) instead of being poor. Amy also seems to know that if she stands up to her white bully, Amy will more than likely be accused as the aggressor because of her race.
    • Beth's illness is also changed from scarlet fever (which while deadly during the Civil War, is now practically a non-existent threat) to leukemia, which while having a high survival rate, still has a large chance of being deadly.
  • Noob: Due to the more advanced timeline on the live-action and text versions of the story, it's a Foregone Conclusion that Arthéon will eventually reach a Rage-Breaking Point. The comic version makes the stress under which Arthéon puts himself by being the Only Sane Man Reluctant Ruler of a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits more visible than the two other versions.
  • Ultimate Marvel

    Films — Animation 
  • Cloud Strife in Advent Children big time, it's very important to note FFVII writer Yoshinori Kitase writes Cloud very differently to how Tetsuya Nomura likes to portray him. Kitase made Cloud a very Rounded Character being a pretty chill dude only interested getting paid initially, wants to stop Sephiroth and puts up false bravado thanks to Fake Memories. Sure he goes through Heroic B So D but all other times Cloud isn't that troubled, he cares for his friends thanking and apologizing for his mental breakdown. Cloud is also far more goofy in his original portrayal cross dressing, entering parades, and doing squats to counter motion sickness. Advent Children, however, throws said traits out the window in favor of making Cloud The Woobie guilt stricken over Aeirth's death and aloof to his True Companions to point where Vincent Valentine has to tell Cloud to buck up.
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • In the fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast, the Beast is certainly not happy with being cursed, but still is stable enough to be kind and gentlemanly towards Beauty. In the Disney adaptation, being cursed has caused the Beast to fall into a spiral of self-loathing and depression and has all but given up on everything by the time Belle shows up (Word of God has said that if Belle hadn't come, the Beast would have lost his mind and turned into an animal entirely). Much emphasis is also put on his despair when Belle leaves for her father and he is mortally wounded by Gaston instead of his more quiet Death by Despair in the story.
    • In The Frog Prince, the female lead is a princess whose worst worries are getting her ball out of a pond and having to deal with her promise to a frog. In The Princess and the Frog, Tiana is a workaholic bordering on a nervous collapse because she feels that if she doesn't achieve her dream of owning her own restaurant, she will let down her dead father (who shared the same dream and, in fact, inspired her). She also seems aware of what her friends, family, and the town in general thinks of her devotion to her dream and it gets to her.
    • Treasure Planet ages up Jim Hawkins and gives him single-parent and teen-rebel angst not present in the original book, Treasure Island.
    • In Rapunzel, while Rapunzel being kicked out of the tower isn't very pleasant, it still isn't emphasized as being the worst thing ever. In Tangled, Rapunzel has to deal with discovering that her "mother" actually kidnapped her in infancy and intends to imprison her for as long as she lives. And when Rapunzel fights back, it ends with watching Mother Gothel die in front of her and Flynn nearly dying. She doesn't react nearly as much as expected but still has more trauma than in the fairy tale.
  • Moses in The Prince of Egypt, compared to other films such as The Ten Commandments (1956). In the original source however, he's arguably even more angsty. Aside from not realizing he was adopted, this version also emphasizes the fact that he and Rameses were raised as brothers and friends, giving them a tragic Cain and Abel dynamic not present in the Bible or other versions.
  • Mrs. Brisby in The Secret of NIMH is shown as a much more timid character on her quest to save her son than in the book which focused more on the rats' escape from NIMH. The film places much more emphasis on the values of courage, which is justifiable since Mrs. Brisby is a mouse.
  • The 1982 Soviet adaptation of Through the Looking-Glass, though generally faithful to the original, does it to the White Knight scene. The more comic moments (such as the Knight constantly telling Alice about his inventions) are toned down, and instead of reciting a poem about an absurd old man sitting on a wall, he sings a sad song about how there are many animals in his forest but he doesn't have a jolly elephant cub. The premise is only slightly less absurd than in the original, but it's the delivery that makes it absolutely heart-wrenching. Several birds that the Knight and Alice meet on their way are shown weeping.
  • In Wonder Woman (1987) Vanessa idolized Wonder Woman and saw her as a pseudo older sister, only betraying her after being forced to undergo painful Body Horror and cybernetic enhancements that exaggerated any lingering feelings of insecurity. In Wonder Woman Blood Lines Vanessa despised Wonder Woman from the start for stealing her mother's attention and affection and chose to undergo her transformation into villainy out of willful resentment.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Altered Carbon: In the series, Takeshi Kovacs frequently asks Who Wants to Live Forever? and is shown to dislike sleeving into a new body. In the novels the series is based on, Takeshi is specially engineered to not have adverse reactions when sleeving, and has come to terms with being functionally immortal. Also, Book!Takeshi never angsted about taking the job that kicks off the series, but was willing to do whatever it took to get out of storage (essentially prison for digitally stored consciousnesses) and get a body again.
  • Arrowverse:
    • Arrow
      • The titular character, Oliver Queen has a lot more grief in his life than his comics counterpart ever had. His ordeal on the island was much more bleaker and torturous. As a result, he is much more violent, aggressive, and serious.
      • Quentin Lance. His family problems are a lot bleaker. He had to go with one of his daughters dying twice, his wife leaves him, his job takes a hit due to working with the vigilante, and then his other daughter dies as well (permanently.)
    • The Flash (2014):
      • The Reverse Flash. In the show, he's been Trapped in the Past for 15 years (originally being from an over a century in the future) and is desperate to get home, and his scheme to do so is the driving force behind Season 1. In the comics, he doesn't care about getting back to his time at all and is mostly just focused on screwing over The Flash in any way possible.
      • Barry himself, revisiting his mother's death and history becoming even worse from whatever decision he makes from it, each season's Darkest Hour being darker than the last, many more people who are not able to be saved no matter what anyone does, his dad dying not long after being freed from his false conviction, going through his own Clear My Name arc that sees him in the same cell his dad once occupied, and with certain death in the Crisis hanging over his head for most of the series (with the timetable suddenly being pushed up as the title event looms.) Mind you, a lot of this came from, or has some counterpart in, the comics. However, it happens to Barry in very rapid succession in the show; the comics character has been around since The '50s with the events these were based on spread out over his history.
  • Ashes of Love:
    • In the original novel Jin Mi and Xu Feng don't fall in love or communicate their feelings until the denouement of the story. In the series they come to an understanding during their trial together in the human world. This makes their confrontations during and after the wedding a lot more heart-wrenching.
    • Run Yu's mother died long before the novel starts. Her on-screen death, the elaboration of her backstory, and their impact on Run Yu is one of the most emotional and pivotal plot points in the series.
  • The Boys (2019): Inverted with Mother's Milk. His family situation is much better than in the comic, where he is divorced and his ex-wife is a drug addict, while his daughter is involved with many unsavory things and his mother was turned into a horrific mutant.
    • Played straight with Butcher and Frenchie, as the former struggled with an abusive father and a younger brother who was Driven to Suicide over itnote  in addition to finding out that his wife was still alive and left him because she was afraid before watching her die in front of him, while the latter is indirectly responsible for the death of Malory's grandchildren and has been beating himself up over it for years.
    • Hughie in the comics had a stable family life, while his show counterpart's mother walked out on the family.
    • Zig-zagged with Starlight. Unlike the comics, Compound V is a very well-kept secret and no superheroes are born naturally, leading to conflict with Starlight and her Stage Mom who had her treated with it as an infant on top of everything else. However, unlike her comic counterpart who maintains that Evil Stole My Faith throughout the series, she does eventually regain her faith in God following her Trauma Conga Line.
    • The Female/Kimiko definitely had an unhappy childhood in the comics as she spent most of her formative years as a lab rat, but her situation in the show was even worse as she and her brother were kidnapped by foreign terrorists and the trauma left her unable to speak entirely, before having to watch Stormfront murder her brother in front of her in the present day.
    • A-Train in the comics was a static Fratbro with no remorse for his actions, while in the show he struggles with drug addiction and regrets some of the things Homelander made him do.
  • Brave New World: The book was basically the story of John struggling to find a place in New London but later eventually leading to self-exile and suicide with his actions never causing any change. The series instead heads in the direction of his presence causing upheavals in society and citizens beginning to question the cost of the "utopia", along with a violent resistance/terrorist movement who rise up in the "Savage Lands".
  • Fate: The Winx Saga:
    • In a flashback on, Bloom accidentally starts a house fire after arguing with her parents, causing her tremendous guilt. She also feels guilty about hiding her powers from them. In the cartoon, Bloom discovered her powers while trying to protect Stella from an ogre, she never gets into a fight with parents, and her parents are fully aware of magic from the beginning.
    • In contrast to the cartoon, Stella has a troubled relationship with her mother, feels great pressure to keep up appearances, and accidentally blinded her friend because she couldn't fully control her powers.
    • Inverted with Aisha. The series does not include her backstory as an isolated princess who grew up in a very strict environment.
    • In the series, Sky's father was a famous warrior who died when Sky was a baby or so everyone thinks, thus Sky grew up in his father's shadow. There's also no mention of his mother, since he was raised by Silva. In the cartoon, both of Sky's parents are alive and involved in his upbringing.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • In the books, Tyrion is impressed that his niece Myrcella doesn't cry when she leaves for Dorne. In the show, she's bawling her eyes out.
    • Inverted by Loras, who makes little mention of Renly after Season 2 aside from an oblique preference for green-and-gold brocade like Renly wore and takes Olyvar as a casual lover rather than remaining celibate out of grief-stricken loyalty as in the books.
    • Sansa Stark. Not that she doesn't undergo Trauma Conga Line in the books, but her wedding night rape with Ramsay is entirely native and exclusive to the show as a result of her character's storyline becoming a composite with that of Jeyne Poole's in the book.
    • Selyse is much more affected by the many stillbirths than her book counterpart. She also has had to endure the Siege of Storm's End while she wasn't there in the books. And then there's the sacrifice of Shireen...
  • Good Omens (2019):
    • Aziraphale and Crowley's relationship has more conflict than in the original book. Both characters worry more about their bosses potentially finding out about their Forbidden Friendship and they have heated arguments about Crowley wanting holy water from Aziraphale that could kill him and Aziraphale denying that a demon like Crowley could be his friend that aren't present in the book.
    • Crowley's reaction to finding Aziraphale's bookshop burning and thinking that Aziraphale perished in the fire. In the book, he's distressed about this but is able to pull himself together enough to continue trying to stop Armageddon on his own. In the show, he gets so upset that he flies into a screaming rage, gives up completely on his plans to escape or stop Armageddon, and tries to drown his sorrows at a bar.
  • Moist von Lipwig in the TV adaptation of Going Postal broods much more on his past crimes and their consequences than he does in the book. Also, Adora Belle Dearheart has lost more than just her brother.
  • In the live action of The King's Avatar:
    • Chen Guo starts having problems with her friend Tang Rou playing Glory every day, despite that being what she wanted originally, as she feels she is being ignored and left out. In the novel, she didn't find it an issue.
    • She was also more upset than in the original novel about Ye Qiu's sudden retirement and spends a good chuck of an episode depressed about it before she bounces back. She hits her lowest point at the All-Stars Competition where a friend tells her to accept reality and that Ye Qiu would never return to Glory. Chen Guo's angst comes from the fact in the live action, she is a dedicated member of the Ye Qiu club and she got into Glory because her father was a fan of Ye Qiu as well.
    • In flashbacks, Yu Wenzhou is seen struggling during the training camp and ranked the lowest amongst his classmates due to his slow hands and his classmates are seen frequently mocking him for it.
  • The original series of Kolchak: The Night Stalker had Kolchak investigating strange stories of the supernatural solely because he kept running into them on his beat. The short-lived remake The Night Stalker had it so that he was driven to investigate the strange after the mysterious death of his wife, for which he was still considered a suspect.
  • Inverted in Life (2002). Ayumu in the j-drama is presented as ever so slightly less depressed and troubled than in the manga, mostly due to them removing her Self-Harm habits. The live-action adaptation focuses more on her overcoming her hardships and dealing with her bullies.
  • The original Little House on the Prairie books notably ran on Angst? What Angst? The seventies TV show, derived plenty of its drama from things that didn't remotely happen in the books/in Real Life. The 2005 miniseries stuck closer to the letter of events but sometimes added emotional overtones where none had been, including mining angst from the books' characteristically restrained hints at the "Well Done, Son!" Guy element in Laura's relationship with her father.
  • Lost in Space (2018) changes the original by introducing drama and personal conflicts to the Robinson family. In particular, their father's absence on military duty has estranged him from the children and brought the parents to the brink of divorce.
  • The 2004 Marple adaptation of The Body in the Library makes the character of Mark Gaskell a lot more sympathetic by turning him into a former war hero suffering from shell-shock and Survivor Guilt after the deaths of his wife and his two best friends.
  • Once Upon a Time is made of this — people that were originally just motiveless fairy-tale villains mostly have incredibly angsty pasts that make them somewhat sympathetic, though of course Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse. Rumplestiltskin pretty much got the worst: neither parent wanted him, he was tormented by townsfolk for his cowardice, lost his first wife, crippled himself out of fear of losing his son, took up dark powers to prevent this, lost his son anyway, drove away a new love and thought she'd been killed...and that was all in the backstory, before the Queen cast the curse and sent everyone to the World Without Magic. The Queen herself is another example, as she was abused by her mother, whose plot to make her queen resulted in the murder of her first love.
  • In the original Party of Five, the titular kids just had to contend with child services coming for them when their parents died. In the reboot, their counterparts also have to worry about Immigration Control and Enforcement, which has already deported their parents and may come after the eldest brother, too.
  • Poirot:
    • In the adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, Hercule Poirot agonizes a lot more over whether to turn in the person or persons responsible for the murder than he does in the novel.
    • The adaptation of Sad Cypress raises the stakes by having Elinor Carlisle be convicted of the murder and sentenced to hang, forcing Poirot to race against time to find the real murderer before the innocent girl gets executed for it.
    • Inverted in the One, Two, Buckle My Shoe adaptation. By diminishing the political overtones of the original setting, reducing the unpleasant characteristics of the scapegoat and removing many of the killer's sympathetic qualities, the Sadistic Choice that Poirot must face in the books is not apparent in the TV.
  • Riverdale seems made with the intention of deconstructing and darkening Archie Comics as much as possible. There is traditionally no angst in Archie whatsoever, and even the more dramatic Archie Comics (2015) isn't nearly as angsty:
    • Archie is described as dealing with multiple issues and harboring a dark secret. He's also been Mistaken for Murderer.
    • Betty is a Stepford Smiler with self-esteem issues who is tired of seeming "perfect".
    • Summaries outright call Jughead emo. He is no longer friends with Archie due to an argument.
    • Archie's father Fred is described as having skeletons in his closet.
  • Runaways (2017) makes a significant change to Nico's background, with the end result being that she's already a Stepford Snarker when the series begins. That change being giving her a Canon Foreigner older sister... who died in mysterious circumstances.
  • The Shannara Chronicles: In the books, though Eretria had an indifferent father who used her to steal, the show made this even worse, with him letting his abuse her and it's implied she was raped (or nearly so) as well.
  • The Granada Sherlock Holmes series flip-flops on inverting this or playing it straight for different incidents, the decisions usually hinging on the absence of Watson's narration from the books. Holmes's cocaine addiction, at any rate, is given a good bit more active screentime.
  • The Untamed: The fall of Lotus Pier is made even more tragic by having Jiang Yanli be there to see her father one last time, and cry alongside Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng when they inform her of their parents' deaths.
  • The Wiz Live! shows more of Dorothy's grieving over her parents' death than did the original play, or even The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Aunt Em, the sister of Dorothy's mama, also mourns the loss.
  • The Walking Dead has a few examples, but none more than Rick Grimes. While the comic book version of Rick has his fair share of angst and problems, the ones in the show stick with Rick for entire seasons and have a much larger effect on him and his group.
    • Rick takes Lori's death much harder in the show than in the comics, causing him to suffer a severe case of Sanity Slippage. He seems to recover by Season 4.
    • A much bigger example was in Season 7. When Negan made his debut and murdered Glenn in the comics he shook Rick, but Rick only pretended to submit to protect his community and friends, all while making secret plans to take Negan down. There was no secret plan in the show because Rick was actually broken. He tried to convince his friends that this was the only way they could survive, by giving Negan what he wants. He regains the will to fight halfway through the season when he realizes that no matter how hard he tries, The Saviors will keep hurting his friends and Negan will still kill people.

  • In mythology Hades and Persephone had one of the happiest, healthiest relationships in the entire pantheon, while in Hadestown their marriage is on the rocks and has been for some time. By the end, they're both working on trying again.
  • One could argue that this trope was the basis for the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. In fact, it was precisely this reason that many people initially protested the film — because the all-powerful Christ isn't supposed to show feelings like the rest of the mortals, dammit (never mind that the Bible does have several entries in which he does just that).
  • Little Shop of Horrors does this to everyone from the 1960 movie that was its basis, particularly Seymour (who goes from a poor schlep living with his nagging mother to a poor schlep taken from a boy's home to work at Mushnik's flower shop and never formally adopted) and Audrey (who has now been abandoned by her father and is in an abusive relationship).
  • In Orfeo ed Euridice, the conditions for leading Eurydice out are even worse than the norm, as not only can Orpheus not turn to look at Eurydice, he can't speak to her to tell her why. Eurydice thinks he no longer loves her and begs him to look at her, and he ultimately gives in.
  • Early theatrical adaptations of Sweeney Todd did this, converting the story's Big Bad into a Villain Protagonist and radically changing his motives. In the original penny dreadful "The String of Pearls", he's simply a straight-up sociopath who kills his barbershop patrons out of pure greed for their valuables, whereas later plays and films depict his Serial Killer career as him taking revenge on the judge who destroyed his life and the society that did nothing to prevent it. Hence, although still evil in the extreme, he's at least marginally sympathetic for all that.

    Video Games 
  • Rakenzarn Frontier Story
    • Makoto Naegi in his home game takes his averageness in stride and manages to overcome the Killing Game's horrors to become the Ultimate Hope. This Makoto, despite living in a world when The Biggest, Most Awful, Most Tragic Event in Human History never happened, has horrible luck, gets teased a lot and is so depressed by his average nature that he once nearly committed suicide.
    • Yuuko Asou had her bestie die in front of her home game and learned she was separated from his birth parents as a baby. The Yuuko in this game will have a worse backstory than that.
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake have Tifa plays up her insecurities and Reluctant Warrior traits a number of times.
    • Tifa in the original game was largely dedicated to the cause of Avalanche with little issue on her side about being involved, though the lifestream event says she didn't want to be known as a violent person. In Remake, she's unsure of herself and often wonders if the group's actions are justifiable.
    • In the original game, Barret and the others had no reason to question Tifa's resolve, but her reluctance to hurt innocents with Avalanche's bombing plan in the Remake causes Jessie to wonder whether Tifa is truly committed to their cause. During the trip to Mako Reactor 5, she also admits to being nervous, something she never truly expressed in the original game.
  • Resident Evil 2 (Remake) zigzags this, though rather effectively. While the original portrayed them as typically stoic 90s heroes, the remake portrays the entire cast as far more emotional and struggling to come to terms with the horrors they experience. They give themselves pep talks to get through frightening experiences, curse and plead with the monsters attacking them and show their relative inexperience as a bunch of 20-somethings and a preteen trying to survive. On the other hand, Leon's reason for arriving in Raccoon City Late to the Tragedy is changed from Drowning His Sorrows after an ugly breakup to being warned to stay away because of the developing crisis.
    • Minor character Robert Kendo in the original game was a goofy, yet somewhat helpful shopkeeper who is eaten by zombies after a few lines of dialogue. In the remake, he lashes out angrily at Leon and Ada. This is because the remake adds a wife and daughter to his backstory; the wife having been infected and been killed, while his daughter is slowly succumbing to the T-Virus. He takes the daughter away, and a gunshot is heard. A bonus mode implies this experience drove him to suicide. The much more serious take on Kendo elevated him to a more memorable part of the game.
  • Resident Evil: During the Storm: The game begins with Kevin killing a man during a police standoff and sinking into depression until the Zombie Apocalypse forces him to put it aside. This is in sharp contrast to the more cool-headed and affable Kevin from Outbreak.

    Web Original 
  • In The Hero of Time, Talon is a lot more serious about things than his carefree self and Malon is considerably more shy and nervous when she first meets Link, although both are explained as a result of them recently moving to Hyrule Castle Town and being unused to living in a populated area (which obviously never happened in the game). Five years in the future, Talon has become even more depressed and bitter, due to the fact that Malon died.
  • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, the modern vlog version of Pride and Prejudice, has a few examples:
    • While Lydia Bennet initially comes across as just as shallow, irresponsible, and self-absorbed as her literary counterpart, her own spin-off vlog and later videos show her Hidden Depths - because Kitty Bennet is a cat and not her sister and her mother doesn't spoil her the way she does in the novel, Lydia is a lot more lonely in this version. She feels more overlooked compared to her accomplished older sisters, who are closer to each other than to her, and her Attention Whore tendencies are her misguided way of being with them. She is also implied to struggle with getting slut-shamed and bullied at school. On top of that, her relationship with George Wickham leaves her in a worse position than in the book, since instead of eloping, she is essentially emotionally abused by him before horrifically finding out George secretly taped them having sex, planning to sell the tape online without her consent. Lydia does not take it well.
    • Lizzie herself has a few moments of this, as she struggles to deal with all the changes around her and the prospect of being abandoned by her loved ones, which she does not struggle with in the novel.
    • The companion book reveals that Jane had a pregnancy scare after staying over at the Lee's.
    • Bing Lee (the adapted version of Charles Bingley) is revealed late in the series to be more than just a rich bachelor studying to be a doctor. It turns out he was pressured into going to medical school, and part of the reason he was in Netherfield in the first place was because he dropped out to find his purpose in life, to his family's and Darcy's frustration. Then Caroline and Darcy pressured him to go back, abandoning Jane, until he dropped out again near the end of the series.
  • In the Vlog Series Lovely Little Losers, loosely based on Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost, a significant amount of the plot hinges on an unhappy backstory that is entirely absent from the original play.

    Western Animation 
  • Arcane:
    • Vi's story changes from saving some miners after the gang she worked with got a little rough now involves several of her family members dying, and then being locked in a supermax prison for several years.
    • The show portrays Jinx as a far more tragic a figure. In the game, Jinx is almost always seen smiling and giggling, and has an almost child-like cheerfulness which contrasts with the destruction she causes. Here her mood is much more somber and she's haunted by hallucinations of people she's lost. Justified however, as her emotional wounds are still relatively fresh with lingering doubts on who she actually wants to be as a constant source of drama between either being Powder or Jinx... at first anyway.
  • Green Eggs and Ham:
    • The fox from the book is given both a name (Michael) and a potent cocktail of neuroses as he attempts to woo an aloof hen at the farm he works at who looks down on him for eating eggs. His efforts to deprive himself of his favorite food have caused him to become unstable and violent. Mentioning eggs or even the name of his would-be girlfriend is enough to cause him to go on a rampage.
    • Sam as well. It turns out that he's a Sad Clown underneath his beaming smile and his love of Green Eggs and Ham is the one thing that connects him to his long-lost mother.
    • Even the mouse is also given an angsty backstory, where he was jailed for stealing cheese to feed his family.
  • Harley Quinn (2019): This version of Harley Quinn follows her partnership with Poison Ivy, as Harley wants to overshadow the Joker for once while still coming to terms with the abusive reality of their relationship. In season 2, Harley has to learn to trust men and understand what a healthy relationship looks like. She does this because the Joker's abuse tainted her view of relationships and left her with doubts about what an ideal relationship is.
  • Casey Jones was originally created as a parody of all vigilante characters with tragic backstories that were in comics, with Casey just being a character who was inspired to be a vigilante, but just from watching too much bad TV, like T.J. Hooker and The A-Team. The 2003 animated series gave him a tragic backstory: When he was a child, his father's shop was burned down by Hun and the Purple Dragons for being denied protection money. Despite being threatened not to, his father (Arnold Casey Jones Sr.) later went to the police over it. It is implied that he was killed for doing so. This gave Casey his hatred for crime and an essential lifelong vendetta against the Purple Dragons. This backstory, however, was eventually adapted into the original Mirage comics.note 
  • A Tale Dark And Grimm kicks off the plot with Hansel and Gretel's parents decapitating and then resurrecting them, which freaks them out so much that they run away from home. Even when they find out the reason, they take several episodes to forgive their parents for doing it. This plot point comes from the fairy tale "Faithful Johannes"note , where the kids are cheerfully indifferent to this happening to them.
  • Transformers: Animated: Waspinator's odd speech and Butt-Monkey mannerisms made him the comic relief in Beast Wars. Here his mannerisms are a result of being locked in a penitentiary for a long time which gradually eroded his sanity to make him into a gibbering mess, and when bad things happen to him they also get played for drama as well as laughs. His lamentations at his lot in life are no longer odd fourth wall-breaking moments, but the insane depressed ramblings of a broken bot.
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man, The Rhino here has much more angst issues about being mutated and bullied into becoming a criminal than his mainstream counterpart.
  • Happens to most of the characters in Voltron: Legendary Defender, which is a Continuity Reboot of Voltron. Pretty much everyone has some unresolved angst of some kind for one reason or another.


Video Example(s):


Sonic is Lonely

The first thing most people think when hearing the name Sonic the Hedgehog is a cheeky, fun-loving, mascot with attitude. In the movie, we get a broken kid suffering in silence because he has no one to talk to. Still, the fact that he move so fast that he can be at multiple places at once and generate lightning so powerful it causes an EMP blackout across the entire Pacific Northwest shows what he can do when he's not trying.

How well does it match the trope?

4.9 (21 votes)

Example of:

Main / AdaptationalAngstUpgrade

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