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Adaptational Angst Upgrade

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"Witness the hero who once stood for truth, justice, and the American way stand for brooding, moping, and wondering why he even bothers. As the film’s main character has nothing to do but silently look constipated, get horrible pep talks from his parents … suck at his job … and refuse to fight back against his toughest opponent yet: cable news."

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.

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


Subtrope of Rule of Drama.


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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 title character of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha in The Movie manga continuity. Fans gave this version of Nanoha the Fan Nickname of "Emoha". 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.
  • The first Fullmetal Alchemist anime had this happen on a few occasions:
    • Ed had 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, Yugi's grandpa wasn't really kidnapped by Pegasus; his soul was instead sealed inside a video tape, 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.
  • The Kotoura-san anime does this by shifting the focus from Manabe to Haruka and adding in the very angsty Downer Beginning.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).

    Comic Books 
  • Comic books in general are this trope in its truest form. Over the years, the lighthearted stories of yester-year have become Darker and Edgier more and more in later years.
  • 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 him 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).
  • 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.
  • 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 Fantastic Four:

    Fan Works 
  • Gravity Falls/Steven Universe Crossover.
    • In A Triangle in the Stars, Bill Cipher gets this treatment, especially when he starts regrowing his empathy.
      • As if Pearl didn't have enough to suffer over, she has to deal with wanting to know exactly what happened in the Zodiac Temple, starting in Chapter Thirty-Eight, but no one, particularly Garnet and Keyhole, will tell her and keeps her Locked Out of the Loop, adding to her frustration. And it also involves Rose.
    • Universe Falls doesn't hesitate to play up the fact that the Mystery Kids (Dipper, Mabel, Steven, and Connie) are children, facing all sorts of physical and mental trauma in investigating the mysteries surrounding either the town of Gravity Falls or the Crystal Gems. And among other things, the Odd Friendship between Lapis Lazuli and Dipper makes the former's sacrifice in "Jailbreak" and the latter's desperate bargain with Bill Cipher in "Sock Opera" all the more hard-hitting.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
  • Total Drama
    • ATDA Love Triangle With Betty Cody And Gwenny Bridgette. In canon, after Geoff realized he was becoming a jerk, he apologized to Bridgette and they got back together. In this story Geoff is even worse off camera, and, while trying to be understanding, Bridgette was at wit end. When she tried to talk to him, Geoff got angry and, after hours of yelling at her calling her a harlot and whore, he broke up with her, leaving her heart broken. And the producer heard about the fight and reminded Bridgette of the terms of her contract. If she acts any differently towards Geoff during the aftermaths, they can sue her mother. So she's pretty much trapped in an abusive relationship.
    • Total Drama: Cody's Redemption Cody's backstory is pretty horrific and rather intense. First we learn that Cody had been suffering from child neglect and bullying which drove him into depression. Second just nearly gave up on his life and almost committed suicide once by shooting himself in the head by his father's revolver, but dropped it at the last second. He later adopted his optimistic persona to combat the world.
    • Monster Chronicles Cody, Duncan, and Tyler all have dark backstory in this story. Cody was bullied heavily during middle school, but then he befriended Cedric and let him use his body, not knowing he was a Serial Killer and using his body to commit murders. Duncan went to juvie with Cedric and was nearly killed by him. Tyler's mother and unborn sister were murdered by Cedric when he was a child.
    • Unbreakable Red Silken Thread Cody, Heather, Gwen, and Samey.
      • In canon, Cody was a rich kid that grew up in the suburbs and went to private school. It was implied his parent neglected him when it was mentioned they forgot his birthday. But in this story, he went to private school, and was a victim of bullying. More importantly, the implied neglect of his parents is outright stated.
      • In canon, it was implied Heather had a strained relationship with her parents, with them implying they disliked having her around, though Heather mentioned she the closest to her mother. In this story, Heather’s parents, in particular her mother, have cast a long shadow over their daughter that at least partially shows how she became the bratty Queen Bee from Total Drama’s first season.
      • Gwen's life went pretty much down the pooper after the events of Total Drama World Tour. Her relationship with Duncan caused a rift to develop between her and her family, which resulted in her mother kicking her out of her house when she turned 18. This was fueled in part by Gwen trying to avoid her mistake with Trent and ditching a great guy too soon because of a few rough edges. But as a result, she's entered an abusive relationship where she has little to no personal autonomy, at least partially by choice. The relationship has weakened Gwen's more noble features, while adding to her preexisting negative ones.
      • In canon, Sammy had suffered implied years of abuse from her sister, but in the show, she was quick to stand up to Amy. In this story, all the abuse mostly destroyed her self-esteem. Though Jasmine seems to be helping her slowly recover from that.
  • Happens quite a lot in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines.
    • Misty's backstory is considerably sadder than it was in the anime. She was the least favorite child, is confirmed to be an orphan, got kicked out by her sisters as soon as they were able to do so, and she has to deal with anti-bloodliner prejudice. Really, it's no wonder she's falling for Ash, he was the best thing to happen to her in years.
    • While Brock's not as badly off as Misty, both of his parents are dead.
    • Not much is known about Red yet, but if his dreams are any indication, his past is full of anguish, moreso than his counterpart in either the games or Pokémon Adventures.
    • As detailed in a side story to Reset, Johanna also had a rougher life than her canon counterpart.
  • Ruby and Nora has more death and destruction than in canon, even before the Fall of Beacon.
  • madsthenerdygirl's MCU Rewrites:
  • Team 8 is a For Want of a Nail fic with an altered history that makes Naruto and Hinata's life struggles significantly worse. The villagers are even more antagonistic to Naruto and there is even hinted to be a conspiracy against him, and Hinata's parental abuse is far worse. Consequently, both of them start out much more cynical and insecure than in canon. At separate points, they both even have suicidal thoughts.
  • In The Familiar of Zero story Enslaved the usually cheerful Derflinger is often more melancholic than in canon because he forced himself to remember his entire history, knowing it'd be important in the future. This also means he remembers being used by Brimir's familiar Sasha to kill the man who then killed herself with Derflinger as well. Even worse, so far as Derf is concerned the two were his parents, making him a parricide.
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Izuku is a borderline invincible teenage Kryptonian. But when his powers first manifested at the age of four, he got into a fight with his pugnacious best friend, Katsuki Bakugou, which ended with Izuku accidentally throwing Katsuki through a concrete wall. If that was't enough trauma to fuel a guilt complex, his Super-Hearing ends up forcing his parents to tell him that he is in fact an alien on an Earth that hates aliens. He immediately brands himself a monster and swears off his dream of becoming a Hero out of fear of hurting others.
  • In Live a Hero, Izuku was abandoned by his parents and raised by the League of Villains to be a murderous Hero Killer. He was beaten, malnourished, and forced to watch his sister get gruesomely murdered right in front of him and having a Quirk forced on him immediately after. He wouldn't have any brightness in his life until he was saved by Ingenium and adopted by Inko. Even then, all the torture he went through has reduced him to an emotionally stunted wreck who's completely unable to smile.
    • Kirishima suffers from neurosis, has to deal with the circumstances of his adoption, as well as the pressures of being All Might's successor.
  • Being a Fix Fic, Warriors Redux fixes one issue with Into the Wild: Rusty runs off without second thought about his housefolk. Redux adds drama by showing that Rusty is attached to his new owners and is confused about leaving them. But, he craves adventure and new smells so it's easy for the kitten to run away to ThunderClan. Rusty guesses that his owners aren't too attached to him yet so they won't mind too much if he disappears one day.
  • The 1997 short story Ozma Sees Herself is about Ozma, who previously liked being a boy, trying to adapt to her new role as queen. In the original Oz canon, Ozma takes to the change just fine. In the story, Ozma tries her best to avoid her queenly duties, acts as a Tomboy Princess, and doesn't even recognize her own reflection anymore. Ozma runs away and it takes the Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger's persuasion (along with Ozma gaining a near-narcissistic appreciation for her own beauty) to make her go back home.
  • Crimson And Emerald: Hawks is shown to be psychologically scarred by his treatment by the Heroics Commission especially when it comes to his lack of choice with his career.
  • In any work by Dakari-King Mykan, the characters of Davis Motomiya and Beast Boy are given this over the mere fact that they didn't end up with Kari and Terra. It gets to the point where this is their only character trait.
  • In My Huntsman Academia, the characters' individual issues in greater depth.
    • Pyrrha is constantly annoyed and troubled by her fame. Her old manager to tries to harass her into returning to the tournament circuit, she's constantly stopped by fans asking her for her autographs, and laments that she was a Slave to PR and couldn't do things she wanted to do like wolf down greasy hamburgers or just hang out with people her age.
    • Blake is implied to have committed actual murder, direct or indirect, during her time in the White Fang. Her self-esteem is even worse than in-canon because of this and she constantly pushes people away when they try to help her.
    • Nora is terrified of pushing Ren away and Cannot Spit It Out because she doesn't want to change the dynamic between them.
    • Yang's Parental Abandonment issues are more pronounced and she struggled with the pressure of keeping her remaining family together after losing both Raven and Summer. She also feels betrayed by her father and uncle Qrow for not revealing that Raven was excited to have her and letting Yang feel as though she was the reason why Raven vanished for years.

    Films — Animation 
  • 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.
  • Moses in The Prince of Egypt, compared to other films such as The Ten Commandments. 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. But since Tropes Are Not Bad many people prefer this because it humanizes both of them.
  • 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 though 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.
  • Treasure Planet ages up Jim Hawkins and gives him single-parent and teen-rebel angst not present in the original book, Treasure Island.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Lord of the Rings films:
    • Aragorn reveals his inner conflict more often than in the books, and is not convinced that he should return as king until the last movie. The DVD commentary for the film outright admits this was done as a way to give him a character-building arc, although it is easier to rationalize considering the opinion the film's Elves hold about the will of Men in general during the story... which also wasn't so prominent in the books.
    • Faramir in the books was able to refuse the ring when Frodo offered it to him without a second thought. In the movie, Faramir being tempted to take the ring like his brother was, but ultimately realizing that he had to let Frodo go, was the driving force behind his entire arc in the second movie.
    • In the film, Gollum turns Frodo against Sam before ditching him at Shelob's lair, and Sam is left walking back home in tears after pleading with Frodo not to believe him. In the books they merely get lost in Shelob's lair after Gollum abandons them.
  • Thorin's background in The Hobbit. He seems reasonably content in the book and his reason for returning to Erebor mainly seems to be to regain the treasure. In the film, it's a source of great pain to him that his people lack their rightful home, and he also wants revenge for the deaths of his kin.
    • In the second film, Beorn's scenes are not a funny and lighthearted break from a desperate ordeal with goblins because Beorn isn't a cranky but reasonable force-of-nature-like person who has to be conned into sheltering the company for a couple of nights. Instead he's the Last of His Kind escapee from Azog's gladiator pits who only helps the Dwarves because he hates Goblins more.
  • Peter in The Chronicles of Narnia films, especially Prince Caspian, is far less confident and kingly than his book counterpart. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader also adds sub-plots where Lucy worries a lot about her looks and the consequences of worrying about it, Edmund angsts about his time as a traitor to the White Witch, and Caspian has daddy issues. The first movie also gives Edmund the psychological excuse of being the sibling most affected by their father being off fighting in World War II; in the books, the war is pretty much just a device to get them all to a big strange house in the countryside and is barely if at all mentioned after the first page.
  • X-Men Film Series: Zigzagged with Professor X. The films claim that he had a much harder time dealing with his mutant powers as a child. In the comics, Xavier's abilities came easily, and he had no trouble using them (even cheating during school). It wasn't until he was a young adult that he started developing problems, due to service in Korea. Also, his home life in the movies is much more stable, with no mention of Brian Xavier's death, his mother's marriage to Kurt Marko, or Charles' antagonistic relationship with his stepbrother Cain Marko. The film incarnation gains a happier childhood in exchange for a much worse adulthood.
  • King Leonidas from 300. Turns his wife into a major character and makes her the voice of reason and confidence.
  • The eponymous hero in the epic poem Beowulf was a dude who slayed monsters. The 1999 film version starring Christopher Lambert made the character a Half-Human Hybrid who is tormented by the idea of him turning completely non-human, and fights monsters because of it.
  • Stuart Little was changed (understandably) so that Stuart was adopted instead of Mrs. Little actually giving birth to him, leaving George with disappointment about getting a mouse instead of the "real" brother he'd wanted and a bit of a complex about being overshadowed by the novelty of Stuart. In the book George was a fairly minor character whose defining characteristic was being kind of a know-it-all.
  • Hook, a movie sequel to Peter Pan, makes the grown-up Peter into a distant workaholic dad who has to learn that his kids are more important.
    • Likewise PJ Hogan's Peter Pan greatly expands upon Wendy's reasons for running away to Neverland. Not simply just afraid of growing up, Wendy is afraid of what growing up will actually mean - becoming an Old Maid or Stepford Smiler and being unable to have her adventures. This is all for the sake of undergoing Character Development as Wendy realises that she was only afraid of growing up because she was not ready for it. Meanwhile Peter gets plenty of angst as well, not being able to understand the nature of his feelings for Wendy, as falling in love is a part of growing up which Peter refuses to do. The film even ends on a bittersweet note with the narrator describing Wendy's happy family as "the world he could never be a part of".
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory gave Willy Wonka the Freudian Excuse of an overbearing dentist father who disapproved of his passion for chocolate. This has made him a socially awkward Manchild who distrusts families.
  • Film adaptations of Bible stories will typically add this - for example, the book of Exodus never says that Moses had no idea of his Hebrew heritage. In fact, it implies the opposite, but most versions have his true heritage be a surprise, to up the angst. Other such examples are:
    • A film version of the Book/Life of the prophet Joel gives Joel a love interest who is killed (in front of him) by the oppressors, spurring Joel onto his passionate, even frenzied preaching.
    • The story of Ruth, already an impressive one in and of itself, is given an extra punch by making Ruth a priestess of the Moab religion, rather than just a Moabitess, and therefore her conversion to Judaism is much more meaningful.
  • The Last Airbender: Movie!Aang spends most of his time angsting over his job as the Avatar and being the last airbender. While Cartoon!Aang isn't a stranger to angst, he's The Pollyanna. Also people are quick to notice that Movie!Sokka never cracks a single joke when he was known as the funny guy in the series.
    • The difference is jarring to fans, as one of the trademarks of Aang's character in the original series is his apparently-eternal optimism, and the few times he truly fell into depression were: after realizing he really is the last Airbender (by discovering the remains of Monk Gyatso); had his oldest and closest friend stolen by sand-raiders; and effectively lost the war by allowing the Fire Nation to finally seize control of the Earth Kingdom (leaving only a small band of rebels, amounting to little more than a single battalion of soldiers). While Aang always has a subtle sense of melancholy and quiet moments in the original series, Movie! Aang is basically morose throughout the entire film, with nary a sign of the cartoon's optimism.
  • Spider-Man in the movies is a lot more somber. Peter Parker was always as angsty as he was in the films, but between the good he does have in his life and his snarky battle commentary he's a fun character; not so in the Spider-Man Trilogy where the angst is pretty much wall-to-wall.
    • The Amazing Spider-Man series makes it a Zig Zagged Trope: He has more problems, adding the baggage of missing parents on top of Peter's responsibility and love interest woes. (Other versions tend to gloss over just why he's living with an aunt and uncle at the beginning. This Peter has to solve the mystery of his missing parents, who turn out to have been murdered for their role in the science that would eventually lead to radioactive spiders and genetically altered super villains.) However, it also returns Peter's snarkiness when fighting as Spidey, and we even see him and Gwen Stacy enjoying being together in a way we never saw with the always-strained Peter/MJ relationship in the original trilogy. Of course, Gwen meets a fate similar to her comic counterpart in the end.
    • This trope is however inverted for the Spidey of the MCU. While this Spidey clearly has his share of problems in this continuity, Uncle Ben's death doesn't weigh as heavily as his conscience as it does in other adaptations — or, if it's there, then he does a really good job of hiding it. He's also a lot more secure in himself as Spider-Man, even though he doesn't really think he's all that important as Peter Parker.
  • Master and Commander: The Far Side Of The World, the only film so far of the Aubrey-Maturin novels, has a plot condensed from several of the books plus some stuff that's just made up. A few characters suffer Death by Adaptation; in particular, one midshipman is Driven to Suicide by a major sub-plot expanded from a minor and suicideless one in one of the books. Presumably due to Values Dissonance, the decision to have a sailor flogged is also played as a rare event and significant moral dilemma for Aubrey, while in the books it's treated as a routine if sometimes distasteful part of his job.
  • Goku in Dragonball Evolution suffered this trope. In the movie, he has zero self-confidence and feels that he "can't get the girl", a far cry from his actual personality, where he had no worries in the world at all, and initially had trouble identifying what a girl was.
  • Most of the angst in the Harry Potter films comes directly from the books, but there are still some film-specific examples of this trope. In the book version of Deathly Hallows, the fact that Hermione bewitched her parents to forget about her is something which is briefly mentioned in passing. The movie actually shows it, creating a heart-breaking scene. In the sixth film, Slughorn is seen to harbor much guilt and sadness over the death of Lily Potter via an anecdote about a gift she once gave him. The films actually avert it more often than not:
    • In the first book, the time our heroes lose one hundred and fifty house points makes them despondent and hated by their classmates, but the movie just skips directly from them losing the points to their detention.
    • The second movie greatly downplays Harry's angst about potentially being the Heir of Slytherin, although it gets a little more play in the film's Deleted Scenes. The fourth movie doesn't explain Barty Crouch, Jr.'s angsty backstory and portrays him as a straightforward villain.
    • In the fifth movie, Harry doesn't fly into frequent ALL CAPS rants of rage at his friends nor does he Rage Against the Mentor with Dumbledore during the final scenes as in the book; the movie instead portrays his inner struggle throughout the plot as one of bleak isolation because of his tribulations rather than angry frustration from feeling like he's treated with kid gloves too often.
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Maya pretty quickly recovers from Mia's death, or at least is able to act as if she has. In the movie, she is more upset and, at the end of her trial, screams at Red White and demands to know why he hurt her family so much. Also, while the backstory of Yanni Yogi was plenty tragic in the game, the movie actually shows him having to suffer through being accused of murder, having Robert Hammond say to his face that he doesn't care if Yogi is innocent or not, being harassed by his neighbors, and coming home to find that his wife has committed suicide.
  • Played with Aurora in Maleficent. In Sleeping Beauty, Aurora becomes heartbroken when she learns her identity as the daughter of King Stefan and Queen Leah, meaning that she'll have to leave her simple life in the woods with her aunts and marry a prince, never able to meet up with the nice guy she met in the woods (of course, said guy turns out to be Phillip, her betrothed all along). In Maleficent, Aurora is told by her aunts about her curse (to fall into eternal sleep) and even about Maleficent, who cursed her. However, in this continuity, Aurora has grown to know Maleficent as her Fairy Godmother, and even planned on moving into the Faerie Moors with her when she turned sixteen. As a result, this film places more emphasis on how Aurora feels betrayed by the people she grew up seeing as her family, while adding on the angst that any teenage girl would get when they learn they're essentially doomed to die.
  • Though her hiding from others is not shown as much in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, Katniss' concern for Gale, Prim, and especially Peeta is played way up in comparison to the book. For example, when she gives her demands to Coin in exchange for being the Mockingjay, she does not include her demand that she be allowed to kill Snow personally, only concentrating on saving the victors (and keeping Buttercup). This is especially shown in the mission to save the victors. While in the book, she was concentrated wholly on Finnick's revelations about Snow and therefore developing an increasingly complex relation with him as a result in their friendship, the revelations are more or less in the background, including the fact that Finnick was a Sex Slave not even having him on screen at the time of the comment, with her focused entirely on the screens involving the secondary purpose of the reveals.
  • A rather minor case with Jack in the film version of Into the Woods, who develops a bit of angst due to his mother's treatment.
  • Cinderella (2015):
    • Somewhat; Cinderella in the original film took her step-family's abuse as stoically as possible, only breaking down when she's denied a chance to go to the ball. In this film, Ella is shown to be clearly affected by her mistreatment, well before the dress-tearing scene. Nonetheless, she tries to make the best with what she's got.
    • Tremaine is given a more sympathetic, deeper personality, as opposed to her flat portrayal in earlier adaptations. Of course, she can hardly be considered anything but the villain, just one with a better argument. In something the original Lady Tremaine would never do, this Wicked Stepmother is perfectly willing to let Cinderella marry her beloved prince... however, even then she has ulterior motives for doing so.
    • The prince loses his father in this version, although apart from the death scene itself, his mourning period is offscreen. Ella's grief at her own parents' deaths is also more vividly dealt with, since the film opens with them both alive and highlights her bond with them, whereas in the animated version their deaths are only backstory.
  • The Wizard of Oz adds more conflict for Dorothy at the beginning of the story than The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has. While the book portrays Kansas as a drab place, Dorothy herself is a Cheerful Child and the cyclone that blows her to Oz occurs almost immediately. In the film, before the cyclone, she has to deal with witchy neighbor Miss Gulch trying to have her dog Toto killed, feels ignored by her busy Uncle Henry and Aunt Em, and longs to escape to "a place where there isn't any trouble." This gives her more of a character arc than she has in the book, as her journey through Oz teaches her to appreciate her home and her aunt and uncle's love for her.
  • The Wiz, in comparison to the play and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, depicts Dorothy as having a stronger fear of leaving the safety of her Aunt Em's house to venture into the outside world.
  • Inverted in the first adaptation of The Children's Hour, These Three. While still a somber tale about infidelity and power-dynamics, the climax is considerably less depressing. Martha's love confession is quiet and calm instead of the Anguished Declaration of Love from the play and she wasn't Driven to Suicide. The inversion is in large part due to The Hays Code forcing the film-makers to make the film about a straight love triangle instead of a gay one, and censorship over the suicidal themes.
  • Both played straight and inverted in John Carter. One the one hand, the movie version of Carter is somewhat more bitter over the outcome of the Civil War. On the other hand, the film skips over much of the angst that plagues his courtship of Dejah Thoris in the novel, there's no mention of his profound fear of the dark, and because the ending differs dramatically from the novel, Carter is not teleported back to Earth in the middle of a Suicide Mission to restore Barsoom's atmosphere, and so he is not left to spend the rest of his years wondering if his wife and unborn child are still alive.
  • The original team in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers were longtime friends and straight-laced students, helping charities and kids build their self-estimate. They were, as Lord Zedd put it, "goodie-goods". The version in Power Rangers (2017) are outcasts and/or dealing with personal demons and don't know each other before the movie. More specifically, Jason is a former football star who injured his knee while fleeing from the cops during a prank and crashing, and is under house arrest and lost his father's respect as a result; Kimberly's a former cheerleader who was a former Alpha Bitch who had a Heel Realization after humiliating one of her friends; Billy's autistic; Trini's The Quiet One and questioning her sexuality; and Zack is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who constantly skips class because he's taking care of his sick mother alone and is afraid of her dying while he's gone. Even Zordon gets it - you'd think the And I Must Scream nature of being trapped in another dimension and only able to communicate as a fuzzy graphic of your face is enough, but he was the leader of the previous Rangers, was there when they were betrayed and killed by one of their own, and is considerably less sure of himself and the Rangers, with whom he has a rockier relationship. Jason even notes at one point that though he hides it, he's as afraid as the teens are.
  • In The Visitation, the book, Travis's wife died of cancer, which lead to him feeling disillusioned about his ministry. In The Visitation, the movie, she was brutally murdered and her killer never found, which led to Travis becoming an atheist. And then his dog dies.
  • DC Extended Universe
    • This version of Superman is more angsty and brooding due to having to conceal his powers as a kid and getting bad press despite his best efforts and thus, is much less idealistic and optimistic than others versions.
    • SHAZAM! (2019): Our main hero Billy Batson is a cynical, aloof teenager instead of a pure-hearted Cheerful Child in the classic comics. Much of Billy's angst comes from his history of parental abandonment and shifting foster families, making him less willing to open up to others. However, once he gets superpowers, he lightens up considerably and ends the movie as a much nicer person, going so far as to lead his foster family's pre-dinner ritual as a gesture of cooperation.
  • Watchmen: While Ozymandias always had issues in the comics, the film ramps up his emotional broken-ness up several levels. He shows approximately three times the guilt, self-loathing and painful isolation of his comic book counterpart, even admitting that he "often [feels] stupid at being unable to relate to anybody". Furthermore, according to actor Matthew Goode, Veidt was motivated to give away his inherited wealth out of shame for having parents who were Nazi sympathizers and war profiteers. While he still succeeds in killing millions in the name of world peace, just like his comic counterpart, he seems genuinely horrified and remorseful for his actions, so much so that he lets an emotionally distraught Dan beat the crap out of him. It's rather telling that Ozymandias spends his last few minutes of screentime in a shell-shocked state, staring into space and looking about ready to fall over as the camera zooms out on him.
  • In Return to Oz Dorothy is mistaken for mentally ill by her aunt and uncle. She hasn't slept well since the tornado six months ago and she won't stop rambling about Oz. Dorothy ends up being sent to a Cuckoo Nest for help. The original Land of Oz books contain no similar conflict. Aunt Em and Uncle Henry don't think much of Dorothy's fantasies of Oz and Dorothy doesn't have nightmares of Oz.
  • In 1998 film The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking, the title character is a bit less fearless and more prone to sad moments than her literary counterpart, and eventually she's forced to live in an Orphanage of Fear, which breaks her optimistic spirit, although thankfully she gets better (and gets out of the orphanage) by the end.


    Live-Action TV 
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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 torturesome. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Moral Dilemma that Poirot must face in the books are not apparent in the TV.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Inverted in Life. 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.
  • 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.
  • The Flash (2014) has the Reverse Flash. In the show, he's been Trapped in the Past for 15 years (originally being from a 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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).

    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.
  • 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.

    Web Original 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sword Art Online Abridged gets into this despite being a primarily comedic series:

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Example of: