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Adaptational Backstory Change

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A staple of Setting Updates and Lighter and Softer adaptations, the Adaptational Backstory Change occurs when a character's origin or background is edited or expanded upon in adaptations. This can be anything from minor details to a completely different origin. This is most prominent with superhero characters but happens to others as well.

Sub-trope to Adaptation Deviation. Can overlap with Adaptation Expansion if the change involves additions that don't conflict with the canon backstory, and External Retcon if the changes actively conflict with the canon backstory; it may involve only one of the two or both at the same time. Can be related to or cause an Adaptation Origin Connection or an Adaptational Nationality change.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • A The Legend of Zelda manga had Link as a bullied, half-elf boy. Unknown to him, he's the older half-brother of Princess Zelda. Link's backstory is never given in The Legend of Zelda but it's never mentioned that he's anything but a Hylian Kid Hero sent to save the (unrelated) Princess Zelda due to him being The Chosen One.
  • Pokémon:
    • The anime removes all references to May and Serena recently moving to their hometowns. This means that they're likely Hoenn and Kalos natives respectively.
    • Iris is now a newbie trainer instead of a Child Prodigy. In the games she is a seasoned trainer who can lead a gym and eventually becomes a Champion, but in the anime she only just received her Axew.
    • Adaptation Expansion on Misty and Brock's backstories caused this. Nowhere do the games imply either have large families, nor that Brock's parents ran off and left him Promoted to Parent. Despite her young age, Misty in the games is a Gym Leader, while in the anime her three older sisters are the actual Gym Leaders.
    • Lillie doesn't meet Nebby until after she's already met Professor Kukui. In the games Nebby was the reason she ran away from home in the first place. Lillie isn't even a runaway in the anime as it's shown she still lives at home. In the anime, Lillie is afraid of touching Pokemon, not just seeing them get hurt in battle like in Sun and Moon, as well.
    • Lillie's brother Gladion isn't associated with Team Skull, which changes his backstory greatly.
  • Adaptation Expansion causes this to many, many Pokémon Adventures characters whose backstories are largely or completely unspecified in the games, and in many cases just straight-up changes things:
    • All of the protagonists have this to an extent by virtue of already having a Pokémon before they get their starter. One of them, Black, even has a fully-evolved one. The characters who aren’t supposed to represent the player character and don’t appear in-game are also given completely different original backstories, hailing from completely different towns.
    • Silver and Green were kidnapped as little kids and were raised, alongside the Johto Elite Four, by Pyrce. None of this is from the games. Years afterwards the games showed Silver's background in the Pokémon Gold and Silver remake. Silver and his father Giovanni parted ways only three years ago, right after Team Rocket disbanded in FireRed and LeafGreen.
    • Lance is a villain in this series because he grew up with abused Pokemon. He also has magical healing powers. Absolutely none of this is in the games.
    • X, Y, Shauna, Trevor, and Tierno are all childhood friends. In the games only Serena and Calem live in the same town and one of them (the protagonist) only recently moved as a teenager. X also used to be a famous battle prodigy who was hounded into becoming a Hikikomori and already has a Keystone, while in the games both protagonists are new trainers, and they get a Keystone later in the game.
    • Ruby and Sapphire used to play together years ago. In contrast, Brendan and May only just met in the games.
    • Red's backstory is never mentioned, but it's implied he has no parents, unlike in the games where Red's mom is one of the only mothers to appear in two separate titles. Also in the games, Red and Blue are childhood friends but in the manga they only recently met.
    • Blake is an Interpol Officer at the ripe old age of 12. His game counterpart, Nate, is an average kid just like the other game protagonists. Rosa’s counterpart Whitley also used to be part of Team Plasma, while obviously this isn’t the case in the games.
    • Professor Oak was a powerful trainer and is a Champion in his youth. Granted, this is a popular fan theory for the games, but this is never stated.
  • Pokémon: Diamond and Pearl Adventure! is loosely based on Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. In the games the protagonist and their rival are normal childhood friends living in Twinleaf Town. They meet the opposite-gender protagonist the day they get their Pokemon. In the manga Hareta is a Wild Child who was abandoned by his dad. Hareta meets Mitsumi when Professor Rowan sends her to get him. Hareta and Mitsumi don't meet Jun until several days after Hareta goes on his journey.
  • Lyrical Nanoha
    • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Precia Testarossa's fall from grace and the death of her daughter were stated to be the result of an experiment she was performing causing a massive explosion. The movie continuity changed her to an Ignored Expert and the explosion was due to a reactor she was designing that was activated before it could be properly tested. Given the Recursive Canon nature of the movies, Fate probably insisted on these changes so that her mother would be portrayed more sympathetically.
    • All of the video game original character have different backstories in Reflection and Detonation. For starters, all of them have past ties to Eltria rather than just the Florian sisters.
  • The 2003 anime of Fullmetal Alchemist changed the order in which Winry's parents died. In the manga they died after Trisha, while in the 2003 anime they died beforehand. While they both died in the Ishbalan Rebellion in both versions, their killer is different- it was Scar in the manga, and Roy Mustang in the anime.
  • In the Welcome to the N.H.K. manga, Misaki lied about being abused by her parents. In the anime and original light novel that is the truth.
  • Bokurano
    • Jun Ushiro, and, by extension, his mother, Misumi Tanaka. In the manga, Jun's mother left him with her former teacher, then disappeared not long after he was born. In the anime, Jun's father was killed by his enemies from the Yakuza, and his mother left him with her sister.
    • While Kanji's mother is connected with the Ascension Towers, the circumstances differ between the manga and the anime. In the manga, Kanji's mother helped design the Ascension Towers before she committed suicide, while in the anime, she's a scientist who works in the towers.
    • Both versions of the story show that Machi is from another universe, but while the manga indicates that she and her brother(Koyemshi) were holdovers from their universe's team of pilots, sent to the next one, the anime suggests that she and Koyemshi have gone to several different universes, helping each one win the game.

    Comic Books 
  • In Jem, Shana and Aja were two of the many foster girls that the Bentons took care of. They were the original two, so they became close friends with Jerrica and Kimber. In Jem and the Holograms, they were the only foster/adopted children of the Bentons. This means that the comic puts much more emphasis on them being the Happily Adopted sisters of Jerrica and Kimber, rather than treating them as simply True Companions.
  • Norby: Rather than Albany losing her clothes in school, the story is changed to trick fountain pens. She's still recognized as the first victim and Fargo as the culprit.
  • Wonder Woman: The Amazons (including Diana) get hit with this a lot when the universe gets rebooted:
    • For starters, the original Amazons of Wonder Woman (1942) were women from across time and the world who ended up on Paradise Island as refugees, started Amazonian training, took oaths to uphold Aphrodite's law and drank from the Fountain of Youth attaining immortality while on the island. Their small nation was founded by the war-like Amazons of myth who left that lifestyle behind to live on Paradise Island which they were lead to by Aphrodite in exchange for their oaths to never kill again.
    • Sometimes, like in Wonder Woman (1987), all the Amazons are women who were killed by men and granted new immortal bodies fashioned of clay by the Greek goddesses, sometimes Diana and Nubia are the only two who were brought to life as fatherless daughters, sometimes Donna is added to this trio of clay Amazons, and in the New 52 Diana was given Cassie's backstory as a demigod daughter of Zeus.
    • In the New 52 the Amazons went from being the pinnacle of peaceful human society meant as a standard and inspiration to us all to a group of misandrist mass murderers and habitual rapists who routinely go out and rape and murder men and then kill any male offspring. This continuity also wiped out their magiteknological advancements and had their tech level trapped in the iron age.
    • The New 52 version of Donna Troy was never Wonder Girl and was created as a murderous misandrist to lead the Amazons in slaughtering their male offspring. This change was undone in Wonder Woman (Rebirth) and Titans (Rebirth) where it's revealed her mind was tampered with and her past as Wonder Girl did really occur. For more on Donna's ever changing backstory see Continuity Snarl.Donna Troy
    • In The Legend of Wonder Woman Vol 2 the Amazons are now the creation of Zeus instead of a group of goddesses carefully acting to hide their work from him, Diana's mother and aunts are all the champions of male Olympians and the Amazons are separated from humanity in order to continue providing the gods with worship rather than as a sanctuary away from cruel men.
    • In Wonder Woman: Warbringer the Amazons are all female warriors who fell in battle protecting others, and were thus given an afterlife on a paradise like island where they can still interact with the outside world. Though if they prevent or cause the death of any of those still living, it will wreak Paradise Island.

    Comic Strips 
  • In the normal Garfield comic strips, Jon Arbuckle's other pet Odie was actually that of his friend Lyman, who appeared for a certain number of strips as Jon's live-in partner and then vanished altogether without explanation. In one of the stories from Garfield: His 9 Lives (the story that retells Garfield's origin), Jon saw that Garfield was lonely and so he bought Odie from the pet store — the same pet store that Garfield was in — and brought him home to keep Garfield company.

    Fan Works 
  • Code Geass: Paladins of Voltron: In Code Geass: Lost Colors, Rai was a former prince of Britannia, who briefly ruled over the Empire and was given Geass by an unknown Code Bearer. In this story, while he's still a Britannian Prince (if the last scene of Tears of the Balmera is any indication), his Geass is indicated to have come from the Galra druids running experiments on him.
  • Canonically, Mulder from The X-Files has a sister who was abducted by aliens. In the AI-written fanfic Coveralls, she "disappeared down the drain".
  • In the DCEU story, Daughter of Fire and Steel, rather than being Zod's reanimated corpse like in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Doomsday is a Kryptonian Super Soldier of Zor-El's creation gone wrong. Additionally, while his Doomsday identity was given to him by Lex Luthor in canon, here it's derived from him taking the Kryptonian sigil for Doomsday as his own.
  • Empath: The Luckiest Smurf changes the backstory of The Smurfs, from the Smurfs all being sons of Papa Smurf that were born through Delivery Stork to them being the sons of Papa Smurf's fellow Smurfs born through natural physical means, with the parents perishing through an Only Fatal to Adults plague and Papa Smurf having to adopt them all as his sons. Papa Smurf himself is the father of the series' main character Empath, while Brainy, who assumed that he was Papa Smurf's son, was actually fathered by a friend of Papa Smurf who gave Empath's mother another son after it was assumed that Empath was brought to the Psyche Master by Papa Smurf to be put to death. The backstory of the Smurflings is also changed, with Nat, Snappy, and Slouchy being Smurflings that came straight from Smurfling Island where nobody ever ages, and Sassette being an actual female Smurf who was put into a Crystal Prison by an evil female wraith and made to believe that she was an artificially-created female Smurf like Smurfette when she was released years later.
  • In the Good Neighbors series, Shinsou Hitoshi has a Dark and Troubled Past, having lived on the streets for quite some time before meeting Izuku... by trying to steal his wallet.
  • Jaune Arc, Lord of Hunger: In canon, Jaune's parents allowed him to attend Beacon Academy but otherwise didn't show much support for his dream of becoming a Huntsman. Here, they were extremely overprotective of him to the point where he had to run away from home in order to enroll at Beacon.
  • Knights of the Otherworld has the Advent Decks be created by Merlin as a means to bind and control the Contract Monsters for people to use.
  • The Moon's Flash Princess: Kirito's parents died in one of the first Youma attacks, instead of a car accident - and he not only witnessed the attack, but only survived thanks to a few magical words he had learned from his brother Akihiko.
  • In New Island Life, Hajime is accepted into Class 77-B as Ultimate Reserve Student, instead of staying in the Reserve Course.
  • one day at a time:
    • Subverted with Carrie Kelley. Her backstory is relatively the same, up to and including becoming Robin after she saved the current Batman's life.
    • Helena Wayne's backstory is a remix of her Pre-Crisis and New 52 origins. Here, Bruce was dead before she was born, causing Selina to give up being Catwoman and flee Gotham under an assumed name. She raised Helena alone for the next ten years, until Black Mask II tracked them down and tried to force Selina to work for him. Selina refused, then went back on the run with Helena in hopes of getting Jason's help; however, Black Mask's men cornered them in Gotham. Before she was killed, Selina sent Helena to find Jason, who immediately realized who she was and took her in upon her mother's death.
    • Terry McGinnis' origin story is modified so his parents were murdered back when he was kid, leaving him and his younger brother orphans. Talia, however, ensured they wouldn't be manipulated any longer by killing both the assassin and their employer, and then arranged it so they would meet and be adopted by Jason.
  • Master Fu's Dark and Troubled Past in The One to Make It Stay involves an Evil Former Friend who betrayed the Guardians, leading to the Butterfly and Peacock Miraculous being lost and the latter being damaged as well. This parallels Marinette's troubles with certain allies of hers, particularly Chat Noir — both he and Bo joked around a lot and were more focused upon their personal desires than the responsibility their respective roles demanded of them.
  • Our Own League series:
    • In DC canon, Kara Zor-El escapes Krypton's destruction in a spaceship as Superman did. In Teen Titans: Together for Tomorrow, Kara was in Kandor when the city was shrunken and stolen by Brainiac, and lived imprisoned (and unaging) in the bottled city for thirty years until Superboy helped release her.
    • Rather than because Aquaman accidentally murdered his father, Mera's Exposition in Teen Titans: Witch-Hunt explains David Hyde became the villain Black Manta and swore revenge on Atlantis because his Atlantean lover Sha'laina was brutally executed under suspicion of treason, an event which predates Aquaman's reign.
  • Tales of Sonic the Hedgehog:
  • Ultimate Misfits:
    • Pizzazz is Jerrica and Kimber's adopted sister. Their fathers were best friends, so Harvey left his daughter to Emmett in his will. He and his ex-wife died when Pizzazz was two, so Pizzazz doesn't remember her biological parents.
    • Stormer is Kimber's childhood friend. As a result, she's known Pizzazz for years.
    • Jetta and Roxy were in a band together prior to joining with Stormer and Roxy. They've also been friends for a long time because their fathers were both wrestles. Roxy never ran away from home as a teen.
    • Raya is a friend of Shana's from school. In canon, they only meet as adults when Raya enters a contest to be Jem and the Hologram's new drummer.
    • Techrat was the assistant of Emmett in his last few years.
    • Stormer and her brother Craig didn't grow up together. Craig's a Long-Lost Relative to Stormer.
    • Ba Nee's backstory is implicitly different because of the story's Setting Update. She's too young to have been born during the Vietnam War. It's also mentioned that she's not fluent in English, meaning she came to America at an older age than in canon.
  • Unbreakable Red Silken Thread: Jasmine and Samey did not meet until the season they debuted in. In this story, they had been pen pals ever since the second grade.
  • Pokémon: Harmony and Chaos: The origin of Holder's Boulder, the giant rock on the Pie family Rock Farm, is changed. In canon, it was found in a dragon nest that was supposedly "older than time itself" and the farm was built around it. Here it is explained it was formed generations ago during a confrontation with Regirock, Terrakion, and Diancie, three Legendary Rock-type Pokémon.

    Film — Animated 
  • Superman Unbound: In the comic story, Zor-El used Brainiac's shield generators to protect his home city during the destruction of Krypton, and Brainiac found it floating in space. Here, Brainiac went back to Krypton and abducted Argo City and its people before the planet's destruction because Zor-El was studying ways to fight him.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • This happened in general with Marvel Cinematic Universe, which changed not just the time of the origins of superheroes and villains set in the present, but also made various heavy modifications compared to the original source. A good example is Hydra organization, which was founded by Red Skull as the scientist arm of the Nazi Party in the 40s instead of being just an evil organization founded by Baron Zemo that allied the Nazi as in the comic books.
  • Wonder Woman (2017): The film mixes Wonder Woman's pre-New 52 and New 52 origins together. It's implied that she was created from clay however Zeus gave her life instead of the other gods. This makes Diana non-blood related half-siblings with the Big Bad Ares. It also changes her first appearance in Man's World from World War II (the Golden Age version's original story) to World War I.
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: In the 1983 animated series, the episode, "The Chipmunk Story" reveals that infant versions of Alvin, Simon, and Theodore were left at the door of Dave Seville's house by their mother, due to it being a particularly brutal winter, and she hadn't had the resources to feed them. In the 2007 live-action movie, Alvin, Simon, and Theodore lived in a tree from the forest that was being cut down and used as a Christmas tree for the company Dave worked for, and stowed away in a muffin basket that Dave stole from a co-worker.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse eliminated major chunks of Scott's backstory. Instead of growing up in an orphanage after a plane crash supposedly killed his parents, he lives with his family and knows his brother, who in this universe is older than him.
  • Kim Possible:
    • In the cartoon, Ron brought a baby Rufus from Smarty Mart as a middle schooler. A naked mole rat was the only pet he could find that his father wasn't allergic to. In the live-action adaptation, Ron meets an adult Rufus as a high school freshman. He rescues him from a lab while on a mission with Kim. Rufus' unusual intelligence is stated to be because he was experimented on. Kim's reaction to meeting Rufus is also different: in the cartoon she was disgusted by him and took a while to get used to him, but she instantly likes him in the film.
    • Implied with Shego due to an Adaptational Superpower Change. She no longer has green skin and her Hand Blast power is provided by bracelets. In the cartoon, her green coloring and powers were due to her being a meta-human. Shego's family all gained powers after being hit by a rainbow comet.
  • Ophelia makes some changes to the backstories of Ophelia and Gertrude, overlapping with Adaptation Expansion as most of it either doesn't contradict the original too much and/or because the characters don't have much backstory to begin with.
    • In Hamlet, Ophelia is just one of Gertrude's ladies-in-waiting and presumably nobility. Here, it's specified that Ophelia isn't noble by birth and that Gertrude made her one of her ladies after taking a liking to her (and learning she had no mother), which results in the other ladies regarding her as an outsider. The fact she's technically a commoner is also significant in that it makes her even more 'unsuitable' as Hamlet's potential bride. Furthermore, it's never mentioned in Hamlet what happened to Ophelia's mother; here, it's stated that she died many years ago.
    • Gertrude isn't given much backstory in Hamlet. It's revealed here that Gertrude was raised in a convent in France and has a twin sister named Mechtild. Gertrude was a target of bullying growing up, with Mechtild defending her. After Mechtild got pregnant out of wedlock and was persecuted as a witch, Gertrude apparently helped her go into hiding and kept her survival a secret.
  • The Wizard of Oz: In The Tin Woodman Of Oz, the Tin Woodman was a human, until the Wicked Witch of the West cursed his axe to chop him into bits. It was too dark for the 1939 version so he was simply made by a tin smith.

  • In The Twilight Zone (1985) episode "Healer", Harry Faulk is Jackie Thompson's neighbor and they seemingly did not have much of a relationship until they began using the healing stone to make money. In the short story adaptation by Alan Brennert, Harry is the closest thing that Jackie has to a father. They met when they were both serving sentences in Vacaville Prison ten years earlier. Since their release, they had worked together on numerous scams and swindles and the occasional burglary but only made enough money to pay their bills until Jackie stole the stone.

    Live-Action TV 
  • There's actually quite a few for the Arrowverse:
    • Arrow:
      • John Diggle ended up becoming this over the years thanks to the eventual revelation that he's the series' version of John Stewart. The original John was a former architect and sniper in the U.S. Marine Corps who ended up becoming a Green Lantern as a replacement backup for Hal Jordan, after Guy Gardner was taken out of commission. John Diggle, on the other hand, was a former member of the U.S. Army, a father, a husband, and a former bodyguard who ended up becoming a key cornerstone to Oliver Queen's crusade in fighting crime (effectively becoming what Hal Jordan was to Green Arrow in the comics). The series eventually confirms that he is John Stewart when its revealed his stepfather's name is General "Stewart", and the series ends with him receiving a Green Lantern ring, though this has yet to be followed up upon.
      • Black Canary was established as a Legacy Character in the comics, as Dinah Laurel Lance inherited the role from her mother, Dinah Drake Lance, a former member of the Justice Society of America, who attempted to discourage her daughter from assuming the role. In the show itself, Dinah's mother was never a superhero, with her sister Sara (who apparently died in the sinking of the Queen's Gambit along with Oliver Queen)) taking on the mantle upon her return to Starling City; Dinah herself was a district attorney. It's only after Sara dies thanks to a brainwashed Thea Queen that Dinah takes up the role, and even then Sara is eventually resurrected. Not only that, but Dinah's sonic powers are the result of an experimental soundwave collar built by Cisco Ramone rather than a natural genetic superpower. Her relationship with Oliver is equally as complicated as in the comics, but rather than having gone through the ups and downs of divorce, Dinah's dislike of Oliver was mostly motivated by Sara's apparent death being the result of Oliver cheating with her, and the two would try on and off for a few years. Eventually, Dinah would die at the hands of Damian Darkh in Season 4, leaving the mantle empty for a time.
      • Further complicating matters is the two women who would later become the Canary in Dinah's absence. First, another woman by the name of Dinah Drake would take up the mantle, only she was a police officer who was accidentally turned into a metahuman on the same night that The Flash was created (via the same means), whereas the original Dinah Drake was not a metahuman whatsoever, and was denied the chance to become a cop. Later, the next person to become the Canary is the Earth-2 version of Dinah Laurel Lance, who was already a metahuman to begin with (albeit an evil one), and was transplanted to Earth-1 for a time to act a supervillain before undergoing a Heel–Face Turn and taking up the mantle of Black Canary.
      • Roy Harper was originally the son of a deceased forest ranger, who was raised by a tribe of Native Americans before being taken under Green Arrow's wing, later founding the Teen Titans before their initial disbanding and his mentor's absence led him to spiral into drug addiction, before he cleaned up his act, became Arsenal, and later went through various tragedies and identities. Here, Roy was a petty thief who had an on-off relationship with Thea Queen, becoming inspired by the Arrow to do good and clean up his act, and subsequently dealing with an addictive drug that led him to become Arsenal for a time until he took the fall for Oliver and faked his death, only coming back to aid his old mentor on occasion. Unlike their mainstream counterparts, Roy never showed too much disdain for Oliver, whereas the two in the comics could go from a father/son relationship to Roy hating his mentors guts.
      • Deathstroke the Terminator was an American assassin in the comics, having been a discharged military veteran who allowed himself to be tested for an experimental serum that increased 90% of his brain power, not to mention he only works for those who can afford his steep price. Here, Slade Wilson was a former Australian SAS agent who was hunting his rogue partner on Lian Yu, formed a bond with Oliver Queen when he ended up stranded there, and went mad with grief when a woman named Shadow (whom he was in love with) died thanks to Oliver choosing Sara Lance's life over hers. He also gained his powers thanks to Doctor Anthony Ivo's "Mirakuru" formula, and lost his eye at Oliver's hands when his grief (mixed with the drug) drove him mad, leading him to try and kill his former friend many years later. Moreover, while comics Slade still acts in his own interests, this Slade underwent a Heel–Face Turn when the drug flushed out of his system, and teamed up with his old foe to find his son.
  • The Boys (2019): Kimiko. She was accidentally exposed to compound V as a baby and taken prisoner by some scientists in the comics. The show gives a different backstory to her.
  • Daredevil (2015):
    • Karen Page didn't have much of a backstory in the comics, so for her expanded role as the female lead of the show, she's given one.
    • While Wilson Fisk did kill someone with a hammer when he was a child, the comic arc where this is revealed suggests it to be a random individual, and not his own father like happened in the show.
  • In Fate: The Winx Saga, Bloom was kidnapped from her biological parents by blood witches and Rosalind sent her to the First World as changeling after the destruction of Aster Dell. In Winx Club, her older sister Daphne transported her to Earth as witches attacked their home planet, Domino. Bloom ended up a burning building and was adopted by the fire-fighter who rescued her along with his wife.
  • Jessica Jones (2015): In the comics, Kilgrave was a Croatian spy who got sent to infiltrate a chemical refinery and was accidentally doused with a chemical that turned his hair and skin purple, and which also gave him his mind control powers. In the show, Kilgrave is a British man who got his powers as a side effect of his parents' efforts to treat a degenerative brain disease he had as a child.
  • Luke Cage (2016):
    • In the comics, Luke was from Harlem, his half-brother was James "Coldfire" Lucas, Jr. who had superpowers of his own, and he was involved in street crime before he went to prison. In the show, Luke is from Savannah, Georgia, his half-brother was Willis "Diamondback" Stryker, and he served in the Marines and was a Sheriff's deputy when he went to prison.
    • Raymond "Piranha" Jones in the comics grew up in poverty and lost all of his teeth by the age of 15, and had them replaced with long, sharpened steel spikes. These, and his habit of using them on his enemies, gained him the nickname "Piranha". In the Netflix show, he was looked after by the Stokes family, who paid his way through college, and he went into the world of finance, where he takes the nickname "Piranha" because he sees himself as the "little fish you don't see coming" in the cutthroat world of stock trading.
    • Since Cottonmouth and Mariah are cousins in the show, whereas they were completely unrelated in the comics, much of their backstories have changed accordingly.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
    • In "Passage on the Lady Anne", the Ransomes' six year marriage is falling apart due to Alan being concerned with his job than with Eileen. In the short story "Song for a Lady" by Charles Beaumont, they are a newly married and very much in love couple on their honeymoon.
    • In "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet", Bob Wilson suffered a nervous breakdown on a plane six months earlier. In the short story by Richard Matheson, the equivalent character Arthur Jeffrey Wilson is extremely apprehensive about flying but no specific reason is given as to why.
    • In "Night Call", the caller is Miss Elva Keene's fiancé Brian Douglas who was killed in a car accident a week before they were to be married in 1932. At her insistence, Elva had been driving. She lost control of the car and crashed it into a tree. Brian was thrown out through the windshield and Elva was paralyzed. In the short story "Long Distance Call" by Richard Matheson, the caller is never identified and what caused Elva's paralysis is not revealed.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985):
    • In "Nightcrawlers", nothing is revealed of the backstory of the waitress at Big Bob's diner. In the short story by Robert R. McCammon, she is a former hippie named Cheryl Lovesong who lived in San Francisco in The '60s and experimented with drugs while she was there.
    • In "Wong's Lost and Found Emporium", David Wong decides to assume management of the Lost and Found Emporium after he finds his compassion. In the short story by William F. Wu, he had already been running the emporium for several months before he regained his compassion.
    • In "One Life, Furnished in Early Poverty", Gus Rosenthal had a difficult relationship with his father Lou growing up and regretted never telling him that he loved him before he died when Gus was in his teens. In the short story by Harlan Ellison, Gus' relationship with both of his parents was even more difficult. He was sent to a military school at seven years old because of his poor behavior and ran away from home when he was thirteen.
    • In "Gramma", there are no details given about Georgie's relationship with his elder brother Buddy. In the short story by Stephen King, it is mentioned that Buddy regularly bullies Georgie, both physically and verbally. At the end of the story, Georgie is possessed by their grandmother's spirit and plans his revenge against Buddy for the years of torment.
    • In "Dead Run", Johnny Davis decides to help the wrongfully condemned people whom he had been transporting to Hell only one day after taking the job. In the short story by Greg Bear, he is on the job for two years before his conscience gets the best of him and he begins to help the damned escape to Heaven.
  • Hooded Justice got hit with this hard in Watchmen (2019). Granted, what was assumed in the original comic, it was only speculation, even in-universe, but the 2019 version was most definitely not named Rolf Müller, homosexual, a white German, a genuine Nazi sympathizer, a former circus strongman, or even dead. Instead, he's Will Reeves, a still-living bisexual African-American former NYPD member who became a costumed hero to fight against racism (though Word of God is he feigned support for Nazi Germany as a smokescreen to cover his true identity). About the only thing Hollis got right is that Reeves was involved with Captain Metropolis.
  • In Wonder Woman (1975) Nubia is a former San Francisco cop and friend of Steve Trevor's who ended up leaving the force while undercover when she fell in love with and married Fausta Grables, the leader of the terrorist cell she was infiltrating. She later broke her own heart when she turned in her love due to her sense of right and wrong. In the source comics she is Diana's twin sister.


    Video Games 
  • The Resident Evil 2 (Remake) makes a few changes from the original game.
    • In the original, Leon was late for his first day at work because he had broken up with his girlfriend and drank so much he overslept. In the remake, this has been changed to him receiving a phone call to stay away from Raccoon City and await further orders. After one week of radio silence, Leon decides to go to the city to investigate.
    • Robert Kendo, who was a Nice Guy and handed guns to civilians to protect themselves, reacted with hostility and held Leon at gunpoint and tried to kick him out of the gun shop. Only because his daughter has been infected and he was afraid Leon or Ada would kill her.
    • Despite their shady line of work, William and Annette Birkin were Happily Married. In the remake, though they were still close, Annette confesses to Claire that they were more married to their work instead of each other and became distant.
  • Final Fantasy XIV changes the backstories for a lot of the characters it borrows from other games in the franchise.
    • The Weapons from Final Fantasy VII were Kaiju spawned by the Planet to protect it from existential threats like Jenova. XIV reimagines them as manmade biomechanical Humongous Mecha built to slay Primals.
    • Ba'Gamnan from Final Fantasy XII was a ruthless Bounty Hunter with no redeeming qualities. XIV reimagines him as a former Dalmascan knight who failed to protect his princess during the Garlean invasion and wants to avenge her death by destroying Garlemald with the power of the auracite.

    Web Original 
  • DC Super Hero Girls does this to a majority of the cast due to them being Younger and Hipper and due to the amount of Adaptational Heroism. Most characters backstories haven't been discussed throughly but it's fair game to believe that most have been edited:
    • Harley Quinn's Start of Darkness in the comics was her meeting The Joker when she was a psychiatrist/psychologist at Arkham Asylum. Harley in DC Superhero Girls is too young to be a psychiatrist (under most circumstances) and was bullied by the Joker when she was younger. Her backstory has only briefly been mentioned. Harley had wanted to be a superhero since she was little, so she probably worked hard to get into the Superhero School given that she's a Badass Normal with no powers. Harley is a through-and-through hero unlike her villainous (occasionally Anti-Hero) comic book version.
    • Batgirl's origin didn't involve Batman at all. She received her title without any relation to Batwoman or Batman, unlike in her other incarnations where she intentionally styled herself after Batman. She received her name due to Supergirl, who called her "Bat Girl" due to Barbara liking bats.
    • Starfire and her sister Blackfire are friends, not enemies, for once. This obviously means Starfire was never made a slave. It's more likely that the reason she is on Earth is just because she chose Superhero High to be her high school.
    • Katana's comic backstory makes no sense anymore due to her young age. Her sword isn't even implied to be the soul-taker it is in the comics. It's just a normal sword.

    Western Animation 
  • Teen Titans:
    • Cyborg's origin was shown in the Teen Titans Go! tie-in comic. He used to love racing cars but one day got into an accident. He was saved but only by replacing his damaged body with cybernetic parts. In the comics, Cyborg was a football player injured in a science accident that also killed his mother.
    • Beast Boy's true origin is never referenced; however, his time with the Doom Patrol is. In the Teen Titan verse they were Spared by the Adaptation, simply missing instead of Killed Off for Real. Beast Boy also never had his pre-80s element, such as trying (and failing) to join the Teen Titans due to not having parental permission.
    • Starfire was still enslaved, however she ended up escaping early on, removing the Rape as Backstory and years of abuse that her comic version suffered.
    • Robin's backstory is never discussed, however he seems to have the same origin that Dick Grayson always has. He, however, doesn't have his pre-New Teen Titans friendships with characters like Donna Troy, Roy Harper, and Garth.
    • Finally, this team itself came together as result of fighting the alien slavers that Starfire had recently escaped from, rather than a call from Raven asking for help to take down her father Trigon, as in The New Teen Titans.
  • Teen Titans Go! is a Denser and Wackier adaptation of the 2003 Teen Titans cartoon that actually ended up reinstating most character backstories.
    • While one episode shows Cyborg as always being half-robot, even as an infant, as part of a gag, later episodes confirm that he actually was a high school football star who was in an accident, which is more in-line with his comic book backstory.
    • Starfire's backstory initially replaces the aforementioned slavery aspect with her simply being exiled from her home planet by her older sister, Blackfire. The episode "Real Origins" reveals that this was still very much the case, though she escapes just as early as she did in the 2003 series thanks to Robin.
    • Beast Boy's backstory is elaborated on and revealed to be the same as the comics, with him being a sickly infant whose parents' gave a serum that not only cured him, but also gave him his shapeshifting abilities. With that in mind, this version of the character was never a part of Doom Patrol.
    • The team-up story still differs from the comics, however, as these Titans came together as a result of Dick Grayson wishing to escape the shadow of Batman and actively hunting down sidekicks... er, teammates for a new team. Definitely teammates. (Everyone will know they're really sidekicks, though.)
  • Young Justice:
    • Miss Martian is a half-White Martian, half-Green Martian mix. White Martians suffer from heavy discrimination by Green Martians. This is in heavy contrast to the comics where Martian Manhunter was the only Green Martian at the time and M'gann was fully White Martian. She was the White Sheep of the Always Chaotic Evil of White Martians. In the comics, she is also an only child with deceased parents. In the cartoon she has many siblings, living parents, and is Martian Manhunter's biological niece.
    • Beast Boy's origin is completely changed. In the comics his parents were scientists living in a jungle. As a toddler Garfield received an injury and the only way to save him was to use an experimental drug, which ended up changing his body to green and giving him superpowers. His parents later died and Garfield was adopted into the Doom Patrol as "Changeling". They too died and he eventually became a Teen Titan, All this was removed in Young Justice. Garfield met the unnamed team as a kid while living with his single ex-actress mother. His green skin and superpowers are due to Miss Martian using her powers to save him. Garfield's mom died during the timeskip and he was taken in by Miss Martian.
      • Season 3 however reveals that Gar's powers are a result of a green monkey god, a nod to his comic incarnation.
    • Jade Nguyen aka Cheshire was kidnapped as a child and sold into sexual slavery before being adopted by Chinese freedom fighter, Weng Chan. note . In the show, Jade is the daughter of the villains Lawrence Crock and Paula Nguyen aka Sportsmaster and Huntress respectively and is the sister of Artemis Crock. Also, while Jade is typically a freelance mercenary, here she is a member of the League of Shadows.
  • Hawkgirl in the comics was primarily Hawkman's girlfriend, and both their backstories were caught in an infamous Continuity Snarl: DC couldn't decide if they were reincarnations of ancient Egyptian heroes, or Human Alien law enforcement officers from planet Thanagar. For her appearance in Justice League, Hawkgirl was reimagined as a hero completely independent of Hawkman. She was still a Thanagarian police officer, though teleported to Earth by accident and searching for a way home—until the season 2 finale revealed that whole backstory was a lie, and she was actually a spy for Thanagar's invasion force. Then later seasons teased the possibility that she was the reincarnation of a marooned Thanagarian who ruled over ancient Egypt as a queen, but the series never confirmed if that was true or not.
  • In Marvel Rising: Initiation, Spider-Gwen's backstory sees some minor changes to better fit into the "mainline" universe of the animated series, as the character resides within an alternate universe within the pages of Marvel Comics (Earth-65 rather than Earth-616). In the comics, Gwen Stacy initially used her powers for fun and profit before hearing her father criticize her persona for wasting her talents. Afterwards, she begins crime-fighting, but her commitment to do so is only cemented after she fights the Lizard, who turns out to be her best friend Peter Parker. Peter dies from his injuries after reverting back to normal, and Gwen spends over thirty issues as a fugitive, with the goal of becoming a better hero so her best friend wouldn't have died in vain. In the cartoon, it's implied that this Gwen was a hero from day one. Instead of Peter Parker, her best friend was an Inhuman named Kevin, and rather than him accidentally dying by Gwen's hands, he's murdered by a Kree villain, with Gwen being framed for the crime. Oh, and Gwen Stacy's hero name is changed from "Spider-Woman" to "Ghost-Spider", though that change that would later extended to the comics to reduce any possible confusion with Jessica Drew.
  • In the comics and previous animated shows, Venom is an alien creature, but in Ultimate Spider-Man, it's been created from Spider-Man's blood.
  • Earthworm Jim:
    • The manual for the original Earthworm Jim video game states that the reason why Professor-Monkey-For-A-Head can't make another super suit identical to Jim's is because his monkey half ate the plans. In the cartoon series, the reason why he can't make another super suit is because he doesn't have a spare Battery of the Gods, and the Gods are not willing to give one to him.
    • Another notable example is Princess What's-Her-Name, from being the typical (and apathetic) Damsel in Distress in the games to an Action Girl with a major role in the cartoon series.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM): Sonic's origin doesn't match the western origin given in Sonic the Hedgehog Bible and Sonic the Hedgehog Promo Comic. In the original origin, Sonic was a prickly brown hedgehog who befriended a human named Dr. Kintobor. Eventually, both Sonic and Kintobor got into an accident that turned Sonic blue and turned the benevolent scientist into the evil Dr. Robotnik. In SatAM, Sonic was always blue, he's more sociable and has been friends with Sally since childhood, and his backstory has nothing to do with Robotnik.
  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog show that Sonic met a lost Tails when the latter was a toddler. Sonic reluctantly adopts Tails as his brother. In the games, Tails and Sonic met when Sonic landed on West Side Island. Tails was bullied by others for his two tails but became interested in the cool hedgehog. Sonic originally thought of Tails as just a pesky kid, but after Tails helped him on his adventure Sonic began to respect Tails.
  • In the Johan and Peewit comic books, their first meeting with the Smurfs took place in the story "The Smurfs And The Magic Flute", in which they sought the help of the Smurfs to retrieve a magic flute that Peewit found that was stolen by Matthew McCreep and used for robbery. In the Animated Adaptation that was part of The Smurfs cartoon show, their first meeting happened in "The Cursed Country", where Hefty and Smurfette sought their help in rescuing their fellow Smurfs from being abducted by an evil dragon tamer.
  • Speaking of The Smurfs, the comic books had their first encounter with Gargamel taking place within the present time period in "The Smurfnapper", where Gargamel abducts one Smurf to use for his gold-making formula and the other Smurfs spend the night in Gargamel's hovel seeking an opportunity to rescue the Smurf. In the Animated Adaptation, however, their first meeting with Gargamel happened about ten years prior to the present time period, as revealed in "Gargamel's Time Trip", when Gargamel sought to capture a Smurf to finish his sorcerer's school project so that he could graduate.
  • DuckTales (2017):
    • The show's versions of Darkwing Duck and Negaduck both have different origin stories. The former is a young actor and fan of the Show Within a Show version of Darkwing Duck who was inspired by Launchpad to become a real-life version of their hero; the latter is neither a version of Darkwing from a Mirror Universe nor Darkwing's evil side made manifest, but instead the former actor in the Darkwing role, driven insane after he was replaced in the role for a reboot and got caught in an explosion.
    • In the original 1987 series, Webby Vanderquack was Mrs. Beakley's biological granddaughter. Here, she's the older woman's foster granddaughter, with the Grand Finale revealing that Scrooge McDuck is her biological father.
  • In Grant Morrison's JLA, General Wade Eiling acquired his hulking supervillain form by having his mind transferred into the old Justice League villain Shaggy Man (which he then had shaved so he wouldn't look like a hippie). In Justice League Unlimited, he gained it from taking Captain Nazi's Super Serum.


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