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Adaptational Badass

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Guess the people behind Namco × Capcom didn't dig the original.

"I'm not really into this fighting stuff unless it's in a courtroom. ...Oh, and with words!"
Phoenix Wright, playable fighter in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 note 

There are characters in the media who are known, simply put, for being less-than-dangerous. They might even be a Non-Action Guy, or The Chick, or The Load, or at least a Damsel in Distress. When danger rears its head, the character generally beats feet and lets their tougher friends deal with the problem.

But then, for some unexplainable reason, when the work is being adapted into another type of media, the character is made a bona fide badass. The reasons for this are myriad. Regardless of the whys, there are four things to consider with such a change:


At its core this causes a significant dissonance with those familiar with the original character. It is not about a change in personality (Martial Pacifist to Blood Knight), method of fighting (defensive Simple Staff to offensive BFS) or battlefield intelligence (Dumb Muscle to Genius Bruiser), but in terms of how relevant they are in a fight. The key is how they are able to navigate through the story. Consider as a result of Power Creep, Power Seep that Superman himself has varied from simply "above human" in strength to near godlike, but he has always been Superman.

As the name suggests, this is based on different interpretations between adaptations. Took a Level in Badass is the same concept except treated as Character Development in the same continuity.

When this is done to a real-life person, then it's Historical Badass Upgrade. For a sister trope specializing in female characters, see Xenafication. The inverse of this trope is Adaptational Wimp.

Example subpages:

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  • Within Temptation has a song called "A Gothic Christmas" which uses this for laughs. Santa starts wearing black and slays dragons while Rudolph changes his name to "Ragnagord" and becomes an Evil Overlord.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Ares from Greek Mythology. Originally, he was portrayed as a bully who could only win against unaided mortals, got his butt kicked by anything supernatural, and was casually dismissed by fellow gods Zeus and Athena. Then the Romans came around and identified him with their god Mars, making him the patron god of Rome, second in importance only to Jupiter (the Roman version of Zeus), an ideal soldier, and an all-around badass. This might make him the Ur-Example. In many modern adaptations, Ares is usually portrayed more in the style of Rome's Mars in order to make him an imposing and threatening character. And since those modern adaptations often have Athena retain Greek role as Always Someone Better to Ares, she has to become even more badass than in the source material in order to keep pace.
  • Satan tends to get upgraded from a fallen angel whose defeat is a given from day one and whose antics on earth are basically a bully picking on the teacher's pets to a full-blown God of Evil only kept from creating Hell on Earth by the forces of light remaining ever vigilant.
  • Heather Dale's version of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The song that was originally about Gawain's failure, became a story of how perfect he was.

  • In A Christmas Carol and most adaptations, Scrooge is terrified at Jacob Marley's appearance and warning. In Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol, after his initial shock he's unfazed by his theatrics, gives a speech dressing him down, and kicks him out of his room with his words alone.

    Theme Parks 
  • Who's the one to turn the tide in the battle against King Ghiodrah in Godzilla vs. Evangelion: The Real 4-D after Godzilla is drained? Shinji Ikari, who drives a katana into King Ghidorah. He's also the only one who accomplish anything against Godzilla—and it's the Godzilla of Shin Godzilla he, Rei, and Asuka are up against.

  • Beast Wars: Uprising:
    • Rage, a one-off cutesy jellyfish from a Beast Wars Neo manga, is reinvented as a warlord who seized control of a city. During the Grand Finale, she fights alongside her own troops.
    • The Vehicons. In Beast Machines, they were brainless mooks who exploded if they were so much as sneezed on, their main strength being sheer numbers. Here, they're The Virus, capable of directly turning other Cybertronians into more Vehicons, destroying their Sparks in the process. Not for nothing is their rampage labelled the Vehicon Apocalypse.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 

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  • In the character's source series, Atop the Fourth Wall's The Entity (aka Missingno) is mildly creepy if you start applying Fridge Logic, somewhere between useful and annoying if you don't, and is nigh-universally pathetic in battle to the point of usually being incapable of victory. Now, he's a horror that makes other monsters look friendly and harmless, and reduces entire worlds to nothingness. According to Word of God, every other glitch Pokemon is just a different form of this version of Missingno.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
    • Mr. Popo was never exactly useless; he even gave Goku a run for his money in the original series, but he never did much beyond that and eventually suffered the same fate as the other non-saiyan characters in the Z series (and even most of the Out of Focus character were stronger than him). His Abridged incarnation, on the other hand, is a Creepy Good Humanoid Abomination and Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant who is implied to be the most powerful being in the universe, with the only reason he doesn't kill all the villains himself being that he's just too lazy or too stoned. Notably, the abridged version of the Garlic Jr. arc has him devour Garlic Jr. and all of his henchmen, defeating them with one move when they attack the lookout, whereas in the source material he could only stand and watch in horror.
    • Tien is a lot braver and more intimidating in Season 3, with all of his interactions with Vegeta having him making fun of the Prince's shortcomings without any fear of retribution, and was very eager to face off against Android 20 in a fight, which intimidated the latter so much that he backed down. The kicker is when he attacks Semi-Perfect Cell all by himself; instead of a Desperation Attack to stall him and buy precious seconds for Android 18 to escape like in the original, here he's sick of sitting on the sidelines while the more powerful characters do everything themselves, intent on proving he's still a warrior even if it means going out in a blaze of glory, with 18's escape being an afterthought. All set to Counterattack from Shadow of the Colossus.
      Cell: Oh my god! It's Tien! What, was Krillin busy? [Tien prepares an attack] Come on buddy, you can't be serious. With your power level? You're no Android. You're no Namekian. And you're certainly no Super Saiyan. You're just human.
      Tien: Yeah. Well you know what?! F**k power levels! F**ck Super Saiyans! AND F**K! YOU! SHIN! KIKOOOHOOOOOO!
      Cell: Oh, that's adoraSHIIIIIIIT!
      • And unlike the original, this incident is never forgotten by Cell to the point that he shows a lot of enmity with Tienshinhan when he is respectful with everyone else. And Tien is more than happy to mock him for it.
    • Unlike in the original version, Piccolo in Cooler 2 is far stronger than Goku and Vegeta, wiping out an entire group of Metal-Coolers in a single blast.note 
  • CollegeHumor's Dora the Explorer and the Destiny Medallion is a three part parody miniseries which re-imagines Dora the Explorer as a straight action movie.
  • In Death Note: The Abridged Series (kpts4tv), Raye Penber is now so impressive that Even the Guys Want Him. He's also Near's hitman and a Shinigami.
  • In Final Fantasy Relay, Edward of all characters helps Cecil win the 6 fights in Fabul and killed the Mom Bomb's Gray Bombs in 1 shot (along with Rydia).
  • In Pokémon Apokélypse, being a parody of darker and edgier works, everyone becomes awesome, especially Team Rocket.
  • Gundam Fighter has it with their entirety of Gundam casts, especially girls that are harmless.
  • Constable Frozen: Olaf from Frozen. Seriously.
  • Pokemon Crystal Kaizo is a super-hard Pokemon romhack that makes every wild Pokemon, trainer, and especially bosses, into badasses. Team Rocket especially, as they turn from a generic bad guy organization with laughable com-mon rosters to a army of criminals with powerful stolen Pokemon, capable of locking down Goldenrod, to the point that the player needs to fly to get in, blocking the path to the department store, and they heavily guard stairs and doors. They almost block off the path to the underground as well.
  • Sword Art Online Abridged removes or alters Asuna's Damsel in Distress moments to keep in line with her... grayer characterization. She isn't inexplicably afraid of her clingy, creepy bodyguard Kuradeel in Episode 8, she's manipulating Kirito into dueling him on her behalf to teach Kuradeel a lesson and avoid the embarrassment of a guild leader having to discipline a subordinate. And in Episode 9, she doesn't fall victim to an I Surrender, Suckers attempt, she curb-stomps an enemy and coldly executes him herself.
  • Rachel freaking Garrett in To Boldly Go... A Starfleet Quest. Granted, that's partially because she only had one episode (Yesterday's Enterprise) of Star Trek: The Next Generation to work with — and she was injured! — but To Boldly Go leaves little doubt that her eventual command of the Enterprise-C is no fluke.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Badass By Adaptation, Took A Level In Badass By Adaptation


Scar (Kingdom Hearts II)

In the original film, Scar was cowardly, trying to pass the blame off onto his hyena henchmen (who later kills him after overhearing him) before getting his claws dirty and fighting Simba. Here though, not only is he ready for a fight from the get go, but he had so much darkness in his heart that he resurfaced from the dead twice as a Heartless, each time coming back stronger than before.

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / AdaptationalBadass

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Main / AdaptationalBadass