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:
- Sometimes a character is defined by being a Non-Action Guy, that their usefulness to the story is their intelligence, peacekeeping among teammates or being a Friend to All Living Things. When making such a character become violent in any form, a side effect is that they appear and act brutish as a trade-off, causing Character Derailment.
- On the other hand, the character may have become a Damsel Scrappy whose only job was to get captured by the bad guys and give a Damsel in Distress for the hero to rescue. Making them competent in a fight and no longer The Load can also result in a more preferred version of the character. In fact there are many examples of such a change becoming a Ret-Canon to the original character.
- In some cases (especially video games) this is the result of someone who's a non combatant in their own series appearing in a setting where fighting skill of some kind is required, overlapping with Power Creep, Power Seep. These types of characters are the kind most likely to use tropes such as I Know Madden Kombat, Martial Arts and Crafts, and Fighting Clown.
- This trope can even apply to characters who are reasonably competent and skilled in their original incarnations, but future versions elevate their capabilities and accomplishments, sometimes to an Invincible Hero or Invincible Villain level. This is related to the Big Budget Beef-Up or Serial Escalation, the character is changed to match the intensity of the action.
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.
- Anime & Manga
- Comic Books
- Fan Works
- Films Animation
- Films Live-Action
- Live-Action TV
- Video Games
- Western Animation
- Angels of Music revolves around a team of female Action Girl detectives recruited from works of 19th-century literature. Most of them were not action girls in the original works — we're talking people like Christine Daaé, Trilby O'Ferrall, Liza Doolittle, and Gigi — let alone the Waif-Fu masters these versions are trained to be.
- You don't want to mess with Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella in The Princess Series, as they have magical powers to attack you.
- Nor the mighty Bennett Sisters in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
- When Gaunt's Ghosts was first released, the Imperial Guard in Warhammer 40,000 were a puny Red Shirt Army led by idiots and maniacs that died in droves against every foe of the Imperium. After Ghosts depicted them as a terrifyingly competent Badass Army filled with Badass Normals and led by Four Star Badasses (with the odd idiot and maniac thrown in for variety), this portrayal proved so popular that Games Workshop near-completely changed their image to match it.
- In 2007, the CGSociety (for Creative Digital Artists) held a contest to create images and pieces using Greg Bear's book Eon as a reference point. The winning trailer was titled "Worlds Within Worlds". In it, the frant breaks a soldier's neck. In the book, frants are actually rather peaceful (they're useful due to their Hive Mind), and there's no danger at the moment in the book that the trailer portrays.
- This is widespread throughout the Nyctophobia books, but the most obvious case is Erik Garnier. In Leroux's original work, the Phantom/Erik is just a deformed man haunting a concert hall. In the series, he is half-demon, more accurately half-incubus, and his iconically beautiful voice can either be compelling or it can shatter glass.
- Quantum Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner makes a number of people far more badass than they were in Digital Devil Saga:
- In the game Cielo was either The Load or the Lethal Joke Character, depending on how you played him. In the novels he is The Big Guy, as powerful as everyone else in combat in both physical and magic terms, with his only drawback being that as a flying demon he cannot fight all that well indoors. in fact, at the very end it is him who manages to break out of Sera's control instead of Heat.
- Jinana/Ushas originally merely had a few physical attacks and a Light 'em Up Signature Move that she needed help to execute. Here, she has Prehensile Hair and can create several different types of unblockable Frickin' Laser Beams and an actual Laser Blade.
- The random encounter Atavaka is a unique High Atma depicted as powerful as some of the bosses.
- Harley Q was a pathetic Warm-Up Boss. Now, he is a Nigh Invulnerable Blob Monster that takes the heroes' combined efforts to take down. After that not only is he still alive, but he eventually turns into an Eldritch Abomination that devours everyone and everything in the Junkyard.
- 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.
- 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.
- Dead Fantasy:
- Hitomi has Super Strength on par with Tifa Lockhart. In her home series, she's a Badass Normal.
- Rinoa Heartilly is pretty much a Physical God here.
- Kairi has all of Sora's Keyblade skills and magic, while in her home series, she's a novice. Her alter ego Naminé is pretty much Kairi's Super Mode, pulling off ridiculous stunts and displays of power, while in her home series, she never fights.
- In Death Battle, this trope applies to Harry Potter. Not that he was slacking in the book series, but in his fight with Luke Skywalker, he's capable of pulling off feats he canonically didn't.
- FreedomToons: Parodied. Pintsized Jewish and Nerdy right-wing pundit Ben Shapiro has hex vision.
- Discussed in Overly Sarcastic Productions. Despite what The Camp Half-Blood Series would have you believe, Greek demigods rarely boasted amazing superpowers as a result of being Semi-Divine. For instance, Bellerophon, son of Poseidon, is an amazing equestrian rather than having any kind of Making a Splash. In fact, the most famous Greek demigods, Heracles and Achilles, got their powers through other means.note
- 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.