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Adaptational Consent

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Consent is a thorny issue, and when a work is translated from one medium to another a sexual or romantic encounter that fell on a clear side of consensual or nonconsensual may be altered.

Usually Lighter and Softer works will go the route of making it consensual, often with older stories because of Values Dissonance and a modern audience being unlikely to root for the character committing a rape, especially if this character is supposed to be a valid love interest. It may also be because the target audience of an adaptation is on the younger side, which falls under Bowdlerise. Darker and Edgier works, on the other hand, tend to go the opposite route and make what was a consensual encounter into a rape and portray the perpetrator in a worse light. Alternately if the original fell somewhere in the realm of Questionable Consent the "questionable" part is removed one way or the other. And like Questionable Consent, an act doesn't have to be sexual to fall under this, though sexual examples are by far the most common situations affected.

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Both versions of this trope can carry massive Unfortunate Implications. Changing a rape scene into consensual sex can verge on meta-textual Romanticized Abuse, i.e. someone responsible for the adaptation looked at the rape scene and decided it should be made sexy or romantic. On the other hand, changing a scene of consensual sex into sexual assault may suggest that the writers just wanted to show someone, usually a woman, getting brutalized for purposes of cheap drama or titillation, which often leads to accusations of Gratuitous Rape; or it might also look suspiciously like the motive is just to turn a character into a rapist because the writers don't like him and want him to look worse.

Compare The Dog Shot First, which retcons an act of aggression into an act of self-defense.

And as with all Sexual Harassment and Rape Tropes, No Real Life Examples, Please!

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Examples:

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     Anime and Manga  

  • In the manga version of Bokurano, Chizuru was seduced by her teacher Hatagai and blackmailed by him into being gang-raped by his friends. When this plot was adapted into the anime the gang rape part is left out, even though Hatagai is still clearly manipulating her and is portrayed as a reprehensible person for it. Regardless, she ends up pregnant in both versions.
  • In the first anime adaptation of Hellsing, Alucard flat out tells Seras that he's planning to shoot through her and offers to make her a vampire, which she accepts. In the original manga and the Ultimate anime, Alucard just checks to see if she's capable of becoming a vampire (by asking a girl who is being held hostage by an undead monster whether or not she's still a virgin), then unceremoniously shooting her and then turning her as she bleeds out. The fact that she didn't give anything resembling informed consent before becoming a vampire plays a role in why she's reluctant to embrace her vampiric nature for most of the series (and makes the anime version of Seras, who knew what she was getting into, seem like a bit of a whiner for maintaining that character trait).

     Comic Books  

  • During a Marvel/DC crossover event, Wonder Woman meets the Marvel version of Hercules and is enraged because the DC version (a villain) raped her mother Hippolyta. Marvel's Herc (a Lovable Rogue hero) is nonplussed by this, as his story is Truer to the Text of the original myth: theirs was a consensual encounter, but since he was her prisoner at the time he's certainly not the one who should be accused of anything untoward.
  • Batman and Talia Al Ghul's son Damian Wayne was originally stated to be the result of Talia drugging and raping Bruce to sire the perfect heir; however, many fans thought this was Out of Character, since she and Bruce had had a legitimate romance before she chose her follow in her father's footsteps (Morrisson, the author behind the rape explanation admits he forgot about it). As such, the New 52 relaunch retconned it into a consensual encounter. The rape explanation was still used in the Son of Batman movie, however.
  • The origins of Raven fall into this depending on the creative team writing a particular story arc. She's the daughter of the human woman Arella and the demon lord Trigon, but whether he first seduced Arella using a human guise or brutally raped her varies (with the most recent version using the former, which still counts as rape by fraud as Arella would have never agreed had she known what he really was).

     Fan Works  

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     Film — Live-Action 

  • In the book Mommie Dearest, Christina Crawford claims to have been sexually assaulted when she was at boarding school. The film turned the whole event into a consensual affair that her mother Joan disapproved of, leading to Christina being removed from the boarding school.
  • Non-sexual example: in The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins is pretty much forced to go on an adventure with the dwarves; although he does get a longing feeling when he listens to the dwarves singing, he might have stayed home if Gandalf didn't kick him out his own door the next morning. In the Peter Jackson film Gandalf and the dwarves leave him behind, and he runs after them, thus joining the adventure a hundred percent voluntarily. The 2003 videogame uses the same version of events.
  • Overlapping with Adaptational Villainy, several characters who were coerced to help Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows voluntarily do it in the film adaptation of the book. Examples include the new Minister of Magic, Pius Thicknesse, who was under the Imperius curse (a brainwashing magic spell) in the book, but is one of Voldemort's followers in the film, and Gellert Grindelwald, who refuses to tell Voldemort the whereabouts of the Elder Wand in the book, but tells him all the information without any coercion in the film.
  • In A Clockwork Orange, Alex lures two ten-year-old girls to his flat and proceeds to drug and rape them, whereas in the film this is changed to Alex having consensual sex with two teenage girls around his age. This was probably because even Stanley Kubrick didn't think he could get away with depicting the scene as it appeared in the books on screen.
  • Both the 1962 and 1997 film adaptations of Lolita lack the first person Unreliable Narrator of the book so the relationship between Humbert and Lolita seems to be more consensual, in part because the censorship of the 1962 film and the 1997 film largely removing the Black Comedy of the book and playing it more as a romantic drama. None of this changes the fact that it's still statutory rape.
  • Both the Divergent book and movie have a scene were Tris goes through simulations to conquer her fears, one of which is sexuality. In the book the simulation of Four is lying on the bed suggestively but in the movie he tries to force himself on her.
  • In Clash of the Titans (1981), we're told that Medusa became a monster as punishment for "making love to Poseidon" in the temple of Aphrodite. In the actual myth, she was raped by Poseidon and received the punishment anyway (also, from Athena, not Aphrodite). The remake changes the story back to rape, but also strangely alters the story of Perseus' own conception. In the myth, Zeus came to his mother in the form of a magical golden rain; whether she realized what was happening, or consented to it, is never really explained. In the movie, his mom is changed from an unmarried maiden to a married queen whom Zeus slept with via Bed Trick.
  • In Warcraft 2016, Garona's backstory is changed so instead of being the result of rape between an orc warrior and draenei prisoner, she is now implied to be the result of a consensual relationship between the human sorcerer Medivh and an orc woman while he was off travelling the universe.

     Literature  

  • In Dragonlance, Tanis Half-Elven was conceived when his elven mother was raped by a human warrior, but the later novel The Inheritance (written by a different author) retcons this by saying his mother fell in love with her human captor and had a consensual relationship which produced Tanis, but after her husband and her abductor fought each other and both died she made up the story about being raped to protect her and Tanis. This second version has generally been ignored by other writers.
  • In Sun, Moon, and Talia, the princess Talia is put into a magical sleep and eventually found by the King, who rapes her and she eventually gives birth to twins, awakening when one sucks the thorn out from her finger while trying to nurse. Understandably its successor Sleeping Beauty and various adaptations thereof leave this part out.
  • In The Song of Achilles, the meeting of Peleus and the sea goddess Thetis is portrayed as him finding her by the water and forcing himself on her to conceive Achilles, and is described as quite a violent encounter that leaves Thetis clearly hating Peleus for this and refusing to live with him. In the original myth she rejected his offer of marriage at first due to him being a mortal and Peleus was advised to find her by the water and tied her up, and after she shapeshifted several times but was unable to escape she consented to marrying him in what seems to be a variant of Best Her to Bed Her, with no indication he actually raped her. The two actually lived together for a while until in some versions she fled after Peleus discovered her trying to cast magic to protect their son (in one version literally trying to burn his mortality away), but the two otherwise seem to have had a happy marriage.
  • In The Red Tent, Dinah's rape by Shechem from The Bible is changed to a consensual romance. As such, her male relatives are presented as villains for destroying his city, while the Bible presented this more as just Disproportionate Retribution.
  • The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series does this to the Greek gods and goddesses as a whole, deliberately removing the Double Standard: Rape, Divine on Mortal rampant in the original myths in favor of the gods just having a lot of consensual sex with mortals.

     Live Action TV  

  • In Arrow Shado is a mentor of Oliver Queen and was in a consensual romantic relationship prior to her death. In the original Green Arrow comics she raped Oliver when he was delirious from a wound (that she gave him, no less) and conceived a child, Robert, from the encounter. The Arrow version of Shado pretty much has nothing in common with with the comics version apart from her name, choice of weapon and being Asian (and not even the same nationality of Asian, either). This wasn't unique to the TV series, as different writers on Green Arrow comics have subsequently taken different positions about whether the sex was consensual or not.
  • The Lifetime adaptation of Flowers in the Attic changes Chris's incestuous rape of Cathy to a kiss and implied consensual sex. Although in the book Cathy does note that she could have stopped Chris if she wanted to, making it Questionable Consent.
  • Game of Thrones has two examples of characters consenting to sex in the books, but had the same scene turned into assault in the series, both of which have resulted in accusations of the show using Gratuitous Rape:
    • Daenerys' wedding night to Khal Drogo is altered: in the books, counter to her expectations, he arouses her first to gain her consent, while in the TV series he simply rapes her (although this is a complicated example, as in the books she is 13 years old when she marries Drogo, and he is initially depicted as a firm believer in the Marital Rape License even if he doesn't technically rape her on their wedding night, so the show's version doubles as Adaptation Distillation).
    • The scene of Cersei and Jaime having sex next to the body of Joffrey is altered so that Cersei's consent (or lack thereof) is far murkier, not helped by a Flip-Flop of God on whether it was actually rape. In the same scene in the books she was far more enthusiastic about it.
  • Merlin portrays the birth of King Arthur as being the result of a consensual relationship between his mother Igraine and father Uther, counter to the usual story where Uther was magically disguised as Igraine's first husband Gorlois when Arthur was conceived, and the series contains no indication Igraine had ever been married to anyone but Uther. While series Uther certainly isn't a nice guy, a rapist he's not.
  • Pretty Little Liars has Jenna and her stepbrother Toby. In the books he was molesting her against her will. In the show she initiated things with him.
  • The 21st-century version of Poldark attempted to tone down an incident in the original novels, and the 1970s TV series, in which the titular protagonist raped a woman unambiguously enough to make him impossible to portray as sympathetic nowadays, by having her initially say "no" but then start actively taking part in the sex. The scene as made still got widely condemned in the press and online for apparently endorsing rape.

     Legends and Mythology  

  • From Classical Mythology, many modern tellings of the myth of Hades and Persephone downplay the Abduction Is Love angle of the original by having Persephone be a willing participant in her own abduction, sometimes because Demeter has become My Beloved Smother. Others have her warm up to him after the abduction but before anything sexual happens. This is probably because, this story aside, Hades was actually one of the better divine husbands, rarely if ever cheating on her. Modern retellings also tend to discard the fact that Hades and Demeter were siblings, thereby cutting out the Creepy Uncle angle.
    • It is also worth stating that the exact nature of their relationship is debatable, as the Ancient Greeks never make mention of Persephone's willingness. There are those who note that many aspects of the original myth could reasonably suggest that Persephone really was a willing participant,note  or at least that a rape never took place in the sexual sense. note 
  • In Arthurian legend, Arthur was conceived when his father, King Uther, used magic to pull a Bed Trick on Igraine, who was married to Duke Gorlois at the time; Uther and Igraine were married right after he died, and she was actually happy that her pregnancy was from him instead of Gorlois. Naturally, modern adaptations either call out Uther for being a rapist or go the other way (like Merlin above) and say that they had a consensual relationship, sometimes leaving Gorlois out entirely.

     Tabletop Games  

  • Flavor text for older editions of Dungeons & Dragons described half-orcs as usually being children by rape of human women by male orcs after raiding or conquering a human population. 4th and 5th Editions put more emphasis on them being the result of consensual relationships borne from marriage alliances between the two communities.

     Theatre  

  • Spring Awakening: In the original play, Melchior rapes Wendla. The musical presents it as Questionable Consent and even Romanticizes the scene.
  • In the Wicked book it is mentioned that Elphaba's mother Melena was drugged with an elixir (which caused her daughter's green skin) and doesn't remember who fathered Elphaba. The musical makes the encounter between her and the Wizard seem more consensual. The elixir seems to just have caused Elphaba's skin tone, not drugged Melena.

     Video Games  

  • The fourth Chzo Mythos game, Six Days A Sacrifice. Yahtzee has stated that if he ever has the chance to remake the game he'd change the scene of Theo and Janine having sex into a straight-up rape to better get across what he was going for, as he'd intended it to show their descent into savagery but most people took it as badly done fanservice.
  • Fire Emblem Gaiden has Gray, who tries to aggressively win over Clair, a Pegasus knight. They marry each other after the war, but in Gaiden, her ending implies she only caved in to him. "She gave into Gray's persistence and reluctantly got together with him [...] ". The remake Shadows of Valentia paints this in a more positive picture, where Gray decides to leave when she says she is not interested, only for her to approach him and give him a second chance, which ended in marriage. "In time, Gray's tenacity won her over, and she became his wife..."

     Webcomics  

  • In Olympus Overdrive Poseidon's encounter with Medusa and subsequent "defiling" of Athena's temple is changed to a consensual but forbidden kiss and portrays the two as Star-Crossed Lovers. This was presumably done because Poseidon is a protagonist and would be very hard to root for if the story presented the original version, where he raped Medusa purely to piss off Athena and the latter punished her for it anyway.
  • In A-gnosis' comics on Classical Mythology, Persephone and Hades fall in love and end up quite Happily Married with no abduction required. Conversely, Zagreus' conception is the result of Zeus pulling a Bed Trick on Persephone, and Persephone is very disturbed to realize who the mysterious stranger really is.
  • The Order of the Stick: As noted above, Dungeons & Dragons traditionally depicted half-orcs as being the product of rape. Here, a flashback makes a joke showing that Therkla's parents (human dad, orc mom) were actually Sickeningly Sweethearts.
  • Non-sexual in Erstwhile, which adapts fairy tales by The Brothers Grimm. In both "Sweetheart Roland" and "The Singing, Springing Lark," the male lead forgets about the heroine and goes off with another woman. In the comic, both are the result of a spell, something which neither fairy tale makes clear in their original forms.

     Web Original  

  • Prosperina, from the "Mythology of The Modern World" series of short stories by Eric Burns-White, re-imagines the myth of Persephone and Hades, making their marriage consensual, and making Persephone the subject of the story, acting with agency, rather than the object who is acted upon. In this version, Persephone is a Rebellious Princess, Demeter is My Beloved Smother, and Persephone is drawn to Hades because All Girls Want Bad Boys. Rather than being tricked into it, Persephone eats the pomegranate seeds on her own initiative, with full knowledge of the consequences. Granted, there are those who argue that some of this consent might have been present in the original myth, as well; the exact nature of the mythological Persephone's relationship with Hades is still subject to debate. note 

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