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Adaptational Intelligence

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When adapting an existing character for a new work the character is often altered in transition from the source material. They might become nicer, nastier, more badass or a lot less badass. Maybe even more heroic, or more sinister, and in other cases dumber, if not completely non-sapient.

Or they might become smarter. This trope is about taking a character who wasn't particularly smart in the source material and might even have been The Ditz and turning them into The Smart Guy.

There are several reasons why a character might gain IQ points in an adaptation. Some reasons include:

See also Adaptation Personality Change, Adaptational Comic Relief, Adaptational Heroism, Adaptational Villainy, Adaptational Badass, Adaptational Wimp, Adaptational Skill, and Xenafication.

Compare and contrast Dumbass No More where a character increases their intellect inside the particular work, and Adaptational Dumbass, this trope's polar opposite.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ace Attorney (2016): Phoenix Wright manages to make several deductions on his own that in the original games often required other characters to give him a clue or use the Magatama to break Psyche-Locks out of the witnesses. For the sake of Compressed Adaptation, nearly all of the moments where the player can make a silly mistake and get Phoenix penalized for it are also omitted from the anime.
  • In Attack on Titan: Junior High the titular Titans are no longer just lumbering, flesh-eating zombies, and actually attend school like the human children.
  • The Decagon House Murders: Junya "Ellery" Matsuura is a textbook Decoy Protagonist who, despite spending the whole story trying to solve the case, draws completely the wrong conclusion and is backstabbed by the culprit immediately after blithely inviting them to go hunt for a non-existent true culprit together. In the book's official manga adaptation, however, Ellery successfuly identifies the true culprit, using Percussive Pickpocketing to take away their knife and delivering a lengthy summation explaining how they knew that they were the true culprit and the false conclusion their novel counterpart drew was wrong. The only thing stopping them from ending the story ahead of schedule is the culprit drugging their coffee ahead of time.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Goku tends to get this in the Non-Serial Movies while always a genius at fighting, he's far more of a serious and tactical hero in the movies whom is able to strategise and plan how to win well ahead of time, his sillier Idiot Hero traits are of course still present but far more downplayed compared to the manga where he wasn't portrayed as Older and Wiser until the Buu Saga. Anime Goku also gets this as well e.g when Tao gives him some puzzle rings to solve (while he and the mob boss he's working for make a break for it) Goku is able to figure the puzzle out, manga or Super Goku likely would've just been stumped.
    • Broly gets this to some extent in Dragon Ball Super: Broly while his orignal counterpart prior to his Villain Decay into Dumb Muscle was actually was fairly smart albeit in a vile and brutish manner, canon Broly is more soft-spoken and able to have intelligent conversations with people and not act purely based on violence. This is carried over into his next appearance in Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War:
    • When Ishigami first hints that he has a crush on Tsubame in the manga, Fujiwara seems completely clueless to what he's saying. The anime on the other hand has her pick up on it instantly (though Shirogane and Kaguya walking in causes the focus to shift before she can follow up on it).
    • Played with regarding Erika. In the manga, she is completely oblivious to Kaguya and Shirogane's obvious attraction to one another prior to seeing first-hand proof of their Secret Relationship, while in the anime she appears to be fully aware of it. On the other hand, this means that she gets caught up in the rest of the school misinterpreting Shirogane asking Kaguya to help with his re-election as a Love Confession (something she was only able to recognize the true meaning of in the manga because she had no idea that they were attracted to one another).
  • In One Piece, Luffy's generally an Idiot Hero who alternates between being surprisingly intelligent and making suicidally stupid choices depending on the situation. The start of the Drum Kingdom arc is the latter, as during a tense standoff with some soldiers in which Vivi accidentally gets shot, Luffy nearly starts a fight with them. It takes Vivi prostrating herself before the soldiers to beg them to help the sick Nami and calling Luffy a failure of a captain for letting his emotions get the best of him to get Luffy to calm down and ask for help, defusing the situation, In Episode of Chopper Plus: Bloom in Winter, Miracle Sakura, Vivi is no longer around, so Luffy's the one who accidentally gets shot (which does nothing to him, thanks to his Devil Fruit) and who begs the soldiers for help without anyone telling him what to do.
  • In the Persona 5 manga, Makoto is a downplayed example. She's one of the smartest Phantom Thieves and the group's strategist, but gets to put her intelligence on display more in the infiltration of Kaneshiro's Palace, her first mission with the Phantom Thieves. For example, she's the one who deciphers the clues in Kaneshiro's journal to find the lock codes, whereas in the game, it was up to the player to solve the puzzle, resulting in Joker inputing the code.
  • The 20th anniversary movie Pokémon: I Choose You! presents an alternate continuity where Ash is just starting out. While anime Ash was dumb as a Dunsparce for much of the original series, this version is a competent hero right from the start, who knows the names of all of the Pokémon he encounters and doesn't make any rookie battling mistakes.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 


  • Many a rewrite in general for series featuring an Idiot Hero protagonist, such as Ash Ketchum and Naruto Uzumaki, tend to make them intelligent enough to be considered smart, but not geniuses.
  • It's very common for this trope to apply to Izuku Midoriya despite the fact that, unlike Ash and Naruto mentioned above, he's not an Idiot Hero. Izuku is noted in canon to be very intelligent with a keen, analytical mind, yet there are many characters more intelligent than him (he isn't even in the Top 3 of his class' academic performance). However, many fanfics will turn him into a supergenius whose intelligence is unmatched, to the point that many people will mistakenly think he has an intelligence-enhancing Quirk like Nedzu.

Specific Examples:

  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Both Mark Russell and Maia Simmons get hit with a combination of this and Adaptational Nice Guy by the story's end.
    • Mark gains Adaptational Emotional Intelligence due to Character Development; showing signs of growing out of his initial overprotective and dismissive tendencies towards Madison near the end, whereas his MonsterVerse canon counterpart completely failed at both those hurdles in Godzilla vs. Kong.
    • This fic's version of Maia is an Iron Lady who knows how to use a pleasant demeanor and other psychological tactics to get what she wants from people, and she shows explicit awareness of some of her Psychopathic Manchild father's shortcomings. The canon version of her was a near-transparent Rich Bitch who was little more than her father's lackey and who infamously shot at Kong.
  • In The Accidental Animagus, Quirrell gets this by proxy. Voldemort doesn't want to bring unwanted attention by acting unusually, so ironically he becomes one of their best Defense teachers.
  • Azumanga und Panzer has Sakaki. In canon, she gets fairly good grades, far better than the "three knuckleheads," but not nearly as good as Yomi or Chiyo, showing that she's a surprisingly good student despite giving off the appearance of being a delinquent. In the fic, she's considerd the smartest of the "Azu" girls, and is chosen to command "Team Kitty Kat," since Chiyo, being too young for tankerynote , is not allowed to participate in battle.
  • The Bugger Anthology: Unlike the series proper, the Cybermen handily come out on top of their verbal mud-slinging matches with the Daleks.
    • In the original "Bitch Fight" episode, Jast has no recourse to the Cybermen taunting him about his sensor globes looking like disco balls other than killing them. Even Sec's famous "better at dying" line is reduced to a Lame Comeback when the Cyber-Leader mocks him for taking forever to think it up in the Void Ship.
    • In "Bitch Fight II", the Daleks are unable to overcome the Cyber-Master's sassisness, and try to draw more power from their subterranean bitch pump - which then overloads and blows up the entire Earth.
  • Cheer Up, Emo Girl: Lindsay is far more competent and intelligent than her canon counterpart.
  • Children of Remnant: Due to not having the rage issues coming from Raven's abandonment of her, Yang is much more tactically minded than she was in canon; while she can follow orders in canon and gets better control of her emotions later on, this Yang is able to keep an incredibly calm head during her fight with Jaune and was made the leader of her Beacon team.
  • Codex Equus:
    • Blacktip (from the IDW comics) is shown to be more intelligent with a passion for learning. Notably, he flew out the window with Raven Inkwell and an important document because he correctly guessed that Princess Celestia and Lord Gestal might be somewhere else in the Convocation of Creatures, and decided to take a shortcut.
    • Urtica (also from the IDW comics) is noted to be extremely intelligent, and becoming a demigoddess of Knowledge, History, and Intelligence enhanced her natural intelligence to the point where she could rival some of the younger Changeling Queens. This wasn't apparent in the IDW comics.
  • Echoes of Eternity:
    • Maria is a Child Prodigy and is Wise Beyond Their Years. Intelligence runs in the Robotnik family. In Sonic canon there is nothing to signify this, because Maria is a Posthumous Character with only so much characterization.
    • In Adventure 2, Eggman initially confuses Shadow for Sonic despite the fact they look nothing alike. He doesn't make this mistake in The Memory. His stunned reaction is instead changed to wondering how a simple hedgehog could be the Ultimate Lifeform.
  • Family Guy Fanon:
    • While Peter is no Einstein, and still cares his same Fat Idiot traits, he does get far more moments of genuine wisdom, social awareness and insight, especially when dealing with Francis.
    • Brenda's abusive boyfriend Jeff in "Screams of Silence: Story of Brenda Q." gets some. In the original, Jeffery blatantly abused her in public. Here, Jeffrey's abuse toward Brenda is made more subtle to both the characters and the audience, and only show his dark side in private, when nobody else was around.
  • Harry Is a Dragon, and That's OK: Canon Ron wasn't anything special as a student, but in this story, he reads a book about Muggle space travel, gets absolutely enamoured with it, and throws himself headfirst into his studies to learn all he can to make his dream a reality. By the end of his Hogwarts tenure, he's learned enough about Ancient Runes and related subjects to not only build working rocket engines, but a full working prototype spacecraft.
  • This is the basic premise of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. Petunia married a scientist instead of Vernon, and the two raised Harry with love and instilled him with a love of science and learning. While Harry being smarter is the main draw, the author made everyone more intelligent than in canon, in order to balance things out and avoid self-righteousness. A non-canon interlude aptly titled "72 Hours to Victory" explores what the story would look like if he had only boosted Harry's intelligence.
  • While Luz in The Owl House was clever and resourceful, she was rather Book Dumb in certain STEM subjects and her Genre Savviness would be more inaccurate than not. In A Hero Forged, she's a Teen Genius that was able to build her first solar panel at age 6, has created multiple Powered Armor and A.I., and she not only incorporated glyph magic into her suits, but she managed to create a whole new power-source using Titan bone only a few days into her time in the Boiling Isles. She's also shown to be less gullible than her canon-counterpart, being able to see through Adeghast's con from the start and she's quick to intervene when Edric and Emira are up to something.
  • Horizon: Star Driven: While Izuku was no Idiot Hero in his home series, here he is a Gadgeteer Genius with a firm grasp on rocket science (and the wit and adaptive skills needed to achieve such things with his limited resources), law, and the various loopholes he can exploit.
    Power Loader: The kid, and it is a kid, is fucking insane. I saw the tech video too. The shit he's pulling off? The designs he's making? They should be College Thesis projects. For the top of the class at Tokyo Tech. He should be being scouted by goddamn everyone. God, I've been trying to work out the basics of what the fuck his tech is. Ion Engines? I've been cracking open textbooks that have been sitting on my shelf for almost a decade. No one, and I mean no one I've ever seen with the possible exception of Midoriya on I-Island has energy work like this.
  • How Friendship Accidentally Saved Magical Britain: Canon describes Fred and George Weasley as mostly Book Dumb and uninterested in school once they decide to open a joke shop, but this fic makes them downright geniuses adept at research and spellcraft with Fred having a head for numbers (both arithmancy and muggle mathematics) and magical theory and George being skilled at transfiguration and potions- enough that George is one of the very few fourth-year students hand-picked by Snape to brew the Mandrake Restorative Draught that will cure his petrified classmates. They also both resolve to get good grades on their OWLs and NEWTs so that they're taken seriously after school as proper, qualified businessmen and inventors. The first time the Diary Horcrux writes back to them, they immediately stop and run a battery of diagnostic spells against it, and even remove a compulsion built into it that would've made them obsessed with writing in it before they touch it again. There's several scenes of them spending hours in the library reading up on cool spells and applications of magic that can be used or altered for pranks, and even repurposing them on occasion for legitimate non-prank products that they patent and sell while they're still in school. Fred even figures out, with the help of a muggle quantum physics textbook, how to get a spell to go through physical matter... and tests it by stunning Percy through an armchair.
  • In canon, Izuku Midoriya was near the top of his class and known for his Awesome by Analysis. In If I Only Had A Heart, Izuku is an absurd Tony Stark-like super-genius to make up for the loss of his arm and eye as well as his damaged spine. At seven years old he was at the head of his class, finishing textbooks in a day and scoring perfectly on virtually all of his exams (to the point that a single 95 out of a 100 left him in tears). He also developed his own replacement prosthetic arm with a more functional four-fingered hand with an opposable thumb to replace his missing one after finding the one issued by the hospital (which amounts to a barely working appendage with a hook for a hand) with one that responds to his brainwaves with a headband with nothing but scrap parts. He was also fluent in both Japanese and English and was studying German before he met Aizawa. He also is a budding chemist who created darts loaded with his own unique blends of chemicals that can cause things they hit to spontaneously ignite, be shocked, or frozen in a device he calls "The Equalizer". Two years later, he chewed through countless neuroscience papers and books to develop a microtechnological implant that he injected directly into his own spine to directly link a new prosthetic arm he created, which has all of the functionality and fluid movement of a real arm, to his brain. Said implant was so technologically advanced and experimental that no doctor would perform the procedure for him. He also devised his own painkillers to help him deal with the transition process and said arm can be modified easily to accommodate weapons implants or simply his own growth. All of this, again, on a working-class budget and nothing but scraps for parts. He's still in elementary school at this time!
  • It All Started with an OSHA Violation: Downplayed with Skid and Pump. In Spooky Month proper, the two are Fearless Fools whose insane luck is probably the only reason why they're both safe and sound. In the fanfic, they still have some sort of innocence (justified since they're both school-aged children), but they're not stupid enough to not think that Monster does not want to eat them.
  • Jaune Arc, Lord of Hunger: In his original appearance, Darth Nihilus was a near-mindless Hungry Menace whose every action was dictated by a One-Track-Minded Hunger. This version is far more intelligent, being a patient Manipulative Bastard and a cunning warrior with goals that extend beyond merely satisfying his hunger. He's also much more knowledgeable about the Dark Side than his canon counterpart and is a Badass Bookworm proficient in various fields including Sith magic, alchemy, and history.
  • The Karma of Lies: Canonically, Lila Rossi is a Manipulative Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who gets away with her Blatant Lies about having famous connections primarily because none of her victims bother looking into any of her claims. Here, however, Lila is much smarter. Her over-the-top lies are her way of figuring out who the most gullible victims are, while luring those who see through her charade off guard, getting them to think they already have her number and making them vulnerable to more subtle manipulations. She also recognizes the importance of knowing when to cut her losses, and has prepared accordingly, having done her research well ahead of time.
  • Goku in Legend of the Monkey God never hit his head and got brain damage. As a result, he's more ignorant than stupid and quickly points out the flaws in Bulma's intended wish for the "perfect" boyfriend.
  • The Legend of Total Drama Island: Lindsay is a downplayed example. Although still of below-average intelligence, she is competent in the challenges when motivated and uses her brain (as well as other body parts) to win a challenge. She remains as Literal-Minded as her canon counterpart, but attributes her (canonically) chronic name butchery to "a speech impedicure or something".
  • In The New Man: An Adam Smasher SI, Adam Smasher is portrayed as much more intelligent than he normally is. In most portrayals, he's The Brute and a highly unstable Psycho for Hire with a canonical below-average intelligence. Here, even outside of the Self Insert picking up the slack in skills he's naturally lacking in Smasher is portrayed as having the experience and tactical skills that one could reasonable expect of a near-centuries old mercenary on top of being educated in both the Japanese language and business etiquette.
  • Penny Saves Paldea: In Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, Penny is fooled by Director Clavell's Paper-Thin Disguise of Clive. In Penny Saves Paldea, Penny instantly recognizes who "Clive" is, having paid attention to the fact that Clavell's almost always the one making announcements at the academy, listening to "Clive's" voice, and comparing the two.
  • Pokémon Reset Bloodlines: It's established that even before the time reset, Ash from the new timeline was less Book Dumb than his canon counterpart, being one of the only two trainers of Pallet Town to qualify for a Pokédex by passing Professor Oak's test (with a 90% or higher). This was later combined with early Kalos Ash's Taught by Experience smarts to create Reset!Ash as portrayed in the story.
  • In his home comics, Electro is one of the premier examples of a potentially terrifying Avengers level threat who's too small-minded and stupid to use his powers for anything other than petty crime. That's not the case in Polarity, where he makes the most out of his electric powers to help usher in Dormammu's hellish reign on Earth. His newfound craftiness gets to the point that he realizes that he could help conquer countless other dimensions, and happily murders his superior, Grim Reaper, for an enormous power boost.
  • In the Recursive Fanfiction Really Isn't Your Fault, rather than everyone blindly believing the edited photo of Lincoln & Sam kissing, the characters listen for the victims' side of the story, thus the relationships are preserved.
  • Rise of the Last Villain: In this fic, Izuku convinces All for One to sacrifice himself at Kamino, outplays the heroes including Nedzu until he achieves his goals, and ultimately succeeds in his true goal of changing society.
  • In Robb Returns, Lord Orton Merryweather, the new Master of Coin, is thought of by Jon Arryn as astute, with a good head for numbers and laws, qualities that he never displayed in the books.
  • The Saga of Avatar Korra: While Asami is far from stupid in canon and is considered The Smart Guy, her skills in science and business are much more pronounced in this story. She is a skilled inventor (in this continuity she is the inventor of the shock glove and not just its user) and she also holds a leading position in her father's company by the time she and Korra reunite.
  • The Sea Shadow: Rather then everyone simply falling for Lord Crump's Paper-Thin Disguise, several of the heroes are openly suspicious of "Four Eyes".
  • She Blinded Me With Science: Ryuko, thanks to being raised by her father instead of being sent to boarding school, is super intelligent with an instinctual understanding of Life Fibers. She's helped in the creation of many of Nudist Beach's most important weapons and helped her father create Senketsu.
  • Silent Partner, Unfinished Business Misa Amane goes from a Brainless Beauty who has no goals other than dying for Light, to a Genius Ditz who uses her charisma and film studies as a full-fledged investigator.
  • In Fairly Oddparents canon, it's never mentioned how Trixie Tang does in school. In Silent Wish, Trixie takes her schooling very seriously.
  • Start Again: Ryuji displays this in Valor and Discretion. He is still somewhat brash in nature (and fully aware of it), but when he discovers that he is thrust back into the past in November (before starting Shujin) without the other members of the Phantom Thieves to support or even contact, he starts thinking and planning things out more carefully, and also tries to be as discreet as possible so that he can try and save Shiho and Ann from Kamoshida while minimizing negative attention to himself. Ryuji's mother compliments him on his maturity with regards to how he's approaching the problem of Kamoshida, and Futaba is shocked that Ryuji has known since November of the previous year and managed to avoid telling anyone else.
  • Steal the Truth, Reach Out For Your Heart: This is downplayed with Ryuji. He’s still as unintelligent as he was in canon, but Nanako helps him discover why: he’s a kinesthetic learner, so he has to move, touch and interact with things to learn about them. This makes him a poor fit for school where most students learn from sitting down and studying.
  • Tales of Sonic the Hedgehog: Taking from his Archie depiction and his Fleetway depiction, Knuckles is a Child Prodigy and Genius Bruiser, able to pull off college-level math at age three. Furthermore, unlike the games and Sonic X, Knuckles is not Super Gullible or a Horrible Judge of Character. Once he learns the truth about Sonic and Robotnik during the events of Sonic 3 & Knuckles, he is not so easily duped by the doc again; while he does end up falling for one of Robotnik's tricks again during the Sonic Advance 2 adaptation, it was a much more elaborate and convincing deception.
  • There's Something Wrong With Us
    • Norville is depicted as possessing far more self-awareness and introspection and is able to give other characters meaningful advice.
    • Fred, once he gets bit of Character Development, also starts to show more emotional intelligence.
  • This And That: While she was already a truly gifted Gadgeteer Genius at this point in her life in canon, Powder, due to being personally tutored by Angela herself over the years, not also is skilled engineering, but has vast knowledge in physics, chemistry, and biology.
  • To Hell and Back (Arrowverse): Barry Allen. While canon!Barry was far from stupid (just a bad habit of grabbing the Idiot Ball), this Barry is a confirmed genius on par with Eobard Thawne. He correctly deduced the source of Kara Zor-El's powers when he was just fifteen, managed to become a capable Combat Medic in a year at the same age thanks to Shado's tutelage, and later became the League of Assassin's go-to doctor and Omnidisciplinary Scientist after his recruitment. He's even managed to replicate the Human Target's disguising abilities and create a rudimentary version of the A.I. Gideon.
  • Total Drama All-Stars Rewrite: Many of Zoey's Too Dumb to Live from canon are removed.
  • Total Drama World Tour The Animators Cut: The show's other hot blonde, Lindsay, shows increasingly frequent moments of intellectual eloquence. They're Played for Laughs however.
  • In the Friday Night Funkin' fanfic Two Idiots, Keith and Cherry are much more sensible compared to their canon counterparts.
  • In Steven Universe: Future, Greg accidentally drives a wedge between himself and Steven when Steven realizes that he matured very little from his teenage years, and he cites Greg never taking him to a doctor as one of his many failings. In the fanfic We Can Be Heroes! (Steven Universe), while Greg is still a bit late to the party, he's a lot more mature, and a flashback in Chapter 7 has him preparing to take Steven in to see Dr. Maheswaran for some long-overdue vaccines.
  • In You Were My Best Friend, Bloom is stated to have skipped two school grades, thus hinting at a superior intelligence to her canonical counterpart, at least in the Book Smart department. Other than being marginalized for it, this doesn't impact the storyline nor it's the root cause of the canon divergence. It's probably due to being a prequel.
  • Zim the Warlord: Irken Reversion: Zim is a bit less senseless in this fic, knowing fully well that the Tallest sent him to Earth to get him out of the way of Impending Doom II. It's stated that he's essentially decompressed, being less hurried in thought. Zim also is more capable of accepting when others are better at what he does, and he's specifically noted to know what certain Earth terms such as "Spring Break" mean; he just speaks as he usually does because it's fun.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame makes Esmeralda smarter than she is in the book. In the book, she's very naive and innocent, while in the film, she's more savvy and worldly.
  • Among other revisioning work done in Justice League: Gods and Monsters, Orion is depicted as a scientist and artist, as opposed to his warrior persona in the New Gods comics.
  • Mr Clicky in The Amazing Maurice is given Adaptational Sapience, going from an ordinary clockwork rat in the book, to a clockwork rat that acts on its own initiative, refuses to go into danger, is something of a Silent Snarker, and ends up having a family with an alarm clock.
  • Donkey Kong is depicted in the games as Dumb Muscle only capable of Hulk Speak at best. However in The Super Mario Bros. Movie, whilst he's a Jerk Jock, he's never shown to be or treated as if he is particularly stupid, and in fact is able to cleverly assess the battlefield. There's even a moment in the film where he angrily complains to Mario that he's not some "big dumb smashy ape".

    Films — Live-Action 
  • While Gwen Stacy has always been smart in the comics, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 raises her to being outright brilliant, as smart or perhaps even smarter than Teen Genius Peter Parker himself.
  • Most modern adaptations of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory turn Mike Teavee into an Insufferable Genius, with both the 2005 film and the West End musical adaptation turning him into a jaded hacker. This is probably a combination of modernizing his TV obsession from the book and an expansion of his moments holding the Smart Ball.
  • In the animated Cinderella Lady Tremaine was just a Wicked Stepmother who was mean to the titular heroine. In the live-action remake she's shown to be far more of The Chessmaster. Ella's servant girl status comes about thanks to manipulation from her, she's smart enough to blackmail the Duke into getting advantageous marriages for her daughters and discovers Ella is the girl from the ball much sooner.
  • DC Extended Universe:
  • In The Dukes of Hazzard, Boss Hogg is a great deal less stupid and childish and is presented as a serious villain rather than a comical Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain. Interestingly, in the initial episodes of the first season of the show, Boss Hogg (and Roscoe as well) were competent adversaries to the Dukes. Upon learning that a large group of children enjoyed watching this show, the writers decided to make Boss Hogg (and Roscoe) an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain. It was easier to write how the Dukes would triumph, and the two actors actually enjoyed partaking in the slapstick shenanigans.
  • Fantastic Four (2005) and its sequel:
    • Ben Grimm (also known as The Thing) is a lot smarter than his comic book counterpart (though even in the comic book some writers have explained that Ben employs Obfuscating Stupidity). For example in Rise of the Silver Surfer, he instantly deduces that a picture taken of Silver Surfer arriving in Earth's atmosphere isn't a comet because "the trail is wrong". This is quite apt considering that Ben, like the rest of the Four, is a trained astronaut.
      • This is a slightly more complex example then most- even in the comics it's established from the beginning that he's had a long and distinguished military career, was a skilled enough pilot for Reed to ask him to pilot his experimental spaceship and has multiple advanced degrees. However, he's got an appearance and accent that says Dumb Muscle (and he spends his time around people like Reed Richards and Doctor Doom), meaning that over time he's ended up being portrayed as an idiot by a number of writers. Ironically, this perhaps makes the movie more of a case of Truer to the Text then anything.
    • Susan Storm, who in the comics got to fly into space via being Reed's girlfriend, is a scientist in this version. This aspect of Sue's backstory is retained in the 2015 reboot, where she's initially introduced as one of the researchers working on the ill-fated portal project alongside Reed and Victor.
    • Comparatively downplayed version, but Johnny also gets this, going from a hot-headed teenage Casanova hipster (who really had even less of a reason to be on the original comics' version of the flight than Susan) to a qualified NASA astronaut... who is still a hot-headed Casanova.
  • Get Smart:
    • In the TV series Get Smart Max is a general-purpose bungling idiot who only succeeds by luck and Agent 99's competence. In the film he's genuinely a clever guy and a great analyst, just a klutz who isn't well suited to field work. This was apparently done to make a romantic relationship with 99 more believable, as a modern audience would not accept someone as buffoonish as the original Max being attractive to a woman as capable as 99.
    • Larrabee in the original series is even more of a dunce than Max (he has been referred to as "Max's Max" and at one point in the series the Chief says that Max has Vetinari Job Security because if he got fired, CONTROL would need to promote Larrabee to Max's position, and the Chief is obviously very afraid of that), whereas in the film he's a Jerkass but competent agent.
  • Godzilla / King Kong:
    • Godzilla's intellect can vary depending on the series, and Kong is hardly dumb in any incarnation. But the MonsterVerse incarnations are exceptionally smart, showing intellect on par with an above-average human. Godzilla is capable of tactical thinking, baiting the MUTO to get into range of a collapsing building trap he had planned out in Godzilla (2014). Kong is able to make makeshift weapons, knows when certain individual humans aren't being a threat or trying to be one, and as revealed in Godzilla vs. Kong, can use Human Sign Language (the last one is very important as it's revealed that he learned it from observing Jia and Ilene but deliberately kept it to himself).
    • The MonsterVerse incarnation of King Ghidorah is exceptionally intelligent among the Kaiju. Most past incarnations had no higher strategy for achieving their Omnicidal Maniac goals than "beam spam anything that moves" and/or were under the control of alien invaders. But this incarnation of Ghidorah has an actual plan in mind, to take control of the Earth's native Titans and force them to create a Natural Disaster Cascade combined with Ghidorah's Weather Manipulation which will create an extinction-level event, and it's furthermore speculated by the characters that this version of Ghidorah aims to xenoform the Earth in his own image.
  • The titular villain in Goldfinger is clever in both the novel and its film adaptation, but Film Goldfinger had a better Evil Plan: why steal the gold from Fort Knox outright (as originally intended in the novel) when you can nuke it and jack up the value of your personal gold way more? As he had little time, Goldfinger knew he needed more manpower to steal the gold. The "theft" was just a ruse to hide his real intent.
  • While Hermione was already one of the smartest characters in Harry Potter, her movie version delivers exposition that was normally given by other characters, making her look more knowledgable. A good example is when Hermione was called a Mudblood in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. In the book, she doesn't know what the term means and therefore isn't offended. In the film, she is visibly hurt, already knowing the meaning of the word.
  • In Hulk Betty is portrayed as a fellow scientist and friend-at-work of the protagonist Bruce Banner. In the comic books, she meets Bruce via her father and isn't as brilliant and educated as her future husband.
  • Jurassic Park:
    • In the movie and the book velociraptors are especially dangerous for their keen near human-like intelligence being pretty much the Trope Codifier for It Can Think with the famous "Clever girl" moment. In Real Life velociraptors being the size of a turkey would have only been as smart as regular bird like a hawk and not nearly as smart as parrots or crows, so very unlikely to be able to figure out how to open doors or trick veteran hunters like the film portrays. Granted the movie raptors are actually based on the Deinonychus which were pack hunters and were quite smart (not quite to the same extent as the Troodon, but still pretty intelligent). Ironically the Tyrannosaurus in comparsion gets Adaptational Dumbass, being more easily outwitted by the heroes while in real life they have now been esitmated to be as smart as baboons.
    • Lex is made older than she was in the the book and given knowledge of computer systems. By contrast, her brother Tim was made younger and loses the computer systems scene, but maintains his knowledge of dinosaurs.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The Incredible Hulk sees both Betty Ross and Samuel Stern portrayed as fellow scientists and collagues of Bruce Banner. With Betty it is probably to make the love interest more of an equal to the super genius Bruce and to keep her in check with the Betty from the unrelated first Hulk-movie (see above). Stern gets more dangerous as he already is a genius able to transform Emil Blonsky into the Abomination before his transformation unlike the comics, where Stern was a janitor before being transformed into the villainous leader.
    • In Thor, Jane Foster's profession is changed from a nurse to an astrophysicist with three degrees.
    • Spider-Man: Homecoming has a Downplayed example with Flash Thompson, who goes from a Jerk Jock who bullies Peter to a fellow nerd. While this is largely an Informed Attribute since we first see him getting a physics question wrong, and are later told he didn't answer a single question in the quiz team, he did make it onto the quiz team in the first place, and Midtown High has been reinvented as a science school where all the students have to be pretty smart.) In Spider-Man: No Way Home, Flash gets accepted to MIT, succeeding where Peter, M.J., and Ned failed due to the fallout of Spider-Man being unmasked.
    • In Black Panther, Shuri is reimagined as a teenage Gadgeteer Genius and the one who makes most of T'Challa's tech and weaponry. Her comic counterpart, while by no means stupid, was nowhere near that intelligent or technologically gifted, at least until she was changed to match her screen counterpart following the film's massive success.
    • Ant-Man and the Wasp establishes that the original Wasp was a brilliant scientist in her own right, in contrast to her comic counterpart, who was originally depicted as the girly one of The Avengers.
    • The Man-Thing of the comics is little more than a wild animal, with whatever's left of Ted Sallis being nothing but a blurry dream. In Werewolf by Night (2022), he's smart enough to hold a conversation (of sorts), form a friendship with Jack Russell, and respond to the name Ted. He's even seen playing Solitaire at the end of the special.
  • When it comes to The Phantom of the Opera and its numerous adaptations in film and on the stage Raoul loses his Manchild Upper-Class Twit behaviour from the book, thanks gaining the Adapted Out Daroga aka Persian’s competency. In 2004 adaptation he’s able to figure his way out of one the Phantom’s traps whereas in the book he needed the Daroga’s aid to do so. Tragically though as while Raoul gets this, Christine by comparison gets the inverse with heaps of Adaptational Dumbass piled on her compared to her book counterpart.
  • The Steve Martin reboot of The Pink Panther is predicated on the idea that Clouseau is to some degree employing Obfuscating Stupidity, quite unlike the book character or previous film versions.
  • Buttercup in The Princess Bride film. In the original book she’s a hilariously ditzy Brainless Beauty who can’t count without using her fingers and pronounces syllable as “syllable”. She’s got her brighter moments but like Fezzik is more slow witted than other characters especially Westley her One True Love. In the film on the other hand Buttercup is much less foolhardy and naively dumb. Though there is some Chickification at play as film tragically omits Buttercup’s Crowning Moment of Awesome where she uses her (not quite official) status as The High Queen to make Yellin and his troops stand aside to let her, Westley, Inigo and Fezzik pass.
  • The true identity of the Evil Masked Figure in Scooby-Doo: Monsters Unleashed turns out to be Dr. Jonathan Jacobo, who originally menaced Mystery, Inc. as the Pterodactyl Ghost, a monster the gang encountered in The Scooby-Doo Show episode "Hang in There, Scooby-Doo". Among other discrepancies with the monster's true identity in the original cartoon, Dr. Jonathan Jacobo is a scientist who ends up creating technology used to bring the costumes of past villains to life when Johnny only used the Pterodactyl Ghost to assist in a music piracy scheme.
  • In the Sherlock Holmes film Terror By Night, Colonel Moran goes from Professor Moriarty's sniper henchman to his academic colleague with apparent proficiency in mathematics and criminal scheming.
  • In the original Sleeping Beauty, it took Maleficent sixteen years to find Aurora, because she was relying on her grunts. In her own movie, it takes her about a day, because she sends out Diaval instead. Maleficent also raises Aurora herself, knowing more about taking care of human children than the three fairies — while she never displayed any such skill in the animated version.
  • In their brief appearance in Star Trek: The Original Series, Orion women are presented as mindless nymphomaniacs. Dialogue from the original pilot even explicitly compares them to animals, suggesting they might not even be fully sapient. The Star Trek (2009) film gave us a sympathetic and obviously fully intelligent Orion woman as a supporting character whom writer and producer Roberto Orci theorised had escaped to the Federation via an underground railroad (apparently retconning the 'Orions as secretly matriarchal' idea mentioned below.)
  • Of all the versions of the creature, John Carpenter's The Thing (1982) features by far the most devious and cunning iteration. The Thing in this version is extremely careful about who it infects, generally going for the quietest and unassuming crew members as opposed to authority figures and scientists. Instead, it puts great effort into framing those authority figures in an attempt to remove the ones who stand the best chance of exposing it. When they finally figure out a way to test who The Thing is, all of the most likely suspects turn out to be human.
  • In The Time Machine (2002) the Eloi get a lot of this. In the original novel and 1960 film they are pointedly carefree and dim, to the extent the Eloi are practically child-like in the book in both appearance and intellect — in contrast to the Morlocks who are deviously intelligent making the Eloi’s clothing and houses while also eating them like cattle. Which can all be seen as a metaphor for the “rich and the poor”. In the 2002 and 1960 adaptations however the Eloi are essentially regular humans rather than the fae-esque creatures of Well’s book and in 2002 film they are smart enough to harvest crops and build homes on their own.
  • The Blob (1988): The advanced creature effects in this version allow the Blob to use more complex tactics in the way it hunts. It's now apparently aware that it must take its victims by surprise. We frequently see it hide from and ambush its prey rather than mindlessly ooze toward its next victim. It even seems to understand firearms, purposely sabotaging a flamethrower at one point.
  • The Twilight Saga: In the books, geeky Eric is the class valedictorian; in the films, it's Jessica.
  • X-Men Film Series: Jean Grey was turned into a medical doctor. Originally, they were going to include Beast as the resident smart guy of the team, but when he was removed from the final script, the writers gave his job to Jean.

  • George Gipe's infamous Early Draft Tie-In novelization of Back to the Future has Marty escaping detention by filtering sunlight through a projector lens which ignites a matchbook and sets off the sprinklers.
  • In The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, Elizabeth Lavenza is a calculating woman who knows how to play people very well, and who has made her personality and appearance tailor-made for Victor to ensure her safety and comfort. It is quite different from Frankenstein, where she is portrayed as a sweet, kind woman who is devoted to Victor.
  • Go to Sleep (A Jeff the Killer Rewrite): In the original story, the doctor merely assumes Jeff's signs of insanity to be an effect of the painkillers and simply allows him to go home. Mr. Patterson, who helps Jeff's recovery at the hospital in this rewrite, books an appointment for Jeff to see a child psychiatrist out of concern of his disturbing behaviour, but he concedes to Jeff's family's wishes to not go through with it since it would be on Halloween.
  • Looming Gaia: In the original webcomic Fairy Tale Rejects, some scenes indicate that Drifter's Hollow's only doctor Dr. Che is not as knowledgeable as a doctor should be, such as when he's helping Ginger give birth and doesn't know whether the baby's head or legs should come out first. In Looming Gaia, he's much more competent, and him speaking broken Universa is only due to him being a foreigner.
  • In the pilot episode of Red Dwarf, there's no reason to think Lister isn't, as Captain Hollister believes, "so stupid you bring aboard an unquarantined animal and jeopardise every man and woman on this ship — not only that, but you take a photograph of yourself with the cat and send it to be processed in the ship's lab." In the book Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, Lister wants to be put in stasis until they arrive on Earth after breaking up with Kochanski, and developed a very convoluted plan to do so. The photo was an important part of that; he wanted to get caught with the cat, but he didn't want the cat to get caught and dissected. It's also established that Frankenstein was actually an expensive pet-shop cat that was inoculated against everything, although he told the captain she was a stray with an unspecified illness.
  • Some Star Wars novels show spaceships to have an intelligent A.I. that were never noticed in the movies because they can't talk:
    • The novelization to The Last Jedi says that Poe's Black One fighter has an intelligent computer with its own personality that can only communicate with BB-8.
    • Solo has the droid, L3 uploading her consciousness into the Millennium Falcon (apparently being the computer that C3PO talked to in The Empire Strikes Back) but the novelization shows that she talks to and merges with an onboard computer that's already there.
  • Planet Of The Apes: The Fall, William Thomas Quick's prequel novel to the 2001 Planet Of The Apes remake says that the Negative Space Wedgie that transported Leo through time and space was actually a sentientn Benevolent Abomination that was trying to save him by sending him to an inhabitable planet.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow:
    • Malcolm Merlyn is a clever schemer with shades of Corrupt Corporate Executive; in the comics, Merlyn is merely a Professional Killer with archery skills that rival those of Green Arrow.
    • Similarly, Solomon Grundy goes from the Hulk Speak zombie of the comics to a much more articulate Psycho for Hire with regenerative powers thanks to Pragmatic Adaptation.
    • The Clock King goes from the doofy version of the comics to a skilled hacker and computer expert.
  • The Boys (2019):
    • While Homelander was still a selfish, self-absorbed asshole in the original comics, it was also alongside his confidence issues and lack of real planning skills. This Homelander is more proactive, smarter, and worst/best of all, more creative — one of the weaknesses of the comic version is that he was incapable of being anything but a blunt instrument, whereas here he has long-term plans. He manages to achieve what comics Vought never did; get superheroes involved in national defense.
    • In the original comic, Vice President "Vic the Veep" was a Lethally Stupid Puppet King who could barely form complete sentences. His show counterpart Victoria Neuman is the complete opposite, being a cunning Mole in Charge who manages to deceive everyone she comes across with ease.
  • In the original film version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy started as a Brainless Beauty who turned out to have Hidden Depths and went through some serious Character Development, leaving her pretty smart by the end of the movie. Not nearly as smart as she was in the first season of the television show however. TV Buffy, especially in the first few episodes was whip-smart, extremely perceptive, a better researcher than Giles, and explicitly singled out as having a first-class mind by one of her teachers. In fact, her brilliance was subtly downplayed in the second season to make Giles look less useless. The Season 2 finale had a flashback to Buffy's first days as a Slayer, which confirms that she was previously a ditz who underwent the same Character Development as her film counterpart.
  • Raye Penber of all people is this in the live-adaptation of Death Note. The original manga and anime had the FBI agent, after deciding Light Yagami wasn't Kira due to seeing a busjacker not dying from a heart attack, show his ID to Light, then dismiss Naomi's perfectly valid concerns about the busjacking incident he and Light were involved in, which gets himself, his fellow FBI agents, and Naomi killed. Here, he is not so easily convinced during the busjacking incident, so he never gives his real name to Light and only becomes more suspicious of him. During Light's plan to kill him, he has their conversation wiretapped to figure out how Light kills people, quickly catches on to Light's ploy with the FBI files, and comes dangerously close to killing him, only failing due to Misa's intervention with her own Death Note.
  • The 2013 Dracula television series upgraded Mina Harker from a reasonably smart school teacher to a brilliant medical student who's ahead of her time.
  • In the 2000 miniseries Frank Herbert's Dune, Irulan is far more clever than she is in the books (in which she's still fairly intelligent — she becomes a respected historian, after all — but otherwise just a typical princess.) In the mini-series, she quickly figures out that her father aided House Harkonnen in its violent overthrow of House Atreides, and actively works to spy on the Harkonnens by sending one of her servants to seduce Feyd.
  • Joan Watson in Elementary. Watson in the Doyle stories was competent enough, but as a normal person working with Sherlock Holmes, he frequently found himself Overshadowed by Awesome. In Elementary Joan shows above-average observational skills from the start, and she becomes a competent detective in her own right over the course of the series. Probably to the point where she doesn't need Sherlock's help. By at least the third season, she's definitely graduated to Sherlock's apprentice, no longer just tagging along. Holmes even once sent her to get his dry cleaning, never even hinting that something was amiss at the place he sent her to, knowing she'd be able to work out what was really going on there. With no help, she did.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Daario proves thoughtful and intelligent despite his poor upbringing and violent past, providing Dany with sound political advice several times. In the books, he's a simple brute who always advocates Attack! Attack! Attack! or Murder Is the Best Solution because he's interested in little outside his chosen skill set of fighting and fucking.
    • Renly Baratheon in the books is a Book Dumb Jerk Jock who dislikes reading, while here he takes his brother Stannis' role as the most well-read and the intellectual of the Baratheons. Both his relationship with Robert and his role in the Small Council are changed from being a Yes-Man who goes along with whatever his brother wants to a genuinely savvy and competent politician who seems to be ashamed of Robert's mismanagement of the kingdom. Renly's part in the assassination attempt on Daenerys is changed from an act to please his brother into an act done to protect his house from its enemies.
    • A side-effect of Cersei's Adaptational Heroism is that her mind is less clouded by spite and narcissism, leaving her able to actually think instead of assuming everything's personal and she's always right. In particular, a couple of her Stupid Evil schemes are transferred to Joffrey and she wisely sends someone to negotiate with the Iron Bank instead of plunging the kingdom into debt and bad credit by essentially telling them to screw themselves.
    • Qyburn gets a small upgrade to his Omnidisciplinary Scientist license in the show, perhaps because he's less obsessed with torturing people, and he's actually in control of the "little birds" while in the books they're just pretending to be his.
  • Gotham:
    • Professor Pyg is a skilled strategist and actor, skills he doesn't have in the comics due to his mental instability.
    • Solomon Grundy is the expected Hulk Speak dullard soon after transformation, but once his memories are restored, he acts like his pre-transformation self thereafter.
  • Merlin (2008) depicts Morgause as a cunning Lady Macbeth-like sorceress who is far more than simply King Lot's wife in the original mythology.
  • One Piece (2023) has its hero Luffy be much, much smarter than he is in the source material. He’s still not exceptionally bright but here Luffy is smart enough to hide the Grand Line map from the Buggy pirates by swallowing it using his stretchiness, he’s also able to maturely comprehend complex situations and emotions far more consistently than his manga/anime counterpart. This Luffy is closer to the Book Dumb Lovable Rogue he originally was at the series rather than the utter Idiot Hero he evolved into.
  • Super Sentai to Power Rangers:
  • The Walking Dead: The Governor is a Manipulative Bastard who knows how to charm his way through people. It helps that he also underwent Adaptational Attractiveness.

    Video Games 
  • Jason in the original Blaster Master series was just some kid who got hold of a tank and weapons and ended up saving the world from the mutants at least a few times. In Blaster Master Zero, he's a renowned Gadgeteer Genius with a Designer Baby background. Over the sequels, he and Eve were able to create all kinds of improvements to their equipment, which translates to new gameplay mechanics.
  • Dante's Inferno presents Lucifer as a suave, intelligent schemer who manipulates Dante into freeing him, even though the epic shows his true self as a slobbering, self-destructive monster who's too consumed by hatred to even speak.
  • Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine: Scratch and Grounder, and frankly all of the briefly seen Badniks, in the original Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, were completely stupid and often ruined every plan they came across. Here they seem to have gotten a huge AI boost, as they're actually formidable opponents and play Puyo Puyo quite well; Grounder is a difficult boss and Scratch is second only to Robotnik himself in skill. Gameplay and Story Segregation likely comes into play here.
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake Barret Wallace very much gets this treatment compared to the original where he was a Hot-Blooded Big Scary Black Man who acted impulsively and wasn't a particularly good leader compared to Cloud. Here Barret is much more methodical and wise, even showing excitment at the Shinra library. He's still agressive and violent but thinks with his brain rather than his muscles and gun arm.
  • In Jump Force, Light Yagami (the Villain Protagonist of Death Note) is surprisingly smarter, calm, collected, and fully capable of orchestrating successful plans. Sure, he is still as arrogant as ever, but also manages to lack the more obnoxious and childish traits the canon version of him was best known for.
  • Madagascar: Downplayed with Mort. He's still quite dimwitted, but is slightly smarter than he was in the movies, helping the player out at times and teaching the Tiki Minigolf mini-game.
  • Resident Evil 2 (Remake) gives Leon Kennedy a good dose of this. In the original game Femme Fatale Ada duped him completely and utterly and Leon doesn't discover she's really an Only in It for the Money mercenary sometime before Resident Evil 4. Here Leon while still having feelings for Ada, outright admits (after Annette told him the truth about Ada) he’s actually known all along that he couldn't trust her and didn't really believe her cover story about being a FBI agent at all. This carried over to Resident Evil 4 (Remake) as Leon actively treats Ada like a rattlesnake and pretty much doesn't trust anything she says, unlike the original where while more wary he was still caught up in her wiles and Ada didn't have to try nearly as hard to get on his good side again.
  • Soul Calibur VI: Astaroth is given this treatment. As this version of Astaroth has the knowledge of hundreds of slain warriors, he's much more articulate than he was in previous games in the series. He's also much more cunning, and mentions how much he loves taking advantage of foes who think that' he's Dumb Muscle because of his appearance only to realize how smart he really is after it's far too late.
  • Hammerhead was hardly an idiot in the comics, but he also wasn't particularly brilliant either. That changes in Spider-Man (PS4), where he's a frighteningly devious tactician who runs circles around Spider-Man during the DLC side-stories. He regularly outsmarts him with carefully-applied diversion tactics, sticks to the shadows until he can level the playing field against Spidey's strength with a powerful suit of cybernetic armor, and does his homework on the Maggia-hating Yuri Watanabe and goes out of his way to anger her by horribly murdering her fellow police officers until she snaps and gets kicked off the force by going over the line with her revenge.
  • In both versions of Super Mario 64 (i.e. Nintendo 64 and the DS remake), Bowser successfully invades Princess Peach's castle, steals the Power Stars, and imprisons Peach and the retainers within the castle walls. In the original, Bowser leaves the front door to Peach's castle unlocked. In the DS version, the front door is locked and Yoshi must nearly eat a rabbit (named Mips) to take the key off him. However, the door to Bob-omb Battlefield is still unsealed.
  • World of Warcraft: In Warlords, the Ogres are significantly smarter than their previous Dumb Muscle depictions. There are still bits of Hulk Speak amongst the single-headed Ogres, but some are as intelligent as any other race, while the two-headed Ogres are as clever as ever. The expansion added Ogron as the new Dumb Muscle race. In fact, this has been a general trend of the Ogres throughout the franchise's history. They were depicted (briefly) as bestial in Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. In Warcraft II, they became dumb but clearly sapient. The Ogre-Magi were smarter, but still kind of dim. Burning Crusade was the first big step up for them in intelligence (the second being in Warlords, as noted above). The Ogres in Outland were depicted as being dull, but they lost much of their deep, "moron" voice and their Hulk Speak tenancies. The leaders and casters among them (both one- and two-headed variants) were nearly on par with the player races in terms of intelligence. There was even a small society of highly advanced and intelligent Ogres who gave out end-game daily quests.

    Web Animation 
  • The "Here's a Bright Idea..." guy in How It Should Have Ended is based one of the scientists in Spider-Man 3 who ran the experiment that created the Sandman — except that unlike his canon counterpart, he had the good sense not to continue the experiment and tell his co-workers to check after a change has been noted, not wanting to "mutate the crap out of something" because of their laziness.

    Web Comics 
  • Inverted Fate: Undyne and Papyrus are the Royal Scientist and lab assistant, respectively. Their inventions show this, including Papyrus inventing teleportation pads and Undyne creating Mettaton.
  • Scoob and Shag:
    • In the original cartoon, Dee-Dee is a complete ditz who fools around with her brother's machines on a regular basis with absolutely no understanding of what she's doing. Here, she's a canny and resourceful fighter capable of handily thinking her way through tense combat situations.
    • Inspector Gadget is normally a bumbling buffoon who only shows his (admittedly massive) competence when he knows the people he cares about are in danger. Here, he's a no-nonsense badass capable of quick and precise pre- and mid-combat analysis of his foes.
    • Patrick is a bumbling oaf in his home series, but here is able to keep his mind wrapped around the intricacies of his incredibly complicated time travel-based powers and flawlessly carry out orders given to him decades in the past.
    • Homer Simpson, who is typically a dumb oaf at the best of times, is a respected military commander, raising valid concerns about communicating with the Martians. He also takes action to have Bugs arrested when it turns out Bugs is working with the Martians, though this doesn't amount to much.

    Web Videos 
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged: Tons of examples abounds.
    • In the original Dragon Ball Z, minor character Maron is just Krillin's ditzy girlfriend, while in Dragon Ball Z Abridged she works for the government to investigate and reveal Krillin's Insurance Fraud while pretending to be in love with him.
    • While the original Piccolo wasn't a pure Dumb Muscle, he tended to hold the Idiot Ball a lot, or have his emotions cloud his judgment. Abridged Piccolo is subtly portrayed as far smarter, partly because Kaiser Neko and Lanipator are self-admitted Piccolo fans.
      • In the original manga, Piccolo orders Gohan and Krillin to bring him back to Namek so he could fight Freeza, despite the latter's protests. This was monumentally boneheaded, as the whole reason they were there was to revive him (if he dies, the Dragon Balls disappear and the whole trip is pointless), and Nail outright confirms that he completely overestimated his power and never would have had the slightest chance against even first form Freeza. Here it's the opposite: Piccolo tells them not to bring him back to Namek, only for Krillin to do it anyway.
      • Instead of just letting Freeza transform, Piccolo gets distracted by Nail talking about the lack of apps in his brain.
      • In the original manga, Piccolo loudly agreed with Vegeta that they should let Gero create his androids for the challenge of it, which ultimately turned out to be a terrible decision. This scene is pointedly excluded in TFS's version and emphasis is put solely on Vegeta and Goku. Piccolo just stands in the background looking annoyed.
      • In the original manga, Piccolo freaked out and instantly assumed Cell killed Gohan after the first blow, not bothering to use his ki sensing abilities to confirm that Gohan was A. much stronger than Goku and thus able to take a punch, and B. completely undamaged bar a superficial cut. Goku had to be the rational one and point it out to him. Here, Goku has a line about Gohan intentionally hiding his power level, so Piccolo doesn't look too dumb for not even trying that method.

    Western Animation 
  • In Avengers Assemble, The Falcon is a Gadgeteer Genius nearly on par with Iron Man. His comic counterpart, while certainly not stupid, is more of a relatable everyman who had his wings built by Black Panther. Here, he built the wings himself despite only being 18 years old, taking after his aforementioned Ultimate counterpart, who likewise built the wings himself.
  • In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes and every animation since it, The Incredible Hulk is able to speak full sentences and stay in Hulk mode for extended periods while being much more than a mindless smasher. Comics fans know that the Hulk's intelligence and mindset are malleable things due to alterations to his powers (and Banner's own issues). The way it works these days is that he's The Big Guy and a Boisterous Bruiser who would rather smash than strategize, but is no dummy when forced to use his head. However, the madder he gets, the stronger he gets, as ever before... and as his anger and power increase, his mind begins to revert back to the "classic savage hulk" state and his rage increases too. Worst case scenario is that he could enter "world-breaker" mode, becoming strong enough to move continents, while in a state of Unstoppable Rage that leaves him unable to distinguish friend from foe.
  • Bunnicula: In the books, Chester the cat was The Ditz, while in the TV series, became an Intellectual Animal bordering on Insufferable Genius. Downplayed with the title character, who also became more competent.
  • Curbside, an unsuccessful pilot consisting of an Animated Anthology starring revamped versions of Terrytoons characters, gave this treatment to Deputy Dawg. He's nowhere near as incompetent and gullible as he was in The Deputy Dawg Show. To compensate, Muskie Muskrat, a troublemaker who outsmarted him regularly in the original cartoons, is made his bumbling sidekick.
  • DC Animated Universe:
    • In Batman: The Animated Series, several villains receive intelligence upgrades:
      • The Riddler is reinvented as a Gadgeteer Genius, capable of creating advanced Virtual Reality devices and inventing best-selling, sophisticated toys. He even manages to accomplish all of his goals in his first appearance and get away scot-free!
      • The aforementioned Clock King becomes a true example of the trope that bears his name, and, like the Riddler, is one of the few villains to escape Batman in their first encounter.
      • In the original comics, The Ventriloquist act is mediocre, because Scarface has a Speech Impediment (he substitutes the letter "B" for a letter "G", an unfortunate fact when you are going to fight "The Gatman") that is a common problem with Ventriloquism. Batman: The Animated Series upgrades the Ventriloquist’s skills to ridiculous levels: Scarface not only can perfectly pronounce the letter "B", but "Read My Lips" shows the batcomputer analyzing The Ventriloquist and Scarface's voices like two different people. Also, Batman knew the greatest ventriloquist of his time, recognized as the world's best Stage Magician, Zatara (Zatanna's father), and believes the Ventriloquist could teach him lessons.
    • Justice League:
      • While the Wally West of the comics is by no means an idiot, this version of him is depicted as a scientist (more specifically, due to being a Composite Character with his uncle, Barry Allen, a forensic scientist).
      • Doomsday is fully sentient and capable of speech, in contrast to his comic book counterpart, who is traditionally depicted as little more than a mindless, feral brute.note  He's also fully aware that his singleminded obsession with killing Superman is pointless, but chooses to act on it anyway:
        Doomsday: Superman is Superman, and I will kill you.
        Superman: Why?
  • In He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983), Trap Jaw was merely one of Skeletor's henchmen of average intelligence. In He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2021), Trap Jaw is an Evil Genius and Gadgeteer Genius specialized in weapons development.
  • Marvel's Spider-Man:
    • The show depicts Horizon Labs from The Amazing Spider-Man (Dan Slott) as a high school for geniuses with several characters going there, including Harry Osborn, Miles Morales, and a pre-Rhino Aleksei Sytsevich. In the comics, while the former two aren't dumb, Harry wasn't as enthusiastic about science as Peter, and Miles was admitted to a STEM school via lottery; and before becoming the Rhino, Sytsevich was Dumb Muscle incarnate. Likewise, John Jameson, while himself not an idiot, is also a Teen Genius.
    • Though she was never portrayed as an idiot, and after the Amazing Spider-Man saga it's not unprecedented, it's almost surreal to see Oh, Crap! reactions to the idea of going up against the nigh-legendary intellect that is Gwen Stacy.
    • Most of his supporting cast and rogues' gallery appear as students or staff members of this school for geniuses or its rival school Osborn Academy, so you can say that the only characters not affected by this are Aunt May and Norman Osborn (Norman is, as always, a highly intelligent Diabolical Mastermind and Evil Genius, but that is not something limited to this series.)
    • And it's not just a Fridge Logic thing — "huh, all of Peter's usual classmates and a couple of pre-evil bad guys are here, but since it's this school it means they're all geniuses, right? Even the Rhino?" No, science plays a much bigger role in this series than most, so you see them all putting those brains to work.
    • Flash Thompson is a heavily downplayed example of this trope. While not a genius by any means, he's shown to have some skill in science, can build a working baking soda volcano, and used his football knowledge to help Spider-Man stop the V-252 — which will come to be known as the Venom Symbiote.
  • In Muppet Babies (2018), the Swedish Chef is not only more coherent, but a much more competent cook compared to his adult counterpart seen in The Muppet Show. For instance, when making meatballs, Baby Chef, while needing some redirection after a bad first batch, made a delicious meal; adult Chef ended up with meatballs so rubbery, they could double as tennis balls.
  • My Adventures with Superman:
    • Played with in regards to Lois Lane, as while she's never been a particularly dumb character, when it comes to figuring out that Clark and Superman are the same person, it usually takes her quite a bit of time before piecing things together despite the fact that she interacts with both of them on a regular basis. In this show, meanwhile, she's able to figure this information out by the end of the 4th episode, which is incredibly quick compared to most other versions of her.
    • Jimmy Olsen in the comics wasn't able to figure out that Clark is Superman until a quite a while after they met. In this show, meanwhile, Jimmy was able to figure out that Clark has superpowers from the moment they first met, and so knew that Clark and Superman were one and the same from the moment Superman first arrived on the scene.
  • In Peter Pan & the Pirates:
    • Peter is considerably much more cunning and mature than most of his representations in other media. He still has bad memory and is impulsive, but not to the level of sociopathy shown in some versions, and is presented as a pretty competent leader and strategist and with much more social skills.
    • Tinkerbell is no longer an unintelligible fairy incapable of showing more than one basic emotion at the time; instead she is an intelligent mature woman well-versed in magic and a Deadpan Snarker.
    • Captain Hook is changed from the Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain he is in the original play to a Wicked Cultured intellectual.
  • In the 1980s version of She-Ra: Princess of Power, Hordak was a boorish idiot. In the 2018 reboot, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, he's highly intelligent, articulate, and proficient in multiple sciences.
    • Similarly, the 1985 version of Catra was a run-of-the-mill henchwoman of the aforementioned boorish idiot; while the 2018 version schemes/works her way up from ordinary trooper, to field commander, to Hordak's second-in-command, to the functional power behind the throne in turn despite being barely out of her teens and skirting a nervous breakdown for the latter bit.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man: In the comics, Tombstone was a thug who dropped out of high school and became a leg breaker for the mob. In the series, he's the head of a major crime organization and posing as a legitimate businessman.
  • In Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Debra Whitman went from a Shrinking Violet in the comics to an intellectual rival to Peter Parker.
  • In Super Friends, Bizarro and Solomon Grundy keep their Hulk Speak but are as able to come up with the Evil Plan of the week and take the lead in it as anyone else in the Legion of Doom.
  • Slade from Teen Titans is by no means stupid in the comics, but he is more of a Hired Gun and mercenary more comfortable on the field, and while he can be good at manipulation, there are plenty of villains more competent than him. In the Teen Titans cartoon, he is portrayed as a criminal mastermind and the show's biggest Chessmaster.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987), Bebop and Rocksteady were, to put it bluntly, dumb as bricks. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), while they're not geniuses, they're much more competent and intelligent.
  • In the original Winnie the Pooh books Kanga is just as stupid as the other residents of Hundred Acre Wood, but Disney's adaptations tend to make her smarter, acting as the Team Mom of the cast.
  • Much like in the DC Animated Universe, Wally West is depicted with knowledge in science in Young Justice (2010).