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Adaptational Late Appearance

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It appears as if a character has been Adapted Out. They're nowhere to be seen, despite the fact they should have appeared by now according to the source material. All of a sudden, the character appears in the adaptation!

Maybe they're in a Demoted to Extra role, maybe they're given a completely different role, or maybe they're just mysteriously late. Either way, they appear much later in the adaptation than they do in the original source.

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Adaptational Early Appearance is the inversion. This can lead to an Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole or an Adaptation Relationship Overhaul. Can sometimes result in Remember the New Guy? when a character omitted from the adaptation of their debut appearance is present for a later one and the story acts as if they've always been there.

SPOILERS AHEAD.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • AKIRA: Yamagata's death. In the manga, he gets killed at the end of the first volume. In the film, he doesn't die until more than halfway into the story.
  • Kurenai and Asuma's daughter Mirai appeared in Naruto as an infant and a toddler. Her adult design, on the other hand, had this treatment. She appeared in chapter 700 of the manga in the Distant Epilogue. That chapter wasn't in the anime (with the last episode adapting a book about Naruto's marriage instead) but was later loosely adapted in episode 24 of Boruto. Mirai wasn't present in episode 24 either. As Mirai is several years older than the other Next Generation kids, she has no reason to hang around anyone except maybe Shikadai. Mirai was thus mysteriously absent until she appeared at the end of the Academy arc in episode 38.
  • Pokémon:
    • Only one of the Elite Four from Pokémon Red and Blue, Bruno, appeared during the original Indigo League arc. Lorelei appeared during the filler Orange Islands arc. Lance appeared during the Johto arc, though justified as he was an important character in Pokémon Gold and Silver. Agatha finally appeared at the beginning of the Battle Frontier arc.
    • The rival of Pokémon Gold and Silver is absent in the anime except for a cameo in the Japanese intro of The Legend of Thunder! special. As a Mythology Gag, he's shown defeating Jimmy, a counterpart character to the games' male protagonist. Paul in the Sinnoh arc may be an Expy of this rival, having many similar attributes.
    • Wallace is the eighth Gym Leader in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire and the Champion in Emerald. He was passed over during the Hoenn arc, as the anime chose to use Juan, the eighth Gym Leader of Emerald for Ash's final Gym battle in the region as part of promoting Emerald. Wallace ended up appearing in the next region, Sinnoh, as a famous coordinator (despite not even being in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl).
    • Barry is the rival of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. He was given an expy in Dawn's Childhood Friend Kenny. Kenny has a similar design to Barry and has his same basic role as him. However, Barry himself eventually turned up later in Diamond & Pearl, making Kenny redundant, as they both use the same starter Pokemon, though unlike the games where the rival has the starter super effective on the player's starter, Kenny and Barry both use members of the same evolutionary family as Piplup, the Pokemon Dawn chose, with Barry's being Empoleon, and Kenny's being a Prinplup until the Grand Festival.
    • N and Team Plasma of Pokémon Black and White and its sequels, didn't appear until after Ash was done competing in the Unova League. In this case, it wasn't the original plans of the anime staff, as Team Plasma was supposed to be introduced coming to conflict with Team Rocket in an early episode, but Japan was hit with an Earthquake just when the episodes were to about to air, causing the episodes to be pulled and the plotline dropped.
    • Team Flare didn't appear until the start of the third year of the XY series, at which point Ash had just gotten his 7th Badge. The earlier plots at the Power Plant, the Poké Ball Factory, and the Frost Cavernnote  are all handled by Team Rocket instead.
    • Hau of Pokémon Sun and Moon appears at the start of the game and is your second best friend besides Lillie, as well as your rival. In the anime, Hau doesn't appear until over 90 episodes in, long after the anime has already finished the game's climax, with Gladion, a later rival in the game, replacing his role as Ash's main rival.
    • Guzma, one of the main villains of Sun and Moon, took until 115 episodes into the arc to appear in the anime, by which time the show had not just dealt with the Mother Beast plot, but Necrozma as well.
  • Tokyo Mew Mew: Minto, Retasu, Bu-ling and Zakuro appear at the beginning of the manga before passing through the Debut Queue, but are removed from the beginning of the anime.
  • The School-Live! manga reveals that Megu-nee is Dead All Along in the first few chapters. The 12-Episode Anime takes several episodes to do its reveal. Thus all moments where Miki is confrontational towards Yuuri and Yuki towards the latter's mental illness were removed, making Miki come off as overall softer. Several scenes had to be reworked to avoid spoilers as well.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho: Shizuru, Kuwabara's sister, made her first appearance after Yusuke's house was burned down (and was also the one that cut Keiko's hair after it got singed, which was unexplained in the anime). However, in the anime, she didn't appear until the beginning of the Rescue Yukina arc.
    • Kurama's mother's boyfriend was originally introduced at the same time he was, though he didn't do much besides telling Kurama that his mother was going into crisis and speed up his plan to sacrifice his life to the mirror in exchange for hers. (This line was given to a generic nurse in the anime.) Thus when Kurama mentions that she's getting married in the Sensui arc, and her honeymoon and stepson become plot points in the final arc, they don't come entirely out of nowhere.
  • The first season of the Ace Attorney anime is an adaptation of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and the sequel Justice for All. However, one of the cases it skips over is "The Lost Turnabout" the tutorial case of Justice for All. "The Lost Turnabout" is later adapted as the first episode of the second season, which otherwise is an adaptation of the third game, Trials and Tribulations. It works because the defendant of "The Lost Turnabout" returns as the defendant of "Recipe for Turnabout", the third case of Trials and Tribulations. And on the subject third game, the second and third cases of the game are adapted first, followed by the first case "Turnabout Memories", due to it being a flashback and heavily connected to the last two cases.
  • Sailor Moon: Diana had made her first appearance in the manga during the Black Moon arc, which was the second arc of the series. In the anime, however, she does not appear until the fourth season, Sailor Moon SuperS.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War
    • The anime cut out the principal's first appearance where he confiscates Karen's magazine, so he doesn't show up until the French School visit.
    • Makkii-senhai and Gigako had their initial cameo cut during the first season, so they aren't seen until the first episode of season 2.
    • The Cubari Facaccimo, a bizarre one-eyed... thing that had something to do with Kaguya's plans for Valentine's day the previous year appeared while the student council is cleaning up at the end of their first term. In the anime, it isn't seen until they're moving back in after the election.
    • Kyoko first appears in a one panel flashback in the manga when Ishigami metions the middle school incident to Kaguya during their first study session. While the anime kept the dialogue alluding to the incident, it cut out the flashback, so Kyoko isn't actually seen until Osaragi's Day in the Limelight in the lead up to the sports festival.
  • Due to its first season being a loose adaptation, the second season picking up from a specific point in the manga while being a very faithful adaptation, and nothing but OVAs to try to fill in holes in the the continuity, the anime adaptation of To Love-Ru ended up introducing Celine's plant form very late in an OVA, followed by her humanlike form shortly afterward with no explanation. In the manga, her plant form was introduced very early and it took 101 chapters for her to turn into her humanlike form.
  • In Trigun manga, Vash meets Legato before he meets Wolfwood. In the anime, he meets Wolfwood first, and Legato is introduced several episodes later.
  • In Ranma ½, Hikaru Gosunkugi originally appears in volume 5 of the manga, establishing him as a classmate of Ranma and Akane, and already crushing on Akane for a while. He's absent in the early anime, however, most of his role taken instead by Canon Foreigner Sasuke Sarugakure (minus the Akane crush). Hikaru does finally join the cast in the anime, but only by episode 96 of the second season, as a New Transfer Student. Afterward, he retakes his role for the later stories that involved him in the manga.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: The first season of the anime picked various chapters of the manga to mix into the anime from different points in the manga's story line. This results in Ilulu, both before her reforming and later when she moves in with Kobayashi being absent despite the chapters that were adapted into the episodes had this character in them. This is referenced during the season 2 announcement at the end of volume 8 of the manga, where the character asks the author's avatar if she will appear (he tries to avoid the question but eventually confirms it).
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: In the game, Link first meets Malon upon arriving in Castle Town. In the manga, this role is given to a disguised Princess Zelda instead. Malon doesn't appear until Link arrives at Lon Lon Ranch in chapter 5.
  • Death Note: L appears at the very end of the first chapter of the manga, but doesn't show until the Interpol conference in the second episode of the anime. An early scene with Near, Mello and Roger (the man in charge of Wammy's Orphanage) is is delayed, and they first appear when receiving word of L's death.
  • Hunter × Hunter: While the manga and 1999 anime have Kite appear in the first chapter/episode, the 2011 anime delays his debut to episode 76.

    Comic Books 
  • In the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer show, Angel was introduced in the very first episode. In Boom! Studios' comic reboot, he doesn't show up until the fourth issue.
  • In the Jem cartoon, Jerrica Benton has known Eric Raymond for years and The Misfits met him just before the series began. In the Jem and the Holograms comic, the Misfits are appointed with Eric as their new manager in the seventh issue and Jerrica doesn't meet him until the fifteenth issue.
  • Ultimate Marvel
    • The Ultimates:
      • Loki, the very first villain The Avengers ever faced in the original comics, doesn't appear until the sequel series, Ultimates 2, where he is revealed as the Big Bad.
      • Kang the Conqueror was a very early Avengers villain, showing up in issue #8 of the original series. The Ultimate version of Kang would not appear until the "Ultimates Disassembled" storyline, which was published 12 years after the first Ultimates series began.
    • Ultimate Spider-Man:
      • Mysterio, who first debuted in the Silver Age back in The Amazing Spider-Man #13, didn't appear in the Ultimate universe until the lead-up to Ultimatum, 8 years after the series began.
      • Likewise, the mainline universe's Vulture first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #2 back in 1963. Ultimate Vulture's first appearance was in Ultimate Spider-Man #89.
      • The Chameleon, who was one of the very first villains Spider-Man ever fought in the original comics, did not appear in Ultimate Spider-Man until about 10 years after the series began.
    • Ultimate X-Men:
      • Angel, who was one of the founding Silver Age X-Men in the original comics, doesn't show up until issue #40.
      • Vanisher was the second ever villain fought by the original X-Men, but doesn't appear until the Ultimate War mini-series in this universe.
  • The Hasbro Comic Universe version of Rhinox appeared late in the universe's run, towards the Grand Finale, The Transformers: Unicron. This is especially notable as Rhinox is a case of Decomposite Character as the Beast Machines version of Tankor appeared earliernote .
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    Fan Works 
  • Date A Re:Live: In canon, the AST appeared in the first arc. Here(renamed from the Anti-Spirit Team to Advanced Security Team due to Adaptational Heroism) they've made their first appearance in the second arc.
  • In the For Want of a Nail fanvid From the Ashes, Edward doesn't encounter Sloth and Envy until the tail-end of the series. This is done to make Sloth's reveal more surprising and make Envy stabbing Ed come as a surprise.
  • Pokémon Reset Bloodlines: Sabrina in the Pokémon anime was the fourth Gym Leader Ash challenged during his Kanto journey. In this story, Ash faces her for the sixth badge, and even then he does so forcibly.
  • The Road to be a Pokemon Master: You first see Wally in the games the first time you visit Petalburg City. Here, he makes his debut when Ash and co. reach Verdanturf Town.
  • Total Shuffled Island Series: Most of the original Island cast and some of the Revenge of the Island characters now make their debuts in a later season than in canon: Tyler debuts in World Tour instead of returning from Island, Cody, Courtney, Gwen, Harold, Izzy, Justin, Lindsay, Noah and Trent now debut in ROTI, and Anne Maria, Brick, Duncan, Eva, Heather, Leshawna, Katie, Mike, Owen and Sadie now debut in Pahkitew Island.
  • Random Drama Series: Most of the original Island cast and some of the Revenge of the Island and Pahkitew Island characters now make their debuts in a later season than in canon: Bridgette, Cody, Eva, and Ezekiel now debut in ROTI, Anne Maria, B, Brick, Cameron, Courtney, Dawn, Geoff, Izzy, Justin, Katie, and Sadie now debut in Pahkitew Island, and Beth, Dakota, Jasmine, Leonard, Lindsay, Max, Owen, Rodney, Scott, and Topher now debut in the author's famade season Danger Island.
  • In Changing of the Guard, Ben has his first encounters with Kraab and Sixsix at 15 years old as opposed to the main series, where he first fought them when he was 10.
  • In Maelstrom, Bakugou is first introduced at the end of Chapter 2, as Izuku is beginning his first day at UA, instead of being introduced as Izuku's childhood friend turned bully.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In the comics, Spider-Man predated Iron Man and the formation of The Avengers, and was not a member of the team when the book first launched. Because Spider-Man's movie rights were off-limits during the first two Phases of the MCU, he doesn't show up in the movies until several years after the Avengers have already been formed. In fact, his idolization of the Avengers (especially Iron Man) is a plot point. Then done retroactively after the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming, via Word of God that the kid in the Iron Man mask that Tony rescues from the Hammer Drone in Iron Man 2 was a young Peter.
    • Played with in the absence of The Wasp and Ant-Man in the first two phases of the MCU. In the comics, Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne were founding members of the Avengers, and in fact Jan was the one who coined the name "Avengers" in the first place, while Hank was the creator of Ultron. Instead, Nick Fury named the teamnote  and the creation of Ultron fell to Stark and Banner. And then it's turned on its head when Ant-Man was finally released in Phase Three, with the revelation that Hank and Jan predated the Avengers, working as operatives of S.H.I.E.L.D. during the Cold War. Making it both a late appearance in the context of the franchise as a whole, and an In-Universe early appearance.
    • In the comics, the Mandarin was one of Iron Man's earliest villains, and his ArchEnemy. Although a charlatan claiming to be the Mandarin shows up in Iron Man 3, the real Mandarin doesn't appear until the 2021 movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, a full 13 years after the release of the original Iron Man movie. Because of this, the Mandarin instead fights Shang-Chi, as Iron Man was killed off at the end of Avengers: Endgame 2 years prior.
    • Adam Warlock doesn't join the Guardians of the Galaxy until the third movie (though his cocoon appeared in The Stinger of the second movie), while his comic counterpart was one of the founding members of that version of the team.
    • Because their film rights belonged to 20th Century Fox until Disney bought the company in 2019, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men were legally barred from appearing during the first 3 phases of the MCU. In the original comics, the Fantastic Four predated the Avengers (and kickstarted the entire Marvel Universe), while the X-Men debuted in 1963, the same year the Avengers first came together. Instead, the MCU has the Avengers as the team that kickstarted the universe, and many characters who came much later in the comics (like the Guardians of the Galaxy) ended up making their debuts years before the FF or X-Men. Additionally, certain characters who were originally created for those series (like Black Panther, who started off as a Fantastic Four supporting character back in The '60s) ended up having their own movie debuts ahead of them as well. A further consequence of this was that movies adapted from stories that included those characters had to omit them, meaning that the FF were not in the movie version of Civil War, and that Wolverine and the Silver Surfer could not join the fight against Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War or Avengers: Endgame, even though they did in the original story.
  • Divergent: Uriah was a supporting character in the first book, but his role got expanded in the sequels. However, possibly because of his minimal role, he was cut from the first movie and introduced in the sequel.
  • The Harry Potter film franchise does this with many of the side characters, making them appearing only when they become relevant to the plot.
    • Both Cedric Diggory and Cho Chang debuted in the third book. Since the films mostly cut Quidditch, Cho's debut is delayed to the fourth film, while Cedric does still technically appear, but isn't referred to by name or properly introduced.
    • Professor Sprout, introduced as Harry's teacher in the first book, appears the first time in the second film.
    • Arabella Figg, who got introduced as early as the second chapter of the first book, only appears in the fifth film.
    • Bellatrix Lestrange appeared as early as the fourth book as an unnamed Death Eater in the Pensieve flashback. Since the flashback is changed in the film, she makes her debut in the fifth film.
    • Meanwhile, Bellatrix' sister, Narcissa Malfoy, was also very briefly introduced in the fourth book and had been mentioned a couple of times before and after then. She's neither seen nor mentioned until the sixth movie.
    • Mundungus Fletcher, who was introduced as a prominent member of the Order of the Phoenix in the fifth book (and mentioned even earlier) only makes an appearance in the seventh film.
    • Bill Weasley appeared in person for the first time in [the fourth book and continued to be a Recurring Character onwards. He only appears in the last two films.
  • The first installment of Percy Jackson and the Olympians merges Annabeth Chase and Clarisse La Rue, hence why Annabeth has dark brown hair and is rather hostile to Percy in the beginning (in the books, Annabeth is snarky to Percy at her worst, while Clarisse is his frenemy). Since Clarisse has a major role independent of Annabeth in the second book, she debuted in the second film, in the process causing Annabeth to suddenly sport her book-faithful blonde hair and a more reserved personality.
  • Gwen Stacy was famously Spider-Man's Love Interest before Mary Jane Watson. In the Spider-Man Trilogy, Gwen (and her father) wasn't introduced until the third film, well into Peter and MJ's relationship.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thronesnote :
    • Catelyn's father Hoster, uncle Brynden ("Blackfish"), and brother Edmure all first appear in A Game of Thrones, but aren't introduced until the third season of the show.
    • Meera and Jojen Reed and Ramsay Snow are part of the Winterfell story in A Clash of Kings. All three first appear in the third season, after Winterfell is abandoned; Ramsay isn't identified until the end of the season.
    • Euron Greyjoy's presence is first felt in A Storm of Swords when he kills he brother, and he appears in A Feast for Crows. All of these events are held until the sixth season.
    • Randyll Tarly is among Renly's bannermen in A Clash of Kings, and shows up as part of Brienne's story in A Feast for Crows. He doesn't appear until the sixth season, in an adaptation of a different story (Sam's) from A Feast for Crows.
  • Power Rangers:
  • The Walking Dead:
    • Tyreese, Sasha note , Allen, Donna and Ben were introduced during the middle of the Prison Arc in Season 3, whereas in the comics they were introduced near the beginning. That's not even counting the fact that Allen and Ben are Decomposite Characters since they're In Name Only characters. Their respective "actual" note  counterparts, Ryan and Lizzie, were instead introduced in the Season 4 premiere along with Mika, the Gender Flipped version of Allen's son and Ben's twin brother Ben who, like the rest, were introduced near the beginning.
    • Morgan toyed with this trope after his initial appearance. Canonically, Morgan was Put on a Bus earlier and then gets reintroduced after the prison arc. In the show, Rick, Carl and Michonne revisited their old town during the series' Prison Arc and encounters him there. Then during the arc of his supposed reappearance, he didn't show up until three-four arcs (including one filler) later.

    Video Games 
  • Batman: Arkham Knight depicts Man-Bat showing up very late in Batman's career, in contrast to the comics where he's been around since the seventies or the DCAU's using him as a Starter Villain. The last night of his career, in fact.
  • Black Mesa: This is the case for many of the weapons, which tend to debut a few maps after their original counterparts. For instance, the crowbar isn't found at the elevator shaft, and is instead located in the room past the lobby.
  • In Spider-Man (PS4), Doctor Octopus shows up a good eight years into the Webslinger's career despite usually being one of the first villains he faces both in the comics and many other adaptations. Likewise for Norman Osborn, who still isn't the Green Goblin, though The Stinger implies that he's finally going there.

    Western Animation 
  • Hilda: In the graphic novels, the black hound (or Jellybean) makes his debut in the same story where Hilda joins the Sparrow Scouts. This story was split over three episodes, with multiple new stories in between, for the animated series. As such, Hilda joins the scouts in episode 4, but Jellybean isn't properly introduced till episode 12.
  • The Batman:
    • Robin doesn't make his debut until season four (of five), with Batgirl actually becoming Batman's first sidekick in season three. This was due to a "Bat-Embargo" that DC had put in place at the time which prevented many Batman characters from appearing in multiple shows airing at the same time, and Robin was a main character in Teen Titans for most of The Batman's run.
    • Harley Quinn was introduced in an early episode of Batman: The Animated Series called "Joker's Favor", but also wasn't introduced until season 4 of The Batman. Unlike Robin, however, this late appearance (likely) wasn't caused by the Bat-Embargo as Harley's final appearance in the DC Animated Universe was in 2003, a full year before The Batman premiered.
  • Muppet Babies (2018):
    • In the original 1984 series, Baby Rowlf was an established member of the main cast from the very beginning. In the 2018 series, he doesn't show up until "The Best, Best Friend", the first half of the 19th episode.
    • Scooter and Skeeter were also two of the main characters in the 1984 series who appeared since the very beginning. In the 2018 series, they can be seen in a picture on the wall all throughout the first season, but it isn't until "Win a Twin", the first half of the fourteenth episode of the second season where they make their first physical appearances.
  • In Sky1's Moominvalley:
    • Misabel doesn't appear in the adaptation of Moominsummer Madness, instead appearing in a later episode, "Moominmama's Maid", based on her role in the comic strip.
    • The Hobgoblin's Hat storyline, which made up the bulk of the second novel Finn Family Moomintroll, becomes three episodes around the halfway point of Season Two, immediately followed by the adaptations of Moominpapa All at Sea and Moominvalley in November — the final books. So the appearance of Thingummy, Bob, and the Hobgoblin move from near the start of the series to near its end.
  • Iceman, Beast, and Angel, who are founding members of the X-Men in the comics of X-Men: Evolution.
  • Young Justice:
    • In the original Silver Age comics, Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad (Garth) were founding members of the Teen Titans. The TV show, however, has a new Aqualad named Kaldur'ahm take Garth's place in this capacity, with Garth only showing up later in the first season. He eventually joins the team offscreen during the 5 year Time Skip between seasons 1 and 2.
    • Likewise, Donna Troy, a.k.a. Wonder Girl, was the fourth member of the original Teen Titans (though a later Retcon established that Speedy had been involved before her) and joined them very shortly after they first got together. Due to legal red tape, Donna could not appear in the first season. Word of God confirmed that she also joined the team offscreen during the aforementioned Time Skip, but she didn't actually appear onscreen until the third season, when she by then became a United Nations ambassador.
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