Follow TV Tropes


Adaptational Modesty

Go To

Crafting a quality adaptation can be a tricky process, one that often brings with it many things to consider. Between media, there are not only different techniques but also different standards about what is acceptable for certain audiences, especially when it comes to nudity or otherwise sexual content.

This is where Adaptational Modesty comes into play. It can involve things like making the revealing outfits of the resident Ms. Fanservice slightly less revealing or reducing what was a lengthy and detailed sex scene in the original work to a Sexy Discretion Shot. Other times, it can be something as simple as putting clothes on a character in scenes where the character was actually naked in the original material.

It is most problematic if the clothing in question is heavily associated with the character. Taking away or changing it too much leaves them as not having their iconic look. Wonder Woman has had a long history of trying to stay true to her classic look while making the outfit look more practical and protective.

This trope often comes into play with film or television adaptations of literature or comic books, since ideas about what is generally acceptable tend to differ among these media. This usually overlaps with Pragmatic Adaptation. The human body cannot usually replicate the impossibly perfect shapes of a drawing. Some outfits are wildly impractical, simply would not stay in place in a live-action context, or would simply look silly if replicated exactly. Excessive Fanservice can be distracting and take away from the intended artistic merit of the production. Also often invoked when working with child actors, because of laws regarding minors in show business, and the disastrous effect on viewership and the creators' careers in most of the world that would happen if a work got a reputation for sexualizing children.

List all inversions under Adaptational Skimpiness.

Compare Bowdlerization, which is applied to edits applied to the original work. Related to Lighter and Softer, Tamer and Chaster and Self-Censored Release. A very specific inversion of Hotter and Sexier.

Example Subpages:

Other Examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • The "Venus Pudica" is an Adaptational Modesty take on the Grecorroman Love Goddess, with her self-conscious enough of her nakedness and beauty to try and cover herself up. In the myths, Aphrodite is rather promiscuous and finds being a Head-Turning Beauty pleasurable. Artworks modeled after the "Venus Pudica" include the Aphrodite of Menophantos, Sandro Botticelli's The Birth of Venus, and the Capitoline Venus.
  • Zigzagged with the Three Graces, in how they were portrayed over time. For instance, they were initially nude during the Classical Era, then they were covered with sheets in The Middle Ages, then Botticelli's Primavera portrayed them with transparent underwear, and finally nude again by the 17th century.
  • It's commonly believed among biblical scholars that Jesus was naked on the cross. But just try to find a painting that depicts him that way, even from the permissive Renaissance period that gave us Michaelangelo's David. Averted in the highly controversial Die Kreuzigung Christi (1888-1891) by Max Klinger.
  • When Adam and Eve are depicted (especially in children's media), they're usually covered by leaves, flowers, Godiva Hair, or convenient trees and shrubs. One exception is the famous 15th century Ghent Altarpiece, which shows them nude (though covering their groins with their hands). This so offended people in the 19th century that those panels were removed and replaced with duplicates on which the pair were clothed. The original panels have since been restored to their places. (The clothed versions are on display elsewhere in the cathedral for historical interest.)
  • Mermaids were commonly depicted with bare breasts or else Godiva Hair in art. Starting in the 20th century, mermaids received either a Seashell Bra or Organic Bra in later media.
  • Zigzagged with Aphrodite and Venus. The most famous artwork of them depicts them fully nude. Numerous films based on classical mythology — Hercules, Clash of the Titans (1981), One Touch of Venus, Xena: Warrior Princess — feature her fully clothed. But some works will have her nude, though usually as a Shout-Out to Botticelli's The Birth of VenusThe Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Coraline.
  • Similarly zigzagged with her son Eros/Cupid. Nearly all Ancient Greek art of him depicts him as a handsome naked adult, but later artwork made him a Putto (a winged child). While these images didn't always cover him up, later art definitely started to, putting him in a diaper in his childlike form, while those few modern adaptations that make him an adult usually depict him wearing a chiton or a loincloth but rarely depict him nude.
  • On the subject of Classical Mythology, Hermes tended to wear the traditional attire for young messengers in Ancient Greece — namely a chlamys (a long-ish cape) and nothing else, barring his signature winged sandals and helmet, of course. One passage describing his appearance even describes him as "naked except for a messenger's cloak". Naturally, most adaptations depict him covered up a bit more, though he does frequently get portrayed without a shirt.
  • In the aftermath of The French Revolution, Grecian-influenced sheer gowns became the thing for women's fashion, the trend lasting through The Napoleonic Wars and Regency England. By the Victorian era, this fashion was looked back upon as a scandalous Old Shame, which presented a problem for painters and artists wishing to depict the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The result is Victorian art in which the women of the Napoleonic era are given anachronistic clothing more suited to Victorian standards of propriety. An example is Vanity Fair, which was illustrated with the characters wearing contemporary Victorian fashions because the author didn't have "the heart to disfigure my heroes and heroines by costumes so hideous." Another example is the 1868 painting Before Waterloo.
  • Ancient Minoan art makes abundantly clear that women's dress left the breasts completely exposed. Modern media like Age of Bronze and Atlantis: Death of a World, Birth of a Legend reproduce the fashion in fine detail except for adding an undershirt over the problematic area.
  • The Roman statue Venus Kallipygos (literally "Venus of the Beautiful Buttocks") is a famously erotic work that originally depicted an attractive woman (usually assumed to be the goddess Venus) lifting up her dress to expose her bare backside and looking back over her shoulder to check herself out. Notably, though, many later copies have opted to cover the female subject's buttocks with a dress, making it a bit less salacious.

    Fan Works 
  • Some My Hero Academia fics make a note to give Toru Hagakure a proper superhero costume (read: one that can turn invisible as well).
  • 'And Thus...' (A MHA / XC2 Crossover): Momo Yaoyorozu replaced her revealing canon hero outfit with what is essentially a red-and-white version of Mòrag's military coat. In-universe it's explained that Momo managed to create with her quirk a special fabric that can work together with it, allowing her to use it without having to show skin. Brighid also replaced her dress with its very deep cleavage for a similar outfit in deep blue.
  • Code Prime: The first scene of C.C. in Lelouch's house, specifically the one where she decides to sleep in Lelouch's bed (and forces him to sleep on the couch) implies that she isn't wearing anything under her straight jacket. Here, she IS wearing some underwear (which doesn't cover much, if the narration is anything to go by).
  • Chaldea Evil Incorporated!: After finding out that Ushiwakamaru, Fujimaru's starting Servant who wears a Stripperiffic armor, is physically sixteen to seventeen years old, Dr. Doofenshmirtz drags her aside, then builds a Cloth-Inator to give her something more concealing, though he uses up all available power sources before Ushiwakamaru sticks with a black bodysuit underneath her revealing garbs.
  • Played for Drama in Fairy Tail: Re-Written with Lucy. Her attempts to wear more revealing outfits like in canon are hindered by self-doubt and feeling slut-shamed by her father and his more toxic business partners. At most, she can wear a skirt that reaches to her mid-thighs and a top that gently hugs her curves. Though it would still be scandalous by the terms of her old, aristocratic life.
  • Fates Collide: Martha wears regular clothes instead of her revealing outfit with huge Cleavage Window from the game (the author felt it was undignified).
  • According to the Author's Notes of Fire Emblem: Three Houses: Fifth Path Byleth's outfit is reportedly much more conservative.
  • Infinity Train: Knight of the Orange Lily: Paul London is written wearing his Lucha Underground attire — an Elvis Presley-like suit well known for having a sequin studded codpiece. The story omits said codpiece, and instead just leaves the sequins.
  • League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Tempest Rewrite: The Lunites are given clothes to match their source material.
  • My Bloody Academia: In general, much of the canonical nudity of Kill La Kill is heavily toned down or even outright removed.
    • Ryuko's first hero outfit, which resembles Senketsu, covers almost all her skin and isn't stripperiffic compared to her fully synchronized Kamui.
    • Nui's villain outfit here covers a majority of her skin, whereas canonically it left her legs, arms, and cleavage exposed.
    • Ragyo wears business attire similar to the Queen Crimson from Helltaker rather than the revealing Navel-Deep Neckline outfit she wore canonically.
  • My Hero Playthrough: Unlike canon, where Momo wears a Navel-Deep Neckline-baring leotard, her hero costume instead consists of modified leather pants and a jacket with lots of zippers along with a motorcycle helmet.
  • In Natural Selection, much of the excessive nudity in Kill la Kill is toned down.
    • Ryuko with Junketsu, while the least Stripperiffic of the Kamui, is described as covering Ryuko on every inch of skin here instead of exposing the sides of her body like in canon.
    • Nudist Beach, of all groups. While the splinter faction of the Naked Nudists dress only in the black straps of their canon outfits, regular members are described as wearing standard paramilitary gear.
  • Big time in The Night Unfurls. With the exception of Maia, the Seven Shields in the remastered version either wear armour or outfits that tone down the heavy Fanservice present in the Kuroinunote  canon.
  • Misty, already mentioned in the Anime and Manga section, takes this one step further in Pokémon: Clefairy Tales by wearing flesh-colored tights under her default anime outfit.
  • Somnium depicts the women of Agrabah as more covered-up than they are in Aladdin canon. There are a few exceptions, such as Princess Jasmine (though, even she doesn't dress like a Bedlah Babe), but most wear veils.
  • Tales of Sonic the Hedgehog: Most incarnations of the Sonic universe have the vast majority of Mobians running around as Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animals at least and Half-Dressed Cartoon Animals at most, or following a Pantsless Males, Fully-Dressed Females scheme. Here, every Mobian so far is fully dressed, or at the very least wears pants.
  • Starfire's hero outfit in The Virtue of Revenge is more of a skintight bodysuit and lacks the more Stripperiffic and revealing aspects of her cartoon and comic versions such as midriff-baring and Navel-Deep Neckline respectively. Being Starfire, she's still the resident Ms. Fanservice.
  • Much of the fanservice-laden attire of the female cast of BlazBlue is toned down significantly in BlazBlue Alternative: Remnant. Just to name a few examples, Makoto wears her pre-battle attire from Chronophantasma rather than her normal stripperiffic attire, Noel wears Modesty Shorts underneath her skirt, and Litchi's outfit, which normally leaves her bra exposed, completely covers her chest.
  • Vow of the King: Harribel's Resurrecion features an bodysuit that covers most of her torso along with armor that protects most of her body, a markedly different getup compared the Stripperific outfit she sported with her canon Resurrecion.

    Films — Animation 
  • Both GoGo Tomago and Honey Lemon in Big Hero 6. In the comics, GoGo's costume consisted of a black bodysuit, a metallic corset that had no purpose other than propping up her breasts, and a thong made of the same material and Honey's outfit in the comics includes a crop top exposing her cleavage and her midriff with skintight pants, as shown here. In the film, both wear more practical armor and Honey never shows more skin than anyone else.
  • Final Fantasy VII depicted Tifa Lockheart wearing a tight white t-shirt and mini skirt, with her breasts on prominent display. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children gives her an outfit that covers more skin — also being worn looser, deemphasizing her breasts.
  • In Greek mythology, Aphrodite is commonly depicted nude. Hercules gives her a long dress to wear. Though a statue of her (or rather Venus) is depicted fully nude.
  • In The Little Mermaid story, mermaids are depicted the way they traditionally are — topless. In the Disney adaptation, Ariel and the other mermaids wear Seashell Bras, with an exception being Ariel's daughter Melody in the sequel (who wears a shirt because she was transformed from a human into a mermaid).
  • Cammy from Street Fighter makes a cameo in Wreck-It Ralph alongside Chun-Li but you'll notice she appears to be wearing green leggings opposed to the games where she just shows off her naked gams all the time. The reason behind this is clear: It's a Disney movie; they aren't gonna let any adult female character go around baring her buttocks, no matter how little screen presence she gets.
  • In the Disney film Pocahontas, the title character is depicted as a nubile young woman wearing a buckskin dress. When she met John Smith in real life, she was a child and she was wearing, well, nothing. In her society, children customarily went about nude, weather permitting until they reached puberty (and while we're at it, their heads were shaved bald too). And if she were the age which she's depicted as in the film, she would have still been topless.
  • Though he does spend a lot of time in his iconic outfit (which is just trousers and red boots), Astro is mostly fully-clothed in the Astro Boy film. This is in part due to him pretending to be human for much of the film.
  • In the Rainbow Magic books, the goblins wear loincloths. In the movie, they wear shirts and pants.
  • Lola Bunny would get hit with this hard in Space Jam: A New Legacy with Warner Bros. going to great pains to desexualise her. In Space Jam she was an iconically curvaceous and sultry Ms. Fanservice who wore a midriff baring tank top and booty shorts and even in The Looney Tunes Show (which is Tamer and Chaster) Lola she still wore short dresses and had a bosom. In New Legacy, Lola's figure is redesigned to be not curvy but noodle-limbed similar to Bugs, she also has longer modest clothing in general nor is she particularly flirty like her previous depictions.
  • Goes both ways in Dreamworks' Trolls; pretty much all of them wear clothes, save for the glitter-farting ones, who are buck naked like their doll counterparts.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse sees Miguel O'Hara AI assistant, Lyla, forgo her Marilyn Monroe dress for a coat and pants.
  • DC Animated Movie Universe:
  • In Den comics, especially the earliest ones, the major characters are fully nude in Neverwhere. However, in the film Heavy Metal they all wear loincloths. However, some fleeting long shots have Katherine completely naked, probably by the animators daring to push how far they can stretch without being noticed.
  • Teen Titans Go! & DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem in the Multiverse marks the first appearance of Cythonna, the villain of the graphic novel Superman: The Last God of Krypton, in non-comics media, having her wear a more modest costume instead of just a leotard.

  • In Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book, Mowgli goes about naked in the jungle, as is made clear not only in the text but also by some illustrations, including the early ones produced by the author's father, John Lockwood Kipling. However, in many later illustrations and pretty much all adaptations into comics, animation or live-action film he is shown wearing a loincloth.
  • In The Squire's Tales, Tristram goes through a period as an insane hermit, but unlike in Arthurian Legend, doesn't become a Naked Nutter.

  • Cesare - Il Creatore che ha distrutto has songs about Botticelli's Primavera and Donatello's David, both of which feature backup dancers with costumes inspired by the art, only much more covered up.
  • My Hero Academia: The "Ultra" Stage: Momo's costume covers up most of her torso and removes the ridiculously large cleavage window from her manga design. Any potential problem this might pose for her Quirk (the ability to generate weaponry and other non-living items from her exposed skin) is solved by her new suit also including a zipper.
  • In both the manga and anime versions of Sailor Moon, the members of the Amazoness Quartet wore very very skimpy costumes that resembled bras or bikini tops despite being very young. In the sole Sera Myu entry where they appeared, the girls were heavily designed so that their outfits now covered their torsos and arms.

    Theme Parks 
  • Disney Theme Parks:
    • Mickey Mouse is one of the most well-known Half Dressed Cartoon Animals out there. Yet, his costume at Disney parks is fully-dressed. This is a practical choice. For years Mickey was in his classic clothes, but it never looked quite right in costume form. As a result, Mickey later became fully-dressed.
    • Since 2016, actresses who play — sorry, are friends withPrincess Jasmine now wear a blue floor-length dress that covers their arms and midriff. Disney officially said it was to make her outfit more culturally accurate to Middle Eastern modesty standards, but in reality, it was because Jasmine was subject to far more unwanted male attention than the other Princesses because her original movie-accurate costume was so revealing.
    • In late 2021, the Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin attraction would put Jessica Rabbit into a yellow Dick Tracy-esque trenchcoat to switch her characterization from "damsel in distress rescuing herself" to detective out to catch the weasels.

  • For the Super Hero Squad toyline and related media, any female character wearing somewhat revealing clothes had their costumes modified to cover them up more (mainly a layer of bodystocking to cover bare thighs — Ms. Marvel and Storm are notable cases).

    Web Animation 
  • This often happens when Virtual YouTubers introduce their 3D (i.e. full body VR) model:
    • If a skirt is worn, modesty shorts are often added to wear underneath it. Usually these are black bike shorts. Non-indies now basically always do this, as panty shots are now deemed too risqué for YouTube by agencies like hololive.
    • Alternatively, miniskirts often become short-shorts/hotpants or culotte shorts going from the original 2D to 3D, with that switch being the only adaption of the previous outfit (rather than the 3D outfit being wholly new). This has happened for example with Yozora Mel. Between skirts and shorts, shorts have become the distinctly more common style among VTubers, which stands in contrast to the situation in anime/manga where the situation is reversed. This is in part due to the modesty concerns, in part due to evolving fashion tastes, and in the early days of VTubing, shorts were also the more straightforward choice due to 3DCG rendering limitations.
  • DC Super Hero Girls does this with several characters. Starfire is even more covered up than in Teen Titans, wearing a long dress that only slightly shows skin. Wonder Woman wears jeans and Poison Ivy wears a dress with pants underneath. The design changes are justified considering the characters are high schoolers, and because this version of Poison Ivy is a shy but kind-hearted girl, rather than The Vamp.
  • The Edutainment series based on Pokemon, Pokémon Learning League gave Dawn longer sleeves and tights under her skirt.
  • Poked at with Saturday Morning Watchmen (an animated short of a hypothetical Animated Adaptation of the Alan Moore comic Watchmen that is aimed at kids), where Dr. Manhattan (typically nude in the graphic novel and movie) is always wearing the briefs he wore just before deciding to go nude unless requested to wear clothes. It's all part of the absurdity of trying to make a famously dark story Lighter and Softer.