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Adaptational Modesty

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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.

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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 sexualising children.

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See the inversion in Adaptational Curves.

Compare Bowdlerization, which is applied to edits applied to the original work. Related to Lighter and Softer, Tamer and Chaster and, on a career level, Bleached Underpants. A very specific inversion of Hotter and Sexier.


Example subpages:

Other examples:

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     Fanfiction 
  • Fates Collide: Martha wears regular clothes instead of her revealing outfit with huge Cleavage Window from the game (the author felt it was undignified).
  • Misty, already mentioned above, takes this one step further in Pokémon: Clefairy Tales by wearing flesh-colored tights under her default anime outfit.

     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 which 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 Boobs of Steel on prominent display. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children gives her an outfit that covers more skin — also being worn looser, de-emphasising 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 wearing green leggings opposed to 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 a female character go around baring her buttocks, no matter little screen presence she gets.
  • The New 52-based DC Universe Animated Original Movies:
  • 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.
  • Ultimate Avengers:
  • 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.

     Other 
  • Zigzagged on the Three Graces, on 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.
  • Poked at with the mock Saturday Morning Cartoon of Watchmen, where Dr. Manhattan (typically nude in the graphic novel and movie) is given some briefs to wear. It's all part of the absurdity of trying to make a famously dark story Lighter and Softer.
  • 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, Godiva Hair, or convenient trees and shrubs.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • For MTV's Spring Break broadcasts, some women who come to the beach/concert wearing particularly skimpy bathing suits note  are variously given a bathing suit with more coverage, edited out of footage, or covered with a Digital Bikini.
  • 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 Venus" - The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Coraline.
  • 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.
  • 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.

     Web Animation 
  • DC Superhero 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.
  • The Edutainment series based on Pokémon, Pokemon Learning League gave Dawn longer sleeves and tights under her skirt.


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