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Adaptational Mundanity

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The great thing about a Fantasy Kitchen Sink setting is that you can introduce crazy new powers and foes at the drop of a hat. This, however, can make adaptions tricky, especially to exposition-unfriendly formats like movies. What happens then is that the character stays, but their fantastical elements are either toned down or removed. For example, a vampire would be downgraded to a serial killer who has a thing for drinking blood.

Subtrope of Mundanization, Doing In the Wizard and Pragmatic Adaptation. Contrast Adaptational Abomination. See also: Mundanger where in a series with supernatural elements, a real-world danger provides a threat. Compare Demythification. See also Coffee Shop AU Fic, High School AU, and Modern AU Fic, for common fanfic variants. Depending on the circumstances, this may also overlap with Adaptational Wimp.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Age of Bronze adapts The Trojan Cycle by removing all divine intervention:
    • Many people referred to as children of gods are actually priests of that god.
    • Paris has a dream in which he is asked to give the golden apple to one of three goddesses.
    • Where Cassandra's gift of unbelieved prophecy was the result of refusing the god Apollo's advances, here she was raped as a child by a pedophile who told her no one would believe her.
    • Heracles was a roving warlord whose strength and charisma was such that he ended up revered by a god by his own men, and later killed by his wife.
    • Chiron, originally a centaur, is now a big hairy Mountain Man.
    • The story of Iphigenia being rescued at the last minute by Artemis was invented out of whole cloth by Odysseus to try to comfort her mother.
  • Hasbro Comic Universe:
    • Jem and the Holograms (IDW) downplays the more wackier aspects of the characters and series. For example, in the Jem cartoon, The Misfits routinely do things that should end up with them in jail or with various restraining orders but rarely get their just desserts. In the comic, their Jerkass natures are on a more realistic level, and they don't crash parties and disrupt the peace on an episodic basis. The characters' hair colors are also implied to be dyed rather than natural. The comics tone down the more cartoony aspects of the cartoon and give the characters more realistic depth.
    • By the end of its 13-year run, it comes to light that the origin story of the Transformers has undergone this trope. In this continuity, Primus and Unicron are Unrelated In The Adaption and are stripped of any divine origins they had before, the former merely being the first Transformer and the latter being the creation of a alien scientist much like in the G1 cartoon. The Thirteen Primes turn out not to be the first Transformers created by Primus, but rather ambitious factional leaders who seized power following Primus's departure, with one of them turning out to be a time-displaced Shockwave who orchestrated future events as part of an ontological time paradox.
  • This is a major distinction of the Ultimate Marvel universe from the regular Marvel Universe. There's no magic, and instead everything comes from mutations, evolution or tech. The stories are overall much more grounded in reality than the more fantastical 616 universe. In fact, all powers here are derived from Captain America's Super-Soldier serum and the attempts to replicate it. Yes, even mutants.
    • Downplayed later on. Although Thor is publicly known as a Scandinavian Super-Soldier knockoff, and his rants about being from Asgard are dismissed as mild mental illness. However, some of his feats strongly imply that he's telling the truth, and later on the ambiguity is done away with- he is indeed a god from Asgard.
    • Similarly, people are doubtful that the Ghost Rider's power could be satanic in origin... but they can't provide any better explanation for his power source, his logic-defying abilities, or that mysterious guy in red he's always talking to.
    • Magic can't really be avoided when adapting Dr. Strange to a new continuity. Clea's interdimensional origins, however, have been dropped, as she's just a human pupil who marries him and bears a son.
    • Longshot, Spiral, and Mojo are no longer from some wacky dimension with Gladiator Games and bizarre TV shows. Longshot and Sprial are just mutants, and Mojo is just the human owner of a mundane TV channel that films a reality show with Longshot stranded in a jungle and hunters Hunting the Most Dangerous Game.
    • Likewise, Lilandra and the Shi'ar Empire are similarly changed with the Shi'ar now being a Church of Happyology and Lilandra being its very human head.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animation 
  • In the original book version of The Iron Giant, the Giant is a fully-sentient Automaton who seems to run on mystical forces, evoking the giant Talos of Classical Mythology. He later saves the world from a massive interstellar talking dragon that lives in a star and has a magical singing voice. The movie version is a machine of alien origin and largely functions like a faulty AI, which becomes a huge problem when his destructive programming starts to kick in. And instead of saving the Earth from a giant dragon, he saves a small town from an impulsively launched nuclear missile.
  • In Disney's Pinocchio, Pinocchio is initially a normal, inanimate marionette, but is brought to life by the Blue Fairy, making him the only sentient puppet in the world – the other marionettes seen in Stromboli's show are inanimate. The original book, The Adventures of Pinocchio, is more fanciful: the theatre marionettes are alive too, and Pinocchio isn't brought to life by the Fairy, but is always sentient, even as a block of wood before he's carved into a puppet. This is a change common to most adaptations of the story.
  • In the original Peanuts strips the Kite Eating tree was literal. In the The Peanuts Movie, it was just a tree that Charlie Brown lost a lot of kites to.
  • Downplayed in Batman: Under the Red Hood. Jason Todd's resurrection isn't due to reality resetting but with the life granting Lazarus Pits that have been in the Batman Mythos for some time.
  • The Snow Queen from Hans Christian Andersen's original fairy tale The Snow Queen was an omnipotent Humanoid Abomination who was implied to be the living embodiment of winter itself and possibly a member of The Fair Folk. In Frozen, however, Queen Elsa is a human being born with winter powers. Frozen II changes this a bit when it's revealed that Elsa's powers come from being the magical half of the fifth spirit, a bridge between magic and humanity.
  • Downplayed in The Prince of Egypt. In the Book of Exodus, the Egyptian priests were capable of actual supernatural feats, as shown by them being able to match the feats of turning staves into snakes and water into blood (albeit less impressively; their snakes were eaten by Moses', and the used a lot less water than the Nile). This take on the story suggests their supposed powers may just be stage magic; the supposed transformation is accompanied by a huge flash of light (suggesting they may have just swapped their staves for snakes when everybody was blinded), and the water-into-blood trick is accomplished by putting powder in a bowl of water (suggesting they may have just made it look like blood).

    Film — Live Action 
  • Batman is pretty grounded as far as superhero works go but the crazier elements get dulled down or removed entirely in many of the live-action adaptations.
    • The Christopher Nolan movies:
      • Ra's Al Ghul is no longer immortal but uses body doubles to a similar effect
      • The Joker doesn't use Laughing Gas and other such clown based gimmicks (and uses hair dye and makeup as opposed to his hair and skin being permanently discolored in the comics)
      • Bane's mask simply provides anesthetic to dull his pain rather than pumping him with Venom.
      • Lazarus Pits are no longer mystical locations where people can be revived, but rather the concept is adapted as a single cylindrical underground prison where Bruce "rises" after having his back broken by Bane and presumed dead, and is not called by name.
    • Joker (2019):
      • Not only does Joker (no "the" in this case) wear makeup and hair dye to achieve his signature look, but he lacks the Dark Knight version's intellect, tactical skills, combat skills, comedic wit, and criminal genius.
      • Arkham Asylum is replaced with Arkham State Hospital.
      • Alfred Pennyworth seems to be a regular man, rather than a highly-trained military veteran or former spy.
    • The Batman (2022):
      • The Riddler's plan centres around eliminating who he perceives as corrupt members of Gotham's political establishment through blackmail, similar to his plans in Batman: Arkham Origins. Unlike other versions of the character, his riddles do not involve sci-fi devices and elaborate Rube-Goldberg machine traps, instead opting for more realistic tactics such as ARGs, ciphers, remote-controlled bombs, and a cult of personality through the Internet.
      • The Batmobile resembles a heavily modified muscle car, rather than a missile or a tank.
      • Batman's cape does not allow him to glide with accuracy. He uses a single-use inflatable wingsuit that causes him to crash into a bridge.
      • The Iceberg Lounge does not contain gothic wings and a penguin habitat.
  • Child's Play (2019), a reboot of the Child's Play franchise, removes all supernatural and voodoo elements present in the original series. This time, Chucky is a robot instead of a doll possessed by the soul of a Serial Killer.
  • Ever After is a retelling of the Cinderella story that basically replaces the fairy godmother with Leonardo da Vinci.
  • Zig-zagged with Hercules (2014), and the graphic novel it's adapted from, in regards to the Hercules mythos, where it's implied the Labors of Hercules are spiced-up retellings; for instance, the Lernean Hydra is a group of human soldiers wearing snake-themed armor, and Cerberus turns out to be three ordinary wolves Hercules mistook to be a three-headed monster during a hallucination. However, Herc does retain his Charles Atlas Superpower with him toppling a building-sized statue in the climax with his bare hands, proving that he might be beyond mortal.
  • Immortals, a movie based on the myth of Theseus, turns the Minotaur into a human Giant Mook wearing bull-themed armor.
  • The Malay Chronicles: Bloodlines is adapted from the Malaysian epic, Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa from the Kedah Annals, but with most of the source material's fantastic elements removed. For instance, the epic sees the heroes menaced by a powerful Garuda (a South-East Asian avian monster analogous to Roc Birds); in the movie the Garuda is an all-human pirate legion.
  • Troy is this to The Iliad: it removes all mythical elements from the story, turning it into a story about a mundane (although epic) war.
  • Zig-Zagged in the Super Mario Bros. (1993) movie. Koopa (Bowser) is no longer a giant dragon-turtle thing but a humanoid from an alternate universe that evolved from a T-Rex. Basically it trades whimsy for dino-punk.
  • Dragon Ball Evolution. It is justified, since it would have been very difficult to make this film 100% faithful to the manga and anime, since on Earth from the world of Dragon Ball is inhabited by anthropomorphic animals, dinosaurs, humans with unusual characteristics, demons and talking monsters, in the manga and anime the Dragon Ball chronology goes back to the 700s, while in the film it seems to happen in the present 2009. Goku is an average high school teenager rather than a kid raised in the woods and most of the cast, notably including Krillin, were left out. This is one of the reasons it's not looked upon favorably.
  • In a strange, downplayed example, In the Heart of the Sea changes the "White Whale" into a heavily scarred bull sperm whale, whose skin has been flecked with numerous light-colored harpoon scars, as opposed to the traditional portrayal of Moby Dick as an albino. This is despite the fact that albino sperm whales have been confirmed to exist, with the fabled Mocha Dick that inspired the novel being one example, and a sighting of another albino sperm whale as recent as 2021 off the coast of Jamaica.
  • In the live action Death Note Series, a multitude of exaggerated or over the top aspects and moments from the manga and anime are either watered down, or removed entirely from the films. Most notably, the potato chip scene in the first film of the series, Death Note, is less ridiculously dramatic and seen as casual by the audience.
  • The Jem and the Holograms (2015) film turns the cartoon from a romance-adventure with sci-fi elements into a Coming of Age Story. Synergy is a little Robot Buddy instead of a sentient supercomputer with holographic abilities and none of the campy drama is present.
  • The X-Men Film Series grew rather notorious for removing much of the comic book-related tropes and out-there elements in favor of a grounded, more realistic take.
    • Lady Deathstrike isn't a mutant; she's a cybernetically-enhanced human. In X2: X-Men United, she's just another mutant.
    • In the comics, Juggernaut is a human empowered by the deity known as Cyttorak, and very much not a mutant. In his appearance in X-Men: The Last Stand, he's very much a mutant like the rest. His reappearance in Deadpool 2 made it more ambiguous, with the general assumption that he's a mutant but nothing solid to prove it.
    • The Last Stand also turns the entity that is the Phoenix Force into just a split personality for Jean Grey.
    • In the comics, Kitty Pryde just isn't the same without her small alien dragon companion Lockheed. But in the movies, Lockheed was Adapted Out due to clashing with the tone they were going for.
    • Silver Samurai in the comics is a mystical mutant, but in The Wolverine, he's a man in a mecha suit.
    • Though this was the case for the alternate dimension known as the Mojoworld for many, many years, the existence of the world was actually confirmed by Shatterstar in Deadpool 2, if only as a gag. That said, its most famous members (Longshot, Spiral, and Mojo) never made it onscreen.
    • The cosmic side of the universe is virtually non-existent. In the comics, X-Men have had spacefaring adventures, menaced by the Shi'ar Imperium (a collection of different races) and the Brood (a homage to the Alien franchise), and have even had aliens as members of the X-Men. This never showed up in the movies even after the MCU did it, until the last film in the series, X-Men: Dark Phoenix introduced both the cosmic force version of the Phoenix and a group of aliens seeking it.
    • The Savage Land, a place full of dinosaurs that still walk the Earth, is never even alluded to in the movies despite Fox having the rights to them the entire time.
    • The New Mutants has Warlock Adapted Out. This is mainly because Warlock isn't a mutant, but rather a techno-organic alien, which was thought to be weird especially in a horror movie.
    • In general, all the X-Men are mutants. While this is mostly the case in the comics, there were some notable exceptions. Characters of other origins, such as super soldiers, cyborgs, mutates, aliens, magical beings, interdimensional beings, robots, and ordinary humans, have held membership as X-Men in their long comic book history. Same goes for the antagonists, apart from the Fantastic Racist humans.
  • Averted for the most part in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as most of the villains have similar origins to the heroes:
    • Iron Man 3: Played with for the Mandarin. His rings aren't alien weapons and are just for show. The true Mandarin turns out to be Aldrich Killian, using a more potent version of the Extremis Nanotech. Subverted by Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, where it's revealed that while Trevor's rings were just for show, the real Mandarin's rings are indeed mystical weapons (or at least, Sufficiently Advanced Technology of unknown origin) that grant their holder incredible powers.
    • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: In the comics, The Falcon is able to telepathically read birds' minds and see out their eyes, including a particular empathic link with his pet falcon Redwing. In the MCU films, his psychic powers are left out. Redwing was later rewritten for Captain America: Civil War as a robotic drone aircraft, while Sam has no particular affinity for birds.
    • In the Marvel Universe, the Elementals are a group of extradimensional humanoids who became immortals with power over natural forces and ruled a kingdom on Earth before the rise of the original Atlantis. In Spider-Man: Far From Home however, they are actually just a series of holograms and armed projector drones orchestrated by Mysterio and his crew as a part of an Engineered Heroics scheme.
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical version of The Phantom of the Opera suggests that the Phantom may have supernatural abilities, though at the end of the day, it neither confirms nor denies this: his more outlandish feats may well just be Rule of Scary. The musical's film adaptation, however, makes it clear that the Phantom doesn't have any special powers, leaving out the more supernatural stuff altogether and explaining other things away by showing how he does them (such as having him pull a lever to raise the gates in his lair or mess with Carlotta's throat spray to make her croak).
  • Judge Dredd is a dystopian Science Fantasy. While adapting the comics for the 2012 film incarnation Dredd, writer Alex Garland attempted to write several different scripts, one of which involved the supernatural characters the Dark Judges. The studio deemed this concept too esoteric for a first film, so Garland settled for a more "grounded" urban sci-fi story to properly establish the setting.
  • Wanted stripped out all of the superhero trappings of the comic book that inspired it, turning the Fraternity into a more mundane criminal organization with some Charles Atlas Superpower.
  • Godzilla:
    • Godzilla (1998) takes a much more grounded approach to the title monster. Instead of being a nearly indestructible prehistoric beast that managed to survive millions of years beneath the ocean, he's a modern day iguana that was mutated into a coincidentally prehistoric-looking form within his egg by nuclear fallout and is not Immune to Bullets. The atomic breath is also heavily downplayed, with his powerful roar instead blowing up cars and propelling the flames to cause an effect that merely looks like a Breath Weapon.
    • Several cases are introduced to the MonsterVerse:
      • In the original Godzilla films, Mothra was depicted as explicitly magical in nature, being a divine goddess that takes the form of a giant moth. The MonsterVerse incarnation gets some Doing In the Wizard in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), which sees her re-imagined as a prehistoric creature with bioluminescence-based abilities instead, though she's portrayed as no less majestic and powerful. That said, she has some ambiguously mystical moments.
      • Also in King of the Monsters, the Shobijin are re-adapted into Drs. Ilene and Ling Chen respectively. Instead of explicitly being supernatural fairies, the Chens are notably human twin sisters who have an apparently-hereditary and subconscious psychic link to Mothra, and a preternatural family history of producing identical twin sisters in every generation.
      • The Eco-Terrorists in King of the Monsters and Apex Cybernetics in Godzilla vs. Kong appear to do this for the Xiliens and other such Human Aliens from the old Toho movies; with one group attempting to control the Titans' actions for their own ends by using a bioacoustics device and the other creating Mechagodzilla, and both groups in some way attempting to control and subjugate Ghidorah for their own purposes. However, true to the MonsterVerse's aesop change (adapting the Kaiju from an allegory for nuclear weapons as they were in the old movies, to an allegory for forces of nature in this film) and perhaps also as a Take That! at earlier King Ghidorah incarnations' Villain Decay, neither group ever really has any control, and their attempts to gain control horribly backfire when Ghidorah takes the helm.
      • Mechagodzilla in Godzilla vs. Kong zigzags this. On one hand, rather than being a robot built and sent by aliens, it's constructed by an Earth corporation and piloted by a human. On the other, as part of the film's Neon Genesis Evangelion influences, the use of two of the previous film's King Ghidorah's skulls as part of the piloting mechanism results in the soul of King Ghidorah possessing the unit and hijacking it.
  • Downplayed in The Invisible Man (2020). Griffin's invisibility does not come from a serum as it did in the original book. Instead, it comes from a specially designed suit covered in projectors that let him blend into the environment; highly advanced but still plausible.
  • Ophelia removes or tones down a lot of the supernatural elements from Hamlet. Mechtild (a character exclusive to this adaptation) is said to be a witch, but doesn't appear to have any magical powers, simply being a healer with extensive knowledge of plants and poisons (some of which would appear to be witchcraft during the time period). Hamlet mentions the rumors that people have sighted his late father's ghost, but the scenes where Hamlet actually sees the ghost himself are Adapted Out. Ophelia thinks she sees a ghost on the battlements the night the king dies, but it later turns out she saw Claudius in disguise, leading her to suspect him of murdering his brother. Notably, Hamlet doesn't realize his father was murdered by Claudius because his father's ghost tells him, but rather because Ophelia tells him of her suspicions after putting together the clues.
  • Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon has all myths be true in regards to slasher flicks, and Jason Voorhees, Freddy Kreuger, et al, are Famed In-Story. However, they have no supernatural powers. Implacable Man with an Ominous Walk that seems to be gaining? Run whenever a victim isn't looking and wear armor under the iconic costume. Immune to all weapons? A combination of sabotaging any nearby weapons, transcendendal meditation, the aforementioned armor, and home remedies. Cellphones and cars mysteriously quit working when they're nearby? Also sabotage. The inevetable Urban Legend rising up about vengeful revenants? Slashers latch onto local folklore and act it out. There was a deformed special needs boy who drowned in Crystal lake; there was a child-molestor with poor fashion sense whose house got burned down with him inside of it by angry townsfolk after his case was thrown out on a technicality, etc, but that's where it all stoped and it's someone else exploiting the legend. Even the Final Girl only survives because the Killer decides beforehand who he'll allow to live.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Adventures of Superman an alien with powers far beyond those of mortal men has to fight gangsters instead of supervillains every episode because there is no budget for any other FX.
  • Arrow is a lot more gritty than its source material and while it doesn't remove all fantasy, the few elements of such remaining are treated as they would be in the real world.
    • Canary (aka Black Canary) uses a sonic weapon rather than generating sonic blasts with her voice.
    • GA's tradmark trick arrows are keep to realistic functions. Explosive arrows yes, Boxing Glove arrows no (save for one Mythology Gag).
    • Cyrus Gold is no longer the immortal zombie Solomon Grundy but gained super strength from a Super Serum. He still proves to be one of Arrow's most difficult foes to date.
    • Inverted for Deathstroke. In the original comics the Super Serum he received stops his aging and keeps him in top physical shape. In the TV series the serum he received makes him downright super human, able to punch through a man's chest and recover from more than third degree burns. Granted, he loses these powers at the end of season 2, but still...
    • Inverted to an even greater extent for Roy Harper. In the comics he is the Robin to Green Arrow's Batman but in Arrow he is injected with the same serum as Slade, making him super human. But also just like Slade, he gets the antidote for this serum at the end of season 2.
    • Since Barry Allen aka The Flash gained his own series, this trope has become rarer. If anything, Arrow became the series for the fantastic - while everything in The Flash goes back to the particle accelerator explosion, Arrow has Lazarus Pits, a villain granted magic powers by a death-powered idol, and John Constantine. Once Constantine became a regular on Legends of Tomorrow, though, it became the magical series and Arrow is back to being a world with mostly Badass Normals.
  • Doom Patrol (2019) has its version of the SeX Men being less outlandish and surreal than their comic counterparts, being a trio of ordinary people using hi-tech equipment to combat "sex ghosts" rather than bizarre-looking blue-skinned men with lipstick markings on their foreheads and pyramid-shaped appendages on their scalps (and one of them surviving decapitation).
  • Fate: The Winx Saga limits magic to just six elements and doesn't employ Mundane Utility like the original cartoon. The series also gets rid of the more fantastical and futuristic aspects of the setting, like magical flora and fauna, advanced technology, and multiple inhabited planets with unique magical features. In the show there's only the one Otherworld, and it's very much like Earth.
  • The Flash (2014)
    • Downplayed with the Weather Wizard’s wand. In the comics, it could be used to manipulate weather to one’s liking. The show’s version, while still an impressive piece of tech (it can absorb electrons), is used to negate Weather Wizard’s powers. However, his successor, the Weather Witch, instead of being granted powers by the particle accelerator explosion, uses a wand similar to the one from the comics (it carries a shard of a satellite, infused with energy from said explosion, from a prior villain's plan.)
    • The Cosmic Treadmill, which allowed speedsters to travel through time, is Adapted Out. Speedsters can naturally travel through time, and Barry just uses an ordinary treadmill for training. A version of the Cosmic Treadmill finally appears in Crisis on Infinite Earths as a device for the Anti-Monitor to force 1990s Flash to produce an anti-matter wave.
    • Inverted with Cicada’s dagger. In the comics, there’s no indication that it’s anything other than a conduit for his powers. In the show, it can project electricity, shut off metahuman powers, and be telepathically controlled by its user.
    • Downplayed again with Godspeed, who could create a clone of himself with energy drawn from the Speed Force itself. The show version uses copycats and drones with identical powers.
    • In The Flash, all powers in early seasons come from the particle accelerator explosion in the premiere (even Barry; the lightning+chemicals origin is mostly maintained, but the lightning could do that because energy from said explosion had altered the clouds above.) Even in later seasons, the villains are a degree of two of separation from the original event but it's still there - the Earth-2 villains were empowered by their dimension's version of the event, and the Thinker, empowered by the original event, figured out how to recreate the same "dark matter" that it spread - as such, everyone given powers by his machinations (deliberately or accidentally) and everyone in the following seasons using technology that has been altered by pieces of his satellite (powered by the same dark matter, intended to brainwash the world) still counts - instead of their being near the explosion, a guy who was simply brought the explosion to them! So, while it contains fantastic elements, it's still a partial example of this - similar to everything in Ultimate Marvel being caused by attempts to recreate the process that created Captain America, a comic book world where people are powered by magic or mutation or mad science or a million other origins becomes a world where one event was the cause of almost everything.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Only Bran Stark can warg into animals, whereas Word of God confirms that in the books all six Stark kids have the ability, though only Bran, Jon and Arya have been known to warg so far and Bran is the best at it.invoked
    • Overall the show gets rid of a lot of the prophecies and mystical dreams that characters receive. While Daenerys still experiences some prophetic visions in the House of the Undying, they are greatly shaved down, thus losing the Foreshadowing of such things as the Red Wedding and her own proclamation as Mhysa.
    • The Undying themselves seem to consist only of Pyat Pree and his magically generated clones. In the books, they are ancient warlock revenants who dwell in the Alien Geometries of the House of Undying and want to consume Dany's lifeforce, and Pree is one of several mortal warlocks who serve them.
    • Some notable instances of magic are cut, such as the resurrection of Catelyn Stark as Lady Stoneheart by Berric Dondarrion after the Red Wedding, Melisandre killing Orell's eagle with a fireball when Stannis comes to defend the Wall from wildlings, and Melisandre disguising Mance Rayder and Rattleshirt as each other through a glamour.
    • The show also does not include magical objects like the Horn of Winter, which is supposed to demolish the Wall if sounded, Valyrian dragon horns used to control dragons, and glass candles, which allow users to see around the world and enter other people's minds.
  • The Incredible Hulk (1977) has David Banner Walking the Earth and coming across various mundangers. Once he fought an older Hulk-like guy. And in the made-for-TV sequel movies, they brought in Thor and Daredevil.
  • Luke Cage (2016):
    • Hernan "Shades" Alvarez doesn't wear a laser-shooting visor, but a pair of admittedly nice sunglasses.
    • Raymond "Piranha" Jones doesn't have long, sharpened steel spikes for teeth (which is where his nickname in the comics came from). Instead, since he's been recharacterized as a shady stockbroker who's indebted to the Stokes family, his nickname is from him viewing himself as the kind of person that others never see coming.
  • Runaways (2017) tones down most of the parents in terms of supervillainy:
    • The Yorkeses, time travelers who genetically engineered a dinosaur in the future in the comics, are present day bio-engineers (who still manage to genetically engineer a dinosaur).
    • Robert Minoru is no sorcerer like his wife and daughter.
    • The Deans are both normal humans and not aliens. While Karolina's biological father Jonas is an alien, her dad Frank Dean is a human and not even a member of PRIDE.
    • The Wilders are...borderline. Geoffrey is a former gangbanger and Catherine is an Amoral Attorney who's not above bribery and murder, but they're not all-out crime bosses.
    • The Hernandezes are not telepathic mutants, and Molly's superhuman strength comes from a different source.
    • The only parents virtually unchanged from their comic book counterparts are the Steins.
  • The Rook: In the TV series, people with superpowers are the only non-realistic element. The books featured an array of other magical and supernatural phenomena in addition to this, ranging from prophetic ducks to vampires to dragons, making them a full-on Urban Fantasy.
  • The Umbrella Academy (2019): The tv-series tones down more outlandish elements from the comics that would be difficult to translate to live-action, such as Klaus's levitation powers and Luther's gorilla bodynote .
  • Wednesday: Inverted with the title character. Wednesday Addams was always portrayed in past versions of The Addams Family as a weird goth girl (either a Perky Goth or a Creepy Loner Girl depending on the version), but she was usually a normal human being. Here, however, she has psychometric powers that cause her to receive visions when she touches certain people or objects, and what's more, her mother Morticia also had them.

  • The stage adaptation of the animated feature Anastasia drops all fantastic elements beyond the central conceit of the title character surviving the Russian Revolution. Most obviously, the film's villain is an immortalized Rasputin, and the stage show's is a Bolshevik general.
  • The musical Annie removes the more bizarre and fantastical elements of the Little Orphan Annie comic strip. This included removing the secondary characters of Punjab and the Asp, the former of whom has literal magic powers. The 1982 film version adds them back in, magic powers and all.
  • La Cenerentola, Rossini's opera adaptation of Cinderella, replaces the fairy godmother with Alidoro, the prince's tutor, who gives Cinderella her elegant clothes and takes her to the ball after she shows him kindness while he's disguised as a beggar. Later, she leaves the ball not because of any magical deadline, but to test the prince's love by making him search for her and find her in her rags.
  • In King René’s Daughter, a play by Henrik Hertz, Ebn-Hakia is a powerful sorcerer. In Iolanta, an opera based on the play, he is just a very skilled doctor, and all the magical elements of the plot are removed.
  • Twisted: The Untold Story of a Royal Vizier alters some of the more overtly unrealistic elements from Aladdin. Ja'far's "magic" is simply clever application of science, and the show's Abu and Iago stand-ins are more like regular animals than they were in the movie.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed: Odyssey pulls a Double Subversion regarding the fantastic elements of the "Age of Myths" setting. Although there are enemies to fight named after the monsters of Greek Mythology, they're all just nicknames for evil humans: the Cyclops is a big brute with a missing eye, the Griffin has a lot of treasure, etc. Then you eventually meet the genuine articles, such as an actual Sphinx and Cyclops, all of them mutated humans resulting from the Body Horror experiments of the Isu.
  • Carmen Sandiego: Treasures of Knowledge is something of a Continuity Reboot for the Carmen Sandiego franchise, and it does away with the wackier elements that had been added to the series during the '90s. In Treasures of Knowledge, there are no Impossible Thefts or crooks with Punny Names, not to mention the absence of the Time Travel and space aliens that had featured in multiple previous games.
  • Dynasty Wars and it's sequel, Warriors of Fate, a Capcom duology based on the manga Tenchi Wo Kurau, removes the source material's fantastical elements, where villains whom are literal monsters are changed to human barbarians, and Liu Bei's meeting with an angel which inspires him to establish the Shu Kingdom is omitted. Incidentally, the manga itself is based on the literary classic Romance of the Three Kingdoms which doesn't have fantasy elements either, making the games Truer to the Text.
  • The original Heroes of Jin Yong has a stage in some ice caverns where you get to fight several Yeti. In the 2018 3D remake, the ice caverns are revisited, but the Yeti has been replaced by Mongolian barbarians wearing heavy furs.

    Visual Novel 

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake: In Fionna Campbell's world, characters that would have been magical in the Ooo of Ice King's fanfics are turned into mundane humans in the 21st century going about their lives: Marshall Lee is a street musician rather than a vampire, Gary Prince works under an overbearing boss in a bakery instead of ruling over candy citizens, Fionna herself is a depressed young adult that dreams of fantastic adventures with her normal cat instead of going on them, and so on. Downplayed in that the world is the same as the one in the fanfics, just depowered, and the dreams the people have are based on their old lives; and while the magic never really comes back, fantastic elements from other worlds end up taking root when people of those worlds stay.
  • The last Madeline book written by original author Ludwig Bemelmans, Madeline's Christmas, features a magician who sends the little girls home for the holidays on flying carpets. This stands out amongst the mostly naturalistic, Slice of Life tone of the series. The animated adaptation replaced the magician with an old woman who helps the girls in a Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane manner.
  • PJ Masks: Granted, the show is still a long way from being grounded in reality with its kid superheroes and villains. But the original picture books that the show was adapted from feature tons of fantastical elements that were left out in order to make the show a more traditional superhero series. These include; the heroes going up against supernatural creatures (a plant monster, an evil Sand Man, a snow robot, and even an Egyptian god, just to mention a few), the moon having a face, and the heroes befriending a large werewolf (who turns into a smaller, humanoid wolf when there's no full moon).
  • DC Animated Universe: Zatanna appeared in an episode of the relatively grounded Batman: The Animated Series, with no indication (except an ambiguous Stealth Hi/Bye at the end) that she was anything more than a talented stage magician. Later, she appeared in Justice League Unlimited with full-fledged magical powers.
  • The Big Bad of Thunderbirds, The Hood, in addition to his disguises and cunning had the power to control people with his mind, an ability that really stood out in an otherwise tech focused series. In the reboot series Thunderbirds Are Go this power is dropped, leaving the focus on his Master of Disguise abilities. The closest he comes to this is his control over the Engineer, though that's implied to be based more on technology than anything supernatural.