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Adaptational Nonsapience

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A character who was able to talk in the original no longer has the physical capability to form and communicate complex ideas in an adaptation.

See, life can be pretty hard for non-human characters. In addition to being treated as more disposable, some higher-ups seem to believe that these sorts of characters reduce the believability of the work. So if they aren't cut wholesale to reduce the effects budget, they tend to be reduced to a non-speaking role.

Talking animals and monsters tend to have an intellect reduced to those of normal beasts, by fiction's standards anyway, while robots and A.I.s will be reduced to something along the lines of a normal computer. Depending on fan reception of the character in their original form, this will either cause backlash or joy.

An extreme form of Adaptational Dumbass and Adaptational Personality Change. Something of a reverse Anthropomorphic Shift.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Doraemon: Nobita and the Green Giant Legend is an expansion of the Doraemon short, "Goodbye, Kibō!", expanded from a 10-page short to a feature-length film. Kibō himself notably goes from having the ability to speak after being taught by Doraemon and Nobita, even conversing fluently with the other major characters, to being reduced to Pokémon Speak where all he can say is "Ki, ki, ki!" for most of his screentime. He only gains ability to talk after coming back from his apparent Heroic Sacrifice after the climax.
  • Gundam
  • Soukou no Strain is an anime based on A Little Princess with characters from other Frances Hodgson Burnett books (Little Lord Fauntleroy and The Secret Garden) appearing as well. Most of the characters have little in common with their book counterparts.
    • Ram Dass is an Indian assistant to the rich man who saved Sara from Miss Minchin's abuse in the book. In the anime, Ram-Dass is a Humongous Mecha. In a way, it retains its role as Sara's protector.
    • Zigzagged with Emily, who's just a doll in the book. In the anime, the Emily that Sara found is a Mimic, a machine fused with brain cells taken from a Reasoner before birth. To further explain the Technobabble, Reasoners are mecha pilots while Mimics are "keys" for the titular Strains, which are Humongous Mecha biometrically locked to those with Mimics and superior to those mecha that don't require it. The Mimic enables a Psychic Link with the person from whom the brain cells are taken from. A Reasoner who lost their Mimic can no longer pilot a Strain. Sara lost her personal Mimic but, somehow, she was able to use the Emily Mimic to pilot the Ram-Dass Strain. It's then revealed that Emily is a Mimic of an alien race who consisted of pale-skinned identical girls, all of whom share a telepathic connection to one another and the Emily Mimic that Sara found contains the mind of one of two surviving Emilys.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha INNOCENT: Mixed with Adaptational Species Change for Yuuno. In the original series, Yuuno has the ability to turn into a ferret, retaining his sapience in that form. In INNOCENT, Yuuno's ferret form is his regular appearance, and he becomes Nanoha's nonsapient pet.

    Comic Books 
  • While Wonder Woman's jet doesn't always have actual sapience (only explicitly being considered a living thing in Volume 2) even from its first appearance it had a fairly advanced AI and was originally called her "robot plane" rather than her invisible plane. In The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016) the plane is an experimental B-17 with no AI or thinking capacity with the only remarkable thing to set it apart from other B-17s being an invisibility booster for stealth applications, and simplified nose glazing.
  • Shazam!: In the New 52 era, Tawky Tawny is just a normal tiger at the zoo, though at one point Billy makes him a (still non-sapient) Animal Superhero. DC Rebirth reintroduces the anthropomorphic version. Likewise, Hoppy the Marvel Bunny is Mary's pet, although he also gets empowered.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man: In this continuity the Venom symbiote has no intelligence of its own and is driven solely by instinct.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Fate/Grand Order fanfic Heaven and Earth, instead of carrying a teddy bear with Orion's personality, Artemis (after hijacking his Saint Graph to keep him from being summoned) carries a normal teddy bear that she insist is Orion whenever the moon is in the sky. It's only during the New Moon that she realizes what it really is, along with remembering that she gave Orion a Mercy Kill so he wouldn't be forced to become a God, changing the love he had for her.
  • Scooby Doo can't speak in the Scooby Doo rewrite now that i can see your face (i can stand up to anything.).

    Films — Animation 
  • The Mystery of the Third Planet: Downplayed concerning the indicator. It's not sapient in the original novella, but it has a very high level of intelligence, most notably being an Evil-Detecting Dog towards the diamond turtle and understanding a lot of what goes on during the climactic scenes, so much that one of the villains' mooks mistakes it for a sapient creature and tries to handcuff it. In the movie, however, it only displays the most basic Color-Coded Emotions and does nothing plot-relevant.
  • Pinocchio: In the original novel, it was not unusual for there to be sentient puppets. Disney's take makes all of Stromboli's other puppets non-sentient, making Pinocchio all that more marvelous and spectacular, and all that much more valuable to him. In addition, the boys turned into donkeys originally all spoke, but Disney made the majority of them only able to bray.
  • The Sword in the Stone: The part where Arthur is turned into a fish by Merlin and has to escape a pike in the castle moat is loosely based on a scene from the book The Once and Future King. There, however, the pike was the tyrannical ruler of an entire underwater kingdom, and he tempts Arthur with the promise of a "might makes right" philosophy.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the 2019 film Aladdin, unlike the original movie, Iago speaks far less and is more prone to repeating what people say instead (although he's still smarter than a regular parrot).
  • Bedtime Stories (2008) has an In-Universe example meant to exploit a literal Life Imitates Art, in a variation that involves an already normal beast turned into an inanimate object. Skeeter tries to abuse the power of a bedtime story (an alternate interpretation of the words of the story will happen in Real Life) by telling a Western where someone gives his Cowboy Author Avatar a red Ferrari (the horse) for free so that someone in real life would do the same for him but with a red Ferrari car. It doesn't work the way he expected.
  • Dora and the Lost City of Gold has it happen to Boots the monkey. Later subverted when Danny Trejo's voice comes out of him in one instance just before the climax.
  • Dumbo removes the ability of any animal to speak, while in the original, Animal Talk applied to all characters besides the mute title character. In particular, most of them don’t seem to have anything beyond real-world animal intellect. Casey Junior is also made inanimate.
  • Frankenstein: Not only was the Monster in the original novel capable of speech, he was quite eloquent (and more than a bit broody). In the most famous adaptation, the 1931 film, and in most adaptations using that as a launch pad, he becomes a lumbering, thoughtless, non-speaking brute. (Though in the sequel to said movie, he does start learning to talk, but all other films in the series have him Snap Back to being mute)
  • In The Hobbit there are several Talking Animal characters, such as the eagles (especially the Lord of the Eagles), the thrush and the raven Roäc. While these animals all appear in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit film trilogy, they are relegated to relatively small, non-talking roles. The Wargs, who had their own language in the books and were even counted as a separate army at the Battle of Five Armies, also seem to be less sapient and presented as simple beasts ridden by the orcs.
  • The Jungle Book's adaptations often remove the power of speech from several animal characters:
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • A Decomposite Character variation with Edwin Jarvis. Due to Age Lift, he is active in the 1940s to the 1970s, and thus doesn't fulfill his comic counterpart's role as The Jeeves to Iron Man and the Avengers. This support role is instead fulfilled by Tony Stark's JARVIS, which was named after him and began as a natural-language user interface but upgraded over time to a more advanced Artificial Intelligence and eventually uploaded to Vision. As JARVIS appeared in the MCU seven years before Edwin Jarvis did, this trope was played straight for some time.
    • The Falcon's sidekick Redwing, who was an actual falcon psychically bonded to The Falcon in the comics, is just a robotic drone with no signs of sentience in the films.
    • Thor: Ragnarok: Fenris is just a monster serving Hela. He could speak in the original comics and the myths they're based on.
    • In Avengers: Infinity War, Black Dwarf (known in the movie as Cull Obsidian) and the Outriders are little more than mindless brutes. Which is a shame in the case of the former, as he was quite the eloquent talker in the comics.
    • Eternals portrays the Deviants as vicious, non-intelligent predators, whereas in the comics, they were fully sapient and civilized, if Always Chaotic Evil. However, one Deviant, known as Kro, becomes sapient after devouring the powers of at least one Eternal. Whether all Deviants can become sapient or not is unknown. Domo also goes from an Eternal to their inanimate space ship.
  • The Neverending Story: In the first movie, Atreyu's horse Artax is a regular horse and does not speak, while in the original book the two of them conversed.
  • In the 1979 film adaption of 'Salem's Lot, the charismatic and cultured vampire Kurt Barlow is changed into a growling Nosferatu clone, with his familiar Richard Straker playing a bigger role, always speaking for him. However, the 2004 TV miniseries stays more faithful to the source material (at least where Barlow is concerned) finally allowing many of his iconic lines from the book to be brought to life (by the great Rutger Hauer no less).

  • Animorphs: Combined with Characterization Marches On, one could argue this happens to the Gedds over the course of the series. Early on they seem to be sapient (Temrash's former host had a name, for example), but later references make them seem more like animals. This coincides with the Yeerks becoming more sympathetic: if the Gedds aren't sapient, then infesting them could be seen as morally acceptable, and the Yeerks only became villainous when they moved on to other species.

    Live Action TV 


    Video Games 
  • Epic Mickey: The Phantom Blot, known as a criminal mastermind in the Mickey Mouse Comic Universe, was turned into an inarticulate Blob Monster that escalates into a force of nature. This character change resulted in the game's blot being rebranded as the Shadow Blot in its final release.
  • Super Robot Wars T: Wendy from GUN×SWORD has a pet tortoise named Kameo that she wears like a pendant around her neck. In this game, she never brings up that she has a pet, but she has a pendant in her character sprites that resembles his shell. Kameo's role is replaced by other contrivances that occur (e.g. In the anime, he blocked a bullet intended for Wendy with his shell but in this game, her gun blocked it).
  • Terrain Of Magical Expertise RPG: All science fiction and science fantasy elements have been adapted out of the TOME video game, in stark contrast with the webseries. This means that all Artificial Intelligence characters have either been made into humans (like Gamesoft, formerly Gamecrazed) or In-Universe Non-Player Characters (like Kajet).

     Web Original 

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):


Order of the Phoenix

Centaurs from "Harry Potter" in the book compared to the movies.

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Example of:

Main / AdaptationalNonsapience

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