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Adaptational Timespan Change

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When an adaptation has its story take place over a different timespan than the original. Most of the time, this is because the writers were doing a Pragmatic Adaptation, and for some reason or another they couldn't fit the events of the story in the same timespan as the original story did. In a film adaptation of a novel, the timespan will often be shorter by some degree, since it usually takes a longer time to read and can thus cover more content. Live-action adaptations may shorten a timespan to avoid issues like visible aging or the passing of seasons.


Compare Age Lift, which changes the timespan of the life of a character.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl: The book takes place over roughly a year, spacing out the 4 events composing the story: A pub crawl in Kyoto, a used book fair, a school festival, and everyone coming down with a cold. The anime adaptation makes all of these events happen over a single night.
  • Pokémon: The Series: In the Isle of Armor expansion for Pokémon Sword and Shield, a serving of Max Soup can be cooked in the span of a single load screen. In episode 92 of Pokémon Journeys: The Series, it takes overnight for Allister to prepare the dish for Ash's Gengar.

    Films — Animation 
  • Sleeping Beauty changes the length of Aurora's sleep from a hundred years to one night, because otherwise the prince wouldn't live long enough to develop a romance with her.
  • The Snow Queen: In the original story, Gerda's journey is implied to take place over years; she and Kay have both grown to adulthood by the time they reach home in the end. In the film, they stay children from beginning to end.
  • In the original tale of Snow White, Snow White lives with the seven dwarfs for at least several days, if not weeks, months or years. Long enough for the Queen to make three attempts to kill her, at any rate. But in Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Queen's first two murder attempts are cut, leaving only the famous poisoned apple, so Snow White's time living with the dwarfs is reduced to just one night and one morning.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Avengers: Endgame: In The Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos' killing half the population of the universe is undone in more or less the same day he did it. In the movie, it took the heroes five years to undo the damage.
  • The Death of Stalin: Most of the real-life events that led to the ascension of Nikita Khruschev as Soviet Premier and the execution of Lavrentiy Beria took place between months. The film depicts them happening in a few weeks.
  • Ender's Game: In the novel, the story takes place over a span of 5 years. The movie on the other hand compresses all the events into just 1 year. This was mostly for pragmatic reasons involving the casting — this way, the producers wouldn't have to cast multiple child actors to play the same character at different ages, and they could have the main characters be portrayed entirely by teenagers. However, this decision did lead to a lot of side plots and characters getting omitted from the story, and some Fridge Logic as to how Ender was able to accomplish so much in such a short time.note 
  • Eragon: In the book, the story takes place over months to give Saphira time to grow up. In the movie, time is compressed to a matter of weeks so a magical age-up was introduced.
  • Gone with the Wind does this for each section of Scarlett's life, so that the key events are clustered together. Most notably, her miscarriage/Bonnie's death/Melanie's miscarriage and death all happen with a few weeks of each other, whereas in the book, these events took place over the course of a year.
  • The Hobbit:
    • In the book, Smaug attacked Erebor 174 years before the dwarves set out to reclaim it. Here, only sixty years pass between the two events.
    • The scenes with the goblins and with Gollum originally took place one after the other, with many hours in-between, while here they take place at the exact same time.
    • In the film, the dwarves are imprisoned by the elves for only one night before Bilbo frees them. The novel had them there for three weeks.
  • Into the Woods: In the musical, there is a gap of at least nine months between the first and second acts, during which the Baker couple conceive and give birth to a child. In the movie, the gap is reduced to only a few days, with a magical handwave to explain how they got an infant in that time.
  • Jojo Rabbit takes place over the course of around a year, while the book it's based on, Caging Skies, covers over a decade. In both versions, the protagonist Johannes starts as a member of the Nazi Youth- but in the movie, he is only 11 at the end of the war, and mostly an innocent Child Soldier, while in the book he grows up to be a genuine member of the Nazi Party.
  • Most adaptations of A Little Princess, such as the one starring Shirley Temple, significantly shorten the time Sara spends at Miss Minchin's school. In the book, she stays there for about ten years at least. Most probably, it is done, first, for the sake of Lighter and Softer, second, to avoid Time-Shifted Actor (as it would be rather difficult finding an actress who would convincingly portray Sara all the way from seven to seventeen).
  • The Lord of the Rings: In the books, it's about sixteen and a half years from Bilbo's farewell party to Gandalf's visit where the Ring-inscription is revealed, and a few more months before Frodo sets out on the Ring-quest. On screen, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring seems to condense the first interval to exactly as long as it takes Gandalf to make the trip Minas Tirith and back, a few weeks or months, and Frodo sets out the next day.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World compresses the time-frame to somewhere around four and a half weeks (Ramona re-dyes her hair every week and a half, and goes through three dye-jobs over the course of the movie), rather than the year-ish of the Scott Pilgrim comics.
  • The Shawshank Redemption takes place from 1948 to 1966, while the novella it was based on took place from 1948 to 1977.
  • Stardust: In the book, the protagonist's adventure lasts six months; he leaves home in October and returns home on the day of the annual fair in April. In the movie, it's cut down to about a week.
  • The Ten Commandments (1956): In the original story, the Israelites spend forty years wandering through the wilderness before they reach the Promised Land. The film cuts all that out to avoid having to age up the actors (and cast all the new characters born in that period).
  • In Troy, the Trojan War barely lasts a few weeks instead of 10 years.
  • The Vikings takes place over the course of a few weeks while its literary source, The Viking took place over a course of nine years.
  • The Wizard of Oz: It seems to take Dorothy only a couple of days to walk from Munchkinland to the Emerald City, and similarly from the Emerald City to Winkieland. In the book, all her journeys take much longer.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Childhood's End: In the book version of Childhood's End fifty years pass between the arrival of the Overlords and the revealing of their appearance to humanity so that the religious fanatics who would mistake them for Devils have all died of old age. The Syfy miniseries shortens the interval to twenty years, allowing the writers to make Composite Characters of some humans from parts 1 and 2 and allowing religious terrorists to act as antagonists in part 2.
  • The first five seasons of Game of Thrones adapt the five published books in A Song of Ice and Fire, however each season covers a year of time in-universe while all five books together only cover two years. This was likely to account for the child actors visibly aging over time.
  • Inspector Morse: The events of the novel "Service of All the Dead" takes place over several months, with Morse having to take over the investigation mid-way through from Inspector Bell who comes down with the flu. In the TV adaptation of the same name, the entire case takes place over a span of a few days (save for the court sequence at the end, which is a few weeks later) and thus drastically cuts down Bell's role, having Morse leading the investigation from the start.
  • The Magicians: The original novel takes place over more than a decade. Its television adaptation ages up the characters but takes place over a few years at most.
  • Red Dwarf: In a recurring sketch from Son of Cliché called Dave Hollins, Space Cadet, which the show is adapted from, Hollins was in stasis for 7 trillion years. In Red Dwarf, Dave Lister is in stasis for 3 million.

  • In Les Misérables, the timeline of the original novel is condensed throughout as part of the adaptational compression process. For example, rather than Marius and Cosette spending a year pining for each other after they first meet and then enjoying two months of secret romance between their reunion and the June Rebellion, they first meet the very day before the June Rebellion and have just one secret meeting in Cosette's garden.