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Adaptational Weapon Swap

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When a character's specialized weapon in one iteration of a story is noticeably different to another.

Since a character's weapon often indicates something about their personality or fighting style, this is usually a byproduct of an Adaptation Personality Change (or vice-versa). What was once a Boisterous Bruiser with an Awesome Ego showing off his moves with his kusari-gama is now a Fighting Clown cracking jokes as he subdues you with his Killer Yo-Yo. What was once a sai-wielder who wanted to end a fight quickly is now an Attention Whore out to dazzle you with their sick swordplay. What was once an honorable, katana-wielding Warrior Poet is now a total sicko, licking the blade of his butterfly knife before he shanks you with it.

Sometimes this is the result of a Genre Shift. Afterall, the gun-toting First-Person Shooter protagonist wouldn't last five minutes when thrown in a Stealth-Based Game, since all of the foes need to be taken out quietly lest they're overwhelmed and unceremoniously offed.

The odds of this change leaving the character better or worse off when asked to perform with these weapons is all rather subjective, since certain weapons and the kind of skills you can master with them tend to differ.

May be a form of Bowdlerization if their standard weapons were deemed too violent.

Sub-Trope to Adaptational Skill. Sister Trope to Adaptational Superpower Change.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Doraemon: Nobita and the Haunts of Evil ends with a lengthy final battle where the future selves of Doraemon and gang travels to a few hours ago to help their past selves, with future!Doraemon leading their present selves into the statue of King Bauwanko while future!Nobita and friends takes on Daburanda's army. In the original manga, Nobita gets the Power Gloves granting him Super-Strength allowing him to pummel enemy mooks, while Shizuka gets the Shrink Light turning enemies into doll-sized versions of themselves. The 1982 anime and 2014 remake swaps their equipment around however, so Shizuka is the one punching enemy mooks while Nobita gets to shrink his attackers.
  • Fist of the North Star: The Golan Major used a Razor Floss garotte in the manga, which was changed into a whip in the anime. This makes his death in the anime version significantly less gory: In both, Kenshiro hits pressure points to first paralyze him, then wraps his weapon around his neck, has him hold each end and pushes other pressure points to make him slowly spread his arms. In the manga this eventually slices his head clean off, while in the anime it merely strangles him, with possible Neck Snap.
  • The Legend of Zelda (Akira Himekawa):
  • Transformers Victory:
    • Deathsaurus' toy is armed with a rifle with a nonfunctioning flail under the barrel, but the anime leaves out the rifle in favor of the flail and giving him a fiction-only sword. Even his later Living Metal Destroying Cannon is an entirely different design from the toy's gun. Tigerbreast's gun form is changed to a bow and arrow form, giving Deathsaurus an archery aspect the toy lacks.
    • The Breastforce toys are armed with the gun forms of their Breast Animal partners, with their combined form Liokaiser getting a gun made up of Killbison's tank barrels and Jallguar's missiles. While they have these weapons in the anime, they primarily use fiction-only staffs that can change to sanjieguns, and Liokaiser's staff can launch spiked rings. Liokaiser's first battle has him use his staff for the entirety of the fight and only pull out his gun to try to deal the killing blow.
    • The Dinoforce toys come with guns for their weapons, but the anime portrays them with melee weapons instead. Kakuryu is unique among the team in that he is given a tiny pistol (which is still different from his toy's gun) along with his fictional axe.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's:
    • In the anime, Jack uses a deck with various offense based monsters with his Red Dragon Archfiend as his Signature Mon. In the manga, Jack uses a "King" monster archetype.
    • In the anime, Aki uses a plant monster deck. In the manga, she uses a "Rose" archetype.

    Comic Books 
  • The Transformers (Marvel): The Decepticon Pretenders Bludgeon, Stranglehold, and Octopunch are shown wielding melee weapons based on their Pretender armor: a katana for the samurai-like Bludgeon, an Epic Flail for the gladiator-like Stranglehold, and a trident (which shot lightning for some reason) for Octopunch because his armor looked like an old-fashioned diving suit. All three of their action figures came with guns.
  • Wonder Woman: In her original incarnation, Nubia used a magic sword. Her DC Rebirth portrayal has her using the Staff of Understanding which can transform into a bladed lasso.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Game of Thrones Nymeria Sand's weapon is a whip and a small knife while her book counterpart only wields a pair of knives. The same goes with her half-sister, Tyene, who is a non-combatant Master Poisoner in the books but in the show, she's wields two daggers which are coated with poison.
  • In Hawkeye (2021), Duquesne's personal weapon is a sabre instead of the straight-bladed sword used by his comic counterpart.
  • Mortal Kombat: Conquest sees Shao Kahn trade the Wrath Hammer he had in the games for a sword.
  • Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation:
    • Mikey's weapons are changed from nunchucks to tonfas in this show due to nunchucks being outlawed in several places.
    • In the show, Venus uses mystic orbs which have a number of effects from smoke bombs to glue puddles. The toys give her Combat Hand Fans in place of these.
  • Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead has a Colt Python as his weapon of choice, rather than the typical semiautomatic pistol. In terms of melee weapons, Rick still heavily prefers machetes instead of the hatchet he prefers in the comics.

  • BIONICLE (2015), All but two of the signature weapons of the toa in their original forms have been replaced, despite them being heavily based on their original Toa Mata forms from the original line, in addition to their alternate weapons. Even Tahu and Lewa, the only two to keep their old weapons (more or less), now dual wield, and their weapons now have bifurcated gimmickry.
    • While Kopaka still has a shield, his sword has been replaced with a spear, likely to differentiate him from Tahu, who also wielded a sword. His Uniter form, however, does have a sword, but lacks a shield.
    • Onua trades out his claws for a hammer that can transform into a pair of shovels.
    • Gali lacks her hooks, with a trident in their stead.
    • Pohatu no longer kicks rocks around with his foot attachments, instead opting for a pair of boomerangs. Like Kopaka, a stone like he had in his original set (down to using the exact same mold) is included in his Uniter form, albeit chained to a spear.

    Video Games 
  • Played with in Conker: Live & Reloaded. Conker initially uses the frying pan from the original game in the game's tutorial area, but when he uses it on the gargoyle, he doesn't fall off the bridge like he does in the original game. When Conker is confused about this, the gargoyle explains that the designers altered the tutorial area a little to trick players into thinking that the rest of the game will be different. Conker then hits the gargoyle with a baseball bat he also picked up, which causes the gargoyle to get knocked back and crushed by a falling boulder. Conker decides to use the baseball bat in place of the frying pan for the rest of the game.
  • The Fire Emblem games are big on Heroes Prefer Swords for their respective game's protagonists. Games like Heroes and Engage that feature characters from older games summoned to the current game's setting, give some of these old protagonists different weapons to provide a little more variety.
  • Thoughout Halo the Master Chief is almost always depicted with an Assault Rifle by default as his weapon of choice. This is the case for many cutscenes throughout the games, the cover art of Combat Evolved, 3, 4 and Infinite, and he starts most missions equipped with one (including in Halo 5: Guardians, where the Assault Rifle is explicitly part of his starting mission loadout). The sole exception to this trend is Halo 2, which scrapped the Assault Rifle in favor of the SMG, and so the Chief instead prefers that weapon on the game's cover art instead, while he is often shown with the Battle Rifle in cutscenes.
  • In Honor of Kings:
    • Liu Bei is no longer using the dual swords that he used in history or any other media depicting his exploits, as opposed to his brothers that had their original polearm weapons. His weapon of choice takes advantage of how much more advanced the technology in the game is compared to his original timeline: a shotgun.
    • Huang Zhong is usually known as the Master Archer of Shu's Five Tiger Generals. In this game, his weapon is changed into an Arm Cannon that can turn into a long range stationary artillery cannon.
  • Most James Bond games made after Tomorrow Never Dies have him use a P99 even after the then-current Bond had switched back to the PPK. Probably because the P99 is more modern than the iconic but outdated PPK and because in a game with a lot of shooting, a pistol with more ammo is better than one with less (the P99's 16 rounds vs. the PPK's 6 or 7 rounds).
  • In LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin, Zane's preferred weapon is changed from shurikens to sai. This also applies to his Obsidian Weapon, which are based off the original Golden Weapons.
  • Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven:
    • In the Definitive Edition, for the Assassination Attempt on Hank Turnbull, a politician vehemently opposed to the Salieri Crime Family's operations, the Sniper Rifle given by Vincenzo Ricci to Tommy Angelo is the more period-appropriate Springfield M1903A1 rifle, rather than the Mosin-Nagant M1891/30 from the original game.
    • During Tommy's assassination in the ending of the original and the Definitive Edition, Joe Barbaro uses a Lupara to do the deed. In Mafia II, however, he uses a full-sized Pump-Action Shotgun to kill him, complete with Dramatic Gun Cock before firing.
  • Onigiri: Ibaraki-Douji, one of the party members, wields a sword in-game that looks like a cat-paw on a stick. In the anime adaptation, she instead wields an axe. Yet, one piece of in-game artwork depicts her wielding dual swords.
  • Pico: Three of the games made by Tom Fulp (Pico's School, Pico vs. Bear, and Resident Pico) had the title character wielding an M-16. The one game by Fulp where he didn't, Pico vs. Überkids, instead had him (as well as Nene and Darnell) use a revolver, as he was playing Russian Roulette. On the fangame side, Pico's Unloaded replaced his usual gun with twin Uzis among other weapons, but the guns ended up sticking around in other fangames and became his new weapons of choice.
  • Sonic Boom: This reimagining of the characters are given a new item called the enerbeam, which allows them to latch onto other objects for combat, puzzle solving, or exploration purposes. It also shows up in the cartoon of the series a few times, mostly to allow combination attacks between two characters.
  • Soul Calibur II: Guest Fighters Link and Spawn feature weapons outside of their usual arsenal.
    • Link's alternate weapons are all sword and shield sets, several of which involve two-handed weapons from his home series, such as the Great Fairy Sword and Biggoron's Sword, and the sword and shield of an enemy Armos statue.
    • Spawn, in lieu of firearms, transforms his cape into an axe called Agony and wields several other original axes as alternate weapons.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • Pit's Arrow of Light is replaced by twin blades that can be combined into a bow. Interestingly, this would later become his trademark weapon in Kid Icarus: Uprising.
    • Zero Suit Samus' emergency pistol is replaced by a plasma whip that can also fire stunning blasts, much like the weapon it's based on.
    • While he does always have a knack for picking up a whole lot of weaponry, Solid Snake is usually associated with handguns, with the most iconic probably being his SOCOM. But said guns are conspicuously absent from his Smash portrayal, which instead primarily focuses on the explosive parts of his arsenal. This was mainly done for gameplay purposes, as a regular, non-fantasy gun is perfect for tactical espionage action but hard to convert into fighting game moves.
    • As mentioned above, since Fire Emblem protagonists rely heavily on Heroes Prefer Swords, there have been major complaints that the series representatives tend to have similar playstyles. As a result, Byleth went from simply owning a Whip Sword to wielding four different Hero Relics (their trademark Sword of the Creator, the axe Aymr, the spear Areadbhar, and the bow Failnaught) with the other three being borrowed from other characters from the original game, in order to vary their moveset more heavily.
  • In many incarnations of the Tomb Raider series, Lara Croft primarily wielded dual pistols as her weapon of choice. But in the "Survivor Timeline", which has taken things in a more Stealth Action Game direction, Lara's weapon of choice is a bow, which lends itself far more to this kind of gameplay than Guns Akimbo.

    Western Animation 
  • Beast Wars: The Transmetal toys only feature melee weapons, but the animated series required the cast to have guns. As such, everyone's melee weapons either function like guns (Optimus Prime's mace handles being used as machine guns when mounted to his back, Megatron's tail whip stiffening and acting like a cannon), or other parts of their body being given the ability to fire something (Cheetor's hands firing energy blasts, Tarantulus' shoulder markings serving as missile pods).
  • The rebooted Looney Tunes Cartoons initially swapped out Elmer Fudd's signature hunting shotgun with a scythe, with the creators specifically citing political correctness as the reason for the change. The deep unpopularity of this with fans (both for the expected reasons, and because using a scythe as a weapon seems much more violent and gruesome) led to Elmer getting his shotgun back after the first season of shorts.
  • An interesting case of this trope pops up in Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Leonardo, Raphael and Michelangelo did start out wielding their iconic weapons, but they get destroyed at the beginning of the series and they're forced to replace their weaponry with new mystical ones.
    • Raph is well known as the sai-wielder in almost every other iterations of the character, but ROTMNT Raph carries a pair of mystical tonfas, which generate mystic energy that manifests as solid energy constructs that take the shape of his body or appendages. He goes right back to sais in the finale once he gets a new weapon forged by Todd Capybara, following Shredder destroying his tonfas.
    • Michelangelo has been versed in the use of nunchucks, grappling hooks and chain-scythes in most incarnations, but this version also wields a mystic fire-generating Kusari-Fundo, a chain-based weapon that he uses as a Killer Yo-Yo with a maniacally laughing weight and chain that can extend night-infinitely. Like Raph, he goes back to nunchucks in the finale after his mystical Kusari-Fundo is destroyed by Shredder.
    • Leo is a milder variant where he exchanges his dual katanas with a single mystic Odachi, which doubles as a Dimensional Cutter that creates portals. He has trouble using it at first.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): Karai typically uses a katana. In this show, she uses a wakizashi.
  • Transformers: Animated: The original Ultra Magnus is armed with a rifle and (seldom-used) shoulder rockets. His depiction here lacks both of those weapons and instead has the giant Magnus Hammer, which has influenced later versions of the character.
  • What If…? (2021):
    • Heinz Kruger, the HYDRA agent responsible for Dr. Erskine's death and botched theft of the latter's Super Serum, uses a Luger P08 in "What If... Captain Carter Were The First Avenger?", rather than the Walther P38 his Sacred Timeline counterpart used in Captain America: The First Avenger.
    • Johann Schmidt, aka the Red Skull, wields a Mauser C96 in "What If... Captain Carter Were The First Avenger?", rather than a Luger and later a HYDRA pistol. Justified, as he procures the tesseract at a much later date than his Sacred-Timeline counterpart, and thus without Arnim Zola to design his weapons, the purpose for the tesseract also changed.
    • HYDRA as a whole are subject to this in "What If... Captain Carter Were The First Avenger?". Thanks to discovering the Tesseract much later in the war and it getting stolen not long after acquiring it (with Arnim Zola getting captured as well), none of Zola's Tesseract-powered weapons and vehicles are developed. As a result, HYDRA is still armed and equipped with the same uniforms, weapons, and vehicles as the rest of the German Army and SS, from MP40 submachine guns to Tiger I Heavy tanks.