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Adaptational Wimp

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"I never read any of the comics, so I don't know what Silver Surfer's powers are, but isn't he supposed to be pretty strong? So why'd they make him into a wimp?! Why is he fucking up rubber ducks and weeping like a crybaby?"

So there is this character, strong, independent, intelligent and resourceful. They are a valued member of any team and more than contributes their fair share to the team. They might not have been a true bonafide badass, but at the very least they were capable of standing on their own. Then the work was remade by new writers and everything changed. The once awesome Action Girl is now a Damsel in Distress. The Badass Bookworm is now just a plain old Nerd. The Action Survivor is now just The Drag-Along, or worse.

This character has been the victim of Adaptational Wimpification. The reasons behind this happening are varied, and not inherently a result of bad writing. A character may be reduced to a cameo and their most notable contribution passed on to a more prominent character. The character may have been The Ace as an Invincible Hero and this trope makes them a more compelling protagonist with real dramatic concern for their safety. Or perhaps their less active traits were eliminated to make them more specialized in a team of badasses.


As with the inverse trope Adaptational Badass, this is not about characters who suffered a minor power decrease or had their most badass moment cut from the adaptation. It is when their usefulness, agency, and contribution to the plot is significantly reduced. It is not this trope when the character "only" easily defeated twenty Mooks instead of a hundred; it's when the character struggled to take down even one. Realize too, that this may be intentional and in a long-running series may have the character take a level in badass to provide Character Development and align them better with the original version.

Something similar often appears in parodies, either exaggerating a character's existing weaknesses or just as a cheap way of making them look ridiculous.

Contrast Adaptational Badass and Adaptational Skill. Compare Badass Decay, Chickification, and Took a Level in Dumbass, for when the character becomes a wimp within the original work. Often happens in the case of a Hidden Badass character who isn't fully understood by the new writers. Not to be confused with Wimpification, which is a fanfiction specific variant of this often occurring in Hurt/Comfort Fic, most often in Slash Fics (and usually affecting more on an emotional level). Particularly awful cases of this have been known to cause an Audience-Coloring Adaptation.


As always, remember that Tropes Are Tools. This trope can be (and often is) invoked on purpose in order to tone down an Invincible Hero or Invincible Villain, thereby adding more suspense and drama to the work. Resist Complaining About Shows You Don't Like or screaming that something is Ruined FOREVER.


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    Comic Books 
  • Convergence: Those unfamiliar with her stint as Batgirl would be forgiven for thinking Cassandra Cain was just a pretty standard Badass Normal instead of someone more skilled than Batman in physical combat. Steph describes her as such, but it's still a case of Show, Don't Tell.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Tails in Sonic the Comic is more of a Kid Hero than he was in other contemporary adaptations but he's still not as much as the game Tails. He is The Chick of the Freedom Fighters and suffers from bouts of cowardice.
    • Metal Sonic got hit with this in the Archie comics. For the longest time, Metal Sonic was just one of many Mook bots getting sent out to annoy Sonic, the longest-lasting version being Metal Sonic v3.3, who lasted two dimensional hops and battled Shadow, Blaze and Marine to a standstill. All the other times, he barely lasted an issue. This got changed during the reboot, at least partially because Sega themselves stepped in and told Archie to cut it out.
  • The Star Wars What If? miniseries tones down several aspects from Star Wars like the Jedi and the Sith not having any powers since the Force functions more like a standard religion rather than a source of power for its believers. They are still very skilled fighters with lightsabers nonetheless.
  • The Transformers: Combiner Wars: Menasor in the original cartoon is one of the strongest combiners, and easily one of the most effective Decepticons. As he defeats Bruticus and in his debut and he overpowered Superion, a rarity for a show where the Decepticons almost always lose badly. In the comics, Menasor is one of the weakest combiners. His debut fight with Superion is a Curb-Stomp Battle with Superion easily trouncing him and when the other Combiners show up, Menasor is defeated easily and subdued by a trio of regular-sized bots. Coincidently Menasor's toy from the line that the comic is supposed to promote, is considered one of the most poorly designed.
    • The Transformers: Windblade: Bruticus gets similarly hard hit, but it's more justified in this case because one of his components was brain dead and of the other four, only Onslaught and Brawn really are cooperating. Unable to effectively coordinate, Bruticus is easily beaten by Ironhide (who also had the most experience fighting Combiners of anyone on the planet).
    • This applies to a lot of characters who are considered obscure or C-list, but their scant appearances beforehand wrote them as far more skilled. Boss of the Turbomasters is The Ace according to his bio, but he's usually a Red Shirt the few times he appears. Japanese leader characters like Metalhawk, Star Saber, and Dai Atlas lose their fantastical Super Robot skills in favor of being, at most, somewhat stronger than the average Transformer. And Emirate Xaaron was made a glorified extra who is only occasionally implied to hold anything like the high position he did in the original comics.
    • In an oddball case of this, Fortress Maximus and Scorponok's toys and animated appearances depict them as truly gigantic sorts, with their altmodes being armored bases and their robot modes towering far over even Combining Mecha. In the comics, they're consistently depicted as big, but not much bigger than most characters, usually being about twice average height. This owes to the fact that the comic tends to play up the "leader" side of their characters, and it would be hard to have them giving orders if they couldn't fit in a building. The cartoons and toys resolved this by having them be Headmasters, meaning the part giving the orders was a Mini-Mecha and the giant robot was a mindless Meta Mecha used for combat - the comics used different rules for Headmasters and therefore couldn't do this.
  • Subverted in Green Lantern: Earth One: it initially seems like the Green Lantern rings are much weaker in this continuity (one Lantern can barely take down a single Manhunter), until it’s discovered that the Manhunters have actually sealed off the main power battery on Oa, meaning the rings are only barely charged by ambient green energy traces. When Hal manages to pierce the shielding around it, the Green Lanterns are powered up again and wipe the floor with the Manhunters.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Originally, on what would be termed Earth-Two, Etta Candy was an incredible fighter who took no nonsense while having a sense of humor and the leader of a semi-secret paramilitary group that tracked down spies and fought super-powered foes on behalf of the US government. When the book moved over to Earth-One that version of Etta was a gossipy secretary who couldn't fight her way out of a paper bag and was the brunt of jokes rather than making them.
    • While Diana's aunt Melanippe is usually one of the weaker physical Amazons even in the main continuity she's no pushover and is willing to sacrifice herself to save her loved ones. In The Legend of Wonder Woman she allows herself to be bullied into aiding the villains and doesn't even put up a token resistance, just asking that her sister be spared but doing nothing but looking sad when she's told her sister will be killed if she gets in the way.
  • Ultimate Marvel:
    • Carol Danvers. As did the original Carol Danvers, she starts as a Colonel Badass without powers. But unlike the original one, she stays that way for the duration of the universe, and never becomes Ms. Marvel or Captain Marvel.
    • Wendell Vaughn. This version of Wendell never becomes Quasar, and remains a hapless S.H.I.E.L.D. guy.
    • The 616 incarnation of Kraven the Hunter is one of the strongest and most dangerous humans alive and an unrivalled hunter; Kraven is not only able to match Spider-Man in combat but has even proven capable of killing Spidey. Conversely in Ultimate Spiderman Kraven is a pathetic Fake Ultimate Hero whom Peter knocks out cold with a single punch.
    • Cain Marko aka The Juggernaut is the unstoppable avatar of Cyttorak who lives to make everyone his bitch in Earth 616. In Ultimate Marvel he’s just a strong mutant. True he does get Cyttorak‘s power later on but he also gets killed by a freaking poison dart, something that would just bounce off OG Juggernaut.
    • Kl'rt aka the Super-Skrull. The original 616 version of the character was granted the powers of all four members of the Fantastic Four. The Ultimate Version has no such powers, instead relying on an "anti-assassination" suit which allows him to duplicate the powers of any superhuman within a thousand mile radius. He is beaten by a human Ben Grimm who had no powers for the suit to duplicate.
    • Adamantium gets this in Ultimate X-Men. The 616 version Adamantium truly lives up to its reputation being completely indestructible (even The Mighty Thor has trouble denting it). The Ultimate version of Adamantium on the other hand is only slightly more durable than titanium and the likes of Hulk and Colossus can snap it (along with Wolverine) pretty easily.
    • The Ultimates: James Braddock Junior. When your counterpart's powers include "multiversal reality warping", anything else is going to be a step down.
    • The Defenders. Initially, they are neither good or evil, just a bunch of fans with dellusions of grandeur. They made a deal with Loki and get super powers, and attack the Ultimates with them (except for Valkyrie, who became Thor's lover and an Ultimate herself).
  • Downplayed in Superman Smashes the Klan. As the book is set in the Golden Age, Superman's power set is around that of him at that time (powerful leaps, a measure of invulnerability, super strength, no extra powers). In the final book, when young Roberta convinces Superman to stop holding back, he starts displaying all of his modern day powers.
  • Spidey Super Stories featured Thanos at one point, who traveled around in a helicopter and was arrested by the police after dropping the Cosmic Cube.

    Films — Animated 
  • Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts sees the Flash as a less experienced hero compared to the Bat-Family and Green Arrow.
  • From the BIONICLE films:
    • Takua in BIONICLE: Mask of Light. In the Mata Nui Online Game, Takua flew as Kongu's second during the Gukko Force's attack on a Nui-Rama Hive, led six Matoran in a hopeless defense of Kini-Nui against hordes of Rahi, and braved the depths of the Makuta's lair itself. In the Wall of History animations, Takua aided in the liberation of Le-Koro, stood up to an entire Pahrak swarm, and joined the Toa Nuva in their pursuit of the Bohrok-Kal. In Mask of Light... Takua constantly shies away from his duty and responsibility, panics in the face of danger, and abandons Jaller after getting scared by Makuta. It's not until he stands up to the Rahkshi in Onu-Koro that Takua finally shows off some of his former badass qualities.
    • Onua from the same film. In prior media, he was one of the strongest, most capable, intelligent and reliable of the Toa heroes, and Onua saving others became a kind of running joke in the fandom because he was so good at everything. Yet not only does Mask of Light portray him as dumb and reckless, he's the first Toa to suffer a clear defeat with just barely putting up a fight, and his actions lead to so much trouble that others have to rescue him. A complete 180 compared to his original character.
    • Sidorak in BIONICLE 3: Web of Shadows. In the books and comics, Sidorak was a fierce warrior king who led his Visorak hordes into battle. In Web of Shadows, Sidorak is a sniveling coward who always needs Roodaka to do things for him, and Roodaka even outright says that he would never dirty his hands with conflict.
    • All of the villains, sans Metus who was a weakling to begin with, in BIONICLE: The Legend Reborn:
      • Bone Hunters and their Rock Steeds: Short but deadly and merciless desert bandits riding on savage dinosaurs. In the movie, a bunch of weak Mooks who ride on dinosaurs that behave like horses.
      • The Skrall: Spartan-esque soldiers who have never been beaten in a one-on-one duel before. In the movie, they run around squawking like animals and fall to a single hit. Elite Skrall are the same but more so — several times tougher than regular Skrall, even weaker and dumber than them in the movie.
      • The "Mighty" Tuma: In the stories leading up to the movie, as well as in the novelization, he's a ruthless and savvy overlord who came close to conquering the planet, and was only defeated because his size made him a slow fighter in close-combat. In the movie, he's a bumbling, full-of-himself brute who considers pushing over a much smaller opponent a deed worthy of celebration. He is defeated by the hero battering a wound on his back, which he left entirely unprotected every time he turned his back on him to bask in his own glory. Even the story writer must have been aware of Tuma's laughable movie depiction, which is why he inserted an extra chapter into the film's novelization to flesh him out as a more respectable villain.
  • The Jungle Book:
    • In The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, Kaa the python one of the oldest, wisest, and most feared animals in the jungle. His wisdom and hypnotic dance make him one of Mowgli's most powerful allies, and even Bagheera and Baloo are wary about going to him for help. In the animated Disney adaptation, Kaa, while still dangerous, is a cowardly and unsuccessful villain who acted as Trope Namer for Smug Snake. He becomes even more of an Adaptational Wimp in the sequel, in which he is beaten with a stick by Shanti's little brother.
    • Akela and the wolves also get this, as in the opening of the film they give Mowgli to Bagheera because they feel that they cannot protect him from Shere Khan. In the book, Shere Khan himself comes to demand the child, and the pack stands up to him. Akela remains an important ally to Mowgli until the wolf's death.
    • Mowgli himself, who in the original story survived the jungle's and the man-village's dangers by being too badass for either of them to be able to handle.
    • Even Bagheera is noticeably less formidable in the movie. In the book, he's one of the jungle's most feared and respected inhabitants — not so much in the movie, where he's more of a Comically Serious Butt-Monkey. In the sequel, he's become a full-fledged Chew Toy whose sole role is to get beat up a lot.
  • Deathstroke from Son of Batman goes from a well-known villain of the DC Universe to the punching bag of Damian Wayne. In the movie, Deathstroke is considered a Leader Wannabe who loses his eye in a fight to a child, gets zero respect from everyone, and dies by the hands of said child he was trying to best.
  • In Superman: Doomsday, Mercy Graves is presented as Lex Luthor's personal assistant and not his bodyguard, hence not even having the combat skills of her DC Animated Universe counterpart.
  • For the Golden Films Animated Adaptation of The Tale of Peter Rabbit (Which is an unofficial sequel) while Mopsy, Flopsy, and Cottontail aren't badass or violent. In the film "Peter Rabbit" Peter's sisters act more like goof balls and would sometimes be air-headed while all three of them are more wiser and smart (At least compared to Peter Rabbit) in the books.
  • In most other incarnations of Barbara Gordon, she is widely known to be an Action Girl who fights crime for the sake of justice and always looked up to Batman as a hero and even when disabled, remains a competent Mission Control for her senior. But in Batman: The Killing Joke, she comes across as a whiny, Clingy Jealous Girl who fights crime just to impress her own crush in Batman, does very little crime-fighting and the ones she did are because she perceives them as making a move on Batman. Essentially, the writers attempt to give an Adaptation Expansion in order to prevent a Stuffed into the Fridge situation ended up instead making Barbara a Satellite Love Interest for Bruce.
  • Batman: Hush does this to Bruce's friend Thomas Elliot as in the comic he is the titular Hush who has been playing Batman like a fiddle faking his own death, manipulating Batman's Rogues Gallery and generally wrecking Batman physically and mentally in spectacular fashion. In the animated retelling, he's just a regular nice guy surgeon and the actual Hush is actually The Riddler.
  • In Disney Fairies, nearly everyone is this, compared to the books. Tinker Bell no longer carries her dagger with her everywhere, and her personality became a lot brighter and more cheerful compared to her well-meaning but somewhat jealous and bitter persona in the novels. Most notable, though, is Queen Clarion; in the books, she ruled singlehandedly, and was a main character who went on quests and once fought a dragon using an earring as a shield. In the movies, she's more motherly, was Demoted to Extra, and gained a Canon Foreigner love interest.
  • Played for Laughs in The LEGO Movie with Green Lantern: An absolute badass in nearly all of his works (Emphasis on "nearly"), but is just a whiny clingy nerd with a one-sided "friendship" with Superman.
  • In Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay, this is the case for both Amanda Waller and Reverse Flash, aka Professor Zoom , though it's justified here. Regarding the former, she's known having some kind of terminal disease, most likely cancer, and is dying significantly younger here given that the card she wanted becomes used up. Regarding the latter, Deadshot points out he'd usually be able to kill them right there and then, but it's then revealed that the Zoom here is the same one from Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, who was shot in the head, and is literally moments away from death's row.
  • In Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Scorpion, Tombstone and the Green Goblin despite being very badass in the comics, are reduced to cannon fodder for Kingpin. Even Aunt May can beat up Tombstone.
  • Turtles Forever: The 1987 Ninja Turtles from their series were jokey due to being Lighter and Softer to market them for kids, but were still competent fighters and knew when to take a situation seriously. The movie, however, displays them as being extremely childish even in the face of the entire multi-verse threat, joking every few minutes, can barely fight, and heck, one point, acting like crybabies when they barely avoid an attack by a powered up 2003 Shredder. Likewise '87 Shredder is showcased to be utterly incompetent; while the original show did turn down his threat level and gave him comedic defeats, he was still a leader and a mastermind.

  • Applies to practically everyone in the widely hated Baldur's Gate novels (at least the two first ones) as compared to the original games.
    • The protagonist Abdel Adrian is initially more like the opposite, because instead of starting out as a novice just out of his childhood home like the Player Character, he's already an experienced mercenary. However, by Shadows of Amn, he becomes an Adaptational Wimp instead, because he's still the same rather crude thug he always was, whereas the game has the characters advancing to pretty epic levels and fighting demons and dragons. If you think in terms of the game, it's like he started out at level 5note  and stayed there. He gains vague super powers by the end of the book to compensate. He's also rather weak in terms of intellect and willpower.
    • The protagonist's companions become pretty useless. The worst might be Jaheira, who's plummeted into Faux Action Girl status faster than you can say "Abdel saw a more delicate side behind her tough warrior exterior." Imoen is another candidate by virtue of not having any kind of combat or other skills even as an Informed Ability.
    • The villains of Shadows of Amn: Bodhi turns from a menacing, superhumanly powerful vampire into someone who wants to seduce Adrian every time they meet and is torn apart by his Superpowered Evil Side. Meanwhile, Irenicus is still a vaguely powerful wizard, but this is nothing compared to his absolutely overwhelming power in the game. Besides, his personality goes from chilling monster to, well, like the most generic villain stereotype but with less personality. We're not even told what he looks like, probably because his game outfit was so weird.
    • This applies even to minor characters (and scenes and plot elements, but that's not this trope) so that it seems almost like you're reading a parody. From Shadows of Amn: Aran Linvail, head of the Shadow Thieves in Athkatla and thus a Diabolical Mastermind by definition, becomes some random assassin who needs to be killed along the way for not much reason. Saemon Havarian, a flamboyant sea captain and repeatedly backstabbing Karma Houdini, becomes a drunk with a boat.
  • In the novelization of Doom 3 , Councilor Swann is a typical Dirty Coward Obstructive Bureaucrat corporate suit, while in the game he was an aversion of the stock character type, being actually competent and decisive.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe this occurs in equal measure to both the New Republic and the Empire compared to their incarnations in the earlier ''Legends'' EU:
    • While the Empire begins fragmenting after the Emperor's death in both continuities, thanks to attempts to consolidate power at various points by individuals such as Ysanne Isard, Grand Admiral Thrawn, and later Daala and Pellaeon the Empire remains enough of a threat that it does not formally surrender for another fifteen years. In the new EU these attempts are never made and things go to pieces much more quickly with the Empire losing planets and war materiel to the Alliance at a much greater clip in the wake of Endor, and the Galactic Civil War ultimately comes to an end barely a single year later. Of course, not helping matters for the Imperials is the fact that in this continuity Palpatine had a Thanatos Gambit in place intending to have his most fervent loyalists hasten the "failed" Empire's collapse in the event of his unexpected death.
    • As a consequence of the above the nascent New Republic isn't forged in a crucible of continued war and greatly downsize their fleet in order to avoid potential bad PR after twenty-five years of Imperial rule, with the bulk of it kept stationed around the capital at any one time. By the time of the sequel trilogy the government is so complacent and conflict-averse that they stick their heads in the sand and ignore the warning signs pointing to the First Order's emergence, allowing them to wipe out their leadership and most of the navy in one fell swoop come The Force Awakens. By contrast, while the New Republic of Legends do make similar mistakes in the New Jedi Order series at the outbreak of the Yuuzhan Vong War, they start off on better footing and after reorganizing into the Galactic Alliance they come out victorious by fighting both harder and smarter.
  • While Paris wasn't much a renowned warrior in The Iliad it's worth remebering he was the one who killed Achilles, in David Gemmell's Troy series however he's a nebbish Book Worm who gets killed by Achilles in a matter of seconds when he goes charging to face him when the Achilles launches a surprise attack on his home.

  • Gaming All Stars:
    • In their home series, the Rabbids are usually shown to be pretty durable, but here, it doesn't take much more than a pickaxe to the head for Steve to kill one of them.
    • In Super Mario Galaxy 2, Cosmic Clones are nigh-invincible and only vanish after the player grabs a star. In this series, they are easily taken out by Toejam & Earl, a far cry from the Mario doppelgangers' original incarnation.
  • In the bible, Cherubim are multi-headed four-winged badass warriors, in Renaissance art, they're tiny winged babies. Although this is largely due to mis-association with the puttos of Greco-Roman myth.

  • In Hamilton, Aaron Burr is depicted as a quiet pushover who simply goes along with the winning side no matter what he personally believes (until he Takes A Level In Badass following "The Room Where it Happens"), and politically he refuses to take any hard stances in order to avoid burning bridges. In real life, Aaron Burr was incredibly ambitious and was absolutely not afraid to get into a fight; he was the first of the show's characters to join the Revolution, and politically he was a bonafide genius, inventing the form of electioneering that we still use today and pulling an incredibly cunning maneuver to con the Federalists out of their banking monopoly. In fact, his Catchphrase of "talk less, smile more" more accurately describes Jefferson than it does Burr.
  • Intentionally played straight in A Very Potter Musical and its sequels: Draco, who was Harry's rival in the books, is now little more than a minor annoyance, making lame insults that rarely land. Additionally, in the books he was moderately popular, but now is liked by almost no one. This is all Played for Laughs, especially with Draco now being a Cross-Cast Role and his deeply pretentious nature.
  • Westeros: An American Musical: Loras Tyrell in Act II. In Act I, he co-conspires with Renly to make Margaery Robert's mistress and is the figurehead of the Tyrell army in "The Siege of King's Landing". In Act II, Olenna has to intervene to keep Loras from getting harassed by the Sand Snakes and he's mostly silently helping out with whatever Olenna and Margaery are up to.

    Video Games 
  • Heracles (better known as Hercules) is arguably the best well known Greek hero and poster boy of inhuman strength. In Age of Mythology he is a hero unit from the Heroic age with some pretty mediocre stats, making him worse than heroes like Belerophon, Perseus or Polyphemus.
  • In Classical Mythology, Athena is usually portrayed as a Badass Bookworm Lady of War who can usually kick fellow War God Ares' ass whenever she feels like it; in Altered Beast, she's reduced to just a Damsel in Distress who needs a resurrected, non-godly man to save her.
  • Batman: Arkham Series:
    • Harley Quinn. Of a sort, and oddly for this series. While the Joker trusts her with more than he usually does in other media, including being his main agent and controlling his gang, she's on the whole far less intelligent or capable a combatant than most other incarnations. Likewise, she lacks the (admittedly mild) super-strength and agility of her comics counterpart. Quite the opposite in Knight (mostly).
    • In the comics Black Mask is a brutal mob boss, fond of torture, not afraid of anyone, and has no problem going head-to-head with any member of the Bat-family. His only appearances in Batman: Arkham City have him get his ass kicked by random Tyger Mooks and Robin in the DLC, in Batman: Arkham Origins he gets Hijacked By Joker, and in Batman: Arkham Knight, Red Hood kills him.
    • While Deathstroke does display the assassin skills he has in the comics, he loses to an inexperienced Batman in his second year under the mantle, whereas in the comics, even a highly experienced Batman will struggle greatly to survive a fight against Deathstroke. Then, he gets taken down in one punch in Arkham Knight during their rematch.
    • In the comics, Lady Shiva is considered to be the best and most feared martial artist in the DC Comics Universe and Batman has never beaten her in a fair fight. In Origins, she fights like the martial artist and ninja thugs and is ridiculously easy to take down. Of course she was only testing Batman's abilities and wasn't giving it her all. In the Initiation challenge map, she is a little bit tougher, being invulnerable to regular strikes and must be taken out with beatdowns or counter attacks.
    • In the comics, Deacon Blackfire is an incredibly clever and charismatic cult leader who temporarily conquered the city and was able to defeat and humiliate Batman the first time they fought, leaving Batman so broken that he even considered retiring. In Arkham Knight, while he has his cult, he seems to be a rambling old man with no real plan besides causing chaos and ritual sacrifices, and Batman pummels him with relative ease.
    • Rick Flag spends most of Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate in an office with Waller and thus, we don't get to see him in combat.
  • Battle Cats Rangers:
    • Strong Cats from the main game, like Dragon Cat and Titan Cat, are quickly and horribly outclassed by other helpers. One of the biggest examples is Can Can Cat — while it's insanely powerful for its cost in the original, here, it's superseded in power by Kotatsu Cat (a Stone Wall in the original) and Boogie Cat (a Cat only useful as Cannon Fodder).
    • All of the enemies. Instead of actually fighting back, they just sit there and take hits until they die or the time limit elapses. This is an Enforced Trope, as it's a clicker Idle Game and not a tug-of-war-style Tower Defence.
  • The NES video game of Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars did this with Toadborg. While The Dragon in the TV show, here he is the boss of the Green Planet, which is arguably the easiest of the four worlds you can choose from. Add to that his attack pattern is easily predictable and his attacks are easy to avoid. A far cry from the Knight of Cerebus who delivered the heroes' first defeat.
  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow:
    • Subverted with Carmilla and Death. They've both lost their signature powers (the giant floating skull that weeps acid blood for Carmilla and millions of sickles for Death) but have new powers making them equal to their counterparts (lightning for Carmilla, and Death is a powerful necromancer who can control who lives and who dies across the world).
    • Justified in the case of Dracula, since this story takes place before he becomes a vampire. By the end of the two DLC chapters he has gained power equal to what he's supposed to have.
    • Played straight with Brauner. In Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin he had the ability to create Portal Pictures and even bring his paintings to life, and he was so powerful than he almost managed to steal Dracula's Castle away from him. Like Carmilla and Death he loses his original powers, but unlike them his new powers are nowhere close to equal to what he had before.
  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate: Sypha Belnades in the original timeline was a powerful sorceress that went on blasting the forces of evil with her magic, aiding Trevor Belmont and eventually marrying him, whereas her magic-inclined genes were passed on to the Belmont clan, augmenting it with magic powers and also occasionally has a branch family tree that aided the Belmont clan. In this new continuity, all that remained was Sypha's marriage with Trevor, she's otherwise a normal woman that gave birth to Simon and easily got killed by Dracula's forces in the beginning of the game, becoming a Missing Mom.
  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2: While the game fully averts this trope with Death this time around by returning his trademark scythe to him, it instead plays it straight with Abaddon. In Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow and Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin Abaddon was a locust demon with the ability to summon swarms of insects against you. Even a single rush of his swarm could stun-lock and potentially kill you. Lords Of Shadow 2's version was just a generic demon. He was a very big generic demon, mind you, but not really special.
  • In Crisis Core, Aerith is reduced to a Damsel in Distress who relies on Zack to save her and is generally afraid of SOLDIERs and violence. In Final Fantasy VII she was a street smart woman who ran away when she knew she was outmatched and to avoid capture by SOLDIER, but wasn't afraid of violence if needs be (and threatened to castrate a slum don to get the truth out of him). Here it's implied the only reason Shin-Ra haven't captured her is that they're just observing her instead. Crisis Core was a prequel, but it's still noticeable considering what Aerith achieved in the original game.
  • The video game adaptation of The Crow: City of Angels had this bad. In the movies and comics, the Crow is difficult to kill because he's immune to pain and has a Healing Factor. Conventional weapons like handguns and rifles are little more than an annoyance. Even if his immortality is overtaxed and he is killed, his crow guide can revive him provided his body is still intact enough and the crow guide itself is not killed. In this game, he can be beaten to death by simple humans and guns can easily kill him. He will also permanently die if he is killed and not be revived like how he normally would.
  • Dante's Inferno:
    • The Devil, Lucifer in the flesh, is far less formidable than in The Divine Comedy. In the game, the devil pretty much loses to a mortal man who should have been easily crushed by his might and breaks down crying how God made his life horrible. In the original literary work, the devil was The Dreaded Emperor of Hell who made giants look like normal men and who would go undefeated until God gave the Last Judgement.
    • Beatrice, who was a noble hero who saved Dante's soul all by herself in the original source material, ends up becoming a Damsel in Distress for him to save instead of the other way around.
  • Nicole-458 in Dead or Alive 4. While she is an original character, created specifically for DOA4, she is supposed to be a Spartan-II from the Halo series, an enhanced Supersoldier wearing Powered Armor. In Halo, even when not in armor, a Spartan-II is capable of easily beating (to the point of sometimes unintentionally killing) even multiple Badass Normal opponents. The MJOLNIR armor makes them even more powerful. In DOA4, though, Nicole is just as strong as any of the Stripperiffic female characters, and her MJOLNIR armor doesn't do much to protect her.
  • In DmC: Devil May Cry:
    • In the original Devil May Cry, Vergil is one of Dante's most powerful foes and actually wins their first battle in each of the games they fight in, whether as himself or as Nelo Angelo; with Dante needing to embrace his powers and get considerably stronger over the course of the story in order to first give him an even fight and then finally beat him. In both the story as well as the actual player controlled battle, Vergil remains one of the toughest bosses Dante ever faces. In DmC, Vergil is still powerful, but Dante is far stronger and Vergil needs him to act as his enforcer. When they duel at the end of the game, Dante wins handily.
    • Sparda gets it even worse. The original continuity's Sparda was a One-Man Army Ascended Demon so powerful, skilled and fearless that when he decided to fight for humanity, he singlehandedly took on the entire legions of Hell, and then on Mundus himself, and won. This Sparda, after Mundus finds out he betrayed him, goes into hiding. When Mundus finds him, Mundus easily kills Eva, before his demons capture Sparda and take him away to be imprisoned and tortured without much resistance. This is even reflected in his design. The original Sparda looked like a truly imposing demonic warrior. DmC Sparda looks like just some dude with horns.
  • In the Nintendo port of Dragon's Lair, Dirk is much weaker than in the original game. He dies by walking into a door.
  • Fate/hollow ataraxia has Caster describing Jason as weak and cowardly, a far cry from the charismatic leader of the Argonauts in the myths. We don't see exactly what she means until Fate/Grand Order, where a trip to Okeanos shows him to be all that and more; he doesn't even fight alongside his troops, preferring to hide behind them while they do his fighting for him (which is even demonstrated in his playable version). In fact, according to a younger Caster, all he had going for him was his charisma. However, as shown in the Atlantis Lostbelt, Jason is an incredibly skilled strategist when backed into a corner, he's just too much of a coward to show it most of the time (and even then he's closer to a Cowardly Lion).
  • The NES Felix the Cat video game has a couple instances of this:
    • Master Cylinder, who was a much greater threat in the 1960's TV cartoons than The Professor, is now working for him in this game, and is fought as a boss twice. He's barely as big as Felix in-game and has a ridiculously simplistic attack pattern. If you use the plane power-up against him, the fight is turned into a complete joke, since he goes down in a few hits. In the second fight, he uses bubbles instead of lasers to attack. That said, if you fight him without power-ups, he becomes the hardest boss in the game.
    • The Magic Bag of Tricks also goes through this. In the Joe Oriolo cartoons, it was a Story-Breaker Power that could turn into or create anything and could get Felix out of any situation. The NES game significantly nerfs its powers to where it can only do four different attacks, three of which need power ups and have a time limit, and occasionally turn into vehicles in certain contexts (i.e. canoes, a plane, a spaceship). Understandably, it would be impossible to properly transition the Bags limitless abilities into a video game, and giving the bag limits ensures that the gameplay still has challenge.
    • The Magic Bag gets hit with an even worse case of this (and combined with Demoted to Extra to boot) in the video game Baby Felix Halloween. It's not even a regular gameplay item anymore—it's reduced to a trivial item that merely refills your health bar when you grab it.
  • Final Fantasy
    • Final Fantasy VII Remake: In the original Final Fantasy VII, Reno's boss fight at the Sector 7 Plate had him fighting a full party by himself, and even after losing, he still manages to activate the plate separation sequence while still escaping on his own. In the Remake, he's fought early and decisively defeated by Cloud alone in a Duel Boss and his second boss fight against Avalanche has Rude joining him. Both fights also end with him nearly being killed by Cloud if not for outside interference.
    • Shinryu is a recurring Bonus Boss in the series, completely optional and the player has to have maxed out his party to even stand a chance against it. Nova Dragon, as Shinryu is called in Final Fantasy IX, is a storyline boss so it is mandatory for the heroes to beat it.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem Heroes does this to many characters across the franchise who suffer from poor statlines or lack advantages they had in their home games. Two of the biggest examples are Seth from Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones (who goes from being widely considered the most powerful unit in the entire franchise to a mediocre sword cavalier outclassed by nearly every other sword cavalier) and Fallen Takumi from Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest (who goes from being an absolutely monstrous Final Boss who has 4 range, takes half damage from all attacks, and spits out energy waves every 2-3 turns to a Master of None with a gimmicky and situational weapon).
    • The OAV of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light does this to both Marth and Caeda. In the game, Marth was somewhat naive with a soft touch but eager to get the job done. Caeda was a devoted Action Girl who was fighting beside him right from chapter 1. Here, Marth is a mopey Emo Kid who cries at the thought of killing a deer while poor Caeda catches the Distress Ball and instead of rushing in to fight the pirates, tosses Marth the sword and sits in the backlines folding bandages - and she's portrayed as a Tsundere to boot.
  • The God of War series does this hard to Typhon. In the Greek myths, he was a giant monster that sent most the Olympians running in fear at the mere sight of with only Zeus staying to fight him and nearly losing, and the battle describing as ripping mountains out of the ground and throwing them. When he appears in God of War II, he's demoted to just being one of the titans, with little power besides his size and nothing implied to special about compared to the others. Even the way he attacked, blowing air, giving hints of him having wind powers, falls flat when Chronos in God of War III is seen doing the same thing, hinting that again only came from his size.
  • Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee: Mothra, the heroic giant butterfly who serves as one of the toughest giant monsters and Godzilla's greatest ally is rendered one of the weakest characters in the game. Not helped by the fact that her larvae form is the one you must start out with, which only renders her vulnerable to serious attacks. This was the same creature who scared Gigan and King Ghidorah while still in her basic form.
  • Thanos appears as the first boss character in Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, and is significantly weaker than he is in the comics. The Guardians actually manage to kill him, and the rest of the plot revolves around what happens when they take a powerful artifact known as the Eternity Forge from his corpse.
  • Hyrule Warriors:
    • Stalfos were difficult minibosses in Ocarina of Time. Here they're just mid-level squad leaders. Granted, they were low-level Mooks in the first game, and in the series overall, the state of any monster can fluctuate between this and Adaptational Badass from game to game.
    • On a similar note to Stalfos, Gibdos in most games are Nigh Invulnerable, only able to even be harmed at all through the use of fire. While they're still fairly tough and have the ability to resist flinching from attacks, they have lost their resistance to non-fiery attacks.
    • King Bulblin was a unique individual from Twilight Princess who was the leader of the Bulblins and a Recurring Boss. In this game, not only are there multiple copies of him, they're Elite Mooks at best. Ends up getting subverted as of the Twilight Princess DLC pack. It turns out the others weren't King Bulblin, they were just particularly large elite bulblins. The King Bulblin appears in a few of the new Adventure Mode missions as a major NPC. He's bigger than the common versions, with much more HP and damage potential, and almost always comes with a duo of elite henchmen.
    • In most Zelda games, Darknuts are some of the most dangerous Elite Mooks. Here, if anything, they are weaker than the other captains such as Moblins.
    • For pragmatic reasons, The Imprisoned only appears in its base form, without its arms or tail, and fighting it here is much more straightforward than it was in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. He's still one of the hardest bosses, second only to Ganon himself.
  • Injustice 2 has this happening to Wonder Woman of all people. The comics that expand the universe showcase her as a Flying Brick that can stand toe-to-toe with Superman in an even no-holds-barred fight and can shrug off massed assault rifle fire like it wasn't even there (her Super Toughness is such that she doesn't even use her signature "bullets and bracelets" trick, just letting the bullets bounce off her skin). The cinematics of this game show her getting curb-stomped by Batman without prep time (take notice that every other fight the Dark Knight has with another superpowered being in Story Mode has Batman pulling out some gadget to weaken his adversary beforehand or using Powered Armor) and using her bracelets to prevent Harley Quinn's magnum rounds from hitting her.
  • Judge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death: Judge Mortis. The reason he's so dangerous in the comics is because his decaying touch works on pretty much anything, making him basically an Implacable Man who can melt his way through doors, walls, and people. Here he becomes trapped by an ordinary chem hazard containment room.
  • The Velociraptors go from being the Big Bad Ensemble to just foolish Elite Mooks in every Jurassic Park video game. But the games that weaken them the most are Jurassic Park: The Game and Lego Jurassic World, where the raptors are easily distracted.
  • The NES adaptation of The Little Mermaid severely downgrades Ursula's One-Winged Angel form, where despite possessing Triton's trident, she lacks the ability to cast lightning or summon shipwrecks, only controlling the sea currents.
  • In Make a Good Mega Man Level Contest 2, the end boss of The Stage Nobody Asked For, Spiked-Wall Man, is toned down considerably from their appearance in the Flash cartoon "Dr. Wily Fails at Life", where it kills Mega Man instantly by simply being a room full of spikes. Since such a situation would make the level Unwinnable, it's changed into a proper boss battle that, while still difficult, is fair and allows Mega Man to actually win.
  • Likewise, many of the more powerful Marvel characters tend to suffer from this in the Marvel vs. Capcom series. For the sake of gameplay balance, absolute powerhouses like the Incredible Hulk, Apocalypse, Onslaught, Thanos (with the Infinity Gauntlet!) and Galactus can be defeated in physical combat by human characters like Jill Valentine, Hawkeye, Ryu, Chun-Li or Phoenix Wright. Yet the biggest sufferer of this is undeniably Shuma-Gorath. Shuma-Gorath in the Doctor Strange comics that introduced him basically treated him as up there with the Powers That Be. He's older than the universe, a Reality Warper, rules countless dimensions, him simply existing in our world is treated as a massive threat, and Doctor Strange, himself one of the most powerful Marvel heroes, struggles to even keep him contained. The only character in the entire roster who would stand even a chance against him is Thanos with the Infinity Gauntlet, and even that's arguable—Shuma-Gorath fighting someone would basically consist of him blinking them out of existence. But the developers of the franchise didn't know any of this—rather, they picked Shuma-Gorath because they liked his design and thought it would make a fun and unique character for a fighting game. As a result, he shows almost no signs of having any of the powers of his comic counterpart: his moves almost universally focus on simply having him jump around hitting people with his tentacles, with the occasional round of shapeshifting or Eye Beams to break things up. He did have one move reworked to imply a bit of his true power (Chaos Dimension), but other than that, he comes across as downright cuddly rather than terrifying. Even his endings in 3 play him for comedy, with him becoming a gameshow host.
  • In the mainline Persona series, the protagonists from Persona 3 onward are the only party members capable of switching Personas, cycling through twelve at maximum, making them a Master of All capable of filling any niche. In the Persona Q series, this ability is crippled by the Sub-Persona system, locking them to their Initial Persona and only allowing them to add one more Persona to their skill list. On the upside, the Sub-Persona system is available to all the playable characters, allowing the player to customize the party with whatever Personas they have in the Compendium.
  • Pokémon GO's simplified, faster-paced battle system had this effect on many Pokémon, mainly ones that use status effects or other tricks in combat, since this game only features direct-damage attacks and the stats were, for the most part, not rebalanced to compensate for this change.
  • In the Resident Evil 2 (Remake), Femme Fatale Spy Ada Wong out of all the cast gets this, especially compared to Claire Redfield. While Ada does get a strong introduction saving Leon from a zombie dog and then Mr X, it all goes downhill from there. In the remake, Ada notably lacks any of the combat skill she had in the 1998 version and instead relies on gadgets, and Leon (the rookie cop) to aid her throughout the game. Perhaps most embarrassingly Anette Birkin a middle-aged and sleep-deprived scientist takes Ada out twice in Leon's scenario, while in the original game Ada soundly overpowered Anette in a physical confrontation.
  • Jill Valentine in Resident Evil 3 (Remake) gets a case of this. The original game had her being able to go toe to toe with the Nemesis and she's caught off guard only once when it uses its tentacle to infect her. The remake has her getting her ass kicked and tossed around like a ragdoll by the Nemesis and she's nearly always limping away when she finally loses him each time.
  • Exaggerated in the Silver Surfer NES game, where one of the most powerful superheroes in the Marvel Universe became a wimp who can easily be defeated just by grazing a rubber duck.
  • In the original timeline of the Soul Series, Chai Xianghua was considered The Hero of the original Soulcalibur and canonically she was the one who used Soul Calibur to defeat the Humanoid Abomination Inferno. Also, her Love Interest Kilik was injured after defeating Nightmare, and couldn't take part in the battle. In Soulcalibur VI, a Continuity Reboot that retells the events, one major change was that Kilik was given a case of Adaptational Badass that also had the effect of making her this trope by extension. In this version, Kilik defeats Nightmare and then uses his Purified Malfested Form to defeat Inferno after Xianghua failed to beat him, herself getting injured from an earlier fight. Though in the end, Xianghua used Soul Calibur to land the final strike, it was largely Kilik that did the heavy lifting.
  • A number of Superman games downplay Superman's powers in order to provide some risk for the player character. The problem is for those that they go too far and also remove the fun of playing as a ridiculously powerful character like Superman.
    • The notorious Superman 64, aside from making Supes an absolute weakling, also did this with many of Superman's Rogues Gallery. Darkseid in particular went from being one of the most powerful and dangerous villains in the DC Universe to being punched out and taken to the police station.
    • The Fighting Game Justice League Task Force for Sega Genesis and SNES has Superman, Wonder Woman and other super-powered heroes go toe-to-toe with the likes of Green Arrow and Batman with straight punches as if they are all equally strong.
    • In the 16-Bit game The Death and Return Of Superman (based on the eponymous comic arc and Reign Of Supermen arc), Supes can be hurt by simple mooks with baseball bats.
    • Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe reduces Superman's power level to prevent him from simply punching the Mortal Kombat fighters into orbit. The game justifies it using Superman's somewhat well-known weakness to magic. To be fair, though, his primary opponent is Raiden, who is an actual Physical God.
    • Injustice: Gods Among Us plays with this trope a little. While characters like Harley Quinn and The Flash can hurt characters like Superman and Wonder Woman simply by punching them, super attacks show them at vastly different power levels (with Superman literally punching his opponent into space) even if they all do about the same amount of damage. Plus, story-wise, things only shift in favor of the heroes after the non-evil Superman is brought to the Injustice universe.
  • This trope is evident in any Massive Multiplayer Crossover, but especially so in Super Smash Bros. Major examples include:
    • Shulk, who even in his early game form can still see into the future. Sure, he uses it as a counter, but it decreases in power each time it's executed.
    • Kirby, who can crack planets.
    • Bayonetta, who slows time with every dodge, kills gods, and fights like this.
    • Justified with both Kirby and Yoshi, who can usually One-Hit Kill foes by Eating the Enemy. Since that would have been overpowered in a fighting game, enemies can somehow survive being eaten.
    • Mewtwo. Compared to the anime version, it's pretty pathetic. In the movie, his Psychic Powers are so excessive that he's practically invincible, and can mind-control people and teleport himself or large groups great distances. He's not quite as overpowered in his home games, but he's still one of the most powerful Pokémon, being considered essentially uncounterable in his debut, and would have no problem dealing with any of the other playable Pokémon unless they had a massive level advantage. In Smash Bros. he's nothing special, and in Melee is actually considered somewhat underpowered.
    • In his home series, Ganondorf is a master swordsman, highly proficient in dark magic, can fly and teleport, and possesses a number of other Antagonist Abilities that make him a consistent thorn in Link's side. However, due to being added as a last-minute clone of Captain Falcon in Melee and retaining the moveset in subsequent games despite it not fitting his character, the playable Ganondorf lacks most of these abilities aside from a select few sword attacks in Ultimate.
    • Goldeen, a somewhat decent Pokémon in the main RPGs is regaled to the role of a Critical Failure when it appears from a Pokéball in Smash Bros. One wonders if Goldeen was mistakenly substituted for Magikarp, who, until it levels up, really is that useless.
  • Shockwave in Transformers: Fall of Cybertron gets really downgraded compared to his animated counterparts. He's the Evil Genius of the Decepticons, but relies on the Insecticons to fight for him. In most incarnations, Shockwave is a Genius Bruiser who was a potential candidate to be the leader of the Decepticons if Megatron were to fall in battle. This one displays no skills of fighting or leadership whatsoever compared to Starscream and even cowers at the site of Grimlock in his T.rex form. Averted in its later prequel, Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark, where Shockwave has a level as a playable character and is not only as battle-competent as anyone else, but shows that he essentially gained control over his Insecticon minions by beating them into submission.
  • War in Middle Earth despite being at the core a strategy game portrays the Nazgul as surprisingly weak. Even right at the beginning of the game just the four hobbits have a good chance of killing a lone Nazgul, should they encounter one.
  • In Warhammer 40,000 the Primarchs are described as virtual gods and show it in the novels (doing things like stopping a Titan with their bare hands). But in the Talisman Horus Heresy video game, the Primarchs are really no better than the regular Space Marine heroes in the game (for example Corvus Corax has a melee ability of 3 and shooting of 2, while a Space Marine Praetor is 3 and 3 in those skills).

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Video Example(s):


Avatar movie earthbenders

Nostalgia Critic rants about how underpowered the movie earthbenders are compared to the show.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (21 votes)

Example of:

Main / AdaptationalWimp

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Main / AdaptationalWimp