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Audience-Coloring Adaptation

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"People don't really hate Aquaman.
It's just that the 70s version of him is such an easy and irresistible target."

A form of Adaptation Displacement in which an installment or adaptation in a long-running franchise irrevocably colors the public's perception of the franchise as a whole.

Done badly, and this can not only damage a franchise's reputation, but may also forever kill any interest in continuing it. Or at least put it on hiatus for a decade or two, until someone with enough clout and interest in the series comes along to push another attempt. Done well, however? It can attract more potential fans to the franchise and even introduce new elements that go forth to be used in all future installments.


Sometimes, it is used for Lost in Imitation.

See also Adaptation Displacement, Never Live It Down, and First Installment Wins, where the first iteration of a franchise is more remembered than its sequels, regardless of quality.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • The "original series" of the anime will always be how the Pokémon franchise is most known outside of Japan, for better or worse. In many people's eyes, Ash will always be present, evil teams are generally bumbling, and Pokémon will always speak Pokémon Speak. Certain game characters can't quite break the rep of their anime counterparts, and some folks even believe that the anime (and its associated characters like Ash and Misty) are what the games are based on, rather than being the other way around.
    • Notably, the first season of the anime had such a marked impact on public perception of the franchise that Pokémon Yellow was made to specifically adapt it back to the game series. Making Pikachu the only available starter, redesigning Blue to resemble Gary Oak, introducing Jessie & James as recurring villains, and redesigning all the Pokémon to match their anime appearances was done specifically due to how drastically and immediately the anime came to define the IP.
    • Pokémon: The First Movie completely defined Mewtwo's personality and backstory for most fans, to the point where they're often assumed to be canon to the games. Team Rocket and Giovanni have no connection to Mewtwo's creation in Pokémon Red and Blue, and Mewtwo had no defined personality, though Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon had Giovanni with a Mewtwo as a nod to the anime, while Pokémon Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! (itself a loose remake of Yellow) made Giovanni interested in finding and capturing Mewtwo as part of his plan.
  • Gundam:
    • While still well-liked by the general fandom, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing has garnered derision from some old-timer fans of the Universal Century setting (the verse where most Gundam series happen, but notably not Wing, which is an Alternate Continuity), who have accused the series of coloring the general perception of Gundam and Mecha series in the Western world. When Wing aired on the Toonami, it garnered higher ratings in the US than in its native Japan and acted as a Gateway Series to Gundam. However, its popularity eclipsed those of the UC entries as the original Mobile Suit Gundam aired after Wing's run only to suffer abysmal ratings. Furthermore, as Wing had many female fans, it was also blamed for intensifying the Ship-to-Ship Combat and Die for Our Ship sentiments in Gundam that started in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. Much of the rift stems from the differences in narrative and aesthetic styles of Wing and UC entries. Wing is about a Ho Yay-filled independent paramilitary organization trying to end wars between different factions without directly aligning themselves with a specific one. In contrast, the UC entries focus on a single protagonist acting melodramatic in a conflict between 2 major superpowers. Subsequently, many people in Western anime communities are more likely to associate Gundam with the aesthetics of Wing, as it was the most popular series outside of Japan.
    • In general, some fringe UC fans will accuse any alternate universe Gundam series not made by Yoshiyuki Tomino for negatively affecting the image of Gundam, regardless of actual quality. Not even beloved OVA series set in the UC timeline like Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team are exempt from this accusation. As these OVAs are the first UC installments exposed to Western audiences (as they were aired on Toonami alongside the aforementioned Gundam Wing) and generally focus more on gritty realism, many newcomers initially exposed to these movies were surprised at more fantastical elements in the UC lore like Newtypes.
    • SD Gundam gets constantly derided by fans for being "kiddy" and "silly" compared to the more serious mainline works, and as such is looked down upon for "trying to dumb down" the franchise as whole. The main culprit for this perception? SD Gundam Force, which received immediate backlash due to Toonami deciding to air it around the same time they aired more typical Gundam shows (Gundam Wing, G Gundam, the original series, SEED, etc) which had stark contrasting tones and Gundams that "look too cutesy". This later leaked onto perception towards the sub-franchise as a whole, with fans declaring it a blemish. The two works that got hit the hardest with this are the two Anime series that came after Force (Brave Battle Warriors and Sangoku Soketsuden), with people once again judging the Gundam designs again, and writing both off as childish drivel. The thing is, while the claims about some SD Gundam works being more silly and childish aren't EXACTLY inaccurate, a good number of them still contain a good number of serious moments to them that you would expect from a Gundam work, they just don't go as hard as the main Gundam works do on the darker and more depressing aspects of their stories, and also contain more lighthearted and comedic moments to balance things out. And the claims that Force is just "a silly kids show'' aren't even entirely accurate, as it only acts like that for the first couple of episodes before it gets more serious about its world and characters (Though granted, there are still some silly moments here and there).
  • People generally associate Yu-Gi-Oh! with the Merchandise-Driven Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters series, where card games are Serious Business and Duels Decide Everything. Spin-offs take this even further, as non-dueling games are almost nonexistent and many characters' decks revolve around whatever archetype is being promoted in the TCG.
    • Toei's Yu-Gi-Oh! (first anime series) is regarded as Darker and Edgier and close to the manga, when it was much Lighter and Softer than the manga and had tons of original content, making it a loose adaptation as well. Its "Season 0" fan nickname has also led people to think it is a lost season and canon to the second-series anime.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • The anime is this to the manga. People familiar with the many (fairly accurate) jokes about how dragged out the fights are and the heavy use of Inaction Sequence might be surprised to find that the manga is, for the most part, fairly fast-paced and frantic. The anime also colours Goku as a more intentionally heroic character than in the manga, where he's more focused on a good fight and only steps in if someone has been cruel to those he cares about.
    • For the West, in particular the United States, Funimation's 1998 in-house dub of Dragon Ball Z is effectively more canon than the Japanese original, and even other English dubs. The replacement score by Bruce Falcouner and scripting changes resulted in a show with a very different tone despite telling the same overall story, and many character and attack names were changed note . Goku's character in particular is more outwardly heroic and has parallels to a traditional hero like Superman, possibly aided by their similar origin stories. As a result, most U.S. fans have a reverse They Changed It, So It Sucks to the Japanese show, decrying aspects like the Kikuchi score and that almost all of the Son family is voiced by "some old lady." Dragon Ball Z Kai was met with some backlash by US fans for being more faithful to the original show when it was dubbed, as have later productions like Dragon Ball Super for the same reasons.
    • In a more meta sense, the popularity of Dragon Ball Z in the West has meant that the earlier version of the show, Dragon Ball, may as well not exist for many American fans (due to Z being the first portion of the franchise to take off in the US). The lesser focus on big battles with energy attacks, Goku as a child, the absence of many fan-favourite characters and a very different tone make this portion unfavourable in comparison to Z. Almost all Dragon Ball games that get published in the West have been fighting games in the Z style, with few games based on the early Dragon Ball style (although it helps that Z is also extremely popular in Japan).
  • The characterization and plot of the anime version of Sailor Moon has eclipsed the manga to the point that fans discovering Sailor Moon Crystal (a much Truer to the Text adaptation of the manga) were surprised to find a vast number of discrepancies. For example, Mamoru — while he had Deadpan Snarker tendencies in the manga, he was never the Jerk with a Heart of Gold the first anime made him out to be, and had magical attacks/powers of his own to boot. The "break-up arc" of Sailor Moon R was completely original to the anime, and out of character for manga Mamoru/Endymion. Rei was much more of an elegant, Aloof Dark-Haired Girl who Does Not Like Men. Her Hot-Blooded tendencies were played up by the anime, and she was never interested in Mamoru.
  • Sonic X is the most influential Sonic the Hedgehog derivative outside of the Archie comics thanks to it airing during a Newbie Boom and it being Truer to the Text than other adaptations. Elements of it were even used in the games, sometimes simply because fans expected them to be there. The fandom's portrayals of Amy, Tails, Shadow, and Maria owe as much to the animenote  as to the games, as does Knuckles and Rouge's relationship.
  • Naruto: The anime's designs and Character Exaggeration are the mainstream interpretation of the characters. For example, in the manga, Ino doesn't have blue eyes, Naruto's chakra (and as a result, his Rasengan) isn't blue, and most of Sakura's angrier moments are anime-exclusive.

    Comic Books 
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) is this to the Sonic the Hedgehog fandom due to being a long-running adaptation that began when the series had minimal plot. Even two decades after Sonic Adventure, many Western fans believe Sonic lives on Mobius instead of Earth. Some even treat Canon Foreigner comic characters like they're either game-canon or canon to Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) due to the shared origin.
  • Runaways has an interesting example of this trope — because Jo Chen's covers for the series have become so iconic, artists who employ the characters in other series have a bad tendency to draw the characters based on how they look on the covers, despite Chen being notorious for taking liberties with her art that don't reflect what the characters look like in the interior art. In A-Force, for example, Gert's cameo appearance was based on her first portrait cover with Old Lace, despite Chen having portrayed her as much skinnier and more conventionally attractive than she is in the interior art, and Nico was given a Stripperiffic costume based on her clothes from the first Volume 2 cover, despite Nico being a devout Christian girl who usually dresses more modestly. Perhaps the most drastic example of this was Klara's sudden transformation from Girly Girl with a Tomboy Streak into a straight Girly Girl after Sara Pichelli took over drawing for the series; Pichelli had evidently taken her inspiration from Klara's only portrait cover, in which she wears a white dress, rather than any of the interior art, in which she wore boys' clothing.
  • Ultimate Marvel, Marvel's Ultimate Universe, had this effect for a while during the 2000s and very early 2010s, due to (at first) being a streamlined, modernised take on the Marvel Universe, particularly in terms of wardrobe and setting, while also providing updated origins that took advantage of Genetic Engineering is the New Nuke or "realistic" deconstructions. Though the characterisation is still highly controversial, for many it was looked at as an easier avenue to be introduced to Marvel and generally used as a basis for new adaptations, with Spider-Man being the biggest example of this: every adaptation since the early 2000s has had Peter Parker meet the bulk of his supporting cast in high school rather than college, while being friends with Harry Osborn and one of his love interests (usually Mary Jane) since childhood. The Marvel Cinematic Universe would go on to become the primary inspiration once it took off, but it also makes heavy use of the Ultimate Universe's visual elements and backstory changes.
  • DC's The New 52 reboot from 2011 is similar, especially as shortly after, DC stepped up their adaptation efforts in animation and Live Action, and based many of them directly off of the New 52's universe. As a result, elements like Barry Allen as The Flash, Damian Wayne as Robin, Barbara Gordon being Batgirl again, and more became mainstream among wider audiences, and elements from the previous two decades (such as Wally West and the extended Flash Family, the importance of the prior Robins like Tim Drake, and Barbara's tenure as Oracle and the later Batgirls Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown; the Legacy Character concept in general really) were downplayed. This also came with the universe becoming Darker and Edgier on top, which combined with the adaptations following suit, lead to DC gaining a reputation for being dark, grim, and depressing next to Marvel's Lighter and Softer approach — historically, this had always been the other way around.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is widely considered to be the single most iconic and influential depiction of Captain Nemo in any medium, since it was the first interpretation to really emphasize the character's Indian heritage and make it a core part of his characterization. For context: in Nemo's original appearance in Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (where he's a central character), his ethnicity is left intentionally ambiguous, and the only clue about his background is that he has a vendetta against an unnamed imperialistic country that conquered his homeland and forced him into exile; The Mysterious Island (in which Nemo is only a supporting character, and doesn’t appear until late in the novel) reveals that he's an Indian nobleman with a vendetta against the British Empire, but this revelation doesn't come out until shortly before his death. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen makes it clear from the outset, with Kevin O'Neill's illustrations making it all the more explicit: Nemo is a dark-skinned South Asian who dresses in a turban and a sadri, and the interior of the Nautilus is festooned with Hindu religious art (details that are nowhere to be found in the original books). Thanks to the comic's influence, it's now practically unthinkable to do an adaptation of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea without a South Asian actor in the lead role.


    Films — Animation 
  • Disney has played an enormous role in coloring public knowledge of numerous fairy tales, and even some novels and short stories, with Dumbo, Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmatians, The Aristocats, The Rescuers, The Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron and The Great Mouse Detective being but a few titles now almost entirely unknown outside their Disney version.
    • When people think of Aladdin, odds are they'll think of the Disney version with its storybook version of Persia/Arabia, rather than the Chinese setting that the original story employed. To be fair, nearly all adaptations of Aladdin were set in Arabia well before Disney got their hands on the story. And moving the story out of China does make it easier to cast Caucasian actors, as the Disney film did. Besides, the "China" of the original story was In Name Only, solely for the sake of making the setting more exotic.
      • What do you mean the original story has a second genie (of the ring) instead of a magic carpet?
    • There are many, many complains about the 2014 French film Beauty and the Beast having a blonde Belle (Léa Seydoux) and not a brunette, despite the original fairy tale never specifying Belle's hair color. That's because Disney made her a brunette in 1991's Beauty and the Beast, and that didn't change with Emma Watson in the 2017 live action film. And Léa Seydoux is not even the first blonde Belle, as Josette Day already was in the 1946 version.
  • DreamWorks Animation's How to Train Your Dragon series, which was adapted from a long-running, but somewhat obscure British children's book series of the same name, have pretty much defined the series in the general public. The average person might be surprised at the wide amount of differences between the books and the movies if you hand them one of the books. The most obvious difference is that part of the books' premise is that semi-domesticated dragons have already been a common aspect of viking life for generations, rather than Hiccup being the one to spearhead the concept. What made Hiccup notable in the books that he was one of very few people who could speak their language, which by proxy meant that all the dragons spoke in the books, with Toothless being quite talkative and sarcastic. Aside from the basic premise of "fantasy vikings with dragons", the books and the films might as well be two different intellectual properties with a handful of recycled character names.
  • The four Direct to Video BIONICLE films are far easier to digest than the dozens of books, comics, short stories, online games and animations that tell the meat of the lore. People with a casual interest tend to judge the series by the films alone, but they rewrite and neglect crucial details and only tell minute fractions of the story that make little sense by themselves, which even LEGO admits. None of them explain what "Bionicle" even means, many characters are derailed, and 70 minute kids' films by their nature couldn't do justice to the multi year-long connected stories and expansive worldbuilding that fans liked about the franchise.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children has had this effect upon not only the original game and its expanded material but how the Fanon views the FFVII characters in general. Cloud, instead of being a BFS spinning cocky showoff who hides his insecure dorkier (“Let’s mosey”) side under a cool guy persona, is a angst heavy stoic Hurting Hero who almost never smiles note . Aerith rather than being a street smart tomboy who speaks in slang in the original Japanese script and famously threatens to rip a mafioso’s balls off, is a Too Good for This Sinful Earth Purity Personified figure. Tifa rather than being quite the Shrinking Violet compared to Aerith, keeping her feelings to herself, is Hot-Blooded and confident to go along with her Ms. Fanservice appearance. Thanks to Advent Children along with other titles such as Kingdom Hearts and Dissidia Final Fantasy this is how a lot people view the characters as and many were shocked at Final Fantasy VII Remake for seemingly altering their personalities (e.g having Aerith curse “Shit!”) even though it was actually just having them be Truer to the Text.
    • Notably Emotionless Girl Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII's character was devised and frequently seen as a kind of Distaff Counterpart to Cloud, when it’s more accurate to say she’s the female version of the Advent Children-era Cloud since she actually has little in common with the lighthearted 1997 version of him. This shows Square Enix themselves like the fans, took the “brooding emo” perception of Cloud as the norm and wasn’t until Tetsuya Nomura decided he wanted to bring Cloud back closer to his original characterisation in Remake that this changed.
    • Advent Children also introduced a lot of the realistic aesthetics and 2000s-era all black Hot Topic appearance to the FFVII world, rather than the zany and colourful action figure-esque look of the original game. This often effects gamers who are more familiar with the later FFVII titles and upon starting the original game can’t get over the cartoony 90s visuals.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • For many viewers,The Wizard of Oz is the main influence in the way in which they perceive anything related with the Land of Oz media, from details such as Dorothy having ruby slippers instead of the silver ones from the book, as well the portrayal of the Wicked-Witch of the West as a green woman instead of having only one eye as she was originally described (making it an almost literal example). The personalities of the characters in Oz-influenced media tend to reflect their movie personalities instead of the literary ones. The film is also the reason why characters like Glinda and the Wicked Witch are far more famous and iconic than, say, Ozma and the Nome King, who appeared in far more installments of the book series.
    • Just to illustrate how thoroughly the 1939 film eclipses the entire franchise when an adaptation was attempted of the sequels with Return to Oz, people wondered why Dorothy was a young girl and not in her late teens like Judy Garland was in the famous 1939 film. Disney paid a hefty sum to use the ruby slippers as well, rather than confuse audiences who never read the books by having them be silver (not to mention the shoes never appear again in the sequels anyway, and were replaced by the Magic Belt). Basically, the main reason it bombed was that it was too much like the books, and not enough like the film most people are familiar with; not helping its case was that it opened with Dorothy being assumed delusional and given electroshock therapy, which was not in the books and clashed with the tone of both the books and 1939 film.
  • In 1995, Judge Dredd had a film adaptation starring Sylvester Stallone that had a very devastating impact in the US. While in Britain, Dredd is an old warhorse of a comic that isn't going anywhere, the movie was the first exposure most Americans had to the franchise. As a result of this, it took north of two decades and another adaptation that went Truer to the Text (which still bombed in theaters, though was Vindicated by Cable) for Dredd to pick up any kind of real following in the US; it's only been very recently that the US has gotten unaltered printings of the UK Dredd comics as a result of this.
  • Though the original Gojira was a serious and scary movie, Godzilla is usually remembered in the United States as a camp icon from the '60s, or by the 1998 very loose adaptation, a sentiment that has only been alleviated somewhat by the 2014 reboot and the franchise it spawned, and to a lesser extent, the original Japanese version of the first film being made widely available.
    • This trope plays differently in Japan though. While the campy films were heavily promoted in the United States, particularly Godzilla vs. Megalon, and were often aired on television or sold on home video extremely cheap, these sold significantly fewer tickets in Japan and are much less well-remembered. Instead, the series' more serious and darker entries are more popular in Japan, such as much of the Heisei series of the '80s and '90s, and 2016's Shin Godzilla, while much of Western kaiju fandom overlooked these later installments (which didn't get as much circulation in the West) until fairly recently.
  • To this day, Universal Horror has had this impact on many of the "classic" horror monsters, especially those that they adapted from older material. The Hammer remakes in the '50s and '60s hewing to Universal's characterization only solidified their impact.
    • The first sound version of Frankenstein (made in 1931, starring Boris Karloff) simplified and compressed the story considerably and changed the character of Frankenstein's Monster. In particular, the monster in the original story was actually very intelligent and able to speak and move like a normal human, not the stiff, shambling, groaning monster of the movies. He also did not have bolts in his neck or a cylindrical flat-top head. This movie also shows the monster being animated by lightning, while in the book, Victor intentionally kept the procedure as vague as possible so no one would be tempted to replicate his mistake. The movie's first sequel solidified the idea that the monster was called Frankenstein, though this mix-up was already in effect in the preceding decades. And the idea of the monster being brutish, unintelligent, and unable to speak was established by the book's first dramatic adaptation, Richard Brinsley Peake's stage play Presumption, or the Fate of Frankenstein, as early as 1823.
      • The 1931 film also introduced Igor — ahem, Fritz, but popularly called Igor for reasons similar to why the Monster is called Frankenstein — the iconic hunchback assistant who unlike even the Bride didn't exist at all in the original book. Yet nowadays you will be hard put to find any story, adaptation or crossover involving Frankenstein's monster that doesn't include Igor as well. For a character who was entirely made up for the film by Universal, he has gotten immense coverage (even getting his own animated film) and is generally viewed by the mainstream as synonymous with the Frankenstein story itself.
    • Bela Lugosi's portrayal of the Count in the 1931 adaptation of Dracula thoroughly supplanted the original novel's depiction of the title character. Nowadays, having Count Dracula walk around freely in daylight is regarded as a subversion of the "traditional" rules, and if a man with a mustache dressed up in a cape and fangs, he'd be jeered as a poor copy for not shaving. The Count's white mustache is the first thing Harker notices about his host's appearance in the original novel.
    • The Invisible Man (1933) incorporated elements not just from H. G. Wells' novel, but also from screenwriter Philip Wylie's 1931 novel The Murderer Invisible. In Wells' novel, Griffin was already evil before he became invisible, and did so out of a lust for power, while in the film, he only turns evil after the experiment when he realizes what he can get away with. The pseudo-remake Hollow Man would take a similar track in its characterization of its villain. Griffin was also a loner in the original story, while in the film, he has a beautiful fiancee, which the 2020 remake would run with.
    • Going in the other direction, Universal's The Mummy (1932) saw a significantly less scary reinvention with The Mummy Trilogy, to the point that the trailer for the 2017 remake had many commenters weirded out by the horror tone returning instead of the Indiana Jones-esque adventure tone seen in the movies with Brendan Fraser. The final film took elements from both the '30s and '90s Mummy movies, however, and this inconsistent tone — is it a horror movie or a Marvel-esque adventure movie? — is generally cited as one of the big reasons it flopped with audiences and critics alike.
  • Although Bram Stoker's Dracula is considerably more faithful to the original novel in many respects, it also introduced a few original ideas that have shaped general perceptions of Dracula. Among other things: it helped popularize the idea of Dracula being in love with Mina Harker (instead of her just being one of his victims), the idea of Lucy Westenra being Mina's more naughty and amorous friend (instead of being sweet and spoiled), and the idea of Dracula and Vlad the Impaler being the same person (instead of one just being vaguely inspired by the other). Most adaptations or retellings since Francis Ford Coppola's have given Dracula some kind of personal connection to Mina, and many have used the "reincarnated wife" element (which was originally the Mummy's schtick).
  • The success of The Lord of the Rings films has dramatically colored public perception of the work, since the films put their own dramatically different spin on various themes. The number of people who read the books for the first time prior to seeing the films or knowing everything that happens therein is pretty small. The studio struggled for a while to get the prequel, The Hobbit, off the ground, due in part to the pressure of making it conform to the existing films and turning it into a trilogy.
    • In particular, many people seem to have forgotten that The Hobbit was originally a children's story and not an action-adventure tale for grown-ups. Or, for that matter, that Tolkien came up with the Middle Earth mythology merely as a hobby and only gradually worked out the details of the entire saga.
    • Some specific aspects that have colored perception include Frodo's age. He was played by Elijah Wood, then 18, which was appropriate seeing as Frodo, at 33, was the Hobbit equivalent to 18. The problem is the movies leave out the 17-year time gap between Gandalf's leaving the Shire and returning to tell Frodo he must leave. Frodo in the novel was 50 for most of the story, not a child; although he still looks young due to possessing the One Ring, he's considerably more mature and educated than the other hobbits.
  • The Conan the Barbarian franchise has been a series of adaptations building on each other, for better or worse, until the original Howard stories were Lost in Imitation. Some aspects of the Expanded Universe Conan, such as the classic Arnold Schwarzenegger film and Frank Frazetta's artwork depictions, are more successful than others, such as the sequel Conan the Destroyer which with Red Sonja nearly killed the entire genre as well as franchise. And the Conan remake seems to have done it all over again, as it did poorly at the box-office and was savaged by critics.
  • For most people, Superman is synonymous with the Christopher Reeve movies. To a lesser extent there is the 1950s TV show with George Reeves, which is the source of a lot of catchphrases associated with the franchise. Its details aren't known to many casual fans, but if you've ever talked about Superman you've quoted it at least once.
    • Christopher Reeve´s take on Superman´s alter-ego Clark Kent has stuck in the minds of everyone. Before Reeve, Kent was milquetoast and non-descript. Reeve however upped the ante on Kent´s dorkyness making him a much more comical character.
    • Gene Hackman's portrayal of Lex Luthor has definitely stuck in the minds of many. Quite a few people think that Lex is meant to be a middle-aged Large Ham who's always concocting various illegal schemes to get rich, when in fact he has had a huge number of different interpretations over the years. Hackman's portrayal was mostly based on his "evil mad scientist" persona from the 60's and 70's, but since the mid-80's, Luthor is mainly portrayed as a Corrupt Corporate Executive, and far from being a hammy megalomaniac is usually a far more subtle, Affably Evil bad guy.
  • Howard the Duck fans will always have to deal with the negative reputation the series had from the film adaptation. This got so bad that The Stinger to Guardians of the Galaxy featuring Howard was divisive, up until Fantastic Four (2015) retroactively helped the movie's reputation by being regarded as worse.
  • Ang Lee's Hulk movie is often blamed for the failure of the MCU reboot, The Incredible Hulk, which despite being better received by fans, sold even fewer tickets than the original. The character's cinematic reputation has been somewhat restored by The Avengers, but Marvel is still wary of giving the property another chance, which is why there's no Hulk sequel in the works as of 2020, despite The Incredible Hulk's Sequel Hook (it's likely that Thor: Ragnarok is as close as we'll get). It doesn't help that Disney/Marvel would have to share profits with Universal (a condition of Marvel getting the film rights to the character back is that Universal gets distribution rights to any solo Hulk film).
  • The first four Scooby-Doo (2002) live-action films portraying Fred as a Jerk Jock-type character seems to have affected his public perception, particularly among audience members that had/did not have previous exposure to Scooby-Doo material (his defining trait in the original series was just being The Leader and a Nice Guy; since he was such a bland character to start with, it's natural that most people remember the more defined characterization that Freddie Prinze Jr. brought, even if they didn't like it). His portrayal in the movies seem to feed into why he has such as a strong anti-fanbase and why fans prefer to ship Daphne with Velma.
  • 2009's Star Trek made much out of the general perception by the public, even some longtime fans, of Kirk as an anti-authoritarian Space Cowboy who breaks rules when he truly believes he's correct, barely scrapes through the Academy and shags every green alien babe he meets. A re-watch of the original series will show that this isn't true of Kirk at all. When he did break rules (primarily in the films) he did so with the full understanding that there would be consequences and he would accept them. It's mentioned multiple times that he was a serious, even humourless student. And Kirk's relationships are overwhelmingly very honest and heartfelt (and across eighty episodes, he slept with exactly four aliens). Notably, in order to make Kirk the rule-breaking rebel who tended to turn out being right all along, the filmmakers had to make this an alternate reality where Kirk's upbringing was decidedly different. It wasn't until the third film where his persona was more like the actual Kirk of the classic series.
  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is this for its source novel, Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. That film has become so iconic and parodied that outside of the UK — and especially in the United States — the novel has suffered Adaptation Displacement. This is why Tim Burton's 2005 adaptation didn't age well, as it is widely seen as a poorly-done remake of the film rather than a faithful retelling of the novel. There are actually many other adaptations of it out there, but old-time fans tend to bristle at any telling that doesn't slavishly follow the lead of the 1971 Gene Wilder film, never mind that said tellings are usually Truer to the Text (the 2013 stage musical was heavily retooled for its 2017 Broadway run to work in more film-specific material for this reason). Dahl himself disowned the filmnote , so he likely wouldn't be happy about this at all. Some of the changes were "corrected" in the 2005 version — the Oompa-Loompas changing back from orange-faced, green-haired clowns to dark-skinned jungle natives — but others were not.
    • One good example is how the characters' nationalities are presented. Willy Wonka is British in the book, but American in the movie. Conversely: Veruca Salt and her family are American in the book, but British in the movie. Augustus Gloop and his family are likely British (or East Coast American) in the book, but German in the movie. And Charlie and his family are implied to be British in the book, but definitively American in the movie. Notably, even the 2005 film (which otherwise sold itself as being more faithful to the book than the 1971 film) kept most of these changes, only making Charlie and his family British again. And even Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (the sequel to the original book) followed the movie's lead by retconning Charlie and his family as Americans.
    • A number of fans and critics decried Burton's film for the unforgivable "alteration" of making the other children's fates known to the viewer. There is a widespread perception that the classic film left their ultimate endings ambiguous, even implying that they all died. Not only is this not an alteration from the original text (there's an entire chapter called "The Other Children Go Home"), it's not even an alteration from the first film, where Wonka tells Charlie the other children will be fine, but hopefully a little wiser.
  • Not surprisingly, Walter Hill's 1979 cinematic adaptation of The Warriors has completely eclipsed the Sol Yurick novel — so much so that the 2005 video game adaptation not only kept Hill's campy approach, but made it even campier!
  • While the Transformers Film Series was a huge success, it had the unfortunate effect of giving the franchise as a whole a reputation of being all about big dumb action and giant robots fighting, much to the irritation of its fans in other medias, where it has plenty of good stories, mature writing and memorable characters (as well as giant robots fighting). Bumblebee was made to specifically fix this.
  • Batman (1989) was the work that helped mainstream audiences forget the other live-action portrayal of Batman, the campy 60s show, and perceive the hero as a dark vigilante. Some of its elements also wound up crucial to the comics and other portrayals, such as the Grappling-Hook Pistol, Batman wearing mostly black, and Gotham City being a gothic, decaying metropolis;
  • The Michelle Pfeiffer version of Catwoman from Batman Returns has left a long impression on general audiences since it was released in 1992. While Catwoman can't really be considered a full-on villain anymore as she's settled into being a stable romantic partner for Batman, she had always been more of an Anti-Villain. She was never crazy and was always one of the least bad of his villains. In this film, she's straight-up crazy and the idea of her being this way still sticks in people's heads. Halle Berry's take on the character was widely mocked (but more due to poor filmmaking). Anne Hathaway's version from The Dark Knight Rises, while getting a bit closer to Catwoman's personality from the comics, didn't really stick, possibly due to Nolan removing much of the cat theming. The movie is also a bit divisive in and of itself which probably explains some of it as well. Time will tell for Zoë Kravitz in The Batman (2022).
    • Also from Batman Returns, Tim Burton and Danny DeVito's interpretation of The Penguin has colored subsequent portrayals of the character. Before the film, the Penguin was a rather pudgy, normal-ish criminal with high-society inclinations. But DeVito's performance as the Penguin obviously follows Tim Burton's recurring interest in carnie and circus freaks. After DeVito, about a third to a half of the Penguin's versions portray him as a rather malformed, mildly monstrous slob.
  • Since the Fantastic Four Duology are the least bad and most successful Fantastic Four films, many people were introduced to the team in these films. It helps due to the failure of Fant4stic.
    • Mr. Fantastic can be seen as a timid, quirky but smart man.
    • The Invisible Woman is generally known as a Ms. Fanservice with invisibility and force fields.
    • The Thing is seen as a wisecracking brute with a sympathetic side.
    • The Human Torch is generally seen as the slick member of the team.
  • While in the original novel, Zorro wore a poncho, a sombrero, and a full-face mask and used a cavalry sword and a pistol as his main weapons, The Mark of Zorro (1920) introduced the costume and weapons that have been used in all later adaptations, with even the original author Johnston McCulley revising his newer stories to fit. Also, the 1920 movie implied his costume was red, it wasn't until The Mark of Zorro (1940) that it became definitively black. And finally, although Zorro's cloak billowing on horseback is the iconic image, the cape didn't arrive until Zorro (1957).
  • A rare example of a film coloring perception of non-fictional persons is Bonnie and Clyde. Despite the various liberties it takes with history, virtually all mainstream knowledge of the historical Outlaw Couple comes from the film and anything that references them will be in reference to the film — something that has caused quite a bit of consternation with historians, to say nothing of how the families of the Barrow gang's victims reacted to it (they loathed how the titular Outlaw Couple were portrayed as Villain Protagonists). There have been some attempts to make a more historically true film about the pair, but they are stuck in Development Hell at best (though one eventually did get made).
  • In the original Addams Family comic strip and TV series, Wednesday Addams was generally portrayed as a fairly happy young girl, albeit one with very morbid interests (she has a pet spider and a headless Marie Antoinette doll). Christina Ricci's portrayal in the film adaptations, meanwhile, took out most of the perkiness and made her into a snarky, stoic goth girl and something of a proto-Daria. Ricci's version seems to have left a mark, with the '90s revival The New Addams Family, despite using many Recycled Scripts from the original series, keeping the films' characterization of Wednesday.
    • Having good-looking actors like John Astin and Carolyn Jones (and later, Raúl Juliá and Anjelica Huston) play the Addamses has also tainted what fans believe the Addams Family should look like, as the original comics depicted them as rather grotesque. The 2019 movie tried to stay loyal to Charles Addams' original art, but was criticized for looking "ugly".
  • Public perception of Harry Potter is generally more tied to the film series than to the books themselves:
    • This is even true within the fandom, to an extent — at least part of the Ron the Death Eater trope is often chalked up to Ron being an Adaptational Wimp in the films. This has even led to one instance of it happening within the books themselves; Harry alludes to the time in Prisoner of Azkaban where Hermione punched Draco Malfoy in a later book. But that was an invention of the film — Hermione only slapped Malfoy in the book.note 
    • One of the most noticeable examples are Hogwarts' uniforms. Their iconic school uniforms are actually not in the books. Students wear robes at Hogwarts and only robes. For fashion appearances and convenience, the film changed the uniform so that students only wear their robes on special occasions.
    • There's a misconception that Durmstrang is an all boys school and Beauxbatons an all girls one because they are in the movies. Both are co-ed in the books.
  • Carrie (1976) made several changes that other adaptations have followed:
    • Carrie's prom dress becomes pink when it is red in the book — which is why Margaret says "I might have known it would be red."
    • Carrie leaves the gym before causing her destruction, whereas all adaptations have her do it from inside as soon as the blood is poured on her.
    • Chris Hargensen gets her Beta Bitch to rig the ballots so that Tommy and Carrie win. It's a tie in the book and they win in a run-off ballot. Whichever girl is chosen (Tina in the 2002 and 2013 versions, Norma in the 1976 version) is given Adaptational Villainy.
    • Carrie's showdown with Margaret becomes the climax of all the films, whereas Carrie tracks down Chris and Billy afterwards in the book.
  • These days, if people remember Dick Tracy at all, they'll almost certainly think of the hugely hyped 1990 Disney film, which was very colorful and shot through with Broadway-style Sondheim musical numbers — two elements that were not present in the original comic strip. Other changes include the true identity of The Blank and the facial features of Big Boy Caprice (which, except for the mustache, looked nothing like Al Pacino's makeup in the film).
  • When most people picture Marilyn Monroe, they tend to imagine her with big, poofy blonde hair, which is why most of today's Marilyn impersonators have to wear exaggerated wigs. But for the majority of her career, her hair hardly looked like that at all. While her hairdo in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes did approach its contours, not until the late 1950s — by which point, ironically, her career was winding down — did her hair really start to gain the volume we associate with it. In part, this was because American women's hair was starting to get bigger at the time and Marilyn was simply following the trend. It was also around this time that many Marilyn imitators started to appear and to sport puffy hair for the same reason.
  • Many common parodies of Jack Nicholson seem more inspired by Christian Slater's imitation of him than by the vocal nuances of Nicholson himself.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • The films have had a major impact on how the general audiences picture the X-Men. Many fans who were introduced to the franchise via the films believe that Rogue is a timid teenager who steals other people's superpowers, that Charles Xavier is a kindly British-American schoolmaster, that Magneto is frail-looking man named "Erik Lehnsherr", that Wolverine is a Tall, Dark, and Handsome loner, and that Mystique is Magneto's loyal female minion. note 
      • Specifically for Professor X, it has become so ingrained into the minds of viewers that he should speak with an English accent that Harry Lloyd portrayed him as a full-blooded Englishman in Legion (which is set in an Alternate Universe that's separate from the Fox films) instead of an American note , or even half-British, half-American like the Patrick Stewart-James McAvoy version. In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the character is Truer to the Text, yet the Received Pronunciation accent is retained instead of being replaced by an American one (and the role was reprised by Stewart, no less).
    • For the other X-Men characters (Storm, Rogue, Gambit, etc.), the movies didn't erase what other adaptations such as X-Men: The Animated Series and Marvel vs. Capcom helped cement as iconic... except for Cyclops, who thanks to the Fox films, a lot of people see him as a bland, boring Geordi La Forge looking nice guy who only exists to be an obstacle in between Wolverine and Jean note , and Jean Grey herself, seen as the bland redhaired damsel Wolverine loves and fights with Cyclops over and who went crazy and turned into the Dark Phoenix note , particularly as some other incarnations give them a fair amount of Adaptational Wimp like the films.
    • The Fox films also pioneered the Movie Superheroes Wear Black trope (due to Bryan Singer and other directors' dislike of the colorful comic outfits), which generated the general perception (barring the 90s cartoon) of the X-Men as being darkly dressed, espeically compared to the Avengers which was actually quite the opposite for a long time in the comics. Most people nowdays are just as likely instantly reconise Wolverine in all black (or just a tanktop and jeans) as him wearing his iconic yellow outfit from the comics. Funnily enough, the comics themelves lampshaded this.
      Cyclops: Sorry Logan. Superheroes wear costumes. And quite frankly all the black leather is making people nervous.
  • The 1998 film version of Cats is the de facto version of the show to most fans. It's because it's an officially released version of the stage musical, making it easily accessible. It features many differences from the original 1982 production, and other productions of the play at that, but fans view it as the main version of the show. For example, "Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer" is often associated with an energetic, upbeat duet by the titular duo, but the original version was slower and sung by Mr. Mistofolees (and even some duet versions are slow). The film Cats went with a middle ground: this version is a duet sung by the titular duo, but is in the key and tempo of the slower, original version.
    • The name Mungojerry is itself a case of this, as even though it originates in the original T.S. Eliot poems that inspired the musical, most people associated it with that band who sang "In The Summertime" than with a musical theatre cat.
  • David Lynch's Dune has had a lasting influence on the pop culture perception of the novel, perhaps most notably its reputation as being nearly incomprehensible (though the book is complex, it is much easier to follow than the film, which crams 800 pages of plot into a 2-hour container). Several of the most well-known quotes related to the Dune franchise originate in the film, such as "The spice must flow!" and "Walk without a rhythm and we won't attract the worm". Also, while the design of the sandworms' distinctive three-pronged jaws was created by John Schoenherr in his illustrations for the first novel, the movie really cemented it as the iconic look for the creatures, even though Herbert's books never mentioned this feature. The Denis Villeneuve film reprises many of these elements, although notably not the three-pronged jaws for the sandworms.
  • Thanks to its classic Japanese adaptation and reasonably popular American remake, The Ring today is best known for two things: (1) watching a video tape that gives you a week to live unless you copy the tape and show it to someone else, and (2) the ghost coming out of a television set. In the Japanese novel series, not only does the ghost never come out of television, but the copy-the-tape solution is a false Red Herring that kinda serves as the whole point of the series.note  On a lesser note, the adaptations all feature female protagonists with sons, while in the novel, it is a man with a wife and daughter.
  • Ask a layperson about The Shining, and more often than not they'll default to the 1980 adaptation by Stanley Kubrick. Like Dune, most of what the public considers the most iconic and essential moments from the story (e.g. the axe, "HEEEEERE'S JOHNNY," the hedge maze) were original to the film as a result of it being a hugely Pragmatic Adaptation (the book had a roque mallet instead of an axe, the hedge maze was a group of living topiaries, Jack never references Johnny Carson). The film came to define the story to such an extent that one of the biggest complaints about the 1997 miniseries was that it was too far-removed from the Kubrick film, and the film version of the book's sequel instead based itself on the 1980 version.
  • Sam Raimi's Spider-Man Trilogy was the first high-profile film adaptation of the Spider-Man comics, and served as many people's first real introduction to them. In particular: Tobey Maguire, James Franco and Kirsten Dunst's iconic performances as Peter Parker, Harry Osborn, and Mary Jane Watson shaped many people's general image of all three characters. Because of the films, many casual fans tend to picture Peter as a shy, dorky Dogged Nice Guy (despite the comics' version being more of a snarky Jerk with a Heart of Gold), they tend to picture Harry as Peter's affable lifelong best friend (in the comics, he was originally a snobby rich kid, and he and Peter didn't meet until college), and they tend to MJ as his first and only love (she was one of several love interests in the comics). The films are also the reason why people tend to believe that "web-shooting" is one of Peter's superpowers (he used wrist-mounted "web-shooter" devices in the comics). When The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 incorporated many ideas from the comics that the Sam Raimi movies omitted (e.g. Gwen Stacy, the web-shooters, Peter's snarky personality, Harry's antiheroic characterization, etc.), they were widely criticized for straying from the version that many moviegoers knew, despite actually being more faithful to the source material in many respects. Spider-Man: No Way Home very much affirms the cultural impact of Sam Raimi films with Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina and Thomas Haden Church reprising their roles as Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus and Sandman and being treated the definitive live action versions of those characters alongside J. K. Simmons’ J.Jonah Jameson in the MCU itself. Not to mention the respect given to Tobey’s Spidey In-Universe.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe is, as of 2021, the biggest film franchise of all time, but while people are generally aware the movies are based on Marvel Comics, they're often unaware of how different the movies are from the comics, and in the cases where they are they're often unaware of the significance of this.
    • For just a starter, neither Hawkeye or Black Widow were part of the original Avengers line-up (neither was Captain America, but he at least joined in the third issue and is retroactively considered a founding member), but rather it was Ant-Man and The Wasp. The latter is actually a very important character due to her tenure as team leader and the character development she underwent during that time, and her closeness with Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. The films largely gave this role to Black Widow, who while a somewhat prominent character wasn't a very strongly connected member of the team since her status as a Super Spy made her an ill-fit for a public superhero team who regularly fight cosmic or world-threatening dangers.
    • Hawkeye as a character suffers the most thanks to this, as the films made him an overtly serious guy without the showy and captivating personality of the comics character, not to mention the physical prowess (movie Hawkeye is an apt fighter and archer, but the comics one is a Badass Normal who was physically on-par with Captain America!), and thus his character became something of a Memetic Loser, a reputation that has affected the comics character significantly. Only Avengers: Endgame started to fix this, even if it meant Clint Barton going from Hawkeye to Ronin. The comic-book version's "loser" status previously had to do with Hawkeye being a perpetually unlucky hero. An orphan boy who was raised in a circus, he had two evil mentors who turned on him, and a brother who became a career criminal. He was manipulated into a brief career as a villain by the woman he loved (Black Widow), had his share of unrequited loves and failed romances, and a troubled marriage to Mockingbird. Due to never inheriting any wealth from his parents (unlike other Avengers) and not having a lucrative job, Hawkeye was often broke and at times worked as a glorified security guard.
    • Iron Man, like Hawkeye has been affected but in a much more positive fashion. Thanks to the MCU the public perception of Tony Stark thanks to Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal is a loveable, charismatic, quip-happy hilarious Jerk with a Heart of Gold who when the chips are down will save the universe as the Big Good. This is a marked difference from the comic version of Iron Man, whom as many comic fans will know, was being written as a very unlikable Strawman Political Broken Ace pseudo-fascist starting with Civil War. Fans of Iron Man who started with the MCU, have actually been appalled upon reading the comics at how dickish Tony is written (especially in modern continuity) and how unlike the films he certainly isn’t bosom buddies with Hulk or an idol and mentor to Spider-Man (in the comics, Captain America is the one hero Peter worships). Thanks to the MCU impacting the comics, Tony is more lighthearted and jokey and the films have significantly bolstered his popularity, with him being right up there with Spidey or Wolverine nowadays.
    • This has also had a marked effect on the perceptions of character importance. Prior to the MCU, the Avengers themselves weren't that important to the Marvel Universe, as the Fantastic Four and X-Men also existed and were both significantly more popular with audiences. Even among them, Black Widow and Hulk were not particularly core characters, while others such as She-Hulk, Valkyrie, Black Knight, Monica Rambeau, Hercules, and more played a significantly bigger role among the team (Widow and Hulk were more independant characters). The Widow has been an official member of the Avengers since 1973 (after years as an unofficial ally), but only served as the team's leader for a few years in the 1990s. Since the MCU, it's now hard to picture Widow and Hulk not on the Avengers, and all those aforementioned characters have become seen as obscure, minor characters, by virtue of not being in the movies. Characters who are in the MCU, like Vision, Scarlet Witch, Carol Danvers, and Black Panther, are now viewed as 'A-listers', but none of them were ever anymore popular or important than the aforementioned 'obscure' ones.
    • The influence of the MCU actually came back and affected the comics, as "synergy" with the movies became an enforced trope. Hawkeye dropped his colourful costume for a sleek black number, character relationships that weren't in the MCU were downplayed while ones invented by the films became suddenly canon, and elements the films were using like SHIELD were suddenly reintroduced (and ironically, discarded again shortly after the films dropped them), while franchises like Guardians of the Galaxy were retooled to match the film versions. This slowed down around 2018/2019, in-part due to a change in editorial, but the intense fan backlash (as many disliked these changes) lead to dialling back on it before things got too extreme.

  • The King James version of The Bible, with its florid verse and antiquated diction (it was deliberately written to be a bit archaic, even in James' day) has played a significant role in shaping the average person's image of the Bible in the English-speaking world. Most notably: it's the primary reason why so many people envision God speaking in Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe, with His speech peppered with "thees" and "thous". Some particularly conservative Christians in the English-speaking world hold it in such high regard that they treat it as the only English translation of the Bible, and don't like to acknowledge other translations. This is a bit ironic if you know that the King James Bible initially became popular because of its literary merit rather than its accuracy: it wasn't intended to be a literal translation from Hebrew and Greek, but rather a work of English verse in its own right. Even Richard Dawkins (an outspoken atheist) acknowledges its artistic value, once saying that "a native speaker of English who has never read a word of the King James Bible is verging on the barbarian."
  • In-universe, the later runs of The Princess Bride include post-novel content in which William Goldman tells us (kayfabe) that Stephen King felt this way about Goldman's abridged version of the story. Goldman also cites this as one of the reasons he can't secure the rights to publish the sequel to the book in English; the Morgenstern estate feels that his abridgement was a travesty and won't let him near the sequel. (The reality is Goldman had made a few abortive attempts to start the sequel, but each time he realized he couldn't recapture the magic of the original.)

    Live-Action TV 
  • The '60s high Camp TV interpretation of Batman still lingers on as some (generally older) people's view of the character, despite several adaptations and major character changes since. This has continued to the extent that Warner Bros. Consumer Products approached Adam West and 20th Century Fox (producers of the TV show) in 2012 about producing merchandise based on the TV shows (also, greeting cards from Hallmark tend to follow the Adam West design, which most closely resembled the traditional comic book design). The James Holmes incident may further encourage this revival of the West version.
    • Many also complain that the show paints The Comics Code/Silver Age-era Batman comics, which are now remembered as being as campy and silly as the show. Many forget that the West show was intended as a parody, and was restrained by the production values and budget of an ABC show in the 1960s. Fans of classic comics lament that so many view this period of comics as a Dork Age, because despite not treating a guy who dresses up as a giant bat to fight crime as such serious business, the Batman of the '60s and '70s was still cool in his own right.
    • In some ways, Batman colored the perception for the entire genre of Western superheroes. Until 2000 or so, when superhero movies started being huge, any outside journalism on the genre would invariably feature "Bif! Pow!" in the headline, as if Adam West was the last word on the subject.
    • Notably, The Dark Age of Comic Books may have revitalized interest in the show as a backlash against all the grimdarkness. Batman: The Brave and the Bold was something of a love letter to both the show and the Silver Age DC comics, and even included episodes written by Paul Dini, who had done plenty of serious work for the comparatively serious Batman: The Animated Series. Also, in 2013 DC Comics debuted Batman '66, which treats the TV show as an alternate universe, even adding characters that either weren't in the show (such as Two-Face and Poison Ivy) or didn't even exist in 1966 (such as Bane from Knightfall and Harley Quinn from the '90s animated series), to modest success.
    • The Adam West TV show is still the metric in which anything Batman-related is compared to in Japan, since that show was the first serious attempt to localize Batman for Japanese audiences. As a result, Batman gained a reputation for being a campy weirdo in a bat costume who punches and kicks equally campy weird villains, and the Japanese loved him for being exactly that. The result was later attempts to show more serious Batman stories falling totally flat in Japan because Japanese consumers were expecting something like Adam West's Batman and were disappointed. This persisted for at least a few decades, such as how the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy was a Box Office Bomb in Japan for not being campy, and may still be like that today, considering nothing Batman-related has ever succeeded in Japan without being at least a little bit silly, such as Batman Ninja.
  • The '70s Wonder Woman series starring Lynda Carter colored, and continues to color, people's cultural knowledge of the character. Until the 2017 film, Wonder Woman never had the benefit of a successful adaptation that mitigates the Camp elements of the '70s show, and even after, older fans and pop culture still look heavily to the Carter version. The Justice League animated series has helped to some extent, but an adaptation with Adrianne Palicki was cancelled before it aired. And because, unlike the Batman show, it very rarely attempted to adapt any of the villain concepts from the comics, it's also left future filmmakers floundering to find a villain from the comics that the mainstream will recognize and care about.
  • The Incredible Hulk immortalized the titular hero as a pop culture icon, and influenced most subsequent adaptations. A notable example was the show's decision to not have the Hulk speak outside of grunts and roars, which many people took as a default part of the character. It became so ingrained in the minds of audiences that the character didn't consistently use his trademark Hulk Speak in the movies until 2017's Thor: Ragnarok (the Hulk's fourth major appearance in the MCU). The Hulk's iconic You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry! Catchphrase also originated in the series.
  • While Power Rangers is a successful franchise on its own, many Super Sentai purists view it as the reason why Super Sentai will never get the proper international recognition it deserves, since the adapted footage of the costumes and giant robot battles are so deeply ingrained with Power Rangers, Super Sentai could never stand on its own merits. It's not uncommon to see Super Sentai videos on the internet (such as the "Legendary War" scene from Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger) to be labeled as Power Rangers videos, or even Sentai toys sold on eBay also marked as Power Rangers as well. This is especially prevalent among fans from countries such as Brazil, the Philippines, or France, which used to air locally-dubbed versions of Super Sentai before switching to Power Rangers dubs.
    • On another level, the individual Sentai seasons can be tarred with the Rangers brush. Some past seasons get a bad reputation simply because of the following Rangers adaptations. Some fans who watch Rangers first looked a little skeptically on Gaoranger or Boukenger simply because of how badly they were adapted into Wild Force and Operation Overdrive, respectively.
    • This also applies to tokusatsu in general. Fairly often people would call any superhero from Japan "a Power Ranger" (or even worse, "a Power Ranger ripoff"), despite having no resemblance to one whatsoever. The only exception is GARO, largely due to its more adult themes, and the anime adaptation is far more well-known.
  • Masked Rider, Saban's adaptation of Kamen Rider BLACK RX, didn't just color the Kamen Rider franchise itself, it also tarnished its very own name. Originally "Masked Rider" was the official romanized name of Kamen Rider (kamen simply means "mask" in Japanese), but because the name "Masked Rider" is so closely associated to the Saban version outside Japan, most fans refuse to use it despite its prominence in many products. When Adness made Kamen Rider Dragon Knight (adapted from Kamen Rider Ryuki), Executive Producer Steve Wang insisted on using "Kamen Rider" instead of "Masked Rider" since he wanted to distance the show from the Saban version. The Japanese shows, which were using the romanized name of "Masked Rider" on the logos since Kamen Rider Kuuga, followed suit by switching to "Kamen Rider" beginning with Kamen Rider Double. On top of that, some time ago Saban applied for a trademark for "Power Rider," which many believe is their giving "Kamen Rider" another swing. Although, that was around the time Power Rangers Samurai was airing (which gave fans the impression they would try to adapt Kamen Rider Decade, considering how it intersected with Samurai's source series), and the fact that Saban let the trademark expire suggests Saban merely did so so no one else could use it.
  • Warehouse 13 uses this as a major plot point. All of the stories children grew up with, such as Cinderella and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, were bowdlerized Warehouse-issue fabrications designed to downplay the more horrifying aspects of the true stories.
  • Any Doctor in Doctor Who will be inevitably compared to Tom Baker's take on the character, who is considered the default Doctor portrayal even though he was the fourth actor to play the rolenote  and was in contrast to his predecessors at the time. The "Hinchcliffe era" of the show, which had over-the-top Gothic Horror villains, a metafictional tone, What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?, No Hugging, No Kissing and lots of BBC Quarry sets and corridor-running, is considered to be the way the show operates at its most Strictly Formula. (Note that this is something of a Dead Unicorn Trope.) After the New series took off, any new Doctor will also be compared to David Tennant, who is considered the default NuWho Doctor (although some use Matt Smith as a yardstick, given his more distinctive Doctor appearance).
  • The Arrowverse has had this effect for the mythos of Green Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl, which have been the biggest out-of-comics takes on those franchises. As a result, several Flash villains like Zoom, Captain Cold, and Savitar are more likely to bring up their show versions than the originals, and elements of the Supergirl show like the name Kara Danvers and National City have made their way to the comics, and the general audience would be surprised to learn they didn't exist before 2015. Unfortunate for many fans of the comics, though, as the shows receive a great deal of They Changed It, Now It Sucks! treatment and there's something of a Fandom Rivalry between fans of the comic versions and fans of the shows, having the shows become the popular representation of the franchises in pop culture can be something of a sour pointnote . This especially goes for the Green Arrow, whose comic version is very different.note 
  • The 1990s Sabrina the Teenage Witch sitcom is how most people know about the titular comics that have been running off and on since 1962. The animated series took more cues from the sitcom than the comics, such as Sabrina having long golden blonde hair rather than her comics' platinum blonde bob, Salem being a warlock turned into a cat (a black cat, at that — Salem had orange fur in the comics) as punishment for trying to take over the world, and Hilda being the ditzy aunt and Zelda the responsible one (other way around in the comics). It remains to be seen if the more horror-based adaptation Chilling Adventures of Sabrina will change audience perceptions.

  • The Beach Boys, despite being known as a surf band, actually transistioned into a highly influential Progressive Pop band in 1966 with the release of their Magnum Opus Pet Sounds. However, Pet Sounds was an Acclaimed Flop (except in Britain), immediately overshadowed by the "Best Of" record Best of the Beach Boys Vol. 1 issued by their label without the band's permission to make up for the loss of producing Pet Sounds. While the worldwide success of the single "Good Vibrations" put them on the road to being taken as seriously as rival band The Beatles, the failure of the follow-up single "Heroes and Villains" and the cancellation of Pet Sounds' follow-up SMiLE doomed them to "has-been" status. Then the release of the wildly successful Greatest Hits Album Endless Summer in 1974 cemented their reputation in the public eye as nothing more than a silly surf rock band, and it shifted the band's direction towards attempting to re-capture the success of their early hits (arguably for the worst).
  • Eminem

  • The Marriage of Figaro was originally a play by Beaumarchais, and was the second installment in his Figaro trilogy. Mozart's opera adaptation, however, has been so much more successful than the original play that all subsequent adaptations of the plays are compared to Mozart's version of the story, rather than Beaumarchais':
    • Rossini's adaptation of the "prequel" (The Barber of Seville, the actual first installment of the trilogy) gives Marcellina a much larger role than in the original play, due to her importance in Mozart's sequel, although it changes her name to Berta.
    • Additionally, the success of Mozart's version has basically doomed any attempt to adapt the third play in the trilogy, The Guilty Mother, because of its darker tone. Beaumarchais wrote the trilogy as a progression from comedy to tragedy, but Mozart toned down or removed many of the darker themes from the second play that made that progression more gradual; his version only hinted at Cherubino's lust for the Countess, and cut any mention of her reciprocation, and it Plays for Laughs the Count's plan to force Cherubino into military service. As such, Guilty Mother's revelation that the Countess had an affair with Cherubino (who is now dead, having been killed in battle) and gave birth to his child is a Genre Shift that is too abrupt for audiences to accept, given the light comedic tone of Mozart's opera.
  • William Shakespeare did this with just about every story he adapted for the stage.
    • When we talk about historical figures like Richard III of England or Macbeth, King of Scotland, we're usually talking about — or at least acknowledging — their decidedly villainous portrayals in Shakespeare. These two plays in particular are often given a Setting Update, such as the 1995 version of Richard III with Ian McKellen, which transplants the character into the 1930s and the rise of fascism, or the 2007 Patrick Stewart Macbeth, which was set in something resembling the Soviet Union in the late '40s and early '50s, literally taking the characters out of their historical contexts. If audiences weren't already trained to see Richard III and Macbeth as literary characters first and historical figures second, this would seem ridiculous and anachronistic.
      • Likewise, everyone knows the Lady Macbeth character, but most people couldn't tell you her actual name, because it's never mentioned in the play. For the curious, it was Gruoch. Many scholars and English classes have debated her lines "I have given suck, and know \ How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me", since no child of hers appears in the play, and a few adaptations will play her as having lost a child in the backstory. It's rarely mentioned in analysis of the play that she did have a son, Lulach, by her first husband (Lulach was thus Macbeth's stepson), and he outlived Macbeth by a good 18 years.
    • When we talk about Pyramus and Thisbe, we're probably talking about the incompetent Show Within a Show from A Midsummer Night's Dream, and not the story from Ovid's Metamorphoses.
    • There was actually a bit of a fuss around this during Shakespeare's own lifetime: in early versions of the Henry IV plays, the character of Sir John Falstaff — an alcoholic Fat Bastard and all-around Lazy Bum, though undeniably a Jerk with a Heart of Gold — was named Sir John Oldcastle, after an actual knight at Henry's court. The descendants of the actual Oldcastle, anticipating this trope, complained that the play would ruin their ancestor's good name, so Shakespeare renamed the character.
    • Everybody knows that at the end of Hamlet, almost every main character is dead, right? Not many people know that's an Adaptational Alternate Ending; in the original Scandinavian legend of Amleth, as recorded by Saxo, the title character kills his Evil Uncle (whose name is Feng, and not Claudius) and becomes king of Jutland. His story doesn't even stop there; he gets mixed up in a whole series of wacky antics in the British Isles, is simultaneously married to two princesses, before ultimately falling in battle to a rival king from his mother's family. There's another version of the story in which it isn't even Amleth who kills Feng, but the ghost of his murdered father (whose name, in this version, is Orwendel).
  • Since its debut in 1986, the musical adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera popularized the Phantom's image of wearing a mask covering only half his face rather than the full face mask in the book. This only came about because it made it easier for the actor to wear a headset microphone and be more clearly understood while performing. The 1986 musical is also directly responsible for turning the Phantom from a Tragic Monster to a sensual Draco in Leather Pants villain who enthrals the heroine Christine, in contrast to Gaston Leroux’s version where Erik (that’s his name in the book) while sympathetic is still horrifying and repulsive in his appearance as well as his Ax-Crazy behaviour. You will find plenty people who complain about the Lon Chaney version of the Phantom being too ugly and monstrous even though it’s far more accurate to the original book than the musical version.
    • Christine is also affected by the musical. The most popular perception of her: The Ingenue brunette Sarah Brightman version, who is very submissive to the Phantom’s machinations is actually far removed from the book version of Christine who is a blonde, bold, outspoken Well, Excuse Me, Princess! Plucky Girl who spends most of the book protecting her Love Interest Raoul after learning the “Angel of Music”'s true nature. Fans who started with the musical are often quite surprised upon reading the novel at how different Christine is (i.e courageous and active) compared to her musical theater counterpart.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy VII's immense popularity has meant every other Final Fantasy entry is compared to it, and tropes that only happen in VII are considered to be emblematic cliches of the series. On top of that, a lot of the tropes that people associate with VII are Dead Unicorn Tropes originating from successive portrayals of the characters in Kingdom Hearts and Fanon.
  • In a partial example, Dak'kon from Planescape: Torment. Dak'kon, a canonically Lawful Neutral Zen Survivor with shades of Warrior Monk, was deliberately an unusual Githzerai; most were Chaotic Neutral, befitting their home in the inherently chaotic plane of Limbo. For every edition of Dungeons & Dragons thereafter, the Githzerai became more and more like Dak'kon, who himself became a major, often-referenced figure in their history after his time with the Nameless One.
  • Super Smash Bros. has done this for a number of characters, due to intentional and unintentional reinterpretation:
    • Many depictions of Solid Snake use his Smash design, which he never actually looked like. Smash Snake's design is essentially Big Boss wearing Snake's outfit, and even then it's based entirely on the Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty Sneaking Suit (as that game was Solid Snake's most recent appearance when Super Smash Bros. Brawl added him to the series, not counting Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots where he becomes Old Snake).
    • There's also Roy, who has been named in fanon to be a Hot-Blooded tough guy when he's actually a soft-spoken and underconfident strategist.
    • Samus tends to be treated in fanon as a Femme Fatale, an athlete, and/or a huge Animal Lover based on her "Zero Suit" depictions in Smash (with the "animal lover" part specifically coming from the Subspace Emissary where she saves and protects Pikachu, which also extends to her suited form). In her native series meanwhile, she's generally depicted as a stock Silent Protagonist, with what little dialogue she does get being fairly clinical, the sole exception being her more timid portrayal in Metroid: Other M.
    • And then there's Captain Falcon, who's treated as a flamboyant superhero with highly-damaging attacks, when in his native series he's a stoic racer who never gets into a single fistfight (the superhero archetype is actually Super Arrow, along with his wife, Mrs. Arrow). Notably, fan portrayals of Captain Falcon based on his Smash appearances got big enough to directly inform the campier direction of F-Zero GX and the stylistic middle ground of both F-Zero: GP Legend and later promotional material (both in and out of Smash).

    Western Animation 
  • Similarly to the 1966 show, Batman: The Animated Series had a profound and long-lasting impact on how audiences came to view the Batman IP, with later entries in the franchise more often than not using the show's gothic neo-noir tone and "Dark Deco" aesthetic as the building blocks for their own interpretations. Among other specific examples, the show's Tragic Villain version of Mr. Freeze got so popular that it was incorporated into all later versions of the character, series-original villain Harley Quinn is generally regarded as being as crucial to the franchise as the Joker himself, and both Kevin Conroy's Batman and Mark Hamill's Joker are still the yardsticks by which later actors in the roles are compared.
  • Super Friends has crippled Aquaman as a character for quite a long time. Give him a harpoon hand, replace it with a magical water hand, point out how life at the bottom of the ocean has made him stronger, faster, and more resilient than most humans... and everyone will still be like, "He's just some guy who swims fast and talks to fish." The comic and various other adaptations have been trying to combat this for years (for instance, Justice League followed the comics of the time and gave him features of a Barbarian Hero, while Batman: The Brave and the Bold made him a Boisterous Bruiser and Large Ham), but while these versions each had their share of fans none seemed to permanently stick in the public consciousness until he was featured in the DC Extended Universe (which also went the barbarian look route), where he's played by Jason Momoa. Between Ronon Dex, Khal Drogo and Conan, if there was one person in the world who could rescue Aquaman's reputation as a stone-cold badass, it was him. Based on how his solo movie's turned into a billion-dollar success, it's a fair bet to say he's succeeded.
  • Everyone remembers the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, while the much darker original comics and subsequent cartoons and movies seem to be living in its shadow... Much like the '60s Batman example earlier in the page.
    • The 2003 cartoon has a more notable character example with Karai. Karai as she appeared in the comics was originally a much more neutral character who could be ruthless but was not an enemy of the Turtles and while she was also a Foot Clan member, she didn't have much to do with Shredder either. However, the 2003 show established her as a daughter figure to the Shredder with varying degrees of loyalty to him and usually starts out as an enemy to the Turtles with her and Leonardo having some kind of connection of sorts. This characterization of Karai would go on to be her more familiar template for future incarnations.
  • Everyone remembers He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983), with its goofy takes on the characters and the moral segments at the end. It was a cultural phenomenon in its day, and is ripe for Memetic Mutation in the internet age. Fewer know that it was not the first version, and it wasn't even close to the last. The earliest version of He-Man were the minicomics sold with the Mattel Action Figures, it had no Secret Identity, just being a Barbarian Hero in a sort of Future Primitive setting implied to be After the End of their world. The 2002 series was a reboot that primarily drew from the first cartoon, but dialed down the camp and bumped things up a stage on the Sliding Scale of Continuity. DC Comics would handle another reboot in 2012, in the form of a Darker and Edgier comic series. On top of that, you have the spin-off of the first cartoon, She-Ra, about He-Man's long-lost sister, and the pseudo-sequel, The New Adventures of He-Man, which moved to a new setting, mostly new cast, and transitioned to sci-fi.
  • Inverted in the case of The Real Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II. It's been said GB2 is seen as the runt of the franchise because RGB set such a high standard with writing and characterization. At least until RGB was tragically torn apart by Executive Meddling in the later seasons, that is.
  • My Little Pony: Material from older iterations of the franchise is frequently dismissed by the 4th Generation fandom as an unwatchable pile of sugary sweetness. This is almost entirely because of My Little Pony (G3), which had Slice of Life stories with no villains to speak of. People turned onto the franchise by My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic are often surprised to find the G1 TV specials, movie, and cartoon show can be remarkably mature, can be a bit dark, and on occasion quite horrifying. My Little Pony Tales, while also a slice-of-life show with no villains, gets less flak by virtue of its only claim to fame being that it was obscure to begin with.
  • The popularity of both the 2000s Teen Titans animated series and the 2010s Teen Titans Go! has made those incarnations of the characters — from personality to costumes — the definitive version of the superhero team, with the comic book versions of these characters being changed to account for the fact that potential readers would be more familiar with the animated versions. This is most evident with Starfire: all animated versions since have had a tendency to avoid contractions and regularly say the word "the" to various degrees, as well as be a bit of a Funny Foreigner. Meanwhile, all versions of the character now have green starbolts, with her sister Blackfire now sporting purple ones, as opposed to the entire Tameranian species just having red starbolts.
  • Justice League influenced many people's views on characters like Wonder Woman and Green Lantern for years, because it served as their only major appearences throughout the 2000s and early 2010s. For example, many are surprised to find that Batman and Wonder Woman are not an Official Couple in the comics. In regards to the latter, while they're sometimes written as having feelings for each other, Wonder Woman is usually with Steve Trevor (or Superman in any sort of Elseworld story).note  In regards to the former, when the 2011 Green Lantern (2011) film came out, many accused DC of Race Lifting Green Lantern, unaware that Hal predated John and that there are multiple Green Lanterns of Earth (not counting Alan Scott, there were four Lanterns operating concurrently in the comics at that point). Even the comics themselves have taken influence from the DCAU show, with Justice League (2018) by Scott Snyder having the Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Martian Manhunter, John Stewart Green Lantern and Hawkgirl line-up in addition to a lot of the humorous team chemistry from the show.
  • Starting in the mid-2010s, the DC Super Hero Girls cartoons have made Jessica Cruz one of the more prominent Green Lanterns for younger general audiences as well, helped that she's a Latina woman bearing the mantle of one of the more well-known superheroes. Some media such as the RWBY/Justice League crossover comic use her volumetric hair with a green streak, based on her 2019 DC Super Hero Girls appearance, and her popularity as well as being a representation character are why she's sometimes used in place of Hal and John nowadays.
  • The 1992 X-Men cartoon from Fox Kids is pretty true to the story of the original comics, but its distinctive visual style and futuristic art direction have had a pretty big impact on how general audiences picture the X-Men. Notably, it used the character designs of Jim Lee, who only drew the comics for a very brief window of time in the early 1990s. Thanks to the show, many people tend to picture Cyclops wearing a blue kevlar suit with yellow cross belts and a wraparound visor (he wore a tight spandex suit with a full-face mask for most of his history), they tend to picture Professor Xavier using a fancy yellow hover-chair, and they tend to picture Rogue with a bomber jacket and a huge mane of dark hair. The show is also likely why Gambit and Jubilee are widely considered "classic" X-Men, despite being relatively recent additions to the franchise (at the time the show started, Jubilee had only been introduced three years prior, and Gambit two years). To give you an idea of this: while most of the Marvel character icons on the Disney+ app are from the movies, the X-Men icons are all slightly modernized versions of the '90s cartoon designs.
  • Superman: The Animated Series introduced a new version of Brainiac who has largely shaped popular perceptions of the character, to the point that he's arguably more iconic than the original version from the comics. Thanks to the show, many casual fans are likely to believe that Brainiac is a Kryptonian android rather than a Coluan cyborg, and they're likely to picture him as a stoic and dispassionate villain driven by the pursuit of knowledge (rather than an ruthless cyborg driven to conquer or assimilate lesser lifeforms). Notably, the version of Brainiac from the animated series was something of a Composite Character with "The Eradicator", who is now relatively obscure due to Brainiac replacing him in the show.
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964):
  • On the topic of Rankin/Bass, their adaptation of Frosty the Snowman has recieved similar treatment as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. While Frosty has been a staple of the holiday season since 1950, and gained an animated adaptation by UPA in 1953. The Rankin/Bass version of Frosty the Snowman has become the default version of the character and song. Most parodies and shout outs is entirely based on the "Rankin/Bass Frosty". Even the 1992 semi-sequel Frosty Returns by Bill Meléndez takes cues from the 1969 special with Frosty's design being similar to the Rankin/Bass version with minor differences in character design. Even the official music video of the song (performed by Jimmy Durante before performing it again in the special) is designed after this version of him including the hat and nose.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) ensured that the franchise is remembered as a colorful, often comedic deal rather than the Frank Miller pastiche of the original comics. The cartoon also introduced things that have become obligatory like the Turtles wearing different color bandannas and the Shredder being their nemesis rather than a Starter Villain.
  • The Popeye theatrical shorts are far better-known than the comic strip he originated from, meaning anyone who reads them are surprised to find that the comic boasts actual storylines and strong continuity, as opposed to the shorts, which are a pure Gag Series.

Alternative Title(s): Audience Colouring Adaptation