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Audience-Coloring Adaptation
aka: Ink Stain 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."

An installment or adaptation in a long-running franchise which 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.

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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.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Pokémon:
    • The "original season" Pokémon 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.
    • Similar to Dragon Ball Z below, in the West many of the dub human names are more well-known, such as Ash over Satoshi and Gary over Shigeru. They are also often conflated with with their game counterparts, Red and Blue.
    • 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! made Giovanni interested in finding and capturing Mewtwo as part of his plan.
    • Game fan-art usually depicts Gladion as taller than he actually is. Despite being Lillie's older brother, Lillie is taller than him by a few centimeters. However the anime made him noticeably taller than Lillie (and made Lillie shorter than she is in the games), so fan-artists usually go with their proportions.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
    • 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 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. However Crystal had an annoying habit of having him hog the spotlight and importance away from many other characters, as well as regulating the Inner Senshi to useless damsels as a result. Rei was much more of an dull, Aloof Dark-Haired Girl who Does Not Like Men. Her Hot-Blooded tendencies was played up by the anime, and she was never interested in Mamoru. Overlooking the fact Crystal did away with much of her personality altogether and made her practically a non entity. Haruka and Michiru's relationship is severly downplayed to the point it's easy to forget it's even there. Added to the fact every villain had zero personality and were completely interchangable from the next.
  • 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 was even used in the games. The fandom's portrayals of Amy, Tails, Shadow, and Maria owe as much to the anime 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 
  • Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog 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 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.
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    Film - Animated 
  • Disney has played an enormous role in coloring public knowledge of numerous fairy tales, and even some novels and short stories, with Lady and the Tramp, The Rescuers, The Fox and the Hound, 101 Dalmatians, the The Great Mouse Detective, and The Black Cauldron 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.
    • 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 - though it was in black and white, so it's harder to tell.
  • The How to Train Your Dragon movies, which was adapted from the fairly obscure 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, where Toothless is a much smaller and annoying dragon for example.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • 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. Almost two decades later, the impact can still be seen in DC's failed attempt to market Judge Dredd trade paperbacks in American comic stores, and in how the latest film adaptation was a Box Office Bomb despite being much closer to the source material and winning the acclaim of those who actually saw it.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 about as lithe as a human, could speak, and was very intelligent, not the stiff, shambling, groaning monster of the movies. He also did not have bolts in his neck or a cylindrical flat-top head. 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.
  • 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 Our Vampires Are Different, 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.
  • Bram Stoker's Dracula did this with one particular character - Mina. Although it promoted itself as a Truer to the Text version, here Mina was Promoted to Love Interest (for Dracula himself, and not just Jonathan) and became a reincarnation of Dracula's dead wife. In the book, Mina was just another victim for him to target, albeit one of great plot significance and still a major character. Most adaptations or re-tellings since then have given Dracula a personal connection to Mina - and many have used the 'reincarnated wife' element (which was originally a trait of The Mummy, and not Dracula). Likewise the portrayal of Lucy is heavily influenced by how this film treats her. In the novel she's a sweet pampered girl. Bram Stoker's Dracula makes her Hotter and Sexier - introducing a Madonna–Whore Complex situation between her and Mina that isn't there in the original novel.
  • Related to Universal Horror, The Mummy (1932) saw a significantly less scary reinvention with The Mummy Trilogy, to the point that the trailer for the 2017 remake has 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.
  • The success of the 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 (2009) 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 his persona was decidedly 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 U.K. — 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 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 film note , 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 clearly supposed to be British in the novel, but in both film versions he's American — after all, both Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp are American. Augustus Gloop's family in the novel is either British or East Coast American, judging by his mother's speech patterns, but both films made them Germans. Veruca Salt's family was American rather than British (in the text, Mr. Salt says "crazy" rather than "mad" and calls his female employees "gals" rather than "girls"), but both films changed this. With the Bucket family it's a gray area: Charlie and his parents and grandparents are implied to be British (eating cabbage soup and whatnot), but the sequel Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator follows the lead of the 1971 film by retconning them as Americans, albeit ones of English descent (Grandma Georgina's ancestors came over on the Mayflower); in Burton's version, though, they're back to being British.
  • 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.
  • 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 upcoming Matt Reeves movie.
  • 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 1920 movie adaptation 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 1940 remake that it became definitively black. And finally, although Zorro's cloak billowing on horseback is the iconic image, the cape didn't arrive until the Disney series of the late '50s.
  • 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.
  • 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 very good-looking actors like John Astin and Carolyn Jones (and later, Raul Julia 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 Hermione punching Malfoy in a later book. But that was an invention of the film — as Hermione only slapped Malfoy in the book.
    • 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.
  • The 1939 adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz literally colored most subsequent adaptations, creating the Ruby Slippers (which were silver shoes in the book) and the classic portrayal of Wicked Witches as green-skinned. The film also changed a lot about Oz, such as making it an Alice in Wonderland-style dream world instead of an actual country and compositing Glinda from two separate characters.
  • Brian DePalma's adaptation of Carrie 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.
  • The X-Men Film Series 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 Charles Xavier is a kindly British schoolmaster, that Magneto is frail-looking man named "Erik Lehnsherr", and that Wolverine is a Tall, Dark, and Handsome loner.note 
  • 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" was originally slower and sung by Mr. Mistofolees (and even some duet versions are slow), but the song is associated with a upbeat duet by Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer. The film Cats went with a middle ground: it's a slower song than the 1998 version but it's still a duet by Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer.
    • 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.

    Literature 
  • The King James version of The Bible, with its antiquated (it was deliberately a bit archaic even in James' day) version of English, seems to have produced in some people the rather bizarre notion that God speaks Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe exclusively, and that it's very nearly sacrilegious to use modern English when speaking to or about Him. To this day, there are a great many Christians and Christian denominations (especially those on the fundamentalist end), known as "King James Onlyites," who will insist that the King James Version is the only English translation "approved" by God, and can get very touchy on the subject. However, these people are in the minority in much of the world. This is especially ironic/silly when you consider just why people like the KJV: because it is the version of the Bible with the most artistic merit. Rather than just a translation of the Hebrew, it is a work of English verse in its own right. In other words, it isn't a literal translation.
  • 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 Jim Holmes incident may further encourage this revival of the West version.
    • Many also complain that the show paints the 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 genre of Western superheroes. Until 2000 or so, when superhero movies started being huge, any outside journalism on the genre would 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, 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 and Harley Quinn) in 2013, to modest success.
  • The '70s Wonder Woman series starring Lynda Carter colored, and continues to color, peoples' cultural knowledge of the character. Unlike Batman, however, Wonder Woman has never had the benefit of a successive adaptation that mitigates the Camp elements of the '70s show. The Justice League animated series has helped to some extent, but popular culture still looks almost exclusively to the Carter version, and 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 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 Catch Phrase 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 it's 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.
  • 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, so having the shows become the popular representation of the franchises in the 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 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.

    Theatre 
  • 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 it's 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.
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    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. A lot of depictions of Snake use his Smash design, which Snake never actually looked like (essentially being Big Boss wearing Snake's suit). 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. And then there's Captain Falcon, who's turned more into a martial artist superhero with highly damaging and memetic, Engrish-yelled "FALCON PUNCH!" when he's more or less a stoic racer who never punched his enemies' cars while racing.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • 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 is frequently dismissed as a Tastes Like Diabetes outlet. 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 most potential readers under 30 are 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 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).
  • 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. 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.

Alternative Title(s): Audience Colouring Adaptation

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