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Culturally Sensitive Adaptation

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Sometimes, certain story elements in a work don't transfer well between different people, because of differences in cultures or time periods. Because of this, an adaptation of a work may alter something to conform to the values of the time and/or place the new work is made in. This is similar to Bowdlerize, except when creating new works, rather than editing the original.

Compare Cultural Translation.

This trope may also involve:

  • Adaptational Diversity: An adaptation has a more diverse set of characters, usually done for this reason.
  • Adaptational Modesty: A character's usual dress sense is less revealing than in the original, or tones down or cuts incidents involving characters being naked or partially clad.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: When it's unavoidable to make changes to the source material when adapting a work, some examples may include changing or excising content that would not be acceptable these days.
  • Reimagining the Artifact: The adaptation takes characters (particularly from Long-Runners) who were initially depicted as stereotypes and develops them to make them more appealing to the audiences that the adaptation is intended for.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Not necessarily this trope, but can be if the result is to make the body count of an originally violent work significantly lower, or zero.


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  • This is possibly why in The Bush Baby, Tembo is rewritten as Arthur Rhodes' wildlife assistant — in the original book, he was the family's African servant.
  • Mischievous Twins: The Tales of St. Clare's: In the original St Clare's book by Enid Blyton, many characters repeatedly made fun of Alma Pudden for being fat (even justifying it in-universe by saying it was "not malicious"). In the anime, not only is Alma Adapted Out, but one episode focuses on a dieting craze taking over the school, which Patricia and Isabel are horrifed at and reject. The diet is so severe that when an important swimming match comes up, most of the girls can barely function.
  • The Secret Garden: In the original novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, there was a scene where Martha stated that "There are a lot of blacks [in India] instead of respectable white people"note , She also accidentally offended Mary by assuming that she was one of them. The anime removes this entirely, and also makes Martha and her family Ambiguously Brown.

    Films — Animation 
  • In most versions of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts favors red roses, and her gardeners mistakenly plant white ones, then paint them red so she won't have them beheaded. However, since red is the Communist Party's signature color, in the 1981 Soviet animated version, the Queen favors white roses and the gardeners accidentally plant red ones, then paint them white.
  • The Frog Princess: In the original fairytale, it's Vasilisa who delegates all the tsar's tasks to her servants, while her sisters-in-law try to do them by themselves. To conform to Soviet values, the film makes Vasilisa the only one who works on the carpet the tsar has asked for by herself (though she does it with magic), while her sisters-in-law demand their nurses do it (who delegate the tasks to maids, then to servant girls, then to a retired soldier, and Hilarity Ensues with the results).
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: While the film still gets criticized for its sexualization of Esmeralda and use of the word "gypsy" (a racial slur) to describe her, it does take steps to avoid the unfortunate implications from the book.
    • In the book, Phoebus is a womanizing Jerkass who gets no comeuppance. Here, he's pushed from being a loyal soldier into a revolutionary who opposes Frollo whenever he can.
    • The film makes the Romani more sympathetic than in the book, omitting the reveal that a group of them kidnapped Esmeralda as a baby from her French birth mother. This change is due to the Romani stereotype as kidnappers of children.
    • Frollo's lie that Quasimodo's mother abandoned him as a child was actually the case in the book. Here, in her only scene, Quasimodo's mother flees when Frollo tries to take her baby from her thinking they are stolen goods and is killed by Frollo when he catches her.
  • The Nutcracker: Because aristocratic and bourgeois protagonists were frowned upon in the Soviet Union and avoided whenever it was humanly possible, the protagonist became a poor servant girl who, for extra tear-jerking, isn't allowed to join the rich kids' celebration and has to watch it from a distance. It's quite the contrast from Marie Stahlbaum, whose parents are quite well-off.
  • The Snow Queen (1957), although generally faithful to the original, removes all the religious themes to conform to Soviet values. The Snow Queen, instead of the Devil, is made the owner of the magic mirror.
  • Teen Titans: The Judas Contract removes Slade and Terra's sexual relationship and treats her more sympathetically. However, it depicts Slade as grooming her even though he never actually sleeps with her.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Aladdin (2019):
    • In the film's version of "Prince Ali", the line "Brush up your Sunday salaam" is changed to "Brush up your Friday salaam", since Friday is the day of worship in Islam. It also changes the line where Ali is said to have "slaves, servants, and flunkies" to just "servants and flunkies".
    • The cases of Adaptational Modesty, like Jasmine's outfit and Aladdin being chased out of a co-ed school rather than a harem, are also an example of this, as one of the criticisms of the animated film was that almost every woman was a Bedlah Babe and none but Jasmine were actually significant characters.
  • Gone with the Wind: Unlike in the book, some of the main black characters are represented decently and there's less sympathetic treatment for slavery, the Confederacy, or the Ku Klux Klan.
  • The Soviet Russian dub of The Inquest of Pilot Pirx:
    • Brown's admission he believes in God and the discussion of whether robots can do it are removed. Instead, Pirx and Brown discuss whether humans and robots have conscience.
    • In the original, the Church is mentioned among the organizations vehemently opposing the creation of anthropomorphic robots. This dub replaces it with a vague "Council of Elders".
  • The Invisible Man: The 1984 Soviet film adaptation completely turns the tables compared to the original, making Griffin a humble Tragic Hero and Kemp a greedy villain.
  • Lady and the Tramp (2019): In the animated film, the two cat villains are Siamese cats who speak in a stereotypical Asian way. The live-action film changes the cats' breed and voices.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • Mortal Kombat (2021): Scorpion and Sub-Zero are of Japanese and Chinese descent respectively and Raiden is based on a Japanese deity named Raijin. Despite this, they were portrayed by white actors in the original games and most of the previous live-action adaptations. This film has all three characters played by Asian actors and even manages to avoid Interchangeable Asian Cultures by having them match the nationalities and ethnicities of their respective characters. This applies to all other Asian characters in the movie as well. In addition, the female characters have much more modest outfits than in most of the games.
  • Power Rangers (2017): In the original show, Zack and Trini, the original Black and Yellow Rangers, were depicted by an African-American actor and an Asian-American actress respectively and were rather stereotypical; Zack was a dancer and Trini was into martial arts and was also Asian and Nerdy. The movie Race Lifts Zack into an Asian-American boy and Trini into a Latina-American girl while also adding some depth and complexity to them like Zack's humor being a coping mechanism for his poverty and his mother's sickness, and Trini dealing with her sexual orientation.
  • The Secret Garden (1993): Downplayed. It keeps Mary being offended at being mistaken for black (before she was seen) but it deletes the part where Martha says, "There are a lot of blacks [in India] instead of respectable white people" and replaces it with her saying, "I have nothing against natives" when Mary throws her tantrum. Likewise, it still has Colin proposing to Mary, but it adds in Mary being grossed out by this.
  • The Scarlet Sails: In the 1961 Soviet adaptation, Arthur Grey renounces his aristocratic lineage and helps some random revolutionary terrorists who tried to kill some random mayor. In the book, he does run away from home to become a captain but keeps in touch with his mother, and there are no terrorists. His parents also get hit with heavy Adaptational Villainy, because in the Soviet world, Aristocrats Are Evil and only evil.

  • The Count of Monte Cristo ends with the Count in a relationship with his slave/adoptive daughter Haydée (to be fair, she's a slave in name only, and she was the one doing all the work to get him to notice her). As this still smacks of Wife Husbandry to modern audiences, most adaptations will have him end up back with Mercedes instead of Mercedes joining a convent, and Haydée sometimes ends up with Franz d'Epinay, who otherwise disappears from the book long before the end.
  • In Real Life, Matvey Kuzmin, a Fake Defector who lured Nazi troops into a trap under the guise of helping them with a surprise attack, wasn’t a member of a kolkhoz and was in fact suspected by his neighbours of having counterrevolutionary views. In Boris Polevoy’s fictionalised account of his Heroic Sacrifice, "The Last Day of Matvey Kuzmin", Kuzmin is made a devoted member of a kolkhoz, as befits a proper Soviet hero.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Baby-Sitters Club (2020): In the original books, the girls go to a summer camp known as Camp Mohawk. In the live-action series, rather than the potentially exploitative name of "Mohawk," it's renamed to "Camp Moosehead".
  • Black Lightning (2018):
    • In his earlier appearances, Black Lightning used Jive Turkey speech in order to conceal his secret identity as a schoolteacher. In the show, he speaks in a way a black man normally would, instead relying on a high-tech mask and a voice modulator to hide his identity.
    • In the original comics, Tobias Whale had the codename "White Whale", was a Fat Bastard, and embodied as many terrible stereotypes about fat people and people with albinism as possible. In the TV series, he is still large but has a more muscular build, he is presented as a more intellectual villain with Faux Affably Evil tendencies, and has a more complicated motive — he's a black albino man who hates other black people because they shunned him in his youth.
  • Cloak & Dagger (2018): In the original comics, Ty came from a poor black family, while Tandy came from a rich white one, a dynamic which carried a lot of implications even back in the 1980s. In the live-action series, the writers put them on a more equitable socioeconomic footing, with Ty coming from a well-off black family while Tandy came from a formerly-comfortable white family that had fallen on hard times.
  • Pipo De Clown: This is possibly why Klukkluk the Native American was removed in the 2003 movie. At the time the original show was produced, racially insensetive stereotypes and brownface were accepted, but in the modern day they're seen as tasteless.
  • Runaways (2017) made several adjustments from its source material:
    • The original series featured a scene where Chase uses his x-ray goggles on Nico and Karolina without either character's knowledge. In the TV series, Gert uses the goggles on Chase instead.
    • In the original series, Karolina remains in the closet until the second volume and has to endure casual homophobia from her teammates (who don't yet realize that she's a lesbian), and after coming out of the closet, she is Put on a Bus for several months to enter into an Arranged Marriage. The TV series significantly reduces the Gayngst; she comes out early on, is quickly accepted by her teammates, and starts dating Nico by the end of the first season.
    • In the original series, Xavin was a Gender Bender who would often default to a male form, only taking a female form because they were betrothed to Karolina, who is exclusively lesbian, which raised a lot of questions about whether they were really genderfluid or whether they were just pretending to be female in order to keep Karolina from breaking off the engagement. In the series, Xavin is only presented in their female form.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series has "Turnabout Intruder", an episode in which a crazy woman claims that women can't be captains. Later on, the writers gave this a Hand Wave by saying that it was only the woman's insanity that made her believe this and included female captains in Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek: Discovery, which were both set before Original Series. Also, a female captain was the main protagonist of Star Trek: Voyager.
  • Y: The Last Man (2021):
    • Given how transgender people have become more prominent since the comics' run from 2002 to 2008, the producers have to make it clear that trans people with a Y chromosome also died in the plague while adding an original trans man character to the show. It's also specifically noted that "the last man" only refers to cis men — many trans men are still around (including the aforementioned one, Sam).
    • Dr. Mann also mentions intersex people, since certain conditions can result in women having a Y chromosome (or vice versa) and some were also killed (this is not mentioned in the comic). Intersex people have recently come more into public awareness too.

  • Annie completely changes the political stance from the Little Orphan Annie comics. While the comic strip, created by and written under Harold Gray from 1924-1968, absolutely hated Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal at the time he was in office (having Warbucks flat-out die from despair over FDR's 1944 re-election), the musical, written 40 years after the New Deal's success, has Annie convince Warbucks to agree to help FDR with the New Deal.
  • The Screen-to-Stage Adaptation of A Christmas Story, which aired on Fox in 2017, changed the Asian Speekee Engrish rendition of "Deck the Halls" at the Chinese restaurant to a perfectly eloquent rendition of the song. The change is lampshaded as Mr. Parker notes he "wasn't expecting that," and the restaurant owner judgmentally asks him, "What were you expecting?"
  • Company (Sondheim): The 1996 revival changed a lyric in "You Can Drive a Person Crazy" that went "I could understand a person if it's not a person's bag / I could understand a person if a person were a fag," to the more respectful "I could understand a person if he said to go away / I could understand a person if he happened to be gay." This wasn't consistent for all later productions, however.
  • Legally Blonde: In the 2001 film, Elle figures out that Brooke Windham's pool boy, claiming to have been having an affair with her, is gay (proving he's lying about the affair) from his knowledge about her shoes. Not only did this rely on stereotypes about gay men, but also fell under No Bisexuals since the idea he could be attracted to men and women is never brought up. In the 2007 musical, Elle figures out the pool boy is gay because he had no reaction to her Bend and Snap, a move which is 99.99% effective on anyone who is attracted to women (evidenced by straight Warner's and lesbian Enid's reactions), which would rule out bisexuality. In addition, a whole musical number is spent pointing out that they can't assume sexuality based on appearance due to differing cultural norms (though Elle ends up being correct in the end, since his boyfriend says he never "swings the other way").
  • Porgy and Bess used to have at least twenty instances of the N-word, but they aren't present in new versions due to a rewrite effort from Ira Gershwin in the 1950s.
  • RENT: LIVE edited the 1995 musical to get rid of dated or unintentionally problematic issues:
    • It changed a line in "Happy New Year" where Maureen sings about wanting to be Joanne's slave to her simply promising to be good to Joanne.
    • Due to a shifting understanding of gender identity since the 1990s, Angel's Ambiguous Gender Identity was updated to be more obviously transgender instead of a drag queen. Angel affirms during "I'll Cover You" that she feels the most like herself in feminine clothing, and Mark no longer refers to her as a drag queen during her funeral. Collins also consistently refers to Angel as "she" instead of "he."
  • Show Boat: The first sung lines of the 1927 musical contain prominent N-words, though they're being sung by a chorus of black singers working "while de white folks play." Subsequent productions and adaptations have replaced the word with "darkies" (the 1936 Universal film), "colored folks" (the 1946 Broadway revival), or just "here we all," eschewing the outdated language altogether in the latter case. The 1951 MGM film and 1966 Lincoln Center production just cut the first lines altogether.

    Video Games 
  • Kirby:
    • Kirby Super Star Ultra changes Wham Bam Rock's design to look less like Blackface, instead looking like a stone relief. Wham Bam Jewel looks closer to Wham Bam Rock's original design, but is given fangs and a third eye to look less human.
    • The South Korean release of Kirby Super Star Ultra changes certain sprites in Samurai Kirby to lessen its resemblance to feudal Japan, due to this era being associated with Japan's forced annexation of Korea.
    • Kirby's Return to Dream Land: Wing Kirby no longer bears the Tribal Face Paint on his cheeks seen in previous appearances, and Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe redesigns the ability hat to bear less of a resemblance to a warbonnet. Both alterations are owed to increased scrutiny of cultural appropriation of Native American imagery, which became particularly prominent in the decade since the Wii version's release. This is especially true in regard to the warbonnet, which in Native American cultures can only be worn by tribespeople who have earned the right to do so.
  • Super Mario RPG: In the 2023 remake for the Switch, several characters are given less potentially offensive names than they had in the 1996 original, including changing Shyster (which is sometimes seen as an antisemitic term) to "Shymore", Frogfucious (a parody of Confucius) to just "Frog Sage", and the two overweight Koopa enemies, Tub-o-Troopa and Heavy Troopa to "Grand Troopas" and "Big Troopas" respectively. Other jokes that make fun of characters' weight have been removed, as have a few jokes relating to women being passive. In the original, for instance, a young girl Toad at one point asks if she can marry Mario; in the remake she simply asks if she can be part of his team.
  • Persona 3 Reload:
    • The Coin minor arcana card, which grants you money after a battle, has been altered so that it doesn't resemble the Star of David and invoke the Greedy Jew stereotype.
    • In prior editions of the game, the Operation Babe Hunt side quest had a scene where, after a few unsuccessful attempts at hitting on girls, they come across a lone woman who tries to flirt with them. After Akihiko notices some stubble on her chin, the woman turns away in shame and remarks that she "missed a spot", with the game's text window putting a question mark at the end of her name (Beautiful Lady in P3 and Pretty Lady in P3P) for all her subsequent lines. Junpei reacts in horror to this revelation and the boys subsequently run away, much to her disappointment. As this scene could be considered transphobic by many, Persona 3 Reload naturally completely rewrites it so that the woman is now a conspiracy theorist who believes the sun was replaced with an artificial one in the 1980s and offers the boys "special sunscreen" to protect them in exchange for 300,000 yen. The boys then run away after noticing this unusual behavior and suspecting she may be scamming them.
  • The VR adaptation for Resident Evil 4 removes the more sexual comments and scenes, such as Luis' "ballistics" comment, Leon's quips to Hunnigan, and Ashley asking Leon for "overtime". This was done at Oculus' (NKA Meta) request to bring the game more in-line with today's values with the byproduct of some scenes appearing odd, such as Ashley now being mad at Luis for seemingly no reason since his offending comment was removed.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Tintin: For one scene in the original comic, Tintin wears blackface to disguise himself on a ship. In the episode adapting this comic ("Broken Ear"), Tintin disguises himself with glasses, a wig, and a fake mustache (the same disguise he would wear again in "The Calculus Affair").
  • The DCU:
    • Teen Titans: In The Judas Contract, Terra is The Mole for Slade and is in a sexual relationship with him even though he's much older than her. When Slade decides not to go through with his plan to kill the Titans, Terra turns on him and ends up dying when she loses control of her powers and the story treats her as more evil than Slade even though the latter is the one who came up with the idea to kill the Titans in the first place and pursues a sexual relationship with a girl young enough to be his daughter. In the animated series, Terra is depicted as a young, scared girl who is manipulated by the older Slade. While Terra's crimes are not glossed over, she isn't depicted as the more evil of the two between her and Slade. Also, Slade and Terra are not in a sexual relationship.
    • Young Justice - Revival Series removes Slade and Terra's sexual relationship and portrays her as a teenage girl bullied and manipulated into being a villain by Slade who is depicted as unambiguously evil.
  • DuckTales (2017):
    • The original show has some issues when it came to portraying foreign cultures, one such example being Dijon, a greedy stereotype of an Arab person. The reboot reimagines him as D'jinn, a poetic swordsman and total badass.
    • Many of the female characters from the original series had their personalities and traits changed to be more gender-friendly and avoid stereotypes:
      • In the original series, Webby was treated rather poorly by the triplets due to being a girl with feminine interests. Of course, that would be viewed as sexist nowadays, so the reboot has Webby immediately accepted by the triplets regardless of her gender and interests, which is further helped by her now being an Action Girl and a Tomboy with a Girly Streak.
      • Mrs. Beakley, instead of a Granny Classic who faints at the sight of danger, is an ex-spy with a Heroic Build who, beside being Scrooge's housekeeper, is also his bodyguard, and not his secretary.
      • Fenton's mother is not a frumpy TV-addicted housewife but a Spicy Latina police officer (who loves her telenovelas).
      • Goldie isn't just Scrooge's on-and-off Love Interest, but also an adventurer serving as Scrooge's counterpoint to show what life might be like if you only looked out for yourself. Granted, the greater antagonistic approach may be YMMV for some.
      • Gandra Dee is no longer a shallow Dumb Blonde love interest for Fenton, but a freelance scientist. She and Fenton do hit it off on a date, though with the undertones that it may have been for Gandra to get intel on Gizmo Duck, given she was working with Mark Beaks. We haven't seen the last of her, given that we learn she works for F.O.W.L.
      • Daisy has been given a far more complex character than being "girl Donald". She is given a career as a fashion designer, to make her an independent woman albeit with still stereotypically feminine interests. And in order to address the issue of her and Donald's relationship being too toxic over the years, "Louie's Eleven!" starts their relationship over from scratch, showing the aspects of why they are meant to be together (particularly, Daisy being the first person to literally understand Donald perfectly). Also, as seen in "New Gods on the Block!", instead of being a nagging shrew who threatens Donald with a breakup over the slightest misunderstanding, she is far more patient with Donald and only flips when the situation gets really bad.
  • Garfield and Friends: In one strip from the original comic, Garfield is telling jokes on the fence, one being that his car is so old it's insured against "Indian raids." In the show, it was changed to "dinosaurs", both removing the potentially offensive content and enhancing the joke by making the car even older.
  • The Little Lulu Show: The theme song to the original animated adaptation said of Lulu "Though you're wild as any Zulu and you're just as hard to tame". When this show was made, it was changed to "Though you're wild you know it's true, Lu, and you're very hard to tame".
  • The Smurfs (1981): The story The Black Smurfs from the comic series revolves around a condition where the Smurfs turn black and start acting animalistic. For obvious reasons, the cartoon has the infected Smurfs turn purple.
  • Young Justice (2010): The show's version of the minority Canon Foreigners from Superfriends are a major step up from their original incarnations.
    • Apache Chief dressed in buckskins, spoke in broken English and activated his powers by saying "Inuckchuk", a corruption of the Inuit word for "stone monoliths". His Young Justice counterpart Tye Longshadow lacks these stereotypical traits and is a more fleshed out character through exploration of his home life and friendship with Blue Beetle.
    • El Dorado was a shirtless superhero who was prone to Gratuitous Spanish and had New Powers as the Plot Demands. Ed Dorado does have the Gratuitous Spanish but is also The Smart Guy among the group, gets some development regarding his relationship with his father and also develops into a less temperamental person.
    • Samurai was a Japanese man with mystical abilities who related everything to bushido. Asami is something of a zig-zagged example; she speaks in Japanese because she was abducted from Japan but her Ki Manipulation abilities could be considered stereotypical in some ways. She also gets the least development of the reinvented characters.