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Dies Differently in Adaptation

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A lot can get changed in adaptations, particularly when it comes to characters' deaths. Perhaps the death in the original medium was too graphic for the target audience. Perhaps the death was slow and therefore not suitable for a film's pacing. Or perhaps the adapted version of the character was so despised, they required a more graphic or elaborate death.

This is quite common in family-oriented works—where characters who died of illnesses get sudden and more immediate deaths to make them more accessible for children. Back in the days of The Hays Code, some deaths had to be changed to meet the standards of the film's censors. In works prone to Adaptation Expansion—where the original cause of death is not mentioned—this counts too in the sense of confirming what the cause was.

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This trope can also be used to keep the adaptation interesting to those who are already familiar with the original version.

Note that it's only this trope if the character dies in both versions of the work. If the character dies in one but lives in the other, that's Death by Adaptation or Spared by the Adaptation, although it can overlap with these tropes if it happens earlier or later than in the original version. It is also only this trope if it's the same character. If Alice gets pushed off a bridge in the book, but Bob does in the movie, that's not this trope.

Compare Death by Adaptation, Spared by the Adaptation, Bloodier and Gorier and Lighter and Softer.

As a Death Trope, you should of course expect unmarked spoilers.


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Other examples:

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    Comic Books 

    Fairy Tales 
  • "Snow White": Traditionally, the Evil Queen dies after being forced to dance in hot shoes. This has been censored in multiple versions. The first English translation from 1823 had her choking on envy after finding out Snow White is alive, while another 1871 English translation has her own feet turning hot from anger. Translations often have her either killed by something she did (accidentally touching her own poisoned rose, falling into quicksand after poisoning her step-daughter, etc), killed by the dwarves, turned ugly as a result of her envious heart, or simply exiled.

    Films — Animated 
  • In the Arabian Nights tale of Aladdin, the evil sorcerer is either poisoned or drugged with a sleeping potion and beheaded by Aladdin, depending on the version. In the Disney version, Jafar is Spared by the Adaptation in the original film by being turned into a genie and imprisoned in the magic lamp, but is eventually killed in the sequel when his former sidekick Iago kicks the lamp into lava.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Quasimodo throws Frollo to his death in the original book, while in the movie Frollo falls into a pit of molten lead due to standing on a crumbling gargoyle. The stage musical adapted from the movie restores the original death.
  • In the Brothers Grimm's "Snow White", the wicked queen is forced to dance to death in hot iron shoes at Snow White's wedding. In the classic Disney film, she falls off a cliff.
  • In the comics, Peter dies fighting the Sinister Six before Miles Morales took over as Spider-Man. in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Peter is mortally wounded from an explosion before The Kingpin finishes him off.
  • Superman villain Doomsday has perished differently in the animated movies he's featured in compared to his multiple deaths in the comics (struck down by Superman, sent to the end of time, vaporized by Imperiex, etc.) In Superman: Doomsday, Superman slams himself and Doomsday into the ground from orbit. In The Death of Superman, Superman punches Doomsday so hard that his neck is wrenched a full 180 degrees.
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    Literature 

    Myths & Religion 
  • While many, if not most, versions of the legend of Faust end with Faust's demise, the method in which he goes often differs. Originally, Faust is allowed until he finds a moment of satisfaction. Eventually, that moment comes and he dies on the spot. Others simply end with Faust being taken to Hell by the demons he trafficked with. The 1994 movie ends with Faust being struck by a car.

    Theatre 
  • The Beetlejuice musical changes the Maitlands' fatal accident in the original film from driving their car into a river to falling through the creaky old floor in their house.
  • Danganronpa: The Stage:
    • In chapter 3 of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, Kiyotaka Ishimaru is bludgeoned to death with a hammer by Hifumi Yamada, who was acting under the orders of Celestia Ludenburg. In The Stage, however, he is killed alongside chapter 2's culprit, Mondo Owada, because he refused to vote for Mondo as the killer. As for Hifumi and Celestia, they both die together when they vote that Sakura Ogami's death, a suicide, was murder.
    • The Stage also foregoes the elaborate executions of the convicted in favor of the Spears of Gungnir, a la Mukuro Ikusaba's death.
  • In the stage version of Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Esmeralda dies of smoke inhalation after being rescued from burning at the stake. This combines her original death from the novel, which was by hanging, with the Disney film's ending where she's rescued from the stake and survives.
    • In addition, Jehan Frollo dies near the end of the book, during the assault on the cathedral (and at the hands of Quasimodo, of all people). On stage, however, he dies in the opening number, succumbing to the same pox that killed his lover a few months prior.
  • A minor example in the Broadway musical adaptation of Jane Eyre. In the novel, Helen Burns dies of tuberculosis, which she already had when she and Jane first met. Her death just happens to coincide with a typhus epidemic at Lowood School which also kills many of the other girls. In the musical, she dies of typhus like her schoolmates.
  • In The Strange Caseof Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde, Jekyll/Hyde is Driven to Suicide with cyanide in the end. In Jekyll & Hyde he transforms into Hyde involuntarily at his own wedding party, but becomes Jekyll again just long enough to beg Utterson to kill him. Then, depending on the version of the show, he either is shot by Utterson after he turns into Hyde again, or throws himself on Utterson's swordstick when Utterson can't bring himself to do the deed.
  • In the Screen-to-Stage Adaptation of The Little Mermaid, Ursula, rather than being impaled and electrocuted, dissolves after Ariel smashes her nautilus shell, implied to be a Soul Jar similar to Genie!Jafar's lamp and Rasputin's reliquary. The Junior production gives her a death somewhat closer to the film, with the trident's magic backfiring on her.
  • In Auntie Mame, Beau Burnside's honeymoon with Mame ends when he's kicked in the head by a horse. In the play and its musical adaptation Mame, Beau falls off a mountain instead. The film of the musical, meanwhile, has Beau killed in an avalanche.
  • In the original book of Matilda, Miss Honey's mother died when she was two years old, of unspecified causes. In the musical, the Acrobat died in childbirth after being gravely injured in a fall during her last performance.
  • In Native Son, Bigger rapes Bessie and then throws her off a building in the original novel (though it's later revealed that her actual death was more prolonged). The play renames her Clara and has Bigger kill her instead by more or less using her as a Bulletproof Human Shield.
  • In E. T. A. Hoffmann's The Nutcracker, the Mouse King is Killed Offscreen by the Nutcracker in a Duel to the Death. Exactly how he dies in the ballet varies between productions. Sometimes Clara kills him by hitting him on the head with her shoe. Sometimes her thrown shoe only distracts him and gives the Nutcracker the chance to stab him. And still others have Clara grab the Nutcracker's sword and stab the King herself.
  • Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark changes the Green Goblin's death from getting impaled on his own Goblin Glider to getting dragged off the Chrysler Building by his own piano.
  • National Theatre's 2014 production of Treasure Island:
    • Blind Pew is stabbed to death by another pirate instead of being trampled by a horse (which would have been rather more difficult to stage).
    • Israel Hands is a Self-Disposing Villain (he accidentally blows himself up while guarding the ship's armoury), saving Jim from having to kill him in self-defense as in the novel.
  • In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo commits suicide with poison. In West Side Story, Tony is shot by Chino, the equivalent of Paris, in a sort of suicide by enemy gang when he runs into the street calling for Chino to come and get him.

    Video Games 
  • In Conker's Bad Fur Day, Conker faces a gargoyle atop a bridge in the tutorial level. Upon hitting the gargoyle with a frying pan, the gargoyle starts to mock him just before he loses his balance and falls to his death. In the remake, Conker: Live & Reloaded, the gargoyle doesn't fall off the bridge upon being hit with the frying pan. After a moment of Lampshade Hanging, Conker hits the gargoyle with a baseball bat which causes the gargoyle to fall over and be Squashed Flat by a boulder.
  • Whenever the plot of a world is essentially the plot of the movie that said world represents in Kingdom Hearts, there are chances of the villains deaths being played out differently.
    • In Tarzan, Clayton falls and ends up hanging himself. In Kingdom Hearts, the Stealth Sneak that fights alongside him in his boss fight collapses on him, crushing him.
    • In The Little Mermaid (1989), Eric kills Ursula by impaling her with the ship he is steering. In Kingdom Hearts II, he throws the trident right through her instead.
    • In The Lion King (1994), Scar is eaten alive by his fellow Hyenas. In Kingdom Hearts II, he becomes a heartless and continues his fight against Simba only to immediately die upon defeat.
    • In Aladdin: The Return of Jafar, Jafar's lamp is kicked into the lava by Iago, effectively destroying him. In Kingdom Hearts II, he dies the instant he's beaten in his boss fight, with his lamp simply vanishing the moment he does.
    • In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the gargoyle that Frollo is standing on break off, sending him falling to his death. In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, it plays out the same way in Sora's story, but in Riku's story, he is blown off the church by the boss of the world, Wargoyle.
    • In TRON: Legacy, Rinzler dies in a failed kamikaze to give the heroes more time to escape from Clu. This time around, Clu murders Rinzler when Sora sets the latter free in his scenario. Rinzler's fate is not revealed in Riku's scenario, but is assumed to be the same as the film.
    • In Tangled, Mother Gothel ages into dust after Rapunzel's hair is cut. It almost plays out the same way in Kingdom Hearts III, but is turned into a Heartless. She dies after Sora defeats her.
    • In the Pirates of the Caribbean series, the Kraken is suddenly dead in the third movie (killed by Davy Jones in the novelization). It survives in Kingdom Hearts only to get killed by Sora later on.
    • Even between games, deaths may change. In the original GBA Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories Vexen gets stabbed in the back by Axel after Sora defeats him. He briefly pleads for his life before Axel strikes him again, thus killing him. In the remake, or PS2 port, Re: Chain of Memories, however, Axel shoots him with a fireball once to shut him up before he can reveal Organization XIII's secret to Sora, then snaps his fingers and literally burns him up. Depending on who you ask, the former may be seen as more brutal and the latter as being Lighter and Softer. Then again, in the remake Vexen is given no time to beg for mercy which to some might be seen as more ruthless, and he burns to death even if it is all over within a matter of seconds. So an argument for which death is more brutal can be made for both versions, really.
  • A Little Lily Princess halves the difference between the original's Brain Fever and other adaptations' more natural deaths by having Sara's father die due to a combination of the shock he received upon learning that his family was destitute as well as a physical illness he was also going through at the time. His lawyer says explicitly that either alone could not have killed him but both together weakened him enough that he could not fight back.
  • Historically and in Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Shi died of illness. Dynasty Warriors 8, however, sees him get killed in an ambush by his enemies, which was mainly done so that there would be a branching point to open the hypothetical route, where he ends up living.
  • In the original version of Ratchet & Clank, Chairman Drek rushes towards his frankenstein planet in a Villainous Breakdown, and Ratchet turns the Deplanetizer, intending to destroy Veldin, towards that location and fires. While this is still the way Drek died in the film and reimaginging, the circumstances were changed so that Dr. Nefarious turns Drek into a sheep, and sends him to the planet on an escape pod. The planet's destruction was made an accident as a side affect of stopping Nefarious from destroying Umbris and setting off a chain reaction that would destroy countless planets.
  • In Dragon Ball Z: Buu's Fury, Super Buu never uses his Human Extinction Attack to kill off the entire population of Earth. They end up dying anyway when Kid Buu blows up the planet later, but in the meantime, you've got more time to do all the sidequests.
  • In the arcade version of Double Dragon II, Marian gets gunned down by Machine Gun Willy at the start of the very first stage. In the NES version, her death is simply mentioned in the opening text, but it is implied in the images shown afterward that she was stabbed by a ninja. Stabbing also seems to be the method in the PC-Engine Version as shown in a cutscene.
  • Every version of Emerald Dragon has its own version of Yaman's death. In the PC versions he's sneak attacked by a monster disguised as a villager. In the PC Engine version he takes an arrow in place Atrushan shot by a hidden monster. And in the Super Famicom version he's accidently shot by a child he just taught how to use a bow.

    Web Comics 
  • And Shine Heaven Now changes the deaths of Walter and Anderson from how it happened in Hellsing:
    • Instead of dying either in a fire or from his Deadly Upgrade from his willing Face–Heel Turn (the manga doesn't make it quite clear how he died, just that he did]), Walter is brainwashed into working for Millennium, and when he finds out there's no way to break the brainwashing permanently, he asks to be Mercy Killed. To make it even more tragic, his own daughter Maggie was the one to do it.
    • Instead of using Helena's Nail to turn himself into a monster to fight Alucard, Anderson uses the nail on the I-Jin of Jeeves, who takes Anderson with him by slashing him into pieces as he dies.

    Web Original 
  • The original Japanese version of Danganronpa Re:Birth had Maiko Kagura murder Saiji Rokudou in Chapter 1, after which she is executed. In the English dub, Maiko is murdered in Chapter 1, and Saiji is executed in Chapter 3.
  • Kentucky Fried Politics:
    • Martin Luther King Jr. doesn't get assassinated, but he does die at 56 from heart failure.
    • Michael Jackson perishes when his Neverland ranch mansion burns down.
    • Brian Epstein is killed during the Manson Family's failed attempt to kill the Beatles.
    • The Colonel himself gets 10 extra years of life, but eventually his diabetes takes him in his sleep, instead of leukaemia/pneumonia.
    • John F. Kennedy is never assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald and dies from Addison's disease at the age of 74.
    • Elizabeth Taylor dies in a car accident at the relatively young age of 33.
    • Jeffrey Dahmer is killed by John Wayne Gacy when he's just 17 years old instead of being murdered by an inmate while serving his life sentence in prison.
    • Jeffrey Epstein dies in a plane crash after he flees the United States to avoid getting convicted for sexual pestering.
    • George Lincoln Rockwell is killed by a fellow inmate at the Petersburg Federal Correctional Institution when he's 75 years old.
    • Lee Iacocca is assassinated by Lynwood Drake during a presidential tour in Los Angeles.
    • Otis Redding dies from heart disease at age 69.
    • Malcolm X dies at the ripe age of 82 from natural causes.
    • Robert Maxwell, the father of Ghislaine Maxwell lives much longer and dies at the age of 88.
    • Jimi Hendrix dies in 2013 at the age of 70.
    • Instead of being killed by police during a killing spree, Charles Whitman is killed by a Cuban sniper during the Cuban War, believed to have been Lee Harvey Oswald.
    • Marilyn Monroe dies peacefully from congestive heart failure at the age of 87.
    • Non-person example: The World Hockey Association (WHA) lasts up until 2004 as opposed to an immediate merger with the National Hockey League (NHL) in 1979.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Redwall book Martin the Warrior, Felldoh goes down in a blaze of glory, fighting tens of soldiers at once, Rose dies fighting Badrang when he throws her against a wall, and Badrang the Tyrant is stabbed by Martin to avenge all the evil he's done. In the animated adaptation, however, Felldoh is taken down by only a handful of soldiers, Badrang stabs Rose while holding her hostage, and Badrang falls down a pit onto Martin's sword.
  • Spawn: While Billy Kincaid was killed by Al Simmons (AKA Spawn) himself in canon, in the animated series, he decides to spare him. However Billy still dies by Violator's hand via a gun when he ceased to be a valuable Unwitting Pawn for him anymore.
  • Animated adaptations of E. T. A. Hoffmann's The Nutcracker (and the ballet) tend to do this with the Mouse King and, in the Truer to the Text versions that include her, with his mother the Mouse Queen:
  • In the Legends continuity, Admiral Thrawn's bodyguard/pet assassin Rukh is arrested and executed after murdering Thrawn himself. In Star Wars Rebels, he never has reason to betray Thrawn and instead dies during the liberation of Lothal when he gets caught in a shield generator as its activating, fatally shocking him to death.
  • Young Justice
    • In the comics, Aquagirl was killed by Chemo's poison. In Young Justice: Legacy, she sacrifices herself to hold down Tiamat until the ritual to seal the alien was complete.
    • Ted Kord in the comics was killed by a headshot from Max Lord after discovering his access to Brother Eye. In the series, it is revealed he was assassinated by Sportsmaster and Deathstroke in their attempt to acquire the Blue Beetle scarab originally belonging to his predecessor Dan Garrett.
  • ThunderCats Roar: In the original series, Jaga dies inside the ThunderCats' spaceship during their journey to Third Earth. In this series, he was caught by the explosion that destroyed Thundera.
    • In the original ThunderCats (1985), Lion-O's father King Claudus was initially believed to have died in the explosion of Thundera; but is later revealed to have been captured by the Shadowmaster, then he dies of old age and is seen alongside Jaga's spirit when he's freed. In the 2011 reboot, he's killed during the siege of Thundera.
  • The Animals of Farthing Wood: Mr. Pheasant is killed alongside his wife in the books, but in the show however, he is killed by the farmer an episode later when he returns to the farm in order to rescue Adder.

 
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Lust's Death

In the 2003 version of FMA, Lust is killed off by Wrath for siding with the Elric brothers and dies a redeemed Homunculus. In the manga and Brotherhood, however, she suffers a fiery death at the hands of Roy Mustang and dies without any redemption.

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