Follow TV Tropes


Disabled in the Adaptation

Go To

In adaptations sometimes characters are given disabilities, both physical and mental, that were not in the original work.

The reason for this differs from work to work. One reason could be because the adaptation's writers don't believe the characters should be so unscathed from their adventures. Another reason could be in order to provoke more drama. In the case of mental illness, this often (but not always) relates to an Adaptational Angst Upgrade, though it is by no means limited to it. "Disabled AUs" are a popular type of fan-work as a result.


The inversion would be Abled in the Adaptation. Sub-trope to Adaptational Diversity. Compare to Written-In Infirmity, when a character is given a specific disability because the actor portraying that character has the same condition.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Coach Daigo Inokuma from Attack No. 1 can't use one of his arms in the anime adaptation since he trained way too hard in college. But in the manga, both arms are fine.
  • The first Fullmetal Alchemist anime added a few notable ones that weren't present in the source material:
    • In the manga, Paninya lost her legs as a child and had them replaced with automail prosthetics. In the anime, one of her arms was also replaced with a prosthetic in addition to her legs.
    • The anime has Rose Thomas, as a result of being an Ascended Extra, given a storyline where she suffers from severe depression and anxiety.
    • Scar loses both of his arms before performing a Heroic Sacrifice. In the source material, he survives the series with his body intact.
    • Roy Mustang loses his left eye in the anime's Grand Finale. In the manga, he loses his sight for some time, but his eyes remain intact and he regains his sight. Mustang's depression and PTSD are also given more focus, which causes him to have signs of alcoholism.
    • Edward zig-zags this. In the anime's Grand Finale, he briefly regains his lost arm and leg before performing a Heroic Sacrifice to bring Al back, which results in Ed being sent to an Alternate Universe where he once again loses his restored limbs. The source material's Grand Finale has Ed getting his arm restored. In the 2003 anime, Edward also has some PTSD symptoms that he mostly lacks in the manga.
  • Kushana in the original manga of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was able-bodied, while in the film she lost both her legs and left arm in an Ohmu attack when she was young.
  • The non-canon Rurouni Kenshin Distant Finale OVA titled Reflections gives Kenshin a contagious Soap Opera Disease that ultimately kills him and his wife Kaoru. In the canonical manga, they lived Happily Ever After, in good health and all.
  • In the original manga and OVA versions of Birdy the Mighty, Tsutomu didn't need glasses, even before merging with Birdy. In the remake manga and Decode, he's shown to wear glasses when not merged with Birdy. The same applied to his sister Hazumi.
  • In the Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics episode "The Coat of Many Colors", Aleia is deeply traumatized over her father trying to marry her. In the original Allerleirauh (which is a variant on Donkeyskin), she isn't as affected.
  • The Black Lagoon manga sees Roberta coming out of "El Baile De La Muerte" physically intact. The anime sees the climax of its adaptation, "Roberta's Blood Trail", result in Roberta losing her right eye, the index and middle fingers of her right hand, her right leg, and left arm.
  • In Pokémon Sun and Moon Lillie has had a traumatic childhood with her emotionally abusive mother Lusamine but, aside from some anxiety, she is relatively well-adjusted. Pokémon Adventures has Lillie going into a Heroic BSoD at the thought of her mother and being triggered when Sun calls her pretty like a "doll".
  • In Pokémon Sun and Moon Lillie fears seeing Pokemon be hurt and dislikes battling. In the Pokémon anime, Lillie has a phobia of Pokémon themselves. However, her reason why is very different from in the games. She was attacked by a Pokémon when she was younger. She doesn't remember the incident but remembers the fear.
  • Piccolino no Bouken: To weaken Geppetto, he has the need to use a staff and he complains that he is too old to do any trick. The original Master Geppetto had no limp and better physical condition despite his extreme poverty (before being trapped in the Dogfish, that is).
  • At the start of Blood-C: The Last Dark, Saya arrives in Tokyo with her left eye, which was shot by Fumito at the end of the TV series, is fully healed thanks to her regenerative abilities as an Elder Bairns. However in the manga, her eye is covered with a bandage after arriving in Tokyo and she removes it when she's in Watanuki's shop, revealing that her eye is restored.
  • Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040:
    • Slyia in the OVA was, for the most part, sane. Her 2040 counterpart, possibly as a result of her father using her brain in an experiment for the development of Boomer technology, is shown to suffer from mental instability.
    • In the OVA Quincy seemed to be perfectly fine (though on two occasions, he was shown using robotic doubles to avoid dangerous situations). His 2040 counterpart was hooked up to a throne with life support equipment.
  • Dororo (2019): An odd case. Hyakkimaru isn't missing any more body parts than his manga counterpart. In fact, he's missing significantly less of them, with the number having shrunk from 47 to 12. However, he also has far less in the way of Disability Negating Superpowers, so his deafness, blindness, and muteness affect him far more than they did in previous incarnations.
  • In the anime version of Japan Sinks, Toshio Onodera suffers from near-total paralysis that leaves him unable to communicate outside of Morse Code using his left thumb. This is in contrast to the original novel, in which Onodera is perfectly able-bodied.

    Comic Books 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Bolivar Trask is able-bodied in the comics but played by Peter Dinklage (who has dwarfism) in the film.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Iron Man 3, Tony suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after the events of the Avengers film. Tony doesn't suffer PTSD in the comics. They allude in the first two films without mentioning it to the disability Tony has in the comics: he's an alcoholic. (Specifically, in Iron Man 2 he becomes an alcoholic because of stress from the fact that he's dying. Both problems are fixed by the climax.)
    • In Eternals, Makkari is deaf, like her actress Lauren Ridloff. In the comics, Makkari has no disability.
  • In Power Rangers (2017), Billy is autistic, something that was not in the original series.
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • Lex Luthor clearly suffers from a form of mental disorder in addition to being a sociopath, which is traditionally what he is in the comics and most media.
    • In Suicide Squad (2016) it's implied that Harley Quinn hears voices in her head. This isn't a characteristic in her comic portrayal.
  • The Batman film series:
    • While not focused on, Pat Hingle, who played Commissioner Gordon throughout the movies, was missing his left little finger due to an accident he had in 1959.
    • Batman Returns:
    • In Batman & Robin, Alfred Pennyworth develops a rare and fatal disease that becomes integral to the plot. He's always been in good health in the comics. Additionally, much like Alan Napier's version, this Alfred is shown wearing glasses.
  • The Myth Arc of The Amazing Spider-Man Series revolves around a terminally-ill Norman Osborn's attempts to keep himself alive, an arc not present in the comics. Additionally, one: the disease is hereditary, meaning Harry's got it, too, and two: a hologram of Norman in the first movie shows him with glasses, something he didn't need in the comics.
  • SHAZAM! (2019) makes it so the powerset doesn't cure Freddy's lame leg. Superpowered flight can't not go a long way to compensate, of course.
  • Joker (2019) sees its version of the title character, Arthur Fleck, suffer from various psychological and neurological issues, including Pseudobulbar affect and has hallucinations. In the comics, Depending on the Writer, the Joker is just Obfuscating Insanity to avoid actually going to prison or death row. Turns out it's a possible Double Subversion. Arthur's "hallucinations" seem to be Imagine Spots that the viewer is merely led to believe are real, and his rant before killing Murray Franklin hints that his apparent PBA might just be a bizarre and off-putting sense of humor. On the other hand, his apparent depression is never given any other explanation, and it's hinted that Arthur suffers from Childhood Brain Damage due to his mother allowing her boyfriend to beat young Arthur unconscious.
  • Despite his name, Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget did not have a claw in the original cartoon. The 1999 film shows his left hand being smashed to bits by a bowling ball launched into the air during an explosion, resulting in the hand being amputated and replaced by a large, mechanical crab-like claw. The same is true for its sequel, though due to the film's lower budget, the controls are not as sophisticated.

  • The novelization of Final Crisis shows Dan Turpin slip into a coma as a result of Darkseid possessing him and the Black Racer's subsequent exorcism of him. The expanded version (in the later collected editions) shows Turpin not only survived, but though dazed briefly, he was still awake.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Runaways (2017):
    • Gert takes medication for anxiety, a condition that she did not have in the comics.
    • The adaptation also gives Victor Stein brain cancer, whereas he was perfectly healthy in the original comics.
  • Game of Thrones: Jorah Mormont gets infected with greyscale in Season 5 after rescuing Tyrion from Stone Men. In the books, this Story Arc belongs to Jon Connington while Jorah himself remains healthy. Jorah gets cured in Season 7, though.
  • The Punisher (2017): Curtis Hoyle was an able-bodied man in the comics. In the show, however, he's lost his left leg below the knee from an IED and wears a prosthetic. It doesn't really do much to affect Curtis's contributions.
  • The Walking Dead:
    • Two surviving (as of this edit) characters from the source material, Sophia Peletier and Carl Grimes, both die in the show by becoming walkers.
    • In the source material, Hershel dies with his entire body intact. In the show, he loses his right leg in the Season 3 premiere before getting beheaded in the following season. Interestingly, both mutilations actually belonged to two different characters in the comics. The left leg amputation actually belonged to Dale (see above), while the beheading belonged to Tyreese.
    • In the comics, Bob is alive and well. In the show, his left leg was chopped-off by cannibals and dies a few hours later. Much like Hershel, this arc originally belonged to Dale in the comics.
    • As mentioned above, Tyreese dies in the comics by getting beheaded. While the mutilation is less severe in the show (he got his arm chopped-off instead), it was done so because he got bitten. However, said infection, in addition to the pain that was heightened by the Life-or-Limb Decision, directly led to his death.
    • The show's version of Ron goes through a severe case of Sanity Slippage after Rick kills his Asshole Victim of a father. In the comics, Ron is still a Love Martyr for his father, but more-or-less remains a sane kid till his death.
    • In the comics, Denise dies because she refuses to have her infected arm chopped-off. In the show, she dies due to a severe Moe Greene Special.
    • Denise's aforementioned death in the show actually belonged to Abraham in the source material. So how did Abraham die on the show? By getting his head repeatedly whacked by a barbwire-laced baseball bat until it's nothing more than a pile of mush.
  • The Female/Kimiko in The Boys had selective mutism in the comic, but in the series it was upgraded to full mutism as a result of psychological trauma from being kidnapped by terrorists.
  • The Gifted: Polaris is depicted as suffering from bipolar disorder. While her comic book counterpart has suffered some sort of mental disorder, it hasn't been actually specified which one.
  • Arrowverse:
    • In contrast to many Green Arrow stories and adaptations, Oliver Queen's PTSD from his time away from home is heavily emphasized.
    • Deadshot's right eye is badly damaged (if not completely blind) in this version and his advanced Eyepatch of Power essentially serves as his artificial eye. In the comics and most media, his right eye is just fine and the advanced eye patch merely serves as a gadget for his job.
    • In this version, Slade Wilson kills his Evil Former Friend Billy Wintergreen by a brutal Moe Greene Special. Wintergreen never lost any eye in the comics.
    • Slade also chops-off Anthony Ivo's right hand. Ivo was never mutilated in the comics.
    • Quentin Larry Lance suffers from a weakened heart after the battle with Deathstroke and his minions. He has no such illness in the comics (nor did he fight against Deathstroke).
    • Jefferson Jackson suffers a Career-Ending Injury thanks to performing a Heroic Sacrifice. He remains a healthy high school athlete in the comics.
    • Felicity Smoak requires glasses and becomes paraplegic later in the story and is only able to walk again thanks to a chip attached to her spine. She wasn't injured that way (if, at all) in the comics, nor did she have poor eyesight.
    • Oliver chops off Malcolm Merlyn's right hand during their Trial by Combat. In the comics and most media, Merlyn's limbs are all intact. This is mitigated with Merlyn getting an Artificial Limb shortly after.
    • While Eliza Harmon/Trajectory is reliant on a speed drug in the comics, a side effect of her gaining Split Personality is added in this version.
    • Subverted by Leonard Snart. Towards the end of Legends of Tomorrow Season 1, he freezes his handcuffed right hand and shatters it in order to go after the rogue Mick Rory. However, his team's futuristic Cool Airship has advanced regenerative medical facilities that is eventually used to restore his hand. Legends also gave it's version of Steel hemophilia.
    • In the comics' Bad Future Flash storyline, the future Wally West is dead. Here, he's Spared by the Adaptation and becomes paraplegic and shell-shocked. This storyline actually belongs to Iris in the comics, whereas here she's the one who is killed off.
    • The same Bad Future Flash storyline also features Vibe losing both of his hands, and then the use of his powers since he can't channel them through his Artificial Limbs. No such storyline happens to him in the comics.
    • Savitar is ultimately revealed to have suffered an Eye Scream, as shown by his right eye being discolored gray and surrounded by burnt skin. The comics Savitar never had such an injury, and neither did Future Flash, Savitar's true self.
  • Spartacus:
    • Oenomaus loses his left eye near the end of Season 2. No historical records prove that this also happened to his Real Life counterpart.
    • Agron, who is a Decomposite Character of the historical Castus, loses the ability to clinch his hands near the end of the Finale Season due to being crucified. Like Oenomaus above, no historical records prove that this happened to the historical Castus.
  • In the Childhood's End miniseries Milo Rodericks is in a wheelchair when introduced, though the Overlords cure that easily enough, his book equivalent Jan never was paralyzed.
  • Goushi, the Black Ranger from Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger, has a complete set of fingers. While not focused on, Walter Emanuel Jones, who played Goushi's counterpart in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, was missing his left middle finger.
  • Batman (1966) sees Alfred needing to wear glasses, whereas the comics Alfred doesn't.
  • Gotham sees the Penguin walk with a limp because of an injury to his right leg and its final season sees him lose his right eye and replace it with a fake one.
  • Elementary:
    • Sherlock's drug-usage from the books is treated as a serious issue. He meets Joan when he's trying to get sober. Also, in a later season, Sherlock is diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome. There are some implications that Sherlock might be on the autism spectrum, but it's kept an Ambiguous Disorder (with much lampshading).
    • The final episode has a Wham Line that reveals Joan has cancer, though it's gone into remission by the timeskip at the very end of the episode.
  • The Anne of Green Gables adaptation Anne with an E depicts Anne as suffering from PTSD after years of childhood abuse. Her Cloud Cuckoo Lander nature is turned into maladaptive daydreaming used to deal with her trauma.

  • In a 2015 production of Spring Awakening, many of the major characters were played by deaf performers while hearing people would translate their sign language.
  • In the stage version of Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo's deafness from the original novel is brought back. He speaks mostly in broken monosyllables and hand signs; only in his solo songs does he become fully articulate, because they represent his inner emotions.

    Video Games 
  • Splatoon 2: In the Spanish and French versions, it's mentioned that Pearl wears contacts for her bad eyesight. This isn't mentioned in other versions.
  • Dynasty Warriors:
    • Wei Yan has a speech impairment where he tends to talk in phrase. There's no evidence in the historical records and Romance of the Three Kingdoms (which the games are based on) that he suffers from a speech impairment.
    • In the games, Guo Huai is portrayed as a sickly man who keeps on coughing. According to Word of God, he's very workaholic when fighting loyally for Wei that it exhausts his body. Historically, he was only sick in two major events which are the campaign in Mt. Dingjun and Cao Pi's coronation.
    • Some games in the series depict Xiahou Dun as always having his Eyepatch of Power, even in events before the battle of Xiapi, where he actually lost his eye.
  • Batman: Arkham Series:
    • The Penguin during the events of City and Knight features a vent in his neck and a beer bottle jammed into his left eye in place of his traditional monocle.
    • The Calendar Man is an Evil Cripple, his right leg being shorter than his left and wearing a brace and elevated shoe to compensate.
    • Much like Michael Gough and Alan Napier's versions, Alfred is shown wearing glasses in Knight.
    • Like in Suicide Squad (2016), Harley argues with voices in her head, as shown in the bonus mission in Knight where she is playable.
  • Spider-Man (PS4):
    • Harry Osborn is shown wearing glasses in some pictures. Additionally, much like in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Harry is terminally-ill, which forms the crux of the plot (only in this case, it's the same disease his mother had, though Norman is still trying to cure it).
    • Also, Doctor Octopus is suffering from a nerological disease which will eventually render his body immobile while his mind will remain functional. Which is why he's desperate to perfect his cybernetic tentacles, and why he's so horrified at the idea of being sent to jail and deprived of them, which will leave him confined to his useless body.
    • Spider-Man: Miles Morales:
      • Ganke Lee is shown wearing glasses, unlike his comics counterpart.
      • Rick Mason is also shown needing to wear glasses, as well as being afflicted by a condition causing his bone marrow to deteriorate.
  • Depending on the choices the player makes in the climax of season 1 when Batman is asked to unmask by Lady Arkham, Alfred will lose an eye in Batman: The Telltale Series if Bruce refuses.

    Web Comics 
  • Litterbox Comics is a webcomic by Chesca Hause about a family of anthropomorphic cats based on her own family. The eldest son is a calico, even though calicos in real life are exclusively female unless the male has Klinefelter Syndrome (XXY chromosomes, which leads to infertility, lower testosterone, and mild intersex traits). Hause simply established that the boy has this condition even though her real-life son does not.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • G.I. Joe:
    • G.I. Joe: Renegades:
      • Most versions of General Hawk give him the use of both eyes. In Renegades, General Abernathy is shown wearing a patch over his right eye, suggesting at the least that he's lost the vision in it.
      • As part of the rather lax dress code of the original team, Airtight wore a hazmat suit to protect himself. In Renegades, he's infected with an infectious disease by Cobra and wear the suit to protect others from his condition.
      • Most of the time, Cobra Commander is in good health. In Renegades, some of his actions are motivated by the fact he's shown as dealing with a disease and when it's introduced, the series version of his iconic silver faceplate is reimagined as a breathing mask.
    • In G.I. Joe Extreme, Lt. Stone had both arms. In G.I. Joe: Sigma 6, his left arm, lost in battle with Cobra, was replaced with a cybernetic one.
  • DC Animated Universe:
    • Batman: The Animated Series:
      • The Penguin takes after his Batman Returns incarnation in having syndactyly (fused fingers). While the Art Evolution in TNBA would see the Penguin have normal hands again, it's unclear if it's just an artistic choice or if the Penguin had corrective surgery in the interim.
      • While the B: TAS Mr. Freeze suffers the same condition his comic counterpart had that results in him needing a suit to keep himself below zero to survive, in The New Batman Adventures, it's shown to have taken a toll on his body, resulting in him becoming a disembodied head with robotic legs. In the comics, Freeze's body is still intact.
    • In the Superman comics, both General Zod and Jax-Ur have the use of both eyes. When both were fused into the Jax-Ur of Superman: The Animated Series, his design included a patch over his right eye.
    • Justice League would see the Trickster as having a mental illness, being so out of touch with reality, he didn't realize he was in costume until it was pointed out to him.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), Leonardo loses a chunk of his shell after he is accidentally stabbed by Karai, a wound that never happens to him in the original comics. This is a metaphor for the PTSD he developed- after all, the original name for PTSD was "shell shock".
  • The failed Toon Makers Sailor Moon pilot put Sailor Mercury in a wheelchair. In the original anime and manga, she is able-bodied.
  • The Batman:
    • Much like in Batman Returns and Batman: The Animated Series, the Penguin is shown with fused fingers. He is also criminally insane and imprisoned in Arkham Asylum, unlike comics Penguin, who is perfectly sane.
    • The Cluemaster is so obese that he used a motorized platform to help himself get around.
  • While less extreme than other examples (more Four-Fingered Hands in this case), Justice League Action sees the Penguin with fused fingers like in Batman Returns.
  • In the comics, the accident that turned Otto Octavius into Doctor Octopus only resulted in the grafting of a harness with four robotic tentacles to him and only becoming an Evil Cripple through years of battle. Ultimate Spider-Man sees the accident itself be the cause for Octavius becoming paralyzed, needing his tentacles just for the sake of moving until season 4, where Ock injects himself with nanites to rebuild his body.
  • In Voltron: Legendary Defender, Shiro has a bionic right arm, along with suffering from PTSD in comparison to his original series counterpart Sven and his anime counterpart having neither.
  • In the comics, Paula Crook, the original Huntress and Tigress was able-bodied her whole life. In Young Justice, she's shown using a wheelchair.
  • Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus states that Professor Membrane had to replace his arms with cybernetics because of a childhood incident involving sharks. The original series had him with his original arms; for example, flesh is visible at his wrists during the "I'm making...TOAST!" scene in "The Nightmare Begins".
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Scootaloo, despite being a pegasus, is unable to fly, even though it's stated in-show that most pegasi around her age can fly (with her idol, Rainbow Dash, having even performed a sonic rainboom around Scoot's age or maybe even younger), with the show indicating that this is due to some disability. In My Little Pony (G3), Scootaloo was not shown to have any disabilities.
    • Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash are shown to have Ambiguous Disorders - the former being prone to bursts of paranoia and depression, and the latter being implied to have a learning disability and/or PTSD stemming from being bullied in flight camp. Again, their G3 counterparts showed no signs of such disorders note .
  • Della Duck from DuckTales (2017) had their left leg amputated and replaced with a prosthetic, something that never happened to their comic counterpart. The producers stated a major reason for their inclusion is to raise awareness of amputees.
  • In the comics, Deathstroke's missing eye was the result of his then soon-to-be ex-wife Adeline being sent into a murderous rage after Joey was kidnapped and rendered mute by the Jackal, an enemy of Slade. Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons sees Slade already missing his eye when he underwent the procedure to gain his abilities.
  • Entrapta, as depicted in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, was revealed to be autistic after the series concluded. This was not the case in the original She-Ra: Princess of Power.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: