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Divorced Installment

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To put it simply, this is when a work that is part of a series (such as a Spin-Off) or franchise is re-tooled into a standalone work, with most or all signs of its heritage completely erased. This is, for all intents and purposes, the exact opposite of a Dolled-Up Installment.

Just to be clear on this, here is what this trope is not about:

  • This trope is not about being a Canon Discontinuity or an Alternate Universe. If an author writes a novel about Sherlock Holmes in a dystopian future, and later declares that novel never happened, it's still a Sherlock Holmes novel. If he rewrites that book so that it no longer has anything to do with the Sherlock Holmes mythos, then it's this trope.
  • This trope is not about having a simple title change or partial omission. If the work is called "Sherlock Holmes Without a Problem," and is later renamed to simply "Without a Problem" (or is simply called that in the first place) but still stars Sherlock Holmes, it's still a Sherlock Holmes story. If Sherlock Holmes and any recognizable characters from his universe are renamed and re-written into completely different characters, then it's this trope.
  • With some exceptions, this trope is not about an idea changing into a completely different idea during the creative process. The only exception is if an idea started out as an installment of a franchise and turned into either something original or an installment of a completely different franchise. If an author starts out writing a story about cats but it ends up being about cyborgs, it's not this trope. But if an author starts out writing a Sherlock Holmes book and winds up turning it into something original, it is this trope. If he starts out writing Sherlock Holmes and then turns it into a James Bond book, it is also this trope. Yes, this trope can overlap with Dolled-Up Installment, and often does — see the examples.

If you're not sure if an example counts, read on and ask yourself if it fits in with the ones below.

Subtrope of What Could Have Been. Compare Serial Numbers Filed Off, Spiritual Successor, Ascended Fanfic. Sometimes overlaps with Market-Based Title. A Sub-Trope of Derivative Differentiation.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The original Duel Masters manga was originally about Shobu and his friends having wacky antics while playing their favorite card game... Magic: The Gathering. Yeah, the series was originally directly licensed by Wizards of the Coast themselves. However, the deal did not quite go as planned, leading the creators to develop their own original card game to replace Magic, and said new card game became the centerpiece of the Duel Masters anime, games, and so on that followed the manga. Still, it is quite surreal to go back to the original and see things like Shobu rocking a Sliver deck.
  • Eagle Riders was actually a mash-up of Gatchaman II and Gatchaman F. Because Saban did not own the rights to either of the previous Gatchaman adaptations (Battle of the Planets and G-Force) they had to pitch their dub as an unrelated series.
  • GEAR Fighter Dendoh is partially based on Saint of Braves Baan Gaan, the proposed ninth installment of the Brave Series and a sequel to both GaoGaiGar and Betterman.
  • Robotech is a strange case. It's well known that this dub is a mash-up of Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA, but the rewrites mean that Robotech's version of events are unconnected to the events of its originators (though you could still watch a sequel like Macross 7 and understand what's going on), and in fact Robotech wound up having its own canon with events that play out completely differently.
  • Armored Police Metal Jack was going to be a sequel to the live-action tokusatsu show Dennou Keisatsu Cybercop, but due to certain difficulties in the show's production, it was made into an anime series instead and had no ties to the tokusatsu series.

    Comic Books 
  • Watchmen: Originally written by Alan Moore to make use of Charlton Comics's superheroes after DC Comics acquired the rights to them, but because they wanted to incorporate said heroes into the mainstream DC Universe, the characters were changed into original characters in a reality of their own, e. g. Captain Atom to Doctor Manhattan, The Question to Rorschach, Blue Beetle to Nite-Owl, Phantom Lady to Silk Spectre, Peacemaker to The Comedian, etc.
  • Also in the 1980s, Kraven's Last Hunt: Based on a storyline involving Wonder Man and the Grim Reaper that J. M. DeMatteis submitted to Marvel and was rejected. He then reworked it into a Batman vs. The Joker project that got nixed because The Killing Joke was already in production. Next DeMatteis developed the "return from the grave" story into one about Batman and Hugo Strange, but that also was rejected by DC. Finally, he reworked and expanded the story for Marvel into the epic we know today featuring Spider-Man, his wife Mary Jane, Kraven the Hunter, and Vermin, which was published in 1987.
  • Contest of Champions (1982) was originally written and drawn as a tie-in to the 1980 Summer Olympics, following a similar tie-in that featured Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk at the Winter Games. Unexpectedly, Jimmy Carter decided to boycott the Summer Games that year, resulting in the crossover being shelved. It was eventually revived two years later, with the plot heavily ReTooled to omit all references to the Olympics.
  • Astro City: The Dark Age started life as a sequel to Kurt Busiek's Marvels series. It was originally to be called Cops & Robbers, and then Crime & Punishment. When Marvel ended up not going ahead, Kurt retooled the story to take place in Astro City rather than the Marvel Universe.
  • Rob Liefeld's Youngblood was originally a proposed Teen Titans spin-off, explaining Shaft's "coincidental similarities" to Green Arrow's sidekick Arsenal. In addition to Shaft being an obvious Arsenal stand-in, Diehard was supposed to have been a S.T.A.R. Labs android, and Vogue would have been a new version of the Harlequin. Additionally, the characters Brahma, Photon, Combat, and Cougar were recycled from a rejected Young Avengers pitch Liefeld created with Jim Valentino during the 90's.
  • Liefeld's Fighting American series started off as a way for the artist to reuse some unfinished artwork and plots from his short-lived tenure on the Heroes Reborn Captain America series. This resulted in the Fighting American becoming even more of an Expy of Cap, which in turn led to Marvel taking legal action against Liefeld.
  • Liefeld also created a character for the New 52 Grifter (2011) series named Niko, who was originally supposed to have been Cheshire from the Teen Titans. The name was changed, but her Asian ethnicity and green costume were kept.
  • Jack Kirby's character Captain Glory began as an unused Captain America design Marvel had asked him to create in the event that the company lost ownership of the character.
  • Duncan, the main protagonist of Firebreather, originated in a pitch for a Marvel series called The Crew, which would have starred a Young Avengers-like group of teen heroes. When that plan fell through, the character was simply Retooled for use at Image Comics. Had he been published at Marvel, the Firebreather would have been the son of Fin Fang Foom.
  • Batwoman's costume began as an unused design Alex Ross had come up with for a modern take on Batgirl.
  • Storm and Nightcrawler from X-Men were recycled from a pitch Dave Cockrum had for a Legion of Super-Heroes Spin-Off called The Outsiders. Nightcrawler ended up being the same, while Storm was created as a Composite Character of a few different unused characters: Trio (cape and headdress), Quetzal (long flowing hair), and Typhoon (weather powers), as well as a prototype X-Men character, called Black Cat (costume and basic physical appearance). Silkie from The Futurians was also conceived as a member of the X-Men before rights issues got in the way.
  • Many of the characters and plots from Hardware (1993) were originally part of a Luke Cage series Dwayne McDuffie had unsuccessfully pitched to Marvel Comics.
  • Likewise, McDuffie's Deathlok series was originally supposed to be a licensed RoboCop comic book.
  • Grant Morrison originally envisioned Seven Soldiers as a Justice League Spin-Off focusing on some of The DCU's lesser-known heroes.
  • Frank Miller's graphic novel Holy Terror was originally going to be a Batman story in which Batman fights Islamic terrorists, but Miller decided that it would work better with an original character. Or, alternatively, DC Comics read his proposal and told him there was no way they were going to let him do this with their most valuable property.
  • DEMO was spawned from unused ideas Brian Wood came up with for NYX back when he was going to be the writer for that book, as well as stuff he wasn't allowed to do when he was writing Generation X.
  • Peter David originally created the characters Sachs & Violens for his landmark run on The Incredible Hulk. Concerns about the content led to David instead giving the characters their own limited series at Epic Comics, and later using them in Fallen Angel.
  • The short-lived DC series Takion was originally pitched as a revamp of the Will Payton version of Starman (DC Comics), who'd seemingly died at the end of the Darkness Within crossover.
  • Breach was originally going to be a Captain Atom reboot.
  • Likewise, the Vertigo series Scarab was conceived as a Darker and Edgier take on Doctor Fate.
  • Alejandro Jodorowsky turned his unproduced script for Dune into The Metabarons: elements such as the Hooker-Nuns Shabda-Oud are a clear Expy for the Bene Gesserit, with the same kind of genetic agenda.
  • Neil Gaiman originally pitched The Sandman (1989) to George R. R. Martin as part of the Wildcards universe. Martin passed because of Gaiman's lack of writing credits, and the idea was eventually revived at Vertigo Comics.
  • Similar to the Watchmen example above, Wanted was originally going to be a reboot of DC's Secret Society of Supervillains, but was converted into a stand-alone work when Mark Millar decided he wanted to go Darker and Edgier.
  • The Order (2007) was supposed to be a revival of Champions (1975), a Marvel team book that starred Black Widow, The Incredible Hercules, the Angel, Iceman and Ghost Rider. Unfortunately, Marvel had lost the trademark to the name "Champions", so the series had to be named something else.
  • Kamandi was created after DC tried and failed to get the license to publish a Planet of the Apes comic book.
  • Harlan Ellison's "Five Dooms to Save Tomorrow" was originally written as a Hawkman and Hawkgirl story but was rejected by DC Comics for being "too sophisticated." Following this, a truncated synopsis of the story was published in an issue of the fanzine Comic Art, with Hawkman and Hawkgirl swapped out for a pair of thinly veiled Expies called Falcon and Greywing. This version of "Five Dooms" was eventually read by Marvel editor Roy Thomas, who liked it so much that he contacted Ellison to see about publishing the story as an issue of The Avengers. After Thomas adapted the synopsis and made the necessary character changes, "Five Dooms to Save Tomorrow" finally saw an official publication as The Avengers #101.
  • John Byrne's 2112 was originally a pilot of sorts for the project that eventually became the Marvel 2099 line. When he parted ways with Marvel, he simply excised the Marvel-exclusive parts of the story and published what was left as a graphic novel.
  • In the 1970s, Aquaman was canceled at issue #56, ending on a Cliffhanger. Writer Steve Skeates later created a similar hero named Prince Targo for Eerie magazine and used his plot for what would have been Aquaman #57 for one of Targo's adventures. He later did a direct sequel to Aquaman #56 in the pages of Sub-Mariner over at Marvel, with the set-up involving a Broad Strokes recap of #56 and a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo from Aquaman himself.
  • Shang-Chi exists because Jim Starlin and Steve Englehart wanted to do a licensed Kung Fu (1972) comic book, but had to replace Kwai Chang with an original character after learning that the show was made by Warner Brothers, the parent company of DC, Marvel’s biggest rival. The character of Shang-Chi himself has since been divorced from his origin as the son of Fu Manchu, after Marvel lost the license to adapt the novels. His evil genius father has been retconned to be an original character named Zheng Zu.
  • Goldrush, a one-shot character from Geoff Johns' Justice League run, was originally supposed to be the Golden Age heroine Lady Luck.
  • Tomorrow Stories was intended to have a Cobweb "story" which consisted of Cobweb narrating a comic biography of the real-world rocket scientist and occultist Jack Parsons. DC refused to print it because it described the alleged involvement of L. Ron Hubbard in ritual magic and questionable financial dealings in the years before he founded the Church of Scientology, which they feared would get them in trouble with the Scientologists. The item was eventually printed in a Top Shelf anthology called Top Shelf Asks The Big Questions, with the Cobweb transparently renamed as La Toile, a French translation that had already been used in the main series as the alias of an earlier Cobweb who lived in France. However, the incident heavily contributed to Alan Moore's second break with DC. In addition, Moore's wife and Cobweb co-creator Melinda Gebbie stopped drawing the comic.
  • Willoughby Kipling of Doom Patrol and Ambrose Bierce in Stanley and His Monster were both meant to be John Constantine, but DC Comics wouldn't allow it, the former due to not wanting Constantine's realism to be undermined by interacting with superheroes and the latter due to not wanting the Vertigo-associated characters to appear in kid-friendly titles.
  • John Wagner and Alan Grant's Lobo story, Bob The Galactic Bum was reprinted in The Judge Dredd Megazine and for copyright reasons, Lobo had to be replaced with a female Bounty Hunter called "Asbo".
  • Mœbius' Airtight Garage originally had Jerry Cornelius from The Cornelius Chronicles as a protagonist but Cornelius was renamed "Lewis Carnelian" in reprints after his original author, Michael Moorcock complained about him being out of character.
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel) was originally pitched as Fury Force, starring the son of Nick Fury leading a S.H.I.E.L.D. team against Baron Zemo and Hydra. When Larry Hama has been picked to write comics based on the G.I. Joe license, he used what he had from that pitch as a basis.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Rescuers was originally going to be sort of a sequel to 101 Dalmatians, with Cruella DeVil as the villain, but they decided to replace Cruella with an original villain.
  • Likewise, Oliver & Company got some of the way through production with the intent that the little girl would be none other than Penny from The Rescuers, post-being adopted by rich parents. This was changed due to Disney not being quite ready to make direct sequels of any stripe to their past theatrical features (yet). In the finished film, the girl's name was changed from Penny to Jenny, she's eight years old instead of six, and she has auburn hair in a ponytail instead of blonde hair in pigtails, but she is otherwise a perfect twin of Penny.
  • Happily N'Ever After was originally going to be a Big Damn Movie of the fairy tale TV series Simsala Grimm. But a year after it was greenlit, the show's production company backed out, and the characters of Yoyo and Doc Croc were rewritten as Expies Mambo and Munk.
  • Monsters vs. Aliens was going to be a film adaptation of the comic book Rex Havoc but became completely rewritten during pre-production.
  • Ralph Bakshi wanted to direct an animated Grease movie which would have ended with Danny killing himself. He went on to direct a Deconstruction called Hey Good Lookin' about similar greaser characters, one of whom kills himself.
  • Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths was originally meant as a bridge between Justice League and Justice League Unlimited that would show how things evolved post-Thanagar invasion and how the Justice League went from only seven members to Heroes Unlimited. However, timing problems messed that up so the idea was shelved until it was completely repackaged as one of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies. Some traces still remain, however: the League is building a new Watchtower at the start of the film, the Flash inherits DCAU Wally West's personality, and Wonder Woman gains her invisible jet (which she did not have in JL but had in JLU), and the film ends with the League acknowledging they need to expand their ranks. The only major discrepancies preventing the film from being canon to the DC Animated Universe are the fact that Green Lantern in this film is Hal Jordan rather than John Stewart and the main universe Lex Luthor having a cameo in a prison cell when Luthor was pardoned for his crimes by the end of Justice League.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • These Old Shades was originally intended to be a sequel to Georgette Heyer's first novel The Black Moth.
  • Life, the Universe and Everything is a Divorced Installment and a Dolled-Up Installment — originally an abandoned Doctor Who story proposal called "Doctor Who and the Krikketmen", it was first considered as the plot for one of the many unsuccessful proposals for a Doctor Who feature film, and then divorced from Who and dolled up as the second season of the Guide TV series. When that got canceled in pre-production, it finally became the third Guide novel.
  • Similarly, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency was originally "Shada", a Doctor Who script by Adams that was never completed due to a BBC strike (and has since seen other adaptations). The plot also contains elements of "City of Death" (also by Adams), a serial that was filmed.
  • At the time of his death, Adams was considering transforming The Salmon of Doubt, which in the existing draft is a Dirk Gently novel, into a Hitchhiker's novel.
  • The first Conan the Barbarian story, "The Phoenix on the Sword", is a rewrite of a rejected Kull story, "By This Axe, I Rule". Many passages are word for word identical.
  • Project Itoh's novel Genocidal Organ was based on a Snatcher fan-fiction he wrote.
  • The J.T. Edson novel Blonde Genius was originally written as a screen treatment for a St. Trinian's movie.
  • Mercedes Lackey's short story "Fiddler Fair" was originally written to fit the world of Ithkar for a shared-universe anthology, before being rewritten into the springboard for the Bardic Voices series.
  • John Grant's 1994 licensed Judge Dredd novel The Hundredfold Problem was republished in 2003 with all references to the Mega-City One 'verse removed. Judges Dredd and Callisto were replaced by Dave Knuckle and Petulia McTavish.
    • The Doctor Who novel, The Burning Heart was supposed to be a crossover with Judge Dredd but after the failure of the 1995 movie, Dredd was replaced with Adjudicator Joseph Craator.
  • Thomas Ligotti and a friend wrote a spec script called "Crampton" for the The X-Files, which they later reworked and published as an original story.
  • R. L. Stine wrote a stand-alone book called The Adventures of Shrinkman, which he has confirmed was originally supposed to be a Goosebumps book called The Incredible Shrinking Fifth-Grader.
  • Popcorn Love by KL Hughes is an Ascended Fanfic that started as a Once Upon a Time Transplanted Character Fic with no magic whatsoever, pairing Emma and Regina. When it was revised, they became Allison Sawyer and Elena Vega, respectively.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey started as a Twilight fanfic before it was changed to an original story.
  • The Hot Rock originally began life as a draft for a novel in author Donald E. Westlake's Parker series. Westlake can up with the idea of a story in which Parker had to repeatedly steal the same object. However, the story didn't work with Parker's personality (the pragmatic Parker would have just walked away from the caper), so he abandoned it. However, the idea would not let go of him, and he returned to the manuscript and created a new protagonist for whom the plot did work: the Born Unlucky John Dortmunder. Thus was born the Dortmunder series.
  • Alien Chronicles and its sequels; were originally conceived as part of a trilogy of novels written by the Canadian science fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer named Alien Exodus, which narrated the origin of the Star Wars species. However, it was decided that the story would be in its own universe without Star Wars characters or species, leading Deborah Chester to finalize the project.
  • The Bernice Summerfield series began as a spinoff of Virgin Books' Doctor Who New Adventures. When Virgin lost the Doctor Who license in 1997, Benny continued on her own, no longer able to meet or make references to the Doctor himself — but still allowed to fight Daleks and Cybermen, oddly enough.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The third Super Sentai show, Battle Fever J, was originally planned to star a Japanese counterpart of Marvel's Captain America character named "Captain Japan", following up on the success of Toei's live-action Spider-Man series.
  • The Following was based on a discarded screenplay for Scream 3. Both the series and the movie franchise are produced by Kevin Williamson.
  • The L.A. Complex was split off from the Degrassi franchise, presumably so it could be sold to US networks outside the Viacom group.
  • Helstrom: Originally planned to be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the changing of the guard at Marvel Television caused this series to instead be a completely standalone Marvel Comics adaptation with no official connections to the MCU. The continuity that the series is set in was unofficially dubbed Earth-TRN836, rather than the MCU's Earth-199999.
  • K9 was the only Whoniverse show not to ever reference or be referenced by the other TV series in the franchise, as it was licensed by Bob Baker, the character's co-creator who owned the rights to him, with no involvement or permission from the BBC.
  • Stranger Things came about because the studio passed on the Duffer Brothers' treatment for It (2017). Coincidentally, both projects would feature Finn Wolfhard.
  • Rowan Atkinson's Comic Relief sketch, Spider-Plant Man was originally conceived as a fifth season of Blackadder where Blackadder and Baldrick would have been Batman and Robin-style superheroes.
  • Rob Brydon's gameshow, The Guess List was meant to be called Mrs. Brown's Celebrities. A pilot episode was recorded but Brendan O'Carroll turned down a full series because he thought it would water down the Mrs. Brown brand.
  • What's Happening!! began life as a TV adaptation of Cooley High before being ReTooled into its own thing.
  • The Prisoner (1967) co-creator George Markenstein treated the series as a sequel to Danger Man, believing that Number Six was John Drake. Patrick McGoohan disagreed.
  • One idea that J. J. Abrams had for Felicity was a Plot Twist in which it turned out that Felicity Porter was a CIA agent. While it was obviously never used for the show, he did turn the idea of "college student moonlights as a secret agent" into a different TV series, Alias. (Funnily enough, Keri Russell, who played Felicity, would eventually get to play a spy on The Americans, albeit a KGB agent instead of CIA.)
  • Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was developed as a spin-off of Riverdale and planned to air on The CW, before it moved to Netflix and became its own thing. Still, before the series ended, the creators admitted to planning a crossover with Riverdale in the could-have-been fifth season and indeed, the crossover eventually happened in the latter's sixth season.
  • Doom Patrol is a weird one. The fact that it stars most of the same actors reprising their roles from Titansnote  and airs on the same streaming platforms should have been enough indication that it was originally planned to be a spinoff of Titans. Ultimately, it took place in a separate continuity and the creators have alluded to it being set in an alternate universe (which was kinda confirmed in Crisis on Infinite Earths).
  • Krypton was originally planned to be a prequel to Man of Steel, taking place 200 years before the film, thus it would've served as the first DC Extended Universe TV series but it was revised during production when Geoff Johns took over as chairman of DC Films and thus it became a completely standalone DC Comics adaptation with no official connections to the DCEU.
  • Toumei Shoujo Ea was originally written as a scenario for the direct sequel to Machi, but the game’s commercial failure put a damper on any sequels, barring the spiritual successor 428: Shibuya Scramble.
  • According to one of its actors, Mighty Med, a Disney XD Kid Com about two teenagers who work in a secret superhero hospital, was originally developed as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with the show's original logo denoting the hospital as being a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility.
  • As revealed in the season two finale, Superman & Lois is set in a universe independent to that of the Arrowverse, despite sharing many actors playing the same characters. The showrunners claimed that they had planned for the series to be separate from the Arrowverse since the beginning, which explains the various story and character inconsistencies between the two.
  • Parks and Recreation was originally conceived as a Spin-Off of The Office (US) (even being called the "Untitled Office Spin-off" by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur at first), but that idea was quickly scrapped early on in the production process and the series was made into its own independent entity. There was still at least another attempt to connect them where the Dunder-Mifflin copier would break, be fixed and refurbished, and then shipped to the Pawnee Parks and Rec department, though that never materialized either.
  • Space Odyssey was intended as another installment of the Walking with… series titled "Walking with Spacemen", but this connection was dropped once it was released.

  • Eminem originally intended to make a sequel to Relapse, called Relapse 2, and leaked material intended for it shows it would largely have been in the same style as the original Relapse (with use of accents, ultra-bombastic Dr. Dre beats, and Horrorcore subject matter, with him playing his Heroic Comedic Sociopath Slim Shady character on most of the album). However, mixed fan reception to Relapse freaked him out enough that he reworked the album into Recovery, a much more optimistic and radio-friendly album filled with inspiring and somber content in a Rap Rock style, a reboot for his image from a do-rag-wearing comedy hip-hopper to a white-trash leather-jacketed rocker who keeps authentic to his roots, a new Harsh Vocals delivery, only a handful of Shady appearances, and Hurricane of Puns showcases of his technical skill as an emcee. Traces of the Relapse style can be heard on some tracks on the album, particularly the opener "Cold Wind Blows", where Eminem sings the chorus doing a 'girl' voice with an English accent, and the verses are a Bloody Hilarious, hyperoffensive Shady bloodbath.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Pro Wrestling ZERO1 is named for the fact it was started in 2001. The original concept of the promotion was called "Pro Wrestling Zero", as it was conceived at least a year earlier, and was intended to be an extension of New Japan Pro-Wrestling dedicated to a purer strong-style product and commanded by Shinya Hashimoto. However, with bookers Antonio Inoki and Riki Choshu shutting down the idea, and especially after Inoki mistreated Hashimoto's career to build Naoya Ogawa's, Shinya left the company and started the company as an independent promotion, capitalizing on it to rebuild his career.
  • Pro Wrestling El Dorado was born under the Toryumon flag, very much like its predecessor Dragondoor, but before its debut show, they declared the promotion as independent from Toryumon or any of its marks.
  • Perros Del Mal Producciones was drawn up as an idea to make a Perros Del Mal angle in CMLL more believable to audiences by having the Power Stable run their own promotion. Disputes lead to PDM starting up a year late and having nothing to do with CMLL.

  • Anaheim, California's NHL hockey team, the Ducks, were once known as the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, wearing uniforms that matched those from the second film and owned by Disney themselves. In 2005, Disney sold the team, thus changing its name and removing the movie iconography from its brand. That said, their mascot, Wild Wing, still wears the mask from the classic logo.
  • For many years, the mascot of the University of Oregon Ducks teams was none other than Donald Duck, thanks to a unique trademark agreement originated by Walt Disney himself. By 2010, the University had grown tired of the highly restrictive guidelines placed on the character and modified the agreement so that the costumed mascot appearing at sports games and local events is merely, "the Oregon Duck", no longer considered to be Donald. The cartoon version still looks exactly like him, though, and is still covered by the agreement.

    Theme Parks 
  • Nara Dreamland was an entire theme park that resulted from this. The owners had obtained a license from Walt Disney to make it into a Disneyland in Nara, Japan, but partway through construction, the deal suddenly fell through. It was decided to just remove the Disney elements and make it into its own park. Alas, being a Disneyland knockoff was its downfall. Twenty-one years later, an actual Japanese Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, was opened, and it became the world's third most-visited theme park, after Disneyland Park and Magic Kingdom. However, the park continued to limp on (mainly thanks to distance; Tokyo and Nara are 4 hours apart by train) until 2001, when both Tokyo DisneySea and Universal Studios Japan opened within months of each other, the latter of which is located less than an hour away from Nara Dreamland and basically ate up whatever's left of the park's visitors. Sales hit rock bottom, maintenance issues abounded due to the lack of visitors, and the park was abandoned in 2006.

  • The Spider-Man: Techno Wars and X-Men: Mutant Armor lines began as a way to recycle ReTooled Iron Man action figures leftover from his short-lived animated series.
  • The Mutant figures from Beast Wars were retooled prototypes from the canceled Animorphs line.
  • Beastformers were a Spin-Off of the Transformers Headmasters line in Japan. When Hasbro imported the line as Battle Beasts, they dropped any connection to the Transformers.
  • The Team America series from Ideal Toys was created as a way to salvage their earlier line of Evel Knievel products after Knievel was arrested on battery charges. A tie-in comic book series was even published by Marvel Comics as a way to promote the toys.

    Video Games 
  • Doom was going to be an Aliens game, but the creators pulled out of negotiations because they wanted total creative freedom. Later came full circle when the first total conversion mod for the game was based on Aliens.
  • In an example mixing both this trope and a Dolled-Up Installment, the Game Boy game Home Alone 2: Kevin's Dream was retooled into an adaptation of Bobby's World before finally being cancelled outright.
  • The TurboGrafx-16 platformer Keith Courage in Alpha Zones was originally one of many games based on then-popular anime series Mashin Eiyuuden Wataru. The story went from being about a kid pulled into a spirit realm to battle demons, to being about an adult who is part of a military organization that fights aliens. However, the game's title screen still shows a Sunrise copyright, perhaps because only the Excuse Plot was actually altered.
  • Resident Evil:
    • The first game was originally conceived as a remake of Capcom's horror game Sweet Home (1989), itself an adaptation of the film of the same name, but since they didn't have the license to that film anymore, they turned it into an original title instead. This would make the original Resident Evil double as a Spiritual Successor of Sweet Home the movie, as well. Tokuro Fujiwara, the director of Sweet Home the video game, worked as a producer on Resident Evil and envisioned it as a Spiritual Successor.
    • One of the most successful examples came from Capcom's attempt to create a sequel to Resident Evil 2, which spawned not only Resident Evil 4, but three other potential versions of that game (out of four) which saw release as their own games.
      • Devil May Cry is the most well-known. It originally starred a new protagonist named Tony who had superhuman abilities (explained here, in traditional RE fashion, with biotechnology instead of demons), and the dev team's research trips to the UK and Spain to study medieval castles wound up influencing the settings of both games. It was turned into an original game after the team realized that it was straining credibility to have an action-packed hack-and-slash as the next entry in what was then still a pure Survival Horror franchise. Dante, the protagonist of DMC, uses the alias "Tony Redgrave" as a Development Gag, while several of the monsters in the DMC franchise bear a distinct influence from the RE series' visceral baddies.
      • Onimusha: Warlords also began life as Sengoku Biohazard, a Resident Evil game set in the Sengoku period where the player would use Ninja weapons to battle monsters in a house filled with booby traps. It also helped inspire the Devil May Cry combat system, with pre-release versions of Onimusha allowing the player to knock enemies into the air, then juggle them by continuing to attack; while this was fixed in Warlords, it would be incorporated into DMC.
      • Finally, Resident Evil: Dead Aim was based on one of the final rejected proposals for RE4, and thus bears quite a bit of resemblance to it due to being an actual Resident Evil game, in particular the duo of hero Bruce McGivern and flip-flopping sidekick/nemesis Fong Ling being similar to Leon S. Kennedy and Ada Wong.
  • The Wonder Boy games were developed by Westone and published by Sega. While Sega owned the Wonder Boy trademark, Westone retained all other copyrights, and so Hudson Soft decided to modify each game when they got the license to work on ports for non-Sega platforms. The only exception was Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair, which remained unchanged when it was ported to the TurboGrafx-CD, though "Wonder Boy III" was dropped from the title in the US.
    • Wonder Boy in Monster Land had a Famicom version by Jaleco titled Saiyūki World. This version inspired its own sequel (Saiyūki World II), which was localized for the NES under the name of Whomp 'Em and had its Journey to the West motif replaced with a Native American one.
    • Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap was remade as Dragon's Curse for the TurboGrafx-16. The PC Engine version of said game was curiously enough released under the name of Adventure Island, the same name that Hudson's own Takahashi-Meijin no Boukenjima series is known as outside Japan.
    • Wonder Boy in Monster World became The Dynastic Hero on the TurboGrafx-CD and had all the original characters replaced with bug people.
    • Outside the Wonder Boy series, Hudson Soft also ported the Sega/Westone arcade Beat 'em Up Riot City to the TurboGrafx-CD under the name of Riot Zone (or Crest of Wolf in Japan) with different player characters, while Blood Gear (a mecha-themed action game) was originally planned as a sequel to Aurail.
  • Decap Attack was originally a tie-in to the anime Magical Hat in its Japanese version. The localization team didn't feel like paying the licensing fees for an obscure and unimported anime series, so the graphics and story were redone from scratch.
  • Several games released by Bandai for the NES were anime Licensed Games in Japan that were released overseas in the disguised form:
    • Dragon Power was originally a Dragon Ball game. At the time, Dragon Ball was not well-known in the United States (although the game was also translated to French with the Dragon Ball license intact). Bandai tried to change it into a more generic Journey to the West game, which, while still not being well known in America, unlike Dragon Ball, is public domain. They didn't do a very good job at it, incidentally; Bulma, Oolong, and Yamcha, among other characters, all kept their original designs.
    • Chubby Cherub was originally a game based on the anime Little Ghost Q-Taro. Few changes were made to the game aside from replacing Q-Taro with a cherub.
    • Ninja Kid (not to be confused with the UPL Arcade Game) was a similar alteration of GeGeGe no Kitarō: Youkai Dai Makyou.
  • Black Belt, a side-scrolling beat-'em-up for the Sega Master System, is a localization of a Fist of the North Star game for the Mark III in which the graphics were altered to remove all traces of the original license. Kenshiro was renamed Riki and his blue vest and jeans outfit was replaced by a white karate gi, while all of the other characters and backgrounds were modified as well, changing the game's locations from post-apocalyptic deserts and towns to modern-day temples and cities. The Japanese Mega Drive sequel, Hokuto no Ken: Shin Seikimatsu Kyūseishu Densetsu, was released overseas as Last Battle: Legend of the Final Hero, but the changes made during the localization were lazier by comparison to the first game. All the sprites were recolored and the names were changed, but the character designs remained almost identical and the seemingly nonsensical script (which consisted mainly of out-of-context dialogue transcribed verbatim from the manga) was a word-to-word translation of the original, aside from a few minor changes. Gore was also removed for the overseas release.
  • Sega made two video games based on Kujaku-Oh (Peacock King, also known as Spirit Warrior): one for the Master System, based on the anime series, and a sequel in number only for the Mega Drive, based on the second OVA. The Master System original came out in America as Spellcaster and the Genesis sequel came out as Mystic Defender, in both cases having all the Peacock King elements replaced with wholly new storylines and characters (the Big Bad of the Genesis game was originally Demon King Nobunaga, for instance).
  • Street Combat for the Super NES was originally a Ranma ½ game in which you played as either male or female Ranma and battled the rest of the anime cast. The U.S. version turned Ranma into a mulleted soldier named Steven (female Ranma was Steven in street clothes, while male Ranma was Steven in Powered Armor), and the Ranma cast with all sorts of things (Kodachi, for example, became a clown). This was averted with the sequel, which was brought to the U.S. as Ranma ½: Hard Battle.
  • Thunder Force IV for the Sega Genesis was released in America was Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar. Not only the spelling of this was odd, as two previous games in the series had been released internationally under the Thunder Force title, and Thunder Force IV came out under its actual title in Europe.
  • One of the original concepts for Fighting Force was to make it a 3D sequel to the Streets of Rage series (and indeed, the leaked Saturn prototype has much more overt similarities to SOR, such as Hawk looking like Axel), but Sega pulled the deal after disagreements with the developers over what platforms the game would be released on, and it became its own thing.
  • The Working Title of Final Fight was Street Fighter '89. According to producer Yoshiki Okamoto, he was originally commissioned to work on a sequel to the first Street Fighter, but he wanted to make a side-scrolling beat-'em-up after being inspired by the success of Double Dragon. When it was obvious that the resulting product looked nothing like the original Street Fighter, the game was renamed Final Fight. Despite this, many of the characters from Final Fight later crossed their way into the Street Fighter series and other Capcom fighting games (including a spin-off of its own titled Final Fight Revenge).
  • An inversion: Natsume's side-scrolling action game Shatterhand for the NES was first released in Japan as a Licensed Game for the Famicom based on the Metal Heroes series Tokkyuu Shirei Solbrain. However, the Solbrain version, despite being released first, is actually the modified version, not Shatterhand. Angel, a subsidiary of Bandai, agreed to cover the publishing costs for Natsume under the condition that they could modify the game to promote one of Toei's superheroes.
  • Red Faction was originally conceived as the cancelled Descent 4. Some elements were carried over, such as the textures, the protagonist's name (Parker) and the jet fighter combat level.
  • Journey to Silius started development as a game based on The Terminator, but was reworked into a stand-alone title when Sunsoft's license expired.
  • Sunsoft also started work on a Superman game for the NES (following its success with the Batman games), but was later re-tooled into a Captain Ersatz called Sunman for some reason or other (it did release a Superman game for the Super NES and Sega Genesis). It ultimately ended up not being released in any form.
  • Power Punch II was originally developed as a sequel to Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, with the original title Mike Tyson's Intergalactic Power Punch. A beta version of Mike Tyson's Intergalactic Power Punch has since leaked out. And no, just in case you were wondering, there is no Power Punch I.
  • Nuclear Strike had a trailer for a new installment called Future Strike, which ended up being turned into the unrelated game Future Cop LAPD.
  • The sequel to Need for Speed: Shift dropped the NFS from the title and was titled Shift 2: Unleashed (not to be confused with the other Shift 2.
  • The first BattleTanx started out as a Nintendo 64 port of BattleSport.
  • Agent Under Fire was originally a PS2 version of The World Is Not Enough, before it was turned into an original Bond story.
  • Kunio-kun:
    • Renegade, Super Dodge Ball, River City Ransom (aka Street Gangs), Nintendo World Cup, and Crash 'n the Boys: Street Challenge were all localizations of different games in the Japanese Kunio-kun series that were westernized (or in the case of Nintendo World Cup, globalized) in order to make them more marketable overseas. The Neo Geo version of Super Dodge Ball, along with the Nintendo DS games localized by Aksys Games, are the only games in the series where Kunio and Riki retained their Japanese identities in the overseas versions.
    • The original Double Dragon was planned as a sequel to the original Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun (aka Renegade). The change in title, setting, and characters was precisely done to appeal to the western market from the get-go without the need of making a separate overseas version.
    • The Super Famicom game Super Mad Champ was originally planned as a Kunio bike-racing game. Developer Almanic was the same team that worked on River City Girls Zero for Technos.
  • The NES game Destiny of an Emperor, along with the arcade games Dynasty Wars and Warriors of Fate, were all games by Capcom based on Hiroshi Motomiya's manga series Tenchi o Kurau, which was loosely based on the Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. While the former two kept the characters and plot mostly intact which isn't really hard to do, Warriors of Fate removes even that and replaces everyone's names with Mongolian names.
  • Battalion Wars is a borderline example. The Working Title was Advance Wars: Under Fire, but Nintendo decided to change the name due to the fact that it was a very different game from the original Advance Wars and it wouldn't have made much sense to release a game named after the Game Boy Advance on the GameCube (it's still part of the overall Wars series, though). In Japan, the game was released as Totsugeki! Famicom Wars.
  • Lunar Knights for the Nintendo DS is actually the overseas version of the fourth Boktai game (Boktai DS). The first two games sold poorly outside Japan due to their solar sensing gimmick and as a result, the third game didn't get an international release and Konami took out the solar sensor in the fourth game. The localization team attempted everything to distance the fourth game from the franchise by changing the title and renaming the main characters Django and Sabata into Aaron and Lucian.
  • Mega Man was originally meant to be a licensed game based on Astro Boy, but Capcom lost the license, so they reworked it into an original title featuring Astro Boy expies like Mega Man (Astro Boy), Roll (Uran/Astro Girl), Dr. Light (Dr. Ochanomizu) or Dr. Wily (Dr. Tenma).
  • The NES game Tecmo World Cup Soccer is actually a Captain Tsubasa-themed soccer sim with Westernized character designs, likely changed because Captain Tsubasa is not licensed in the United States.
  • Mortal Kombat (1992) was initially going to be a Universal Soldier video game, but ended up as an original property when a deal couldn't be reached. This can be seen in Johnny Cage, a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Jean-Claude Van Damme with a Groin Attack move inspired by a scene from Bloodsport.
  • Project: Snowblind was originally going to be Deus Ex: Clan Wars. It was changed to be a Spiritual Successor to Deus Ex when that game's own sequel Invisible War sold poorly.
  • A persistent rumor has it that Lady Stalker was originally going to be a Dragon Quest Gaiden Game based around Alena from Dragon Quest IV, but was quickly made into an unrelated game when the license was lost partway through development. The rumor has strong supporting evidence, including the party being near carbon-copies of the party from Alena's chapter in DQIV; a series of tomato enemies that are suspiciously similar to the Dragon Quest slimes in appearance and near-identical in mechanics, right down to having a "rotten tomato" that can inflict poison equivalent to the Babble/Bubble Slime; and some items being identical between the two games, down to their price.
  • The PS2 shooter Dragon Rage was planned to be a Might and Magic spinoff.
  • After the development of Duke Nukem 3D, 3D Realms planned to make another side-scrolling Duke Nukem titled Duke Nukem Forever (no, not that one). The project was canceled and sold to another developer, which finished and released it as Alien Rampage.
  • The Jaguar shooter Hover Strike was originally meant to be a remake of BattleZone.
  • Beetle Adventure Racing for the N64 started development as a Need for Speed game and used the same engine as the NFS games of the time.
  • The Commodore 64 game Astérix and the Magic Cauldron was released in the United States as Ardok the Barbarian, likely because Asterix was not popular enough there to be worth licensing.
  • Tower of Doom for the Intellivision was to have been the third Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Cartridge for the system (and the Atari 2600 as well), but it was released without the license after Mattel abandoned the game and the console midway through development; most gamers couldn't tell the difference, of course. (The later Capcom Arcade Game Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom is completely unrelated.) The two earlier AD&D games would have the license stripped out for emulated Compilation Rereleases, appearing under their Working Titles Adventure and Minotaur.
  • The unreleased NES game Time Diver Eon Man by Taito started development as a sequel to Wrath of the Black Manta.
  • The original Donkey Kong was reportedly a Popeye game initially, but changed because Nintendo couldn't get the license. After their success with Donkey Kong, they would make a Popeye game.
  • Secret Weapons Over Normandy was apparently born out of a canceled Medal of Honor spin-off called Fighter Command.
  • Magical Doropie (released in the US as The Krion Conquest) was originally going to be based on the 1982 anime adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz before the rights fell through.
  • Heavenly Guardian for the PlayStation 2 and Wii was originally announced in Japan as Kiki Kai World. Apparently, the Kiki Kai Kai characters were replaced with original ones because the developer somehow lost the license.
  • Fallout's game system was originally meant as a computer adaptation of GURPS called Vault 13: A GURPS Post-Nuclear Adventure before disagreements with Steven Jackson caused Black Isle to terminate their license and create their own SPECIAL system.
    • And before that, it was intended to be a sequel to Wasteland before rights issues got in the way.
  • Rise of the Triad was to have been a sequel to Wolfenstein 3-D; its working title was "Wolfenstein 3D Part II: Rise of the Triad".
  • Rage of the Dragons, a Neo Geo fighting game by Evoga and Noise Factory, was originally intended to be a sequel to the Neo Geo version of Double Dragon, but the developers were unable to get a hold of the rights. Thus, all the characters were turned into ersatzes of the Double Dragon cast: the Lee brothers became the Lewis brothers, while Abobo became Abubo.
  • After Rare was bought out by Microsoft, Donkey Kong Country characters were removed from two of their upcoming games for the Game Boy Advance: Diddy Kong Pilot became Banjo-Pilot, and Donkey Kong Coconut Crackers became It's Mr. Pants.
  • The Jetsons: Invasion of the Planet Pirates for the SNES was retooled for its Japanese release as Yōkai Buster: Ruka no Daibōken, starring the mascot character of Marukatsu Super Famicom magazine.
  • Pax Corpus, a 1997 PlayStation action game by Cryo Interactive, was retooled from a canceled Æon Flux game.
  • Zig-zagged with Sleeping Dogs: started out as an original game, was later incorporated into the True Crime franchise by Activision who later canceled it, then it was revived by Square Enix who turned it into an original game again.
  • Wii Sports was going to be a Mario sports game and the Miis were just going to be placeholders. People liked the Miis though so they were kept in the final version. A Mario Sports Mix did get made later, despite this.
  • Star Gladiator was originally going to be a licensed Star Wars fighting game developed by Capcom and LucasArts. LucasArts instead opted to make their own fighting game, Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi, which was released to decidedly mixed reception. Elements of the original source material can still be seen in Star Gladiator, as Hayato's Plasma Sword is essentially a lightsaber, Gamof bears a very strong resemblance to Chewbacca, June has a seemingly-dead father who turns out to be working for the villain, and Bilstein is a rather blatant Darth Vader Expy.
  • Darkstalkers was originally supposed to be a licensed fighting game starring the Universal Horror monsters. This influence can still be seen in many of the characters, as Demitri Maximoff is an obvious stand-in for Dracula, Jon Talbain for The Wolfman, Rikuo for the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Victor von Gerdenheim for Frankenstein's Monster, and so on.
  • The GBA-exclusive FPS, Ice Nine (and one of the first of it's kind) was originally a tie-in game to the movie The Recruit before becoming an independent title on it's own.
  • According to Kenji Obata, Ikari Warriors was originally developed as a licensed adaptation of Rambo: First Blood Part II (which was known as Rambo: Ikari no Dasshutsu in Japan). When SNK was unable to secure the rights, the project was instead released as a standalone game with the title shortened to Ikari. Elements of this still made it into the finished game, such as the fact that two protagonists, Ralf and Clark, are very clear Rambo Expies. Though the characters would later undergo Divergent Character Evolution in the King of Fighters series, Ralf never quite lost the obvious Sylvester Stallone influence.
  • Pikmin (2001) was planned to be a Mario game at one point in its development, its idea being in part born thanks to the Super Mario 128 tech demo for the Nintendo GameCube.
  • Splatoon, like all Nintendo games, was born as a gameplay concept. Amongst the possibilities given to its developers when trying to develop a game around this was to make it a Mario spin-off game. They weren't fond of this suggestion and continued throwing ideas at the wall, eventually making it a new IP with the shapeshifting Inklings as the protagonists.
  • Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was originally envisioned as a Zelda puzzle title starring Link, thanks in part to one of the main elements in the game not being having the ability to jump obstacles, which at first appeared to be out of place for a Mario title.
  • Obscure Mega Drive/Genesis shooter CrossFire was originally released in Japan as Super Airwolf, based on the Airwolf TV series and intended to be a sequel to Kyugo's 1987 arcade licensed game. The Western localization edited the theme song to a suspiciously similar version and the rest of the references to the show were removed.
  • Trapt suffers this twice over. Not only is it a game that would have been previously localized as a Deception game, but by Japanese reckoning, it's the first genuine Numbered Sequel, being Kagero 2. It was instead marketed and released as a standalone title, and since it was a Non-Linear Sequel in the first place, this removes all franchise ties.
  • Secret of Mana began development as Final Fantasy IV, only to be divorced from that series and renamed Chrono Trigger before becoming a Mana game.
  • Xenogears was apparently planned to be either Final Fantasy VII or Chrono Cross during its development, but it was retooled into an original title because it was too dark for either franchise.
  • Both the little-known RPG Divine Divinity by Larian Studios and the somewhat better-known first installment of the Hack and Slash franchise Sacred by Ascaron were originally supposed to be set in the The Dark Eye universe (having no connection whatsoever otherwise). The Larian game had the title The Lady, the Mage and the Knight, abbreviated as LMK, which, in the German title, would have stood for Legenden der Magierkriege, i.e. "legends of the Mage Wars" (the Mage Wars being a period in the history of Aventuria in the TDE setting). The precursor of Sacred was called Armalion (a powerful artifact in the TDE universe). In both cases, problems with the license prevented the projects from leaving the pre-alpha stage, but the existing code and parts of the art were used as building blocks for Divine Divinity and Sacred, respectively.
  • The SNES racing game Cyber Spin was originally a game based on Future GPX Cyber Formula, it was brought overseas with references of the series removed, and in the American version, the setting was changed to a futuristic Formula One setting.
  • In its very earliest stages, The Last of Us was actually a Continuity Reboot of Jak and Daxter. Naughty Dog decided to make it a new IP instead when they realized the ideas they liked best had nothing to do with Jak and Daxter.
  • The 2½D Hack and Slash Final Exam began life as an interquel in the ObsCure series of Survival Horror games. It was retooled into a separate game after the original developer, Hydravision Entertainment, closed its doors and reformed into Mighty Rocket Studios. However, it still has many Shout Outs and Continuity Nods to the ObsCure games, most notably Shannon, one of the series' protagonists, returning as an NPC, and the first game's villain Principal Friedman serving as the Final Boss, to the point where fans of that series consider it all but an unofficial sequel.
  • Family Pinball was originally a Namco game in Japan, but a different publisher brought it to the U.S. as Rock 'n' Ball. The Namco characters were replaced with generic equivalents, and the Pac-Man table was not only genericized but slightly altered in layout.
  • Young Merlin developed out of a canceled SNES version of Fables & Fiends.
  • Bombshell was originally conceived as Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction, but a legal dispute arose over the use of the Duke Nukem intellectual property (specifically, Gearbox Software said that their deal with Apogee Software - the one which resulted in Duke Nukem Forever finally coming out - precluded Apogee from publishing any more Duke Nukem games). As such, Duke was replaced by Shelly "Bombshell" Harrison as the game's protagonist.
  • Tabula Rasa was known as Ultima X in development, and was intended as a Spiritual Successor to Ultima. The first version was going to be a fantasy MMORPG, then was scrapped to make a second fantasy MMORPG, then it was scrapped entirely and made into a completely different MMOFPS.
  • Them's Fightin' Herds started out as My Little Pony: Fighting Is Magic, a Friendship is Magic fangame. While still early in development, Fighting is Magic got so much attention that Hasbro sent them a Cease and Desist order. Lauren Faust liked the game, however, so she helped Retool it into an original game about several different kinds of quadrupedal animals.
  • The planned third installment of the Amiga hack-n-slash series Switchblade was completely retooled into the Sonic The Hedgehog-style platform game Zool. Much later, after Zool 3's second cancellation, shovelware developer Data Design Interactive picked up the pieces and used them to create Ninjabread Man.
  • Codemasters distributed the Spanish ZX Spectrum game Phantomas under its original title, but distanced its sequel from it by retitling it Vampire. Interestingly, Phantomas and Phantomas 2 began development as unrelated but similar games, but Dinamic convinced the coders of both games to use the same main character.
  • Similar to the Them's Fighting Herds example, Freedom Planet started as a Sonic fangame, but later became its own thing for commercial release. In this case, it switched over before getting a C&D.
  • Mickey Mouse III: Yume Fuusen was being localized as Mickey Mouse: Dream Balloon, but licensing difficulties apparently intervened because Kemco ended up editing in their own character and releasing the game in the US as Kid Klown in Night Mayor World. Indeed, every Mickey Mouse game from Kemco that wasn't published overseas by Capcom or Nintendo was modified into something else outside Japan.
  • There was once a sequel to the original The Great Giana Sisters in development. Due to the controversy of the original game, it was canceled and retooled into Hard 'N' Heavy.
  • Jimbo, released with the March 1995 issue of German Commodore 64 magazine Magic Disk 64, doesn't do much to hide that it was originally developed as the fourth game in Codemasters' CJ's Elephant Antics series. (The third game was never released in any form. The first game, for that matter, was built on the engine of an unfinished Commodore 64 port of The NewZealand Story, different from the one actually released by Ocean Software.)
  • Nexus: The Jupiter Incident started out as Imperium Galactica 3: Genesis. It then got bounced around several developers/publishers under the title of Galaxy Andromeda before finally being released as its current title. Word of God is that the storyline remains largely unchanged, so Nexus can be considered a Spiritual Prequel to Imperium Galactica.
  • Retro City Rampage started as an NES hardware-based demake of Grand Theft Auto III titled Grand Theftendo, but eventually ended up an 8-bit-retraux Reference Overdosed Spiritual Successor of Grand Theft Auto (Classic).
  • Diddy Kong Racing was at one point planned to be a sequel to Rare's RC Pro-Am series until the game was shown to Shigeru Miyamoto, who suggested adding Diddy Kong as the main character. This change happened late enough in development that a small amount of merchandise was printed under the Pro-Am 64 title.
  • The Famicom game Moeru! Oniisan was based on a Toho OAV of the same name. Toho published a Westernized NES version of this game under the title Circus Caper.
  • A sequel to the Combat Wings series titled Combat Wings: The Great Battles of WWII was delayed at the last minute and renamed Dogfight 1942. Though considering the previous Combat Wings games were very generic arcade WWII flight combat games with few recurring characters or plot elements, this doesn't change much.
  • Zera: Myths Awaken was meant to be a Spyro the Dragon 4 styled in the same way as the original Insomniac trilogy. A cease-and-desist order put an end to that idea. It was reworked into its own concept starring a pink, female, semi-pedal Cartoon Creature named "Zera", but it's still clearly Spyro inspired.
  • Assassin's Creed was originally going to be a Prince of Persia game before becoming its own franchise.
  • Bravely Default was planned as a sequel to Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light but became its own series. Aside from sharing a character designer/art director in Akihiko Yoshida and similar battle systems, the first Bravely title even features the Demon Lords from 4 Heroes of Light as Nemeses, accompanied by a remix of that game's normal battle theme, "Battle with Monsters."
  • Rare had planned to develop a sequel to GoldenEye (1997), but lost the license as they were outbid by Electronic Arts. Downplayed, as the Goldeneye development team hadn't wished to create another James Bond game anyway, instead wanting to create their own, original spy-based title. Thus Perfect Dark was made as a standalone game with similar mechanics.
    • The canceled Perfect Dark Core would have undergone the same thing had development continued; by the time it was canceled it had turned into a completely different game, featuring a new male protagonist fighting Humongous Mecha.
  • One early design concept for Final Fantasy VII would have been a detective mystery set in contemporary (mid-late '90s) New York. While this obviously didn't pan out, the basic idea would later be reworked into a video game sequel to Hideaki Sena's novel Parasite Eve.
  • Def Jam Vendetta was originally planned to be a WCW game, tentatively called WCW 2000 or WCW Mayhem 2, depending on the source, for the then-upcoming PlayStation 2, but EA lost the WCW license after the latter company was acquired by the WWF in 2001.
  • The Forgotten City started its life a quest mod for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim released in 2015. The mod was met with acclaim by the modding community and even managed to garner some praise from the mainstream gaming press. Encouraged by the positive response, the mod's project leader Nick Pearce decided to work on expanding the mod into a full game, divorcing it from The Elder Scrolls universe and instead transplanting it into its own original setting.
  • Daymare 1998 was originally a Fan Remake of Resident Evil 2 before the developers received a cease & desist letter from Capcom, who were working on their own official remake of that game. This led them to retool it into an original Survival Horror title that served as a Genre Throwback to the genre's late '90s heyday.
  • Remothered started out as a 2D remake of Clock Tower: The First Fear, but the developers made the decision to go all the way and make it its own IP after deciding to make the jump to 3D. In addition to being an excellent game in its own right, it also still manages to capture the spirit of the original Clock Tower series quite well.
  • Oddity started life as a fan sequel, Mother 4, before the developers decided to drop nearly all references to the Mother series to potentially avoid a cease-and-desist. However, some fans still refer to it as Mother 4.
  • Freespace originally started life as a sequel/spin-off of the developer's Descent series. It developed into its own thing quickly, but in America was still called "Descent: Freespace" for strange copyright reasons (it was released as "Conflict: Freespace" elsewhere).
  • Dota Auto Chess was an extremely popular mod for Dota 2, and proved popular enough to the point that Dota's competitors created their own versions of Auto Chess. Discussions between Valve and the mod creator ultimately led to the decision that each of them work on their own separate auto chess games. What was left from Dota Auto Chess turned into simply Auto Chess, while Valve created their own version of the game, Dota Underlords.
  • The arcade Shoot 'Em Up Turbo Force was originally developed as an international graphic swap for a spin-off of the Rabio Lepus series named Metal Rabbit, until Metal Rabbit was scrapped and Turbo Force was the version released worldwide.
  • Mario Party 9 includes a Falling Blocks mini-game called "Castle Clearout". This game would later appear in Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics under the name "6-Ball Puzzle" with ties to the Mario series removed.
  • Mystic Defender was originally developed as anj adaptation of Peacock King, before Sega removes the licensed materials for the game's international release, turning it into a wholly-original game. For instance, the main villain Zareth was supposed to be Oda Nobunaga, while Joe the hero was Kujaku from the anime. Alexandra from the game was also originally supposed to be Azusa. The game's back cover even uses stills from the anime as promotional material!
  • Legacy of the Wizard for the NES is known in Japan as Dragon Slayer IV: Drasle Family, being the fourth installment in Falcom's Dragon Slayer series.
  • Titus the Fox was originally created as Lagaf': Les Aventures de Moktar - Vol.1: La Zoubida, and based on a comedy dance song, called "La Zoubida". "Lagaf'" is the comedian who sang it, and "Moktar" is the song's protagonist, who pines for the titular La Zoubida. The game starred Moktar going from Paris to Marrakech and back to save his beloved... but, since only French people knew of Lagaf', the developers turned Moktar into a character based on their own mascot Titus, removed each and every reference to him and his song from the graphics (including an entire stage) and replaced the rendition of "La Zoubida" in the soundtrack with original music.
  • Croc was at first conceived as a 3D Yoshi's Island game, that was ultimately turned into an original property after the prototype was rejected by Nintendo... and became a Playstation exclusive in the process. Croc himself is still clearly a barely-disguised, direct stand-in for Yoshi.
  • The Super Famicom game Xandra no Daibouken is a Prequel to the arcade game The Legend of Valkyrie, starring Xandra (the second player in the arcade game) as the titular main character. When the game was localized, since The Legend of Valkyrie would not be released outside Japan for another five years, the game (and main character) were renamed to Whirlo, and the ending screen text confirmed that the game's story continues in The Legend of Valkyrie was changed to just say "THE END".
  • Alex Kidd in Miracle World was originally intended to be a Dragon Ball game, but it was made into an original IP when Sega couldn't secure the license.
  • Cratemaze for the TurboGrafx-16 was originally released as a Doraemon game in Japan.
  • Warsong on the Genesis/Mega Drive is actually a localization of the first Langrisser game.
  • Maru's Mission for the Game Boy is a Ninja Jajamaru-kun game in Japan.
  • Little Ninja Brothers for the NES is actually a localization of the Famicom game Super Chinese 2. Despite the fact that the first Super Chinese game had already been released in the west as Kung-Fu Heroes, Culture Brain chose to localize the sequel as a completely separate game. This would later be repeated on the SNES, as Super Ninja Boy on that system is known as Super Chinese World in Japan.
  • Done numerous times with the Aleste franchise of shoot-em-ups by Compile:
    • The Master System ports of the first two Aleste games were localized as Power Strike and Power Strike II, respectively (though the latter port was not released in Japan until 2020's Aleste Collection).
    • The Genesis/Mega Drive installment, Musha Aleste, was localized as M.U.S.H.A..
    • While the first Game Gear game, GG Aleste, stayed in Japan, GG Aleste II was turned into Power Strike II despite being a completely different game from the Master System game.
    • Finally, the SNES installment, Super Aleste, became Space Megaforce in North America, but kept the Aleste name in Europe, marking the first time it was seen outside Japan.note 
  • The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang for the SNES is the second game in the Dorabocchan franchise in Japan, with the first game being a Japan-only platformer for the PC Engine (known as the TurboGrafx-16 in America).
  • In 2006, Raw Thrills released The Fast and the Furious: Super Bikes to arcades. The game was successful enough to spawn sequels, but they lost the license. However, they kept the rights to the Super Bikes name, so in 2012, they made a sequel simply titled Super Bikes 2, with Super Bikes 3 later coming out in 2019.
  • The first System Shock game was originally conceived and pitched by Warren Spector as a Wing Commander spin-off with the Working Title "Alien Commander", and would be set on the wreckage of TCS Tiger's Claw. However, with Looking Glass Studios previous projects having been Ultima Underworld and Ultima Underworld II, both Spector and project leader Doug Church decided that they wanted a greater degree of creative freedom and not have their hands tied by working with an existing franchise, and so they reconfigured the pitch into its own original setting very early into pre-production.
  • Tube Slider: The Championship of Future Formula was originally meant to be a F-Zero, serving as developer NDcube's follow-up to Maximum Velocity. Nintendo would pass over the pitch, instead giving the franchise to Sega upon the latter's request, to act as their first collaborative project following the latter's exit from the console market.

    Visual Novels 
  • Echo was pitched as part of Blackgate's canon, but has very early on established itself as its own thing in a more mundane setting. Relics of this origin can be seen both here and in Adastra (2018), where the supernatural Big Bad from each takes heavily inspiration from Blackgate's Eternal. Conversely, Adastra began as a Star Trek-esque show in Echo, but it evolved into a radically different thing, a Space Opera with nothing in common. The other project of the group, Glory Hounds, is also not connected to any of those.
  • Starswirl Academy was originally a visual novel where you could date humanized versions of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic characters. Hasbro caught wind and told the devs to change some elements. They changed the character names and now we have characters like the rainbow-haired Robin Douglas (Rainbow Dash).

    Western Animation 
  • According to Lauren Faust, the Super Best Friends Forever shorts and her ensuing DC Super Hero Girls TV series were recycled from a rejected pitch she'd made starring Kitty Pryde and the New Mutants.
  • Inspector Gadget was the result of a collaboration between DiC Entertainment and TMS Entertainment, but it originally started life as a kid-friendly spin-off of Lupin III. It was to be called Lupin VIII, starring the descendants of the Lupin III cast and would feature a lot of futuristic gadgets. The pilot episode was nearly complete, but the estate of Maurice LeBlanc, creator of the original Arsène Lupin series which Lupin III was based on (without permission), decided to threaten legal action against the companies. This put a stop to Lupin VIII, but since both companies had already put money into production, they needed to make something. The result was Inspector Gadget, which ran with the idea of a show centered around gadgets, and switched the main character focus from the thief to the police inspector, with Gadget being something of an expy of Inspector Zenigata.
  • Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers was originally pitched as a Spin-Off of The Rescuers, but Jeffrey Katzenberg rejected it, as work on The Rescuers Down Under was beginning in the feature department.
  • King of the Hill was originally conceived as a Beavis And Butthead spinoff with Hank being Tom Anderson's son, but Fox couldn't get access to Beavis and Butthead characters.
  • Love, Death & Robots began development in 2008 as a sequel to Heavy Metal, but issues with the rights to the original movie meant that Netflix launched it as an unrelated TV series instead.
  • Random! Cartoons:
    • It is no coincidence that the show has a lot in common with fellow Nickelodeon series Oh Yeah! Cartoons (namely, both shows being created by Fred Seibert and consisting of anthologies for seven-minute animated shorts that are intended to serve as pilots for potential Nicktoons), as Random! Cartoons was originally produced as a fourth season for Oh Yeah! Cartoons before the execs chose to rebrand the series as its own thing.
    • The short "Hornswiggle" was initially planned to be a Sidney the Elephant short, but was changed to star a new character who was a rhinoceros rather than an elephant when it was discovered that Nickelodeon didn't have the rights to the Terrytoons characters at the time.

Alternative Title(s): Divorced Instalment