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Dub-Induced Plotline Change

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"I know what they've done! They've shot that beginning here, themselves. They've cut the picture to pieces!"
Kira Argounova, We the Living

Sometimes when works are translated elsewhere, major changes are made to it, from changing the scripts to editing the footage. The usual reason is to make it more accessible to the audience for the localization, but other reasons include avoiding Values Dissonance, avoiding the ire of local Moral Guardians, editing to fit in commercial breaks, or otherwise trying to make a series longer or shorter than it was originally to match local syndication packages.

Common methods include:

Fans tend to really dislike this, referring to such translations as "Macekres". The worst of the worst will basically have the entire original script discarded and replaced with an entirely new one. Most of them aren't that bad, but they will frequently Bowdlerize the original, create additional plot holes, or otherwise just cause Adaptation Decay. This is a major plank in the Subbing Versus Dubbing debate.

The practice fell out of style around the late 2000's and has consequently been much rarer since then for a number of factors, much of which has to do with the rise of the internet. The web makes it easier to quickly read up on cultural references that typically get removed in these localizations, see just exactly how much of a release was changed from one country to the next, and get one's hands on the unaltered version.

Furthermore, the web increased recognition of the popularity of foreign media among older audiences who were willing to do their research and considered this type of localization condescending. Outside the internet, there's also the fact that editing as heavy as this is far more expensive than a straightforward dub (or an unaltered subtitled release). As a result of all this, the practice has mostly become a Discredited Trope outside of the most necessary cases of being Edited for Syndication.

Despite its negative reputation nowadays, this practice is not always a bad thing. When the target audience is nearly totally unfamiliar with the work, a translation like this can turn the work into a Gateway Series, helping create new fans who seek out other works, or if really successful create a whole new series seperate from the original. These translations are often thought of fondly, especially by those who saw the dub first and didn't piece together that there was an original version.

If the importers actually add new material to something when they import it, it's Importation Expansion.

Compare Woolseyism (changes are made for things that actually won't translate well, and the changes are simply the most pragmatic), Gag Dub (script changes based on Rule of Funny), "Blind Idiot" Translation (where translations don't intend to make changes from the original work, but mangle the words into something completely different), Frankenslation, Difficulty by Region, and Dolled-Up Installment.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • DiC and Cloverway made many, many changes to Sailor Moon to make it more palatable for American audiences. It's nigh impossible to list them all (although some sites have tried), and many of them were rather inexplicable. The biggest changes were of a Never Say "Die" variety (which didn't always leave the plot unscathed), Westernizing names, and trying (and failing) to remove Homoerotic Subtext, even infamously changing a lesbian couple (Sailors Uranus and Neptune) to "cousins" only to get even more subtext than they bargained for. It also resulted in the oddity of the Mexican dub, which was much better received and closer to the original, using the Americanized names for the first two seasons. Interestingly, this wasn't the first crack at Sailor Moon to hit this trope — Toon Makers was bidding for the rights as well, and their plans for the show were so drastic that they included original American footage, both animated and in live-action. Here's some footage of a promo showing how lucky the fans were.
  • 4Kids Entertainment was infamous for localizing shows like this, especially in their early years. Their CEO at the time, Alfred Kahn, went on record to say, "By the time we localize the programs, kids don't even know they're from Japan anymore." Their reputation was rather poor, to say the least, and other companies (like Viz Media and FUNimation) found much greater success by actively not doing what 4Kids did and being more faithful to the source material. In the end, 4Kids was sued into bankruptcy by TV Tokyo in a licensing dispute and reorganized into 4Licensing Corporation. Among their attempts at this:
    • They did the early years of the Pokémon: The Series anime. They changed a lot, such as characters' names (largely to match the games' localizations) and personalities to make them more relatable to American children (and at least in Misty and Brock's case, to tone down the sexuality). It was a hit anyway, even among those aware of the changes. The dub is also considered good in the West. Later seasons were done by the Pokémon Company International and were much more faithful to the source material, but the Nostalgia Filter has led a number of older fans to prefer the 4Kids version.
      • 4Kids also did the movies, and some of the changes there weren't as well-received. Most notably, Mewtwo from Pokémon: The First Movie was rewritten as a stereotypical Evil Overlord, whereas the original was Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life (albeit rather violently).
      • Pokémon Chronicles was so different from the original, it may as well be a completely different series. This is most evident in its Non-Indicative First Episode, The Legend of Thunder, a TV special that was split apart into a 3-parter episode. The dub had a penchant of rewriting from scratch multiple dialogues to add things such as references to Pokémon that weren't mentioned in the original version (such as Professor Oak mentioning his research about Jirachi or Casey stating she owns a Rapidash and a Magmar).
    • 4Kids is known for dubbing Yu-Gi-Oh!, changing character names and enforcing a strict Never Say "Die" mentality. It also changed the entire premise of the second and third series, boiling down a number of complex self-discovery Character Development arcs into a fight against a villain trying to Take Over the World. It's a ready source of mockery among fans, and Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series never misses an opportunity to highlight the dub's absurdity (although the 4Kids people said they enjoyed the abridging).
    • After their dub of Shaman King, which had less edits than their other works, brought complaints from parent associations due to certain very violent scenes, their dub of One Piece, by contrast, changed as much as it could. 4Kids' experience with Shaman King led them to believe that they had to retool One Piece to fit their target demographic. Given the long-running and intricate story, they only succeeded in creating a morass of plot holes, removing whole episodes and even whole story arcs (Laboon and Little Garden). It also went big into Never Say "Die" and Frothy Mugs of Water (but failed to fix a sequence where Luffy tries to cheat at a Drinking Contest), and it went nuts removing all traces of weaponry (once digitally altering a rifle into a shovel, only for a mob actually wielding shovels to have them edited into bizarre neon blobs later). The cuts reduced the first 144 episodes to 104. After 4Kids finally dropped the license to One Piece, FUNimation redubbed the entire series, including the 4Kids-era episodes.
  • Nelvana, a Canadian distribution studio, edited Cardcaptor Sakura and turned it into "Cardcaptors". While their dub Anglicized the characters' names and censored some of the more controversial relationships (such as Tori/Julien and Rita's love for her teacher), it was otherwise passable for a Saturday morning dub. However, the U.S. broadcast on Kids' WB! is the one most people remember, since it was extremely hacked up and rewritten. In a rather clumsy attempt to widen the show's appeal beyond its original demographic, half the first season was cut out or chopped up into flashback sequences, the episode order changed drastically, and the scripts were rewritten, trying to turn supporting character Syaoran Li into a lead character alongside the original heroine. At the same time, a much more accurate subtitled version was released on tape and DVD under the original name; the DVD version of the original sold so much better that the dub version was discontinued.
  • The Dragon Ball franchise ran into several attempts to localize it before finally hitting its stride:
    • The earliest attempt to launch Dragon Ball in America was from Harmony Gold, responsible for Robotech and Captain Harlock above. While their test dub was much more faithful to the original than their previous efforts, it still changed lots of dialogue and Westernized all the names, with such gems as "Zero" and "Bongo" for Goku and Krillin respectively, and Korin being renamed "Whiskers the Wonder Cat". This dub only covered the first five episodes, but Harmony Gold also produced a TV special made up of footage from the first and third movies, with heavily altered dialogue combining the two stories together.
    • Next crack at it was FUNimation, working with The Ocean Group in 1995 on Dragon Ball. This dub only had the first movie as a pilot and the first 13 episodes. Interestingly, the script was mostly recycled from Harmony Gold's earlier dub of the film, with the result that it also had heavy censorship and altered dialogue (although it would also factor prominently into FUNimation's uncut redub years later). They decided to cut their losses and move straight to Dragon Ball Z.
    • For the first dub of Dragon Ball Z, Saban Entertainment joined Ocean and FUNimation as a partner. Many early episodes were cut and rearranged, the third movie was chopped into three separate episodes, many scenes were digitally censored, and nobody died — they were just "sent to another dimension". Some additional Early-Installment Weirdness resulted from incomprehensible guidance from Japan. The resulting dub reduced the first 66½ episodes and the third movie to 56 total episodes. It failed to find an audience in weekly syndication, but proved to be a huge success on Cartoon Network's then-new Toonami block, allowing FUNimation to continue the show with their own in-house dub. FUNimation's dub mostly averted this, since while it replaced the soundtrack and toned down some of the dialogue, it was largely uncensored.
    • For their dub of Dragon Ball GT, FUNimation cut the first 16 episodes into one recap episode, replaced the intro with a rap song, and went for a Darker and Edgier tone than the source material.
  • Transformers goes both ways!
    • When Beast Wars, a rather dark series with somewhat outlandish comic relief moments at times, was dubbed into Japanese, it received a Gag Dub with no sense of self-restraint and a few other random changes, such as turning the Predacons' computer into a character (or characters) named Naviko. Many Japanese Transformers fans were quite unhappy with this. The blame for this can be pinned on director Yoshikazu Iwakami, who applied this same wacky, over-the-top dubbing style to every future American-made Transformers series until he left after Transformers: Prime.
    • By contrast, American fans were quite pleased with 2001's Transformers: Robots in Disguise which rewrote the bland Transformers: Car Robots as a maybe-sequel to The Transformers cartoon (it was later determined by Fun Publications to exist in its own universe). Its endearingly quirky characters and the added Mythology Gags were a surprise hit in America, while Car Robots had done so badly in Japan that it was pulled from television before airing its finale. The changes eventually cross-pollinated back to Japan, albeit not without some Continuity Snarl.
    • The dub of Transformers: Armada was heavily rushed, leading to many cases of characters being referred to by the wrong name and a lot of weird, out-of-place dialogue that didn't relate to what was actually happening onscreen.
    • The dub of Armada's sequel Transformers: Energon was similarly rushed, with the same awkward dialogue and wrong names, and also with several deliberate changes. Never Say "Die" was in full effect, and scenes (and at least one full episode) were cut for no reason, especially Primus's dialogue, leading to quite a few plot holes.
    • Transformers: Cybertron, the sequel to Armada and Energon, was by contrast considered a Woolseyism of the highest order, but its dub caused its own share of problems. In Japan, Cybertron was an independent series and not a sequel. This didn't cause much stress until Galaxy Force came out. Fun Publications would later reconcile the continuity errors by shoehorning in a few lines about the "Unicron Singularity" warping the very fabric of reality itself, and manufacturing three shots of the previous series' characters in the series finale. Ironically, Galaxy Force has since been retconned into Micron Legend continuity in Japan.
  • Digimon has a number of Dub Induced Plot Holes across the individual shows, mostly concerned with characters mentioning siblings and pets they didn't have, and they produced them so close to the original that it was hard to predict whether any lines would cause continuity errors later on. Beyond that, they mostly just changed names (although some were Westernized, and others were changed to different Japanese names). The worst from the series would be the second season of Digimon Adventure, where Executive Meddling resulted in a lot of forced humor, most of it at Davis' expense, to the point that it made Davis look like a complete dumbass. The second season's Non-Serial Movie, Digimon Hurricane Touchdown!/The Golden Digimentals, was also combined with two short anime movies about the kids from the first season to form Digimon: The Movie, with a lot of reworking having to be done to cram the continuities together.
  • MegaMan NT Warrior is more or less given the cold stare from the Mega Man Battle Network fandom for being a total mess of changed names, randomly edited scenes, and other strange changes. The name changes in particular were weird, not because the fandom preferred the original Japanese, but rather that the characters already had Westernized names from the localized source material, the Battle Network video games. This led to characters with three names. The same thing happened to some NPCs in Mega Man Star Force.
  • Science Ninja Team Gatchaman:
    • The first of these adaptations, Battle of the Planets, is generally thought to be its own separate entity due to the amount of censorship and rewrites that went into it, along with newly-added Off-Model animation made to cover up the missing material. It's an early example of a Macekre, even with its better points. Most overseas releases of Gatchaman based their scripts off of this adaptation (since Sandy Frank held the international license), although there would be the occasional dub that stuck to the Japanese version or those that adapted from G-Force: Guardians of Space and Eagle Riders.
    • While most of these English adaptations used either the first Gatchaman TV series or OVA for their source material, Eagle Riders was a Macekre of the second and third series (Gatchaman II and Gatchaman Fighter). Numerous episodes were cut, some episodes were rearranged or had portions from others spliced together, nobody could die, and the series ended on a random episode with no resolution to the main plot.
  • Samurai Pizza Cats is one of the most successful of these translations. Saban Entertainment wrote an entirely original script for it, matching the dialogue to the Mouth Flaps and whatever was happening on screen. The result was a Gag Dub that even the Japanese creators preferred. How it came about this way isn't certain; the most common story is that the English dubbers didn't have a script and had to improvise with the footage, but Robert Axelrod, who was one of the writers, claims that they totally did have scripts, but in Engrish.
  • Space Battleship Yamato was dubbed into Star Blazers. It had the usual for this trope; dead bodies were edited out, many a Dub-Induced Plot Hole, and Never Say "Die" (even for characters who would be revived later). Odder things involved super-futuristic Westernized names, strange voice acting decisions (like giving the Season 3 Big Bad a ridiculous Russian accent), and removing some Character Development (degrading some moments to a Senseless Sacrifice). The Comet Empire movie also suffered from this as well, in addition to having 20 minutes cut from it.
  • Saint Seiya's English broadcast dub (not to be confused with the later ADV Films dub) was renamed "Knights of the Zodiac". It tried to eliminate references to death, excessive violence, and religion, despite the show being more or less about a religious war with appearances by saints and gods themselves. They also changed a ridiculous amount of blood into "spiritual energy", gave the Siberian a Surfer Dude's accent, and cut some pretty epic music.
  • Though they never succeeded, if you look up the Gaga Communications trailers for 1988 on YouTube, they were clearly anticipating this trope. Titles and character names for series (including some ones which eventually went on to be well-known in the West), for example, and some details of the stories are already changed — all without a single bit of English dubbing. Perhaps this is just as well — for example, imagine Project A-Ko as "Supernova". (This particular trailer inspired someone to do a Bowdlerized fan-edit of the first episode as if it had been taken up by Celebrity Home Entertainment for their "Just for Kids" label.)
  • The European Portuguese dub of Dragon Ball Z did this to such an extent that it became So Bad, It's Good. The dialogue is nonsensical and the voices are exaggerated, but when you have King Kai trying to call the fire department to stop Earth from exploding, it loops back around to hilarious.
  • The English dub of the 2001 Cyborg 009 series suffered this, as part of Sony Pictures' attempt to sanitize it for younger viewers. The dialogue changes and visual cuts also carried over to other countries where Sony distributed the anime, as they were given the English dub scripts to adapt. It also experienced inconsistent dubbing, with the faithfulness of scripts and dialogue varying heavily, and some episodes' flashbacks not even retaining the dialogue that was in the sourced episodes. When the first few episodes appeared on Toonami, complaints from Moral Guardians caused further edits, removing any questionable language, mentions of 002's atheism (and his Jerk with a Heart of Gold nature in general), and a stronger Never Say "Die" attitude.
  • Saban Brands pulled this off with the English adaptations of Smile PreCure! and Doki Doki! PreCure (which were renamed to Glitter Force and Glitter Force Doki Doki respectively), by removing some episodes and combining others, resulting in a shorter run time compared to the Japanese original. While Smile didn't lose too much from this, Doki Doki was hit hard; Toei had already slimmed it down after criticism of Smile's egregious use of Filler, so that left very little fat to trim, and it ended up with 19 episodes re-cut or removed entirely, resulting in uneven pacing and whole arcs missing.
  • The Italian dub of the Marmalade Boy anime has been considered by many people "the most censored anime dub ever" since there are many plot changes, episodes that are either missing or fused together into a single one and so on, but the truth is that is that what aired there was not a dub of the original show, but a complete rewrite which starts as a slightly altered version of the original plot (in the original version, the parents of the main characters do a reverse marriage so that Miki's dad marries Yuu's mom and viceversa: in the Italian version they say Yuu's father is dead, so the new husband of Miki's mom is just one of her colleagues) and then diverges from the original more and more as the series goes on. This new series was called Piccoli problemi di cuore and was also sold in many foreign countries with the international title of A little love story. A second season made using all the footage that was cut for the original series (plus some recycled footage from what was actually used originally) was also planned but never released.
  • The French version of the Ayakashi Triangle manga has some strange deviations that tend to either create plotholes or need even stranger methods later on to fill them in. Most notably, the first appearance of Suzu's omokage has it changed to some kind of shapeshifting spirit instead of Enemy Without, its later appearances treat it as a separate entity, and Shadow Mei claims to be the shapeshifter even though she was still sealed away in the original version.
  • Voltes V:
    • The Philippine-English dub changes Heinel's motivation to keep fighting against Voltes V.
    Original Japanese: "I will not run away, Katherine! I will defend this place by fighting Voltes V, that's what I want to do, and now I have no other choice but to fight them myself. Aside!"
    Philippine-English: "Draco is dead because of them, do you not understand, Zandra? Those despicable earthlings were responsible for Draco's demise. Our fallen comrades cry for vengeance. Aside!"
    • It happens again in the same episode, regarding his Last Stand.
    Original Japanese: "Katherine, I promise I will not die. Until I defeat Voltes..."
    Philippine-English: "I will avenge you. Voltes V will pay for your demise!"
    • In the Italian dub, Heinel is Driven to Suicide after Katherine dies. Losing all will to live, he throws himself into Godol's flames, dedicating his last words to shouting her name. To his shock, it turns out that Godol is actually a mecha Hidden in Plain Sight. Jumping on the opportunity to avenge her, Heinel lays scourge all over Boazania.
    Original Japanese: "To show my dedication, I shall throw myself into your flames!"
    Italian: "Kazarine!!!"
    • In the Italian dub, after Heinel saves Kenichi, the latter begs him to live, but Heinel, being able to only think of the death of Katherine, cries as he lets the flames consume him. This is in contrast to the original Japanese dub, where he accepted death to atone for his sins, his last words being "Father...!".

    Asian Animation 

    Films — Animation 
  • Hayao Miyazaki fought this trope tooth and nail when his works were localized in the West:
    • The original New World Pictures dub of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (which became "Warriors of the Wind") was Macekred so heavily, it became one of the most reviled such translations of The '80s. Miyazaki was so disgusted that he held off licensing his other films until someone approached him with a deal that stipulated no changes to the script or editing. When Miramax picked up Princess Mononoke, one of Studio Ghibli's producers reportedly sent the Miramax execs a katana with a note saying "No cuts". Subsequent dubs, like Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, have largely been faithful to the original (with some Woolseyisms to get American viewers up to speed with some Japanese tropes).
    • The Streamline dub of The Castle of Cagliostro made a number of changes to the movie, changing the plot, inserting cheesy dialogue, and stuffing dialogue where it shouldn't have been. It also includes the single line most often brought up as the archetypal example of a Macekre: "Should've worn an asbestos suit." Later, it was redubbed much more faithfully (albeit with the unnecessary addition of Obligatory Swearing that was never present in the original dialogue).
  • The CGI film remake of The Magic Roundabout was very well-received over in European countries. When the Weinstein Company was given the task to distribute it in North America, they figured that Americans would be unfamiliar with the series, so they renamed it "Doogal", redubbed it with a new script filled with multiple reference jokes and Toilet Humour, and advertised it as an action-adventure movie.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Jackie Chan did this with his Hong Kong Re-Cut of The Protector (1985), made because of creative differences with director James Glickenhaus. Glickenhaus had made the movie in a typical American style, a significant departure from your usual Jackie Chan film. Chan re-shot many of the fight sequences in his own style, removed some gratuitous nudity, added a subplot with Cantopop singer and actress Sally Yeh, and made various other edits to improve the pace. Glickenhaus' original bombed in America; the Hong Kong version did better.
  • An in-universe case happens in Book of Love, where a British author discovers his book is huge in Mexico and goes there for a book tour. Turns out the translator found the novel boring and the localization was made Hotter and Sexier, along with changing some plotlines to make it more eventful.
  • Night of the Bloody Apes: Originally released in 1969, the film was re-released three years later in an English-dubbed form, with new scenes inserted by another director to increase the gore for the American audience. The recut also changes the conclusion of the film so that it is Lucy's boyfriend Lt. Martinez rather than Lucy herself who finally dispatches the wayward beast. Unfortunately, this has the effect of rendering much of Lucy's screen time rather redundant.

  • The Bible is a difficult book to translate, as different parts of it were written in different times and in different languages. Translations were not above reworking some verses to match the contemporary political climate.
    • The Ur-Example in English is the King James version, first commissioned by James I of England in 1611. The translators were instructed to ensure that it supported the views of the Church of England. It subsequently gained significant prominence in the English-speaking world, but the extreme version would have to be the super-fundamentalist "King James Only" movement, which considers the King James version the only proper translation (even if not the original) and all other translations in any languagenote  a Macekre by Satan himself.
    • Words are often translated a certain way to fit specific political views. The New Testament denounces people described by the Greek word malakoi, meaning "soft". At the time, it probably meant Idle Rich, as the Greeks thought luxury made you weak (preferring the relative austerity of The Spartan Way). The King James version has it as "effeminate". In today's political environment, you'll find lots of people who will tell you it really means "homosexual". These people are also willing to pull out random Old Testament translations to further their point, making it as close to "cut and paste" as you're going to get. Teetotalers are uncomfortable with all the mentions of people drinking "wine", so they will translate it into "unfermented grape juice"except where the passage denounces it.
  • Matthew Ward's English translation of The Stranger (currently the most popular one in America) spends some time bashing Stuart Gilbert's (which before his was the only one available in America). In the original French, and in Ward's version, the narrator begins as a Terse Talker in the vein of an Ernest Hemingway protagonist, then becomes oddly lyrical after going to jail. Gilbert essentially turns him British, and incidentally rewrites some of his odder comments to sound more conventional.
  • The German translation of Terry Pratchett's Good Omens completely omits the homosexual content about Aziraphale: "gayer than a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide" becomes "whimsical (verschmitzt) as a tree full of monkeys" which doesn't really make sense. Also, Shadwell's "Southern Pansy" becomes something else entirely. It's not really clear why, because neither are those lines likely to be offensive nor is German society extra sensitive about homosexuality.
  • In an example that overlaps with Based on a Great Big Lie, Anne Carson's Autobiography of Red includes a rewrite of Stesichoros' Geryoneis that is almost entirely Carson's original work, but is prefaced by an essay designed to mislead the reader into thinking it's a straight translation. However, since the "translation" is full of anachronisms (hot plates, weekends, glass-bottomed boats) a certain amount of playfulness must be in effect.
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is displaced in ex-USSR territories by an unlicensed translation called The Wizard of the Emerald City, which was successful enough to spawn five sequels diverging from L. Frank Baum's original series. It gives all the characters Dub Name Changes and cuts, replaces, or adds some scenes or character aspects. For example, the apple-throwing trees are replaced with the characters crossing a river by raft during a storm, and Dorothy (Ellie in this translation) is not an orphan.

    Live-Action TV  
  • The Ultra Series is very prone to this.
    • When Ultraseven was dubbed into English by Cinar for TNT, it received a Gag Dub that changed many of the characters' names and added sillier dialogue (one episode inserted a running joke of the characters shouting "from space!", every time someone said "invaders"), while also dumbing down the darker elements in favour of making fun of the special effects. This version has since been almost entirely forgotten even by fans of the series (perhaps willingly), but it can be found online in all its awful glory.
    • The Ultraman Tiga dub by 4Kids Entertainment had even more comedic dialogue that mocked the original material, made the series more kid-friendly to Westerners, derailed characters like the level-headed Captain Iruma into idiots, and renamed many other things. Fans think it's either So Bad, It's Good or irredeemably awful, and only 25 out of 52 episodes were aired due to negative reception (and Out of Order to boot). According to Erica Schroeder (who dubbed Rena), this was because 4Kids couldn't decide whether to mock the show or to make it serious.
  • This happened to Star Trek when it was dubbed into German. They gave it a Gag Dub with lots of censorship, and they cut massive amounts of footage. It's most evident in "Amok Time", which changed Spock's need to return to his home planet to Mate or Die into suffering from "space fever" (so his battle to the death with Kirk was a mere hallucination). For its DVD release, Paramount spent a lot of money to correct this.
  • The BBC's Tales From Europe strand from The '60s came about as a result of the children's department being unable to make its own programmes, and so began adapting films from the Continent and particularly Eastern Europe, most notably The Singing Ringing Tree from East Germany. Typically the films would be edited into several parts and shown as a serial, with a narrative track over the top instead of dubbing the original dialogue into English.

    Puppet Shows 
  • This happened to Thunderbirds twice. First when it was run on Fox Kids with redubbed voices, rock music, and cuts to remove content deemed inappropriate for children and also to cram the plots into half-hour episodes, rendering most of them incomprehensible. After that bombed, the rightsholder released another half-hour version for syndication, Turbocharged Thunderbirds, which further altered the original episodes to be taking place on the planet "Thunder World", redubbed the dialog yet again to add more "post-modern" jokes, had the Tracy family taking orders from a pair of live-action teenagers who called Jeff Tracy "Mr. T", and referred to the teenagers as Hackers who lived aboard Thunderbird 5, now dubbed "Hacker Command". This version so enraged original creator Gerry Anderson that it was quickly pulled from syndication and supposedly destroyed at his request. Fans think Turbocharged is worse even than the 2004 live-action adaptation (which, for perspective, Anderson called "the biggest load of crap [he'd] ever seen in [his] life").

    Video Games 
  • Blaster Master is about Jason Frudnick, a high school senior piloting the tank Sophia III (as named in the "Worlds of Power" novelization) to save his pet frog Fred and beat underground mutants and their leader, the Plutonium Boss. Its Japanese counterpart, Super Planetary War Chronicle MetaFight (according to the manual) is about Kane Gardner piloting the Metal Attacker on the planet Sophia III to defeat the Invem Dark Star Cluster army of mutants and their emperor Goez. Since the game was more successful outside of Japan, Japan eventually got the Blaster Master story in the PlayStation sequel Blaster Master: Blasting Again. The 2017 reboot Blaster Master Zero contains elements of both stories, though the Golden Ending reveals it to be a Stealth Sequel to MetaFight.
  • Atlus has a reputation for not doing this, but back in their early days they localised the cult hit Megami Ibunroku: Persona as Revelations: Persona by scrubbing the script of any Japanese references, redrawing the characters with different skin tones (including making one into a jive-talking black sidekick), and trying (inconsistently) to relocate the setting from Japan to a strange America full of Japanese landmarks. This gets confusing in Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, when several characters from the first game make an appearance, retaining their American names (for continuity purposes) but looking like their Japanese versions, and it was a pretty messy retcon to try to connect the second game's plot elements to the first game's. They also removed an entire ten-hour Bonus Dungeon. Since then, Atlus has been so faithful in its translation of the Persona series that it makes no attempt to hide the fact that the games are set in Japan.
  • In Japan, Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere was a fast-paced flight arcade game with highly competent teammates, a deeply involving, character-driven, completely non-linear storyline, and sleek anime cutscenes by Production I.G. However, it underperformed relative to its lavish production values, so the Western localization cut out most of the game's selling points. Now, most missions are solo, the storyline tries to simplify into something that will allow you to Play the Game, Skip the Story and replaces the story tree with a straight line, and the anime cutscenes were replaced with Infodump text slideshows.
  • XS Games bought the rights to two unrelated Bullet Hell shooters, Gunbird and Castle of Shikigami, and released them as Mobile Light Force 1 and 2, respectively. The original Japanese scripts were tossed out completely and replaced with an English script that made no sense, and the games were released with a Charlie's Angels-style cover that had absolutely nothing to do with either game. After great anguish from fans, XS Games brought over Castle of Shikigami 2 uncut, though the translation was ludicrously poor. The third game was brought over by a different publisher, Aksys Games.
  • Drakengard had most of its script reworked into something incoherent; it removed almost everything pointing to incest or pedophilia, and it also botched the scene leading to the third ending.
  • Sometimes a game becomes a Dolled-Up Installment of another video game series that Westerners might be more familiar with, leading to not much making sense:
  • Probotector for the Mega Drive, the European localization of Contra: Hard Corps not only replaced all of the humanoid characters with robots (much like the previous Probotector games for the Nintendo platforms), it also turned the plot of the game into a barely coherent mess, by replacing references to the enemy being an Earth-based terrorist organization with some nonsense about "alien rebels", as well as downplaying the role of Dr. Geo Mandrake so he was no longer a traitor.
  • There's a lot of debate related to Working Designs about whether or not their scripts are Macekres or Woolseyisms. Either way, enough was changed in their localizations that they can't reasonably be called "translations" of the original games.
    • They were notorious for slipping in an ungodly amount of pop culture references and plenty of Toilet Humour that didn't exist in the original script, as well as playing fast and loose with the dialogue in the games, which made keeping track of changes in the many Lunar remakes difficult just because the player never knew whether a change was added for the new version or just added to the English version. On the other hand, this notoriety is also what made their games appealing. The Bill Clinton joke in the original Lunar: Eternal Blue is legendary, to the point where many mourned its loss when the PS1 version came out and they had updated it to something more relevant.
    • This also applies to the game mechanics. In Vay, there is a wind fairy who could send the Player Party to another location. This straightforward mechanic was changed in the localization so that all members of the party need to wear "Filtration Masks" before using her service, for the sake of changing her wind powers to a fart joke, and if even one member of the party isn't wearing a mask, they would inexplicably take the masks off the rest of the group, leading to a Total Party Kill. A later joke chest in Vaygess was changed from containing 1g to containing a vortex that steals all your gold.
    • Working Designs was also known for jacking up the difficulty of the original game essentially at their own whims (the "gold vortex" mentioned above being only one example) by altering enemy stats and, occasionally, goods and service prices. This doesn't always negatively affect the gameplay, but when it does, it does so hard — games like Popful Mail and Exile: Wicked Phenomenon are almost unplayably difficult in their English localizations, and even they admitted that forcing the player to pay magic experience to save the game in Lunar: Eternal Blue was a bad idea.
    • There are some things they clearly cut and paste, such as changing questions about Vane's levitation in Silver Star Story Complete to a reference to Tootsie Pops and M&Ms, and at times they played merry hell with the Lunar series' mythos, changing things such as "Mel governs Meribia" to "Mel founded Meribia" and "Dragonmasters fight with unbelievable strength" to "There can only be one Dragonmaster at any given time."
  • Nintendo of America's self-imposed decency guidelines scrubbed almost all references to religion, Nazis, sex, and gratuitous violence from the NES and SNES.
    • If you didn't beat it, you probably didn't know Bionic Commando was about stickin' it to Hitler.
    • EarthBound (1994) took a number of edits, but more notably so did its NES predecessor EarthBound Beginnings. Since the American port team fixed bugs and added features as they meddled, that translation/edit was used as the base for the Japan-only Mother 1+2 for the GBA.
    • Nintendo apparently gave themselves a free pass on the first two The Legend of Zelda games, which are loaded with crosses and even a church (explicitly identified as such) in both Japanese and English. Then they backpedaled with A Link to the Past, changing a church into a "sanctuary" and a priest into a "sage" (though without altering any visual imagery). They also edited out graphics based on Egyptian hieroglyphs (specifically, the Hylian language), citing that they were a religious reference (despite this being a religion that hardly anyone has practiced for thousands of years).
  • Germany is infamous for its game edits. Nazi symbolism is verboten in games (or really anything), so games like Bloodrayne (set in Nazi Germany) get set in Ruritanias with we-swear-they're-not-swastikas everywhere. They're also touchy about violence, so it's common to retcon human Mooks into robots (to the point that the back page of the official guide to Turok: Dinosaur Hunter in Germany actively touted its replacement of human mooks with robots).
    • I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream's German PC release removed Nimdok and his section — but not the requirement to complete his section to beat the game, making that version of the game Unwinnable.
    • German versions (and sometimes European versions) of strategy games set in World War II will depict Germany with the Imperial German flag and symbols instead of Nazi ones and replace Hitler with a fictional character. It's been criticized as historical revisionism, implying the Nazis didn't exist (and Germany thus shouldn't have to confront what the Nazis did).
    • The German releases of Command & Conquer changed everyone into robots, across every game. The worst in this regard was Generals, which changed everyone into robots that look like robots, sound like robots, and bleed green blood (unlike robots). The GLA suicide bomber was replaced by a bomb with wheels but still starts talking to you when you put it in a car.
    • The German version of Half-Life changed all the enemy soldiers to robots and removed the blood and gore entirely. This meant that when the science team gets shot, instead of dying, they just sit there shaking their heads in disappointment before fading away.
    • Team Fortress Classic replaced all the class models with a generic robot model, defeating the whole point of a Hero Shooter. Its sequel Team Fortress 2 kept the class models but replaced the blood with oil and is permanently set to "Silly Gibs" mode, which turns the explosions of limbs and organs into explosions of various inanimate objects. The Meet the Team shorts are also censored (e.g. in Meet the Soldier, the Soldier's collection of heads has metal springs instead of neckbones and bleeds oil). Notably, Valve stopped censoring later additional content, but didn't uncensor what was already censored.
  • Dynamite Headdy removed all dialogue except for the tutorial segments and the end of Scene 4 from the international versions of the game. What was once an intentionally silly but coherent plot becomes an incomprehensible mess that's barely discernable past random action sequences because of this.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sega of America delayed the North American release of Sonic the Hedgehog CD by several months for the purpose of replacing 75% of the soundtrack, most likely due to sampling issues, as the Japanese soundtrack used a lot of 'em. Even Spencer Nielsen, the composer working on behalf of Sega of America, sympathized with the purists. They also renamed Amy Rose "Princess Sally", in a weak attempt to cater to the ABC cartoon's fanbase, in spite of the fact that Amy is a pink hedgehog and Sally is a redhead chipmunk.
    • The manual of Knuckles Chaotix has a completely different story in the Japanese and Western versions; in the Japanese version, Dr. Eggman builds his base called Newtrogic High Zone on an island when he discovers powerful artifacts called Chaos Rings there, and Knuckles goes there to investigate, while in the Western versions, Knuckles is the guardian of "Carnival Island," and must save it from Dr. Robotnik before opening day. In-game, it is still referred to as "Newtrogic High Zone" in all versions, and there's no time limit.
  • In the American release of Um Jammer Lammy, a level taking place in Hell was relocated to a desert island for fear of offending religious types. Lyrical references to Hell were also removed. Most bizarrely, Paul Chuck no longer "chops down trees just for fun", apparently for fear of offending environmentalists. The European versions got to stay in Hell, though.
  • Konami's American localization staff, during the NES era and most of the SNES era, wouldn't usually change the games themselves, but they would change the instruction manuals, changing the games' plots and renaming enemy characters with Punny Names. It usually didn't matter because there was hardly any dialogue in the games, but when it did, it often reflected the original Japanese plot instead of the American manual, leading to some confusion.
    • The NES version of Metal Gear is one of the most prominent examples. The plot within the game is mostly unchanged, but the manual identified the antagonist as a "Colonel Vermon CaTaffy", a clear pastiche of Muammar Gaddafi. It's obvious that the writer of the manual never actually finished the game.
    • Snake's Revenge, the NES sequel to Metal Gear, is an ever odder case. The game was released only in America and Europe, so the English manual has no Japanese version to be compared with. Even then, it still manages to be inconsistent with the game itself, as the manual identifies the villain as a Middle Eastern dictator named "Higharolla Kockmamia" (a pastiche of Ayatollah Khomeini), but the actual bad guy is revealed to be a cyborg version of Big Boss in the actual game. Additionally, the manual claims that Jennifer "X" (Snake's female contact within the enemy base) is "rumored to be related to Ginger from Gilligan's Island". Considering Kojima’s love of western media references himself, this is pretty much the closest the game gets to having much to do with Metal Gear.
    • When the first Game Boy Gradius game was translated in America, the plot of the game was changed from a "Aliens are attacking us!"-style blurb to ridiculous crap about chasing down a criminal called "King Nemesis". While the Gradius series was never plot-heavy in the first place, the manual of this game has to be seen to be believed.
    • In the SNES conversion of Gradius III, "bosses" became "Mayors", and several bosses got renamed: Crystal Core became "Monarch", Big Core mkII became "Ice Ice", Derringer Core became "Grim", and Vic Viper became the "M.A.X.".
    • The American manual for Life Force identifies the planet-devouring being of Zelos as the child of a "Ma & Pa Deltoid", as well as switching the names of Intruder (the dragon) and Cruiser Tetran (the core ship with the four tentacles). The US arcade version combines the Eldritch Abomination "Fantastic Voyage" Plot narrative of the Japanese Updated Re-release (also titled Life Force) with the pickup-based power-up system (as opposed to the power currency system of Gradius, which the NES version used) and "invading alien fleet" aesthetic of the original Salamander, leading to inconsistencies such as asteroids being called "kidney stones".
    • The early Contra games had their plots changed to place them in the present instead of the future, to the point of removing the cutscenes from the first NES game. The original Contra was moved from the South Pacific to South America; Operation C was changed from being about Bill Rizer fighting an unknown superpower to fighting another alien invader named Black Viper; and Contra III' kept the futuristic setting but changed the protagonists from Bill and Lance into their descendants "Jimbo" and "Sully". The enemy characters were also given sillier names, such as "Jagger Froid" and the "Babalu Destructoid Mechanism". Oddly enough, the manuals for the European Probotector games had more accurate translations, changing the text only to take into account that the main characters were robots.
    • The manual for Legend of the Mystical Ninja is a bit of an odd duck. One on the hand, it makes up a story about something called "the Dragonbeast", which has nothing to do with the game. On the other hand, the humorous tone of the manual is in-line with the game itself.
  • Much to the ire of long-time fans of the series, Yakuza 3 was brought heavily under the cutting knife in an effort to excise elements that "would not resonate with Western audiences". This includes the removal of a string of quests involving the management of a hostess bar, elimination of such alarmingly Japanese games as Shōgi and mahjong, and the tossing aside of massage parlors, a number of optional missions, and a rather deep trivia game.
  • When Magical Doropie was translated as The Krion Conquest, the story stopped at the intro, beyond which all cutscenes were removed and the ending became A Winner Is You. This only made the game look even more like a ripoff of Mega Man (Classic) than it already was.
  • The Sega Master System game Pro Wrestling (unrelated to the NES game) was a port of an arcade game which featured Dump Matsumoto and Captain Ersatzes of her AJW rivals. The entire cast was replaced with male wrestlers for the American and European releases.
  • When Ninja Cop Saizou was localized as Wrath of the Black Manta, the story scenes were almost entirely rewritten and redrawn, one stage was removed, a few bosses were altered, and the music was completely replaced.
  • The Western localization of Gungriffon completely rewrote the plot of the game to change which side you were on. The original Japanese script is set in 2015 and cast the player as a Japanese pilot of the Asian Pacific Community fighting in a world war against the Pan European Union. The English script moved the game to 2075 and instead made the player a pilot of the U.S. 45th Foreign Legion assisting Russian forces in beating back an invasion by the APC. The opening FMV was edited to remove German voice clips (as their role as enemies were reversed by the plot changes), although the briefing illustrations and radio chatter in the missions were left unaltered.
  • The English-language version of Love Live! School Idol Festival strips out a lot of Ship Tease between the exclusively-female cast. Additionally, many lines that imply that the player character is female were changed to treat the player as male instead. Then 2015 update brought back the Ship Tease elements and made the player character female again. Considering a character's line in an upcoming set (now only available in Japanese) includes a reference to adding a bracelet around the player character's wrist, it would be difficult to treat the player character as male.
  • The localization of Bravely Second heavily rewrote the latter half to ensure that the player didn't have to go through multiple playthroughs to get the Golden Ending. The results were controversial to say the least, though it's worth noting that many of the changes were in response to complaints from Japanese critics.
  • Mystery Quest, the NES localization of the Famicom Disk System game Hao-kun no Fushigi na Tabi, excised the last third of the game due to cartridges at the time having only having half the space of FDS disks, and required the player to play through the game four times to see the true ending, along with removing the save function. Commensurately, the overall difficulty of the game was lowered.
  • Taito's Fudou Myouou Den (The Acala Legend) was needlessly butchered in its localization as Demon Sword, with the Buddhist-themed narrative completely excised and replaced with a generic "Collect the Dismantled MacGuffin parts and Save the Princess from the Dark Lord" Excuse Plot, the number of stages and bosses cut down by nearly half, many of the power-up item types removed(possibly due to being judged as too game-breaking), and the Password Save hidden behind a button-press code. Not to mention the Western box art incorrectly depicting the protagonist as a Barbarian Hero.
  • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII: The English localization was completely rewritten to avoid the major Values Dissonance that is the Hope/Lightning relationship (disregarding the explanation that Hope is a 27 year-old trapped in his 14 year-old body). Unfortunately for that, their relationship is heavily intertwined with the main story of the game, resulting in several plot points being misconstrued and resulting in many a Dub-Induced Plot Hole. Some other big changes were made, such as Bhunivelze being voiced by a different actor instead of Hope's VA. Fans consider the translation so bad, some have rallied to completely retranslate the game.
  • Skies of Arcadia: A rare positive example: Chris Lucich and Klayton Vorlick, the two-man localization team, worked 80-100 hours a week every week for months to first put together a rough Japanese translation, only to then essentially re-write the entire game from scratch to create something that would play better to a Western audience. The results speak for themselves; Skies of Arcadia remains a quotable and beloved title for its witty and earnest English dialogue even today.
  • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn: In the original Japanese version, Pelleas, and later, Almedha say that the only way to end a blood pact is to kill the person who signed it. After killing Pelleas, however, the mark of the blood pact appears on Micaiah's hand instead. After Lekain, the controller of the blood pact, dies, the mark fades away, making the effects of the pact almost disappear. When Micaiah gets her hands on the blood pact contract, Naesala tells her that destroying it will make the mark completely disappear, but for whatever reason, he himself is unable to revoke his blood pact, even with the physical contract. In the translated version, the mark does not appear on Micaiah's arm or fade away, with Almedha instead saying that both the signer and the contract must be destroyed to end the blood pact. Micaiah then attempts to get the contract from Lekain, and when she does, she destroys it, ending the blood pact. Naesala is also able to end his blood pact after getting his contract.

    Web Animation 
  • The Japanese dub of RWBY removes the Volume 1 episodes dealing with Jaune's bullying arc. This removes some plot and Semblance foundation, such as Jaune's character development, Semblance foreshadowing, and discussions about other Semblances. Thus, the fifth volume's explanation of Semblance acts as a recap in the original, but the first time it's clarified in the dub.

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama never took off in Poland, partly because they happily butchered most of the references and couldn't keep straight whether Fry was taken to the future or just sent into space (hence the title Przygody Fry'a w kosmosie, "Fry's Adventures in Space"). This might be why the dialogue couldn't decide whether Farnsworth is Fry's distant descendant (as in the original) or his uncle. They appeared to be aiming for a younger demographic — and failed miserably, because so much violence was left in that the network was fined for showing it.
  • TUGS was brought to America as part of Salty's Lighthouse in the '90s. The original 15-20 minute episodes were edited down to new, 5-minute shorts that were Lighter and Softer compared to the often dark and mature plotlines of the original. The more consistent changes included renaming "OJ" and "Big Mac" to "Otis" and "Big Stack", and gender swaps for Captain Star and Sunshine. There wasn't much footage to work with, since the original show only had 13 episodes, and as a result, footage was repeated and continuity errors popped up.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series got hit hard by this in Germany. Having already butchered the original series (as seen elsewhere on this page), the network decided to market it for kids. The resulting edits led to numerous missing episodes, other episodes hacked into half the runtime, and a horrible dub that made a complete mockery of the show (and to add insult to injury, didn't even use the original series' dub voices). Much like with the original series, Paramount spent a lot of money for an entirely new, more faithful dub for a subsequent VHS release.