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Early Adaptation Weirdness

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Looking back at the oldest adaptations of franchises with a modern lens, many come off as unusual by the standards of the series. They were likely faithful at the time of release but, with years of Characterization Marches On and other developments, they've since become wildly out of touch with their source material.

They often feature Early Installment Character Design Differences, characterization differences, and plot differences compared to the standardized portrayal of the work.


Related to Early Draft Tie-In and Early Installment Weirdness.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Yuu Mishouzaki's The Legend Of Zelda I was the first manga to be based on the video game series of the same name. It plays loose with the already thin plot that the first Zelda game has and features a lot of oddities because of its age. For example, the long-eared humans known as Hylians are referred to as "elves" and are hated by many humans (most notably the Hyrulian Noble Family, which is actually Hylian in canon). It features a very different Link than most other adaptations: he doesn't wear his signature tunic (instead wearing overalls), he's a Half-Human Hybrid instead of full Hylian, he's a Cowardly Lion instead of a courageous hero, and he's Zelda's older half-brother. Despite this, the manga features many things that the games would later use (either intentionally or unintentionally), such as a teenage Zelda and a young Impa.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Early volumes of Super Mario Bros. Manga Mania features a rougher and more abrasive version of Mario which contrasts with his more jovial modern self.
    • Being one of the earliest adaptations, the characters in Super Mario don't resemble their game selves as closely as they do in later adaptations, both in terms of design and personality. It also contains some NSFW Parental Bonuses, scenes involving smoking, and other things that wouldn't be allowed in later Mario adaptation.
  • The first television adaptation of Doraemon came out in 1973. The 1973 series features, among other things, a different art style, a unique character named Gachako, various changes to the existing characters and items, and plots that haven't been done in later adaptations. The later TV series don't have these changes.
  • Toei's Yu Gi Oh anime has several inconsistencies with the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga even at the time as well as later events in the manga, as well as characterization differences, Character Exaggeration, and episodes with original villains with powers normally reserved for the supernatural.
  • The first Sonic the Hedgehog manga was made after the second game and is thus really weird; Sonic is a Shazam-esque Superpowered Alter Ego of a young hedgehog named Nicky and keeps that fact a secret from everyone, including Nicky himself. Sonic/Nicky is also only ten years old instead of a teenager, there are no humans except Eggman, and Sonic’s parents and sister are around, averting the usual Invisible Parents. Despite these many oddities, the manga is one of the small few Sonic adaptations to actually impact the games and have some of its elements made canon; most notably, Amy Rose and Charmy Bee both originated here before becoming canon characters.
  • The 1990s Sailor Moon anime is the first adaptation of the manga and, because it was developed in parallel with the manga (the anime debuted around three months after the manga and, because the manga was published monthly rather than weekly, the anime was always running ahead) deviates in ways that later adaptations don't. For example, Rei is given an Adaptation Personality Change into a Hot-Blooded tsundere in sharp contrast to the other incarnation's Aloof Dark-Haired Girl.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon Adventures is full of a lot of this, much which has stuck over the years because it's a part of the manga's lore. For example, the entirety of the Indigo League Elite 4 and several gym leaders (namely Koga, Lt. Surge, and Sabrina) were given Adaptational Villainy due to Pokémon Red and Blue's lack of named antagonists. The manga predates the Team Rocket Executives so other characters were used to fill in roles, even though this may go against their personalities in the games.
    • Pokémon Origins is a later adaptation (being released over 10 years into the franchise's life) but has one detail that stands out: Red's personality. He's an energetic Stock Shōnen Hero partially because the anime predates Pokémon Sun and Moon and Pokémon Masters canonizing him as stoic and quiet.

    Comic Books 
  • The comic book adaptation of Super Metroid is mostly close to later Metroid canon. In fact, it's notable as being the first Metroid-related story to establish that Samus Aran was orphaned by the Space Pirates and adopted by the Chozo leader Old Bird. The biggest difference, however, is that the human character Armstrong Houston, a fellow Bounty Hunter, has a Power Suit that looks just like hers but is blue instead of orange. Later canon would establish Samus' Power Suit as highly advanced Chozo technology bordering on Magitek, and it's so hard to reverse engineer that even her Galactic Federation allies could only start making bulkier and shoddier versions of her weapons years after the events of Super Metroid.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog ran into this issue due to its status as a Long Runner and its indirect relation to Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM). The comic was one of the earliest adaptations and almost everything about it is contradictory to what became the status quo after Sonic Adventure. To list some:
      • The series takes place on a World of Funny Animals called "Mobius" ruled by a royal family. Sonic's friends are a resistance group called the "Freedom Fighters" fighting against the tyrannical Doctor Robotnik. The games, meanwhile, became increasingly different from that premise, most notably being eventually confirmed to take place on Earth (with animal characters being vastly outnumbered by humans). Later on, Mobius was revealed to be a futuristic Earth.
      • The comics also ignored the otherwise firmly-established Pantsless Males, Fully-Dressed Females rule in canon, featuring not only male characters who dressed in full-outfits, but also a handful of female characters who wore just as little as their male counterparts. Characters also have Furry Female Manes, unlike in the games.
      • The lore is completely different, almost all of the Canon Foreigner designs looks very different from the game designs, and even the ages are different (with Tails being ten instead of eight, Amy being ten instead of eight/twelve, and Charmy being sixteen instead of sixExplanation ). A Cosmic Retcon made everything closer to the games, before the comic was cancelled and replaced with the more game accurate comic Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW).
    • Being one of the earliest adaptations, Sonic the Comic runs with this. Sonic lives on a World of Funny Animals called Mobius, he's much more of an Adaptational Jerkass than usual, and he reacts negatively to the Chaos Emeralds to the point where Super Sonic is his Superpowered Evil Side rather than the more conventional Super Mode it is in other continuities. Sonic is the leader of the "Freedom Fighters", a group of Mobians who want to overthrow the tyrannical Token Human Dr. Robotnik (who is much more intimidating than his standard portrayal), which consists of Ascended Extra characters like Johnny Lightfoot and Porker Lewis, amongst others. Knuckles wears a metal necklace rather than having a marking on his chest. The comic also adapts game elements rather literally compared to other adaptations: Zones are all very different areas on Mobius, while Star Posts and loops are ancient parts of Mobius' landscape. Some elements of the comic, such as Amy's pre-Characterization Marches On personality or Sonic's Celibate Hero personality, were later canonized in the games.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Super Mario Bros. tried to adapt a series that runs on Excuse Plot at a time when it was still developing its identity. The film contains a lot of old remnants, such as the manual's plot of Toadstool being the daughter of the Mushroom King, Koopa transforming Toads and other creatures with magic, Goombas being traitors to the throne, and Mario being a middle-aged man (which he originally was, but even in Japan this was changed by the late-1980s) and several years older than Luigi because they wouldn't be revealed as twins until Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island.
  • The Batman serials of the 1940s and its successor Batman and Robin depict Batman and Robin going against ordinary mobsters and crooks. Super-villains as we know it didn't exist back then and Batman's famous Rogues Gallery was still in its infancy.
  • The mid-1960s Doctor Who film adaptations Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. were made when the TV show had only been running for two or three years, and as a result had a lot of things that were assumptions at the time but would become contradicted in the future of the show, such as the Doctor's actual name being "Doctor Who" and him being a human "mad inventor" with no control over the TARDIS instead of a long-lived alien from Gallifrey.
  • Peter Pan (1924) was made less than thirty years after the play. It's a Setting Update set in the contemporary 1920s. This was before adaptations became Frozen in Time in the 1910s. The characters are also American instead of British, which is something later adaptations never change.
  • The Wizard of Oz (1925) is one of the earliest adaptations of the Land of Oz series. It has virtually nothing in common with the source, playing very loose with the lore and characters. It departs heavily from the later adaptations within the first ten minutes: Dorothy is aged up to eighteen, Uncle Henry is a cruel and Evil Uncle, and Dorothy is secretly a Doorstop Baby who's really the lost Princess Dorothea of Oz.

  • The Mega Man Universe Compendium "The Official Guide to Mega Man" was released back when only the first three games were released, and Dr. Wily's Revenge was about to debut. Most of the lore featured in the book was made up without the original developers' input, featuring original characters and concepts that push the setting's tone in a more space opera-esque direction (for example, the heavy emphasis on off-world colonies that was mostly limited to the third game at the time). At the end of the book, Mega Man was interviewed, and it was noted that he can't talk under normal circumstances, while he has no problem communicating with other characters in later games of the series.
  • Stay Sonic is a European Sonic the Hedgehog guide based on the first two titles. It takes influence from early Sega of America documents and thus differs greatly from later canon. It influenced Sonic the Comic's portrayal with elements such as Sonic and Robotnik having been friends once.
  • Metroid: Zebes Shin'nyuu Shirei, due to being based on the original Metroid, features many oddities compared to the rest of the series. Much of this is carried over from the original game, although this gamebook expands upon or adds additional weirdness:
    • Zebes is an asteroid, rather than a planet.
    • Ridley is the original inhabitant of Zebes, living on the inhospitable asteroid long before the arrival of the Space Pirates. He was originally docile and peaceful, and has only become aggressive and cruel while under Mother Brain's mind control. Instead of actually breathing fire, Ridley possesses Psychic Powers that simulate the intense experience of being hit with fire breath.
    • If a Metroid latches onto Samus, she can escape by firing missiles instead of planting bombs.
    • Samus is repeatedly referred to as a cyborg. This continues even after it is revealed that she is a human woman, suggesting that it was not merely a red herring like in the original game.
    • The leader of the Space Pirates is the Pirate Boss, while the series usually refers to Mother Brain or Ridley as the leader. Additionally, the Pirate Boss is a human, while all later Metroid games would only show aliens among the Space Pirate ranks.
    • Samus and the Space Pirates may team up to take down the Metroid=Mutant. Later Metroid lore would establish that Samus and the Space Pirates hate each other so much that they would never consider teaming up, even against bigger threats like the Ing or Dark Samus.
  • The Thrawn Trilogy, as one of the first spinoffs of Star Wars, was working with the best information available and couldn't know that things would change over a decade later with a prequel trilogy. One of the biggest parts is that its depiction of cloning using "Spaarti cylinders" is completely at odds with that seen on Kamino in Attack of the Clones, though that's easily handwaved by saying that Spaarti and Kaminoan cloning use different methods with different side effects. Another major plot point is that it's been about 40-odd years since the Clone Wars (based on backstory given by Lucas at the time), while the prequels later established it as 20-something instead.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Batman (1966) show is full of this because it was created during a transitional stage in comics. Along with being a full-blown comedy series, it features forgotten Silver Age stuff, such as Dick Grayson having an aunt, Batman and Robin operating in broad daylight, and many of the villains (such as Mr. Freeze) display characterizations that have long since changed. The show originated Barbara Gordon. It features her as a brunette who wears a redheaded wig for disguise (something associated with Kate Kane instead of the naturally redheaded Barbara) and also depicts her as several years Dick's seniornote .
  • The Super Mario Bros Super Show! was a loose adaptation even at the time, but much of it appears even more loose when compared to later Mario canon. For example, not only is there no implications of romance Peach (who is redheaded instead of blonde because her design is based on her palette limited sprite) and Mario, but Peach is implied to be a teen while Mario is middle aged. This contrasts with the two being 20-something year old Childhood Friends and love interests in most post-1980s media. Mario and Luigi also have thick New York accents instead of their signature, more high-pitched Italian voices.
  • The show Mortal Kombat: Conquest has a bit of this, with the most notable probably being Noob Saibot. In the games, Noob is eventually revealed to be Bi-Han, aka Sub-Zero from the first game, brought back from the dead by Quan Chi. In Conquest, he's some sort of Outworld assassin who seems to be unconnected to Sub-Zero or Quan Chi. He also seems to be made of oil, as opposed to the shadow powers that would be established later.


  • Executive Meddling led to The Wizard of Oz (1902) being a very loose adaptation. It removed major characters such as Toto, Glinda, and the Wicked Witch of the West. Since the MGM film The Wizard of Oz codified the franchise, newer adaptations couldn't get away with removing so much of what makes the Land of Oz series iconic.
  • The Musical adaptation of Peanuts, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, was first produced in 1967 and only uses six characters: Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, Schroder, and Patty, the last of whom was already being Demoted to Extra in the strip by that point (and tellingly doesn't even get a solo song). Notably, the 1999 Broadway revival completely revamped the libretto to replace Patty with Charlie Brown's sister Sally, a far more popular character.

    Video Games 
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Legend of the Lost Spatula was made when the TV show was in its first season, and it shows. Characters use their less refined designs from the first season, the Flying Dutchman is the Big Bad and rules over a Fire and Brimstone Hell that's never seen or referenced in any other media, Plankton is a background NPC with two lines of dialogue, and the game features characters, locations, and places that have almost never been referenced since: Bubble Bass appears as an enemy, SpongeBob can wear his hall monitor uniform and equip the moon rock gun from "Sandy's Rocket", "the carnival" (an assortment of fishing bait) appears as a platforming area, and the boss of Jellyfish Fields is the giant jellyfish from "Jellyfishing" instead of a more memorable character like King Jellyfish.

    Western Animation 


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